September 28, 2020

The End of the Debate: Gene Bridges on Baptists and Baptism

bapt23.jpgUPDATE II: Gene Bridges addresses the issue of the universal church, and reprints Dagg on that subject. (J.L. Dagg was Southern Baptists’ first writing theologian.)

UPDATE: Tom Ascol adds some more historical material that further demonstrates Baptists have never rejected Baptism on the basis on Arminianism. More from Ascol here: The Philadelphia Association accepted Free-will baptism.

The current debate regarding “non-Baptist Baptism,” prompted by recent actions by some SBC IMB trustees, has created a debate regarding what Baptists have historically believed about Baptism. As in any historical debate, the scholarly fog is everywhere.

Gene Bridges clears the fog with a response to Dr. Ergun Caner and Dr. Hershael York. Bridge’s work is calm, measured, comprehensive, insightful and unanswerably convincing. I doubt if anyone addressing this issue realized that Gene Bridges was lurking out there in the blogosphere, studied up and loaded for bear on this very subject. His work is timely and welcome.

Note to the advocates and defenders of the IMB position: When a Truly Reformed Baptist at Triablogue brings out Gill, Dagg and Spurgeon against your position that legitimate Baptism requires an affirmation of the Baptist view of “eternal security,” you are in trouble.

If I run a link from a blog that has regularly consigned me to the lower levels of hell, you know it must be impressive. This link is NOT an endorsement of the regular fare served up by the other folks at Triablogue, but Bridges’ post is a must-read and the end of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned.

I recommend anyone involved in this debate take in Bridge’s excellent work, and stay tuned for more.


  1. GeneMBridges says

    Thank you for your kind words, Michael. As I posted in my article, I’m actually write a book, booklet, heck, I’m not sure what it is, but I was asked to put something on this together before the June meeting. What you see in my article despite the spelling errors here and there (gosh, I hate the dashboard sometimes) is a portion of my research recapitulated and framed to respond to the comments and specifically to Drs. Caner and York. The portion on Dagg will definitely be in the final product. The analysis in the first half may or may not make it into the final product. The publication is supposed to be a historical piece, but I’m finding it difficult not to conclude with a list of questions for the current SBC in light of the new policies…Questions that can be answered by an analysis of the theological logic that underwrites the policies. I plan to post excerpts from it as the Convention draws closer. Look for a series sometime in the spring. The actual book / booklet is, I am told, going to be “taken care of” by a publisher out West that certain persons deeply affected by the IMB board and its shenanigans know. When I know more, I’ll let you know if you’d like to get a copy. I’m assuming it’s not going to fall through. If, for any reason, it doesn’t get published, I’ll post the full thing in a daily series for as long as it takes to get the information out there.

    Don’t forget that Tom Ascol has also begun discussing the policies themselves over at the Founders blog. He is also responding to Dr. York.

    Both I (and I would say Tom) am/are trying to raise the level of discourse, as you say, to clear the fog. I have found, as I have done my research, that many of these issues have been addressed in the 19th century. If you take “paedobaptist minister” and substitute “those who were baptized in churches that disaffirm eternal security” you get the same arguments from both sides.

    So, it’s a matter of:

    a. What Scripture says.

    b. How others have dealt with similar questions.

    c. How the Convention has historically answered these questions. As one of the comments at Tblogue noted, W.A. Criswell even said that if the administrator of John Smith’s baptism apostatized and was really unregenerate, that doesn’t affect the John Smith’s baptism.

    d. Personally, my favorite part of John L. Dagg is what he says about John the Baptist! I had to laugh when I read it When remember he was addressing men who traced their lineage to John the Baptist, you have to wonder who they thought baptized John! Marvelous!

    Finally, I did read the final product after I published it, but it took me forever to write last night, so I didn’t check the punctuation and spelling as well as I would normally have done. I posted it at 4:30 am…I had read Caner abt. midnight and thought “Okay, this is it, I’ve got to reply to this, because I’m really ‘over it’ now.” Next thing you know, it’s 4:30 am. Oh well. So, I apologize for the spelling and punctuation errors there. I promise they won’t be in the final product.

    As one of my friends here in NC said when he heard about the new policies…

    Leave it to the SBC to mess up baptism! LOL

  2. joel hunter says

    Gene, as an outsider to this controversy, my opinion isn’t of any value whatsoever. But I do want to commend you for the thoughtful and considered response you have put forth. To one who may disagree with you, it may be hard to appreciate this, but I believe what you are doing is nothing less than striving to maintain the peace and purity of the Lord’s body, the church. You are doing work faithful to the imperatives of Eph 4:3-6. My prayers for the SBC are just that.

  3. Those Truly Reformed types certainly appear to enjoy writing essays that are very long, very logical, and very dull.

  4. Tom Bordeaux says

    Is this Gene Bridges the same one who was the associate minister in Savannah, Georgia, in the late 60’s, early 70’s? If so, I thought highly of him and would like to contact him directly. My address is

    Tom Bordeaux