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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.69 n.1 Pretoria Jan. 2013

 

ORIGINAL RESEARCH

 

The origin, development and a brief appraisal of the doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Christ Apostolic Church, Nigeria

 

 

George O. Folarin

Department of Religious Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Correspondence to

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article traces the development of the Christ Apostolic Church's (CAC) doctrine of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, its current official stance and the church ministers' interpretations of the doctrine. To gather data for this work, focus-group discussions were held with groups of CAC ministers in 1992 and 2012. Data gathered were analysed. Selected leaders of CAC were interviewed, and the data from the two sources were compared, interpreted and discussed in terms of related literature. A theological appraisal concluded the work. The findings are that, whilst CAC tenets appear to conform to the Classical Pentecostal model, the opinions of the church's ministers are divided along Pentecostal and Evangelical lines. The official view of the CAC is that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is distinct from the initial work of salvation and that the visible signs of receiving this baptism are multiple, but there are significant disagreements amongst the church ministers to this. The appraisal reveals that the tenet of the church needs to be reworked to conform to the teaching of the Scripture.


 

 

Introduction

A brief introduction to Pentecostalism is important because the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) claims to be Pentecostal (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution 1998:15, 18; cf. Oshun 2008:75). Classical Pentecostalism inherited certain things from its Spirit revival predecessors, the Wesleyan and the Keswick movements. The first is that baptism in the Holy Spirit is distinct from and at times subsequent to salvation (Stephens n.d.). The second is that the encounter of baptism in the Holy Spirit needs to be 'verifiably' attested. The third is that the purpose of baptism in the Holy Spirit is not for salvation although the Wesleyan and the Keswick movements disagree on the nature of that purpose. Methodism sees the purpose to be perfection whilst the Keswick revivalism views the purpose to be empowerment for service. This confusion has been visible in Pentecostal teachings to this date. According to Synan (1997:xi), Methodism makes sanctification the purpose and an outburst of joy the evidence (Dayton 1978:474-475) of baptism in the Spirit. Keswick theology makes special feeling the evidence and spiritual power and anointing to serve the purpose of baptism in the Spirit (Menzies 1975:93). In fact, as early as the 1890s, some holiness preachers claimed that laughter, tears, warmth, trembling and contortions, falling to the floor, shouting, screaming, speaking in tongues, falling into trance, getting the 'jerks' and other feelings were evidence of baptism in the Spirit (Hunter n.d.; Synan 1971:62-63). Whilst 'speaking in tongues' was reported amongst Christians before 1901, the 'speaking in tongues' was not seen as the only initial evidence of baptism in the Spirit. Towards the end of 1900, the students of Topeka Bible College, 'using the Bible alone discovered for the first time' that speaking in tongues is the only evidence associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts. On 01 January 1901, one of the students of the school, Agnes Ozman, experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Synan 2002). From this arose the Classical Pentecostal theological position that 'speaking in tongues' is the incontrovertible evidence of baptism in the Spirit (Synan 1987:32). Brown is therefore correct in claiming that the significance of Charles Parham's Bethel Bible College in Topeka for Pentecostalism is that it posits speaking in tongues as the indisputable evidence for baptism in the Spirit and that this contribution is primarily theological (Brown 1997). Classical Pentecostal churches are therefore those churches that claim to follow the pattern of Acts in which 'speaking in tongues' attests to baptism in the Spirit as it happened on the day of the Pentecost. Charismatic churches, in contrast, are the groups that encourage the use of all or most spiritual gifts in the contemporary church without making any particular spiritual gift or manifestation the proof of baptism in the Spirit (Tennison 2005:108). Some scholars no longer pay attention to this distinction (Anderson 2000). They refer to all churches that promote the use of 'wonder gifts' in the contemporary world as Pentecostal. Ayegboyin and Asonzeh-Ukah (2008:12) cite Hackett as an example of a scholar that uses the terms Pentecostal and Charismatic as synonyms. The traditional interpretation of Pentecostalism, which posits speaking in tongues as evidence of baptism in the Spirit, is retained in this work.

The Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Nigeria, adopted its present name in 1942. Before then, it had changed names several times since it transformed from a local church society, the 'Precious Stone Society', to the 'Faith Tabernacle of Nigeria' (FTN), 'The Apostolic Church' (TAC), the 'Nigerian Apostolic Church' (NAC) and the 'United Apostolic Church' (UAC). Although the Executive Council of the church adopted the name CAC in 1941, the General Council of the denomination only endorsed it in 1942 (Alokan 1991:172-173; cf. Ademakinwa 1975:141-142). The split between the TAC and the CAC, and the emergence of another church, 'The Faith Tabernacle Church', falls outside the focus of this work.

The constitution of the CAC was drafted in 1942, and the church was registered under the Colonial Government in 1943 with the registration number 147 (Alokan 1991; Ademakinwa 1975). Today, the church has branches in many West-African countries like Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Gambia, Ghana and Togo. It also has branches in Britain, the United States of America, Canada, Athens and Israel, amongst others (Alokan 1991:242-261).

One key teaching of the CAC is that 'believers' are to be baptised in the Holy Spirit and that the experience is distinct from the initial salvation experience (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution and Doctrine 1968:13). The present article focuses on how the CAC developed its doctrine of baptism in the Spirit, the way the doctrine is presently understood by the CAC ministers and the extent to which this teaching is in accordance with the Bible. Data for the work were sourced from relevant literature, questionnaire, observation and interviews.

 

Historical development of the doctrine of baptism in the Holy Spirit in the CAC

Before adopting its present name, the body that became the CAC were affiliated with and adopted the names of two popular denominations on different occasions: The Faith Tabernacle of Philadelphia (FTP) and The Apostolic Church (TAC) of Bradford. To trace the development of the doctrine of baptism in the Spirit in the CAC, the research began with the period during which the church was known as the Faith Tabernacle of Nigeria (FTN).

The contention of Alokan (Alokan 1991:146-147) that the CAC did not grow out of the FTN is questionable (Alokan 1991:146-147). The CAC Constitution (1968:5) states, 'Christ Apostolic Church was originally called the Faith Tabernacle.' Again, Alokan's claim (1991:147) that the leader of the popular 1930 Ilesa revival, Joseph Ayo Babalola, was at no time a member of the FTN is strange. Elder Ademakinwa, one of the founding members of FTN and a well-known figure in CAC, states that Babalola told members of the FTN in 1929 that God had sent him to fara mo [join] the FTN, and he dara po mo wa bi ijo [joined us as a church member] (Ademakinwa 1975:55-56). In fact, Babalola was baptised as a member of FTN by Pastor J.B. Esinsinade, also known as Shadare, in November 1929 (cf. Adegboyega 1978:21). The two phrases that Ademakinwa used to describe Babalola's association with FTN, fara mo,' and 'dara po' show that Babalola, the prophetic figure of the 1930 revival, was understood by the FTN leaders to have been a member of their church that later became CAC. Ademakinwa (1975:9) underscores this fact further, 'Faith Tabernacle ni owa titi Ijo Apostoli Oloyinbofi wa ... da ara re po mo o ni odun 1932' [He was a member of Faith Tabernacle when The Apostolic Church from the white man's land affiliated the church in 1932]. Ademakinwa's account is dependable on three grounds: Firstly, if he had lied, living founding members of the church would have challenged him. Secondly, the book that contains this account was printed by the official CAC press. Thirdly, the book was written before the scheming between the Ondo and Kwara states of Nigeria to claim Joseph Babalola had started.

Turner (1967:2-3) is most likely wrong when claiming that the Faith Tabernacle of Nigeria was a Pentecostal body that copied its doctrine of the baptism in the Spirit from its American counterpart, The Faith Tabernacle of Philadelphia. Alokan (1991:146) and Peel (1968:144) observe that the Philadelphia group was opposed to the Pentecostal teaching on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Peel (1968:65) supports his position with a quotation from a letter by Pastor Clark of FTP, dated 11 December 1922, to Pastor D.O. Odubanjo of FTN in which Clark calls speaking in tongues a 'Pentecostal delusion' and 'Satanic'. Since Clark's letter was in response to Odubanjo's enquiry on the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit, one wonders where Odubanjo first became acquainted with the issue since the experience had not yet appeared in Nigeria.

