The Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) announced March 9 a Notice of Motion proposing that a revision of Article 8 “Christian Baptism” be accepted for inclusion in the CCMBC Confession of Faith.
Delegates to CCMBC’s National Assembly, scheduled to take place virtually June 10-12, will have an opportunity to attend a breakout session with National Faith and Life Team (NFLT) members to discuss the Article proposal before voting on the recommendation, says Andrew Dyck, assistant professor of Christian Spirituality and Pastoral Ministry at MB Seminary, in an email to the CL on behalf of NFLT leaders.
In 2015, the Board of Faith Life (now NFLT) surveyed MB leaders across Canada to determine their support for, and concerns about, the MB Confession of Faith. In 2018, based on responses to that survey, the Board began a process of revising Article 8 “Christian Baptism.” The process included feedback and discussion across the country through provincial conference conventions, a national summit, regional clusters of pastors and online comments.
According to the March 9 email announcing the Notice of Motion, the revision has been met with widespread affirmation, and the NFLT believes the revised Article is ready for inclusion in the Confession of Faith.
The email included both the current and proposed versions of Article 8.
Current Article 8 Christian Baptism
We believe that when people receive God’s gift of salvation, they are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign of having been cleansed from sin. It is a covenant with the church to walk in the way of Christ through the power of the Spirit.
Baptism by water is a public sign that a person has repented of sins, received forgiveness of sins, died with Christ to sin, been raised to newness of life, and received the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign of the believer’s incorporation into the body of Christ as expressed in the local church. Baptism is also a pledge to serve Christ according to the gifts given to each person.
Baptism is for those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and commit themselves to follow Christ in obedience as members of the local church. Baptism is for those who understand its meaning, are able to be accountable to Christ and the church, and voluntarily request it on the basis of their faith response to Jesus Christ.
We practice water baptism by immersion administered by the local church. Local congregations may receive into membership those who have been baptized by another mode on their confession of faith. Persons who claim baptism as infants and wish to become members of a Mennonite Brethren congregation are to receive baptism on their confession of faith.
Matthew 3:13-17; 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:2-6; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 2:12-13; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 4:4-6
Proposed Article 8 Christian Baptism
We believe that when people respond in faith to God’s invitation to repentance, new life, and discipleship, God calls each of them to receive water baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Baptism is an act of obedience which testifies that God in Christ has forgiven and cleansed a person from sin, freed them from the power of sin and death, given them the Holy Spirit, and united them with the body of Christ. Baptism by immersion is a powerful testimony that a believer has been washed by the Spirit, has died with Christ to sin and has been raised to newness of life.
In baptism the believer publicly bears witness to their own commitment to follow Jesus as Lord, serving Jesus as a covenant member of the local congregation in God’s Kingdom mission.
Baptism is the God-given means by which the local church family incorporates followers of Jesus.
Baptism is for all those who repent and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, have received the Holy Spirit, and pledge to live as disciples who obey Jesus in all of life. Baptism is for those who understand its basic meaning, are able to be accountable to Christ and the church, and request it voluntarily.
The local church baptizes believers by immersion and joyfully welcomes and disciples them into full participation as members of the congregation. The local church also joyfully welcomes Christian disciples baptized elsewhere, regardless of mode, if they were baptized upon their own confession of faith.
The local church invites those who claim baptism prior to their own confession of faith and who desire to be members of a Mennonite Brethren congregation to receive baptism as a testimony to their own faith.
Matthew 3:13-17; 28:18-20; Acts 2:38-42; 8:12; 10:47-48; Romans 6:2-6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Colossians 2:12-13; Galatians 3:26-27; Ephesians 4:4-6; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 3:21.
To read the Notice of Motion, click here.
Alongside the revision to Article 8, the NFLT has also rewritten the Commentary and Pastoral Application resource as endnotes and FAQs, respectively, Dyck says. In addition, the Summary of the Confession of Faith is being rewritten, as is the liturgical version of Article 8. The sidewalk edition of the Confession is no longer being published. These rewrites require NFLT, not delegate, approval.
Janae Rempel Shafer is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Shafer is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Shafer graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She and her husband, Austin, attend Ridgepoint Church in Wichita, Kansas.