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Bloggin’ the 28: Baptism as naturalization in a new community

Continuing our summer (and fall) Bloggin’ the 28 project, pastor Ryan Bell applies the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of Baptism  to contemporary life.
In my Bible studies to prepare people for
baptism we use the metaphor of naturalization.
Baptism as NaturalizationThe
scripture uses explicitly political metaphors to speak of the church.
Paul, in particular does this in two key places. In his classic
statement about salvation he says,
“For it is
by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can
(Ephesians 2:8-9).

Then, just three verses later, Paul sets this salvation in explicitly political terms.
that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from
citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
without hope and without God in the world”
(vs. 12).

because of what Christ has done to break down the wall of separation
through his death on the cross, he declares, “you are no longer
foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (vs. 19).
Here Paul mixes two familiar metaphors for the ekklesia – the polis
and the family. He makes a simple argument: before you were aliens and
outsiders, now you are included. In the political metaphor the means of
going from being an alien to being a citizen is immigration and
naturalization. In the familial metaphor, the means is adoption. These
are two different ways of talking about baptism. Either way, it is a
rite of passage into a new social reality that we call the church.
To stay with the political metaphor (because it is more provocative
and therefore more helpful, I feel, at getting at the heart of the
issue), what exactly does naturalization mean?
Run, don’t walk, over to Ryan’s blog and read the rest and comment.

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