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If you do an Internet search using the above two words, you will find a number of articles espousing different view about baptismal regeneration. That’s to be expected. I was surprised by the number of articles that linked the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Christ, Mormonism and others together as supporters of the concept of baptismal regeneration. This blows my mind as I worship with the Church of Christ and I have never heard anyone promote regeneration as solely a result of baptism. I don’t know much about Mormonism and their precise beliefs in regard to regeneration. I do know that Sidney Rigdon who was associated with the early Restoration Movement later became the spiritual advisor to Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. I find it difficult to accept the idea that the Church of Christ views baptism and regeneration in the same way as the Catholic Church when there are marked differences.
What are some of the differences between the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the Church of Christ in this area?
Church of Christ
The Church of Christ does not believe that an infant is born a sinner. We do not believe that God holds one person morally accountable for the sins of another. We do believe that the consequence of one’s action can affect others; physical death passed upon all men as a result of Adam’s sin. Sin entered the world through Adam. We believe that David’s statement concerning his conception was hyperbole meaning that he was born into a sinful world. See the article on original sin.
The Church of Christ baptizes by immersion. We believe that the word “baptizo” means to dip or immerse and that the circumstances surrounding baptism in the New Testament demonstrate that immersion was practiced in the early church. Baptism is said to me a burial. We believe this indicates an immersion.
The church of Christ believes that baptism is a response of faith to the death, burial and resurrection. We believe that baptism of those that don’t believe would be an empty ritual. Infants are incapable of faith.
Catholicism teaches that baptism as a sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ by which grace is conveyed to the soul when administer by one duly authorized in accordance with the intent of the Church. While the Church of Christ concurs that baptism and other response to God’s will convey grace we believe the same is true of a host of activities such as singing, assembling together, etc. We do not believe that there is any intrinsic value in the rite when performed on one who is incapable of faith. “The just shall live by faith.”
I don’t know that my view of regeneration is representative of the Church of Christ. Regeneration is the passing from spiritual death to life in Christ by becoming a child of God. God has given us the comparison of procreation to help us understand the process of regeneration. We know that in the natural realm the father begets his child before being born. The same is true in the spiritual realm; a child must be begotten by the Father, then born again, born of water and the Spirit. This may be diagrammed as follows:
I personally appreciate the fact that Catholicism recognizes that “born of water” refers to baptism. In the Catholic view, as I understand it, the infant is baptized and born again, before he is begotten by God. This is an anomaly in both the natural and spiritual realm. A child cannot be born before he is begotten.
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