I Changed My Mind About Baptism When I Joined the Lutheran Church

Infant Baptism

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5


I’ve met a really interesting person who was known as The Internet Godfather and was on America’s Most Wanted List. I am planning to do a podcast with him next week. I’ll tell you more about him at that time. I thought he was a nutjob when he contacted me. He isn’t!!

I am having trouble with my left shoulder and the orthopedic doctor says I will need a shoulder replacement at some point. The doctors are trying to keep my pain under control in order to delay the surgery. Psoriatic arthritis is difficult at times so forgive me if I’m not as conversant as usual.


Todd’s insightful post-Anthony Moore & Capitol Hill Baptist Church’s Baptism Policy has garnered quite a.few comments. Todd and I think it might be worth continuing to discuss this subject and he has more information to share next week.

I thought it might be worth looking at why I have changed my mind about baptism. After decades of supporting believer’s baptism, I’ have become a Lutheran which means my church baptizes infants. I was baptized as an infant in a Congregational church in Danvers, Massachusetts. I grew up in a nominally Christian home. My father was Russian Orthodox but attended the festivals and rarely went to church. My mother is (and was) not a Chrisitan. However, she used to drop my brother and me off at a Sunday school in a Methodist church. She would wait in the car during our class.

When I became a Christian at the age of 17, I immediately began the process of figuring out the ins and outs of baptism, communion, etc. I read books written by typical nondenominational theologians. I had been told by some seminarians that my infant baptism *counted* and I didn’t need to be rebaptized. The churches I attended accepted my infant baptism. However, the fact that I was baptized as a baby would come up. By the time our children came along, I decided to deal with my baptism. I asked to be baptized by one of my pastors in a nondenominational Bible church. I had a proper dunking in Jordan Lake nearby and joked that I was baptized *in the Jordan.* I was relieved that the subject was now *off the table* so to speak.

Lutherans believe that infants are given the gift of faith at baptism.

However, in spite of all my joking, I was troubled. Infant baptism appeared reasonable to me. A little baby has no say in how she is to be raised. Her parents do that for her. This would include raising the child in the faith. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, believes that the baby who has been baptized receives the gift of faith.From *frequently asked questions* of the Missouri Synod  link

Q: Can you please clarify the Lutheran view of Baptism and what is its purpose? Does the child become a Christian when baptized?

A: Lutherans believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt 28:19-20). Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal 3:26-27; Rom 6:1-4; Col 2:11-12; 1 Cor.12:13).

Terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that whenan infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant. We believe this because the Bible saysthat infants can believe (Matt 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yetit is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim 3:15). The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt 28:18-20), or it will die.

Lutherans do not believe that only those baptized as infants receive faith. Faith can also be created in a person’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s (written or spoken) Word. Baptism should then soon follow conversion (cf. Acts 8:37) for the purpose of confirming and strengthening faithin accordance with God’s command and promise. Depending on the situation, therefore, Lutheransbaptize people of all ages from infancy to adulthood.

The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there areclearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing theWord of God). Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected, since it is explicitlycommanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.

Usage We urge you to contact an LCMS pastor in your area for more in-depth discussion.
Published by: LCMS Church Information Center
©The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295
888-843-5267 • infocenter@lcms.org • www.lcms.org/faqs

Confirmation classes are the key to the development of their faith

After joining my Lutheran church, I received a note from one of my pastors asked me if I would be a guide for a group of students in confirmation. I decided to take him up on his offer and it has been an eyeopening and wonderful experience. In general, 5th-grade students attend weekly classes that go on for two years (summers off.) At the end of that time, they are confirmed and join the church in celebrating communion. Confirmation is a time for the student to carefully consider their faith and affirm his/her baptism. The classes are thought-provoking, fun and tough. I was truly amazed at how much the kids had to learn.

They learn the Ten Commandments.

What’ so hard about that? They must memorize the commandment and also memorize what it means. The meanings are found in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

The Seventh Commandment
You shall not steal.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

The same goes for the Apostle’s Creed which they study in-depth. Here is one example.

The First Article: Creatio

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

This is most certainly true.

The pastors, vicar, and DCEs (Director of Christian Education) hold classes every other week in which they teach difficult concepts like The Trinity. The next week, they break into small groups which is where I come in. We reinforce what was taught the week before. We have them learn how to pray and care for one another.for one another.

