The Christadelphian understanding of the true gospel,
something of which has been discussed above, requires of us a precise act of
obedience called baptism. Paul compares baptism to the crucifixion (Rom 6:1-6),
as those baptized recognize what the Lord has done by his death, and imitate his
willing submission to death. In accepting baptism they also admit that there is
nothing to be hoped for from the former way of life, and they are born again
(Joh 3:3-5; Tit 3:3-5). But all this demands choice: intelligent, informed and
humble choice. "Repent, and be baptized", cried Peter on the day of Pentecost
(Act 2:38,41). Given its full implication, it is hard to understand how man can
invent reasons for not accepting such an appeal.
According to our understanding of Scripture, two aspects of
baptism are clear and inescapable: (1) those who were to be baptized were first
taught, and then believed and repented; and (2) they were baptized, being
totally immersed in water. Neither aspect is common to "Christian baptism"
today. In fact, the modern practice (of Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians,
and others) of "baptizing" under the guarantee of "godparents", by pouring a
little water on the head of an infant, is foreign both to the Bible and to the
earliest church practice. No man has the right to anticipate or guarantee the
faith of another; nor has any religious body the right to change (for the sake
of convenience or any other reason) the commandments of God!
Therefore, we believe adult baptism is God's command (Mat
28:19,20; Mar 16:15,16; Act 8:12,26-40; 9:18; 10:43-48), the rite of initiation
whereby men, women, and grown children enter the family of faith. Only those who
share this faith and receive baptism are invited to partake of the memorials of
the Lord's death with us. Admittedly, this makes Christadelphians an "exclusive"
body, but not in the sense which implies: "We are good and you are wicked."
Rather, Christadelphians say, "We are all sinners. Sinners must take the way
that is offered, and cannot 'invent' others for themselves. God has appointed
this ordinance and we have no right to tamper with it." It is not because we
want to separate ourselves from others that we keep ourselves apart in worship.
It is because we cannot even implicitly encourage anyone to be disobedient by
allowing him to think that obedience is unimportant.