Divided or united on baptism, you decide
Well, happy day. Or actually—happy days.
Two young couples are having their young babies baptized this month on back to back Sundays. Both couples recognize God’s gift in their newborns. Professing their faith to God, they want to ensure eternal safety with their son in one case, and their daughter in the other.
One of the dads messaged me just days after the birth. High on his list is this baptism.
Neither couple attends church but all four are pulled by the strong, inward desire to let God’s love be known—and shown. To do this, they are invoking God’s care and eternal protection into the health and wellbeing of their child.
I don’t know where you are on this because baptism has been what it has always been, a divisive subject. (Hmmm… we wonder why these young couples aren’t in church.)
For some, alarms are now going off. They are procedures and regulations! Theology is to be secured. Precise language needs to be spoken. When were the parents saved? Infant baptism, what? That’s not everyone’s tradition.
Yikes! Everybody—and I do mean everybody—take a breath. The heat over baptism is not new.
In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul identifies two detractors from the cross of Christ. The first is cleverness of speech which can elevate a slick speaker above the Savior. In contrast, Paul keeps his words simple so everyone can understand. Why? He wants our salvation to rest solely on the power of God (2 Corinthians 2:1-5).
The other detractor for Paul is baptism. To him, it causes divisions in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Believers were becoming disciples (students) of Apollos, Peter and Christ. To this, Paul says, “Ut-uh.” His mission was to bring people to a united faith in Christ.
Because of space here, I need to quickly no one has the corner market on baptism. If this slaps the face of absolutism, consider our anthropocentric God and this truth: we are looking through a mirror dimly.
Baptize a baby? Baptize an early teen? Scripture is not answering this directly, therefore I can’t either.
But I can ask if you’re united or divided on this. I suggest we open conversation on the subject of baptism. We have an opportunity to listen to—and honor—the request these young parents are making.
Do these whippersnappers hold prophetic wisdom and Christian doctrine firm in their minds? No. But I do I—really? Does this stop me from joining their joy? Absolutely not. Does this act enable all present to be a part of the divine experience? Absolutely yes.
Let God be God. Jews, Gentiles, slick talkers, young parents, old ladies, teenage boys… let our ever-teaching always reaching Holy Spirit use baptisms to humble us to an ignorance we should profess in the face of the Divine all the while drawing all of us to Him. Like Paul, I’ll use what God gives me to draw people to Jesus. With or without a baby and holy water, do the same.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on August 15, 2018.