Baptism responses

I wanted to respond here to some of the responses to the previous baptism post, because some good points were made by the two Barry’s. Barry J. raised the issue of whether baptism fit more in ecclesiology or soteriology. I think one problem is that we have made too strong of a distinction between soteriology and ecclesiology in general. Of course the two can be wrongly connected (e.g., “I’m a Christian because I go to church”), but we often also too strongly divide them (“As long as you are a Christian it does not matter if you go to church,” or “Being a Christian has nothing to do with going to church”). There really is no biblical category for non-church attending believers. Though it may occur as an aberration from time to time, followers of Christ are obligated to obey the commands of Scripture and Hebrews 10:24-25 are pretty clear. We need to be clear to people that church is not optional for those who profess faith.

Now, that was not Barry J.’s question, but it raised the opportunity to speak to that issue. I am not sure where exactly the rest of your question goes, Barry J.- but you are certainly not a heretical idiot! I do think there is need for more careful thinking about the role of baptism in church life.

Then, Barry (in MO), I am fine with calling baptism a means of grace so long as we mean in the way the Reformers did and not the way Catholics do. In fact Wayne Grudem, a Baptist, in his Systematic Theology has a chapter on Means of Grace (Chapter 48) where he lists baptism, communion, and at least 9 other things. In this sense typically “means of grace” refers to God-ordained means for receiving grace (to be edified). So, I agree that it would be useful to use this term once we teach it clearly to our people. God has given to the church ordained ways for us to receive grace to help in time of need.

May the conversation on baptism continue! I hope before too long to comment on Communion.

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