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Baptism: Christ's Act in the Church [Paperback]

By Laurence Hull Stookey (Author)
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Item description for Baptism: Christ's Act in the Church by Laurence Hull Stookey...

Baptism is a gift from God to the church. If it is not, why make such a fuss about it? We may as well abolish the practice and thus put an end to the confusion and competing notions that surround it. Baptism is God's gift to the church, Christ's act within the church. This is a fundamental assumption. Now we must try to make sense of such a bold assertion. Few issues within the church are as controversial as baptism. By which method should it be administered? At what age? What if one changes denominations? Laurence Stookey sifts through the confusion and rhetoric to offer this practical, biblically sound guide to baptism. He examines the sacrament from historical, theological, and pastoral perspectives, and looks at how it has been altered through the ages. Stookey also suggests possible reforms, practices that need restoring and proper occasions for the service.

Publishers Description
Few issues within the church are as controversial as baptism. By which method should it be administered? At what age? What if one changes denominations? Laurence H. Stookey sifts through the confusion and rhetoric to offer this practical, biblically sound guide to baptism. He examines the sacrament from historical, theological, and pastoral perspectives, and looks at how it has been altered through the ages. Dr. Stookey also suggests possible reforms, practices that need restoring, and proper occasions for the service.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Abingdon Press
Pages   216
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 1982
Publisher   Abingdon Church Supplies
ISBN  0687023645  
ISBN13  9780687023646  

Availability  128 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 04:31.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Laurence Hull Stookey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Laurence Hull Stookey is Professor Emeritusof Preaching and Worship, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., and Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Allen, MD. He has authored the following books for Abingdon: Eucharist: Christ's Feast With the Church; Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church; Baptism: Christ's Act in the Church; Let the Whole Church Say Amen; and This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer. also

Laurence Hull Stookey was born in 1937.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Soteriology
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Worship & Devotion > Devotionals

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Protestant Denominations

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Reviews - What do customers think about Baptism: Christ's Act in the Church?

Baptism, broadly speaking...  Aug 12, 2005
Laurence Hull Stookey, in the epilogue to his book Baptism: Christ's Acts in the Church, gives a very personal interpretation to the meaning of baptism for him:
'Baptism has changed my perception of the future. The same God who claimed me before I could understand, through that very act gives me hope for a future that I cannot comprehend.'

Baptism is a powerful action, one that incorporates an individual into the community. Despite the near-universal acceptance of baptism as a fundamental Christian practice, there is still a great amount of confusion and theological disarray (a term Stookey uses, which reminds me of Joe Jones' frequent use as well) surrounding the meaning and actual ritual enactment.

Stookey warns against seeing baptism as a magical act. This is not something that should be seen as a transformative act that works independent of the intentions and meaning attached to it by the individuals and community participating. However, there is a fine line that is often crossed between the theory of baptism and the practice of baptism. 'Early in the third century, Tertullian ... stated this worthy assertion, which establishes that the ministry of baptism is not the exercise of some magical power, nor is it the prerogative of an elite group. All can share equally what they themselves have received equally. When it came to practice as distinct from principle, Tertullian was more restrained.'

The entire community is called to participate in the baptism of members; frequently (as in my own tradition) when a new member is being baptised, all other members present are called upon to renew their own baptismal vows. This can be particularly meaningful and important in a tradition that practices infant baptism, for many (or most) individuals will not be able to recall the actual experience of their own baptisms.

Stookey permits the practice of infant/child baptism, on the grounds that it is part of the community's action, and so long as the community accepts responsibility for those it baptises, children may be included. 'Baptism is for those committed to the Christian faith and community, and for their children. This presses upon the church the necessity of being what the church is intended to be: a family of Christ's people who disciple, nurture, and encourage one another in faith.'

Baptism is the mark of being part of a church as a community of covenant, in relationship with God and with each other. Stookey argues for adult commitment to the process of baptism, but that this commitment can extend to the education and incorporation of children into the community. Stookey also argues against rebaptism. If baptism is 'a ritual action [that] has the power to communicate and incorporate', the baptised person is already part of the community, and it becomes a matter for pastoral leadership to lead the person who might be seeking rebaptism into other forms of expression - baptismal renewal, confirmation, reaffirmation are possible means for this.

Baptism is not simply a physical action, but rather is a multi-sensory experience that reaches out of several emotional and mental levels. 'While the very existence of sacramental actions and things is testimony that words are not everything in communicating the faith, this by no means indicates that words are unimportant.'

The words help express the desires and intentional aspects of the action, while the physical aspects carry meanings that reach many levels conscious and subconscious. Thus, Stookey argues for an incorporation of those he refers to as 'retarded' and 'senile', both in baptism and in communion, for some of the many-layered meanings may be able to be understood by those in ways those more 'normal' might not comprehend.

Baptism is, finally, a great equaliser. Through baptism all are made part of the body of Christ, and part of the adopted family of God. 'Baptism also gives us a vision of a new social order. All of us come to baptism as sinners equally guilty before God, and all of us come away from baptism as those who have been made God's adopted sons and daughters through grace. Once we grasp this, any supposed superiority based on race, social class, gender, or nationality is exposed as a lie.'

We all become responsible to and for each other. As Stookey concludes, there is is no greater comfort on earth for him than that he is baptised, and part of the family of God, the body of Christ. This is perhaps the ultimate purpose of baptism.

A Superb Introduction to Baptismal Theology and Liturgy  Aug 3, 2005
As a pastor, I sometimes have a difficult time explaining various aspects of baptism to my congregation. This is not usually because I am unaware of "the answer" but rather because I struggle for a way to explain things that is both accessible and understandable while doing justice to the importance of the rite and to those who lack the "theological" background to follow my arguments. Stookey's book is going to make that job a lot easier. In it, he explains the reasons for the centrality of the baptismal act and also discusses its development through history. In doing so he frequently points out that the reason a certain practice is rejected (or retained) can often be at odds with the original reason it was adopted (or rejected). He does all of this in clear prose that is easy to understand.

Another wonderful aspect of the book is its explanations of differences in denominational beliefs and practices and points out in marvelous ways just how similar we all are just under the surface. I especially enjoyed when he pointed out that certain aspects of Pentecostal affirmation share the highest of the high church theology with Roman Catholic confirmation.

This book is not written with any single denomination in mind although it does gravitate towards the mainline liturgical tradition (Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.). Much reference is made to other traditions including non-liturgical ones as well. The underlying theme of all his discourse is to recover the centrality of the baptismal covenant, whatever the denomination. He suggests ways to do so and also includes descriptions of liturgies to accomplish that end. He does this fully realizing that not everything he proposes will go over well in every venue.

If I were to teach a class in sacramental theology, particularly one in baptismal theology, this would be a text of choice.
Beautiful, lucid, gentle--a gift to any believer  Nov 7, 2000
This lovely book has put an end to the believer vs. infant baptism debate for many by gently illustrating in a number of ways that baptism is Christ's act--not man's or woman's--and that acceptance of that gift is not one of the intellect, but one of faith. Stookey traces the history of baptism from its primitive streambed roots to primitive early church rituals to modern-day derivations, calling the reader into deeper questions and encounters with each century's development. At the end of the journey, I felt refreshed and confirmed in that faith which led me on the journey to begin with.

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