Mar 2, 2009

Christian Protocol

By "Christian protocol" I mean what is customary or conventional for Christians.

Who is a Christian? He is a follower of Christ, one who has believed in him and embraced him with the heart, soul, and mind, and who has committed himself in heart to Christ as to a master, lord, savior, and king.

Once one becomes a Christian, it is part of Christian custom, arising from instructions given from Christ, for the convert to first confess his faith publicly in the ceremony of baptism, then to join with other baptized disciples in a local church, and then to keep the Lord's Supper and all other ordinances of the Lord.

Baptism, church membership, and keeping the Lord's Supper, are all Christian conventions, what is expected of all those who "name the name of Christ."

There are other Christian conventions and rules of protocol. Christians "salute" one another in Christ, greeting each other with a "holy kiss" or "fraternal embrace."

Worship is also a protocol, custom, or convention. It is naturally proper for them to praise God, to sing songs to him, to adore him in thought, word, and deed, etc.

Christians have their own "rites of passage" and "etiquette." They also have their "means of grace" and religious icons and symbols. These have no virtue in themselves, but only as they serve as means to produce understanding of divine truth and beget faith.

Baptism is a "rite of passage" just as is observing the ordinance and custom of the "Lord's Supper." Sufferings and various experiences (Romans 5: 4) also serve as "rites of passage" for the Christian, for it is ordained that he "through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14: 22)

Ordination to church office is also a "rite of passage" for many Christians, a transition in spiritual work and growth.

Thus, the scriptures view water baptism as an "initiatory" ceremony, one intended to "formally" welcome a convert to the visible Christian assembly. It was never intended to be the "sine qua non" of salvation, as many affirm, but rather was intended to be the first act of every believer and convert, and is to be done in obedience to Christ, as a way of pledging and formally dedicating himself, before all, to live for Christ, and also for giving to the convert an official welcome from both God and the Christian community.

No comments: