Over the years, I have had several people tell me their reluctance to be an organ donor when they pass away. Their rationales might be very different, but most of the time they are quite practical and out of fear. However, when I ask them in reply if they would like to receive an organ from a donor themselves, if needed, they reply positively.
This question opened their eyes, and for some it made them decide to become an organ donor.
A lens through which one can approach the above issue and the current issue of conditions of membership in the church is using reciprocity, i.e. asking the question, “What if it happened to me?” This question is very biblical and is foundational in almost all religions. It is also referred to as the Golden Rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Or, stated differently, “Do not treat others as you would not want to be treated.”
Imagine you, and active member of the Community of Christ, moving to a place where there is no congregation or other member of our faith tradition close by. An option would be to attract others and start a new congregation, but if this does not fit your personality, you might join another Christian congregation that is congruent with your core beliefs.
However, at some point you find out that unless you become a member and be baptized again you do not have all the rights and privileges in that new congregation. They tell you that your sacred baptism in the Community of Christ is of no value to them. How would you feel? Why would you be reluctant to be rebaptized?
Many in the church were raised believing this is the “only true church.” Although it currently is not our formal belief, as we consider our movement part of the larger Christian body, this conviction still seems to inform many. Section 120 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which prescribes rebaptism, still reflects this concept. So far, the Presidency, who is the interpreter of Scripture, has ruled Section 20 as binding.
Already baptized Christians, e.g. in Africa, Haiti, South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia, have been touched by our ministry and want to become part of this community. However, for them to become members, to be able to vote, to be called to the priesthood, they first need to be rebaptized. Many perceive this prerequisite as not valuing their existing commitment to Christ already performed in the larger Christian body. That is why the 2007 World Conference asked the First Presidency to reexamine the current practice, and they in response asked the church to engage in a discernment process. Does one need to be rebaptized as a condition to become a member of our church?
Wim van Klinken
For further information see www.cofchrist.org/cofm
Klinken is a full-time minister of the church, native from the Netherlands. He
served as Mission Center President for Europe until 2007, when he and his
family moved to the U.S., and he became the Director of International
Headquarters in Independence, MO.
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