Mon | Nov 19, 2018

Whither the name

Published:Saturday | July 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/ Gleaner Writer

(Then it was) down with the old man up the new

Raised to walk in the ways of light and truth

I didn't see no angels just a few saints on the shore,

But I felt like a newborn baby cradled up in the arms of the Lord

Baptism

- Randy Travis

In the name of Jesus, or Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Depending on the church one attends, a new convert who takes their watery baptism has the baptiser pronouncing it in either Jesus name or the latter.

Recently on the church page, a video was uploaded of a baptismal service where the baptiser used the words: 'Father Son and Holy Ghost'. A comment garnered a lot of back and forth, even getting nasty at times as he wrote that it was wrong and done incorrectly.

That has been the catalyst for this article as Family and Religion reached out to Pastor Darren McKoy of the Church of God in Jamaica for answers. Does it really matter which name is used, and if so, what's the Bible's stance on it?

McKoy, before addressing the issue, said baptism is really to let people know that a change has been made in your life from a spiritual perspective. He said although it shows to the world that you are a changed persons, it does not contribute to the process of change.

"Since baptism has no real bearing on the inward change of a man or woman, then it means, therefore, that in Jesus name or any other name does not really matter. It's pointless to have a salvation experience, and be baptised in the name of Buddah," he said.

Jesus-Only church justify their stance with Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit," whereas the other denominations will quote Jesus' words to His disciples in Matthew 28:19 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

 

Sources of inspiration

 

For McKoy, he said it is understandable that both denominations would substantiate their claims with scriptures, but one should not lose sight of the fact that although all scriptures are inspired by God, He did not pen it. "Therefore, it will have its own human elements to it," he notes.

Addressing the great divide where the issue is concerned, McKoy said there doesn't need to be one.

"Personally, I think it is pointless to debate if we baptised in Jesus name or in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. If Jesus in His own words declares, 'If you have seen me, you have seen the Father' and the Spirit is equal to both in purpose, then why the debate? Our purpose is not to experience baptism, but salvation," he pointed out.

McKoy also explained the meaning behind the phrase 'in the name of' as he said it means "by the authority of", adding that whether it's 'in the name of Jesus Christ' or 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit', the meaning is the same.

"Either way, it means that when the apostles baptised someone, they were doing so by God's authority," he shared.

McKoy added that baptism initiates a covenant relationship with God the Father that is made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and sealed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the transformational power of God that dwells in us.

It is for that reason, he pointed out, that too many times followers of Christ lose focus on what should be priority when it comes to the Christian faith, and as a result, they get caught up in unnecessary debates, with the baptism formats being one of them.

"Certainly, it is good for theological reasoning and discussion, but that's pretty much where it ends," he said.