Wayne Grudem just released an updated edition of his Systematic Theology. Apparently, the pagination is relatively unchanged, however; the newer format is more attractive than the previous edition and provides wider margins for note taking. However, Grudem has apparently rewritten chapter 49 section F1 (pp. 982-983) which is titled, “Do Churches Need to Be Divided Over Baptism?” This rewrite is quite controversial and as such, I have decided to add my two cents worth here.
Wayne Grudem: Wayne Grudem’s Response to Piper
My response is going to be short and sweet. First, it is clear both symbolically and semantically that the baptism of which Scripture speaks is baptism by immersion. Symbolically in that it pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The dead are not sprinkled with dirt and then left to rot in the open air, nor are the dead buried and then confirmed to have died years later; the dead are submersed in the earth and Christ was submersed in the earth. Semantically the normal use of the word baptism (βαπτισμός) or any of its derivatives is immersion. Second, Piper’s remark that required baptism “is preemptive excommunication” is completely unfounded. The Scriptures clearly define excommunication in Matthew 18:15-20, however; here it is presented as a result of church discipline upon sinning church members, and not upon non-members as a means of rebuke. This is not a denial of fellowship but membership. I share a common faith with individuals who attend other churches and I can and do fellowship with them. Honestly, I would not allow some of these individuals to serve in or become members at a church where I was pastoring but that does not prevent us from fellowshipping with and encouraging one another. Third, if an individual desires to become a member of a local church, is unwilling to submit to that church’s authority, and would willingly choose to attend another, possibly less Biblical, church then that individual has a problem with pride. Ultimately, the problem lies not with the local church but the individual’s unwillingness to submit to that church.
What do you think about this?