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 • email@example.com • 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.
- 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!@