Baptism - Appendix 3

Extracts from Letters of JNDarby


This appendix contains a number of extracts from the ministry of JNDarby showing that he did not hold Baptist views as to baptism and also left it open for believers to decide whether they should have their babies baptised. Though Mr Darby would have regarded it irregular for a person to be a partaker of the Lord's supper without having been baptised at all, he would have regarded any bona fide baptism or Christening as acceptable (baptism is Christening - putting on Christ; see Galatians 3:27 - though the usual form of the latter - sprinkling - does not suggest burial as does immersion).

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 1 pages 251/252

The whole Baptist principle is a mistake from beginning to end, and nothing more than conscientious want of light... I trust now, save with a very few, all are disposed to leave people free in conscience... half the evil (though not all) is being occupied with ordinances, whatever side may be taken.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 1 page 296

I suppose from your letter that your boys have never been baptised. If such be the case, it is clear to me that they ought to be. I baptised myself, a number recently converted at Stafford, very recently. I look in no way on baptism or any other ordinance as a matter of obedience. I leave behind me, as being simple ignorance to refer to it, all reference to John's baptism, which was before the death and resurrection of Christ... I reject all notion of a testimony to what we have already received... As to obedience; not only is obedience to ordinances, in principle, legal and unchristian, but the language of the word is, "What doth hinder me?" "Who can forbid water?" - language wholly incompatible with the idea of obedience. I reject the idea of its being witness of what we have, because I find in scripture, "Wash away thy sins" - "Buried with him by baptism unto death" - not because you are washed, or are dead - "Wherein also ye are risen" - not because you are already. I see a command to baptise, none to be baptised; nor were the apostles baptised, save Paul. But I see it evidently to be the way in which disciples were received to Christ publicly and outwardly.

It is a mistake to think that it has to do with the unity of the body: for this Christ had to ascend on high and send down the Holy Spirit, and "by one Spirit we are all baptised into one body" - but of this unity the Lord's supper is the sign, not baptism. This goes no farther than death and resurrection; what is individual, that the flesh is hopelessly bad.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 1 page 410/411

My habit is to immerse unless there is special hindrance, or, at any rate, standing in the bath pour water over them, using both the name of the Lord Jesus, and the words of Matthew xxviii.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 2 page 47

I should never, and never have, as you know, pressed any to baptise their children, or introduced the subject... I am disposed to think that it is in scripture, for our present condition, purposely left in the background... I have NO doubt as to infant baptism of the children of a Christian. But I have a full feeling that Christ did not send me to baptise; I leave to others activities on either side. The twelve were sent to baptise, but as to ecclesiastical matters, we are under Paul.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 2 page 50

The question then is, are children entitled to be received?... or are they to be left out where Satan rules? Scripture, I believe, gives a Christian parent a title to bring them to Christ, but this can only be now scripturally by death as baptism figures it, for " that which is born of the flesh is flesh."

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 2 page 51

The truth Baptists have to learn is that there is a place, a system established by God, where the blessings are found - the olive-tree fatness - without the question of conversion being settled, in which heathen, Mohammedans, and now for a time Jews are not, but in which these last will hereafter again be, though not on our footing.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 2 page 148

I believe that God intended to leave baptism in the shade.

Letters of JNDarby - Volume 2 page 229

Quakers and unbaptised I have told that I thought they ought to be.

You have given the true reasons for not re-baptising: if it is initiatory, and reception into the house or public professing assembly on earth, you cannot introduce him if he has been. If this has been bona fide done, done with this object, hence called christening, it is done; and a second service cannot be this, but only on the ground of being declaratory and obedience, which you yourself reject, as indeed baptising brethren themselves do generally now, and which are clearly unscriptural.