Sunday, October 24, 2021

on baptizing children ...


A friend asked me what I thought about this below from her pastor:

Be Very Sure, No Change Is Random 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By this point, some of you are probably wondering, "Is this new guy going to change everything? Doesn't he know our history? Doesn't he appreciate our traditions?" Well, "No, yes, and yes."
But the truth is, those are reasonable questions. There have been a few changes made to "the way we've always done things." And I'm sure that over time there will be other changes as well. But be very sure, no change is random. It is always important to consider why we are doing something and to ask if the way in which we do it is consistent with why we do it. The method needs to match the message. How we do something in worship, or anywhere else in the church, should reinforce rather than contradict the message of what we are doing. The baptism this past Sunday is a prime example. 
When we bring a child forward for baptism, it is only because God has promised to be God not just to us but also to our children (Gen 17:7) and because the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ is for us and for our children (Acts 2:39). Trusting in God’s promises, we bring forward our children from within the community of faith to be baptized and claimed as part of the next generation of the family of the Triune God. During baptism, the congregation claims the baptized children as its own as it takes vows to help nurture them in the Christian faith by teaching them through word and example what it means to be a part of this family as it welcomes them into the life of Jesus. 
So rather than having the parents and child come from outside of the worshiping community, receive the baptism, and then be sent back outside the worshiping community that has just claimed the child as one of its own, we had the entire family take part in worship, step forward from within the community to present their child, and then be received back once again into the worshiping community, which better reflects what we say and believe about baptism. 
Everything we do in worship proclaims something about our theology. We need to make sure we are proclaiming and enacting a message that is faithful and consistent with what we believe. And so there may be other changes that take place along the way. After all, Jesus is at work in our midst, always calling all of us to the new thing that he is doing among us. I hope that we can all give each other some grace and be open to the Holy Spirit's work in and through IPC in the days and years ahead.
I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!
In Christ, 

My reply to my friend:

My thoughts on the baptism email ...

The Genesis quote was a covenant God made with Abraham, which had nothing to do with baptism, and the Acts quote is Peter telling Jews to accept the Christ baptism, which John the Baptist and Jesus said in the Gospels is in fire and spirit.

Small children are not ready to be in a church service, their minds are not yet developed enough, and unless they are infants and are unaware of what is being said, making them sit through a church service is child abuse. I learned that from being made by my mother to sit through church services when I was 10. 

If the child is an infant and starts crying during a church service - wonder why? - the mother stays in the nave with the screaming child, or she muzzles the rightfully-screaming child, or leaves with the child and delivers the rest of the congregation and the minister from the noise?

Jesus never baptized a child in the Gospels, and John the Baptist didn't baptize children. Did Paul? Peter? Any of the other disciples? 

I suppose a covenant between parents and a congregation and God to raise their child in a church is very good for churches' continued existence. Likewise, a similar covenant by parents to raise their children in Christianity. But then, did Jesus build even one church out of wood, stone and mortar? I don't recall reading in the Bible that he ever did. He was always in church.

Now if child baptism is a covenant to raise children in the ways of Jesus, then that is an excellent covenant. But to raise a child to believe all he/she had to do to gain eternal life, as opposed to dying and burning forever in hell, is to accept Jesus as Lord and savior and God's only begotten son, who was crucified, dead and buried, and rose again on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES ... Well, I don't recall Jesus ever said that in the Gospels about being saved by him.

Being baptized by Jesus is a real ordeal, as his disciples learned; as Paul, who was not a disciple, learned; as other people learned. Heck, those people, like, say, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, were roasted alive, like Jesus' disciples and Paul were roasted alive. Roasted many times, actually, by something over which they had no control.

I wonder if your minister talks about that kind of baptism on Sunday, or at any time with his congregants? I wonder if he himself ever got roasted in that way? I wonder, because I think if he had gotten roasted in that way, he would be an entirely different person than the pastor who wrote that letter to his congregants.

At some point in time, children in Christian families need to be prepared for what walking with Jesus, thus being saved by him, actually is. For that to happen, children's parents and ministers need to have experienced it themselves. Did Jesus not say in the Gospels, the way is difficult and the gate to life is narrow and few enter therein? Many are called, but few are chosen?

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