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Why I Don't Want To Be Baptised


des
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>If you take seriously the meaning of communion, why would you not want to be baptized?

I thought this was such a decent question that I wanted to bring it over here, not for debate though. Since it is personal.

 

I have a few reasons against it. It's funny as we have discussed reasons against communion by ex_Catholics and ex-JWs (etc) but never feelings against baptism.

I wonder if anyone else shared any of these.

 

First, it has very negative connotations to me, basically thru fundamentalist baptism as displayed on tv or movies (some fictional and some not). That is adult baptism, not infant baptism. I see a fundamentalist preacher in some body of water at least waist high. He is saying "An' I baptize you in the name of the father (dunk), and in the name of the son (dunk), and in the holy spirit (dunk very long dunk, person comes up sputtering). No I'm not afraid of water but it would be a fair comment. :-)

 

So second, I'm sure some of this is cartoonish, but then i don't know ANYBODY except fundamentalists who are baptized as adults. I have been to two infant baptisms (soon to be three i think), but adult baptism is just not a part of my past (Christian Science has almost no rituals as I've said) nor any part of my present. I have never heard it emphasized, although I know that UCC will perform them. I even saw it in the hymnal. So although it exists i am pretty sure, it is not a part of my experience in my faith community. Nor part of my past, as CS don't do baptisms. So I've gone to a UCC church for years and years and there have been upteen communions but only 2 baptisms, must say something. (Of course I realize that since UCC accepts all baptisms as equal, there would be many people baptised thru other churches, as infants or adults. ANd that most UCC converts are converts from other churches vs ex-atheists, say.)

 

Personally I feel little need to do this. I don't feel I will go to hell (I think hte fundamentalist belief in baptism as a condition of heaven is just one more thing against it. :-) I don't feel it would have any personal/spiritual meaning to me (I might feel the same way about communion had I not experienced it). So I haven't say, been to someone *else's* baptism and thought, yes, that is something I would want to expereince.

 

Also there is the wee thing fo my sister. I can't say this is the main thing. I could just forget about here. But she asked me over Christmas if I was ever going to get baptised, and I said I was thinking about it. And she immediately said she would want to be invited. I don't think she would approve of my progressive church and it would be a point for major attempts ot convert me (nad prob. others at the church.) Three strikes?

 

BTW, I'm sure my pastor would just love to do this. WHen I put on the membership form I had not been baptised(even though it is not a condition for membership-- not sure why it was on the form) my ex (but not entirely ex I think) Lutheran pastor kind of did a double

take sort of thing, but quickly appeared to work on recovering. Perhaps reminding himself that this is a UCC church. :-)

 

I would really like other people's thoughts on this but not to point out Bible verses and that sort of thing. THIS IS NOT IN THE DEBATE SECTION FOR A REASON!!! Also just to provide more possiblities for responding in a meaningful way, all those who were baptised as infants, would you want to be re- baptised as adults?

 

 

--des

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My twin sister and I were both baptized is Christians as infants via the United Methodist Church. When she was 24, she left Methodism and became active with a more conservative evangelical community. She chose to be re-baptized.

 

This offended me as it was telling me that she didn't think that I was truly baptized.

 

I have chosen to remain being a Christian via Methodism for a large number of reasons, one of which is our understandings of the sacrament of Baptism:

 

1. We understand baptism to be one of the two sacraments of the Protestant Church; i.e. means of grace that Jesus Himself experieced.

 

2. We do not feel that Baptism is required for salvation, as that is something which takes via faith alone.

 

3. We do say that if an unbaptized person has come to a point of intentionally accepting God's gift of unmerited grace in their life (i.e. salvation via Jesus as their Christ) then it is right, well, and appropriate for them to express their faith by getting baptized as a public expression of their faith - ideally - not a private baptism, but rather in a corporate context whereby a community of faith can pledge to nurture you and help you grow in your faith.

 

4. We do conduct infant baptisms as well as "believers" baptisms for older persons.

We understand that when it comes to infant baptisms, God's prevenient grace is acting in that person's life and we pray that they will someday mature to a point of seeking to confirm for themselves what their parents vowed on their behalf as infants.

