Trine Immersion
Elder Oscar B. Mink
Now In Glory

 The following article is a letter that was written by request of some dear saints who were deeply concerned about their baptism, whether it was scriptural or not? They, at the time had trine immersion, and assumed it was acceptable with Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptists. They sought membership in a New Testament Baptist church via trine immersion, and were told by the Baptist church that their trine immersion was invalid. Hence, the following letter was written at their request, and with a sincere desire to be of help to them. It is a glorious joy for me to say, the precious saints who were trine immersed, received New Testament or Baptist baptism, and are now a properly functioning New Testament church. There are a few deletions and additions in the article that were not in the original, this is due to going public with a letter that was heretofore, private. The article is written with permission of all parties involved.

Dear Brother M.
Greetings in the name of our Sovereign Lord, and merciful Saviour, Jesus Christ. I thank God for you and make mention of you and the Dear saints of S. Valley in my petitions at the throne of grace.

Regarding our phone conversation (November 25, 1980), wherein you solicited my assistance in your effort to resolve the controversy between yourself and Brother K. in the matter of trine or singular immersion as to which is, or if both are valid baptism. Let me say at the outset, I immensely appreciate your confidence in me, and I will do my honest utmost to preserve and cultivate that confidence. I commend you for the candor and gracious manner in which you expressed yourself in stating your variances with Brother K. on the subject matter.

I asked for and received from Brother K. a copy of your letter to him, and his letter to you dealing with the subject at hand. I have diligently considered your defense of trine immersion, and compliment you for the articulate manner in which it was presented. However, it would be dishonest of me to say I considered your claims with an objectivity absolutely free of bias. So, when you consider my reply, opposing your view, you may discount it proportionately to the measure of bias you can honestly charge me with. Nevertheless, I trust there will be after all honest deductions are made by you, sufficient force left in my defense of singular immersion to constitute a basis for further consideration by you of the single immersion position. If this much is accomplished, my efforts herein will not be totally free of success.

I prosecute this work with the knowledge that it is rarely possible to refute all that an opposing view may offer, and neither will I try to relegate all you have offered in your contention for trine immersion to the realm of oblivion. Such an effort would be an exercise in futility. It is my purpose to be constructive in answering your objections, and at the same time hold fast to the much good you have brought to my mind on the matter.

Again, I remind you, it is by your request that I am involved in this controversy. I do not consider myself a polemist, and would not intentionally wound the feelings of any disciple of Christ. If you consider some of what I say in my defense of single immersion to be abrasive, rest assured it was not intended to be so, for I desire to be a help, rather than a hindrance.

The first proposition I submit for your prayerful and diligent consideration is:
1.) Trine immersion destroys the symbolism of the ordinance of baptism.

Romans 6:3-5Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.

Please note the phrases in the scripture cited above, “Buried with Him by baptism ... planted together in the likeness of His death.” The preposition “by” declares with certainty that baptism is the means whereby the burial or planting is achieved. The baptism referred to in this scripture is a burial, not burials. God given faith in the vicarious and atoning death (not deaths) is the ground or basis whereby the subject is pronounced judicially dead in God’s perjureless court. The believer is judged as though the death penalty has been exacted from him, and as though he were actually dead. The first thing Christians do with their dead is to bury them. They do not dig three graves for the deceased person, nor bury them three times in the same grave. Trine immersion goes as far in destroying the symbolism of baptism as pedo-baptist sprinkling or Roman Catholic affusion. Burial is not accomplished by sprinkling or pouring a little dust or dirt over the corpse. Trine immersion goes to the other extreme and prescribes far more than what the Lord has required in the gospel order (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Trine immersion symbolically demands three deaths, three burials, and three resurrections of Christ. The singleness of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is taught throughout the New Testament and is accepted by Christendom, trine immersionists included. Why is it then, that trine immersionists teach three deaths, burials, and resurrections of Christ by their practice of the ordinance of baptism, and contend for one death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in their oral and written dissertations?

The element of inconsistency in this implausible contention, would, I believe, become apparent to the student who gives only a casual appraisal of the subject.

Romans 6:10For in that He died, He died unto sin ONCE ...”

I Peter 3:18For Christ also hath ONCE suffered for sins, the just for the unjust that He might bring us to God ...”

Hebrews 9:28So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many ...”  (Capitols Mine).

Many other scriptures could be cited which highlight the singleness of action in the redemptive death and justifying resurrection of Christ, but I am confident the need to do so does not exist.

Scriptural baptism signifies the death of Christ, not deaths (Romans 6:3). Baptism signifies the burial of Christ, not burials (Romans 6:4). And baptism signifies the resurrection of Christ, not resurrections (Romans 6:4, 5). Baptism is a graphic picture of death, burial, and resurrection. A symbol or picture must resemble, and a picture that has been doubly exposed irreparably bedims the true character, and is disposed of. What shall we then say of one that has triple exposure?

