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Monday, November 12, 2007

On Baptism…

This post has taken many forms in the past few weeks. And I’ve shared some of my struggles within with my Mom. The issue being infant baptism. You see, the child I am carrying will be the first, in likely 400 years, in my family to be baptized as an infant. My dad’s side of the family has a long and prideful tradition of pietism. (We persecuted Catholics in England and were kicked out accordingly because we engaged in treason while doing so.) So, I am developing my arguments and am subjecting my readers to said arguments to hone them.

I really like what The Albino Peacock had to say about Lutheran theology here . “Lutheran theology can be a hard concept to grasp because everywhere we go in this world and everything we do, we are required to do something in exchange for something else. We may even find ourselves hesitating to received good things from other people for fear that we will “owe” them something in return. Likewise, people want to feel like they have a responsibility in God’s plan of salvation for mankind. This is where Lutherans differ from all other Christians. Lutherans DO absolutely nothing to receive God’s salvation. We don’t have to make a “choice”, we don’t pray the “sinner’s prayer”, we don’t do penance, we don’t have to speak in tongues, we don’t have to fear purgatory or work to pray those we love out of purgatory. We don’t have to do anything in exchange for God’s gift of salvation. It is ours free and clear. We know how to receive. We receive in Baptism, we receive in Communion, we receive in Worship. And, we don’t do any of these things for God. But God does everything for us. He gives us His Holy Spirit, He gives us faith, He gives us forgiveness and we do not have to DO anything in order to receive it. Some may argue that Lutheran Baptism is a work toward righteousness. It is not. It is the pure and simple act of receiving alone. Likewise, Communion is purely and simply receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord for forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith alone.”
The misunderstanding is that Holy Baptism is a work of Josh and me or the work of Pastor. No. Baptism is a work of God administered by Pastor. What do we receive in Baptism? We receive the grace of God and the forgiveness of our sins.

I’m not going to go off an into the “Well, what if Baby doesn’t learn to repent of sins… rebels against God… rejects God?” Because when I do so, I become very uncharitable towards particular Evangelicals. The point is, I do not reject the pure gospel teaching, but it is not I that accepts the teaching, rather the Spirit that leads me in it. And if others reject the pure gospel teaching, then so be it. I have to remember it is not me they are condemning (OK, it is me they're rejecting as well), rather the pure gospel teaching.

7 Comments:

  • At 6:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Your Lutheran roots are showing. The Bible says absolutely NOTHING about INFANT baptism. Until your child reaches the age of accountability he is not responsible for his sins. Baptism is an outward showing of an inward regeneration. Baptism is a futile effort until that happens. I hope this helps!

     
  • At 10:06 AM , Blogger Liz said...

    If you read the rest of the blog, I do not have Lutheran Roots. I grew up in the Evangelical Free Church.

    And I would beg to differ that people are not responsible for their sins before the age of accountability.

     
  • At 5:02 PM , Blogger Liz said...

    Hey Anon... I'll get back to your issues later. I have a very LONG post on your objections to infant baptism, but I need to fix the links up a bit and I have Bible Study tonight.

     
  • At 6:02 PM , Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

    Of course I figured Baby would be receiving baptism, but I suppose with your background it *is* something "different."

     
  • At 6:03 PM , Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

    Oh, and for Anon: what does the Bible say the "age of accountability" is???

     
  • At 6:29 PM , Blogger Liz said...

    I do have a *different* background, but my upbringing makes me appreciate the Confessions more.

     
  • At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    There is not one single place anywhere in the Bible recording the baptism of a child. Not one! When Philip was baptizing (Acts 8:12), it says, “they were baptized, both men and women.” There is no mention of children being baptized in this account. Children are simply not mature enough to comprehend baptism.
    The Bible command is to “repent” and “believe.” Babies and young children are not capable of believing, or even understanding, the gospel of the kingdom of God. They cannot comprehend a great, world-ruling government, led by Christ and the resurrected saints, coming to replace the governments of this world. This is beyond a child’s ability to understand. Can a child really understand that Christ died for his sins? Is a child mature enough to understand the symbolism of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and how it is paralleled in the baptism ceremony? Can a child comprehend receiving God’s Spirit, as a begettal in the mind—let alone all that this begettal should set in motion in his or her life? Obviously, not.

    Babies have nothing to repent of, though young people have certainly done many things that they can, at least partially, see were wrong. It is true that many children are capable of temporary, shallow feelings of regret or remorse, but these are soon forgotten in the carefree world of a child’s life. Children quickly wander off to other things. I have never seen a child capable of understanding the meaning of baptism. Children are no more likely to endure the commitment involved in becoming a true follower of Jesus Christ than they are committed to marrying any boyfriend or girlfriend that they may have had in their young lives.
    While some teenagers may mature earlier than others, most people do not reach true adult maturity until at least their early twenties. Age 18 is the minimum age at which a person is capable of grasping what baptism means. Adults should not delay upon reaching repentance, but young people should delay, sometimes several years before taking the step of baptism.

    When the self-righteous, hypocritical Pharisees came to John the Baptist for baptism, he told them, “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). They were adults. Young people also need to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.” I do not say this because young people are Pharisaical, but rather because they need time to see their own sincerity and conviction deepen. Young people need to know beyond any shadow of doubt that they have repented. Otherwise, they will lack the necessary confidence later that God has given them His Holy Spirit.

    The path that we will travel on the way to the kingdom of God will require us to know with absolute certainty that we have God’s Spirit in us, helping us in every time of need!

     

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