 

5. That said, we don't only perform infant baptisms. I have conducted several baptisms for people ages 13 and older.

 

6. When people in my congregation who have been baptized as infants inquire about being rebaptized, I tell them that we don't do re-baptisms but we can conduct services whereby people can reaffirm their baptisms (i.e. get wet once again) - but not understood as a re-baptism.

 

7. We honor the baptisms of persons who join our denomination who come to us from other Christian denominations; i.e. we don't rebaptize them. We do however baptize Mormons who join us as we view that group as something other than Christian.

 

8. We Methodists consider our various views and opinions about baptism as secondary/non-essentials of the faith; i.e. we don't assert that infant baptism is better than adult baptisms, and we don't assert that sprinkling is better than pouring, and/or immersion. In fact, I've baptized via sprinkling, pouring, and via immersion.

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Well, when when I and a best friend of mine were walking down State Street in Santa Barbara together about around the early to mid 90's when began talking of our agreement that we had both made up our minds to leave JW. I think, if I recall correctly, my friend voiced her uncertantly and perhaps possible regrete of getting baptized in JW and that maybe she made a mistake like she married the wrong person and now she felt need needed a divorce. To this I replied that fully realized that a vast majority of those baptized IN JW had a screwed up idea that they were getting baptized TO the JW organization...but I said, "I personally never felt or was confused about who or what I was getting baptized to. I knew that, as I do now, that i got baptized to God...and NOT to JW or some religious group or organization. I knew what I was doing..and the way I see things it would not change my view if I had been Baptist in Baptist or Luthern or other..cause I got baptized to God and not a church..So I said to her, "So I don;t feel I need to notify them (the JW org) that I want to get divorced cause I never felt or thought I was married to them anyways." She pondered on this for a moment and then replied,Hummm..I see your point, very logical."

 

So I basically said that I could totally understand if someone felt that they DID think they were getting baptized to a church instead of God..that they felt it was not a real baptism..but I did not feel that was my case..So in this way, I guess I could kinda see what Des is saying. As with the comparision to the communion thing..yeah, it might be that with some, like with a Catholic who is now Ex..they may feel that taking communion reminds them too much of like saying they agree with the fundamental ideas of the Catholic church..and maybe sometimes ex-fundamentalist feel this way also about baptism...

 

But with the communion thing..there is the added thing where a confusion and fear of your desire of where you want to spend eternity comes up..and, well do you feel this is likewise with the Baptism issue? I mean like if you were raised in Southern Baptists and let's say they made a very big deal about being baptized and it connecting to being Southern Baptist and getting into heaven..then might it be possible that they were fear baptism cause it would remind them of agreeing or claiming to WANT to go to a Baptist heaven? Does that make sense? When I was in JW they taught that a person could either desire to live on earth forever...OR..heaven..and that 'if' one partook of the bread and wine then it was making a very strong and clear statement that you desired to trade in your eternal life on earth in favor of heaven. As with the vast majority of JW's, I desired eternal life in an earthly kingdom amoungst nature instead of a spirit relm. I saw the heavenly hope as being like an unnatural Victorian painting with chubby angel babies flying around on clouds and that seemed really weird and boring to me.

 

After I left JW..even though I no longer identified with being IN JW I still perfered the idea of a earthly with nature and animals instead of floating around clouds amoungst chubby winged babies and to be honest..I still feel this way. The traditional Evangelical Protestant idea of heaven is very unnapealing to me..and well that's my take on all this..don;t know if other people relate or not.:)

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Thanks for your responses BroRog and Beach. I think the concepts of baptism are very similar UMC to UCC. In fact, may be identical, as much of it sounds very familar. I have never seen an adult baptism, but I know that it is possible as there is stuff in the hymnal, but they do not rebaptize people baptised in other churches or as infants. I have heard of doing a reaffirmation, but I have personally never seen it either. I am pretty sure that baptism in public with the community affirming their support for you in some way. (This is done in the infant baptisms.) I don't think the UCC church has any concern for how it was done elsewhere (sprinkling to drowning). And the statement about it being one of the two sacraments also that sounds familar. My old church in Chicago had a huge baptismal font that was historical (ie dated back over a century. You could prob. do a few Australian crawls in it. :-)

 

But even though it all sounds pretty familiar, I have never seen an adult baptism. So I guess that's another reason. Being the only one or something. I bet if there were one, I would prob. get in line. So I think that's maybe a fairly strong reason against.

