Adult believers’ baptism testifies to the truths that baptism, though a sacrament, does not give us something we do not have but makes us aware of something we already have; that God’s actions toward us require a moral response and personal acceptance; that our human response needs to be a mature one that is manifested in our lives; and that faith is necessary if we are to benefit from God’s actions. Typically, those who defended adult believers’ baptism saw no need for evangelization. Evangelism alone was satisfactory before baptism. Education could take place later. Those who defended infant baptism also believed in education after baptism but also tended to neglect evangelism and evangelization.
Increasingly in our day, adult believers’ baptism is being accepted as the norm or standard for baptism, and infant baptism is defended as a legitimate exception. In any case, baptism needs to be “lived into” through the renewal of one’s baptismal covenant at numerous times in one’s life. In the case of infant baptism, a personal renewal of the baptismal covenant entered into for the child by its parents needs to be made. Further, as we
Chilcote, P. W., & Warner, L. C. (Eds.). (2008). The study of evangelism : Exploring a missional practice of the church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Created from amridge on 2022-10-21 03:59:40.
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become increasingly aware that society does not fully support the Christian life of faith, and that there are an increasing number of unchurched, unbaptized persons, a new emphasis on adult converts and the need for evangelization has emerged.
Since we have now arrived at a point where both adult believers’ and infant baptism are affirmed, and owing to our growing awareness that Christendom, as we have known it, has radically changed, new concern for evangelism and the evangelization for those who have never been baptized is on the rise. For those who have been baptized, there is a search for a new understanding of catechesis, confirmation, and baptismal renewal.
As Urban Holmes maintains in his Turning to Christ, there is a difference between the church’s mission (to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ), the strategy for accomplishing that mission (the renewal of the church), and the tactic to accomplish that renewal (evangelization). Through a congregation’s evangelization of adults, it can renew its own life and thereby be enabled to be faithful to its mission, which is to attract others to Christ and his church.
Aims of Evangelization and Catechesis
Christianity emerged in history as a gift. God chose to act through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to inaugurate God’s reign of justice and peace. And God called into being a community that was to be a sign and witness to that good news. It was a community with a mission: to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. This was to be accomplished by attracting persons to the church; here through evangelization, they were to be prepared for baptism and thereby enter upon a new way of life, a lifelong pilgrimage of personal formation and communal reform and renewal through catechesis until God’s mission was fulfilled.
Christianity is a way of life. Therefore, from the beginning it has been the responsibility of all baptized Christians to proclaim the gospel in word and example. The life of every Christian is to be under close scrutiny. The truth of the gospel is judged by the world according to the consistency between what the baptized profess and how they live. Faith and works cannot be separated. No dualism between being and doing, between who we are and how we live, is to be permitted.