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June 07, 2007



Andy I find myself much in agreement with you - I wonder though re the statement - 'I would recognise infant baptism and confirmation as valid form of baptism', would you say - valid but not preffered? Me, I would.


Andy, I don't think that your desire for a more theological understanding of membership can stand up to theological or biblical scrutiny. But I'll make that point over at Simon's blog. :-)

andy goodliff

Stuart I like Colwell's way of putting it - infant baptism is valid but irregular.

Graham I'll reply to your comment on simon's blog.

andy goodliff

i'll post my new comment on simon's blog here too:

Graham - I'm going to try this out here. If baptism means we become an ecclesial being (I'm using John Zizioulas here), then does membership identify which particular local ecclesia that discipleship is work out at. I wonder whether a doctrine of the Spirit who calls us (elects us) to belong to gathered people. Membership is the Spirit calling and us responding. I have in mind a Colin Gunton quote: 'The Spirit liberates us, that is to say, by bringing us into community: by enabling us to be with and for the brothers and sisters whom we do not ourselves choose'. Membership helps us overcome the view that 'I'll belong to this church until the point it doesn't suit me' as if it were our choice. I want to say 'we don't choose a church', but the Spirit calls us and brings us into community.


Andy, I always thought that John was quoting Barth when he made that statement? Perhaps I should graciously apply it to membership and concede that it is valid but irregular? ;-)

With your final sentance I would want to say yes, but insist that that has nothing to do with a formal concept of church membership. I think that the Vineyard folk have it better when they argue that membership consists of 'time, energy and money'. (Have I got those three right?) So, if one is commiting what they can of those three elements then they are a member.

I just don't get the assumption that membership entails one being brought into community. I don't think that's how community exists, or functions, at all.

'Membership helps us overcome the view that 'I'll belong to this church until the point it doesn't suit me' as if it were our choice.'

No, it doesn't. Unless you never let members leave! :-)


I think it was Barth too, and I seem to remember it as 'ireggular but not invalid'.

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