Monday, December 14, 2009

New Theological Treasure Hunting...Baptism

I must confess that I have forgotten about this blog. It has always been an avenue of expressing myself theologically as I deal with different things in God's Word, His wisdom, and the discernment and revelation by the Holy Spirit. There are some things I am now unsettled about and I am wrestling with the concept of BAPTISM. It's not that I don't believe in baptism or immersion. My question is that: Do we really understand biblical baptism and its meaning?

I belong to a Southern Baptist Church and feel like my beliefs are comparable to the Baptist Faith and Message ( With the name "Baptist" in the denomination, there must be some great importance on the theological meaning of this act. There is so much in God's Word about baptism, that I believe we overlook it. We also need to look at some history of theologians and what they said....starting with Martin Luther, a major player in the Reformation, who stood against infant baptism which was and is the practice of churches; who sought true understanding of baptism:

"Baptism is first of all a sign of the death and resurrection of the believer with Jesus Christ. But it is much more than a sign, for by its power we are made members of the body of Christ. Baptism and faith are closely tied, for the rite itself without faith is not valid. But this does not mean that one must have faith before being baptized, or that infants capable of faith ought not to be baptized. To come to such conclusion, Luther declares, would be to fall into the error of believing faith to be a human work, something we must do, and not a free gift of God.

In salvation, the intiative is always God's, and this is precisely what the church proclaims in baptizing infants who are incapable of understanding what is taking place. Baptism is not only the beginning of the Christian life, but also the foundation and the context in which the entire life of the believer takes place. Baptism is valid, not only when it is received, but throughout life. we are told that Luther himself said, "I am baptized", when he felt sorely tried. In his own baptism lay the strength to resist the powers of evil."
*taken from The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez, Volume 2, page 34

So, what is your understanding of baptism? Where do you get that understanding from?
I want to blog about this in the coming months to explain what I have found.
I hope that you will dig in with me!! God Bless, Brian


beaves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beaves said...

OK. So it's official. I have now become of follower of this blog. Not because of this particular post, more so because of recently figuring out how to!

So today we're talking baptism. The one time a person can actually get all of his family to come to church? It does seem that way sometimes. Don't assume this is pesimistic thinking. This does seem to be the case in so many lives. A person accepts the Lord, professes their faith, schedules a baptism and then sends out invitations to the event. Family gathers, sometimes taking up two whole pews! And then after that it's back to life as we know it. Some of those people may never set foot in a church again. I know the baptism is an outward symbol of a new believer's faith. But...(agreeing with you) the act should be so much more about the meaning and the about the significance of the baptism and less about the actual act. I agree the act is important as a marker of a new chapter in an individual's life, but as Christians we should use it as a tool to begin to help those new believers continue their growth. I have always thought the words and images you use during a baptism are both meaningful and proper for a new believer's ears. The salt and the light... let their journey begin.

Gene Pool said...

Pastor Brian,

One of the understandings I have about Christian baptism is it is a public profession that we have died to our old self and risen to a new life where Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. It is one of our (many) witnesses both to other believers and to the unbelieving community in which we live--something done because our Lord commanded it to be done.

To be a witness to the unbelieving community (much of which will never set foot in a church building) why do we concealed it from those unbelievers in a baptistery inside four walls? Why don’t we conduct baptisms outside in front of the building...or in a local pond, where everyone could view it? As testimony, the one being baptized should joyfully shout at the top of his voice, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Gene Pool