Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
“For modern Disciples the one essential is the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and obedience to him in baptism. There is no requirement to give assent to any other statement of belief or creed, nor is there any ‘official’ interpretation of the Bible. Hierarchical doctrine was traditionally rejected by Disciples as human-made and divisive, and subsequently, freedom of belief and scriptural interpretation allows many Disciples to question or even deny beliefs common in doctrinal churches.
Members and seekers are encouraged to take being disciples seriously, meaning that they are student followers of Jesus. Often the best teaching comes in the form, ‘I'll tell you what I think, but read the Bible for yourself, and then study and pray about it. Decide in what ways God is calling you to be a follower of Jesus.’
Modern Disciples reject the use of creeds as ‘tests of faith,’ that is, as required beliefs necessary to be accepted as a follower of Jesus. Although Disciples respect the great creeds of the church as informative affirmations of faith, they are never seen as binding.”
This of course raises the question, what about people who never had the chance to get baptized? We believe baptism is a good idea for one reason: Jesus said to do it. He was himself baptized. Does that mean people who never had the opportunity to get baptized are going to hell? No. And “hell” is a very complex topic anyway, which deserves its own blog post. Most of the references in the Bible to “hell” refer to the grave, or a valley outside Jerusalem.
Then there’s The Thief on the Cross, who was never baptized but was promised eternal life by Jesus himself.
The bottom line is that if we are serious about following Jesus, we should make an effort to do the things he asked of us. Baptism is one of them. For those who have experienced it in adulthood it’s a wonderful ritual of obedience to Christ and a significant act marking that you have given your life to the Lord. Many of us have experienced a very strong feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit when we were baptized. A personal experience that is beyond words.
After we first publish this blog post one our readers made some good points about the content. Here are his thoughts: