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Church Baptism Issues

In the following e-mail exchanges, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

>Subject: Officers of the Church shall have been baptized as believers by total immersion

Dear Gary,

I have been attending a Baptist Church for many years and have prepared two types of Constitution in relation to the above clause which is in our old 1996 Constitution presently in use.

Now one elder of our Church who was admitted 8 years ago on the basis of this Constitution now wants to remove that clause. The bigger picture I see is that God commanded us biblically to be baptized upon a confession of faith and did not distinguish between church leaders or ordinary members. It was His command that once we have confessed Him as Lord and our Saviour, baptism by immersion is the next step in our salvation.

This Elder, his wife also an Elder and one other Elder have come from other Churches to our Baptist Church which we as members have accepted them in both membership and as Elders. After much prayerful consideration I cannot understand why this particular clause has caused so much grief in this Elder.

Can you help me to understand, please.

Thanking you in God's Grace,

To be honest, I cannot understand why they want to remove the clause either. As a Baptist church, I assume that a belief in total body immersion of believers is part of your Confession of Faith. And since elders are supposed to be examples to the congregation, then they should have been baptized in this fashion as well.

Now, personally, I might be open to allowing someone to be an elder who had been baptized as a believer, but by dipping or sprinkling, re-baptizing someone who had already been baptized as a believer might be unnecessary. The "believer" part I think is more important than the "immersion" part. But the "believer" part would be essential in my mind.

>Subject: Presbyterian Membership

Hi Gary,

I was reading you page Reformed-Baptist Perspective and noticed something in the section on Local Church Autonomy. Your text about Reformed membership isn't quite accurate, at least for the PCUSA. In the PCUSA, there are four types of church members: baptized, active, inactive, and affiliate.

Basically, when a child is baptized, they become a baptized member of the church. These members have no voting privledges and they can't voice concerns at congregational meetings. Active members are those who make a public profession of faith. These members can vote, can make comments at congregational meetings, and can be elected as elders and deacons.

Take care.

Thanks for the info.

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