Monthly Archives: August 2013

The World Needs a Church That Makes Much of Baptism

“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

(Acts 2:38, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Peter “laid it all on the line” for that generation of Jews that had clamored for the Son of God to be treated like a common criminal.  He told them the truth about their sin and they had no proper answer.  Instead, they simply asked, “What shall we do?”  In Peter’s reply, we see that their immediate need is to be released from the condemnation that their sin brings.  A sinner’s greatest need is forgiveness.  And forgiveness comes by repentance expressed through baptism.

Baptism.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that we live in a Christian world that minimizes baptism.  We know there is such disagreement over its meaning and application that we tend to downplay it for the sake of a desired unity.  On the other hand, I like to think that Peter would have positioned himself near a body of water for his preaching, so that baptism of the multitudes could be easily done.  However, in our crusades and revival services, the response card and the “sinner’s prayer” have replaced the baptismal waters. Continue reading The World Needs a Church That Makes Much of Baptism

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Baptism: Is It Possible to Say Anything New?

People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument. 

–    Will Rogers

After 2000 years, is there really anything to say about baptism that has not already been said?  Probably not.  But I still harbor hope within me that the church can see unity around an understanding of baptism that’s also firmly rooted in Scripture.

So I’d like to do a series on baptism in the coming posts.  And, in the spirit of Will Rogers, maybe we can do a whole lot more observing than arguing. Continue reading Baptism: Is It Possible to Say Anything New?

Why All the Confusion over the Sacraments?

The Bible states that God has given believers everything needed to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3).  Amen – and praise God for that.

But let me ask a question: has God given the church everything she needs for faithful ministry?

And when it comes to faithful ministry, how vitally important are church sacraments/ordinances like baptism and the Eucharist (a.k.a. Lord’s Supper or Communion)? Continue reading Why All the Confusion over the Sacraments?

The Church formerly known as The Way

Having a set of eyes on the ground matters.  It’s what motivates the investigator  to locate witnesses to a crime.  It’s what compels the historian to seek out primary sources rather than secondary.  Granted: immediate experience may not bring knowledge of the  “big picture”.  However, for ascertaining the facts, nothing beats the observer who sees, the listener who hears, and the direct participant who is there.

I’d like to apply these principles to a particular case study.  There is a very early term that was applied to the Christian movement of which I have heard precious little discussion in my evangelical church experience.  That term is “The Way”.  Continue reading The Church formerly known as The Way

The Caravan Church

Welcome to the Caravan Church blog!  The title is inspired by Brethren theologian Vernard Eller’s The Outward Bound.  In it, Eller describes the Christian church as a “caravan,” a group of people traveling together in a “common cause” seeking a “common destination”.  Certainly, the image itself is not controversial.  The Apostle Peter describes believers as “aliens and strangers” in this present world, while Hebrews speaks of God’s people longing for the heavenly city that is to come.  And consider the Old Testament picture of Israel wandering in the wilderness to the Promised Land.  Unavoidable is the biblical linkage between Old Jerusalem and New Jerusalem, both in their own ways, serving as destinations of God’s elect. Continue reading The Caravan Church