September 7, 2009

Church Experiment #36: Grace Bible Presbyterian

This week, I visited Grace Bible Presbyterian Church (

A few similarities with the Presbyterian Church: They love hymns. Before I began this experiment, I had no idea so many churches still sang hymns. I naively thought most churches had a worship band. Me so silly.

Most of the basics were the same … announcements, prayers, an offering, the message, and so on.

The main room sat about four hundred people in traditional pews (they also had a balcony), and I estimated it was about 75 percent full. Most attendees were older. The majority of the congregation was over fifty, but there were also some younger couples with small children. Very few people around my age or younger. And unless the balcony was diversity central, every single person in the building was white.

To finish reading about this experience or any of the reflections from my 52 visits, please purchase the full book here.


Rohmeo said...

Steve, I'll be very interested to get your thoughts on Rob Bell the whole church aura when you're there. I have listened to him on and off for the last 5 years, own all the Nooma videos he's made which are great little thought-provokers. He's a hard one to pin down theologically because he's his own bird and mostly swings with the Emergent folks and gets critized from the evangelics a ton. But he really doesn't quite come out bold with convictions on certain firm-handed issues with the Gospel. I would encourage you to listen to his sermon from a couple weeks ago at Mars Hil (8/16/09) entitled "The importance of beginning in the beginning". To me it's the most blatant he's been from his platform about his very secular focused (not cross focused) view of the meaning of life. No dealing with sin AT ALL. He just mentions the first 2 chapters and last 2 chapters in beginning and end of the Bible as New Creation and New Creation as the most important foundation...he even says the rest of the Bible is about sin but acted like it's no big deal. He says the purpose for Christ death and ressurection was to signify the "reconciliation of all things". Frankly it pained my heart with what I've feared about his ministry...I love him like crazy but fear he's leading people away from the WHOLE truth....I'd listen to it on your way there.

Steve Fuller said...


I'll definitely check that out. I used to listen to Bell a lot. A couple years ago, I am pretty sure I heard him give a message that refuted the existence of hell, but like you. said, he's hard to pin down because he never really comes right out and says where he stands, just dances around it with interesting, creative talks.

They are beginning a long series on the Sermon on the Mount next week, so I get to hear him kick it off with "blessed are the poor in spirit," so it should be interesting.

J.J. Bennett said...

Steve I just started following your blog so I haven't read everything here. But it sounds like you are searching. Have you been to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints"? That's the Mormon church...

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

I am often very amused by your reactions to different churches, and the different way they do things! For me, hymns are the norm (in many of the churches I preach in, we'd be incredibly thankful to have a pianist, never mind a worship band!), although choruses are often sung as well. And I've never heard of the offering being taken with an exhortation to give more - how ghastly! I can't imagine that doing anything more than putting me totally off. We know we need to give to support the work of the church - we don't need to be told it every week.

I also hate it when the prayers are used as another opportunity to preach....

Andrew Orwell said...

When are you going to check out some oldschool churches?

Steve Fuller said...


What do you mean by "old school?"

Judy in Indiana said...

By my definition, this church was oldshchool. As is the church I go to. I go to a very diverse liberal leaning church, but we sing traditional hymns, baptize babies and stand for scripture.We are United Methodist. I'd rather have a praise band as I like what I consider to be funner and more meaningful misic, but it isn't likely to happen.

John Arns said...

I agree with you totally on prayer, Steve. You hit the old nail on the head.

stephanie said...

As one currently attending a presbyterian seminary, but did not grow up presbyterian, I was confused by their method of baptism, too.

they considered a sacrament. the act of baptism is a ceremony, bringing of the child into the "covenant" family. they see that as the purpose of baptism; they don't see the purpose of it being a declaration of faith.

presbyterians are big on the sovereignty of God, meaning God always initiates. if baptism were viewed as simply a declaration of faith, it could undermine the fact that we don't choose to believe in God. God chooses us.

i'm not saying i believe it... but as someone who's an outside/insider, that's my understanding of why they do infant baptism.

Nancy said...

Steve, I've been following your blog recently. Loving your insight, thanks. Any chance of meeting you next Sunday when you come to Grand Rapids? I attend the 11AM service.

