Q: Baptism and communion
This question came in from Bill, a reader in Australia:
i have only been to the christian science meetings here a few times and i'm having a hard time understating why mary baker eddy had a completely different view than most other bible believing churches regarding baptism, communion, etc. please explain your reason for believing she was right!
That's an interesting question, I had to think about it for a while. Why do I think MBE's take on baptism, communion, and other rituals is right?
I have to say first that it's not that I think the others are wrong. I think there's a lot of validity in rituals that have meaning for the people participating in them. If your baptism ritual involves water, if your communion involves bread and wine, these symbols can open your heart to the spiritual meaning.
The problem for me comes when the rituals become *all* that's happening. When people assign the ritual itself spiritual import, or think the Almighty is influenced by participation in the ritual. For example, does participating in a water baptism actually send a message to the Divine that a creation of His is now sanctified? He sanctified it already, upon creation. I guess I don't believe human rituals have an effect on our true being. At most, they are our own outward indication of something we're realizing from within.
Also, there have been lots of arguments over the course of history about the outward rituals that have little to do with the spiritual meaning. Wars have been fought over the significance of the bread, for example. Thousands—millions—have died fighting over whether baptism leads straight to salvation or if deeds are also required. Human nature gets hung up on the outward expressions far too easily. You can find fault with someone who does things differently than you do. It's hard to find fault with something that's happening within.
For that reason, I've always loved how MBE stripped the rituals of any material expression, making them entirely spiritual. It's hard to fight over that. Here are a couple definitions from Science and Health:
BAPTISM. Purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit. (p. 581)
Our baptism is a purification from all error. ... Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, "which cometh down from heaven," is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers. (p. 35)
Christian Scientists have baptism and communion, which is celebrated daily, hourly, moment-by-moment. These spiritual practices are intense, personal, deeply transformative, and ongoing. They're not one-time or periodic events. It's our obligation to continually submerge ourselves in Spirit, to dig deeper into the Truth, to commune wholeheartedly with God.
What do baptism and communion mean to you?
Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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