Dave Armstrong says they are. I’ll take his word for it that he is expressing the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
Dave Armstrong kindly sent me an e-book copy of his work with the short title Pillars of Sola Scriptura. Below I supply his argument in condensed form on a point he states no Protestant has ever successfully refuted, in his experience. He challenged me to try to refute him if I could. I am most pleased to oblige.
They haven’t “obviated” the argument I just made; nor has any Protestant I have ever met in 20 years of Catholic apologetics come up with a rational rebuttal of it. (Dave Armstrong, Pillars of Sola Scriptura, 107.7/560)
The “argument” Dave Armstrong just made was this:
Premise [my label, for clarification] (104.0/560):
Both baptism and the Eucharist are necessary to salvation:
(1) Mark 16:16
(2) Acts 2:38
(3) Acts 22:16
(4) Romans 6:3-4
(5) Titus 3:5
(6) 1 Peter 3:18-21
(1) John 6:48-51
(2) John 6:53-58
Conclusion [my label for clarity]: (106.9-107.2/560)
“But Protestants notoriously disagree on both of these things necessary for salvation; therefore, it appears that it is not true that Scripture is plain enough for all to agree on matters concerning salvation. It is much easier to hold that there are false premises somewhere, in cases of contradiction, and to go after those. But it is manifest that people may interpret “plain” Scripture and come up with contradictory conclusions.”
Already I have previously dealt with Dave Armstrong’s assertions here about baptism, and I thanked him for choosing that subject, since I have studied that issue most thoroughly both directly from the Bible and with the assistance of scholarship embodied in books I own and have read carefully on both sides of the subject. Anyone who owns a copy either printed or in software of my book, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, may read at will my summary of the Baptist argument for immersion at my note at Romans 6:4. The summary of the non-immersion position I give at Colossians 2:12. Any layperson or scholar is welcome to come to their own conclusion as to whether I fairly treated each side and presented its strongest evidence or not.
Dave Armstrong’s argument above may be summarily dismissed and considered refuted because his interpretation relative to the matters of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are incorrect, based upon a provable misinterpretation of Scripture.
As to baptism, the confusion is evident on Dave Armstrong’s part. Many others make the same mistake here as he did. The mistake is to (1) assert what the Bible does not say, namely, that ritual water baptism is necessary to salvation; (2) not understand the distinction between “real” baptism, performed by the Holy Spirit when one is saved and “ritual water baptism” performed by a human administrator physically upon the person. There is a vast yet provable difference.
Dave Armstrong makes yet another mistake when he asserts (3) that the Eucharist is necessary for salvation, and makes appeal to (4) John 6 in support of his contention, when John 6 does not pertain at all to the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper because the Lord’s Supper had neither been yet instituted nor explained.
Dave Armstrong has shared with me that the Roman Catholic Church has only authoritatively interpreted as a matter of required belief about seven to nine specific Bible verses or passages. That is probably wise on their part, and it leaves even Roman Catholic interpreters some freedom of opinion, I would suppose, on the rest of Scripture. Yet in handling this issue, I’m sure there are more than nine reference passages alluded to even in the short argument summary above, so I would presume that the Roman Catholic Church has not addressed all of those texts infallibly as of yet.
Now the central point of difference between Biblically literate Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church is this: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that grace is received through the seven sacraments. Of particular importance, I would presume from Dave Armstrong’s argument, are the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
The Bible does not teach sacramental salvation. Therefore:
(1) Ritual water baptism in any form or mode is not required for salvation.
At each of the Scripture passages Dave Armstrong has listed regarding baptism I have placed careful notes in my book, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which fully address his position and the position of others who think ritual water baptism is required for salvation. This evening I do not have time to copy-and-paste from my files all of those notes in this post. If I did so, but few would venture to wade through the mass of material I have assembled.