By 1925, speaking in tongues had started in Cherubim and Seraphim (C&S) Church, but this has, till date, not been linked with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit (Folarin 1994:81). Peel dismisses the claim of J.A. Medayese that some people received the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit under the ministration of Babalola in Ilofa in 1929. Whilst some people probably spoke in tongues at that time in Ilofa, they most likely did not link the speaking in tongues with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Pentecostal interpretation of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was therefore either read back to Babalola, or Medayese simply used the phrase baptism in the Spirit for a general outburst of charisma of speaking in tongues. The Classical Pentecostal theology of baptism in the Holy Spirit was most likely bequeathed to the Nigerian church by The Apostolic Church, Bradford, Britain. Pastor D.O. Odubanjo, the then Secretary of FTN, was introduced to TAC Britain in 1930 through the church's magazine, Riches of Grace, given to him by one E.F. Elebute (Alokan 1991:152-153; Ademakinwa 1975:58; Adegboyega 1978:38). Of particular interest to Odubanjo in the magazine were the tenets of faith of TAC Britain. According to Adegboyega (1978):

After carefully going through the magazine and other Apostolic Church publications, we discovered that their doctrines were similar to our own received from Faith Tabernacle Congregation in America. We also discovered that there were other doctrines embraced and taught by The Apostolic Church of Great Britain which we found to be scripturally sound but were not taught and practiced by Faith Tabernacle congregation of America ... one of their doctrines which we (newly) embraced was the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with signs following. (pp. 38-39)

The above intelligently explains the similarity between the tenets of the TAC and the CAC on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The 7th tenet of the CAC (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution 1998:11) states that they believe in '[t]he Baptism of the Holy Spirit for Believers with signs following'. The fifth fundamental doctrinal belief of The Apostolic Church (The Apostolic Church LAWNA Territory 2012) in its 'Constitution and Guiding Principles' similarly states, 'The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers with signs following.'

Some CAC leaders deny that the CAC copied its tenet on the baptism in the Spirit from the TAC Bradford. Udofia claimed on 20 August 1990 in a personal interview I had with him in the then CAC Secretariat, Orita Aperin, Ibadan, Nigeria, that the tenets of the two bodies are merely similar by accident. At that time, Udofia was the General Secretary of the CAC and a member of the church's Executive Council. He died recently. Udofia's claim contradicts that of Adegboyega (1978:52-53) that a meeting of the delegates of TAC Britain and their Nigerian counterparts was set up to harmonise the doctrines of the two parties. I am of the view that the verbal similarities of the doctrines of the two parties are too great to be a coincidence. After reading series of articles on the baptism in the Holy Spirit in TAC Bradford's literature, Odubanjo preached the doctrine in the FTN assembly in Ebute-Meta, Lagos, in 1930. That was before Babalola began his Oke-Oye revival in Ilesa. That sermon led three members of the congregation to 'receive' the Pentecostal baptism in the Spirit on the first night. The 1930 revival that followed popularised the experience (Akande 1989:12; Alokan 1991:77). When the church later adopted the name CAC, it continued teaching the doctrine of the baptism in the Spirit as bequeathed to it by TAC Bradford.

That the CAC appears to officially embrace the Classical Pentecostal doctrine of baptism in the Spirit is attested in its seventh tenet of faith: 'We believe and hold ... (the doctrine of) the baptism in the Holy Spirit for believers with signs following'. The old CAC Constitution and Doctrine (1968:13) cites Matthew 3:11 and Mark 16: 17 in support of the evidence. One major problem is that the church does not provide any official interpretation of the doctrine. What are available are the private interpretations of the doctrine by various church members and leaders. This has partly led to the confusion surrounding the understanding of the doctrine amongst the church members and leaders today.

 

Opinions of the CAC ministers on the doctrine

In this section, the data gathered from the two editions of CAC Constitution, two focus-group discussions and oral interviews conducted on baptism in the Holy Spirit in the CAC are analysed, synthesised and discussed. The work examines the definition of baptism in the Spirit in the CAC.

