Friday, February 15, 2013

Baptism and the UPC

I met with a couple tonight who are members of the United Pentecostal church. Tne subject was going to be the proper baptism formula where the UPC claims baptism in Jesus' name is biblical whereas other groups claim that baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in accordance with Matthew 28:19 is the correct way. I can't stress to you how skeptical I was simply because I have always been a part of churches which did it the tradition (i.e. non-UPC way). I felt that because Paul's teachings are of a dubious nature that it was no point for them to show that Paul had used this, which he did at Acts 19, where we see at verse 5 "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."

What I needed to see was that this was the practice, not Paul's but the church's. They showed me that Peter also used this formula. Peter, speaking to Cornelius and his household commanded "...them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days."

So it became apparent that what the disciples understood from the Great Commission was much different than what we understand. There were also several other verses quoted to support their notion.

What struck me here was it's Pre-Catholic implications.

The packet that was printed for me held a few quotations.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 ed., vol. 3, page 365-66, "The baptism formula was changed from the name Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the second century by the Catholic church."

Caney Encyclopedia of Religion, pg. 53, "The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ until the development of the Trinity doctrine in the second century."

Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 2 page 263 line 7 acknowledges the Catholic church changed the baptism formula.

As I spoke of earlier, the role of a Unitarian understanding of the nature of God, in opposition to the Trinity doctrine, must be stressed in any discussion of Pre-Catholic faith.

It appears to me now, after this Bible study conducted by a couple from the United Pentecostal church, the current understanding of the Great Commission has been undermined by a propagation of the trinitarian doctrine, and has politely crept in as of 1800+ years ago as a manifestation of the Christian obsession with Triunity. However, if the disciples had an understanding of the command to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, contrary to our own, as a cursory examination shows they did, then this has implications for the doctrine of the Trinity, and the material also provides a motivation for the Catholics to alter the formula in order to posit an unquestionable support for their view, as a reading of Matthew 28 provides no reason to think it is being done incorrectly. It is therefore a Catholic relic in the Protestant churches that has no role in a pre-Catholic system.

I cannot say that I am now against the traditional formula due to my liberal view of unity and diplomacy between churches. However, I now accept the Oneness Pentecostal view as valid.

1 comment:

  1. John, you have resorted to the lovers of Paul. You have quoted Paul and Peter, plus human historians instead of what Jesus said.