Is Baptism Required for Church Membership?

Matt Smethurst | September 17, 2015

Does everyone who joins a local church need to be baptized? What’s the relationship between baptism and church membership (and even more fundamentally, between baptism and the Lord’s Supper)? Should baptists let those sprinkled as infants join their churches?  

These are just some of the thorny issues Bobby Jamieson tackles in his new book Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership (B&H Academic, 2015) [50 quotes | audio interview | summary chapter].

I recently spoke with Jamieson—a PhD student in New Testament at the University of Cambridge and the author of Sound Doctrine: How Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God (Crossway, 2013) [review]; Understanding Baptism (B&H, forthcoming); and Understanding the Lord’s Supper (B&H, forthcoming)—about why he thinks Charles Spurgeon and John Piper are wrong, common objections to the “closed membership” position, why this practically matters, and more. 

Why do you think believer’s baptism is required for church membership?

Church membership is a public affirmation of someone’s public profession of faith in Christ, and Jesus has appointed baptism as the means by which his followers publicly profess their faith in him. A church can’t affirm the profession of someone who hasn’t yet made that profession.

Baptism is how you publicly identify yourself with Jesus and with his…

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