Question:

I've been discussing baptism with someone and the essentiality of water but the person was saying to me something about progressive gospel and how baptism was a ritual and all rituals and things of that nature have been nailed to the cross and such we don't have to do them including baptism, so could you help me in what to say to him about that and could you shed some light on this progressive Gospel matter. Thank you.


Answer:

The idea of a progressive gospel is that the teachings of Christ have to be modified and updated to suit the current situation. The idea is readily proved false by Paul's declaration:

"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).

The gospel message does not change.

What was nailed to the cross was the Old Law.

"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:11-17).

Notice in the same context in which the Old Testament is declared to have been nailed to the cross, Paul also states that circumcision -- a rite that marked a person as being under the Law of Moses -- was replaced with by the circumcision of Christ, which Paul declares to be baptism. There is no passage that declares that all rituals have been done way with. Consider that the Lord's Supper could be classified as a ritual and few complain about its need.

The idea that Christ nailed baptism to the cross is foolish. First, it wasn't an Old Testament requirement. Second, Christ himself, after his resurrection from death declared: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). The majority of the teaching of baptism was done after the death of Jesus, so it is ridiculous to declare it ended before it was fully taught.

The one altering the gospel is your friend. He is declaring that people can ignore the teachings of Christ and somehow be pleasing to the Lord.