I've decided to start a thread on Christian theology, wherein I will lay out what I believe scripture teaches about baptism... because I can. This is a continuation from another thread where I said that we are born again (born from above) at baptism, a statement a few posters took issue with. But if you prefer I'd argue that scriptures on baptism also present an issue to the JWs who also believe baptism is just a symbol (albeit it one that ties you to their organisation)
Throughout the first 1500 years of Christian history, it was universally understood that the Christian is 'born again' at water baptism (and the majority of Christians still hold to this) but then many Christians started to argue that baptism was just a symbol of obedience, but I posit that nowhere in the bible will you find a verse that claims baptism is just a symbol, instead scriptural references to baptism always claim that it actually achieves something:
John 3:5 - Born of water and spirit
1 Peter 3:21 - 'Baptism now saves you'
Acts 2:38 - 'Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins
Romans 6 - 'We were therefore buried with him in baptism...'
Titus 3:5 - 'He saved us... by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the holy spirit'
Many protestants will try to argue that many of the above verses refer to a kind of spiritual baptism, but I would respond that this interpretation runs into a problem when you get to Ephesians 4:5 (one baptism) as this suggests two baptisms (much like exists in JW theology) and it is much easier to get around this if we say the spirit is connected to water baptism (as described in Titus 3:5)
As an addendum to this, here is something from 'Luther's small catechism' that might help:
What is Baptism?--Answer.
Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.
Which is that word of God?--Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer.
It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Which are such words and promises of God? Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
How can water do such great things?--Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.
What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?--Answer.
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life