Is Baptism Required for Salvation?

Ron Boatwright wrote this webpage, arguing that without baptism one is not saved, and then sent me an e-mail asking me to read it and tell him what I thought.

From the website:  Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned“.  But just as 1+1=2, Jesus says belief + baptism = saved.  One needs help to misunderstand Jesus.  How much clearer could Jesus have said it?  Jesus placed both belief and baptism prior to being saved.

What Jesus said and what Boatwright claims he said are not the same.  Jesus lumps believing and baptism together as almost one single activity – he who believes and is baptized.  What Jesus says next is “He who does not believe will be condemned.”  Not believing equates with condemnation (hell).  In Mark 16:15 Jesus had told the disciples to preach the gospel to every living creature.  Those who believe that message, and are consequently baptized, will be saved.  Rejecting the gospel is what sends non-believers to hell, not refusing baptism.  If this were the case Jesus might have also said “He who believes but is not baptized will be condemned.”  He didn’t say that.  Jesus does not equate belief and baptism as being essential to salvation, but he is assuming belief and baptism are a package deal. Continue reading