Monday, March 12, 2007

Three Dips Are Better Than One

Two Sundays ago we started a series called “Just Add Water” on Sunday morning as we look at what the Bible teaches about the ordinances of baptism and communion. We started with baptism and used each letter of the word to begin a phrase that described this ordinance. In my blogs last Monday (March 5) and Tuesday (March 6) I overviewed the first 3 letters:

B = Believers only
A = After salvation
P = Picture of spiritual cleansing

Now we move on to the letter “T” which stands for “Trine immersion.” This answers the question, “How do we baptize here at Grace Church?” As is stated, we practice baptism by the mode of “trine immersion.” Immersion is the idea of placing one under the water. Trine is a threefold action. In other words, we baptize by dipping you under the water three times.

Some would immediately respond by wanting to know what new fangled kind of baptism this is. Contrary to public opinion, trine immersion is not a mode of baptism recently concocted by a group of elite modern day theologians who all knew the secret handshake while sitting in some smoke filled room. The truth is that trine immersion it is not “new” at all. Though single immersion (dipping someone under the water once) is much more known in the Christian church today, history records that trine immersion pre-dates single immersion. The mode of single immersion began in the fifth century while church history records instances of trine immersion dating as far back as the second century.

What I appreciate about the mode of trine immersion is that it is the most literal way to translate the main passage of Scripture that deals with baptism. This is found in Matthew 28:19 where we are commanded to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit. The word “baptizing” is a transliteration of the Greek word “baptizo” which is from the root word “bapto.” It is a word that literally means to dip, plunge or place into. This is why we believe in and practice immersion as opposed to pouring or sprinkling. To immerse someone is the most literal way to take the Greek word for “baptizing.”

But why three times? Well, think of it as you would ice cream…three dips are always better than one, right? Seriously, the threefold action also has very solid Biblical support. It is very similar to the concept of a three-legged stool. Take one or two of those legs away and the stool will not stand. But when there are all three legs the stool is solid. In the same way there are three windows to help us to understand the legitimacy of a threefold action in baptism. These include the window of theology; the window of grammar; and the window of history. In tomorrow’s blog we will look through these three windows. My goal is not to convince you that trine immersion is the only Biblical mode of baptism but simply to show you that trine immersion has a solid Biblical basis.

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