The seventh tenet of faith of the CAC states that Christians still have to 'receive' the baptism in the Holy Spirit: 'We believe and hold the baptism of the Holy Spirit for believers ....' (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution and Doctrine 1968:13; Christ Apostolic Church Constitution 1998:23) The church's old Constitution explains this further (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution and Doctrine 1968:6, 15, 36). This shows that the CAC Constitution perceives that there are Christians that do not have the Holy Spirit because the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit is to be distinct from the initial stage of salvation experience. This was the way the doctrine was interpreted to the students of the CAC School of Prophets, Ilesa, Nigeria, in early 1970s when this writer was a student in the school. The views of CAC ministers concerning the time that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is believed to have first been encountered were tested in CAC Theological Seminary in two separate surveys in 1992 and in 2012, and the results of the surveys are presented below (see Table 1).

 

 

The data in the table below were collected from focus-group discussions held with CAC ministers on 15 March 1992 and on 26 June 2012. Four hundred ministers took part in the 1992 discussions and 330 in the 2012 discussions. Votes were taken on each item, and discussions were held separately with those that supported each item. Five discussions were held with group respondents in both 1992 and 2012. All the participants in the discussions were adults, and none of them had been a CAC member for less than 15 years. The items tested in 1992 were re-tested in 2012 to check whether there have been changes in the conceptions of the church ministers on the church doctrine of baptism in the Spirit. On both occasions, the participants gave their consent for the data to be published.

The time

The data under Section A in the table indicate time at which, according to CAC ministers, baptism in the Holy Spirit takes place in a believer's life, whilst the data under Section B point out the evidence, according to CAC ministers, that indicates that a person has been baptised in the Holy Spirit. Section A tested for the timing of baptism in the Spirit in relation to salvation: Does it take place at the same time as the initial experience of salvation (initiatory) (item 1) or does it take place after the initial salvation (item 2)? In 1992, 42.25% (169 of the 400) of the discussants held that baptism in the Holy Spirit is initiatory whilst only 3.03% (10 of 330) of the respondents held to this view in 2012. Discussions with the two separate groups, one in 1992 and the other in 2012, which held the view that baptism in the Holy Spirit is synchronous with the initial experience of salvation revealed that, when a person receives Jesus Christ as his or her personal saviour, he or she receives the Holy Spirit at the same time. By implication the 'Christian' that has not been baptised in the Spirit is most likely a nominal Christian. One old but extreme view is that there are 'real Christians' that do not have the Holy Spirit. This was my finding whilst interacting with many other ministers of the CAC. This view was confirmed by Pastor I. Aromibose in an interview on 02 August 1994. He was then the District Superintendent of the CAC in Zaria and the Assistant General Superintendent of the church (cf. Alokan 1991:77). It is clear from the table above that the view that baptism in the Spirit is synchronous with salvation or initiatory is not the primary view of the church ministers. In fact, a lower percentage of ministers accepted it in 2012 (3.03%) than in 1992 (42.25%). The church's constitution does not support the view either (Christ Apostolic Church Constitution and Doctrine 1968:13; Christ Apostolic Church Constitution 1998:23).

The next item tested was the nature of baptism in the Spirit subsequent to the initial experience of salvation. The results of the test are presented in Section A (item 2) of the table above. In 1992, 57.75% (231 of 400) held the view that baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from and may even come after the initial salvation experience whilst 96.97% (320 of 330) held to the same view in 2012. A comparison of the responses in 1992 and 2012 on the nature of a subsequent baptism in the Spirit showed that most CAC ministers hold that it is distinct from the initial salvation experience and that it often takes place after the first experience. Separate discussions with the 1992 and 2012 groups of respondents on this item yielded the view that most CAC ministers believe that, at conversion, a Christian has a measure of the Holy Spirit but is not yet filled with the Spirit. Baptism in the Spirit is the subsequent experience in which the believer is filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time. This is the position held by most ministers of the CAC. Whilst the CAC holds in its constitution and other official documents that baptism in the Spirit is subsequent to the initial salvation experience, the various interpretations of that position are private.

