Thank you all for your contributions to this thread. And especially you, Blondie.
Julia Orwell: Since JWs believe they are the only true religion, any other baptism is not considered legitimate. However, if I were to get baptised with another church...that would annul my JW baptism I think, as I would be considered 'apostate' and disassociating myself.
Yes, so baptisms by “apostate” Christians have no valid authority. But what if a person were baptized by a non-denominational Christian, someone who said, “We have no established doctrine or creeds, but we will baptize you by immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”? My point is, what makes the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they hold the “keys” to baptize, and that no one else may do it? Doesn’t it stand to reason that this sort of authority must come from God? And if so, how did it get from God to Pastor Russell, and from him to his successors? As far as I can ascertain, there are no hands-on-head ordinations within the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, and the reason is most telling. Ordination implies that one have heavenly, ministerial authority which can be passed on, and despite all the claims and counterclaims within the Society, the leadership must know that it doesn’t have this authority.
When one is baptized, we’re told, he or she becomes an “ordained” minister in God’s earthly kingdom. Whoa! Where did that come from? I’d like to see the references for that, as I’ve never seen that even remotely mentioned in either the Old or New Testaments.
Smiddy: So let me get this straight, whatever sinful man decides what is right on earth is automatically accepted in heaven? And whatever shall be loosed on earth by imperfect humans is automatically loosed in heaven? Doesn’t that sound a bit arse about? Or am I missing something here?
I think so, Smiddy. In the scriptures, the Lord has always worked through sinful men who have served as prophets, and through their words, which have been passed on through written languages. When speaking of the office of high priest, the Lord specifically said that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (See Hebrews 5:4)
Very well, but how was Aaron chosen? Well, take a break and check out Exodus 28 and you tell me. Within all the instructions in that chapter, two things the apostle Paul referred to stand out. First was the calling, which came through Moses, who had the keys of authority. “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office....” The second was the ordination: “...and [thou[ shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.” The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has sought neither in establishing its legitimacy. When one becomes an elder, it’s done through a hand shake. You go into a room, you’re informed that you’ve been chosen to be an elder, you shake hands and walk out an elder. I would dearly love to see what the apostles Peter and Paul would think of such a procedure.
Laika: JWs believe baptism is essential for the anointed. Not necessarily for the great crowd, but they would question the salvation of someone who refused to do it.
Again, a doctrine in search of a reference. I don’t often read the Watchtower, but from my reading of the New Testament, baptism is the doorway to salvation. “He who believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” the Lord said. Those who “believe not” (and, consequently, are not baptized) shall be damned.”
Cold Steel, to be honest I don't quite understand where you're going with the rest of your post. Is there a Mormon angle to this that I've missed? How do the Mormons understand baptism and authority?
As far a I know, Laika, only two Christian faiths, or sects, believe in the necessity of the Keys of the Kingdom. One is the Catholic Church, which claims to have the keys by virtue of having them handed down from one pope to the next since the days of Christ. The other is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which claims the keys were restored to the earth through heavenly messengers, specifically, Peter, James and John.
Evangelical and other Protestant movements, including the Jehovah's Witnesses, say the keys are not necessary. This has always puzzled me. Why would Jesus make the statement about the keys if they weren’t necessary? Not to get too far off track, many churches consider themselves, together, to be the “body of Christ.” So it matters not who has the keys as if you’re sincere in your belief in Christ, you’re already bound to Christ in Heaven. (And BTW, you can order a ministerial certificate off the Internet which will allow you to start your own church; and it’s signed by someone else who doesn’t have the keys of authority).
My point is one of administration. How can any sect even claim to constitute Jehovah’s Kingdom on Earth if it lacks these keys? If it baptizes, and their baptisms are not recognized as “bound” in Heaven, and if it disfellowships (excommunicates) a member and doesn’t have the keys of loosing in Heaven or Earth, then why fear being disfellowshiped? To me, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is very cagey about the way it describes its own power and authority, which is to say, who needs it? Again, that’s why there are no callings and no ordinations in the Outfit. It’s why people can become an elder with a handshake. What happened to the ancient church? How can the Governing Body claim authority which it clearly doesn’t have, and not have keys it claims it doesn’t need, but which were specifically relegated to the ancient church? And since the Governing Body is fond of the metaphor of the faithful and wise servant (or faithful and discreet slave) who is appointed to run the “household of God” and guides members in its directing of doctrines and policies, administers spiritual meat and oversees ordinances of baptism, it’s not unfair to ask them about his master’s keys. For if he doesn’t have them, he is a false claimant who is, actually, a thief and a robber in the master’s house.
To bind in Heaven and Earth is a power necessary for baptisms, for the calling and ordination of church officers like bishops, elders, deacons, teachers, priests, apostles and so forth (which the ancient church had but are conspicuously missing in the WTBTS). That’s why I find it difficult to understand as it relates to baptism.
The Keys of the Kingdom was a popular topic for art and can be found in
paintings and statues. Though the keys weren't actually keys, they were
keys of authority. If they are unnecessary to the governance of the church,
why did Jesus refer to them? Yet Protestants (including the WTBTS) see
no reason to possess them; they simply were spiritual relics from a bygone
age...nothing more. Yet, according to Jesus, they had the power to bind
both in Heaven and on Earth.