By Hank Hanegraaff
For most of my public ministry I have answered this question in the negative. And for that I am genuinely sorry because Christ, the Church, and the Creeds unanimously answer in the affirmative.
First, in John 3, Christ told Nicodemus that, “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit”. Indeed, in Colossians 2, Saint Paul overtly calls baptism the circumcision of Christ. A circumcision by which we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised with Him in newness of life.
Furthermore, through baptism we enter into the communion of the church—the sacred sphere within which union with Christ is consummated. In the words of Saint Cyprian of Carthage, “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.” This ought to be a self-evident truth. Why? Because it is through the church that God’s saving power is mediated to the whole of humanity. Church is thus the reincarnation of Eden. The place in which you and I may have access to the Tree of Life replete with its eucharistic bounty. A bounty by which our nature is unified with Christ and with other Christians. Moreover, as clearly communicated by our Lord, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Finally, the Councils, the Creeds, and the Church Fathers unambiguously communicate “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” (Nicene Creed). Saint John Chrysostom understood this baptism to extend even to those who, like the thief on the cross, confess Christ in their dying breath. “Do not be surprised that I call martyrdom a baptism, for here too the Spirit comes in great haste and there is the taking away of sins and a wonderful and marvelous cleansing of the soul, and just as those being baptized are washed in water, so too those being martyred are washed in their own blood”—a verity that applies to aborted babies as well, for they likewise partake in a baptism of blood.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
***Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming. When available we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***