They go to church and must review the pastor’s sermon. They are given a summary page.to fill in. The pastors and vicars review these and hand them back to the students with suggestions and observation. There is a section in which the student can ask any question that they are thinking about.

They participate in charitable work like putting together food bags for Thanksgiving. They have retreats and youth gatherings as well. Their attendance at church, confirmation, and other youth activities is tracked.

At the end of the two years, they are confirmed and receive communion. For me, this is particularly moving. Before COVID, I helped in distributing communuion. It has been quite moving or me to have one of my former students come up and receive communion.

My thoughts:

  • I can truthfully say that the students are thoroughly prepared to be able to express what they believe. When they receive their first communion, they know exactly what they are doing. Yes, they were baptized as infants. Now, they are affirming their baptism through confirmation. Their faith is a process that is nurtured by the church and their parents.
  • The church leaders will step in if a student is having a difficult time with some of the material. I am so impressed by how much input each student receives during this time. The pastors and DCEs are hands-on with the kids. The pastors are not podcasts on legs. They are present and the students know them.
  • I would be willing to put each of these students up against the typical, nondenominational, baptized children. I know they would blow away a number of these kids with their knowledge
  • I found Luther’s Small Catechism so fascinating that I read through it during Lent. It caused me to look at the Ten Commandments in a new way.
  • I secretly tried to memorize all of the explanations of the 10 Commandments and The Apostle’s Creed. It was hard and I admit that I failed a few times.
  • I grew to love each of the students as I got them through the two years of study. I truly will miss seeing them each week as they move on.
  • I know the students are glad to get back their Wednesday nights.

This non-denominational, fully dunked Christian woman has changed. I embrace infant baptism now that I understand how it plays out in real life. I find Mark Dever’s rules regarding baptism unnecessarily restrictive. But, as the Bible tells us, we must support and help our weaker brother. Imagine his life…always having to decide who is in and who is out. This is a guy who supported CJ Mahaney as being *in* yet would reject my confirmation students as prepared to take communion in his church.

Anna Keith mentioned that Dever should try *Rumspringa* as the young adults wait for Deever’s approval for their baptism.

Among the Amish, Rumspringa simply refers to adolescence. During the period known as Rumspringa, beginning at about age 16, Amish youth are no longer under the total control of their parents on weekends and, because they are not baptized, they are not yet under the authority of the church. During this time, many Amish youth adhere to traditional Amish behavior. Others experiment with “worldly” activities like buying a car, going to movies, or wearing non-Amish clothes. Contrary in the media. Rumspringa-age youth typically live at home until after joining the church and then getting married and moving into their own homes.

During Rumspringa, Amish youth enter a time of greater social activity. Traditional youth activities include volleyball, swimming, ice skating, picnics, hiking, and large outdoor “supper” parties. The most typical gatherings are “singings.” Groups meet in a home and sing German hymns and English gospel songs for several hours and then enjoy a time of conversation and food.

Finally, I do not beleive how one is baptized should determine our ability to celebrate the faith together. Does anyone out their really think that someone will be banished from heaven because they were sprinkled instead of dunked? Maybe Dever but few others.

Please feel free to ask me questions about my change of heart regarding baptism. I have also changed my view of communion but that is dfor another day!@


Comments

I Changed My Mind About Baptism When I Joined the Lutheran Church — 73 Comments

  1. 2 Thoughts:

    1. “All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism.”
    This is an excellent observation; never heard this before. Was circumcision supposed to be comparable to baptism (and done at birth), but it only applies to men/boys?

    2. There is an interesting doc film regarding rumspringa (“running around” in Pennsylvania Dutch): “Devil’s Playground:”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_Playground_(2002_film)

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  2. In the Pentecostal church I attended you had to get baptism off the to do list before membership classes. It’s all about public declarations.
    I was pressured to do it but never did. I adhered to the Anglican tradition and figured my confirmation made me as much a Christian. The Pentecostal version of faith never resonated.

    To each their own but when baptism is attached to an agenda like in the last post, it becomes weaponized, another method of control.

    After I was told my infant baptism meant I was not baptized and therefore not really Christian, that pretty much killed any chance of me doing an adult dunking.