Our Lord’s use of wine and unleavened bread as symbols of His blood and body was for the simple reason that they most candidly resemble flesh and blood. The elements of the Lord’s Supper do not represent a plurality of bodies or bloods, but similarly the body and blood of Christ. This is not to imply that only the second person of the Godhead has an interest in the redemption which baptism symbolically proclaims, for we remember, in Christ, “Dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The Father gave the Son to die once, the Son through the Holy Spirit offered Himself once for the sins of His people. Thus it is written, “ ... Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). And so it is, the tri-unity of God is in no way infringed upon by single immersion.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are what baptism declares and three or one hundred baptisms of the same person cannot more fully declare the gospel than single immersion of the candidate does. Valid baptism cannot be repeated, and single immersion authoritatively administered meets the Divine requirement for proper observance of the ordinance. Having satisfied the biblical criteria, single immersion need not be duplicated, and can never be improved upon. Single immersion fits the figures of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Paul says, there is, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). A second or third immersion of the same candidate is as uncalled for as that of two Lords or two faiths.

Trine immersion wreaks havoc with Old Testament typology. Trine immersion typologically demands that Israel descend into the Red Sea three times, cross the Sea under the cloud three times, and emerge on the other side of the Sea three different times in their baptism unto Moses (I Corinthians 10:1-2).

The smitten rock (Exodus 17:1-7; I Corinthians 10:4) is a type of Christ’s death wherein He was smitten for the sins of His people. Moses smote the rock the second time instead of speaking to it (Numbers 20:8-12). Trine immersion goes beyond Moses, and symbolically declares Christ to be smitten, not only twice, but three times. Many are the Old Testament types which could at this time be brought to forth, showing that trine immersion inflicts injury upon the Old Testament figures of the redemptive work of Christ, but trust the two mentioned to suffice for now.

Romans 6:5 -Planted together in the likeness of His death.” Baptism is compared to planting by the divinely inspired writer. To say, wheat or corn is planted, is also to say, it is buried. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24). This is a metaphorical reference to Christ Himself. Christ was the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), He died, was buried or planted in the earth, and rose again the third day (I Corinthians 15:1-4). The dead body of Christ was quickened in the grave by the Holy Spirit, and He came out of the grave, never to enter it again the second time, much less the third time. Likewise, with the dead body of the saint, it is planted, buried if you please, it is sown in the earth as a seed is sown. God has appointed a time when the dead bodies of the saints will as seed receives natural germination, receive Holy Spirit germination, and will come forth from their graves, to ever walk in the newness of life. Thus it is with the baptismal candidate, he goes down once into the watery grave, and is resurrected there from to walk in the newness of life (I Corinthians 15:44; Romans 6:4). “Planted together in the likeness of His death.” Who would be so vain as to question this plain and Holy Spirit given analogy? Nay, who would be so absurd as to go to the farmer, and try to convince him that he must plant the same wheat, corn and beans the third time? The farmer knows that a single planting is sufficient to bring forth much fruit, and that a digging up of the seed the second or third time is very likely to make void all three plantings. Single immersion symbolically demonstrates the true and complete doctrine of salvation by free grace.

The second proposition I submit for your prayerful and diligent consideration, is:
2.) Trine immersion is without proper church authority, and is therefore as invalid as Arminian immersion, Protestant sprinkling, and Roman affusion.

The scriptural authority to administer the ordinance of baptism is vested in a New Testament church that preaches and stands for the whole counsel of God. The commission of Matthew 28:18-20 was given to the church as a corporate body, and included the observance of all things whatsoever our Lord commanded. Yet, there are a number of church denominations in America who practice baptism by immersion and at the same time deny that salvation from the condemnation of sin is by the pure, ill deserved, and humanly unmerited favor of God. The Campbellites and Neo-Pentecostals are among the self-salvationists. Then there are the more respectable ones, such as, the deep water Protestants with a Baptist name, and the Church of the Brethren. Church of the Brethren, sometimes called, Dunkards, are trine immersionists. As to their religious ancestry they are Protestants originating around the year 1708. Milner says of them, “These two companies had been members of one and the same church, which originated at Schwardzenau, in the year 1708. The first constituents were Alexander Mack and wife, John Kipin and wife, Gregory Grevy, Andreas Bloney, Lucus Fetter, and Joanna Nethigeim. These had been bred Presbyterians, except Kipin, who was a Lutheran” (Religious Denominations of the World By Vincent L. Milner, 1871). (I have this valuable book in my library.)

The Bureau of Census of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce: Religious Bodies - Vol. II, Title: Separate Denominations, 1926. In giving the date and founder of most religious denominations in America, states, “Church of the Brethren (Dunkards) Alexander Mack - 1708.” With all due respect to the church of the Brethren, it is seen from their origin and founder, that they originated by man, that they are Protestants, and are at least seventeen hundred years too late to be a New Testament ecclesia. Not only is the Church of the Brethren founding agent and date wrong, but the damnable error of baptismal regeneration is taught by the church. The following quote is taken from a book on doctrine published by the Church of the Brethren, “When the Lord Jesus Christ established his church he chose to appoint baptism as one of its sacred ordinances. By its observance the believer is initiated into the church, obtains the pardon of his sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Studies In Doctrine And Devotion - Brethren Publishing House - Elgin, Illinois - 1919 Page 119).

