A Rebuttal of "Resetting the Landmark by Tom Ross", Part II
Ross continues with his assumptions claiming them to be based on
Scripture. At this point I am going to depart a little bit from the
rebuttal to show how a literal translation based on the King James
Version of the Bible can lead to serious misconceptions about the
words of Jesus. I am going to take a quote used by Mr. Ross and
compare that quote in at least two
other versions of the Bible, one Catholic and one Protestant (Zondervan) to how that Mr. Ross's assumptions are flawed. I am then going to place the whole quote in its correct context.
Mr. Ross had continued:
"Authority and power to carry out the Great Commission was given or transferred by Christ to His Church before he ascended back into Heaven. He then quotes from Mark: "For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch".
has taken a far journey by ascending to the right had of the Father
in the realm of the third Heaven. He has left the authority to carry
out His work on earth to His house which is the church according to 1
Timothy 3:15. The servants who are in the house are to diligently
carry out and pray with all vigilance. No Church can claim to have
Scriptural authority to
administer the ordinances unless they have received their authority from an already existing Baptist church."
checking the quote from Mark in my own Bible (the Good News Bible for
this exercise) I noticed a discrepancy of language. I also noted that
the quote was taken entirely out of context by Mr. Ross and this
affects the interpretation of that verse. I then checked the same
quote in my Women's Devotional Bible (Zondervan) for the same quote
and again, the rendering is
different to the KJV which is the preferred text of Mr. Ross. Here are the quotes:
the Good News Bible:
"It will be like a man who goes away from his home on a journey and leaves his servants in charge, after giving to each one his own work to do and after telling the doorkeeper to keep watch" (Mark 13:34)
the Women's Devotional Bible (Zondervan):
"It's like a man going away : He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch." (Mark 13:34)
From the New American Bible (Catholic Bible Press):
"It's like a man travelling abroad. He leaves home and places his servant in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch"
From the Knox Version:
"It is as if a man going on his travels had left his house, entrusting authority to his servants, each of then to do his own work, and enjoining the doorkeeper to keep watch".
the similarity between each of these translations. The verse is more
like a metaphor and it does not relate to the Son of Man (Jesus).
Each of the versions I have given is clear in intent and the
metaphoric nature of the verse. The Zondervan version is the clearest
for it is in plain English and shows best the metaphorical nature of
the verse. The literal interpretation by Mr. Ross was taken from the
King James version of the Bible.The King James Version is misleading.
However, even more misleading is that the verse itself was taken out
of context. I turn now to the context of the verse:
"But about the day or the hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven or the Son, but only the Father. Beware keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake - for you do not know
when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake." (Mark 13:2-37) - from New Revised Standard Version
When the verse is given its full context, it takes on a very different meaning. The metaphorical nature of the verse remains. Jesus was talking about the Second Coming - that we would not know when that would be and that we should be ever watchful and stay awake and not fall back into sin. It has nothing to do with Jesus passing his authority on to the Baptist Church as claimed by Tom Ross. When the verse is given its true context the claims by Mr. Ross are proven to be false. The verse does not back up his statements.
Ross then continues:
"That is why you read in Acts that missionaries were sent out by a local church to establish other churches of like faith and order...therefore every Baptist Church must be organized out of an already existing Baptist Church. This means that Churches started by free lance preachers, evangelists or instigators of church splits have not been properly started and are void of church authority to administer ordinances. "
Again this is a very curious statement which has been made by Mr. Ross. At no stage has he mentioned any of the Apostles by name, instead he refers to missionaries. He totally ignores Peter, James, John, Philip, Matthew etc. He continues to claim that the churches that were established were Baptist but still he fails to provide the historical evidence that any of these communities were ever called Baptist. The apostles were disciples of Jesus, not John the Baptist, although the disciples of John the Baptist did become disciples of Jesus after the death of John (St. John the Evangelist and his brother Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist but they started to follow Jesus when he was announced as the Messiah, others turned to Jesus at a later time).
Tom Ross continues to attempt to claim legitimacy of the Baptist
Church as the church founded by Jesus. He continues in this vein:
"Where there is no church authority there can be no baptism.
