Thursday, December 09, 2010

Baptism and Ecclesiology

I ran across an excellent quote today and I thought I would share it. It seems poignant in light of our recent discussions about baptism/infant baptism and ecclesiology. The quote comes from an article titled, 'The Sacraments in Early American Methodism' and it refers to a possible explanation of how the sacraments lost their significance/meaning/importance (?) for the emerging American Methodists in particular, and 'evangelicals' or 'revivalists' in general. It states,

'How significant can the sacrament [of baptism] have been in the absence of any developed sense of church?'

This sentence was published in 1957 and it refers to a problem that existed in the early 1800s. And it could have been written about many churches today. When will we (remnants of Methodism and the revival movement of the 19th century) learn that ecclesiology is important?



Eric + said...


Todd Stepp said...

I hear United Methodists frequently talk about their identity crisis; their struggle between the episcopal "churchly" structure and their "society" (para-church) structure.

What can we who came out of the revivalistic, camp-meeting movement within Methodism expect? (I know, we should expect a lot, but just saying . . .)

BThomas said...

"How significant can the sacrament (of baptism) have been in the absence of any developed sense of church?"

I think there is no greater display of the truth of this statement than in the fact that being baptized is not a prerequisite to becoming a member of the Church of the Nazarene. That practice alone speaks volumes of both our sacramental theology and our ecclesiology (or lack thereof).


Todd Stepp said...


I'm the one who wrote the resolution for the last two general assemblies to make baptism a requirement for membership.

The first time it was significant that the g.a., for the first time, actually voted that baptism not be a requirement. (That is, they voted the resolution down. Prior to that, it could have been "an oversight;" now it was g.a. action.)

The last g.a., I talked with the d.s. (ahead of time) who made the motion to send it to the general superintendents. - He thought that it could pass, or it could be voted down. However, he thought that if the b.g.s. came back at the next g.a. with their support, it would pass.

We'll see in 2013.


Joseph said...

Brian, so true. My question is: What is Church membership if it isn't baptism? (Maybe for another blog)

Good for you Todd. It's nice to see some concreteness of thought in action. We appreciate it.


BThomas said...


I remember it being voted down. It was the month after I transfered my credentials to Church of the Nazarene. I was shocked that it wasn't an oversight but intentional. Do you by any chance still have a copy of the resolution. I would love to read it.