Recently urgent inquiries have been reaching us from evangelists, pastors, and church leaders to whether we believe in and foster quick baptisms, and the question is asked: "When should a person be baptized?"
"The General Conference has no plan to rush people into baptism." These words represent clearly the view of the Ministerial Association about baptism and numerical growth to the world field. They present a fact that deserves serious consideration.
It is our firm belief that as soon as a person is truly ready for baptism no sooner, no later he should be baptized. This, we believe, is in full harmony with the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy. Baptism signifies death to sin and a new life in Christ. It is the door to the church. We do not baptize people until they give evidence that they are prepared to enter into complete fellowship with Christ and His church.
A distinct warning against the danger of meaningless church membership is presented in many statements in the Bible and the messages of the messenger of the Lord.
In the Special Section of this issue, we present some suggestions on how to be balanced in this question of when to baptize.
I still have fresh in my mind what happened to a young pastor some time ago. The administration was so enthusiastic about numbers that they set very high goals and pushed pastors and elders to reach them. Because of the pressure of the numbers and the system of evaluating, this young minister used a wrong device to fulfill the request of the administration he simply created names and presented them to the administration─as real baptized people in his congregations.
It is not right to do this, nor is it right to rush to baptize just to increase the number of membership with people who are not ready to be belong to the kingdom of God.
We firmly believe that only when the Church is composed of pure, unselfish members, can it fulfill God's purpose. Read this quotation for the inspired pen: "Too much hasty work is done in adding names to the church roll. Serious defects are seen in the characters of some who join the church. Those who admit them say, We will first get them into the church, and then reform them. But this is a mistake. The very first work to be done is the work of reform. Pray with them, talk with them, but do not allow them to unite with God's people in church relationship until they give decided evidence that the Spirit of God is working on their hearts" ─Review and Herald, May 21, 1901.