 

Beach:

>But with the communion thing..there is the added thing where a confusion and fear of your desire of where you want to spend eternity comes up..and, well do you feel this is likewise with the Baptism issue? I mean like if you were raised in Southern Baptists and let's say t

 

Well I don't think all churches have the attachments JWs have to communion, ie having anything to do with where you are going to end up. I think that is something JWs attached to it, frankly, as I have never heard of it. I'm sure some ex-Southern Baptists have feelings re: baptism, that are quite different than mine. But that they are reminded in an unpleasant way of their experience. BUT since no progressive churches that I know of "re" baptizes then I don't think it would come up.

 

As for having baptism anything to do with "where you would end up", well I don't think there are any "requirements" and the idea of heaven is well I don't htink it is literal and if it was a real place I think the cherubum, harps and clouds is pretty much out of the movies.

Yes, I think it would be quite a tedious bore. I have sometimes joked that I don't want to go anywhere surrounded by Jerry Falwells, Pat Robertsons, and my sister. :-)

But gosh that is all in jest anyway.

 

I think the reasons for baptism have to do with affirming that this is your faith, although I think BroRog said it better than I did (of course it is HIS JOB! :-)) It's just for the reasons I state, I don't like the idea.

 

BTW, I respect people's unpleasant feelings of communion though I don't share them.

 

 

 

--des

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I would really like other people's thoughts on this but not to point out Bible verses and that sort of thing. THIS IS NOT IN THE DEBATE SECTION FOR A REASON!!! Also just to provide more possiblities for responding in a meaningful way, all those who were baptised as infants, would you want to be re- baptised as adults?

I was baptized Lutheran as an infant, then re-baptized ... err, Baptist? ... around elementary school age. Then confirmed Catholic as an adult. ;) Point there is, most churches (other than the Fund. type) won't rebaptize you as an adult anyway. Baptism is a "one-time only" sacrament; ex. as I said, the Fund. type who don't recognize infant baptism as valid baptism.

 

Other than that, I do understand what you're trying to say. If you're not drawn to it, why go through the motions? A lot of why I'm drawn to the sacraments is the historical continuity. Christian baptism has been going on for thousands of years... and Christian baptism draws on traditions that are even older, although it's as different from them as it is similar. I like the thought of, "Wow, for nearly 2,000 years people have been doing this, in much the same way." So that might be something that would draw you.

 

There are negative connotations to almost everything. :) I don't stop listening to Beethoven just because I've seen A Clockwork Orange. ;)

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I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of baptism as a means or as an idea of "washing away sins". I'm not saying what is or isn't Biblical, just that, as an ex-JW growing up in Utah, it is an alien idea.

 

JW's view baptism (like many other Christian groups do) as an outward dedication to God. It's a sign for all to see that you want to dedicate your life to God, to do God's will.

 

This thread has made me look back on my baptism as a JW and what it meant to me at the time I did it.

 

My baptism was a dedication to a very specific idea of God. It was a dedication to the JW interpretation of JEHOVAH. It was a dedication to the JW interpretation of "The Truth". It was a dedication to a God that JW's believe they ALONE understand or know.

 

Yes I dedicated myself to "God", but I can't even conceive of having a relationship with THAT God now. The God I pray to, think of and love is SO MUCH bigger than "Jehovah".

 

For that reason I might consider getting baptized again, to dedicate myself to GOD instead of to "Jehovah". However, from what others have written, it doesn't sound like churches "allow" re-baptism. Go figure. :rolleyes:

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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However, from what others have written, it doesn't sound like churches "allow" re-baptism. Go figure.  :rolleyes:

It may well be that most churches wouldn't recognize JW baptism as Christian baptism. Might vary from church to church though.

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I actually find the idea that many denominations have - that Mormons and JWs aren't Christian - quite amusing. The reason why, they say, is that Mormons and JWs don't believe in the Trinity. Too funny!

 

I also find it funny that many think JWs and Mormons are the same in their beliefs. There are SOME similarities, but all Christian groups share SOME similarities. Probably the biggest (and most problematic) view that JW's and Mormons both have is that they each believe they are the RESTORED church, the ONLY true church, and unless you belong to THEIR church, you're in trouble. They believe there was a "great apostacy" and that they are the one and only restored, true Christianity.

