Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"One baptism"--yet baptized into division

This is the eighth in a series of daily posts during this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2011) offering brief reflections on the biblical basis for the quest for Christian unity. These reflections are drawn from the pages of Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity (Cascade Books, 2010).

According to Ephesians 4:5, we share “one baptism.” There is only one baptism because when we are baptized, we are baptized into the body of Christ and not into a denomination or into a local church. Yet our baptisms are performed by local churches that identify with particular denominational traditions, so our baptisms are paradoxical: we are simultaneously baptized into the one body of Christ and into the current divisions of the church. One of the most pressing ecumenical issues today is the mutual recognition of one another’s baptisms. If there is only one baptism into the one body of Christ, then there’s a sense in which not to recognize the baptism of another church as a legitimate baptism is to say, “your church is not really a church,” and if the other church is not really a church, then that is also to say, “and you’re not really a Christian.”

-- from chapter 3, “One Life with Each Other: The Theology of Ecumenism”

Interested in Ecumenism Means You, Too? Order the book directly from Cascade Books or via Amazon.

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