Sunday, July 10, 2005

Christadelphian baptisms

It has been common practice in many Christadelphian ecclesias for people wanting to be baptised to go through a lengthy period of preparation in which the "essential doctrines" are taught. Even people who have been brought up in the faith have to "go through for baptism" and finally face a public examination (sometimes called an "interview") conducted by the ecclesia's "examing brethren" before they can be baptised. It's not uncommon for the "interview" to last two or more hours, and fine points of doctrine are carefully examined.

In recent times there has been a great deal of scrutiny, and criticism, of baptisms in "mission fields", especially if there has been any suspicion that the "interviews" haven't been up to the same standards of thoroughness as in countries where Christadelphianism has had a longer history.

Consequently many Christadelphians face their baptism with fear, apprehension and nervousness about how they will do in the examination - will they remember all the proof texts? will they make an embarrassing mistake? etc. - and not with the joy and rejoicing that seemed to characterise many of the baptisms recorded in the New Testament. Christadelphian baptisms tend to be solemn rather than joyful occasions.

While baptismal interviews cover the "essential doctrines" in great detail, there is usually little emphasis on accepting Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour, or on "receiving" Christ (John 1:12). While there is usually considerable emphasis on what a believer must do after baptism in terms of their duties and responsibilities, little is made of what God will do for them.

No wonder then that many young people brought up in the Christadelphian faith are either delaying baptism or opting out altogether.


Lois said...

Hang on a minute! You speak for yourself!! My CDN baptism was a very joyful occasion, and there was no fear at all in the interview: in fact I very much enjoyed it!

I think the comments made about CDN baptisms can be true of any denomination - not just Christadelphians.

What counts is how we as individuals approach our baptism: are we doing it half-heartedly because its expected of us, or is it because we really love the Lord Jesus, and are doing it to keep His commandment?

bloggerboy11 said...

My CD baptism was a joyful, lasting memory for me as well. My interview was a relaxed sit around a living room with a few AB's (Church Elders to those non CD's) while we talked about our beliefs, they saw that what I believed was in harmony with the rest of the Church, then I was baptised on the Sunday morning, with the AB's affirming that I had made a confession of my faith they were happy with. Not as Public in the sense you are talking about I suppose. Like Lois says - it depends on why we are doing it. I can't think of one friend who approached it with fear or trepidation.. thay all did it when they felt the time was right for them. Set Free, there are many differences whthin Christadelphia as to exactly how that works - public/non public - I would be a shame if anyone approached baptism with the wrong feelings. CD's don't generally use the term "accepting Jesus as our personal saviour", like many parts of society we end up with our own language, we use terms such as "putting on Christ" ie Gal 3:27 "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ". CD's often stick to phrases that are found in the bible, as opposed to other catch phrases. That is not something to look down on.
As an aside many CD's although calling Jesus our Saviour ( I hear it at the end of most prayers) - dont go around asking if people have "accepted Jesus as our Personal saviour" as that followed by "have you made him Lord of your life" "do you have a personal relationship with him" then flow into "are you saved?" which is a concept that we don't buy into. Many non CD friends are happy to talk about the particular point in their life when they became saved. This flows into how we can do nothing to earn our salvation (entirely correct)but misses out the "faith without works is dead" part (pretty important)