 

The community-experience of Mormons in Utah is amazing. Everyone knows everyone else. You go to church with not only the person next door, but pretty much everyone in your neighborhood. The "wards" have basketball courts and rec rooms where the neighborhood gets together. My husband, who lived in NYC for 18 years, compares it to the community experienced in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in NYC. The synagogue isn't just where you go to worship, it's where the community gets together to be a community.

 

There is definitely a down side to Mormonism, but the complaints against it usually come from legalistic, literalistic Christians and ex-Mormons who think they have the "Real Truth" now. :rolleyes:

 

Sorry to go so far off topic Des. :P Ummm, let's see - I guess then, according to many denominations, I've actually never been a Christian and my baptism doesn't count, so I could get re-baptized. This begs the question then - If a group doesn't consider my baptism to be VALID, would I even WANT TO BELONG to such a group? Dont' think so.

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This begs the question then - If a group doesn't consider my baptism to be VALID, would I even WANT TO BELONG to such a group? Dont' think so.

Well, you said yourself that your baptism in JW was an initiation into a very limited, deficient understanding of God. Maybe "invalid" sounds harsh; but you yourself have rejected this understanding, so why would you be so turned off by a church who rejects it as well?

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I don't reject my previous baptism.

 

I like the idea, however, of the initiatory event of baptism, of the outward show of dedication and being adopted by a community. I would hope my new family would allow me to be re-baptized because I WANT TO and not because they think I was never a "true" Christian because I was a JW.

 

I think it comes back to how a group views the meaning of baptism. If a group believes that baptism does something magical to a person, then I can see why such a group might insist that a person be re-baptized. I'm only discussing the meaning of baptism as a public and internal dedication to God.

 

Baptism might not be the only way I could make a public dedication though, as has been mentioned. :)

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In the Presbyterian Church we baptize infants primarily, but I have seen a good number of adult baptisms. As a rule we do not re-baptize, but people who say that they don't know if they were baptized essentially can choose to be baptized or accepted as already baptized. I think that if someone said that they had been baptized as an infant in some other tradition, but that, for various reasons, they did not feel that that baptism had any significance, and that they earnestly wished now to be baptized, they would not be denied it.

 

When someone joins a particular PC congregation, there are three ways. I have thought it was reminiscent of the "rat pie, rat cake, rat sorbet, or strawberry tart" line in Monty Python. The strawberry tart has "some rat in it." The three ways are 1) making a profession of faith and being baptized, 2) making a profession of faith (having already been baptized), or 3) letter of transfer. There is some profession of faith involved in joining by letter of transfer. There is also always profession of faith involved in every baptism. First either the adult to be baptized or the parents of the infant make a profession of faith. Then the whole congregation makes a profession of faith and pledges its support for those baptized. In partaking of this, the members of the congregation reaffirm their own baptisms.

 

In my question on the other thread which des quoted at the start of this thread, I did not mean to be dismissive of anyone's reservations. But at the same time, if you believe that there should be a strong supportive relationship among the community of believers, if you are willing to provide your share of support, and if you acknowledge that we will need support some time, then I believe that participating in baptism, either by being baptized or by affirming your commitment to those who are being baptized is a powerful way of experiencing that community.

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But at the same time, if you believe that there should be a strong supportive relationship among the community of believers, if you are willing to provide your share of support, and if you acknowledge that we will need support some time, then I believe that participating in baptism, either by being baptized or by affirming your commitment to those who are being baptized is a powerful way of experiencing that community.

 

Exactly what I was trying to say baptism means to me. :) Thanks for putting into words so eloquently what I feel inside.

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I would hope my new family would allow me to be re-baptized because I WANT TO and not because they think I was never a "true" Christian because I was a JW.

Well, I never said that. :) Especially in traditions which view baptism as an "outward sign of an inward event," there's a huge difference between recognizing the validity of your baptism and recognizing the authenticity of your faith.

 

I suppose in any tradition, you're going to have those who view it as a magical rite and those who see it as a sign of consecration. Much along the lines of what I was talking about re: Transubstantiation in my post yesterday. Isn't it nice when things dovetail like that? :)

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I do have a knee-jerk reaction against those who think that JWs aren't Christian. (I'm not in any way referring to you.) There are even some over at beliefnet who don't want JW's to be able to participate on the Christian discussion boards because they think they aren't Christian.

