Archive for the ‘ baptism ’ Category

some thoughts on baptism (part 2)

This is a continuation of my series of posts on Christian baptism, unpacking my thoughts and supporting my reasoning for getting baptized. Specifically I am digging into the 8 statements I made in Part 1. Today, Statement 1…

1. Baptism is not necessary for salvation
There are very few denominations within Christianity that support baptism as a necessity to salvation (most notably the Church Of Christ), so I’m not going to spend too much time digging into this one.

Among some of the verses that are used to support a view of baptismal regeneration include Mark 16:16…

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

At first glance it appears that this verse supports the idea that both faith and baptism are required for salvation. But notice the difference in the second half of the verse – while it is indicated that both ‘belief’ and ‘baptism’ will lead to salvation, it merely says in the second half that a lack of ‘belief’ will lead to condemnation. This verse teaches that ‘belief’ is essential to salvation – it does not teach that ‘baptism’ is.

One prominent example that comes to mind when considering faith as the critical element of salvation is the conversation had between Jesus and the criminal on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). Here Jesus promised a sinful man that he would “be with him in paradise” simply through belief – no opportunity for baptism.

There are a multitude of verses that support the concept of “faith alone” as the requirement of salvation, among them John 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 3:28, Romans 11:6, and Ephesians 2:8-10.

While browsing the web for some articles on baptism, I found one particularly interesting which de-constructs the primary verses of baptismal regeneration. If you’re interested in reading further, feel free to check it out here.

some thoughts on baptism (part 1)

A friend recently asked me about my thoughts on baptism, knowing that I was recently baptized as a step in becoming a member of my church, Grace Community Church. I grew up Methodist, as did he, and like myself was wrestling with some of the implications that went with the Methodist practices of baptism vs. your typical Baptist practices (and of course, the ultimate question includes scripture’s view of baptism).

So here are some basic statements regarding these two views of baptism:

  1. Methodist’s practice the concept of “infant baptism”, which is to say, several months after a child is born within the church the baby is baptized via a public ceremony which generally involves the sprinkling of water over the baby’s head and some words of dedication spoken by the pastor.
  2. Baptist’s practice the concept of “believer’s baptism” and is only viewed as official when the believer is baptized via full immersion
  3. Neither denomination claim that baptism is essential to salvation. Both view it as an important outward sign of dedication to the Christian faith and an integral part of our Christian heritage.

The truth is that I have wanted to fully unpack this subject for quite a while, and I get to rambling on these blog posts so I’ve decided to break the topic up into a few segments that I will post over the course of the next couple weeks. But to kick things off, below is a quick breakdown of my thoughts on baptism that ultimately led to my decision. I will support these statements in the posts to come…

  1. Baptism is not necessary for salvation
  2. Baptism is a powerful symbolic gesture that publicly indicates faith in Christ
  3. Baptism completely lacks meaning if it is received prior to making a conscious dedication of faith, therefore I fully support the concept of “believer’s baptism”
  4. Baptism does nothing to “cleanse” children of original sin
  5. The Methodist standard for baptizing children is misguided and lacks a solid scriptural foundation and fails to capture the spirit for which baptism was originally intended
  6. Baptism is intended to symbolically capture the transformation that happens in salvation – death to oneself, and new life through Christ. Baptism by immersion captures this the best and I find the practice of “sprinkling” or “pouring” particularly lacking
  7. Baptism needs to be understood from a historical perspective – including both foundational Christian and Jewish thought – not just the perspective protestant denominational differences
  8. It is a church’s own prerogative whether or not it requires baptism as part of church membership, and this is an acceptable practice

A few years ago, when I first started attending a Baptist church, I was actually offended to hear that I would need to be re-baptized if I intended to join the church as a member… as though my original Methodist baptism as a baby was not good enough. I put it off for a couple years, changed churches in the process, and after a lot of thought came to the conclusion that my theological upbringing had not given me a solid scriptural view of baptism.

Scripture treats baptism as a public declaration of faith, a symbolic gesture of the death of the sinful self and rebirth as a child of God, and the beginning of a life of ministry devoted towards God.