The evidence

The other issue significant to the CAC's definition of baptism in the Spirit is the attestation of the encounter. Although most CAC ministers in the focus-group discussions agreed that the most significant evidence of baptism in the Spirit is speaking in tongues (1992: 41% = 164 of 400; 2012: 56.97% = 188 of 330) and church leaders like P.O. Bamidele subscribed to this view, the official position of the church in its seventh tenet goes beyond this. It requests for 'signs' as evidence of baptism in the Spirit. The church cites Mark 16:17-18 for support, but the text provides only five signs: the ability to cast out demons, the ability to speak in tongues, the ability to pick up serpents, the ability to drink deadly poison with immunity and the ability to heal the sick. The CAC Constitution and Doctrine (1968:36-37; cf. p. 13) never claimed tongues as the exclusive sign of baptism in the Spirit. The church's demand for multiple attestations for baptism in the Spirit was also tested twice. Seventy ministers (17.70%) in 1992 and 100 (30.303%) in 2012 supported the church's constitutional demand for multiple evidence of baptism in the Spirit. This makes the CAC one of a few Pentecostal churches that demand multiple signs for baptism in the Spirit. All other Classical Pentecostal bodies make speaking in tongues the indisputable evidence of baptism in the Spirit (Caldwell 1963:29; Swaggart 1983:136-140, 150, 156; Jinadu 1982:14). The remaining 166 (41.50%) ministers in 1992 and 42 (12.727%) in 2012 rejected the official position of the CAC not only for tongues but also for other physical evidence of baptism in the Spirit. Pastors N.E. Udofia and E.H. Oluseye rejected speaking in tongues as evidence of baptism in the Spirit. Pastor Oluseye was the General Sunday School Superintendent of the CAC before the church split. He later headed the largest group. I interviewed Oluseye on 05 February 1990.

Two contrary views on the baptism in the Holy Spirit emerge from the above. The better supported view is that baptism in the Spirit is distinct and sometimes subsequent to the initial experience of salvation, and in it, a Christian receives the Holy Spirit in fullness for the first time in her life. The other less supported view is that baptism in the Holy Spirit is the experience initiatory to salvation, and in it, the Holy Spirit is bestowed on the believer at the time of conversion. The CAC leaders are divided in their views. Whilst Pastor P.O. Bamidele, in the personal interview with him on 17 August 1994, supports the interpretation that baptism in the Spirit in the CAC is the initial infilling with the Holy Spirit, distinct and sometimes subsequent to salvation, he further holds that true Christians that have not been baptised in the Holy Spirit do have the Holy Spirit but have not been filled with the Spirit. Bamidele later became the General Superintendent of the largest faction of the CAC and a member of its Executive Council. Pastor I.O. Aromibose holds that those that have not been baptised in the Holy Spirit are devoid of the Holy Spirit. Oluseye holds the view that baptism in the Spirit is an initiatory experience of salvation. During the time that this research was carried out, the views of the lecturers of the CAC Theological Seminary, Ile-Ife, were no exception. Amongst the lecturers, confusion surrounded their interpretation of baptism in the Spirit. This confusion was pronounced at the time I was lecturer at the school between 1986 and 1993. The interpretation that there are 'Christians' that are devoid of the Holy Spirit was once popular in the denomination but that is no longer the case, except if 'Christians' refer to people that have not made personal commitment by faith to Christ.

Swaggart, a former minister of the Assemblies of God who holds to the Classical Pentecostal view of baptism in the Spirit, explains that, whilst every Christian has the Holy Spirit, it is not every Christian that is filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Caldwell 1963:9, 79-80; Chang 1986:135-136). His contention is that baptism in the Spirit refers to the first infilling of the Christian with the Holy Spirit. The main argument here is that John the Baptist compared his baptism in water with that of Jesus in the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16; cf. Jn 1:33) and that John's dipping of people in water was analogous to the expected dipping of believers in the Holy Spirit by Jesus.

Exegetical justification for separating baptism in the Spirit from the initial experience of salvation has been attempted by some Pentecostal scholars. They argue that baptism in regeneration is different from that of the Spirit. They suggest that the baptism referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is that of regeneration whereby every Christian is made a member of Christ's body. In contrast, the baptism in Matthew 3:11 is that of the Spirit and is not experienced by all but by some Christians (Duffied & Meier 1949:76; cf. Osteen 1964:65-66.). Non-Pentecostal scholars, however, reject such a distinction. Evangelical scholars, for example, argue that baptism in the Spirit is an initial (initiatory) Christian experience that makes one a member of the body of Christ (Culpepper 1987:60-66).

