I believe baptism is for the remission of sins and is the time and place of salvation, but knowing this is not essential for salvation. I know many in the movement disagree with this point of view, but they cross the line into making baptism a work. I say this, because they require a re-baptism, even if the person understood the gospel and has been faithful every since. People who hold this view, think of baptism as the gospel and not what it really is, the proper response to the gospel. Remember, Paul said he came to preach the gospel, not to baptize. That doesn't make Paul a heretic, it just shows there is difference between baptism and the gospel itself (1 Cor 1:17).
Every case is different, but generally I recommend people baptized as infants to be baptized again and those previously immersed to keep their baptism if it was performed correctly from a doctrinally orthodox church.
Yes, denominational preachers teach salvation comes before baptism, and it is wrong, but this flaw does not invalidate what was done sincerely by the convert. I do not believe that the ignorance of a preacher invalidates a baptism if that same preacher explained the gospel correctly and then performed the baptism properly, even if he personally believes baptism is irrelevant. If a person got baptized three months later at a quarterly baptismal service, I just don't see this as a cause to declare him not saved.
There are lots of blessings that one receives at baptism, did any of us know all of them the time we were baptized? If we teach a baptism based upon perfect knowledge, we then create situations where one must be rebaptized each time he learns something new. Couldn’t we just simply change our understanding as we do on other doctrines?
We know baptism was immediate in the book of Acts, but we must really ask ourselves if we understand the difference between salvation by works and salvation by grace if we invalidate a baptism on nothing more than bad timing.
Naaman was told to dip himself in the Jordan seven times. Why? Because baptism is about obedience, and has nothing really to do with understanding at all. Elisha didn't even feel it necessary to attend. Doesn't this teach us something? Must I point out Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, I don't think He was ever in danger of damnation. He was being obedient, like Naaman, like the Ethiopian Eunuch, and the denominational convert who doesn't know his Church of Christ from his Assemblies of God.
We must start to understand that salvation is a process, not a moment in time. God chose us before the beginning of the world and will raise us up on the Last Day. Baptism is just 30 seconds in something that started before time even existed. Frankly, we should spend our time being better Christians then trying to replay the first few seconds of our conversion.
We will constantly learn new things till the day we die. Let's not get caught up in an unhealthy perfectionism that only Christ can maintain. I know a man who was baptized 5 times, because no one taught him about 1 John 1:9, and how faithful and just God is. He didn't need to get rebaptized every time he backslided, rather he needed to be taught to repent and to be discipled better.
We must be VERY careful not to make salvation dependent upon the theological understanding of a minister, and rather should keep baptism where it needs to be, on obedience. We obey the gospel, because frankly we are not smart enough to understand the gospel. Ultimately, salvation is about God's grace, and we in the Church of Christ need to stop fearing that message. Yes, let's baptize for the remission of sins, but not upon perfect understanding.
Known as an expert in all he surveys, he freely shares his opinions on politics, science & theology using diatribes based upon careless research from tertiary sources that presupposed what he thought in the first place.