Last weekend Noble and Furtick announced the astounding news that between them they’d baptized more than a thousand people. I was curious to see how they did it, especially given that, for NewSpring at least, none of the baptism candidates knew about the baptism until a few minutes before they entered the water.
How did Noble do that? What powerful message on baptism did he preach to persuade so many believers to take that sacred step?
The answer: he didn’t say much at all.
His sermon was focused mainly on Joshua taking off his shoes when, according to Noble, he met Jesus in Joshua 3. Jesus asked Joshua to obey the small, insignificant step of taking off his sandals. As a consequence of his obedience in such a minor matter, God put Joshua on the map.
Noble then asked what minor steps we needed to obey God in, and suggested that it might be baptism. He then explained baptism to his congregation. You can see the entire sermon here, but it was full of nonsensical examples that had the church voting for Chevy or Ford, and cheesecake or cheeseburger. You’ll have to watch it yourself to see how it related to baptism, but somewhere in there he did teach about the Why, How, Who and When of baptism.
With such an ambitious agenda, you might think this would take a few weeks to cover, though Noble got through it all in less than four minutes. The following clip is an edited version of the substance of his teaching. (I have edited out extraneous material on marital authority, fear of water, and infant baptism.)
Please understand that I am not criticizing anyone who was baptized last week, nor the church’s mission to baptize believers. What is disappointing is that the pastor thought it was worth a thousand people immediately taking an important spiritual step, yet he didn’t think it worth more than a few minutes of substantial teaching on a doctrine that literally defines his denomination.
Now, a part of his message is unassailable and praiseworthy–if Jesus tells us to do something, we really have no argument against it. That is true, but there is much more that Scripture offers us on the meaning and mode of baptism than demanding straight obedience. Can we not be obedient and informed? One would assume that knowing more about the sacrament would add to the believers’ blessings.
Commentator Tommy had guessed last week that Noble had achieved his numbers by presenting the sacrament as meaningless.
My interest here is the irony of Baptists celebrating nearly 1000 baptisms, by a group who thinks it’s meaningless.
Tommy appears to have been correct. Where does one find any meaning in Noble’s presentation here? Noble’s message was that this is such a minor step–just like taking off your shoes–, that you’d only refuse to do it if you were afraid or proud.
The only meaning he did provide was that this meant one was “going public” for Jesus.
If that’s all it is, how does getting wet in an above-ground pool behind the church building make one’s faith any more public than attending church in the first place? If going public is what it’s all about, why can’t we just post an announcement on Craig’s list?
Surely there’s more to baptism than this.
(Noble posed four questions: Why, How, Who and When. If I am to complain about his cursory answer, it might be expected that I provide my own, and so I will. Over the next few weeks, PP will answer these questions, probably in four different posts.)