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Church Practice and Identity - Essay Example

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Church Practice and Identity

The phrase United and Uniting Church is used in the discourse to mean, a union of several Protestant denominations. These are Protestant and churches which have merged, with the most nascent example being the Protestant Union which was also known as the Evangelical Union which was created in 1608 and brought together the Lutheran, Reformed and United churches. In the United and Uniting Church, an individual must first undergo water baptism in order to be considered a member. This is because most members of the United Church believe that baptism is a Christian rite of adoption or admission which involves the immersion of the believer into water, or sprinkling water on the believer. The execution of this rite is always accompanied by a declaration of a statement of faith by the believer and the declaration of the Person(s) into whom the believer is being baptized, with the Person(s) either being the Father, the Son and the Holy Sprit. While there are several ways in which baptism is carried out depending on the standpoint that a given denomination takes, the spiritual significance of baptism remains too profound to be discounted as a mere ritual, as shall be seen in the discourse which ensues forthwith. Nee1 contends that water baptism contributes greatly to the identity of the United Church. By this identity, it is meant behavioral identity. While the United Church believes that the Church has been called to live a holy life as the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5: 13 and Matthew 5: 14, respectively), this holiness is not to be achieved through the observation of prescriptive behavior as is the case with other religions2. Instead this holiness is attained through knowing that the old man (the flesh, or the carnal man or the natural man) was crucified and died with Christ in His Passion and death, and that the new man of the spirit was raised together with Christ in His resurrection (Galatians 2:20). Carson3 postulates that baptism plays a crucial role in the development above, since it is the acknowledgement and a demonstration of the knowledge that the believer in Christ had his carnal nature crucified with Christ and that his spiritual man was raised with Christ, by the very power that resurrected Jesus Christ. In this case, when partaking of baptism, when the believer is immersed in water, the symbol of the carnal nature of the believer being buried with Christ is evinced4. Upon the believer being lifted up from water, the sense of his new man being raised and made alive with Christ is denoted5. In this case, the identity of the holiness that the individual as a unit of the Church has is not gained by following a behavioral code handed over by a religious leader and his proteges, but one that stems from knowing6. All the Protestant denominations making up the Union Church agree with the doctrine behind baptism as being related to a new life in the Spirit. It is nevertheless important to note that this knowing cannot be attributed as a work or an incident that can be attained by a sleight of hand or human or human effort. St. Paul is the epitome of strong will, theological and legal intellectualism and religious punctiliousness, yet all these virtues neither succored him from frustratingly struggling with the indubitable passions of the carnal man, nor handed him this freeing knowledge. St. Paul’s virtues are summed in a very compressed summary in Philippians 3:5, while his struggles with his carnal nature are elaborated on, in Romans chapter 77. It is only by the Spirit that the knowledge that his struggle with his carnal nature is unnecessary since it died with Christ as is seen in Romans chapter 88. This knowledge is therefore a revelation, and not a preserve of the intellect. The crux of the matter herein is that ...Show more

Summary

Baptism features heavily and centrally in the list of ordinances to the point that it is referred to as the first ordinance of the Gospel, in the United and Uniting Church. The phrase United and Uniting Church is used in the discourse to mean, a union of several Protestant denominations…
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