DanThoms said...

Baby baptism is pointless and counts for nothing. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Alex said...

I'd disagree with that, Dan. At my Presbyterian church, baby baptism is a way of welcoming a child into the congregation. Questions are not only asked of the parents, but also of the whole congregation-- do we promise to teach the child the ways of Jesus, etc.

So, maybe to the baby itself, the baptism is "pointless", but it's a nice reminder to the parents, family, and entire church that we have a duty to love and teach the child throughout their life. I think everyone needs that reminder sometimes-- to look after others and in doing so, looking after yourself.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

No,infant baptism is only pointless if you look at baptism as something that we do, not as something that God does. My churches (Anglican and Methodist) teach that baptism is a sacrament - something God does as well as something we do.

In an ideal world, the parents and godparents make promises to God on behalf of these children - as, indeed, do the congregation - and then, when they are old enough to decide for themselves, they take those promises upon themselves in a ceremony known as Confirmation, when they have hands laid upon them to receive the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile God does for these children whatever it is that baptism does - St Paul talks about being buried with Christ in his death and raised with him - and who are we to deny His grace?

Steve, when are you going to visit an Anglican (Episcopalian) Church?

Steve Fuller said...


Sure, I'd love to meet. I will be attending the 11:00am service as well.

Speaking of Grand Rapids, know of any bars that will be showing the Bengals game at 1:00pm?

Anonymous said...

Steve, I discovered VCC just last Sunday and I discovered your blog today. I have read about a third of your Church Experiments. I will say two things: 1. I completely agree with your view on VCC. 2.You simply crack me up. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to continuing.

DanThoms said...

Ok, how about this. Baby baptism serves no purpose for the baby and is a totally separate ceremony than the baptism talked about and practiced in the new testament.

If it helps the parents to be good parents, ok then. That's good I guess. I know that I have never personally said to a parent, hey remember when you promised to raise your kids as a Godly parent, your not doing that well.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

Again Dan, I disagree. Quite apart from anything else, almost all the time in the New Testament we see whole families, babies and all, being baptised.

And maybe, if you see parents who have had their children baptised who are not raising them in accordance with those promises, maybe you do need to remind them of that! But those promises, and how well they are kept, are between those parents and God - as, indeed, are their marriage vows, if they were married in church.

DanThoms said...

Please give me one example of a baby being sprinkled in the bible. There are 13 examples of Baptism in the New Testament. All of them are believers who are being submerged on their own free will. Baby sprinkling wasn't even sanctioned by the Catholic church until 1311.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

Try Acts chapter 16 when various people - Lydia, in particular - were baptised with all their households. All adults? I doubt it!

Shawna said...

Hey Steve, I'm one of the people who invited you to Grace, but I was out of town this past weekend so I wasn't there. That's okay, I probably wouldn't have recognized you! Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for coming, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the service and although I don't agree with all of what you said, I appreciate your point of view. Looking forward to your next post!

Anonymous said...

I do not know the PCA pastor who wrote this sermon, (the link is to the text, not audio), but think it is an excellent and clear explanation of Biblical basis for infant baptism. Even if one disagrees with him, it's helpful to understand where our Christian brothers and sisters are coming from on this issue.

Christian said...

I'm a member of GBPC and was in attendance last Lord's day, so I'd like to make a comment or seven. This isn't intended to start a big ol' flame war -- but to explain GBPC's worship.

First, the comment about being at the Tea Party was made by a member who was announcing the upcoming church picnic (a not-so-serious time; we do like to laugh too). He said that if the weather next Saturday was like it was for the Tea Party, where he got sunburned, then we'd have a good day. So it's not as if "they" (that is, the church leadership or the pastor) were sanctioning the Tea Party as a church event -- it was an offhand comment. That said, it may not have been obvious to a visitor that it wasn't more meaningful than that.

