The Evangelical Universalist Forum

I can haz a Universal Baptist Convention plz? kthxbi!

While at lunch I was pondering various theological things (as I usually do–and also finishing up Bauckham’s smaller book on RevJohn theology), and somehow I worked my way around to putting together a couple of topics that I had never put together before.

1.) My home denomination (yes, for every imaginable practical and principle purpose it’s a denomination, though they hate being called that), the Southern Baptist Convention, has been ever-more-seriously debating whether they ought to change their name in order to better reflect their status as (perhaps? what are the recent stats?) the world’s largest Protestant group (and certainly the largest US Protestant group, not to say by far the largest Baptist group). But no one has proposed a new title yet with much support.

2.) I sure wish the SBC would come around to acknowledging at least purgatorial universalism (and ultra-universalism, to be fair to those guys, though naturally I’m more partial to wishing p-u’s inclusion first :mrgreen: ) as a debatable option like Arm and Calv variants within the Convention. I know it’s too much to hope for the SBC to become solely Katholic, but if Lewis’ inclusivism can be accepted as at least a respectably debatable option (or theologoumen), it wouldn’t be a far step at all to p-u. Ah well, sigh.

3.) Wait… universalism… universal = katholic… an expression that acknowledges the increasingly successful worldwide efforts of the group… maybe the hope of pulling together all Baptist groups into one evangelical union…

Universal Baptist Convention!!

They wouldn’t even have to acknowledge universalism as a respectable option among Christian brothers. I’d still be in favor of it. (Though partly also due to a bit of rhetorical leverage in appealing to the principles implied by the name change, in favor of the universal ‘eonian’ gospel. :wink: )

Out of curiosity I Googled the name–it has already been registered as the name of an incorporation in California, for some reason, but I can’t find any information why.

Universal Baptist Conference seems to still be open (though that sounds more like a one-time gathering over a weekend.)

George MacDonald was a Congregationalist, who (as I’ve heard some Baptists put it) was spinkled as an infant.

C.S. Lewis was an Anglican, who (likewise) was baptized in infancy.

Would Baptists even consider them brothers in Christ?

Most Baptists (at least among the Arminians) consider C. S. Lewis definitely a brother in Christ; and still would even if he didn’t have adult baptism (though there is some evidence he did when he converted.) There are a few Baptist enclaves who don’t consider anyone to be a Christian brother who hasn’t submitted to full immersion after a penitent profession of faith, but most Baptists nowadays (including in the SBC) teach that believer’s baptism is only a symbol of enactment–necessary for joining a Baptist congregation, but nothing more than that. Repentance from sin and accepting Jesus as Lord is more crucial, and they accept anyone as a Christian brother if they’ve done that (though most Baptists also are pretty hard on the trinitarian doctrinal position also being accepted and professed. But that isn’t a problem in regard to Lewis. I think I’ve met more Baptist fans of Lewis than from any other denomination. :laughing: )

Most Baptists have no idea who the heck George MacDonald was (other maybe than a teacher of C. S. Lewis). :wink:

So Baptists don’t believe in baptismal regeneration?

How do they interepret John 3:5?

How do you view that verse?

Ironic, isn’t it? :wink:

Despite insisting on believer’s baptism, Baptists (the SBC especially) also insist that the action is only metaphorical for what is actually happening, namely baptism by the spirit: it’s an outward symbol for something otherwise invisible.

Otherwise the thief on the cross would have had to have believer’s baptism to be saved, but that obviously didn’t happen, nor was it needed. Ditto the typical ministry of the apostles and Jesus after a certain point before the command to baptize disciples in the Name.

Baptists are trying to strike a balance between the importance of the deed in what it means, and the strength of God to save in personal communion with the sinner (thus without necessarily needing a mediating minister or especially a priest.) I wish my Arminian Baptist brothers had greater faith in God Mighty To Save, but eh… :sunglasses: At least my Calvinist Baptist brothers do!–though I wish they had the scope of my Arminian brothers.

Baptists mean the Living Water Himself (as well as the Holy Spirit Himself) when considering John 3:5. Though obviously there are uncareful exponents who will prooftext that in order to defend believer’s baptism over institutional baptism (thus making believer’s baptism institutional. :wink: ) And I agree with them on that.

But then, what would be the distinction beween water and spirit (in John 3:5)?

Wouldn’t they both mean essentially the same thing?

I like the thought that it wasn’t needed, but how do we know he wasn’t baptized by John?

But weren’t the Apostles baptizing disciples before John was put in prison?

You agree with them about Jesus being the living water?

(Not the institutionalization of believers baptism?)

So the water would be Jesus Himself, and the spirit would be The Holy Spirit?