An evangelical Protestant Baptism by submersio...

Image via Wikipedia

True Baptism

In light of the scriptures the correct baptismal formula is outlined in the book of Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. This formula notes that one is to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). However, there is another passage of scripture that has been construed as a baptismal formula post-New Testament housed in Matthew 28:19. This passage of scripture has been attested by historical church documents and more recently research and scholarship to be late development in church history.

Therefore, one should approach the topic of Matthew 28:19 with some cautionary measures. To wit, the question was neatly put by the leading British apostolic oneness author and historian, Mr. Kulwant Singh Boora, whose work on the subject of apostolic baptism in the name of Jesus has unearthed research and studies never seen before in apostolic oneness Pentecostalism. The author proceeds to point out that is the problem that Matthew 28:19 is wrongly seen and viewed as a baptismal formula? Or is it that it is incorrectly understood as a Trinitarian formula? While there is presented two distinct questions, one which asks why is Matthew 28:19 viewed as a baptismal formula, and if it is a baptismal formula, then the second part must also ask does it allude to a Trinitarian form of immersion?(1)

Matthew 28:19 emerged largely in the post-New Testament era also commonly known as the Patristic era. Notwithstanding this, according to the Bible, historical church documents, and more updated scholarly findings the correct baptism formula is in the name of Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:38). However, this is not the main application that is used so widely in most mainstream churches of today who adhere to the later developed Trinitarian form. Since the beginning of the early Christian church, 100 C.E. to 451 C.E. which is called the Patristic era (the study of early church writers), many people have been at odds to which baptismal formula is correct. All the while more and more historical research is pointing to the direction of the formula from the first century church points towards baptism in the name of Jesus as invoked in the Book of Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament.

Therefore one would assume that there are two baptismal formulas, the one given by Jesus in Mathew 28:19,”Go ye into all the world teaching them and baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and holy ghost.” In Acts 2:38 Peter commanded people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus. There has been a misinterpretation of the correct formula for baptism. God is a Spirit and there are three parts to God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These are not names, but titles of God. For example, my name is Dillard and I am a father, son and grandson. God also has revealed himself by many names; Almighty God, The everlasting father, Jehovah, and finally Jesus in the New Testament. In the New Testament, he became a human being and his name is Jesus. This invisible Spirit, showed himself to humanity in the son ship of Jesus. Jesus told his disciples that he would not leave them comfortless, but He would come to them. The scriptures also tell us in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Everything you need to know about God (the Father) is in the Son of Man, Jesus! But of all the titles and names of God the scriptures tell us in Acts 4:12, “That neither is there salvation in any other name: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”(2) By invoking the name of Jesus we take His name upon us and receive his seal of approval, instead of using a title like dad, brother or mom, we become one with Him and will one day join him at the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Bible also says, “That whatsoever we do in word or deed to do all in the name of Jesus Christ.” Historical references and biblical quotes show that there is one baptism, and show how the apostles and their disciples obeyed the scriptures to fulfill Jesus name baptism, not the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In various incidences throughout the bible we see the day of Pentecost as a day for a foundation being built; Cornelius dutifully listened to the Apostle Peter and was baptized in the name of the Lord, thereby fulfilling Jesus’s commandments and looking at the religious forms of baptism it is easy to see how man’s opinions pushed aside the true meaning of baptism. True obedience unto the Lord will take us to truly listen to the scriptures and not man’s interpretation. Obedience has been taught throughout the scriptures. It started in the Torah (1st of 5 books in the Old Testament) and ends with the last book in the New Testament called Revelation or the Revelation of Saint John. The Apostles chose to obey Jesus rather than disobey him. Jesus taught in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So when Peter stood up on the day of Pentecost he was following through with the teaching of Mathew 28:19.  Either Peter was totally disobeying Jesus, or he knew exactly what he was talking about when he told the crowd to, “…be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” In Acts 4:19 we find the apostle Peter and John telling the religious leaders at the time, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” So when the rulers, elders and scribes commanded the disciples to stop teaching in Jesus name, the Apostles would have none of it and continued to preach and baptize in the name of Jesus. Even though they were beat and thrown in jail they kept on teaching in the name of Jesus. Acts 19:1-5 states, “…finding certain disciples…they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” The Apostle Paul came across some disciples that did not know the proper way to be baptized, they were still baptizing unto repentance. This was the formula that John the Baptist taught them. After Paul shared with them the doctrine of Christ, they were re-baptized in the name of Jesus showing obedience unto the teachings of Jesus whom taught his disciples that baptism must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, Mr. Boora’s recent research and authorship has revealed significant research in the United Kingdom and globally as discussed above. His studies have shown that baptism in the name of Jesus has been performed a myriad of times throughout the UK and worldwide. In some of his research he notes that the King of France around the 6th century wrote a treatise defending the Sabellian theology (Sabellianism is a nontrinitarian belief that God is one but has different modes unlike the Trinitarian doctrine which states that God has three different persons). His latest work that is about to be revealed also provides substantial references to individuals in the earlier centuries that held to an oneness view of God.(3)

Approximately 2000 years ago a revelation broke out upon mankind that has changed every aspect of our lives; God came down as a human child, born in a barn, wrapped in rags, and laid in a feeding trough. The Apostles and Disciples of Christ taught that we must be baptized in Jesus name, not his titles. In doing so, we show him that we love him and that we want to obey him. So whether you choose to follow your religion or teachers, I beg to ask you, what book are they reading and whom are they listening to? Religion has its place for mankind, but if you truly believe in the teachings of Jesus, can you really stop at your religion?

[1] Boora, Kulwant Singh. Apostolic (Acts 2:38) and Post Apostolic (Matthew 28:19) Baptism. Book 3, Vol. 1. Xlibris Press, Bloomington, Indiana (2011), p. 21. Mr. Boora’s various publications have also been cited and referenced by prominent apostolic bible college such as Indiana Bible College, UPCI church newsletters and prominent oneness preachers such as Rev. Jeff Arnold and the Worldwide Pentecostal Fellowship Pastor, Myles Young at the Rock Church, Sacramento, California, Mr. Boora’s work was also recently cited at conference in the U.S., see also www.apostolicnews.org.

[2] Ibid see Boora’s work that cites a prominent British scholar that notes that Acts 4:12 also speaks of baptism in the name of Jesus at pp. 105-106.

[3] See Mr. Boora’s forthcoming publication, I was able to interview the author personally about his latest work. Boora, Kulwant Singh. British Views on The Oneness of God With Observations on The Doctrine of The Trinity. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana (2012).