This article examines the relationship between baptism and membership of the church. The author’s main thesis is that baptism signifies the unity with Christ, and as such unity with the body of Christ (the church). Research has shown that baptism exists in different religions, cults and sects as an initiation rite. This forms the background to the New Testament’s presentation of baptism as (inter alia) an initiation rite. This article examines not only these baptism rites, but also the different metaphors in the New Testament concerned with baptism as initiation. The history of baptism in the church and the way baptism functions in the Reformed tradition, in terms of church polity and membership of the church, are also examined.
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