Fisher Humphreys, professor of theology at the Beeson Divinity School of Sanford University, is speaking at our church this weekend. Last night he made a very astute comment about Baptist belief and practice vis-a-vis ecumenism. I’m paraphrasing, but his point was that Baptists are at our least ecumenical when it comes to our beliefs about baptism, but at our most ecumenical when it comes to the Lord’s Supper. Simply put, Baptists can go on to join just about any other church or denomination without having to be re-baptized, but we for our part largely deny the validity of the baptisms of the vast majority of Christians. At the same time, Baptists find it much easier (relatively speaking) to practice “open communion” and invite other Christians to share with us at the Lord’s Table.
I did a brief series about “open” versus “closed” communion a while back. Now I’m thinking I need to do a follow-up on baptism and see if I can outline a case for why Baptists ought to accept the baptisms of other Christians, even those that differ from our own practices or understandings.
If you’re interested, you can start reading here.