 

I don't get it. What do individuals or groups hope to accomplish by treating others that way? Do they hope it will "bring them to Christ"? It doesn't work that way.

 

Sorry. Rant. :rolleyes:

 

I imagine that if I found a faith community that I really, really loved but that said "Sorry, we just don't think your baptism was valid because ... " that I would try to take it with a grain of salt and would do what was necessary to join that community.

 

I just get tired of the stereotypes of JWs and Mormons that are flung around on TV and on the Net. Every group has its weirdos and scandals and that is all you hear about. (Ex-JWs and ex-Mormons can be the worst offenders in this regard.) I wasn't a member of a cult and my neighbors don't have 5 wives, only 3. :D;)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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Aletheia - No division??? No US vs THEM???? How... how.... Godlike. :blink::lol:

 

And, sadly, how inhuman.

 

What if Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were the examples held up of "traditional" christianity.... WHAT! They are....???!!!! Yikes! :P

 

People is people... /shuddering

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Can you just imagine what it would be like if every Christian on the planet decided to quit fighting among themselves, quit worrying about end times, life after death, who is saved, who is not (ad nauseam) and instead become united as ONE BODY with a goal of feeding the poor, helping the planet, etc ... etc ...

 

Oh the HORROR of it! :P

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probably a topic for another thread, but this reminds me of McLaren in A Generous Orthodoxy... REALLY good book. Much more organized and powerful than New Kind of Christian.

 

Back on this topic - I see baptism as a public acknowledgement of a sacrament between a person and Jesus.... like many things mystical/spiritual/worth doing, it cannot be covered in words. IMO, Aletheia - if you've been "really" baptized... you're the only one who has to/can know it for sure. Des - I agree that it seems silly - but it's powerful... inside.

Edited by Cynthia
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AletheiaRivers:

 

" I do have a knee-jerk reaction against those who think that JWs aren't Christian. "

 

So do I...And it is NOT because I want to defend their fundamentalism...I do NOT defend ANY fundamentalism..no matter their denominational brand name. It's because of hyprocrisy, I feel, on the part of the fundamental far right Protestants like Southern Baptists, Assembly of God, Calvary as well as the far right Catholics...These types throw JW's, Mormons and CSs all into the "non-Christian"/ "cults" can. And as Ath pointed out the whole reason that these far right Prots and Caths do this is NOT because LDS follow Jospeh Smith nor because JW's follow their 'organization'..but instead it's ALL bacause they hold a b#tch against JW's and LDS for simply being non-trinitarians. For this very same reaosn is why they also dump on Bahias...even though Bahia is opposite from JW and LDS because it IS Progressive in social justice.

 

"I don't get it. What do individuals or groups hope to accomplish by treating others that way? Do they hope it will "bring them to Christ"? It doesn't work that way."

 

Fundamental religion..be it Fundamental Protestants or Fundie catholics, Fundie JWs or LDS is ALL about being 'THEE" right and flawless version of Christianity while deeming ALL OTHERS sub-par and unsaved.

 

"I just get tired of the stereotypes of JWs and Mormons that are flung around on TV and on the Net. Every group has its weirdos and scandals and that is all you hear about. (Ex-JWs and ex-Mormons can be the worst offenders in this regard.) I wasn't a member of a cult and my neighbors don't have 5 wives, only 3."

 

Yeah, I agree.

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I also don't get into anything about whether sects like JW, Mormon, or Christian science are Christian or no. There is an old saw about Christian Science, "it's neither". :-) But they all do clearly teach some Christian beliefs. CS even believes in the trinity. I think what makes them different is that there are extra Christian (I mean over and above outside Christian views. THey even have their own books. I think for the most part they are fairly legalistic views of Christianity heightening some verses and lowering others (and who isn't doing that?) What I don't like about CS is more the legalistic views, the blame the victim approach to spiritual healing, well there are many more things actually. :-) But I really dislike names like cult, and feel they should be reserved for people drinking cyanide Kool-Ade or handling snakes. I agree with Beach that they are fundamentalists in a way, though I think "legalism" borrowed from Bauer here is a better description.

