Letting some orthodox doctrines in the bible stay as mysteries instead of dogmas

The church rejected Arianism, Nestorius, Gnosticism, etc. Good idea? Bad idea?

The church also burned hundreds of “heretics” at the stake during the inquisition. Good idea? Bad idea?

Bad idea, of course. Let us not confuse things! The violent raid on Harper’s Ferry did not make slavery okay. If we hang people who run stop signs, the punishment is too severe and inappropriate; but it doesn’t make running stop signs okay. Does your church have ways to deal with those who don’t have correct beliefs?

This shows you don’t understand the creeds. btw, is it bad to formulate statements of faith, confessions, and catechisms?

You think that the creeds create division, but it was your church that came along and decided that
most of us were not really baptized.

(Please note that I do not have any issue with believer’s baptism. It is just as valid as infant baptism.)

“My” church deals with unbelievers by not accepting them into membership. I’m glad you said say that burning people at the stake was a bad idea because if I may remind you of history, “your” church burned “my church people” at the stake over the question of baptism. Fights over dogma and creeds…no one wins. But lets not get stuck by our history but rather learn from it. (by the way, I mentioned above, that my current church welcomes people with infant baptism into membership), so methinks thou protesteth rather loudly.
And, sorry, you misread my next post too! I agreed with Knor above that creeds per se did not create the division, but clergy who used them sometimes did. There is a difference.

In what way don’t I understand the creeds? History objectively shows that they have been used to divide, for good or for ill, depending on your perspective. I have nothing against a creed per se and personally do not dispute anything in the Nicean Creed. But creeds themselves do not get around the problem of interpretation–any set of words can induce an argument of hair-splitting. Creeds MAY become a convenient tool which serves to harden the fences rather than striving to bridge them. Simply codifying a creed will not win over the heart of “heretics”, which seems to me should be the church’s main goal?

Christians have different opinions over whether specific divisions are justified or not, but that is a different debate, and is why the original post in this thread was questioning whether some things are better left out of creeds so that more flexibility of interpretation is allowed.

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“My” church? Seriously? Are you kidding me?

Has anybody suggested that creeds will win over the hearts of heretics, or get around the problem of interpretation? I mean, my toaster would make lousy pancakes, but that is not what it was made to do.

The Nicene creed is actually pretty basic and leaves much open to interpretation. For example, It doesn’t even mention the Eucharist/Holy Communion. It only gets specific concerning Christology, because it was formulated to address the Arian challenge to the deity of Christ.

But anyway, what denomination is your Mennonite group? I hear there are several. Please point me to your group’s web site. .

@beaglelady and @klw, let’s not dredge up church histories that were ‘regrettable’ to say the least. At least let’s not discuss them in temperature-raising ways. We can all rejoice that nobody (that I’m aware of) is being killed over baptismal differences now. It seems we have new differences we can discuss now. Please let the old ones rest in peace.

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Yes, I agree, I was going to let this topic drop because it was not headed in a profitable direction! Sorry, @beaglelady , I meant no personal offense.

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Before we get off baptismal doctrines, it is interesting to consider how some of the differences that developed seemingly to fill holes in our doctrines. It is my understanding that infant baptism developed after Augustine put forth his ideas on original sin, and that baptism of infants was done to avoid thinking of those infants and children who died in childhood from being condemned to hell. In Protestant circles, the concept of “age of accountability” developed to avoid the same problem, to keep children out of hell. Although, it sort of leaves them in limbo, with the only alternative being a free pass to heaven. In traditions that link baptism to salvation, the gap also exists between belief and the baptism. If you died in a car wreck on the way to church to be baptised, would you go to hell?
Don’t look to me for answers, but I enjoy the questions.


That is interesting, Phil. And it is fascinating to me too that protestants have - perhaps in some vague general way? - accepted something so nebulous as an “age of accountability”, since it seems the historical love affair has been more with doctrines to nail down (so-to-speak) everything as precisely as possible. Can’t have any uncertainty loitering about unchallenged.

It’s also been observed (at least in my own little Mennonite church neck of the woods) that we do what we call “child confirmations” - a ceremony that some might note seems to function a lot like baptism did (not to make light of the high church sacraments by suggesting it really is the same thing). But all I’m saying is that, theologically speaking, it doesn’t seem like much more than the semantics of a name change about what’s happening when young parents dedicate and commend an infant (and their own new role as parents) to the care of God. We are careful not to call it baptism, of course - because it isn’t. But it certainly is our own ritual happening at the same point of life.