Since I was baptized as a baby I did not have the chance to make a public symbolic declaration of my faith as part of my eventual conversion experience. In retrospect, if I had my say when I was 6 months old I would have held off on my baptism until 10th grade which is when I made my first conscious decision to become a believer. That wasn’t the case of course, so I found myself caught in this odd place where I had already been baptized, I had made a public declaration of faith multiple times later in life, and yet my original baptism did not stack up to the standards of Baptist church membership.

Ultimately I came to the personal conclusion that my original baptism lacked the symbolic meaning that I felt it should carry. It was little more than a dedication ceremony involving a handful of water and a few lines of recitation on the part of the congregation. And while my current church “required” that I be baptized according to their standards, I had come to the personal conclusion that those standards were more in line with what God originally intended and therefore I made the decision to be baptized again – as a believer, fully immersed, and grasping the full weight of the symbolic practice.

That’s the topic in a nutshell, and I hope to dig into this a little further and explain some of my 8 statements above… it will be good for me personally, and for the purposes of discussion. And if you have any personal thoughts about those 8 statements, feel free to respond and start the discussion… it’s certainly an interesting topic.

the big plunge

For the past year and a half Steph and I have been going to Grace Community Church, an incredible church which we enjoy very much. Pastor Scott is amazing, the music is great, and we’ve made a lot of great friends (who are actually our age, married, and don’t have five kids… not that there’s anything wrong with kids).

So we figured, this is the place, so we’re going to become members. Well, Grace Community is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Baptists love their dunk tank. That’s all fine and well, but for a guy who grew up Methodist (and was baptized as a baby 26 years ago) that’s always been a bit of a hurdle for me to get over. I mean, what, was my orginal baptism not good enough? What’s the difference if I get baptized as a baby, or if it’s actually by immersion?

Well, this Methodist was finally broken. Baptism was originally intended to be a public symbolic act of believing in Christ, once they became a believer. And the death and resurrection of Christ is symbolized through the going-down and coming-up from the water through baptism.

So today I got baptized and became a member of Grace Community Church! A cool experience and worth the 26 year wait. As I was telling someone earlier, the Methodists got me on the Heaven waiting list with infant baptism… glad I’ve got my reserved seat now though. Thanks Stephanie, Brian and Krista, and Rachel Ray for coming!! Here’s a post-dunk picture for ya, note semi-wet hair.

blogs are like dead rabbits falling from pine trees

I was sick yesterday – that was a whole lot of no fun. But I got a day off of work, and I tell you what… sleeping until 1PM and watching crappy daytime TV the rest of the afternoon wasn’t a bad tradeoff. All of that reminded me once again of how strong a proponent I am for the four day work week. I think I would gladly sacrifice a few extra hours during the week in order to justify having a three day weekend four times a month. How awesome would that be?

I got a rousing welcome into the blogging world by Uncle Tim today. Thanks Tim. Tim thinks that my blog is entirely based around making fun of him, which is an interesting concept (and one to consider), but not entirely true. However, I realized that the vast majority of my posts have been relatively sarcastic in nature, and it was always my intention to have a blog that fairly balanced a sarcastic view of life with a healthy dose of meaningful discussion.

The thing is, I haven’t been all that stimulated with any deep thought provoking life questions recently. I almost feel that since I left college I haven’t been asking many deep thought provoking life questions. I feel bad about that, because it kind of points to the direction of my spiritual life in general – it’s important to stay sharp and focused by asking those types of questions, and more often than not I’m not giving that area too much attention.

So, to change the direction of this ship and rattle some cages I’m tempted to throw something out there like “Anyone who wasn’t baptized as an infant is not truly saved”. I doubt that would go anywhere though. Of course the one time Tim asked a serious question on his blog it flopped like a dead rabbit falling from a pine tree, so maybe seriousness isn’t the direction to go on blogs.

No one has taken me up on my standing offer to talk about anything though. After all, this space is for rent and we can talk about anything for a nominal fee. And the fee isn’t all that bad… you just have to put up with Tim’s sarcastic remarks as he makes a mockery of us all. So I have an idea, you should offer me some good deep topics to dig into and then I’ll return a response supported by my heathen Methodist upbringing. It will be awesome.