Friday, July 23, 2010

Church of the Nazarene's Position on Baptism

Here is my summary of the Church of the Nazarene’s take on baptism. In short, anyone from infants to children to adults can be baptized in the Church of the Nazarene and by the mode of their choosing whether it is by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. As for infants, the parents otherwise could choose to “dedicate” the child rather than have the baby baptized. The most commonly used mode of baptism is immersion.

Why does the church hold to various modes and recipients? you may ask. The church has taken a “non confrontational approach to baptism”. After all, “many would argue over the form baptism should take and the time it should be administered. Recognizing these differences, the Church of the Nazarene focuses on the essentials”.

How does the church view baptism? you may ask. According to them, baptism is more than “just showing others what God has done” and “is a sacrament where God gives grace in the midst of the action. Baptism is God’s means to give us grace to follow Him”. It appears that the church takes a sacramental view of baptism in that there is the belief that baptism is a physical means by which God gives grace. “In some mysterious way God uses physical things [like baptism and the Lord’s Supper] to bring about spiritual changes and give His grace…God has chosen to give grace through our participation in them”. Also, the sacraments are “one means to fulfill the active proclamation of the gospel”. Baptism is also viewed as a symbol of “participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ”. And as a side note, the Lord’s Supper is viewed as symbolic of God’s “sustaining grace to His followers”.

According to the church, baptism is a “sacrament of initiation” by serving as an “entry point into the Christian faith”. It is the mark of “our inclusion in the new covenant that Christ established”, it is symbolic of our identification with the death of Christ, it is a symbol of our participation in the resurrected life of Christ, a symbol of our reception of the Holy Spirit, and “it is the action through which we are made part of Christ’s body, the Church”.

I have a comment and question concerning the Church of the Nazarene’s view of baptism. First, the rest of the booklet from which I obtained my information, it seems that one must repent, confess sins, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, prior to baptism. This makes me wonder how they view infant baptism in relation to faith in Christ, and in what sense is it a means of grace to the infant.

All in all, the Church of the Nazarene’s view of baptism is one of the most interesting to me. Anyone… infants, children, and anyone else could get baptized and by the mode of their choosing (sprinkling, pouring, or immersion). So if you happen to change your mind about the mode of baptism or whom is eligible for it at any time in your Christian walk, and if you are part of the Church of the Nazarene, no need to sweat it, because you will still have a home in the Church of the Nazarene. Pastors, you would not lose your job. Missionary, you would not be sent back home.  Teacher, you would not suddenly become disqualified from teaching.  The reason I mention this is because I ran across a forum in which one of the respondents was a Presbyterian pastor and he did not want to lose his job because of the issue of baptism.  So that is Church of the Nazarene’s view of baptism, or at least what I deciphered it to be.

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