Quote from John Westerhoff

Two Facts:

“(1) After almost two thousand years of proclaiming the gospel, there are still millions of people who have not accepted the gospel; and (2) after baptizing persons for the same length of time, the lives of those baptized are rarely significantly different from the lives of the unbaptized. Perhaps fact two helps to explain fact one.”

Taken from: The Study of Evangelism: Exploring a Missional Practice of the Church. p. 244

3 thoughts on “Quote from John Westerhoff

  1. Hello,

    I cannot be certain of the context of the quote above. Certainly, the context would allow me to post a better comment. However, I believe that this comment speaks volumes for the belief of salvation by works. Baptism is just a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2:8-9, it states that we are saved by grace through faith. It is only by the grace of God does the Holy Spirit allow us to have power over sin. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will give one power. While Gal. 5:22-23 show the fruit of the Spirit. It is only by yielding ourselves over to the Holy Spirit does one see a change. There is no wonder baptism produces no change, the action is just a work of man and not God. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no regeneration of the heart. According to Dr. Elmer Towns, “Regeneration is that work of the Spirit of God whereby men are given God’s God’s life and God’s nature and made a part of the family of God.”

    Towns, Elmer. Theology for Today. Wadsworth, Belmont, Ca, 2002, 294.

    • Justin,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and reply. I think what needs to be understood about from where Westerhoff is coming from is to understand how Westerhoff understands Baptism. Westerhoff is an ordained Episcopal priest and with that comes a sacramental understanding view of Baptism. This is to say that baptism is not a human act, but rather it is truly a grace, an unmerited gift, that is acted upon by God. If you are interested in discussing further about the United Methodist understanding around the sacrament of baptism, please take a look at “By Water and the Spirit” under the article section of my blog. And so, in response, YES without the Spirit and without God there is no possibility of transformation of the heart. The main difference I would tend to have a different view about is the understanding of God’s work through baptism.

      Grace and Peace to you my brother in Christ.

  2. Josh,

    Thank you, that context helps me to understand with a little more certainity of the context of this man.

    Just as an introduction, I work at the Waterpark and am currently involved in pursuing my Bachelor’s of Religion. I am an Independent Baptist and getting ready to apply to seminaries and pursue my master’s of divinity.

    I am interested in discussing the UMC view of baptism. It appears that the UMC believes baptism is a mean’s of grace. I would like to know a little more of what you believe in that regards. As a baptist, I see baptism as an ordinance that is a symbol of God’s grace. It is only a picture of salvation, which I believe is performed by immersion and is only done in the manner of credobaptism.

    I enjoy discussing spiritual and theological topics.Though we may disagree in part on the non-fundamentals of the faith, these matters do not disqualify us from being brothers in Christ.


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