View Full Version : Baptism and church membership



Patrick
06-14-2006, 10:04 PM
Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond recently announced that they may split from the Baptist tradition of requiring baptism for membership. What are your thoughts?

fromdust
06-15-2006, 07:20 PM
i didnt know that was a tradition. every baptist church ive been a member of never required me to be baptized.

bandnerd
06-16-2006, 06:01 AM
Seems like they are just trying to get their numbers up.

When I went to a Baptist church in high school, they didn't "require" the baptism necessarily...but I was always considered a "guest" of the church, rather than a member, for the entire 2 years I was there because I was never baptised into their church.

Looking back, I'm glad I didn't do it.

okiemom
06-16-2006, 07:17 AM
I could be wrong but I think all Baptist churches require baptism for membership.

Martin
06-16-2006, 09:10 AM
while i'm not baptist, it's my impression that their common belief is that baptism is not a direct requirement for salvation but is required for membership in the baptist church.

i've long believed that scripture teaches that baptism is a requirement of salvation. personally, i feel that some groups (mine included) are 'watering down' their beliefs in order to attract more people. -M

quailcreekgal
06-16-2006, 12:27 PM
Read John 3:16. Baptism is not required for salvation. Baptistim is symbolic and persons accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in a Southern Baptist church are encouraged (not required) to be baptized. It is not required to join a Southern Baptist church.

Martin
06-16-2006, 01:05 PM
this article (http://www.sbc.net/redirect.asp?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eimb%2Eorg%2Fco re%2Fstory%2Easp%3FstoryID%3D3840%26amp%3BLanguage ID%3D1709&key=baptism&title=Position+Paper+Concerning+the+IMB+Guideline+ on+Baptism+%2D+International+Mission+Board%2C+SBC&ndx=SBC%2C+IMB%2C+NAMB%2C+ANNUITY%2C+LIFEWAY%2C+WM U%2C+ERLC%2C+SEMINARIES) from the southern baptist convention website suggests to me that all are welcome in the sbc, but one must be baptized in order to be a member 'in good standing.' like i say... i'm not a baptist but that's the way it looks to me.

as for john 3:16... what about acts 2:38 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=acts%202:38&version=31)? -M

Keith
06-16-2006, 05:20 PM
this article (http://www.sbc.net/redirect.asp?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eimb%2Eorg%2Fco re%2Fstory%2Easp%3FstoryID%3D3840%26amp%3BLanguage ID%3D1709&key=baptism&title=Position+Paper+Concerning+the+IMB+Guideline+ on+Baptism+%2D+International+Mission+Board%2C+SBC&ndx=SBC%2C+IMB%2C+NAMB%2C+ANNUITY%2C+LIFEWAY%2C+WM U%2C+ERLC%2C+SEMINARIES) from the southern baptist convention website suggests to me that all are welcome in the sbc, but one must be baptized in order to be a member 'in good standing.' like i say... i'm not a baptist but that's the way it looks to me.

as for john 3:16... what about acts 2:38 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=acts%202:38&version=31)? -M
Anytime somebody joins our church, they always get counselled about their salvation. If they have accepted Christ, and they are coming from another baptist church, then they can join the church by statement from another church.

If they are a member of another baptist church, and wanting to join our church, yet they were never baptized once they received Christ, then they are baptized at our church and automatically become a member.

If they are a member of another denomination, and they are wanting to join our baptist church, then they are baptized in to our fellowship, to symbolize their acceptance in Christ and their change in denominations. I have never really understood this.

Baptism is never a requirement, however, it is strongly suggested for a new Christian to demonstrate their change from their old life to their new life in Christ.

Martin
06-16-2006, 05:40 PM
i guess what i'm driving at is that in order to take a leadership role within the baptist church, one must be baptized. that's been my understanding... am i wrong on that?

-M

Keith
06-16-2006, 07:08 PM
i guess what i'm driving at is that in order to take a leadership role within the baptist church, one must be baptized. that's been my understanding... am i wrong on that?

-M
I don't know about other baptist churches, but that is not the case with the one I attend...or at least as far as I know.

Martin
06-16-2006, 09:25 PM
understood... thanks for the 411! though i'd always thought the baptist denomination believed differently on that subject, but now i know.

-M

brianinok
06-17-2006, 08:34 AM
I've attended a number of SBC churches in my life. I am now a member at Henderson Hills. I also know a number of SBC pastors and ministers and people who work at the BGCO. Baptism is a requirement for church membership in virtually every SBC church in the country. This is most certainly a break with tradition. That is why so many "traditional" Southern Baptists are not looking too kindly on this.

I happen to agree that baptism [by immersion] should not be a requirement for church membership. The Bible does not give baptism as a requirement for church membership anywhere. In fact, the only requirements the Bible states for church membership are salvation and a desire to live a godly life.

I also want to address one more thing. Some people on this board (and in this thread) think that HH is only doing this to get more people. That is so entirely untrue. HH is not focused on numbers at all. In fact, our pastor teaches against a focus on numbers. If that isn't evidence enough, just look at our building. It was finished just over 2 years ago, and we've already begun to outgrow it (one of many reasons why a Saturday night service and small group time was added). A church that was focused on numbers would have built a larger facility expecting more people.

Suffice it to say, HH is not your typical, traditional SBC church. It is more like a Bible church that is a member of the SBC and BGCO for missions reasons. It is also interesting to note that HH does not participate in the politics of the SBC leadership, not even sending delegates to the convention.

Yodachaos
06-18-2006, 02:31 AM
I have to agree with brianinok on this. I am also a member of HH

Martin
06-19-2006, 06:26 AM
so that i could better understand what is going on i checked out henderson hills' webiste. among others, i found this (http://www.hhbc.com/Link.aspx?url=Question+and+Answers.pdf&ContentID=18264) article on baptism & church membership. i do agree with the position that baptism should not be used as a means of gaining membership to a congregation. however, i believe that some of the other reasons for not requiring it are faulty.

the response to question 3 of the linked document states that "every follower of christ should obey the lordís command to be baptized, by immersion, as soon as possible after receiving christ." i agree with the henderson hills elders that scripture indicates that baptism is commanded of us. however, if baptism is a command, how can i be obedient to god if i refuse to be baptized? if i love god with all of my heart and have a personal trust in him, why would i want to disobey something that he commanded me to do?

question 10 of the document attempts to answer this question. it states that some people are raised in other 'traditions' and may feel uncomfortable in 'departing from the way they were raised.' however, baptism is a command... i'd say that it's far more important to encourage someone to do right and to obey god rather than to simply make them feel comfortable. scriptural truth is more important than worldly comfort. furthermore it says that some might find such a requirement to be 'unfair.' if a person views god's commands as unfair, then that person hasn't put their full faith and trust in god and hasn't truly submitted himself to him.

in light of that, i think that this (http://www.hhbc.com/p/4689/Default.aspx) page sums up the purpose of henderson hills' newfound beliefs in baptism and why its elders would choose to de-emphasize a command of god. principle 3 states that 'those who are seeking a relationship with god need a trustworthy and safe place to investigate the claims of christ..' that wording is consistent with what i'd call the 'community church' movement. congregations of several faiths have turned to this method to get non-believers through the doors. basically, comfort and people pleasing are emphasized while biblical truth takes a back seat because it might make some people uncomfortable and it might come off as judgmental. while this comfortable environment gets more people to attend worship services, i don't believe that it actually generates more obedient followers of god.

-M

okcpd
06-19-2006, 09:06 AM
Read John 3:16. Baptism is not required for salvation. Baptistim is symbolic and persons accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior in a Southern Baptist church are encouraged (not required) to be baptized. It is not required to join a Southern Baptist church.

That is actually incorrect. Baptist is required to join a Southern Baptist Church. Always has been, and always will be most likely. Most Baptist churches do accept baptisms of other denominations of similar faith.

It's common for many churches to require baptism to join their church. Methodists, Catholics, Orthodox, etc. all require it.

Do they require baptism to be saved? Well, no. But, it is part of their membership process.

okcpd
06-19-2006, 09:12 AM
If they are a member of another denomination, and they are wanting to join our baptist church, then they are baptized in to our fellowship, to symbolize their acceptance in Christ and their change in denominations. I have never really understood this.

Baptism is never a requirement, however, it is strongly suggested for a new Christian to demonstrate their change from their old life to their new life in Christ.

In the SBC, baptism is required to join the church.

In regards to the part you don't understand: most Southern Baptist Churches have changed this to where they accept baptisms from other denominations of "like faith." If you get sprinkled in a Catholic Church, obviously, they're going to want you to get immersed in their church to join. If you were baptized in a Pentecostal Church that believes you have to speak in tongues to be saved, they're also going to want you to be baptized in their church to reflect your acceptance of a new doctrine of faith.

Really all of these are man made rules for membership, but that's simply the way church membership is. I personally don't blame them for setting certain requirements, otherwise heathenonists could join their churches and start running things. In many newer churches I think membership is too easy.

okcpd
06-19-2006, 09:13 AM
I don't know about other baptist churches, but that is not the case with the one I attend...or at least as far as I know.


Depends on what you define as leadership. I'm sure if you want to be a deacon at your SBC church you have to be a member there, and to be a member there, I'm sure you have to be baptized either in an SBC church or a church of similar faith and doctrine.

okcpd
06-19-2006, 09:19 AM
I happen to agree that baptism [by immersion] should not be a requirement for church membership. The Bible does not give baptism as a requirement for church membership anywhere. In fact, the only requirements the Bible states for church membership are salvation and a desire to live a godly life.

I completely disagree with you here. The Bible doesn't mention anything about church membership in an organized church anywhere. That's all been a man-made thing over the years. So why is Henderson Hills still hanging onto church membership at all?

If we're not going to require baptism for membership, why be a "Baptist" church?

okcpd
06-19-2006, 09:22 AM
in light of that, i think that this (http://www.hhbc.com/p/4689/Default.aspx) page sums up the purpose of henderson hills' newfound beliefs in baptism and why its elders would choose to de-emphasize a command of god. principle 3 states that 'those who are seeking a relationship with god need a trustworthy and safe place to investigate the claims of christ..' that wording is consistent with what i'd call the 'community church' movement. congregations of several faiths have turned to this method to get non-believers through the doors. basically, comfort and people pleasing are emphasized while biblical truth takes a back seat because it might make some people uncomfortable and it might come off as judgmental. while this comfortable environment gets more people to attend worship services, i don't believe that it actually generates more obedient followers of god.

-M

Yeah, exactly why I disagree with what HHBC is doing.

HHBC has been known for watering down faith lately in trying to be more accepting. In a sense, they're becoming more unitarian in their policies. They don't want to offend anyone, so they're abandoning their traditions.

brianinok
06-19-2006, 07:10 PM
I am not going to respond to any derogetory comment about Henderson Hills since my last post. But, anyone who thinks that Henderson Hills has been/is watering down its beliefs needs to go to this website and read the position papers on it:

http://www.hendersonhills.com/p/2273/Default.aspx

Keep in mind one thing, the Baptism and Church Membership paper on this site is one from a few years ago. The new one is on the main page at hendersonhills.com, along with other documents to support this change in by-laws.

Just because a church has rejected traditionalism does not mean that they have watered down their faith.

Martin
06-19-2006, 08:10 PM
brianinok-
if you considered anything i wrote as derogatory, i do apologize. it's not my intent to bash any particular congregation.

however, in my previous post the basis of my argument had nothing to do with traditionalism. as i've stated previously, i'm not baptist... i therefore don't subscribe to its traditions and i therefore would not base my argument on a tradition i don't agree with.

even the documents you link to mention baptism as a command from christ. other than making people feel more 'comfortable', why would anyone teach that christ's commands are optional? if a believer willfully chooses not to be obedient, is he really a believer? -M

Patrick
06-20-2006, 09:32 AM
I am not going to respond to any derogetory comment about Henderson Hills since my last post. But, anyone who thinks that Henderson Hills has been/is watering down its beliefs needs to go to this website and read the position papers on it:

http://www.hendersonhills.com/p/2273/Default.aspx

Keep in mind one thing, the Baptism and Church Membership paper on this site is one from a few years ago. The new one is on the main page at hendersonhills.com, along with other documents to support this change in by-laws.

Just because a church has rejected traditionalism does not mean that they have watered down their faith.

I'm not sure I can agree with that. Part of our faith as a convention is that God mandates us to be baptised after we're saved, to reveal to the world that we accept Christ. Without the baptism requirement, you're missing that important part.

I think the reason why Henderson Hills is wanting to go this direction has already been stated. They're wanting to become more Unitarian in their belief system. They don't want to offend anyone.

I think to join a Southern Baptist Church you should be a Christian, and I believe that baptism is an important step in the whole process. As a baptist church, Henderson Hills is supposed to be a group of baptised believers! Dennis has stated that a few people have not wanted to join the church because of the baptism requirement. My thought it this.....if they refuse to get baptised, are they really a Christian? Should we accept someone into our church that isn't obedient to the demands of God?

I think this has more to do with traditionalism. I think it has a lot to do with who we're allowing to join our ranks! Are we now allowing non-baptised folks to join our ranks? What's next.......homosexuals? satanists?

Where are the absolutes here? It seems to be like Henderson Hills is giving way to the current cultural trend favoring lack of absolutes, accepting everyone regardless of their conversion experience, etc. I think that's a dangerous pathway to take.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 09:37 AM
if a believer willfully chooses not to be obedient, is he really a believer? -M

My question exactly! I basically stated that in my reply above. If someone is that opposed to being baptised to become part of Henderson Hills, I tend to question their salvation and motives, and obedience to following Christ.

This is exactly why I as a Southern Baptist, disagree with the stance Henderson Hills is taking. And it has nothing to do with tradition. It has everything to do with God's commands for our lives. Sure, the Bible doesn't state that you have to be baptised to join a church. But, the Bible doesn't really mention anything about church membership, membership rolls, or anything like that.

I think we need to be extremely careful who we allow to become members of our churches. A chruch is supposed to be a group of believers, obedient to Christ. If someone wants to join a church but isn't obedient to God in following through with believer's baptism, I question their committment to the faith and their committment to Christ.

brianinok
06-20-2006, 06:11 PM
I am going to make 2 points. Hopefully, I won't have to keep responding. :spin:

HH is not moving toward Unitarianism. Unitarians don't believe anything. They think everyone is going to Heaven regardless of what they think/do/believe. Surely, we can all agree the HH is moving toward that!

Secondly, HH believes that baptism should be done for the right reasons. There is no mention in Scripture of a Christian refusing to be baptized. We (HH) would have to question the salvation of anyone who refuses to be baptized. Now, that being said, God works at different paces with different people. Some, He has not yet convinced that baptism by immersion is the only correct baptism (see: former Presbyterians, Catholics, etc.). These people would be allowed to join and be taught why they should be baptized by immersion.

Remember, anyone who refuses to be baptized would not be eligible for membership as there is no mention in the Bible of a Christian refusing to be baptized. People may not decide to be baptized as soon as they join, but they cannot refuse, either.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 06:24 PM
Remember, anyone who refuses to be baptized would not be eligible for membership as there is no mention in the Bible of a Christian refusing to be baptized. People may not decide to be baptized as soon as they join, but they cannot refuse, either.


In you're last statement you're basically saying you have to be baptized to maintain your membership. That's basically the same thing they have in place now. And that's NOT what they're proposing.

Actually, under the plan those refusing to be baptized WOULD be eligible for membership, because baptism would no longer be a requirement.

I spoke with Dennis Newkirk today, and he had his usual attitude that they should do whatever it takes not to offend anyone. I'm sorry, but Christ said that people would hate us because of Him, and I don't think Christ has called us to limit our obedience to Him to please non-Christians.

