Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. In this last of his four chapters dealing with baptism, the Catholic apologist attempts to refute Protestants’ argument that the apostle Paul was sent “Not to Baptize but to Preach.”
The Roman Catholic church teaches that baptism is essential for salvation while evangelicals teach that baptism is an ordinance and a believer’s public testimony of their identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. As Broussard points out, some Protestants use the verse below as a proof text to dissociate baptism from salvation:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17
Evangelicals ask, if baptism is necessary for salvation, then why didn’t the apostle Paul prioritize baptizing people during his ministry?
Broussard states that in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul had observed that many in the church had identified themselves with various ministers according to who had baptized who, and that Paul expressed gratefulness (vv.14-16) for having baptized only a few and not being a part of the regrettable factionalism.
But Broussard then points out that Jesus Christ commanded all of the apostles, which would later include Paul, to baptize:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19
Since Paul was commanded to baptize, Broussard suggests that the apostle’s statement, “Christ did not send me to baptize,” is hyperbolic speech; that Paul’s intended meaning was that it doesn’t matter who baptizes a person, not that he dismissed the alleged salvific nature of baptism.
Broussard argues that Paul couldn’t have been dismissing the essentiality of baptism since he affirmed its necessity in Romans 6:3-4:
“3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
In answer to Broussard, while in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17, Paul is certainly addressing the cultish factionalism associated with baptism that was plaguing the church at Corinth, it would have been inconceivable for him to use the words that he did, “For Christ did not send me to baptize,” if baptism were a part of the Gospel and a requirement for salvation. It’s significant that when Paul wrote a detailed outline in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 of what he considered the Gospel, he conspicuously did not include baptism.
Broussard interprets the baptism that’s referred to in Romans 6:3-4 as physical baptism whereas Paul is certainly referring to spiritual baptism/immersion in Christ that comes only by trusting in Him as Savior by faith alone. This metaphorical spiritual immersion/baptism in Christ is referred to many times in the New Testament:
“But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” – 1 Corinthians 6:17
The Catholic practice of the pouring of water over an infant’s head has absolutely no basis in what Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-4.
Has Broussard convinced us that baptism is necessary for salvation? Not hardly. Broussard can’t even convince himself of the necessity of baptism because as a Catholic he MUST also uphold the RCC’s dichotomous teaching that all unbaptized non-Catholic religionists and atheists may also merit Heaven if they are “sincere” and “good.”
“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” – Lumen Gentium, para. 16, Second Vatican Council, November 21, 1964
Broussard guilefully omits any mention of that teaching in his four chapters on the necessity of baptism. This deliberate omission is gapingly underhanded and dishonest.
Is baptism necessary for salvation?
Next week, Broussard continues his twelve-part section on the Sacraments with the first of four chapters on the Lord’s Supper and the communion elements with, “God Will Cut Off the Person Who Eats Blood”