I don't think it is merely symbolic or ritual, but I don't think I can believe it is the point at which you are saved. I think that if you are choosing to follow God and give yourself to Him you will get baptized because we are directed to do so. But the question I have comes from the way this pastor (at a churchw e left) explained it to me. He said instead of baptism being the first thing you do as a Christian, it is the last thing you do as a sinner. You are not saved until you pass through the water.
I don't really have any scriptural references for why I question that, mainly conceptual problems with that. If I were to embrace that, I feel like I would have to change my view if who the Lord is. I will put together my point in a more thought out manner and find scriptures that I lean on for my understanding of the Lord in ways I feel like they are incompatible..... for now my argument comes from ...
Isn't salvation by grace that none may boast so that 1. it is not based on anything physical so that our salvation cannot be judged and determined by earthly means 2. so that pastors don't feel as though they "hold the key" for eternal life. 3. baptism could become a source of pride and Pharisee type behavior.
Like I said in an earlier post; the question has already been asked of Jesus, "what must I do to be saved?" and He answered. Now we must also ask of a pastor "what must I do to be baptized?" seems like it adds a whole new dimension that seems like a potential yoke the same kind as Jesus specifically spoke against.
Now that I am getting started I do have a few scriptures to reference here, but my 2yo dd is getting fussy...... try to have my thoughts together more when I come back