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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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March 5, 2013

What's Significant about the Catholic/Reformed Dialogue Agreement on Baptism?

 You have probably heard by now that the Reformed-Catholic dialogues have resulted in a common agreement on baptism.   The agreement, entitled These Living Waters: Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism, A Report of the Catholic Reformed Dialogue in United States 2003 – 2007, is 85 single-spaced pages, which is basically a book.  It is historic for several reasons: 

It highlights some significant differences, though.  For example, though both look at the same biblical and patristic sources, using the same method to retrieve their meanings,

both communities appear to interpret these same sources with hermeneutics conditioned by confessional and dogmatic assumptions held a priori. This is most especially true in the reading of central texts from the corpus of Augustine’s works on baptism, faith, justification, sacrament and original sin. . . . Indeed, the reconciliation of approaches to the reading of Augustine may open a path for exchange and understanding between both churches in a way never before achieved. (46)

It should come as no surprise that most of the differences between us stem from ecclesiology, as has been obvious from other ecumenical work, such as that represented in Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry.  We have had different histories and responded to different pastoral issues that have shaped our theologies and commitments.            

Nonetheless, These Living Waters represents an important step toward fuller witness of the faith of the universal church into which we are baptized by God’s good grace.  We are developing resources for the study of this document, but we encourage you to take a look at it and plan some time in the future to study the document with the church.  There are succinct recommendations included in the document, but the real treasure is in the historical and theological details that most will skip.  We encourage teaching elders to delve more deeply into the document, for in looking at ways in which we agree and disagree with our brothers and sisters, we come to a clearer understanding of the Reformed theology around baptism, which is a microcosm of the way in which we understand the Christian faith itself.   


This post was originally sent to those interested in the sacramental renewal of the PCUSA in The Font & Table.  If you'd like to sign up to receive that newsletter twice a month, subscribe here.

Tags: augustine, baptism, baptism agreement, catholic reformed dialogue, ecumenism, reformed catholic dialogue, reformed faith