The literature on Pentecostalism shows that it consists of at least two types: the Classical and the Neo-Classical Pentecostals. The Classical Pentecostals hold that speaking in tongues is the only sign of baptism in the Spirit. Writers like Caldwell (1963:29), Swaggart (1983:136-140, 150, 156) and Jinadu (1982:14) argue that speaking in tongues is the needed evidence of baptism in the Spirit. The Neo-Pentecostals hold that speaking in tongues is not necessary but helpful (Folarin 1994:87; Sherrill 1964:79-81). The CAC is a Classical Pentecostal denomination because it asks for physical evidence of baptism in the Spirit, which includes speaking in tongues.

There are at least three theories of the time at which baptism in the Spirit takes place. The one-stage theory states that baptism in the Spirit is received at the initial period of salvation. Evangelicals and Neo-Pentecostals support this theory. Examples of scholars that hold such view are Stott (1975:47),

Richardson (1958:11, 348, 350) and Lugt (1981:15-21). Many Classical Pentecostals support either a two-stage theory or a three-stage theory. The two-stage theory states that baptism in the Spirit is subsequent to and directly follows the initial salvation experience but could occasionally be simultaneous with it. Some exponents of this view are Osteen (1964:3, 13), and Durham (1961:99). The three-stage theory states that the next stage after regeneration is sanctification. Baptism in the Spirit is only the third stage. Expounded further, the third theory states that a person must be fully holy before he or she can receive baptism in the Spirit. Proponents of this view include Torrey (1897:9-18), Finney (n.d.:2-4) and Kumuyi (1989:45). Whilst the CAC officially subscribes to the two-stage theory, a significant number of ministers of the church hold to the one-stage theory.

The CAC officially teaches that there are distinct stages at which one becomes a Christian and at which he or she receives baptism in the Spirit. In its constitution, conversion or baptism with water is regarded as the first step in Christianity whilst baptism in the Spirit logically becomes the second step. The CAC Constitution and Doctrine (1968:6) states that you have to accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and physician first and be baptised in water (1968:46) before you could be baptised in the Holy Spirit (1986:36). This shows that the church does not believe that baptism with water confers the Holy Spirit on the baptised person. Rather, it teaches that baptism in the Spirit is often received after baptism with water.

The confusion surrounding the concept of baptism in the Spirit in the CAC may be due to the following reasons. Many ministers of the mission are trained in various theological institutions, many of which hold theological views that differ from the view that the CAC officially holds. Other ministers come from different denominations to the CAC and are absorbed without orienting them on what the CAC believes. Others that are not capable of discriminating doctrines are influenced by books with different theological views. Still others are influenced by the views of non-CAC members with whom they interact daily. Finally, a revival of personal interest in reading the Bible has led some to change their view.

 

Evaluation of the CAC concept of baptism in the Holy Spirit

'Baptism in the Holy Spirit' is a biblical and significant concept. It appears in verb forms in the New Testament but never in noun form. The CAC, like other Classical Pentecostals, is therefore right to emphasise this once neglected concept. On the positive side, this has led to exciting findings and modifications. On the negative side, the Pentecostal teaching regards some Christians as first-class and others as second-class Christians. In the following section, the position of the CAC on baptism in the Spirit is subjected to theological scrutiny.

