Thanks for joining us today as we continue to examine and respond to Catholic apologist, Karlo Broussard’s book, “Meeting the Protestant Response” (2022). This week, Broussard concludes his second of three short chapters defending baptismal regeneration, using Acts 2:38 as his proof-text:
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Protestant Response #27: “The order of salvation in the New Testament is repentance, faith, and then baptism. Salvation comes first, then baptism.”
Broussard cites evangelical apologist, Todd Baker, for Protestant response #27: “‘The New Testament order for salvation,’ argues Todd Baker, ‘is repentance, faith, and then water baptism. The rite of baptism does not precede the forgiveness of sins.’ To make this argument, Baker appeals to the common practice found in the New Testament. He cites several New Testament passages for support, including Acts 2:41, 8:12-13 and 36-38, and 9:18. For Baker, these passages show that salvation is granted in response to faith. Therefore, he reasons, as soon as a person has faith, he’s saved. He doesn’t need to wait for baptism.”
Broussard’s full response is as follows: “In all these passages, the faith that precedes baptism can be explained by what (Catholic – Tom) theologians call imperfect faith. The assumption here is that faith exercised before baptism in the passages cited is perfect faith, a faith animated by charity (Gal. 5:6) and that which justifies (Rom. 5:1). But that’s not necessarily true. There is such a thing as imperfect faith that God gives in order to lead a person to and prepare him for a faith that justifies, which is given in baptism. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, faith, insofar as we distinguish it from hope and charity (1 Cor. 13:13), is an act of the intellect assenting to God’s revelation by command of the will (Summa Theologiae II-II:2:1). There is nothing in this understanding of faith that tells us whether charity informs it or not. There is nothing that tells us whether it’s a faith that justifies or not, since charity is necessary for faith to justify. God, nevertheless, gives this gift of faith to heal the person from unbelief. Belief in God’s revelation, like repentance, is a necessary starting point for conversion (Mark 1:15). Since there is a type of faith that exists without charity, you can’t automatically conclude that the people who believed in the passages cited above were saved before baptism. Their belief that preceded their baptism could have been, and most likely was, that gift of faith not informed by charity, but which is necessary to cease in unbelief and then believe. Such faith would become perfect, or saving faith, upon receiving the virtue of charity that God grants in baptism. Therefore, the order found in the New Testament of repentance, belief, and baptism doesn’t undermine the Catholic argument for the salvific value of baptism from Acts 2:38.”
Todd Baker is absolutely correct in stating that the New Testament order for salvation is A) repentance (turning from rebellion against God) and B) faith resulting in salvation (i.e., trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone). Water baptism – the ordinance commanded by Christ by which a saved believer publicly identifies with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection – should immediately follow salvation as the first step in a new Christian’s walk with Christ, but it is not part of salvation.
Broussard attempts to qualify the verses and passages that clearly show the correct order for salvation by claiming that the faith in those cases was merely a preliminary, “imperfect,” seeking faith that subsequently led to the “perfect” saving faith granted in baptism. Throughout the entire New Testament, it is belief (pisteuō: to put one’s faith in, to trust in) in Jesus Christ as Savior that is the key to salvation, not sacraments and not merit. Broussard’s subdivision of “faith” in this installment is an awkward and arbitrary eisegesis intended to legitimize the heresy of baptismal regeneration. Broussard vaunts the alleged saving faith connected to baptism, yet eighty-percent of the baptisms performed by the RCC are of newborn infants who have only minimal cognitive abilities and zero ability to exercise faith/trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.
As I’ve mentioned previously, while Broussard insists upon baptismal regeneration in these chapters, the RCC incongruously grants that the unbaptized of all religious stripes and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they sincerely attempt to follow the precepts of their religion or conscience. Keeping that in mind, it’s impossible to acknowledge Broussard’s baptismal regeneration argumentation with any degree of seriousness or respect. The RCC holds to a self-refuting, dichotomous, “and-and” false gospel, i.e., baptism IS essential to salvation/baptism IS NOT essential to salvation.
Next week: Protestant response #28: “What saves us is our pledge to God to follow Jesus.”