Since every Protestant denomination traces its authority to exist
back to the Mother of Harlots (could he mean the pagans?) or a human
head their ordinances must be
regarded as invalid and unscriptural by all true Baptists."
note the phrase founded by a "human head". Here he is
claiming that the early Christian Church, which is fully documented
in Church history is not legitimate because it has a "human
head". You guessed it, he is referring to St.Peter and the long
line of popes. He ignores the Gospel stories relating to the
authority given to Peter, when Jesus changed his
name from Simon to Cephas, and then handed to him the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and the power to loose and bind, he totally ignores the command of Jesus to Peter to : "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep". He totally ignores that Jesus told Peter that he would make him a fisher of men. Instead he lays claim for the Baptist church as the real church based on unnamed men and
churches which did not exist.
second requirement for Scriptural Baptism, according to Tom Ross is:
that of "entire immersion of the believer in the water". He
then states "There is not one Scripture that validates the
unscriptural modes of sprinkling and pouring. In Romans 6 the act of
Baptism is portrayed as a burial. Everyone knows that when you bury
an individual you don't sprinkle
a few clods of dirt on them but you immerse them entirely in the ground. When John baptized Jesus the Scripture records that: "...when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water." In order for Jesus to come up out of the water he had to of necessity go down into the water. If the proper authority and mode of baptism is unimportant as many falsely contend
then why did Jesus walk sixty miles to be baptized of John in the River Jordan? If the administration and mode of baptism are unimportant then Jesus could have anyone sprinkle and pour some water on his head and pronounce him baptized... "
I will now deal with each of the assumptions of Mr. Ross in this paragraph. Again he has made several sweeping statements. He takes a verse and then makes a claim against the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches and again he does not provide any credible evidence to back up his claims.
First Mr. Ross makes a claim for "total immersion" and be bases that claim on Romans 6 complete with his sweeping statement : "Now everyone knows that..." Again he is giving a literal interpretation to a figurative statement in attempt to prove his point. What is the context of Romans 6 ?
then, just as sin ruled by means of death so also God's grace rules
by means of righteousness, leading us to eternal life through Jesus
Christ Our Lord. What are we to say then? Should we keep sinning so
that God's grace will increase? Certainly not! We have died to sin.
How then can we go living in it? For surely you know that when we
were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into
union with his death. By our baptism then we were buried with him and
shared his death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we
might live a new life. For since we have become one with Him in dying
as he did, in the same way we
shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was. And we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. For when we die we are set free from the power of sin. Since we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with
him..." (Romans 6:1-7)
The real context of the verses I have quoted, is Romans 5. It is here that St. Paul explains about the original sin of Adam and Eve and the effects of their disobedience to God's commands.
context, does Romans 6 give credence to the argument for "total
immersion." ? I contend that it does not do this. I contend that
equating Romans 6 to a real burial misses the point of the passage,
that Paul was saying that when we are baptized, we free ourselves
from the stain of
original sin and our souls come alive in Christ Jesus. Romans 6 does not support total immersion as being the only form of Baptism.
let me turn to Mr. Ross's questions which he uses to justify his
stance. "Why did Jesus go to the River Jordan to be baptized by
John?" I contend that the answer should be, because John was the
prophet who was to prepare the way of the Lord, according to
Scripture, and that he was the precursor of Jesus. He was the voice
in the wilderness, crying out to prepare the Way
of the Lord (the Messiah). Jesus came to him, in order to be baptized, not because of any ordinance, or because John the Baptist was the only authority but to establish the RITE of Baptism as an invitation into the Church and not the MODE of Baptism. John the Baptist was encouraging people to repent and be baptized so that they were prepared to hear the Word of the Lord. Mr. Ross has glossed over references to Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Ross then sets out the third requirement for Scriptural Baptism. He
states that Baptism is for people who have professed faith in Jesus
Christ and then says : " That means that the individual must
already be saved before he goes into the waters of baptism....Every
Catholic and Protestant that sprinkles or pours upon an infant is
making a mockery of the ordinance
My contention is that such statements ignore the real reason for the baptism i.e. Baptism is a Rite of initiation into the Church community. The historical background of the early Christian community indicates that Baptism was looked upon as a rite of initiation into the Church. Baptism is also the renunciation of sin and the renunciation of Satan. The godparents are chosen to be the spokesmen of the infant and to make the profession of faith on its behalf. The real issue then, is Baptism an ordinance as claimed by Tom Ross or is it a Rite of Initiation ? Tom Ross has not adequately put his case that Baptism is an ordinance, instead he has made a lot of statements based on conjecture but has not provided proof to back his statements.
