I had a small discussion on Facebook about the need for baptism to be a Christian. Well, the person I was talking with had the discussion. It is a little hard to follow in just a brief account, but here goes:
I commented about how the word baptismos in Greek means both “to dip” and “to wash.” The other person was using Mark 16:16 along with a concordance to prove immersion is the only acceptable baptism and necessary for salvation. I discussed how Mark has 3 different conclusions that were hotly debated by Origen and others during the founding of the Vulgate canon ( the biblical canon our Bible comes from).
Quoting various Apologetic Press articles, the other side pointed out that just because there are 3 different texts, the conclusion we have isn’t untrue…. This left me a little puzzled. It is unlikely the author of Mark wrote all the conclusions; therefore only one is “true” in the sense it belongs to the original author. Anyway, my discussion partner proceeded to affirm baptismos can only mean immersion. They even commented about how “liberal” colleges and “scholars” have their own agendas and basically can’t save my soul. Most of what I commented about was the results of my own research and Bible study.
What struck me was how people can be so quick to affirm they are correct in their beliefs even to the point of missing what I was discussing: the ambiguity of the Scripture. I ended up stating I wasn’t discussing the poor flogged horse of immersion vs other baptism practices after what I perceived as accusations of being “fallen away”. I was discussing the fact that there are many differing texts of the Bible, multiple meanings to words, and the need for in-depth study from linguistic, archaeological and historical angles for anyone who calls themselves Christian. In fact, I dare to think a person who doesn’t study their Bible and Church history in as much depth as they can aren’t following Jesus’ teaching of seeking and knocking.
I stated I was merely uncertain about the complete veracity of Scripture because there are so many versions and translations of the Bible. There are Aryan (not the Nazi related Aryan. Aryan Christian lived during the Roman Empire and rejected the new doctrine of the Trinity), Gnostic, Ethiopian, Vulgate, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern ( considered by many scholars, for what it’s worth, to be the closest to original Christianity), and many many others.
Even the Bible we have warns us about the danger of changing a single word of God’s command (Genesis and the snake). Taking the Bible without critical thinking is akin to Eve accepting the snake at his word. We cannot know if we are missing something critical without proper study and accepting the ambiguity of Scripture.