GS 2016 art 123

GS 2016 Article 123 – Appeal of Burlington-Rehoboth re: GS 2013 Art. 125

1. Material

  • 1.1    Appeal from the Burlington-Rehoboth CanRC (

2. Observations

  • 2.1    GS 2013 (Art. 125) adopted the suggestion of the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise to change the word “engrafted” to “incorporated” in CO 59, to line up with the change adopted by GS 2007 (Art. 172) to replace the word “engrafted” with “incorporated” in HC LD 27 Q&A 74.
  • 2.2    When the SCBP recommended to GS 2007 (Art. 172 Obs. 2.2.1) that “engrafted” be changed to “incorporated” in HC LD 27 Q&A 74, it explained that “incorporated” was a better translation of the original German text. It further opined that “incorporated” better reflects the fact that covenant children are from the beginning members of the church, and their baptism “registers” them as members.
  • 2.3    Burlington-Rehoboth observes that CO 59 deals with the baptism of adults, not of children. This church argues that the baptism of adults serves to symbolize a radical change in their status: before, they existed outside of Christ, but by faith, they have been grafted into Christ. The claim is made that the Form for the Baptism of Adults (Book of Praise, p. 599) provides clear descriptions of the change that has taken place: they were children of wrath, living a life of sinfulness, but, having sincerely repented, and come to faith in Christ, they have become members of Christ. This change is reflected especially in the third question of the Public Profession of Faith, which asks, “Do you…confess…that you have become a member of Jesus Christ and his church?”
  • 2.4    Burlington-Rehoboth considers, therefore, that the argument for changing the wording of HC LD 27 Q&A 74 does not apply to CO 59. In the case of an adult, who by faith becomes a member of Christ, “engrafted” more accurately reflects the change that has taken place in his or her status.

3. Considerations

  • 3.1    Burlington-Rehoboth is correct in pointing out that GS 2013 decided to change the wording of CO 59 to line it up with the wording of HC LD 27 Q&A 74 and supported its decision with a reference to GS 2007 Art. 172.
  • 3.2    There is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Our confessions do not distinguish between the meaning of baptism as it is applied to infant children of believers or to adults who have come to faith in Christ.
  • 3.3    There is very little difference between the meanings of the words “engrafted” and “incorporated.”  These words are so close in meaning as to be interchangeable.

4. Recommendation

That Synod decide:

  • 4.1    To deny the appeal of the Burlington-Rehoboth CanRC.