As I say, we do like to laugh, and I'm not sure whether you stayed for the fellowship meal afterwards -- if you did, you would've heard a good deal of laughter, I'm sure. (We had to miss it for my daughter's birthday party, but I'm using previous meals as a guide here.) We generally do not laugh much in our worship service -- our God does not call us to make worship services in our own image, nor to use them to entertain ourselves. We do take our Lord, and our worship of Him, seriously. But of course, that's only because that's the way Scripture describes Him and how He intends to be worshipped. If it were all for our own purposes, we'd do things very differently. But His glory is a very serious matter, and He has been known to break out against those who do not approach Him properly. (cf. Uzzah, Nadab and Abihu, etc.)

We don't think of Scripture as a myth, or as something we can mold into whatever we want it to be. The pastor didn't say he used the Bible as a "rule book." But God has spoken clearly, sometimes in narratives, sometimes in clear doctrinal statements (see the epistles, for example), sometimes in Law that reveals His holiness. So to call the Bible "a story" doesn't do justice to the complete revelation of God in Scripture.

If two intelligent people read Scripture and come away with different views of certain social issues (abortion, homosexuality as a sin, marriage as one man and one woman, for example), then one of them didn't really read it, or thinks words don't mean things. But God gave us language to communicate -- and He spoke the universe into existence! -- so language is not meaningless. The Bible does not give clear policy prescriptions on every social issue facing the 21st century US, but it does lay out very clearly the character of God, and upon that foundation, certain principles are easily built, and others cannot be built.

As for infant baptism, that's a long topic. I don't know about it "counting," as though we somehow earn our way into God's favor by doing things that "count." (Scripture clearly and repeatedly makes it clear that we do not.) So I find that language, and the ideas it reveals, to be quite troubling. We do take the covenant view, which essentially treats baptism as a continuation of circumcision. That was of course done on 8-day _old boys, and was initiated as such by God. So if you're troubled by decisions made by parents, then I'll let you take that one up with the Lord who initiated that sign of the covenant to be performed by parents. (I'm sympathetic to the baptist view -- believers' baptism -- but not on the grounds that infant baptisms somehow don't "count." Perish the thought that we must earn our own righteousness by things that count. None would be saved!)

We are mostly white -- but for what it's worth, most Reformed churches tend to be. I'm OK with that, as far as it goes -- even white people are made in God's image. (Do Asians count as white? I don't know the rules for counting up people by skin color and putting labels on them.)

I don't see anywhere in Scripture that describes God as a comedian. I'm guessing, if that sounds right to you, you'll like Rob Bell. He likes to make up his own god as he goes, and doesn't seem to let God's own revelation of Himself in Scripture hold any sway.

Christian said...

Anyway, Steve, I'm glad you came to visit, and that you described the church accurately. Again, my intent here was to explain, because you appear to have some questions, or at least to make some assumptions that we don't make. You're always welcome back -- in fact, I hope after you hear the heretical teachings of Rob Bell, you'll find yourself a Biblically sound church home.

And let the revelation of God in Scripture define your faith.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

The Bible does not give clear policy prescriptions on every social issue facing the 21st century US, but it does lay out very clearly the character of God, and upon that foundation, certain principles are easily built, and others cannot be built.

I think you may find many issues aren't totally black-and-white; if they were, we would not be finding Christians on all sides of the political spectrum (oddly, in my country, Christians tend to be left-wing; in yours, as I understand it, they are far more right-wing!). We are all sinners saved by grace, and we are probably all correct on some issues, and all wrong on others, even where our views are diametrically opposed to one another! I think we might have a few surprises when we get to Heaven!

Steve Fuller said...


I always appreciate when members from the churches I visit make comments. It definitely helps to clarify the experience, so thank you.

We disagree on a number of issues, but I respect what I saw at Grace Presbyterian and from your reverend.

DanThoms said...

@ Anonymous - Thanks I read the link and have to say that I disagree with him 90%. I don't even know where to start.

@ Christian - Ok I will re-phrase myself to make it less troubling for you. How about this, infant baptism is a misnomer. A practice entirely different from the one talked about in the New Testament.

@ Everyone Else- "In all Bible examples of baptism, people were baptized only when they personally had full faith, based on their own understanding of the gospel. Never were they baptized on the basis of someone else's faith, such as their parents. No one else can believe for us, just like no one can be baptized for us."

