An Analysis of the theological views of baptism either as a sacrament or an ordinance
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This research analyzes and compares the scriptural-theological and historical views of baptism either as a sacrament or an ordinance by utilizing primary, unpublished, and secondary sources. Christian denominations since earlier ages conflict with each other in their understanding and overemphasis of baptism as a means of God’s grace, regeneration, the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. However, baptismal regeneration is in conflict with the biblical understanding of baptism as an outward sign of God’s regenerative, transformative, and saving work as appearing in the conversion process and the life of baptismal candidates before baptism. Nevertheless, the conflict of baptism as an essential aspect of a believer’s salvation experience without soteriological value relates to the biblical-theological concept of repentance, conversion, regeneration, and salvation. The Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church with its perspective of preparation and nurture before and after baptism rejects in its official fundamental belief on baptism as ordinance any sacramental view or notion of baptismal regeneration. However, some scholars, pastors, authors, and members within this church uphold baptismal regeneration as similar to Alexander Campbell’s concept of baptism for the remission of sins. Such concept might be even his concept itself or one influenced by him or James White. Chapter 1 introduces the conflict of baptism in Christianity by focusing on baptismal regeneration and the challenge of goal setting versus the high dropout rate of baptized members. Chapter 2 analyzes the biblical-theological understanding of baptism as related to regeneration, conversion, and repentance. Chapter 3 views the conflict of baptism as a sacrament or an ordinance within Christianity by comparing and analyzing baptism within Catholicism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Anabaptism, and Adventism. Chapter 4 investigates the historical development of the fundamental beliefs and baptism within the SDA Church and Campbell’s influential concept of baptism for the remission of sins as related to some of the members and pastors of the Christian Connexion- Restoration Movement and the SDA Church. Such shows the conflict of insufficient discussion and unified understanding on the practice and concept of baptism within Adventism by discussing its popular views by some scholars, pastors, authors, members, and literature within the SDA Church that promote baptismal regeneration. The summary of Chapter 5 can serve as the basis for future studies on the importance of developing a scriptural-theological understanding of conversion, regeneration, and salvation as prerequisite for baptism within Christianity.