It is conceded that some of the people through whom Baptists trace their ecclesiastical genealogy gave countenance to the error of trine immersion. The Philadelphia Baptist Association (Founded 1707) had a smattering of trine immersionists within its ranks. J. H. Grime, in his Book entitled, History of Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism (1909), on page 31, says there were “two instances” of trine immersion being accepted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association. He goes on to identify trine immersion as alien baptism. There is little to no debate as to the historical position of Baptists being that of single immersion, and when this rule was violated it served to prove the rule, rather than impair it. It is to be exceedingly kind to call trine immersion, an irregularity, but even if this kindness was allowed, it would not be wise to begin church life upon an irregular foundation.

My third proposition submitted for your prayerful and diligent consideration, is:
3.) Baptism is not to be administered in the names, but in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

To augment this assertion I will give three brief quotations, the first two are from highly honored and widely acclaimed Baptist scholars. The third quote will be from Hastings Bible Dictionary. Following the quotes I will share with you a few of my own feeble comments in support of the third proposition.

First quote: commenting on Matthew 28:19, John A. Broadus, says, “Baptism then is here enjoined as to be performed with express reference to the Holy Trinity. Compare 2 Corinthians 13:14. From this, no doubt arose the quite early practice of baptizing three times, a practice still maintained in the Greek Church, and in Germany and America by the Tunkers or Dunkards, and some others. It is not an unnatural conception, and not in itself particularly objectionable, but it has no warrant in Scripture; and indeed, the form of expression here employed, ‘unto the name’ being used only once, is distinctly unfavorable to the practice. It should also be discouraged as tending to exalt the ceremonial element, while New Testament Christianity has the minimum of ceremony.” (Broadus: Commentary on Matthew - Copyright 1886 by the American Baptist Publication Society - Edited by Alvah Hoovey).

The second quote is from A. T. Robertson, a Greek scholar of world renown, and prior to his heavenly home going was professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky. Commenting on Matthew 28:19 he remarks, “Trine immersion is not taught as the Greek Church holds and practices, baptism in the name of the Father, then of the Son, then of the Holy Spirit. The use of the name (ονομα - onoma) here is a common one in the Septuagint and the papyri for power or authority.” (Word Pictures in the New Testament. Volume 1, Page 245).

The third quote: “We may unless our judgments are obscured by critical prejudices, turn to this passage (Matthew 28:19, obm) as supplying the needful summary of all those thoughts about God which we have gleaned from the teaching of Christ and the Gospels. The expression ‘εις το ονομα - eis to onoma’ is important: Christian baptism is to be ‘into the name.’ The phrase recalls the language of the Old Testament in which the ‘Name’ of God stood for Himself as revealed or brought into relation with men. So the name Jehovah was the sign or mark of the old covenant. Can we fail to gather that of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? In this name is contained the revelation of God which Christ brought to man. It must be also observed that the word is singular, ‘το ονομα - to onoma’, suggesting the unity of the Godhead. The name is threefold, yet is one.” (Hastings Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels , Volume II - Page 674)

While God is of tri-personality, which personality is manifested in the titles and offices of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we need to keep clear in our minds that these manifestations do not constitute tri-theism. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of one essence, which essence knows no variance, and never suffers by variable manifestations. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have but one name, the name God. This name is a unit name, common to all three persons in the Godhead. Omniscience gave the church the baptismal formula (Matthew 28:19) to reveal the interest and part that all three persons of the Divine Majesty had in the redemption of the elect. The three persons of the Godhead are One being, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Father, Son, and Spirit all prefixed with the unit name, God. The baptismal formula is tenaciously adhered to by Baptists, for they know to baptize in the name of one and not the other two would be to disobey an explicit Biblical precept, and would be a denial of the unit name and the Trinity which that name declares.

Baptists do not add a name to nor delete one name from the baptismal formula and they realize that a repetitious invoking of the unit name in baptism does not add any benefit to the ordinance. To do more than what the Lord requires in a specific command, is to question God’s designs, it is to charge God with foolishness, and to make void every effort to comply with the command. Noah’s Ark and the wilderness Tabernacle were of specific dimensions, anything more or less would not have satisfied the heavenly mandate. Trine immersion, even though it may carry a Baptist church label comes under the heading of Null and Void, and should be rejected.

Scriptural single immersion fully satisfies the baptismal formula, and irrevocably depicts the salvation which God has accomplished for His ill deserving children.
God bless you Brother M. Brother K’s love for you has not diminished one iota.

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