We believe in baptism.
We believe all God’s people are called to be buried with our Lord Jesus Christ in the waters of baptism and raised to walk in newness of life.
The New Testament teaches that baptism is the way a believer publicly declares his or her faith in Jesus Christ. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and express our acknowledgment of that by entering the waters of baptism. Being baptized by the right person or in the right manner is not what saves us.
However, baptism is the way Jesus commanded us to confess our belief in His person, His work, and His teaching (Matthew 6:4). Therefore, when we make our decision to turn away from our old life of sin—a decision that Christians call repentance—we submit ourselves for baptism. When we do this in faith, God meets us in the water to make a profound change in us. We rise from the water to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Early Christians invoked the name of Jesus in the rite of baptism, and we follow that ancient practice at Christ Church. Several passages in the New Testament mention this as an important component of baptism (Acts 2, 10, 19; 1 Corinthians 1:12–15). However, when invoking the Lord’s name in baptism, we do so with the knowledge that His name represents the entire Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Christ Church practices baptism by immersion, subsequent to conversion, but recognizes all forms of Christian baptism. In other words, believers are welcome into our fellowship from any and all parts of the body of Christ without any need for re-baptism. That said, if for reason of conscience a believer wishes to reconfirm their faith, we honor that request. We treat such re-baptism much like we do a restatement of vows that some people do at significant moments of their married life.
The Bible says there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). The Nicene Creed says we “acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” So it is important for us to observe this clear statement on Christian unity.
The rite of baptism, like any other sacramental action, contains more than can be explained. One person may view baptism as an ancient ceremony, containing little personal significance in modern times. For others, it is a moment of transcendent glory and divine grace. Experience suggests each believer tends to view their baptisms with ever–greater significance as they mature in Christ. The meanings tend to unfold over time as we grow in our awareness of spiritual reality.
The Bible often reminds us that we are mortal, material creatures. That is how God made us. Evidently, it is how God intends us to view ourselves. The material world is thus our divinely appointed realm, and this is why God meets us in material things and in material ways. It is why we need such things as a Bible, wine, bread, oil, and water to express spiritual life. Our spiritual lives are meant to be embodied—fleshed out in visible and tangible ways rather than to be treated abstractly or disembodied.
When we approach these divinely appointed meeting places, called sacraments, with reverence and faith, we experience the presence of God. We also receive the spiritual benefits sacraments are meant to carry to us. It is in this spirit that we acknowledge baptism as a biblical sacrament, as a material form through which God does a spiritual work in those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God.