Think it matters whether baptism saves? Well, besides the obvious, it matters at Patrick Henry College. Jeremy Hunley got fired for believing baptism saves. The superficially logical position of PHC that saying baptism saves is tantamount to denying faith alone saves is responsible for Hunley losing his library position. Rubbing salt in the wounds, Hunley is being sued for supposedly violating the termination agreement (‘I agree that I have been terminated’).
Hunley is no Lutheran; he attends Purcellville Church of Christ. “The Purcellville Church of Christ’s Web page states that one cannot earn salvation. To be saved, one must respond to God’s offer for grace and mercy, repent, and be baptized, the church believes.”
So, the CoC makes baptism a response to God, anyway.
Two things made me want to comment on this in the first place. First, this quote from Grace Bible Church Pastor Dan Towery, combined with the PHC idea that “baptism saves” contradicts sola fide:
“For example, the viewpoint that says that baptism is required also for salvation is saying, in effect, that the death of Christ was insufficient for salvation. In other words, it sort of is adding something to the finished work of Christ. I think that is a reason that it can become a testy argument or a testy issue between believers simply because they believe it is diminishing the work of Christ. I can understand how that would become offensive to people and would cause an issue with believers.”
No, sorry. These comments demonstrate a misunderstanding of both faith and baptism. Faith is the gift of God–the only gift of God–by which a person can grasp or receive the benefits of baptism, namely, Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. You cannot pit them against each other, or make one a subsidiary of the other. Far from “diminishing the work of Christ,” believing that baptism saves focuses attention on His work alone. To play faith against baptism against Christ is to suggest that they are three separate parts of the Christian life. Not so; faith and baptism are but the gifts that God has given as the means by which we receive the work of Christ.
Second, there is this: “Luther did not believe one needed to be baptized to be saved and his hardline, basic interpretation of the scripture became popular among many people and his grassroots effort gained ground.” He didn’t? He said what all Lutherans have said, i.e., that God is not bound to the means by which He has bound us. That is not at all the same as saying we do not need to be baptized to be saved. The difference is whether we have the right to usurp God’s authority in saying what is necessary and what is not. Christ’s work is the only thing that is necessary for salvation. Period. The question is how that all-sufficient work comes to us, and it comes by faith/baptism.
So far, Different Lights has no comment.