Does "The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches" Teach that Baptism is Essential to Salvation?
While doing some research in some older books, I was browsing through one of the Baptist religion’s main manuals. As I looked through it, I became intrigued at one of the statements in this manual.
According to the Hiscox Baptist Manual, also known as “The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches,” written by Edward T. Hiscox.
It appears to me that the writer of that book is not sure whether or not Baptism is essential to salvation. His statement is this:
Note 8.—Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of "baptismal regeneration '' ; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it. It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church which is his body. And no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience and tokens of affection. (Hiscox pg. 21)
At one point we notice that he states firmly that “Baptism is not essential to salvation.”
He then, one breath later states just as firmly, “But it (baptism-pv) is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it.
It appears then, that though he tries to say otherwise - baptism is indeed essential to Salvation if one is to believe Christ.
Christ Clearly Commanded Baptism
At this point we do not need to discuss whether or not Christ commanded baptism. It is evident that Mr. Hiscox concludes that the action of baptism is a command of the Lord. Regarding baptism he states “it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it.”
This discussion will not answer “did Christ command baptism?” since it is already affirmed by the “Standard Manual for Baptist Churches” that He did. We will simply discuss Obedience and Salvation.
Obedience and Salvation
According to their belief system they should conclude that since baptism:
“is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it.” And… “no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience…”
- Those who obey the Hiscox Baptist Manual will be baptized as an essential act of obedience.
- Baptists obey the Hiscox Baptist Manual.
- Therefore, Baptists will be baptized as an essential act of obedience.
So, now we see that Baptists are to be baptized as an essential act of obedience.
Regardless of whether or not one obeys the Hiscox Manual, we must see if he will be obedient to Christ and we must ask if baptism (obedience) has anything to do with salvation.
Hebrews 5:9 states:
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
So what do we see?
- Christ became the author of salvation to a certain group of people.
- This certain group of people are the ones who “obey Him.”
- Therefore, Christ became the author of Salvation to the ones who “obey Him.”
Notice again, the words of the Baptist Manual:
“it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it.” And… “no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience…”
- The ones who are obedient to Christ are the ones who receive salvation. (Heb.5:9)
- Those who are baptized are obedient to Christ. (Hiscox p.21)
- Therefore those who are baptized are the ones who receive salvation.
Christ’s Words about Obedience
Let us look at Christ’s teaching to his disciples and make some logical points based upon Christ’s words.
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (Jn 14:21)
- The one that keepeth Christ’s commandments is the one that loveth Christ.
- Baptism is one of Christ’s commandments. (Mark 16:16)
- Therefore, the one that is baptized is the one that loveth Christ.
If baptism is not essential to Salvation, as Mr. Hiscox first claimed, then loving Christ is not essential to Salvation.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (Jn 14:23)
- The one that loveth Christ will keep his words and the Father and Christ will make their abode in him.
- “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” are among the words of Christ. (Mark 16:16)
- Therefore, the one that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and the Father and Christ will make their abode in him.
If baptism has no part in salvation, then having the Father and Christ make their abode in a person has no part in salvation. Are we to conclude that Christ and the Father will make their abode in people who are not saved?
One more passage:
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (Jn 14:24)
- The one who does not love Christ does not keep his sayings.
- “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” are among the sayings of Christ. (Mark 16:16)
- Therefore, the one who refuses to believe and be baptized, does not love Christ.
Are we to conclude that a person can refuse baptism as an essential part of Salvation when this clearly says that a person who does not keep Christ’s sayings does not love him? If a person is not baptized in obedience to Christ, this verse states, that he does not love Christ.
Can a person who does not love Christ go to Heaven? The obvious answer is no! It takes doing the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21)
Based upon Hebrews 5:9 and the words of “The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches,” we must conclude that:
- Baptism is essential to Obedience (Hiscox p.21)
- Obedience is essential to Salvation (Heb. 5:9)
- Therefore, Baptism is essential to Salvation.
Of course we could prove baptism is essential to salvation a number of other ways. Ways that do not include any Baptist manual. Christ made it clear in the Bible that Salvation comes after baptism. There are eleven cases of conversion in the New Testament, every single time, the believer is baptized. And every single time his salvation follows that action.
This is just a simple study to show that even when men try to usurp, go around, or mis-apply God’s Word it is very difficult to do so and still try to keep ‘reason’ on your side.
Hiscox, Edward T. The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, American Baptist Publication Society, In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.