    Make no mistake, it shouldn’t matter but it does. It should be an interesting comment box.

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  3. I still hold to traditional Baptist believer’s baptism, but because I believe it is an ordinance, I don’t believe that people should be forced to do it one way or another just to join a church. Baptists often act like becoming Baptist from another denomination is professing a new faith, and that’s silly.

    And I definitely don’t think it should be tied to local church membership (but I don’t really believe in local church membership anymore, either!). I hate that in the age of Christian institutions, we’ve lost sight of the universal church, and I will never “join” a local church again. These institutions with heavy joining requirements are not “the church” and pastors who claim that are at best controlling and at worst, heretics and cult leaders.

    But I also don’t believe infant baptism should be forced or required for parents attending another denomination. If you believe strongly enough that it’s a sacrament, then it’s logical that you will probably want to have your child baptized.

    I do kinda wonder about one point, that I’ve seen mentioned on the other thread and elsewhere, and that’s how frightening adult immersion baptism can be. I would think even infant baptism could be similarly frightening to a baby, and I think it’s a bit weird to ignore that and focus on the scariness of adult baptism alone. Babies can’t consent to being baptized, and what if it’s just as scary to be up there with all those people looking at you while being handed off to a stranger, as I’ve often seen?

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  4. As a person that came out of the Reformed tradition….this is just one person’s’ experience….I have always felt that the “covenant of baptism” often creates a false assurance where none is warranted. I know of dozens of people with whom I grew up who are pretty much secularized with a lot os “head knowledge “ of Christianity but with no evidence of it in their lives. I think its similar to those who “prayed a prayer or walked down the aisle” with no true life change. Furthermore when I look at the new testament I do not see any incidences of Jesus baptizing babies or the apostles doing so……if it were that important I believe it would be modeled throughout scripture. Its actually not in the old testament either! So………why practice a man-made ordinance?

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  5. ishy:
    I do kinda wonder about one point, that I’ve seen mentioned on the other thread and elsewhere, and that’s how frightening adult immersion baptism can be.

    In my church, the Church of Christ, we practice baptism by immersion upon confession of faith. My young adult son has autism, and I don’t know if he is capable of making such a confession and understanding what it means. It’s also crossed my mind that it might be very scary for him to be baptized. If he ever decides he wants to, he and I and his dad will have a very long talk with the ministers of my church. They know and love our son and would help him as much as possible.

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  6. Interesting post! I’ve spent many years in Lutheranism as an adult because it was often the only place where we lived geographically where free grace theology could be found at all. The rest were some form of working your way to heaven. Even many of the SBC churches have gone that MacArthur nonsense.

    Happily LCMS now for quite some time. Right before the coronavirus hit our pastor seemed to me to really be doubling down on baptism being where we were saved, and on the physical presence of Jesus at communion. That was not emphasized heavily in the other congregations I have been part of, and I started having a lot of questions and studying. I could sense a crisis of conscience coming and figured I would need to schedule some time with pastor to sort it out.

    Then came the virus, and I began doing online church. Without the smells and bells, our service is easier to think through. I don’t think I can go back. I do not believe baptism makes a Christian believer out of a child, just a church member. And I do not believe exactly what they believe about the “Real Presence” at communion. My beliefs are a little more Wesleyan there.

    So I am not sure where I will attend after the virus thing lets me back in church. Might be a Wesleyan theology church or might be a free grace church if I can find one closer than 100 miles away. Might just pick the closest thing to what I believe and just stick to Sunday School.

    But I do believe in that Billy Graham style crisis of conversion, and do not believe in even single predestination. LCMS does reject the first of those and embrace the latter.

    It saddens me. I never really believed in infant baptism but since our kids are grown I could tolerate others believing it. I thought I was in accord regarding the Real Presence but find I apparently misunderstood their teaching.

    So interesting post, seeing how we all grow and change our minds about some things over time.

