Yes, that is what I understood -however a convert is also encouraged to become knowledgeable of Orthodox Christianity within the context of a Way of Life. It is within this context we understand the universal aspect of Christianity and may also begin to understand the differences that may have caused people to break away and form the various denominations.
Letting some orthodox doctrines in the bible stay as mysteries instead of dogmas
Yes, they are large, but what are all these other denominations that consider infant baptism to be not true baptism? Would that be Any Anabaptist group?
Most Christians alive today, and most Christians who have ever lived, were not baptized according to Anabaptist belief. At least I have plenty of company, and it’s better to know where I stand.
Yes, if you read my response to @jpm some Anabaptists would align with Baptists in that regard. But all this was just to make a point in this topic about differences of opinion among Christians in how firmly different groups think the creeds, or “church tradition” is infallible and must not be questioned. A number of people in this thread, myself included, think that it is best to judge doctrine and theology against the practices recorded in scripture, not as mandated by later councils or accretions of tradition.
You are appealing to an argument for a doctrine based on “the majority”. This forum isn’t the place for doctrinal debates, so I won’t get into the weeds of baptism, but just make the point that the majority can be wrong too! So the fact that "the majority of Christians in history have done “X”, does not necessarily mean it is correct… in some cases, I’m happy to be in the minority!
That’s debatable. ; - ) We seem to, frequently enough.
True enough, eh?!
I guess most churches outside of the largest mainline churches (RC, orthodox, lutheran, anglican, presbyterian and related) practice believer’s baptism. For example, churches classified as Pentecostal or Charismatic (>500 million members according to statistics) as well as a large part of those classified as Evangelical. Some denominations like Methodists practice and accept infant baptism but I guess these form a minority.
It should be noted that most churches baptise children. It is just a question of age. Some think that the children need to understand and express their own faith, others think that it is enough that parents or godparents express (their) faith as advocates for the child.
True. Creeds were formulated as responses to disagreements about how to interpret the apostolic teaching. The creeds may have boosted some disagreements, like the division between the churches in the west and east, but the creeds did not create the divisions. The details of the creeds need interpretation but the interpretations reflect different traditions of interpretation of apostolic teaching (/biblical scriptures), rather than creeds creating division.
Yes, I might nuance this to say that the creeds themselves didn’t create the disagreements (as you say, the alternate views existed previously). But creeds have often been used subsequently through history by clergy to create a firm division by declaring the other side a “heretic” and excommunicating them. To draw a line in the sand and declare the other “in” or “out” of one’s tribe… So I think discernment needs to be made (when making a creed or interpreting it), whether the topic of dispute rises to a core essential of the Christian faith, or whether the sides of a particular disagreement can both be held within orthodoxy, leaving room for “acceptable and undefined alternatives” in the tension of a unified church. Unfortunately, it seems to be a human tendency to try to “creedify”-away all ambiguity in scripture and not to tolerate those with views that do not match one’s own. Confusing agreement with another person, with acceptance of them in fellowship.
I don’t know anybody who thinks the creeds are infallible and not to be questioned. Please, question away! The councils worked on the creeds in the light of scripture. And there have been many confessions and statements of faith since then.
Yeah, we could all be wrong. That’s what Joseph Smith said.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.