Is Baptism a Challenge to Church Unity?

Ephesians 4:5 states, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  We believe there is only one Lord Jesus and we believe in one body of confessed truth called “the faith”.  Yet when it comes to baptism, it seems to be another story.

Perplexing questions on baptism for the weekend:

  1. In Ephesians 4, the apostle urges us to maintain the unity of the Spirit.  Later, as support, he tells us that there is one baptism.  If there is “one baptism”, how come Christians can’t agree on the referent on this term?  Water baptism?  Spiritual baptism? “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”?
  2. Baptism seems to be important in the New Testament. And it’s pictured in Ephesians as something that should bring unity.  Efforts to elevate the importance of baptism tend to require being more specific about the meaning of the ritual.  Yet, the more specific one is about the ritual, the more dissension one seems to invite.  Is this an accurate description of the matter?  How to solve this conundrum?  Is it possible to have a congregation where a plurality of views on baptism is permitted, but where the importance of baptism is not minimized?
  3. Many people are troubled by a Baptist perspective on baptism because it seems to be out of sync with historic church practice.  Is this a reason to be troubled?  Assume the Baptist position is correct – could it be that are there other major areas where the church has been fundamentally wrong?

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