Thursday, November 10, 2005

Baptism Kick

I’ve been on this baptism kick for some time now. My new Christian's class is nearly to an end so I'm sure my thoughts will move on to other topics. Some might ask why bother addressing the issues I have raised. I bother because I believe it is important to refresh our thinking on old topics from time to time. I bother because I think some of our views on baptism is misguided and over emphasized. I have listed some statements that I have heard throughout the years that are worth reexamining the issue of baptism.

•“Without baptism, I am uncomfortable with the “accepting Jesus into your heart” approach to salvation.”

Concern: Can we truly accept the grace of God if we think we have to do something like baptism to attain salvation?

•“You are old enough to be accountable for your sins and if something unfortunate where to happen…." (Implying they would go to hell.)

Concern: What kind of foundation is laid when new believers are told God loves them but will send them to hell unless…. How will this shape their view of God for the rest of their Christian life? What does this say about our view of God? Does God want the fear of hell to be the first block laid for discipleship?

• “I once told a child they were too young to be baptized. I often wondered what the Spirit could have done in their life if I had baptized them.”

Concern: Have we limited the Spirit to work exclusively in those who are baptized? Will God not fulfill his purposes regardless of what we do?

• “We know how to baptism them; we don’t know what to do afterward." (In other words, we are not very good at training new Christians.)

Concern: It seems that we are more eager to baptize than we are at training. Maybe if we placed more efforts on training disciples we would "know what to do with them."

• “I can’t be baptized unless my family is there to watch.”

Concern: If a person delays taking action for the service of God (even for family) then are they fit for baptism? (See Luke 9:61& 62)

• “I’m too embarrassed to go forward during the worship service. I want my baptism to be done in private.”

Concern: If a person is unwilling to declare publicly their faith publicly then I question if they ready for baptism? Secondly, “going forward” is more than go up to be baptized. It’s an opportunity for introduction to the church of a new member to The Family. Baptism in private communicates to the new believer that the church is optional. The new believer begins an inadequate understanding of the minstry of the church.

These issues are not intended to be heard by new Christians. It would only confuse their fresh new mind. I have no intention of addressing these issues head on with church leadership. It would create unneeded debate. Perhaps by having my own thoughts in order I can address each issue as it naturally presents itself in the course of service. Perhaps I will learn that my concerns are an overreacttion or a part of a much bigger issue.

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