I will present my notes on Mark 16:16, to demonstrate that my notes do indeed answer Mr. Armstrong’s error, and thus roundly refute him on this point:
Mark 16:16. that believeth and. Mk 1:15. Lk 7:50. 8:12. **Jn 1:12, 13. **Jn 3:15, 16, 18, 36. **Jn 5:24. 6:29, 35, 40. 7:37, 38. *Jn 11:25, 26. 12:46. **Jn 20:31. Ac 8:37. *Ac 10:43. *Ac 13:38, 39. **Ac 16:30-32. 18:8. Ro 3:6, 24-27. *Ro 4:1-5, 11, 24. 5:1. **Ro 10:9. Ga 3:22. He 10:38, 39. 1 P 1:21. *1 P 3:21. **1 J 5:10-13. is baptized. T#36, T#894. Nu 19:20. +*Mt 28:19. *Jn 3:3, 5. +*Ac 2:38n, 41. *Ac 8:36-39. 10:48. 13:24. 16:30-34. +*Ac 22:16. **Ro 6:3, 4n. *Ro 10:9-14. **1 Cor 12:13. **Ga 3:27. **Col 2:12n. Titus 3:5, 6. He 6:2. *1 P 3:20, 21. shall be saved. Ac 4:12. **Ac 16:31. **Ro 10:9. **Ep 2:8. 1 Th 2:16. *Titus 3:5. +**He 6:9n. 1 P 3:21. but he. **Jn 3:18, 19, 36. +*Jn 8:24. *Jn 12:47, 48. Ac 13:46. 2 Cor 4:3, 4. **2 Th 1:8. **2 Th 2:8, 12. *Re 20:15. +*Re 21:8. believeth not. Gr. apisteō (S#569g, 2 Tim 2:13). ver. Mk 16:11. Lk 24:11, 41. **Jn 3:18, 36. 16:9. Ac 3:23. 28:24. Ro 3:3. 2 Cor 6:15. 2 Th 2:12. 2 Tim 2:13. He 2:1-3. 3:19. 1 P 2:7, 8. 1 J 5:10-12. shall be damned. or, condemned. Gr. katakrinō (S#2632g, Mt 12:41). For each positive requirement for salvation, there is in Scripture a negative statement threatening loss of salvation if the requirement is not satisfied. That is, belief as a requirement for salvation is stated positively and negatively (Ac 16:31 with Jn 3:18); repentance is spoken of positively and negatively (Ac 17:30 w Lk 13:3). Although baptism is enjoined as a command, it is nowhere stated in the negative (i.e. “he that is not baptized is lost,” or the equivalent), as all positive, essential requirements for salvation are. This passage comes closest to being such a negative statement, but it lacks the negative clause pertaining to baptism. Nor can such a clause be “supplied” as though its omission were a mere ellipsis, for in so essential a matter, we dare not add to what is expressly written (**Pr 30:6. **Re 22:18, 19). Therefore, the physical rite of water baptism cannot be shown from Scripture to be necessary to salvation. Mk 16:16 is not a command statement, nor is it in the subjunctive mood of a conditional clause, which would have to read “If one believes and is baptized he shall be saved.” If it were so worded here or anywhere, then baptism would be a necessary condition with which one must comply in order to be saved. But Mark 16:16 is a mere declaration that the baptized believer shall be saved. Had the Bible said “He that is baptized, and takes the Lord’s Supper, and pays tithes and offerings, and forsakes not the assembling of himself with other believers, and cares for widows and orphans, shall be saved,” it would have been a declarative statement of general Bible truth. But that is not the same as saying “If a person does all these things he shall be saved.” What one receives when he believes, he does not lose when he is baptized. Nowhere in the New Testament is baptism made a command or a condition essential to salvation. It never occurs as such in the imperative mood in a command statement, or in the subjunctive mood in a conditional clause, with the promise that by subscribing to such one shall receive salvation. There are four, perhaps five, conditions or terms of salvation, all of which are stated both positively and negatively: (1) one must hear the Word of God: positive, Ro 10:17. Jn 5:24. negative, Ac 3:23. (2) one must be convicted by the Holy Spirit: positively, Jn 6:44. 16:8-11. negatively, Ro 8:9. (3) repentance is a means by which one receives salvation: positively, Ac 11:18. *Ac 17:30, 31. *2 P 3:9. negatively, +*Lk 13:3. 2 Cor 7:10. (4) belief in or on Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord: positively, Ac 10:43. *Ac 15:9. 16:31. Ro 1:16. *Ga 3:26. *Ep 2:8, 9. **1 J 5:1, 11-13. negatively, Jn 3:18. 8:24. (5) confession of Christ as Lord before men: positively, **Ro 10:9, 10. negatively, Mt 10:32, 33. As with repentance, confession is not regarded in Scripture as an act which is separate from belief; it is concomitant. If not, then one who is dumb cannot be saved; nor could a person isolated from society be saved through the reading of the Word. All four or five conditions or terms of salvation are stated both positively and negatively; baptism is not one of these. Just as the verb “baptize” is never used in the entire New Testament in the subjunctive mode in a promise of salvation, neither is the noun “baptism” used in the instrumental, means, or agency case of prepositions so as to offer salvation, justification, or the new birth by or through baptism. In stating the conditions of salvation, Scripture does teach that (1) one receives a pure heart by faith in Christ, Ac 15:9; (2) one is justified