I turn again to what Paul said to the Romans: "For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, in the same way we shall be one with him by being raised to life as he was." (Romans 6:5) "For when we die, we are set free from the power of sin. Since we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 6: 7) "In the same way you are to think of yourselves as dead, so far as sin is concerned but living in fellowship with God, through Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)
To me (and this is my own interpretation) these verses indicate that Baptism is a Rite of Initiation. They indicate that Baptism is the washing away of sin and especially the sin of Adam and Eve. They are an indication, that after Baptism we are to live in fellowship with God. This applies also to infants and children, who then become a part of the fellowship of the Church community and learn to live according to how God wants us to live.
Tom Ross states that "There is not one shred of evidence in the New Testament to support the antichristian teaching of infant baptism or its twin heresy of baptismal regeneration. Of course Mr. Ross rejects the Oral Tradition of the early Christians ( remember he believes in the invisible early Baptist communities). He also rejects the evidence of the Didache, which sets out clearly the methods of Baptism and that includes sprinkling and pouring. He rejects the passages in the Acts of the Apostles which indicate that whole households (which includes children and babies ) were baptized. He uses Acts 8:12 which states men and women but glosses over the story of Jesus and the little children and he ignores Acts 2:41 which said that 3000 people were baptized after they heard Peter's speech. The evidence is there but he prefers to ignore the real facts.
Tom Ross's fourth requirement is that Baptism is done for the right reason. He then claims that "Baptism is purely symbolic, it has no saving qualities nor does it convey grace to the individual being baptized. Baptism is a declarative act on the part of the believer".
we are getting to the real issues behind Tom Ross's statements to
date. How does he view Baptism ? He claims that:
1) it is purely symbolic;
2) it has no saving qualities;
3) it does not convey grace;
4) it is a declarative act.
Are these claims Scriptural ? To back his claims that baptism is a declarative act and a symbolic sign, Tom Ross turns once again to Paul's epistle to the Romans, chapter 6. He declares his position of the King James version and claims the symbolic nature of baptism based on the words "like - as" :
"Know ye not that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death ? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that LIKE AS Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the LIKENESS of his death, we shall also be in the LIKENESS of his resurrection. Knowing this that our old man is crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (KJV)
How does this vary from other versions and how does this variation affect the interpretation of these verses?
"By our baptism then we were buried with him and shared his death in order that JUST AS Christ was raised from death by the power of the glorious Father, so also we might live a new life. For since we have become one with him in dying as he did, IN THE SAME WAY we shall be one with him by being RAISED TO LIFE as he was. And we know that our OLD BEING has been put to death with Christ on the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin. " (Romans 6: 4-6)
"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that JUST AS Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we may too live a new life. If we have been united with him LIKE THIS in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For that we know that our OLD SELF was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." (Romans 6: 3-6)
we can see that the errors within the KJV Bible, lead to misleading
assumptions regarding the interpretation of Scripture. Paul was
speaking metaphorically to the Romans. Can a metaphorical statement
be taken so literally to indicate that baptism is only symbolic?
What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say?
1213 " Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments. THROUGH BAPTISM WE ARE FREED FROM SIN AND REBORN AS SONS OF GOD; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission. Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."
1215 " This sacrament is called "the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the Kingdom of God." (refer to Titus 3:5 and John 3:5)
"This bath is called enlightenment because those who receive
this (catechetical ) instruction are enlightened in their
understanding ...Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true
light that enlightens every man," the person baptized ha been
"enlightened", he becomes a "son of light,"
indeed he becomes "light" himself " (refer Jn 1:9; 1
Thess 5:5; Heb 10:32;
And from the Old Testament, we have the following which prefigured Baptism: Noah's ark - the Church has seen Noah's ark as a " prefiguring of salvation by Baptism, for by it a few people, that is eight persons, were saved through water" (Catholic Catechism para 1219)
The crossing of the Red Sea, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism: "You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh, bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea, to be an image of the people set free in Baptism." (Catholic Catechism 1221 - Easter Vigil blessing of the Water)
The crossing of the Jordan River by which the People of God received the gift of the land promised to Abraham's descendants, an image of eternal life. The promise of this blessed inheritance is fulfilled in the New Covenant.
