Can Wrestlers Baptize? (Part 2)

11168958_800In part one, I asked readers what they thought about something John Calvin said about baptism in his book Institutes of the Christian Religion.  Several readers made good comments on my Facebook page, and I thought I’d share them:

[V]iewing the sacraments as only being able to be administered by clergy takes the emphasis off ‘Christ alone’ and ‘faith alone’ and gives some intrinsic power to the elements because of the one administering them, rather than Jesus.


I don’t think I agree with with ministers only being able to baptize. Especially since we are all priests according to Peter.


The great commission indeed gives authority in my opinion to all believers. The scripture is not a book of procedures to ministry only but a revelation and instruction to every believer. We know there are those who have been placed in the body of Christ to equip the Saints to do the work of the ministry. I never considered the sacraments as a work of the ministry. But an act of obedience in love to my relationship to Christ and fellowship with the Saints.

I appreciate those that took time to share their thoughtful comments.  I agree with what has been said above.  As I noted in part one, Calvin bases his belief that only ministers should baptize on Matthew 28:19 and 20–“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Since Jesus spoke this to the apostles, He only meant for church leaders to baptize.

Calvin’s interpretation begs the question: Should only church leaders make disciples of all nations?  Should only church leaders teach the nations to obey everything Jesus commanded? The answer to both of these questions is, obviously, “No.”  But if we agree with Calvin that only ministers should baptize we must also conclude that only church leaders should disciple and evangelize.  This is a position that, to my knowledge, no one has ever held.

I don’t mean to pick on Calvin.  Institutes is a vast work full of many theological treasures.  Calvin had a heart to share the gospel, the good news about Christ, with God’s people.  The message of Christ brings freedom (Gal. 5:1). Calvin saw the people of God struggling under many obligations, religious laws, and traditions that had no basis in the teaching of Christ or the apostles.  Institutes was his Emancipation Proclamation; it announced every Christian’s freedom from religious slavery (Matt. 23:4). If I ever meet Calvin in the next world, I doubt either of us will care about a blog post of a few hundred words or even a magnum opus like Institutes.  We’ll be too busy worshiping JESUS!!  But if this post comes up in conversation, I hope he’ll just take it as the goading of a younger brother, and put me in a loving headlock  😉

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Teague, Maybe there’s another way of looking at the question ‘should only leaders baptise’. The eunuch in Acts 8:36 asked Philip: See, here is water; what hinders me to be baptized? So it could be argued that preventing baptism unless there’s a ‘recognised’ leader present to do it is actually a hindrance to a new believer. Philip went ahead and baptised him. Not sure if Philip as a deacon would be recognised as having the right level of ‘leadership’ in some denominations either 🙂 Philip also preached the gospel in Samaria and baptised people there etc., He didn’t seem to send for one of the recognised apostles to come and do it for him. We seem to excel in putting hindrances in the way of the pure simplicity of the gospel. I have baptised someone and would happily do so again: a double problem for some I suppose as I don’t have the proper piece of paper and I’m a woman to boot! Glory to God!

    1. mrteague says:

      Yes, we do excel at hindering the simplicity of the gospel. I also baptized someone once. It was a man who I was a caregiver to when I worked in a nursing home. He didn’t feel right with God because he’d never been baptized. So we prayed together, I poured bottled water over his head, and baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His countenance was changed after that. God had evidently done a work, and he had peace. Two days later, he died. I too would baptize again if the Lord led. I guess we’re back to this being a faith thing. Whatever we do by faith, God accepts. What we do without faith is sin–even if we have the right credentials (Rom. 14:23). Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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