by faith, Ro 5:1. Ac 13:39; (3) one is saved by grace through faith, Ep 2:8, 9; (4) one is said to be a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Ga 3:26. Ep 3:17), but one is never said to receive a pure heart, be justified, be saved, or to be a child of God by or through baptism (some of the preceding information I first learned when I heard Albert Garner debate in Gainesville, Florida, in 1974. Much of the information is also in his book, Defense of the Faith, Part 2, Chapter 2, “The Baptismal Regeneration Heresy,” especially pp. 238-241, “Objections Answered, Mark 16:16″). The one word believe represents all a sinner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved. Hearing, conviction of the Holy Spirit, repentance, confession of sin, confession of Christ before others, are all concomitants of—things that accompany—true belief, not so many discrete requirements for salvation. A study of what the New Testament says regarding Abraham’s faith (Ro 4:3-5, 10, 11, 24. Ga 3:6. He 11:17-19. James 2:21) will show that Abraham was declared righteous (Ge 15:6) chronologically before any act of obedience on his part, before the institution of circumcision, before the sacrifice of Isaac, and of course well before the establishment of the Mosaic law. This teaches us that no ordinance, no act of obedience, no obedience to law, and no “act of faith” precedes the imputation of righteousness—simply believing God. Dt 18:19. 30:15. Ezk 44:9. +**Mt 25:46n.
I believe that on the basis of the arguments I have given above, and the fuller evidence presented in my note from The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for Mark 16:16, that I have absolutely refuted Dave Armstrong on the one point that water baptism, what I and other scholars have termed “ritual water baptism,” is NOT a requirement for salvation.
It should be noted that “real baptism,” accomplished by the Holy Spirit, IS REQUIRED for salvation, and many texts of Scripture wrongly applied to ritual water baptism actually refer to real baptism. Such passages are readily identified in context when the element water is not mentioned, or when no human administrators of baptism are mentioned, or when what is accomplished by the baptism referred to goes beyond what any humanly applied ritual ordinance can do.
Dave Armstrong used his argument about baptism and the Eucharist to support his contention that Protestants have never come to agreement on the meaning and application of the supposedly “plain” Bible texts that pertain to these two issues, so the Protestants must be wrong, and the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is therefore in error. I have previously refuted Dave Armstrong on that point by suggesting and demonstrating for the issue he brought forward to demonstrate his point that what he considered an impossibility I proved was indeed possible. I said that if one were to dig deeply enough into the Bible and study it carefully using the rules of interpretation I have spelled out in some detail in the October 2010 archives here, many if not most matters of disagreement may be authoritatively settled from Scripture itself, paying particular attention to the grammatical issues involved. In that discussion he kindly brought up the issue of baptism, in reference to John 3:5. I presented a rational, logical, Biblically-based argument to explain what John 3:5 means. He cited in refutation of my claims what noted Greek scholar Marvin Vincent in his work on word studies had to say about that verse. I presented a full refutation of Vincent’s exposition. At that point after considerable scouring of this website, Dave Armstrong determined that this is an anti-Catholic website, and that I am plainly anti-Catholic. Dave Armstrong said he has made it his policy not to carry on debates on anti-Catholic websites. I presented full evidence that I am not anti-Catholic, but I most definitely am anti-error! I am pro-Bible, and believe in Real Bible Study.
I have not refuted Dave Armstrong’s book as a whole. I am still reading it. But I thought that I would post these comments on one issue I found in reading his book this evening that it is certain from Scripture that Dave Armstrong is in error, and on this point I believe I have refuted him. To prove me wrong, in debate, Dave Armstrong would have to prove I am mistaken about how to properly interpret Mark 16:16. With regard to this post, that is the only issue on the table.
Until Dave Armstrong answers my rebuttal of his appeal to Mark 16:16, he can no longer claim that no Protestant has ever attempted to answer his book, Pillars of Sola Scriptura: Replies to Whitaker, Goode, and Biblical “Proofs” for “Bible Alone.”
Well, at least should he happen to read this, he will know that I have been reading his book.