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From the August 2006 issue of The Christian Science Journal

I WAS BAPTIZED in a Protestant church, and I enjoyed participating in church activities during my growing-up years. The spiritual education I received was very meaningful to me. I had questions, however, about the ceremonial aspects of worship.

A Christian Scientist friend of mine, a voice student, inquired about the possibility of singing in my church's choir. She was allowed to, but with certain restrictions. Why? She had not been baptized in a traditional ceremony and was therefore not considered a Christian. I scratched my head over this.

I knew that water baptism was a symbol of purification initiating one into the Christian faith. I wondered, though—if an individual had no real commitment to the teachings of Christ Jesus, what meaning could this ceremony have? On the other hand, if one did have a genuine commitment to the teachings of Jesus (as my friend did), what need would there be for symbols or a ceremony? Couldn't a person be baptized through the spiritual purification, or washing of thought, that comes through following Jesus' precepts in daily life? And wouldn't such a life make one a Christian?

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