As for household baptisms, I'm not against children being baptized as long as they are being baptized based on their own commitment to Christ. In the households mentioned (Lydia s and Cornelius') it never says nor implies that there were babies. In the case of Cornelius' houshold "Notice some things that people in this household did that babies cannot do: all in the household feared God (10:2,35); all came together to hear and receive what God had commanded (10:33,44; 11:1,14); they heard and believed (15:7,9; 10:43), they repented (11:18), and they were told to work righteousness (10:35)"
As for Lydia's household it's not specific. So we have to use common sens and look back at everyone else who was baptized and see what they did.

Christian said...

Mrs Redboots:

I hesitate to say much about right- and left-wing -- the definitions of those words vary greatly across countries, political cultures, etc. But generally, Biblical Christianity leads to certain conclusions (pro-life, pro-Biblical definitions of marriage) that tend to be found on what is considered the "right" of the US political spectrum. My impression is that our "left" tends not to believe in a thrice-holy, just God, and thus puts man at the pinnacle of value. This leads to a particular worldview. The "right" tends to believe in something higher than man, and puts that higher thing (often but not always God) at the pinnacle of value, and that leads to a different worldview.

How gloriously right you are: we are indeed sinners saved by grace! and praise to the Lord for that! I look forward to having my theology corrected in glory. Until then, I search the Scriptures to know my God more fully, and to put Him at the center of my life. Boy, do I fail -- and yet by His grace, my failings are not what He sees. Righteousness in His Son is all I can claim.

@Dan: My comment about baptism "counting" was for Steve; I didn't mean to address your comment there.

Steve Fuller said...


I search the scriptures, too. But I come to a different conclusion. So, why does that make you right and me wrong?

That is my big question for folks from your worldview. We both believe in God (including Jesus & the Holy Spirit). We both read the Bible.

Yet, we have different beliefs. And you assume mine are wrong. That seems a tad arrogant to me, as though you have all the answers, and I am just an idiot.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

I have to admit I agree with Steve here - it does strike me as a tad arrogant to say that you are right and everybody who disagrees with you is wrong!

I certainly used to hold the view that if you were a Christian you had to express your faith in exactly the same way I did, or you weren't a Christian at all. However, I was very young then - and God has, many, many times over, shown me different.

Being left-wing isn't necessarily about not putting God first, very far from - it does, however, recognise that we are to do as Jesus commanded us and feed the hungry, clothe the poor, care for the sick, etc. It is not about staying in our little churches rejoicing in our own righteousness.

Eric said...

Judy- What do you mean by 'Stand for Scripture' if your church is liberal. Define that phrase.

Dan- Please give me an explicit example of Baptism by submersion in the NT, instead of simply making assertions.

In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12).

Mrs. Redboots- While I support paedobaptism myself, there are also no explicit references in scripture, just as there are none for 'submersion only'.
And left wing has much more sinister implications than feeding the poor, caring for the sick. That's almost a dishonest description. Abortion, euthanasia,the glorification of homosexuality (an abomination in scripture) the prideful doctrine of human autonomy, unsubmissive to the Word. The left is known for it's foray's into the 'population control' arena. Let's solve all the earths problems by any means. Amoral, pragmatic solutions. Free 'expression' to the extent of wanting to legalize child pornography.

1 Peter 1:1-2 To those who reside as aliens,scattered throughout Pontus,Galatia, Cappadocia,Asia, and Bithynia,who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit,to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood:

What I see is Christian explaining our doctrinal position,and how we derive our values from that.

Christian may be trying to come at this angle. Jesus Christ is our LORD, not just our savior. He makes demands on our life, such as obeying the word of God, unadulterated. Scripture is the source of ultimate truth. We have no right to change the meaning of words to 'make nice' with 21st century philosophies. That means if I'd like to interject a little ...'oh, well, this (insert controversial teaching) was only applicable to people in Christs day, we are much more enlightened now...'

That is NOT what Grace BPC is about. We take the regular sense of the passage, and consider the whole testimony of scripture.

Christian made some bold assertions regarding the meaning of language, and read nothing declaring him right and Steve wrong. He made a defense of the faith. Christian is a fair and amicable man.

