Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The heart of our debate…

Before I post “Baptism 4,” which is still undergoing fact checking, I thought I’d address the heart of what Anonymous is trying to say, “Baptism is not your get out of Hell Free Card.” I would also argue that neither is reciting the sinner’s prayer, even if you REALLY REALLY mean it with ALL your HEART and SOUL.

At risk of sounding self-righteous like the Corinthians when they debated who they follow, be it Paul, Peter, Apollo, or as the “truly sanctified” would say, “We follow Christ,” I was saved 2,000 years ago when Christ died for my sins and rose again. Otherwise, how could Christ say, “It is finished.”

Now, Lutherans do not believe, it is my understanding though I could be wrong, in the Calvinist double predestination where by God not only chooses His followers but also chooses who goes to Hell. Lutherans believe God chooses His followers and WE choose Hell for ourselves.

So, how do you not choose Hell? We can’t do anything other then choose Hell. We cannot earn our salvation. We are all sinners, deserving of eternal damnation in Hell. As scripture says, “The wages of sin is death.”

How do you become a follower of Christ? That is a good question and I believe there are different answers. For example, let’s say you have two devout eighteen year old Christians, one of Lutheran tradition and one of Baptist tradition. And they are sharing their testimonies. Both, by the fruit of their lives are obviously Christians. In their discussion, the issue of “when did you first believe” comes up. And the Lutheran says, “Well, you know, I can’t remember not believing.” And, though the Baptist was told when they said the sinner’s prayer, they say, “You know, I also have no memory of not believing in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.” They ponder this. And this much reflects my faith journey. My parents taught me from my infancy the scripture and I can’t remember not believing. So, my spiritual walk, if you will, started at my birth.

Now, what of someone who didn’t grow up in the faith and receive pure teaching from infancy? The conversion, by nature, is easy to describe. There is a point in time when original repentance occurs and follows by baptism.

I believe in regenerative baptism. In other words, I believe ALL baptism is regenerative, even adult baptism. Regenerative baptism doesn’t “save” me as Anonymous is trying to claim my belief is. No. The sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus is what saves me. Baptism is one of the means by which God bestows his Grace upon us for the forgiveness of sins (the other, Holy Communion). I believe that people receive the Holy Spirit at baptism. And I believe that an infant’s spiritual journey begins at baptism. Now, to clarify more, I am not entirely sure if baptism should be administered to infants in non-Christian families. I trust God in His mercy in regards to those souls. Part of the baptismal vows is that parents vow to bring their children up in the faith, and I don’t think non-Christian families can make such a vow. However, I am all in favor of the tragic baby is dying at the hospital and the parents want Baby baptized… that’s different, in my opinion.

I also want to clarify that I do not believe baptism is the only way a person receives the Holy Spirit. I did not receive the Holy Spirit through baptism. The Holy Spirit was at work in my life before then, as such, I am not arguing baptism is the only way to receive the Holy Spirit.

Finally, how does a Lutheran receive assurance of salvation? You remind a Lutheran to cling to their baptism where they received the grace of God for the forgiveness of sins. Remind the Lutheran that when they repent of their sins each Sunday and receive absolution for their sins, they are reminded that those who repent of their sins receive the promise of eternal life.

I think Anonymous’s family and my family could be friends. In other words, I think I’d like the Anonymous family very much and our children could play together without sinful influence and we adults can all sit down around tea and a fruit tray and have a great old time. I think Anonymous is probably a very responsible citizen and makes a good member of Anon’s community. However, I think Anonymous is being overly gracious with the age of accountability, particularly in the violent culture we are living in.

I don’t think Anonymous means that this 17 year old multiple sex offender is not responsible for his sins. I also don’t think Anonymous means that school-aged mass murders are not responsible for their sins. I think Anonymous is observing the “good kids” around Anon and when talking about the age of accountability.

I’ve taken some statistics classes, and when setting up a statistical test, you have two hypothesis; the commonly accepted truth and what we think is really going on. For example, it is commonly accepted that 12 ounce boxes of Brand X cereal are really 12 ounces. But, if you are a Weight Watchers person and measure everything, you observe after awhile that you are not getting 12 ounces of cereal out of Brand X boxes. So, you propose a test that at the production line, they take every 10th box to see if there are really 12 ounces of cereal going in. It turns out that the company was stiffing you of three ounces of cereal! As such, the company remedied the situation and now you are getting your full 12 ounces worth.

World wide, the commonly accepted truth about the state of mankind is that man is generally “good.” This is why we have ages of accountability and we have a hard time admitting little babies are sinners, or even our own need for salvation for our sins. With regards to the age of accountability, all I need to demonstrate kids are responsible for their sins is point out some teenage murders and rapists. With regards to small children, all I need to do is say, “You punish your kids when they disobey, don’t you?”

To be an honest person, one must look into the mirror of the Law. Jesus quotes the commandment against murder, but then goes on to say that if anyone calls his brother fool, he deserves damnation. And when one honestly acknowledges their true state, that they are evil by nature, they must then repent of their sins and ask God forgiveness for the sake of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and ask the Holy Spirit to help them leave their life of sin.

Coming soon… On Baptism 4… (Where I address the conspiracy theory Eric from On the Wittenberg Trail pointed out in the comments to On Baptism 3 , but I want my facts in order, or at least more in order then what they are)


  • At 12:51 PM , Blogger Uncle Ben said...

    That humans are by nature good is one of the more pernicious lies of our era. If it is accepted as truth it's tough to get much of anything else right.

  • At 12:05 AM , Blogger Kelly Klages said...

    On the whole "get out of Hell free card" thing:

    Q: “Infant baptism seems to just give people a ‘free pass’ to heaven. Shouldn’t there be more to a person’s conversion than that? Plenty of people think that because they’ve been baptized they can do anything they want and don’t have to grow in their faith.”

    A: There are a lot of issues to deal with in this question. First of all, the first objection is very telling: “How dare we think of God giving people a free pass to heaven! Surely at least a little bit of our salvation is dependent on our own work or intentions?” The answer is a resounding “No!” Salvation is completely a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a very good thing that we get “free passes” to heaven through Christ, or we’d never get there!

    Second, there is obviously more to a person’s life of faith than the ten minutes of their baptismal ceremony. Baptism inaugurates this life, and then faith must be continually fed and nourished by God’s Word for it to grow strong. We are completely and totally justified in Christ when we receive his Gospel in faith through Baptism– we are converted. But we also experience conversion throughout our Christian lives as we are regularly convicted of our sins through the Law and receive forgiveness through the Gospel. This is a pattern throughout our lives, not a one-time event. A person may not be baptized and then neglect God’s Word for the rest of their lives. To do so is to let God’s gift of faith wither and die, and to reject Christ and his forgiveness and to fall away.

    Simply because there are people who abuse God’s gift of Baptism does not mean that Baptism has no validity. The Gospel and God’s other many gifts to us are often misused, but they are no less precious and true because some misuse them. Anyone who would regard Baptism as a ritual that saves them in spite of their current lack of faith and despising of God is fooling themselves and is living contrary to God’s Word.

    ....I wrote a nearly-50-page Q&A document on the subject of Baptism, as an easy-to-read thing that addresses many commonly asked questions and misperceptions people have about Baptism. If you'd like to see more of it, it's here:

  • At 6:27 PM , Blogger Liz said...

    Thanks Kelly!


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