Baptism is a foundation of the Christian faith. Most Christians recognise that they need to be baptised. However, the purpose and meaning of baptism has been the subject of much religious debate over the centuries. The primary reason for the tensions that have arisen is because baptism has become, for many people, a demonstration of their association with a particular doctrine, church group, or even person. The notion of membership through baptism is based in the commonly held view that it makes a person a member of a particular church group. From this perspective, baptism gives a person the position of membership within these communities.
The only reason that baptism is effective in the life of a believer is because of the cross of Christ. The cross, and its daily implications for us, are removed from baptism when it is reduced to a formula and viewed as a rite of membership in a church. When this happens, baptism is emptied of its power and effect in our lives. It no longer connects us to the circumcision of Christ with its corresponding suffering, through which we overcome sin by the life and power of God. Furthermore, it is no longer the answer of a good conscience.