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  7. ishy,
    In the different christianities infant & adult mean very different things. As dee mentioned, for the lutherans faith is a gift given, in the Pentecostal church I attended it was a declaration of acceptance. Unless you make the declaration you are not Christian.
    Probably adult baptism creates performance anxiety. At my wife’s church there is a video where the person being baptized declares that they are now Christian and what that means to them.
    In the infant baptisms I’ve seen, the parents hand the baby to the minister, water is sprinkled on the head and the baby is handed back to the parents. It’s different. But we take babies to parties and they get handed around …
    I don’t think baby dedication is infant baptisms poorer cousin. It’s important in the tradition of that brand of Christian faith. We had a service & party for our son’s dedication.
    Unfortunately the different christianities will never truly reconcile on an institutional level. No matter how nice your Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian neighbor is, if you’re not of their faith then officially they believe you’re going to heck.
    If true tolerance is ever attained, it will be a grass roots effort by individuals or smaller groups

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  8. When we speak of declarations I remember the vows I made at 14 during my confirmation. I take promises seriously. We talk about the anxiety at the entrance to faith. The anxiety at the end of faith is really something as well.
    This is why authoritarian religion is so toxic. It is not like quitting a job or moving house. I have no doubt this is why some churches link the baptism to the membership contracts. That vow of faith that you believe is before god is serious business. Leaving non toxic faith was bad enough, the trauma that folks trapped in churches like Denver’s has to be excruciating.

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  9. I’m not sure I like the Missouri Synod’s magical thinking any better than other kinds of similar baptismal thought, adult or infant. The early church eventually began baptizing the children of the faithful precisely because they would be raised as Christians and thus would not be converting from paganism. Confirmation was not so much to develop faith as much as to ascertain (and confirm) that the parents and godparents had done their work. The 11 or 14 year old cradle-to-grave Baptist hasn’t converted at baptism either – it’s more a self confirmation as well. The big moment for many of us, that rebirth moment that really is magical usually comes at another time. Some theologians refer to this authentic moment of discovery as ‘metanoia.’ I’m sure many, most, or all here have experienced it! It might even be the reason you are reading this blog.

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  10. As I read this, and think more broadly about all the flavors of Christianity, I wonder if there is some “wisdom” in all the “madness” of all these flavors! Unlike the OT, which has some pretty clear “rules”, and then the “volumes”that the Rabbis and pharisees added, I have to wonder if the “ambiguity” of some of the major “rules” in the NT are a “test” to see which followers/flavors “get it”…. it seems that Christ really summed it up all up when asked: What is the greatest commandment? ( I do not need to repeat it, TWW regular readers know exactly what I mean)
    In contrast, ALL of the abuse we read about in TWW, the perps are violating this commandment of Christ, especially the concept of “loving your neighbor as yourself”.. So, it matters much less whether you follow the 9 Marx’s “rules” of Baptism, or the Lutheran “rule”.. but whether you follow what Christ said… i.e. there is great “freedom” in Christianity, but equally great “ responsibility”
    finally, if I go around telling others that “my way” is the ONLY way, it seems that I am on verge ( or I am) of violating Christ’s commandment…

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  11. Jeffrey Chalmers: finally, if I go around telling others that “my way” is the ONLY way, it seems that I am on verge ( or I am) of violating Christ’s commandment…

    Yes.

    Additionally, the more PR & Clean-up Committee effort$$$ are required to recover from the circus & drama & mayhem over whatever “theological” wild goose chase the dogmatists lead, the more one suspects they may be veering off the rails. Red flag.

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  12. dee,

    The course is only an hour long but is excellent in summing Luther’s spiritual journey. Hannah uses lots of visuals that are iconic in Luther’s spiritual struggle and the peace he finds in justification by faith.

    I did my PhD in Reformation History and have been to all of these places. Hannah brilliantly puts it in understandable terms.

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  13. I remember an elder coming to me from a church and telling me that one was not a Christian until they were baptized because “that was when they received the Holy Spirit”. I pointed out the example in Acts, where it happened in the reverse order – and he said “I never saw that before” and left. A couple months later I went to a Christian conference (very non-denominational) and heard a pastor say “I don’t care if you were dunked, sprinkled or dry-cleaned.” I loved that…

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  14. I have friends who are believers who favor believer’s baptism and others who favor infant. I leant toward the former, but I decided long ago it’s a secondary issue. A baby baptism is almost the same as a baby dedication, except that water is involved. In both cases, parents are instructed to raise their child in the faith, which really is the point.

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  15. d4v1d,

    “Confirmation was not so much to develop faith as much as to ascertain (and confirm) that the parents and godparents had done their work. The 11 or 14 year old cradle-to-grave Baptist hasn’t converted at baptism either – it’s more a self confirmation as well.”