If you sensed hostility from him, it's your own conscience condemning you.

DanThoms said...

And my favorite line so far "If you sensed hostility from him, it's your own conscience condemning you." You see, the most wonderful thing about that line is it works for whoever says it first. It just looses something when your the second person to say it.

I'm pretty far right but suggesting that the left want to legalize child pornography is down right offensive. Steve is pretty liberal but I'm pretty sure that he's not a member of manbla.

Ok, the Greek word that we translate as baptism means immersion. But, that's not the point. The point is a baby doesn't fit the prerequisites for baptism. I'm not going to type all of that again though.

Steve Fuller said...


Where do I even begin?

For you to suggest liberal Christians want to make child pornography legal is irresponsible and absurd.

Assertions like that make you look silly. Your credibility evaporates, and everything else you say demands to be ignored.

So, I shall ignore it.

DanThoms said...

Although the Greek word βαπτίζω does not exclusively mean dip, plunge or immerse, lexical sources note that this is the usual meaning of the word in both the Septuagint[16][17][18] and the New Testament.[19] A related word βαπτω, also used in the New Testament, is used only with the sense 'dip' or 'dye'.[20][21][22][23] It is used, for instance, of the partial dipping of a morsel of bread in wine.[24][25]

Eric said...

Did I say liberal 'Christians?' It doesn't make me look silly, because if you let it (autonomous human worldviews) spill over into social/political philosophies, it does lead there in some quarters. Based on 'principle' there should be rights protecting abominable activities, just like the protection of abortion. When you sweep God's moral law out the door, as our culture has done (at an ever increasing rate), there is NO universal foundation for morality. I'm simply engaged in the debate.

You're reading more into what I said that's not there. I was defining left-wing elements I see in culture. I was hearing a very limited definition of liberal from Mrs. Redboots.

The meaning of the word baptism is also affected by context. Not to mention the parallel Paul draws between circumcision and baptism in the passage I cited. Not to mention ALL the PARALLELS between the old and new testament in reference to sprinkling. Oh yeah, and history.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

You're reading more into what I said that's not there. I was defining left-wing elements I see in culture. I was hearing a very limited definition of liberal from Mrs. Redboots.

I have just read through my comments on this post, and I'd love to know where I used the word "liberal". I did not. I said that Christians in my country tend to be - please note the word "tend" - left wing, believing, as we do, that our Lord Christ commands us to feed the hungry, clothe the sick, etc, and believing also, as John Wesley, the founder of my denomination, declared, that together we can change the world!

DanThoms said...

Eric, I am very much aware of the circumcision argument. It's a huge stretch at best. Quite frankly, it's not even worth arguing. Baptism for the dead has more Biblical basis than baby sprinkling. If you read my posts I talked about the words used and the history behind baby baptism.

The mode of "sprinkling" was not sanctioned until 1311 AD by the Council of Ravenna

The first recorded instance of "infant baptism" was when the Roman Emperor Valens insisted his dying son be "baptized" - in the year 370 AD. The church caved into his fears and baptized the infant.

Ok that's it. I grow weary. I'm done.

Christian said...

Hi Steve,

I didn't assume I'm right and have the answers, and that you're an idiot. I do assume, as an axiom of the faith, that Scripture is the Word of God. And that He is sovereign, and that we are His creatures, whose purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I also assume that language has meaning, and that Scripture clearly reveals those parts of God's nature and character which it reveals. And I deduce from Scripture that we are not to remake Scripture but to accept it as God's Word, and that we are not to add anything to God's Word (the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura).

From those assumptions, I do my best (with the help of GBPC's wonderful pastors and elders, and the help of theologians past and present) to deduce by sound logic more about God and how we're to live in the face of a thrice-holy, sovereign, just, jealous, longsuffering, forgiving, loving God.

Do I get some things wrong? Inevitably I do. And I've changed my views on many things the more I've studied. But there are some things (Sola Scriptura, for one), about which I have complete confidence. Confidence does seem arrogant in a post-modern world in which confidence in absolute truth is considered offensive. But it is confidence in God's revealed Word and its clarity, not in my brilliance, and I will boast in my God without apology.

From what you wrote, I concluded that your view of Scripture is not the same as ours. Your summary of the Bible as a "story," your posting of a video on "The Bible as Myth," and your comments about worship ("Stevie likes to laugh") and God ("God is a comedian playing to an audience afraid to laugh...sounds right to me") all reveal a very different view of Scripture, worship and indeed God Himself than we hold here.

I concluded you do not hold a Scripture-alone view. Where you get your view of Scripture as a "myth" I know not, but nothing in Scripture supports that view. Similarly God as a comedian, worship as man-centered, etc.

Because we approach Scripture with different assumptions, we will inevitably come to different conclusions. And the more we include non-Scriptural assumptions, the less consistent our conclusions will be with what Scripture itself says. Because I treat Scripture Alone as a bedrock of faith, then I find non-Scriptural assumptions and conclusions...well, incorrect. Not Christian vs. Steve, though -- Scripture Alone vs. Anything Else.

So, I intended to explain our worship at GBPC in light of our view of Scripture. If I gave the impression that I think you're an idiot, I'm sorry. I did not mean to.

Steve Fuller said...


Fair enough. I wish you and your church well. Thanks for stopping by and adding your perspective to the discussion.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

Christian: The word "myth" doesn't mean "untrue" or "fable", as you would have learnt if you had made any study at all of theology. It refers to a story that is told and retold in worship - as the Jews retell the Passover stories and, arguably, as we retell the Nativity stories each year. Truth and historical fact are not necessarily the same thing at all - God's truth goes far deeper than that, because God is far greater than the Scriptures!

I am so enjoying reading of Steve's journey, week by week, because it shows, as very little other than such a journey could show, how much bigger God is than our imaginations can encompass, and how there is room for us all!

Nancy said...

Steve, I'm sorry but I won't be able to meet you at the Mars Hill 11AM service on Sunday after all.

But, may I be the first to welcome you! It's a big place with lots of people, but I hope you feel at ease and can sense the Lord's presence. I promise that you won't be asked to raise your hand or stand if you're visiting.

There is no church sign or anything indicating where the church is, so look for the YMCA sign and you've found it. Come a little early so you don't get stuck in the back of the room or in the overflow. Some sit on the floor if they can't find a seat. There will be coffee and bagels in the mall hallway.

There are two hotels and one restaurant in our parking lot. The manager of the restaurant assured me that: "We have the NFL Sunday Ticket package and will be carrying every single game through out the year in our sports bar. I will be showing the Cincinnati Denver game on Sunday at 1pm. If you happen to sit in a location without a good view of your game or any other game you are interested in, feel free to ask me or any of my staff members and we will gladly put it on a TV with a better view for you.

My staff and I look forward to seeing you this weekend!


Jim Mittlestat

General Manager
Branns Steakhouse and Grille in Grandville"

Have a great trip over here and be blessed!

Anonymous said...

About baptism and abortion. Ever read the Didache?
-Frank Hart

Judy in Indiana said...

By "Stand for Scripture" I meant just what Steve mentioned in his church visit, that when Scripture is read, we stand up. I certainly believe that liberal Christians have a faith as valid as that of conservative Christians. As Steve mentioned in his blog responses there are many different ways to see things and just because we disagree, that does mean you right and I am wrong. God loves me as much as he loves you and surely we are all seeking to find answers, we just come to different conclusions.

Anonymous said...

don't even want to touch this argument with a 10 foot pole. its not healthy... but i did want to encourage everyone to read, read, read, and not throw up random facts that they have read in internet articles to defend a theological position. wow, that's frustrating. the issue of baptism is a complicated one, and one that i am patiently working through myself. throwing out random facts about it doesn't make you look smart or gracious and surely doesn't make it seem like you understand the complexity of the issue.
to all: try to remember... god is sovereign. pray for each other. don't get mad at each other. god is good and he is in control. you may not be right, but god is. trust him.

Mrs Redboots (Annabel Smyth) said...