The first aspect of the official position of the church is that some Christians are baptised and others are not baptised 'with' the Holy Spirit. This position can only stand if one successfully proves that the baptism in the Spirit in the Gospels and Acts is different from that in 1 Corinthians, and this is a difficult task. The phrase translated 'baptized with the Holy Spirit' appears seven times in the Bible. Synoptic Gospels put the Jesus' activity concerning baptism in the Holy Spirit in the future (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33). In fact, the verb βαπτίσει in Matthew 3:11 is the future, active, indicative, third-person singular of βαπτίζω. Βαπτίζω literally means 'to dip or submerge'. It was often used for ritual cleansing and this is likely the way it was used of the baptism with water in the inter-testament and New Testament periods. Strong arguments have been made that there are contexts in which the word βαπτίζω appears in the Bible that do not require it to be translated with 'dip' but with 'sprinkle' (Thayer 2003). In Acts 1:5 and 11:16, as in the Gospels, baptism in the Holy Spirit was prophetic. The Greek phrase, ύµεις έν Πνεύµατι βαπτισθησεσθε Αγίω in Acts 1:5 is similar to ύµεις βαπτισθησεσθε έν Πνεύµατι Αγίω in Acts 11:16. In both situations, the baptism was prophetic. In these verses, βαπτισθησεσθε is a verb in the indicative, future passive, second-person plural from βαπτίζω. When used with the Holy Spirit, it is used figuratively. Pentecostal scholars need to demonstrate from the Bible that in baptism in the Spirit, it is Christ who is dipping the believer into the Holy Spirit and not the Holy Spirit that is incorporating the believer into the body of Christ. Whilst baptism in the Holy Spirit was prophetic and was yet to be fulfilled in Acts 1:5, in Acts 11:16 it was historical, recalling its fulfilment in Cornelius' house. Furthermore, the experience in Acts 10 and 11 of baptism in the Holy Spirit arguably incorporated Cornelius and his household into the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 is in a didactic passage and as such gives the theological interpretation of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Young Literal Translation renders it, 'in one Spirit we all to one body were baptized . and all into one Spirit were made to drink'. Εβαπτίσθηµεν is a verb, indicative, aorist passive, first-person plural of βαπτίζω. The use of this passive verb underscores that all the Corinthian Christians, including Paul, had experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The use of the adjective, nominative masculine plural, 'all' (Greek: πάντες) further supports this. This is also the implication of the emphases on 'we' and 'all' (ήµεις and πάντες) in 1 Corinthians 12:13. One can conclude from the above that, if even the carnal Corinthian Christians were baptised by the Holy Spirit, then baptism in the Spirit is a common experience of Christians. Another conclusion is that baptism in the Spirit is into 'one body', and that body is the body of Christ, the church.

The same preposition, 'in' (έν) is used for baptism in the Spirit in the Gospels (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16) and 1 Corinthians 12:13, and this shows that the same experience is referred to. The Gospels and Acts state that the baptism is, έν πνεύµατι [in the spirit], whilst 1 Corinthians 12 also states that it is έν . πνεύµατι. The translation of έν as 'in', 'by' or 'with' is therefore a matter of syntactical decision. Often, the choice is based on syntactic considerations. There is no grammatical justification to separate the experience referred to in the Gospels and Acts from the one referred to in the Corinthians. Another issue to be examined is that baptism in the Spirit is the first infilling of the Spirit. This opinion was an outcome of the various discussions and interviews reported in this work. This conclusion is inevitable if one takes as normative the historical accounts in Acts. However, it is dangerous to build theology on Acts partly because its theology was in transition. Theology is better built on the epistles because they were written in the first place to teach doctrines and then to solve practical problems in the church and because they were written when the theology of the church had matured. In this regard, the epistle to the Corinthians is well placed to judge this doctrine. 1 Corinthians 12:13 indicates that baptism in the Spirit makes one a member of the body of Christ, a Christian. This makes theological sense because baptism in the Spirit never occurred in the Old Testament and would not occur after the church age. Paul explains that baptism in the Spirit makes one to 'drink' of the Holy Spirit. This shows that a person is not just made a member of Christ's body (the church). He or she is also endowed with the Holy Spirit when baptised in the Spirit. According to Romans 8:9, anyone that does not have the Holy Spirit is not a Christian.

Again, baptism in the Spirit is not the infilling of the Spirit. Although both baptism in the Spirit and infilling of the Spirit can take place simultaneously (cf. Ac 2:4), they are distinct Christian experiences. Infilling with the Spirit is repeatable (Ac 2:4; cf. 4:8, 31; 13:9), but baptism in the Spirit is not. It may be that the reason why there is no command in the Bible for Christians to be baptised in the Holy Spirit is because baptism in the Spirit belongs to the initial stage of the salvation experience and as such, every Christian is already baptised in the Spirit. The fact that there is a command in the Bible for Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18) further indicates that the experience is different from baptism in the Spirit.

