I catch a lot of flack when I say paedobaptism is invalid and I catch more flack when I say if you were not baptized by immersion upon a profession of faith you cannot take part in the Lord’s Supper.  Grimes explains the view held by Strict & Particular Baptists very clearly.  What is meant by “alien immersion?”

By the term “Alien Immersion” is meant immersions performed outside of Baptist churches, by persons who are in no way connected with them.


We come now to the doctrinal statement of the English Baptists as found in their Confession of Faith.  We take the first (1643) and last (1689) of the Calvinistic Confessions of the seventeenth century.  The first of these has this to say upon this point: Art. 41 –“The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the scripture holds forth to

be a disciple, it being nowhere tied to a particular church officer or person extraordinarily sent, the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.”

The latter of these (1689) says:

Art. 28 – “Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in his church to the end of the world.  These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.”

The former of these was adopted by seven Baptist churches in London ; and the latter by more than one hundred “Baptized” (Baptist) churches in England and Wales .

If language has any meaning it seems apparent that in both of these articles the administration of baptism is confined to the pales of the church, and must be performed by the authority of the same.  In the first, it must be a disciple and also it must be a man capable of preaching the gospel.   In the latter it confines it not only to the church, but to those called and set apart for that specific purpose.  The seeming difference may be explained in this way: When the first Confession was adopted the clergy, of the State Church , had made themselves very obnoxious, and had assumed such authority as to create a prejudice with the Baptists against anything that savored of clerical domination.  This article, no doubt, was intended to assert church authority on the one hand and rebuke an arrogant clergy on the other.  When the latter Confession was put forth matters had changed up, and assumed a somewhat normal attitude.  It would be hard to get stronger and plainer language than is found in the Confession of 1689.

But, the question comes back: “Did the framers of these Confessions intend to confine the administration of baptism to the authority and agency of Baptist churches?  Were they Baptists of the strict type?”  This must be answered in the affirmative.

There was a living link which binds the two Confessions together.  The name of William Kiffin is appended to both these Confessions.  He was the first to sign the Confession of 1643, and the second to sign the one of 1689.  He was a leader of Baptist thought in his day.  When you would learn the doctrinal standing of William Kiffin and Hansard Knollys, you wold know the doctrinal caste of the Baptists of England in the seventeenth century.  Concerning Kiffin we find the following in Cramp’s Church History: “The young man (Wm. Kiffin) became an independent inquirer, prepared to follow the leadings of truth regardless of consequences.  Observing that some excellent ministers had gone into voluntary banishment rather than conform to the Church of England, he was induced to examine the points in dispute between that church and her opponents.  He had been five years a member of the Independent church, then under the care of Mr. Lathrop, when, with many others, he withdrew and joined the Baptist church, the first in England of the Particular Baptist order, of which Mr. Spilsbury was pastor.  Two years after that, in 1640, a difference of opinion respecting the propriety of allowing ministers who had not been immersed to preach to them –in which Mr. Kiffin took the negative side- occasioned a separation.  Mr. Kiffin and those who agreed with him seceded, and formed another church, which met in Devonshire Square .  He was chosen pastor, and held that office until his death, in 1701 (sixty-one years), one of the longest pastorates on record.” –Baptist History (Cramp), p. 447, and Both sides, p. 22.

Such was the type of the Baptists who framed the London Confession of Faith.  He and his church did not only reject the administration of the ordinances at the hands of unbaptized ministers, but made the preaching to them of such a minister a test of fellowship, sufficient to create a division in the church.  Can any one conclude for one moment that such Baptists would tolerate alien immersion? or frame a Confession of Faith in any way favorable to it? or that they would even wink at it?

We would not undertake to say that there were not some individuals in England who held connection with Baptist churches that would tolerate alien immersion.   And that they have grown more loose during the last century is admitted.  What we mean to say is that the Baptists of England and Wales during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as a denomination, stood unflinchingly against all such innovations as alien immersion and mixed communion. [source]


8 thoughts on “Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism

  1. Hello!

    Interestingly, it would seem that I generally agree with your views concerning believer’s baptism and participation in communion – although we may differ on a couple of the details.

    I would understand that as a priesthood of believers, believers (only believers and any believers – who are walking with the Lord) a qualified to administer immersion to believers as they follow the Lord in baptism. I’m not sure how someone could biblically support the idea of Baptist baptism as the only valid baptism as appears to be the case in the confession.

    I would also understand that any believer qualified to administer baptism would also be qualified to administer the Lord’s supper which may be partaken by any other believer who is in fellowship with the Lord and others.

    However, beyond this, what I have noticed is that you at least give the impression that you primarily utilize a theological hermeneutic that relies heavily, if not exclusively upon historical confessions. I have also noticed that this seems to be prevalent among Calvinists. It seems to me that they cite the confessions and specific theologians far more than they cite biblical passages.

    I find this quite ironic as this is exactly the approach of the Catholic Church. Although the Reformation is known for breaking from the teaching magisterium of the Church, but the practice was retained.

    I’m not suggesting that Calvinists don’t hold to biblical authority or believe that their views are not firmly grounded in Scripture – but in practical terms a theological hermeneutic seems to prevail.


    1. Dave, I’ve stated over the years that perfect theology doesn’t save, it’s not imparted at the time of regeneration…only faith in Christ saves us. We will agree, I’m guessing, on more than we disagree. I will reference the confessions often but I do not give them the high standing most Reformed folks give them. I disagree on the sabbath for example. It bothers me that the modern church has accepted non-confessional Christianity, as if theology is done without the church at all…

      Theology; dogmatic and biblical, is done systematically by the church and stated confessionally. If I’m not mistaken you state what you believe? How is this different from confessional Christianity? It’s not.

  2. Gotta disagree with Mr. Kiffin. Such a stance creates a number of problems, in my opinion. First, would that not imply that non-baptist churches simply aren’t churches, and their elders not truly ordained elders? I suppose someone might take that opinion, but I certainly don’t, and from the preface to the 1689 Confession, i don’t think the Particular Baptists did either. Secondly, although this is more of a modern problem, the 1689’s position on baptism is much closer to the position of the WCF than it is to, say, the position and reasoning of a Dispensational Arminian. I suppose one is not truly baptized until he’s baptized in a church that holds to the 1689? Just some initial thoughts.

    1. Patrick,

      I would say, from my reading and limited study, those churches who confessed the 1689 practiced strict communion. That would include Nehemiah Coxe. Not only did the 1689’ers practice strict communion, rejecting other forms of baptism, many Arminian Baptists did as well.

      The Calvinistic Particular Baptists were justas clear in their adherence to consistent communion as the Arminian General Baptists. The first widely-used Particular Baptist confession was the so-called First London Confession, which was published in 1644 and revised in 1646. The second edition of the confession explicitly teaches consistent communion: That Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed only upon persons professing faith, or thatare Disciples, or taught, who upon a profession of faith, ought to be baptized and after to partake of the Lord’s Supper (Article


      …many leading Baptists who signed both confessions, including William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, Henry Forty, Benjamin Coxe and his son Nehemiah.

      In fact Kiffin, who was perhaps the key leader among the Particular Baptists of his era, entered into a debatewith John Bunyan over the terms of communion. Kiffin argued that the consistent Baptist position was “restricted” communion, whereas Bunyan argued for an open
      communion position.

      …historians note that most of the Baptists during the late 17th century held to closed communion. (For a fuller treatment of the continuity between the confessions, see James Renihan, “Confessing the Faith in 1644 and 1689,” available at http://www.reformedreader.org/ctf.htm. BaptistTheology.org)



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