He who believes and is baptized will be saved…

I had forgotten about this verse (Mark 16:16).

I recently picked up where I left off in my collection of Spurgeon’s sermons, and was initially surprised to read the following:

Measure me by the articles of the Church of England, and I will not stand second to any man under heaven’s blue sky in preaching the gospel contained in them; for if there be an excellent epitome of the gospel, it is to be found in the articles of the Church of England. Let me show you that you have not been hearing strange doctrine. Here is the 9th article, upon Original or Birth Sin: “Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam; (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, phronema sarkos, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.” I want nothing more. Will any one who believes in the Prayer Book dissent from the doctrine that “the carnal mind is enmity against God?”

(From The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God.)

It seemed like Spurgeon was agreeing with what appeared to be implied baptismal regeneration. But I know that Spurgeon didn’t believe in baptismal regeneration (*). So I looked up “believe” and “baptism” at Crosswalk.com and found Mark 16:15-16:

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

In what sense is “baptized” used here? My first thought was that it might be referring to being “baptized into Christ’s death” a la Romans 6, but that seemed unlikely. Then I realized that the verse itself answered the question since it ended with “but he who does not believe will be condemned” – not “he who does not believe and is baptized will be condemned”.

Searching the web, I seem to get differing views on whether or not the CoE believes in baptismal regeneration. It would seem like the official position must be no, given what Spurgeon says above. Can anyone provide a definitive answer on the CoE’s position? (**)

(*) Just to make sure on this point, I later did a search on the Spurgeon site and found this sermon Baptismal Regeneration which actually makes the same point I do above about Mark 16:16b.

(**) Well, this is very interesting. Reading a little further down in Spurgeon’s sermon on Baptismal Regeneration, I found this, where he quotes from the Catechism for the CoE:

Here are the words: we quote them from the Catechism which is intended for the instruction of youth, and is naturally very plain and simple, since it would be foolish to trouble the young with metaphysical refinements. The child is asked its name, and then questioned, “Who gave you this name?” “My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism; wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” Is not this definite and plain enough? I prize the words for their candour; they could not speak more plainly. Three times over the thing is put, lest there should be any doubt in it. The word regeneration may, by some sort of juggling, be made to mean something else, but here there can be no misunderstanding. The child is not only made “a member of Christ”—union to Jesus is no mean spiritual gift—but he is made in baptism “the child of God” also; and, since the rule is, “if children then heirs,” he is also made “an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” Nothing can be more plain.

So… I guess Spurgeon was very carefully agreeing with the first quote (from the Articles above) — it can be traced back to Mark 16:16, after all. Interesting.

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2 Comments

  1. I think we tend to have a low view of baptism in the evangelical church, so when we see things like you’re talking about it is weird for us. However, I think, as you said in reference to Romans 6, the early church saw baptism as a crucial event in the life of a believer. Not regenerational, but crucial. An “unbaptized” person is in sin, and if they are unwilling to profess Christ before men, who knows the state of their soul.

    On a different note, I’ve been thinking for awhile that I need to get a copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

  2. Danny – I’ve been curious – what kind of emphasis is there at Southern on baptism?

    Yes – and in the early church, as it is today for Muslims in Islamic countries who convert (and others in similar situations), professing Christ before men was a dangerous thing!

    Any insight on reconciling the two quotes from Spurgeon?


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