The demand by the CAC that baptism in the Spirit must be attested by certain 'signs', which include speaking in tongues (Mk 16:16-18) is problematic. It is difficult to substantiate such a demand in the Bible. The text in Mark 16:16-18 on which it is based falls within the questionable longer ending of Mark. It is now generally accepted by Bible scholars that Mark 16:9-20 is an editorial addition. This is because the verses are not found in the oldest available manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, which date from the 4th century. Since the older the manuscript, the more reliable Bible scholars accept it to be, most New Testament scholars tend to accept Mark 16:8 as the end of Mark's Gospel. The abrupt ending of Mark at verse 8 was therefore probably caused by the loss of the remaining verses of the original manuscript. The doubtfulness of verses 9-20 makes it unwise to build any doctrine or base normative experience on them.

Most manuscripts that contain the long ending of Mark add the adjective 'new' (Greek: καιναις) to the 'tongues' believers are to speak. Some others do not. Even though many old commentaries like the 1599 Geneva Bible Notes claim that the 'new tongues' here are 'strange', and 'unlearnt', these may not be unknown and unlearnt languages. Even if the promise in the verse is from Christ, the 'new tongues' may be nothing more than using sanctified words in speaking. This may be similar to the demand of Jesus in Luke 6:28 to bless those that curse and pray for those that despise. The response of the unregenerate person would be to return curse for curse and despise for despise. Even if the longer ending of Mark 16 were authentic, all the experiences in verses 17-18 cannot be mandatory on each and every Christian. It is very unlikely that every Christian would be able to cast out demons, 'speak in tongues', pick up serpents, drink deadly poison with immunity and be able to heal the sick. Rather, 1 Corinthians 12:4, 11 state that spiritual gifts are diverse and are distributed to individuals as the Spirit wills. No human therefore has the power to dictate to God the gift he or she wants or that others must have. Again, Mark 16:17-18 contains signs that are to follow 'those that believe' which in Greek is, τοίς πιστεύσασιν (Mk 16:17) and not those baptised with the Holy Spirit. Classical Pentecostals officially distinguish those who 'believe' from those who are 'baptised with the Holy Spirit'. One wonders why the CAC is using this text to support baptism in the Spirit when the passage is not discussing baptism in the Spirit. If anything, the signs in Mark 16 are for those who believe and not for those baptised with the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal manner.

The demand for tongues as the initial sign of baptism with the Spirit is also difficult to substantiate from the Bible. There is no declarative support for this demand in the New Testament. Rather, Paul that says that every Christian has been baptised by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), and he states further that all do not speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30). To argue that, because some people spoke in tongues when they were baptised with the Holy Spirit as in Acts 2:10 and 19, each and every Christian must speak in tongues whenever they are also baptised in the Spirit is to build on a questionable logic. This is making historical record normative. In fact, it is important to note that the people who spoke in tongues in Acts never sought the experience. More important is that the prophecies of John the Baptist in Luke 3:16 and its parallels and those of Jesus in Acts 1:15 on baptism in the Spirit never indicated that glossolalia would be its evidence. The demand for speaking in tongues and other visible manifestations as signs of baptism in the Spirit is therefore unsubstantiated in the Bible.

 

Conclusion

The contention here is that the official position of the CAC on baptism in the Spirit as it presently stands needs to be reworked. Observation shows that the church has capable hands that can re-examine the doctrine and recommend modifications where needed. Frank discussions on the theological leaning of the church should be encouraged. Theological interactions between CAC ministers and scholars of other Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal persuasions should be encouraged. The CAC Theological Seminary, Bible Colleges and relevant departments in Universities should mount programs that could equip churches to critically examine their doctrines. Finally, critical and scholarly debates on the theological heritage of Pentecostal denominations should be encouraged periodically.

 

Acknowledgements

Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

 

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Correspondence to:
George O. Folarin
Department of Religious Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife 220282, Osun State, Nigeria
Email: georgefolarin@yahoo.com

Received: 13 Sept. 2012
Accepted: 24 Jan. 2013
Published: 12 Mar. 2013

 

 

Note: This article was prepared for the International Conference on the Origin of Christ Apostolic Church in Nigeria and Ghana organised by Joseph Ayo Babalola University in Collaboration with the Centre for World Christianity of the New York Theological Seminary. The conference was held from 06 to 13 August, 2012 in Oba Oladele Olasore Auditorium, in Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State, Nigeria.

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