Trilateral Dialogue discusses significance of baptism

Participants from the dialogue in Strasbourg. Photo: MWC/Elke Leypold
Participants from the dialogue in Strasbourg. Photo: MWC/Elke Leypold

Prof. Peter Li brings perspectives from Hong Kong

(LWI) – “Baptism and Incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church” is the topic of an ongoing dialogue between scholars of Lutheran, Catholic and Mennonite Churches. The Trilateral Dialogue Commission on Baptism had its second meeting from 26-31 January in Strasbourg, France. “Baptism: God’s Grace and Human Sin” was the focus of this particular meeting, relating the different understandings of baptism to the concept of sin and grace in the confessions. While the dialogue is an ongoing process, Prof. Peter Li from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong shared with LWI about baptism in his region.

LWI: The main theme of the trilateral dialogue relates to baptism. What does baptism mean to you and your church?

Baptism to me, and my church, always means a beginning relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ and His church. As stated in article 9 of the Augsburg Confession, “baptism is necessary for salvation” even though many Protestants and their churches in town do not share this conviction which is biblically grounded and theologically correct.

LWI: According to the self-understanding of the LWF to be Lutheran is to be ecumenical. What does this mean in your own context in Hong Kong?

As a member of the LWF, we share the same self-understanding though we may prefer using also the term Evangelical-Catholic to describe ourselves. It means on one hand, we share the common apostolic tradition with the Church universal; on the other hand, we recognize the precious Reformation heritage re-emphasized if not re-discovered, by and since Luther.

LWI: What are you going to take back home into your church from the meetings of the trilateral commission?

It is a privilege to me as the only Asian and Chinese recommended by my church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, to participate in the meetings of the Trilateral Commission. I will have the obligation and honor to report to my church council and the ministerium respectively in our following meeting. As always, I also share with my students in class and my colleagues in the seminary. To keep my community informed about this meaningful trilateral dialogue on the theme of Holy Baptism may help to encourage both the spirit of Christian unity and the growth in faith, love and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.