Historically, infant baptism did not start with Augustine. Though there is a lack of evidence against or for infant baptism, there are passages in the bible where we can infer applying to infant baptism.
Acts 16:15
And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Though I spent my teenage years in a presbyterian church and got baptised there. In this presbyterian church, they do baptize infant and then after they grow up, then they can make public confirmation of their faith without being baptise again. Later, I became a member a baptist church where I had to rebaptize with immersion and they do not practice infant baptism. Concerning baptism however, I agree more with the presbyterian church.

I personally think that infant baptism made a lot more sense for the following reason :

  • As circumcision was a seal for the Jews for being in a covenant membership of God, so is infant baptism as a seal for the new covenant. I think this is a very strong argument for infant baptism.
  • Jesus said that these infants belong to the Kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14-15)
  • instances where the whole households were being baptised. Surely this include their children.

Of course, this thought developed much much later with the Mennonite and baptist and later spread to charismatic churches.

fortunately, many churches today don’t see baptism as salvation, but more as a symbolic rite to what had happened in your life which I agree fully. The same thing with infant baptism as a symbolic what a covenant membership where the believing parents initiate their young infant to be a member of the new covenant (The Church of Christ). These infants might embrace or reject that membership when they grow up to adulthood. in this, I agree with N.T. Wright about the final judgement of the believers that will be based on whole life of believers instead of just a confession moment of belief.

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Not sure this verse really supports infant baptism, though it is indicative of the family and their servants and slaves being considered as a unit in their faith, something we have gotten away from in our individualistic society.
In any case, you inspired me to consult the final authority, Wikipedia, :wink: which has a pretty good article about it. Indeed, it appears it did precede Augustine, but was not in common practice until the church matured around his day. Infant baptism - Wikipedia
There is some indication that it was thought to replace circumcision (much to the relief of the male infants) but I wonder, since circumcision was deemed unnecessary, it seems odd to place another requirement in its stead.
I really don’t feel strongly about it, as I see it as just another form of the baby dedications that most evangelical type denominations have, and agree with you and N. T. Wright about final judgement.

Not that it wasn’t a common practice, but it was not mentioned much. It was not a big deal to be talked about or discussed in church. or in the area of theological discussion, it was not an issue that people would disagree with.

Circumcision is always important for the Jews. It is also important for us as Paul mentioned about the circumcision of the heart. Baptism is important for us because it is God’s way of commanding us to be in covenant with Him though the mode of baptism is unimportant for most christians today.

That is of course the privilege of living in the now where we don’t see baptism like the reformers did and you are of course entitled to your feeling. People had died in vain for arguing about baptism and mode of baptism and that is sad. But we can not overlook the command that is well and clear commanded in the scripture. So whether we are baptised by immersion or sprinkling or bannering, we as believers need to be baptised.

Not sure what that means for infants, or people baptized as infants in your eyes. Do they count? I would say that if the individual was fine with it, that is good enough. Some grow up in a Christian home and never believed anything else since childhood.
We are told to “Repent and be baptized”. That sort of implies being of an age capable of repenting, In any case, makes you wonder.

You have raised an important point there and after thinking about it, I want to propose a different angle looking at baptism. What if “repent and be baptised” are two different things even though the rite of baptism definitely followed the repentance of the heart. I always think like that previously.
Then a question might be raised about Jesus’s baptism. Why did Jesus get baptised? He was sinless and no need to repent. What was His baptism meant? Aren’t our baptism follow the baptism of Jesus?

(Matt 3:13-17)Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

We know the Gospel that Jesus preached was about availability of the Kingdom of God to all who believe. Jesus is the King and the Way of that Kingdom. When Jesus was baptised (not because of sin), but as membership of the Kingdom where we dwell in the reign of triune God. (see the holy spirit descend and the voice of the Father). I am now inclined to see baptism as the membership of that Kingdom or the membership of the covenant (in N.T. Wright language). Therefore, Jesus baptism is not about repentance, but about membership in the kingdom/covenant community. Jesus was/is the King and it is appropriate that He was also baptised.

Look at what John said to Jesus …
John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Even John realised that Jesus was the King and the Way to the Kingdom and He (John) need to be baptised by Jesus for the membership to that Kingdom.

That is why infant baptism make a lot of sense to me because it fits in the whole jigsaw puzzle of the plan of God. It was about membership, not about repentance. I know this might be a new way of looking at baptism, but perhaps this is the angle that we have not seen before.

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Circumcision shows that children have always been included in God’s covenants.

It’s about both, I think.

Not in Jesus’s baptism. it was not about repentance for Jesus.

Membership in Jesus’ adoptive family requires repentance.

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True for the adult believers. For infant baptism however, it is the faith of the parents.