Lauri101
06-20-2006, 06:25 PM
Unitarians don't believe anything. They think everyone is going to Heaven regardless of what they think/do/believe.

We now interrupt this program for a point of order - I speak as a person born into a Unitarian family.

Unitarians:

support freedom of religious thought
base their religious ideas on rational thought rather than external authority
form their religious principles from conscience, thinking and life's experiences
tolerate a wide range of religious ideas, including humanism




For more information, try this link
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/unitarianism/beliefs/

We return to your regular programming.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 06:29 PM
Basically, believe whatever you want, whenever you want, whoever you want, etc. Accept everyone. Don't offend anyone. Let everyone worship whom they please in peace, harmony, and freedom.

In other words, there are no clear set guidelines or absolutes. Fits in great with today's culture.

brianinok
06-20-2006, 07:00 PM
I'm done arguing. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 07:01 PM
I'm done arguing. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Me too! It's been interesting though.

okcpd
06-20-2006, 07:11 PM
We now interrupt this program for a point of order - I speak as a person born into a Unitarian family.

Unitarians:

support freedom of religious thought
base their religious ideas on rational thought rather than external authority
form their religious principles from conscience, thinking and life's experiences
tolerate a wide range of religious ideas, including humanism




For more information, try this link
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/unitarianism/beliefs/

We return to your regular programming.

Unitarianism is a free for all religion. Patrick is absolutely correct. Most unitarian churches even allow satanism. How sad.

Lauri101
06-20-2006, 07:29 PM
Unitarianism is a free for all religion. Patrick is absolutely correct. Most unitarian churches even allow satanism. How sad.

This is simply not true, however, trying to persuade you otherwise, based on my first-hand knowledge, would be an exercise in futility.

I can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 07:49 PM
Actually, my post above was somewhat sarcastic. On a more serious note, I do disagree with okcpd to some extent. Unitarianism is more organized than you think, it's just more tolerant of a variety of beliefs, etc. It's more loose when it comes to beliefs, etc.

Karried
06-20-2006, 08:20 PM
The beauty of all of this is that we have religious freedom to even actually discuss what we believe and don't believe. In some countries, we'd all be dead by now.

I think it is wonderful that we can all come together, discuss what we want and not turn it into a personal attack ... it is enlightening to learn about other religions.

I welcome these open discussions and am glad to know that more than likely, underneath all of the doctrine we all want to be good people and are doing the best we know how to do.

bandnerd
06-20-2006, 08:50 PM
I agree, Karried. I'm almost amazed that this thread has been so civil and diplomatic. Usually religious discussions get dirty in a hurry.

Patrick
06-20-2006, 09:15 PM
I agree, Karried. I'm almost amazed that this thread has been so civil and diplomatic. Usually religious discussions get dirty in a hurry.

I concur!

Survey
06-20-2006, 09:17 PM
I agree with Henderson Hills on this issue. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that baptism is a requirement to be part of God's church.

1Adam12
06-20-2006, 09:45 PM
We now interrupt this program for a point of order - I speak as a person born into a Unitarian family.

Unitarians:

support freedom of religious thought
base their religious ideas on rational thought rather than external authority
form their religious principles from conscience, thinking and life's experiences
tolerate a wide range of religious ideas, including humanism




For more information, try this link
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/unitarianism/beliefs/

We return to your regular programming.
The points that you have made, lead me to the conclusion that Unitarianism is more of a free for all religion, that really has no belief system.

You can basically do whatever you want to do, whether right or wrong, just as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

Midtowner
06-20-2006, 10:27 PM
I agree, Karried. I'm almost amazed that this thread has been so civil and diplomatic. Usually religious discussions get dirty in a hurry.


You suck.

-- better?

Karried
06-20-2006, 10:34 PM
Midtowner, why are you up so late? .. Help me find a music teacher.. do you think that by giving my son an electric guitar and lessons, I'm forever ruining him for a violin future?

Anyway, back to topic.. you suck too! LOL

It's times like these that only humor will suffice..

Yodachaos
06-20-2006, 11:07 PM
11pm isnt late. 4 or 5am is a little late.