 

(BTW, I don't know how Bahai is connected either. It is actually a sect or offshoot of Islam I think? Does not have anything to do with Christianity.)

 

As to the topic I initially brought up (gosh interesting discussion anways). NOt sure I know what you meant Cynthia, . "Des - I agree that it seems silly - but it's powerful... inside."

As no where, I think, did I imply or say that I thought baptism was "silly". I think my objections have been more that I personally (I don't care that there ARE adult baptisms) but that I have never seen one or known anyone besides a fundamentalist doing one. There is no one in my faith community that has ever had one. And it isn't in my own tradition either (I think this is a lesser concern). AND I have a negative connotation of it.

 

Fred your point about "negative connotations" was spot- on(as usual), but I only think it would apply if you have no positive ones to draw on. Remember I don't really have positive ones as I have never seen nor really experienced this from observation or any other way. For example, I have some negative connotations with communion as well. They go back to my being in Episcopal churches that did very rote (to me) anyway "body of Christ", "body of Christ" (assembly style), etc. Every once in awhile I would almost get the giggles nad think irreverent things. Like do you chew....So that would be a negative connotation. However, I have the wonderful experience at the UCC church in Chicago where we stood around the table. It more than makes up for (silly) or negative ones.

 

Going back to your music analogy, I think it is apt. My dad had a negative connotation wiht some piece of work, said he always thought of his own dad's death every time he heard it. It would be a kind of negative connotation so powerful it would knock out positive ones. In my case, it isn't that I have THAT negative a connotation, just a negative without any particularly powerful good ones.

 

I think Aletheia, you gave me the most powerful of new things to contemplate, the 2000 year thing of this. Yes that's pretty powerful.

 

--des

Edited by des
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One of my visits to the United Methodist church included observing a baby baptism.

 

It wasn't presented as washing away of sins. It was about that individual being welcomed into the church family and the family's and sponsor's commitment to raise the child in the Christian tradition. I really liked the way the ceremony was presented.

 

Just another example of how actually visiting a church can help overcome misunderstandings, fears, prejudices etc. There is only so much a person can learn on the outside looking in.

 

About JW's and Mormon's not being viewed as Christian. That bugs me too. Because it shows the emphasis on "correct" beliefs as the criteria for being Christian. I'd look more at the dysfunctional life-diminishing behavior that is so damaging and can happen in any faith community. Other Christian denominations are not immune to that, just because they have the "correct" beliefs.

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Can you just imagine what it would be like if every Christian on the planet decided to quit fighting among themselves, quit worrying about end times, life after death, who is saved, who is not (ad nauseam) and instead become united as ONE BODY with a goal of feeding the poor, helping the planet, etc ... etc ...

The goal of Christianity is to be a witness to, and a sign of, the good news that the world comes from God, and is restored to God, and that a particular kind of life -- personal, social, spiritual, etc. -- necessarily flows from that. Not "helping the planet," though this is certainly a side-effect, and one that there should be a whole lot more of at that. I know you know this, but I felt it was worth mentioning. :)

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I was baptized as an adult, just last year.

 

For me, it was not about "washing away sins" but was a deeply symbolic action which acknowledged, as witnessed by the faith community, my personal committment to do my very best to live as Christ lived. If anything was being "washed away" it was my life outside of this committment to Christ-- in a symbolic, not literal, way, of course.

 

For me it was an intensely meaningful and heartfelt experience, but I also recognize that many would view it in a different light, depending on what they believe baptism is meant to achieve. My advice would be that anyone who does not feel ready to do such a thing should not do it. Do it only with your whole heart.

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I know you know this, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

 

I know you know I know that, :blink: but I know you know that I wasn't saying that the purpose of Christianity is to help the planet :D There was much I didn't say with my "etc ... etc ... etc ..."

 

PS - Some wonderful Christians I've read lately feel that the goal of Christianity is SALVATION of the world and that such a goal can be accomplished when Christians quit focusing on "me me me and my relationship to God", but instead become "missional", with a view of becoming a "blessing to all nations". :) I would have to say that I agree with that view. Such a view doesn't see humans or the world as necessarily "fallen" and needing to be restored to God. Christianity in this view is seen as God's way, his method of bringing the "Kingdom of Heaven" to earth.

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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