In late 2018, the Church of England issued pastoral guidance that “advises clergy to refer to transgender people by their new name” in a newly-announced baptism-style ceremony for transgender people to be welcomed into the Anglican faith. This new, celebratory service is called the “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith,” at which the person may be “presented with gifts such as a Bible inscribed in their chosen name, or a certificate.” The guidance notes: “For a trans person to be addressed liturgically by the minister for the first time by their chosen name may be a powerful moment in the service.”
The arrogance it takes to change the Bible-given purpose of baptism is on full display, much less the hubris to assume one has the power to speak their change of gender into existence based on what they feel they are. To declare oneself “trans” in gender dishonors God who created gender as a biological reality (Genesis 1:26-27). It is truly an example of exchanging the truth for a lie to worship and serve the creature (humans) rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
The Church of England notwithstanding, baptism most certainly does not affirm what biology and scripture denies. The Bible is clear on the purpose of baptism. Since Jesus commanded baptism, it is vital that we refresh ourselves about what Great Commission baptism affirms (Matthew 28:18-19).
- Bible baptism affirms the sinner now believes the gospel of Christ. One must believe the gospel that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God before being baptized (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:36-38). Faith in Christ is a prerequisite of baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 19:4-5).
- Bible baptism affirms the sinner has confessed faith in Jesus Christ. The Ethiopian was baptized after he confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Acts 8:36-38; Romans 10:9-10). The Anglican Church allows and performs infant baptism as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” conferred by God upon the infant, making the child a member of “Christ’s holy Church” (Eleanor McKenzie, Anglican Views on Baptism).
- Bible baptism affirms the sinner has repented of sins. When one repents of his sins he is prepared to be baptized for sin’s remission (Acts 2:37-38). Baptism certainly does not celebrate sin and call it good (which is what the Anglican Church’s “Affirmation of Baptismal Faith” ceremony is designed to do). Baptism that is not predicated on repentance does not please God.
- Bible baptism affirms one is baptized into Christ, into His death, and is consequently dead to sin. This triple action of baptism is taught by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). First, one is not “in Christ” until he or she is baptized “into Christ,” and baptism is when one puts on Christ (v. 3; Galatians 3:27). Second, one is baptized into Christ Jesus that person is also being “baptized into His death” (v. 3). The benefit and power of Christ’s death (His redemptive blood) is reached in baptism when one’s sins are washed away (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Third, one is baptized into death (to sin, v. 4). Released from sin’s bondage and death, the sinner is raised to live a new life (Romans 6:4-6). This new life through baptism is not about gender conversion, but master conversion. Sin and death no longer rule over us. Now, we live with Christ (Romans 6:6-12).
- Bible baptism affirms one is saved. Note carefully that we did not say baptism affirms one has already been saved. The Bible says the water baptism of Christ’s gospel saves the sinner: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21, KJV; cp. Mark 16:16).
Like other denominations, the Church of England believes it has the authority to change the scriptures and their meaning to suit and accommodate the changing fancies and foibles of humanity. We vehemently deny this is our right. We dare not go beyond what is written in inspired scripture, for to do so forfeits fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9). We are not at liberty to go to the left hand or to the right to alter holy scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Affirming what the Bible denies is not faith, it is faithlessness (whether the issue is transgenderism, baptism, or any other matter of life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). Changing God’s word to approve sin is a sin that will not go unpunished (Hebrews 2:1-4).
Joe R. Price