Original Research

Karl Barth’s understanding of Christian Baptism as a basis for a conversation on the praxis of Sacraments in the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa

Rothney S. Tshaka, Tshepo Lephakga
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 69, No 1 | a1330 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v69i1.1330 | © 2013 Rothney S. Tshaka, Tshepo Lephakga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 September 2012 | Published: 07 May 2013

About the author(s)

Rothney S. Tshaka, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Tshepo Lephakga, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

This article is an initial attempt to bring the subject of baptism and to a lesser extent infant baptism in particular, as demonstrated in Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, into a conversation with the practice of this phenomenon in African Reformed churches in South Africa, specifically the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA). Whilst the Roman Catholic and Reformed traditions regarding the sacraments differ significantly in the understanding of this subject, this article will examine Barth’s understanding of baptism. This is done by critically examining key themes in his Church Dogmatics. The praxis of the sacraments and especially that of baptism continue to be a praxis that is highly venerated in African Reformed theological circles. This is so because it is believed that symbolism continues to occupy centre stage in African Reformed churches. In a sense therefore it seems that the African Reformed Christian leans more towards a Roman Catholic understanding of this sacrament. Is that perhaps true? Essentially this conversation will explore the relationship of faith to baptism and how this impacts on infant baptism for instance.

Keywords

Karl Barth; Christian ethics; baptism; infant baptism; Martin Luther; URCSA

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