So from Scripture we can see that Baptism is more than symbolic because it is the setting free of the soul from original sin and from the darkness of evil.
Baptism within the Catholic Church has always been connected with faith and repentance of sins. In Acts Peter preached to the people that they should : "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and YOU SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT." The apostles baptized anyone who believed in Jesus: Jew, the God-fearing pagans. Always Baptism is seen as connected with faith.
Catechism explains the words of Paul in Romans as : "The
baptized have "put on Christ." Through the Holy Spirit,
Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies and sanctifies. (see para
1228) it then says:
"Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the "imperishable seed" of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect." (refer 1 Peter1:23) Therefore we can see that the idea that Baptism is does not have saving qualities, does not convey grace, is merely symbolic and declarative is not supported by Scripture.
Tom Ross has continued:
this passage of Scripture (Romans 6), Baptism is a picture of our
justification. We died with Christ, meaming that he paid the full
penalty for our sins. It is a picture of our progressive
sanctification, that we have been raised to walk in the newness of
life. Finally it is a declaration of our belief that we will be
glorified in the resurrection image of Jesus
Christ. Any church which believes in the baptismal regeneration, or that a saved person can lose God's salvation, cannot accurately picture the Gospel and its power to save when they baptize. In fact anyone who teaches that baptism is essential to the salvation of the soul is in essence saying that faith in the blood of Jesus Christ is not enough to take away sin and
completely justify the believer. They are in essence teaching a works salvation which is the worst sort of heresy."
And then he says "...All false baptisms administered by improper authorities must be rejected by Baptist churches in order to remain faithful as custodians of the ordinances. This is precisely the reason why Baptists in former ages were called Anabaptists, because they re-baptized all who came into their fellowship and by so doing declared that no other churches has the scriptural authority to baptize. "
Hmm... Now let us look at the above statements of Tom Ross. Again, we have a fallible interpretation of Scripture and then more sweeping and unsubstantiated statements, followed by mudslinging at the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Then comes the revelation that the heretical sects associated with the Anabaptists were the pure church and therefore he is equating the Baptist church to those who follow heresy.
Now let's see what else the Catholic Cathechism has to say: Faith and Baptism
1253 Baptism us the sacrament of faith. But faith needs the community of believers. It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe. The faith required for Baptism is not a perfect and mature faith BUT A BEGINNING THAT IS CALLED TO DEVELOP...
1254 For all baptized, children or adults faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. PREPARATION FOR BAPTISM LEADS ONLY TO THE THRESHOLD OF NEW LIFE. Baptism is the source to the new life in Christ from which the enite Christian life springs forth.
1255 For the grace of Baptism to unfold the parents' help is important. So too is the role of the godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers able and ready to help the newly baptized on the road to Christian life.
The Necessity of Baptism
1257 "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation...Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.
The Grace of Baptism
1262 The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the saramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also REGENERATION and renewal. Thus the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit.
For the forgiveness of sins
1263 By baptism ALL SINS are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.
1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses in character... as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence or metaphorically the tinder for sin; since concupiscence is left for us to wrestle with it cannot harm those who do notconsent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ...
A "new creature"
The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace
- enabling the to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit;
allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
Thus the whole organism of the Chrisitan's supernatural life has its roots in Baptism.
Incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ.
1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ...Baptism incorporates us into the Church...
1268 The baptized have become "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood. By baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission...Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.
1269 Having become a member of the Church the person baptized belongs no longer to himself but to him who died and rose for us Here we have the Catholic Church's teaching on Baptism, that it is a renewal but it is the first step on the road to salvation. We are at the threshold and we need careful nurturing as we continue to grow in our faith in Christ Jesus.
Now compare that to what Tom Ross has said and we see that he claims that the act of Baptism gains a place in heaven, no matter what and that there is no need for careful nurturing, that sins are forgiven forever, and we do not need repentance or any other form of renewal of baptismal vows.
Where in such a philosophy is the nourishment of the soul ?