As I promised my friend, Dan, here are my thoughts on baptism, including comparisons with the theology of baptism of many Churches of Christ. This is, by no means, a complete explanation – I just tried to hit the major points.

I think the biggest point of departure from what I used to believe regarding baptism and what now believe, is a matter of outlook. In the Churches of Christ, baptism was the culmination of the “plan of salvation” and the precise moment that one became “saved.”  This view tended, as Reece noted in the comments of the previous post, to limit the event and give the impression that our baptism didn’t need to be revisited.

However, since discovering a more sacramental (and historical) theology, I’ve come to see baptism as the beginning of a process, a new birth. The resulting life is now God’s for it is he who acts in baptism, not man. Baptism is a gift, a physical manifestation of what God is doing in one’s life.

I think, too, some of the change  has come in a different understanding of salvation. What does it mean to be saved? For most evangelicals, including the Churches of Christ, salvation was clear cut – if you’re saved, you go to heaven. If you’re not, you go to hell. Heaven and Hell, by the way, were always defined as spiritual realms, completely removed from this earth. However, I’ve come to understand salvation as a matter of resurrection, the redeeming or new-creating of the Earth. I would highly recommend N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope for a better (and fuller) explanation of this.

Additionally, in case you’re wondering, my baptism (which happened when I was a member of the Churches of Christ) is held by the Anglican Church to be valid because it was done “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not baptized as Episcopalians or Church-of-Christers or Baptists or anything other than Christians. Again, the action is God’s. This is also why, in Episcopal Churches, all the baptized are invited to the Table.

I hope this answers your questions. It probably created more, which is good. Feel free to ask for clarifications or follow-ups.


One thought on “Baptism

  1. That really makes a lot of sense. From what I’ve heard from you and read here, I’ve come to appreciate the seriousness the Anglican Church takes on worship and all the meaning behind it. That certainly was something lacking growing up in the CoC. I think we’re going to start our search on Sunday. It’s kind of overwhelming since there are so many options and I know so little about any of them. Wish us luck!

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