    I did a a believer’s baptism as an adult for precisely this reason. I was baptized as an infant, but my parents stopped going to church when I was six so I never had the chance to confirm it. This is how I had to explain it to my mother who thought that I was invalidating my infant baptism by undergoing the believer’s baptism so she would understand that I was trying to confirm what she did through my infant baptism.At least she gets it now. I’m not sure why the opposition when she took me out of church at such a young age although my parent’s divorce was the catalyst to that. Maybe it was only supposed to be temporary, but we just never went back. My husband also thought it was strange as he thought my infant baptism was sufficient. Again, he was also baptized as an infant, but went to church and parochial school his entire childhood so he was able to confirm his. I could have told them both I am a grown ass woman who doesn’t need to justify my relationship with the Lord to them, but phrasing it as a way to confirm my infant baptism worked a lot better :). Anyway, they now accept the reason I underwent the believer’s baptism so it is all good. My infant baptism was lutheran, but the believer’s baptism was non denominational.

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  16. Jack: No matter how nice your Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian neighbor is, if you’re not of their faith then officially they believe you’re going to heck.

    I’m sure you have reason to assume that, but it’s just not true. People don’t even necessarily think their own tradition is best. It might just be a place where a husband and wife from different backgrounds meet in the middle. A person might join because it’s a vibrant church close to their home, etc.

    Fundagelical and high-demand churches do certainly teach that everyone else has it eternally wrong. Many Christians, though, accept other Christians. Most traditions also believe that Jews remain the Chosen People, and the Old Covenant is still in effect. Some Christians are even universalists, or don’t believe in heck at all.

    See you upstairs. 🙂

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  17. Friend,

    Jack: “No matter how nice your Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian neighbor is, if you’re not of their faith then officially they believe you’re going to heck.”

    Friend: “…but it’s just not true.”

    “Fundagelical and high-demand churches do certainly teach that everyone else has it eternally wrong.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    this was a totally encouraging comment, Friend.

    but to confirm, just about all garden-variety churches i’ve attended have their message honed to strongly infer that only this church (and churches it associates with) are the right ones.

    of course, they never came out and said other churches were “wrong” or will miss the heavenly cut. but the message was unmistakable.

    so on the one hand there’s this mild alarm that you’re only safe in “this church”, yet you can’t really articulate why, and you know it is preposterous that only those who go for “this” micro-brand of christianity have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, no one else.

    yet, grave concern is clearly communicated about all others. (The sole purpose is to protect market share to fund the careers and power supply of the professional christians)

    it’s amazing how many contradictory thoughts and beliefs church culture breeds. and otherwise sensible human beings can house in their brains.

    such a crock o’ship.
    —————-

    “Many Christians, though, accept other Christians. Most traditions also believe that Jews remain the Chosen People, and the Old Covenant is still in effect. Some Christians are even universalists, or don’t believe in heck at all.

    See you upstairs. ”
    +++++++++++++

    now this is the totally encouraging part!!

    if i were a kite i’ll go soaring.

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  18. Friend: Fundagelical and high-demand churches do certainly teach that everyone else has it eternally wrong. Many Christians, though, accept other Christians.

    Wonder how much of this “we’re the real deal” church is $elf-interest for $elf-$urvival on the part of the leader$hip.

    What’s the $$$ benefit of infant baptism? (expansion via birthrate/rite?)
    What’s the $$$ benefit of adult baptism? (adults sign covenants, no dead weight?)

    “What is biblical, what is political, often tends to be driven by self-interest… I think it’s always appropriate to ask, ‘What kind of interest is that?'”
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/white-supremacy-christianity-robert-jones_n_5f19f5abc5b6296fbf3fc4f8

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  19. For many many years I went to a congregation that held that because Christians of good faith came to differing beliefs on baptism they would offer both infant & adult baptism & it would be up to the individual or family to decide which they went with. I thought this was profoundly sensible.

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  20. Ava Aaronson: What is the point of threats, in church of all places? The thought would be that church is voluntary and should be inviting.

    I agree, but that’s also perhaps a recent viewpoint. It also owes much to freedom of religion, since the US has not had an official religion since colonial times.

