Well, I suppose I would be better off letting Mark Jones’ essay attacking close communion go by without comment. I am reminded of the Proverb, “Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own” (Proverbs 26:17). Jones’s post wasn’t addressed to me specifically. Still, I do feel like this is as much my quarrel as anyone’s. I am a Baptist pastor who holds to close communion. That is the position of my denomination, and it is the position of my church. I happen to believe that it is the position of scripture as well.
Jones, however, would have me and other Baptists set all of that aside in favor of his scripture-free arguments defending open communion. And I really do mean “scripture-free.” Jones is not taking his stand on scriptural teaching, but rather on what he perceives to be the ironies of the Baptist position. I will be the first to admit that there may be some ironies in the credo-baptist position. But no one should let their conscience be bound by another person’s perception of irony. At the end of the day, this should be a discussion about what the Bible teaches, but that is not what you will find in Jones’s essay.
We believe that Jesus commanded us to make disciples of every nation (1) by immersing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and (2) by teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). That is the essence of the great commission, and it involves immersion. That is not theology by etymology (as Jones alleges). It’s simply listening to the words of Jesus. Again, if Jones wants to engage the meaning of baptism, maybe he could start by explaining his interpretation of baptize.
There is much more that can and should be said on the subject. But for now I will leave the last word to Baptist theologian John L. Dagg. Dagg argued that we may know and love many unbaptized Christians, but that does not give us the right to overrule God’s word on the meaning of baptism. Dagg writes:
The members of a church, who understand the law of Christ, are bound to observe it strictly, whatever may be the ignorance and errors of others. For them to admit unbaptized persons to membership [and thus to communion], is to subvert a known law of Christ. Though there be unbaptized persons surpassing in every spiritual excellence, and though the candidate for admission excel them all, yet the single question for the church is, shall its order be established according to the will of God, or shall it not.