Several years ago Pastor Bart Barber wrote the statement, “Immersion is not really a ‘mode’ of baptism” – pointing out such wording is a convenience and an accommodation. Mode means a manner, method or way of doing something (and usually implies one of several). When paedobaptists speak of “mode”’ they mean an “either/or” proposition. Making mode a property or method of “baptism” suggests three possible outcomes: immersion, sprinkling, or pouring. Our speaking of mode is merely an accommodation to the current state of things and is not actually biblical language. Under the religious circumstances that exist, it is hard to avoid the use of the word mode when discussing baptism, but, as Bart continues, “Immersion is not a ‘mode’ of baptism; it is the essence of ‘baptism’.” When most Baptists use mode they are defining the invariable nature of the ordinance. Simply put, immersion IS baptism, not merely one mode (method) of doing it.
Bart’s point on “mode” is a needed vitamin for Baptists as we slouch toward baptismal ecumenism.