The controversy over whether a Christian should be rebaptized if the person has already been baptized in one church or another denomination is cleared up using Christian creeds and confessions that explain the Bible about this doctrine of Baptism.
The question only comes to us from Baptists because of their belief about what baptism is. The Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other paedobaptist Christian bodies believe that baptism is the work of God and should only be done once in a lifetime.
The Baptist (or the word credobaptist may be used), however, believes it is a confession of faith on the believer's part; a baptism with water because of the inner working of the Holy Spirit already done to them. They consider baptism a command of God to be obeyed instead of the promise of God to His Creation to bring people into the Body of Christ. It is considered by the Southern Baptist Convention to be applicable only for those who understand the Gospel. Rather than a fully monergistic stance, the credobaptist position requires the person respond to the Gospel proclamation in order to be considered a believer in Jesus Christ.
The article from the Southern Baptist Convention website, How to Become a Christian, states: “As soon as you have decided to receive Christ into your life, you can and should be baptized.” This statement explains the position: you decide to become a Christian (not monergistic) and then you are allowed to be baptized. To be baptized before the decision from understanding the Gospel would be unbiblical to the credobaptist but orthodox to all other Christians around the world. The credobaptist sees rebaptism as biblical because the person needs to obey the command to be baptized only after receiving Christ.
A Lutheran or Reformed pastor, on the other hand, if asked by a new person at their church, “I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as an infant, but I no longer believe what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. Do I need to be rebaptized?” The pastor would answer, “Your baptism was valid as long as it was in the Trinitarian formula which the Roman Catholic Church does, so you don’t need to be rebaptized. Baptism is the work of God not of man so since He already worked that into your life even though it was by man’s hand, we would not say that God did not work and we have to redo what He already did.”
Here are a few quotes from leading theologians and Christian confessions which prove the Church teaches that re-baptism is un-biblical:
“Against these absurdities we shall be sufficiently fortified if we reflect that by baptism we were initiated not into the name of any man, but into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and, therefore, that baptism is not of man, but of God, by whomsoever it may have been administered. Be it that those who baptised us were most ignorant of God and all piety, or were despisers, still they did not baptize us into a fellowship with their ignorance or sacrilege, but into the faith of Jesus Christ, because the name which they invoked was not their own but God's, nor did they baptize into any other name. But if baptism was of God, it certainly included in it the promise of forgiveness of sin, mortification of the flesh, quickening of the spirit, and communion with Christ. Thus it did not harm the Jews that they were circumcised by impure and apostate priests. It did not nullify the symbol so as to make it necessary to repeat it.” – John Calvin
“The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.” – The Westminster Confession of Faith, 28.7
“Therefore he has commanded all those, who are his, to be baptized with pure water, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost": thereby signifying to us, that as water washes away the filth of the body, when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized, when sprinkled upon him; so does the blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost, internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath, unto children of God.
Therefore we believe, that every man, who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal, ought to be but once baptized with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same: since we cannot be born twice.” – Belgic Confession, Article 34
“Water baptism does not guarantee that the person baptized has true faith in the Messiah, but it is so closely tied to the baptism of the Spirit we receive at conversion that people should not be rebaptized even if they come to faith in the triune God after experiencing the sacrament. Those who have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit need not ever be rebaptized...” – R.C. Sproul
“For here is the water together with the Word of God, even though he does not receive it as he should, just as those who unworthily go to the Sacrament receive the true Sacrament, even though they do not believe.
Thus you see that the objection of the sectarians is vain. For (as we have said) even though infants did not believe, which, however, is not the case, yet their baptism as now shown would be valid, and no one should rebaptize them; just as nothing is detracted from the Sacrament though some one approach it with evil purpose, and he could not be allowed on account of his abuse to take it a second time the selfsame hour, as though he had not received the true Sacrament at first; for that would mean to blaspheme and profane the Sacrament in the worst manner. How dare we think that God's Word and ordinance should be wrong and invalid because we make a wrong use of it?
Therefore I say, if you did not believe then believe now and say thus: The baptism indeed was right, but I, alas! did not receive it aright.” – Martin Luther, The Large Catechism
“And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” – The Nicene Creed
Due to the different understanding of what baptism is and does, it is only the Baptist who rebaptizes a person. If a person comes out of a cult where the person was not baptized in the Trinitarian formula, a person must be rebaptized (or baptized for the first time, rather) because the first baptism was not valid according to the Bible verse Matthew 28:19, which states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (ESV)
There is no recorded instance in the Bible where someone was rebaptized in the Trinitarian formula: in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Baptist must form the conclusion that rebaptism is biblical from a source other than the Bible or from the misunderstanding that a person must be saved by Jesus Christ first and that if they realize later that they were not truly saved, they should be rebaptized to obey what they consider to be a work to be done after regeneration. Their argument that infants ought not to be baptized usually goes like this: “I don’t see infant baptism in the New Testament anywhere.” To stay consistent, the credobaptist needs to also say the same of rebaptism, “I don’t see rebaptism in the New Testament anywhere.”
Consistency is still key when it comes to women taking Communion. If the Baptist wants to use the argument that "infant baptism is not seen in the New Testament" to formulate their doctrine, they ought to see that there are no women shown to have participated in Communion, either. Should we stop the practice of allowing women to take the Lord's Supper or accept the fact that doctrine comes from reading the whole of Scripture such as the doctrine of the Trinity?
The other problem with rebaptism is that since credobaptists believe a person coming out of the Roman Catholic Church into a Protestant church, they ought to be rebaptized because the priest is not a believer in Jesus Christ and has false doctrine. The question is, though, what if your Baptist pastor who baptized you ten years ago becomes a false teacher – do you need to be rebaptized? Often the credobaptist will affirm that a person should be baptized again, but the answer is no. If the Baptist pastor becomes apostate, everyone in that church does not need rebaptism. The man in the pulpit does not make the baptism valid. It is God who makes baptism valid.
"There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph. 4.4-6, ESV)
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16.16, ESV)
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2.38, ESV)
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2 8-12, ESV)
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SBC (n.d). How to Become a Christian. Official Website of the Southern Baptist Convention. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.sbc.net/knowjesus/baptism.asp
Sproul, R.C. (n.d.) One Lord, One Faith, One Bapistm. Ligonier Ministries, the Teaching Fellowship of R.C. Sproul. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/one-lord-one-faith-one-baptism
Calvin, John (1536) Institutes of the Christian Religion: of Baptism. The Spurgeon Archive. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/calvin/bk4ch15.html#one.htm
Knox, John, et al (1646) The Westminster Confession of Faith 28.7. Daily Westminster. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from https://dailywestminster.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/wcf28_7-5
de Brès, Guido (1561) The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 34 of Holy Baptism. Creeds of Christendom. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://www.creeds.net/belgic
Luther, Martin (1530) The Large Catechism. The Book of Concord. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from http://bookofconcord.org/lc-6-baptism.php
The Council of Nicaea (325) The Nicene Creed. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved January 13, 2014, from https://www.ccel.org/creeds/nicene.creed.html