Recently the Adventist Review put out a special series of articles on Baptism. One article was the changes made to the Baptism Vow. The article can be found under the title: Sixth Business Meeting 57th General Conference Session, July 3, 2000
Aside from the fact that the Baptismal vow is far removed from any Biblical requirements to be baptized it has an extremely narrow and Traditional SDA focus. Below you will find the list with some of my interspersed comments in red. I am sure my objections are not the only objections that other SDA’s may have. I was going to post what I think the Baptismal vow should be but I don't know that there is a need for one at all. I am also not too sure that the SDA church should be asking those joining it to make a commitment to a particular set of beliefs. So at the risk of not providing an alternative for what I am criticizing here are my observations.
BAPTISMAL VOW AND BAPTISM— CHURCH MANUAL AMENDMENT
Voted, To amend the Church Manual, Chapter 5, Church Membership, page 30, Baptismal Vow and Baptism, to read as follows:
Baptismal Vow—Candidates for baptism or those being received into fellowship by profession of faith shall affirm their acceptance of the doctrinal beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the presence of the church or other properly appointed body. (See p. 29.) The minister or elder should address the following questions to the candidate(s), whose reply may be by verbal assent or by raising the hand.
- Do you believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons? No I believe in One God revealed in three persons, One in the Bible conception is not produced by unity of several.
- 2. Do you accept the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary as the atoning sacrifice for your sins and believe that by God’s grace through faith in His shed blood you are saved from sin and its penalty? No I believe my faith is in God not the shed blood, the blood is a symbol for the life, death and life of Christ, we are not saved by shed blood but by the love of God.
- 3. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour believing that God, in Christ, has forgiven your sins and given you a new heart, and do you renounce the sinful ways of the world? No, I believe that God has forgiven my sins and Christ as God demonstrated that forgiveness, the term in Christ as the previous vow predicates upon a forensic and penal atonement theory which I can’t accept.
- 4. Do you accept by faith the righteousness of Christ, your Intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary, and accept His promise of transforming grace and power to live a loving, Christ-centered life in your home and before the world? No, there is not Biblical statement about the righteousness of Christ. I accept by faith that God is righteous and that Christ is God who came to earth in the incarnation which is the major form of intercession between God and man. The second way God intercedes is through His Spirit with our Spirits; that is the part of our minds which is influenced by God. The heavenly sanctuary is not Biblically mentioned nor would it be the only place that God mediates to man.
- 5. Do you believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian? Do you covenant to spend time regularly in prayer and Bible study? No, the Bible does not claim to be God’s inspired Word. It contains writings that are inspired and it contains words that God said but it is not the Word of God. Calling it God’s inspired Word makes it sound like the Bible is infallible and inerrant and that all instructions therein must be God’s eternal word on whatever subject they address.
- Do you accept the Ten Commandments as a transcript of the character of God and a revelation of His will? Is it your purpose by the power of the indwelling Christ to keep this law, including the fourth commandment, which requires the observance of the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath of the Lord and the memorial of Creation? No, nowhere does the Bible say that the 10 commandments are a transcript of God’s character. In fact none of the 10 commandments even says that God loves us! I think there is no place for this type of legalism in a Baptismal vow, it was not a condition of Baptism in the New Testament and should not be a condition for baptism today.
- Do you look forward to the soon coming of Jesus and the blessed hope when “this mortal shall . . . put on immortality”? As you prepare to meet the Lord, will you witness to His loving salvation by using your talents in personal soul-winning endeavor to help others to be ready for His glorious appearing? Yes, but it is far more important to witness to the love and reconciliation God offers then focusing on the Second coming which we have no way of knowing if it will be this year or ten thousand years from now.
- Do you accept the biblical teaching of spiritual gifts and believe that the gift of prophecy is one of the identifying marks of the remnant church? Yes to the first phrase No to the second. This is a backhanded attempt to place Ellen White into the Baptismal vow, again it is out of place.
- Do you believe in church organization? Is it your purpose to worship God and to support the church through your tithes and offerings and by your personal effort and influence? No, tithes is not really a New Testament concept. Remove that word and I could say yes.
- Do you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; and will you honor God by caring for it, avoiding the use of that which is harmful; abstaining from all unclean foods; from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages; the use, manufacture, or sale of tobacco in any of its forms for human consumption; and from the misuse of or trafficking in narcotics or other drugs? I have to say no on this one because of it’s over reaching statements. For instance the abstaining from the sale of alcoholic beverages would mean that a person could not be a cashier at a grocery store or a manager, the manager of a restaurant or a server at a restaurant. Besides that the moderate use of Alcohol is not forbidden by the Bible, upon what authority does the SDA church forbid it?
- Do you know and understand the fundamental Bible principles as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Do you purpose, by the grace of God, to fulfill His will by ordering your life in harmony with these principles? No, I understand the Bible principles but the Adventist church as we have seen here clearly over reach Bible principles.
- Do you accept the New Testament teaching of baptism by immersion and desire to be so baptized as a public expression of faith in Christ and His forgiveness of your sins? Yes, though I don’t think the baptism was meant as a public expression of faith as much as identification with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For instance when Phillip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch it was based upon the presence of water not as a public expression.
- Do you accept and believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of Bible prophecy and that people of every nation, race, and language are invited and accepted into its fellowship? Do you desire to be a member of this local congregation of the world church? No, the Bible does not indicate that the remnant is of a particular denomination, the remnant is made up of all who love and follow God.
It looks like I can agree with 2 (3 if one word is modified) of the 13 vows. How many can you agree to without modification?