    Once you start listening for this, you’ll hear it often. I’ve heard people after a funeral say, “It’s too bad he didn’t know the Lord”—meaning that they just spent two hours praying for a dead friend who they believe is going to hell.

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  21. Beakerj: they would offer both infant & adult baptism

    I agree that it’s good to offer that choice openly to all. In my congregation, baptism is politely offered to new parents, but not expected or required. Likewise we offer open Communion to all, including tiny children.

    Sacraments are mysteries. Training, prerequisites, and forms in triplicate will never answer all of the questions. Sure, teach the faith, but don’t shove people into line or out of line.

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  22. Ava Aaronson: Not to be naive or trite here, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this. What is the point of threats, in church of all places?

    “If you can’t Love them into The Kingdom, SCARE THEM INTO THE KINGDOM!”
    — Christian AM radio in the Eighties

    Just the Christianese version of “Join Us Or DIE!” With lurid Visions of Eternal Hell and End Times Plagues to back it up. “OR ELSE!”

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  23. Lily Rose,

    Ah, there’s always a way to say “I’m better than you.”

    My town has a big historic church that offers tours (or did so in the Before Times). The docents are trained not to present beliefs as the One Truth. Instead they say things like, “Our tradition teaches…” or, “This represents…” It’s much easier for people to feel welcome there, and find something to enjoy, when they are not being corrected.

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  24. Fewer comments than I expected here. While I go to a Baptist church and like aspects of baptist theology, it is not the adult baptism aspect that attracts me to the theology.

    The mode of baptism is one topic on which I find it helpful to look back at the early Christian teaching in the Didache. “Chapter” seven is about baptism. Here is one translation into English: “[Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism.] And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.” How many churches today, of any variety, ask the baptizer and the baptizee to fast before baptism?

    There is plenty to read in the early Church Fathers on this topic. There is at least one tale of emergency baptism by sand within a group that was out of water and had a dying member, but I haven’t tracked that one back to the original text recently enough to know what text it comes from.

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  25. grberry,

    “Fewer comments than I expected here.”
    ++++++++++

    i’ll take that as a cue to ask is there any reason why a person can’t baptize themself?

    in some cases it could be necessary — being manhandled by multiple men in order to be baptized is not the brightest idea.

    in other cases, it could be a periodic spiritual practice, to renew one’s spirituality.

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  26. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    [It seems some folks can sit back and relax and *enjoy* a good horror film, too. While other folks have not found the path there, yet.]

    IAC, since church is a choice, choosing to not come under the spell/ruse of this fearmongering each week on Sunday morning seems like a healthy option. Better to just stick with the Bible, since it appears that Jesus just wasn’t into it.

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  27. ishy: I still hold to traditional Baptist believer’s baptism, but because I believe it is an ordinance, I don’t believe that people should be forced to do it one way or another just to join a church.

    However, it IS the Baptists’ tribal identification mark, which is why they (and all those nondenoms based on Baptists) get so bent out of shape over it. Like Married or Single Clergy, it announces Which Side You Are On.

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  28. Friend: I’m sure you have reason to assume that, but it’s just not true. People don’t even necessarily think their own tradition is best. It might just be a place where a husband and wife from different backgrounds meet in the middle. A person might join because it’s a vibrant church close to their home, etc.

    I agree but I don’t think most people read the fine print so if you are of a certain extraction then the official line is what it is.
    By the way there was a website where for something like $10 a month people would come and take care of pets after the rapture. In the faqs someone asked them how do they know they’ll be left behind. The folks running the site said they had taken measures to ensure they would not be raptured.
    Every Christian makes peace with the uncomfortable truths – the darker side of the bible. Doesn’t make it go away.

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  29. Ava Aaronson: Actually, working together works [in some places] on the mission field – for decades (maybe centuries?). Been there.

    That’s great. I think that you can have common goals but there’s still the official line. Individual results may vary. Interesting to note, my wife was raised in Asia. Most of the missionaries that came to their region stayed with an already established Christian community. Didn’t really mix any others. Often didn’t know the language or customs. Not all are like that. Some of the medical missions I’ve supported do great work but again results may vary.

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  30. Headless Unicorn Guy: However, it IS the Baptists’ tribal identification mark, which is why they (and all those nondenoms based on Baptists) get so bent out of shape over it. Like Married or Single Clergy, it announces Which Side You Are On.

