Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Required or Not?

Here are two lines from an actual church constitution:

As an act of obedience, born-again believers should be baptized subsequent to their profession of faith in Christ as Savior. (Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-33; Acts 18:8).


Persons who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and who are in agreement with the doctrinal statement, covenant, and constitution of this church are invited to become members. Baptism by any mode shall not be a prerequisite.

What is interesting is that (1) the doctrinal statement affirms believers’ baptism, (2) church membership  requires agreement with the doctrinal statement, but (3) baptism is not a prerequisite for membership.

This doesn’t seem to work.

If you agree with the doctrinal statement then you agree that you should be baptized after profession as an act of obedience, and failure to be baptized is disobedience.

Yet baptism is not a prerequisite for church membership.

So if you aren’t baptized as a believer, aren’t you disagreeing with the doctrinal statement, and thereby precluded from membership?

Or are you just rebellious and defiant? (Which I presume is worse.)

I am not sure how to parse this. Anyone have any help for me? Does your church practice this way? Do you know how this works in practice?


Stephen Davis said...

I wonder if they mean that baptism by any particular mode is not a prerequisite. That is, baptism subsequent to belief but not requiring a specific mode. Or that believers "should" be baptized but don't have to be baptized. Either way, it's not clear.

Matthew Olmstead said...

Meh. Who takes constitutions seriously, anyway?

Larry said...

Ah, that's possible Steve. Hadn't thought of that way of reading it.