@ Judy - in the Anglican church (and I assume it is the same in the Episcopal church), it is normal to stand when the Gospel is read, but not for the other Scriptures, and, at that, only when it is a Communion service. Mind you, a Communion service is the norm in an Anglican church these days - a service of the Word only is the exception. Interesting to find that this is normal in other traditions, too - the Methodists always faintly worry me (I was brought up Anglican, but am now Methodist for reasons it would take too long to tell) by not standing for the Gospel, but on the other hand standing when the Offertory is brought up!

DanThoms said...

Anonymous - You may be annoyed but suggesting that anyone on here is basing their theological views off of internet articles is quite insulting. Telling people that they look dumb, ungracious and unread isn't playing nice. Don't be a jerk. You can state your point without being rude.

Anonymous said...

As a person who doesn't attend church, but is a believer, I am probably not worthy of posting anything here.. but for what it's worth..
I think that the belief that we must take scripture to be our guidebook as it is written and without interpretation is ridiculous. The scriptures were written by humanity and in such must be as flawed as we are. And besides that, JESUS didn't have a bible, neither did anyone who knew him. Hell, most of his life is missing from the new testament. So are many female characters that must have been present.
I'm not generally considered a liberal but I do believe that each and every person has a god given right to do what they will without interference from others. If someone is/wants to be gay it doesn't affect my religion.. if someone wants or needs an abortion, hey, its on their head, not mine. I'm there if they need to cry. My purpose in life as I understand it is to be the best person I can be for God. To demonstrate the qualities of Jesus, not to be the condemner of sinners. I think Christians who push their views on others are confused in their execution of their doctrines. I don't believe in hell, and I'm not sure about heaven. It seems that in the end we wouldn't be judged by the actions of the people we judge, but rather by the actions we take towards them. Tolerance is something Jesus must have practiced daily. I can't say the same about condemnation for he surely wouldn't have lived as long.

A Modern Ancient said...

So I totally know this a weeks and weeks late, but I just read this post and had to respond to this comment from Dan:

"@ Everyone Else- "In all Bible examples of baptism, people were baptized only when they personally had full faith, based on their own understanding of the gospel. Never were they baptized on the basis of someone else's faith, such as their parents. No one else can believe for us, just like no one can be baptized for us."

Sorry, but you are incorrect. The numerous examples of entire households being baptized not only included children (and yes, infants) but also servants tended to take on the religion of their masters. Does the text explicitly say "and the babies too"? No. But any knowledge of the 1st Century world which Jesus and his followers lived would make it an obvious assumption.

The statement that "no one can believe for us" goes directly against Jesus healing the paralytic. Jesus flat out states that it was the faith of the man's friends that healed him. This passage easily shows how the faith of others can effect God's work in our own lives... infant baptism is in this line.

Paul equates baptism with circumcision... obviously Paul knew when circumcision took place: either upon conversion to Judaism (adult) OR based upon the faith of the parents and the community's promise, the child would be ushered into the faith. Just like circumcision, baptism is not simply a one-time event. It is the beginning event.

Again, sorry this came weeks afterwards. I haven't even read through all the comments yet!

A Modern Ancient said...

There really are some crazy comments in this thread so I as soooooo sorry to keep nitpicking you. Perhaps it is because I am writing a paper on baptism at the moment (study break right now). You said:

"Ok, the Greek word that we translate as baptism means immersion"

Actually, the word can also mean "dip" or "immerse" or simply "get wet". The word is βαπτίζω and can mean to literally immerse or dip OR it can mean be ritualistically cleanses (usually a simple splashing of water on the head/hands/feet). You are correct that the traditional method has always been to dip (not necessarily to fully immerse) in "living" (running or moving) water. So, even if people only do adult baptism by immersion, but the water isn't moving/running, then they aren't going with the traditional method either. However, baptizing babies has been happening since the beginning... at least according to Paul (his comparison with circumcision makes that obvious) and common sense when one comes to understand households.

Okay, back to reading the intense comments.

A Modern Ancient said...

Finally saw the rest of your comments. Though I cannot understand how you flippantly ignore the circumcision comparison made by Paul himself, I see we will just agree to disagree on this issue. No need to respond further.

Though, do remember that your view of baptism is very much the minority view in worldwide Christianity, and your very own word study revealed that the morsel of bread was only dipped (not immersed) into the wine. Just saying 8^)