    There’s a lot of charismatic and Pentacostal churches around where I live who also perform immersion, so I guess I don’t think it makes the Baptists all that distinctive. I realize that those traditions are probably Baptist offshoots, but many Baptists would be more horrified to associate with charismatics that mainline Christians.

    I haven’t seen any one institution create “better” Christians. The Christians who seem to live what they preach are rare, but not limited to any theology. Some of the worst “Christians” I’ve known were at seminary or Baptist pastors, which does make me more inclined to the more rigorous paths to being pastors in mainline denominations.

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  31. Jack: Every Christian makes peace with the uncomfortable truths – the darker side of the bible. Doesn’t make it go away.

    Likewise every person makes peace with the uncomfortable truths of their background—family, nationality, heritage, membership organizations, community. I went to schools that were “coincidentally” segregated because they were built in neighborhoods with whites-only covenants. Those covenants were later outlawed. As an adult, I was horrified when a real estate person hinted that they could find me property in an all-white neighborhood.

    We are allowed to improve, and to reject things that used to be acceptable and even mandated by law.

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  32. Friend: Likewise every person makes peace with the uncomfortable truths of their background—family, nationality, heritage, membership organizations, community. I went to schools that were “coincidentally” segregated because they were built in neighborhoods with whites-only covenants. Those covenants were later outlawed. As an adult, I was horrified when a real estate person hinted that they could find me property in an all-white neighborhood.

    We are allowed to improve, and to reject things that used to be acceptable and even mandated by law.

    Absolutely but the segregation you described is illegal. A vast improvement on society. The authoritarian faiths that we discuss and ostensibly every Christian to some degree or other still considers the bible holy scripture. The inspired and in some cases inerrant word.
    That is a source of much pain.
    Of course we talk about context and context is everything.
    But as we’ve seen with baptism, the same concept can lead to wildly different conclusions.
    What I’m trying to say is maybe there will come a time when the fine print doesn’t matter. But until then there will never be a ‘universal’ church.

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  33. elastigirl: but i’m going to be problematic myself and say why does someone have to do it to me?

    My authoritative answer comes from 5 minutes on Google and finding pics of some Latvians standing in a river. There is some belief that the Bible supports self-baptism, but most traditions hold that someone else has to do the job, i.e., someone they trained and licensed. (Emergency baptism falls outside the scope of this discussion.)

    Google also says that baptism has origins in cleansing rituals of Hebrew scriptures. The priests of those times cleansed themselves.

    Farther up in this thread, you also mentioned wanting to baptize yourself as a “periodic spiritual practice, to renew one’s spirituality.” This makes me think of the Jewish mikvah, which has more than one purpose. Maybe you could devise a ritual of renewal for yourself, and do that a few times a year. It could be like a solo retreat. Maybe a visit to a nearby lake with some readings and a simple meal after?

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  34. Jack: By the way there was a website where for something like $10 a month people would come and take care of pets after the rapture. In the faqs someone asked them how do they know they’ll be left behind. The folks running the site said they had taken measures to ensure they would not be raptured.

    I heard of that one!
    Given that last sentence (what “measures”?), I have a feeling it was not a completely-serious website.

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  35. Friend: This makes me think of the Jewish mikvah, which has more than one purpose.

    Think also of how scarce clean water could be in that ancient near-east culture, not for the wealthy and the Levitical clergy, but for the poor.
    Maybe because it (clean water) was not easy to come by, it added yet another dimension to the ritual Mikvah.

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  36. Jack,

    I was baptized as an infant in the PCA church and got confirmed (in my congregation growing up we learned catechism in Sunday school over several years and individually were allowed to choose when to pursue membership).

    Since I’ve been told by southern baptists, Christian church, and Pentecostal friends I’m not saved if I don’t get re-baptized as an adult, completely ignoring the public declaration of faith aspect of confirmation. And the fact that nowhere I can find in scripture does it say water baptism is required by salvation!

    I currently attend a church that practices believer’s baptism but allows people to join as members if they’ve been infant baptized/confirmed. But if I have children someday I want to have them baptized. In the PCA church it’s a commitment of the parents/family, and the congregation, to raise/support the child/adult in their faith journey.

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