Today, we will be having a baptism service in our church. To
be baptized is something that Jesus has instructed all of his followers to do. In
that regard, it is like the observance of the Lord’s Supper. We are told that we should do this.
Also, just as
Jesus shared in the first communion with his disciples, he himself was also
baptized. Jesus did these things as examples for us, so that we should continue
in what he taught us.
However, we as a church have not been good at remaining
faithful to his intentions in these traditions. It is an unfortunate
development that baptism, like communion, is a custom that has historically
caused controversy among church denominations.
Last week I spoke of how we in
the churches have hijacked the observance of the unity Lord’s Supper to create
division within the body of Christ. We allowed this to happen rather than allowing
communion to be a sign of the oness of the church, as Jesus intended it to be.
It is a sadness for me to say that it is much the same concerning baptism.
Both of these practices are meant not only to represent for
us deep spiritual meanings (the greatest portion of which none of us understand
completely), but they are to both also be a demonstration of our unity in the body
of Christ. But again, like communion, because the entirety of the all of the
spiritual implications and meanings concerning baptism is beyond any of our
abilities to comprehend and appreciate as a whole, some churches choose to
emphasize one certain aspect of baptism, and other churches choose other
Thus, as it is in the Lord’s Supper, instead of listening to
and learning to appreciate various viewpoints and to learn from them, we have
used these different perspectives to draw lines of division among the churches.
The sad result is that, in our different church denominations, it is our
tendency to arm ourselves with arguments about how our own denomination has the
“right” understanding of baptism, and those who do it differently are “wrong.”
Again, baptism is unfortunately much like communion in this
regard. If we do take the time to listen to the perspectives of another church,
we often listen in the same sense as one would listen to his or her opponent in
a debate. We are not really trying to understand the motives involved with what
another church believes, but we are instead only listening with the sense of
building a counter argument against each one of their points.
Primary and Secondary Beliefs
Because of our upcoming centennial of our church, I have
been asked by a number of people in recent weeks if the Log Church is
“non-denominational.” My response, of course, always is, “yes, it is.”
I do not know what that phrase, non-denominational church, means to you, but to me it means that
when it comes to the secondary beliefs of the church, like communion and
baptism, we take time to consider the traditions of others. I call these
“secondary beliefs,” because to me, in these there is some room for latitude.