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Posts Tagged ‘infant baptism’

Water baptism is controversial among various denominations, from dunking to sprinkling, from adults to infants, required or not required, and so on. But, according to Peter, it can be symbolic, it can be a moment in time when the person says, “Yes, from this day forth . . . ”

I Peter 1:21a
. . . and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

I suppose then, if parents want to mark a day for their babies (at Christenings and dedications and such), is that a bad thing? Does the infant have an unclear conscience, not really. Is the day meaningful for the child, no. But it can be important for the parents on behalf of the child and whatever has gone before that child’s birth. Perhaps they need to mark a moment in time to let go of former circumstances or negative thoughts about the child, this bundle of life that has changed their lives forever. Perhaps they need to make a pledge that day, to move forward and not look back. I like the idea although I doubt it’s a concept shared with young parents. Wish it were.

Now, as to adults and baptism . . .

When I made the decision, some thirty years ago, to become a follower of Christ, I was “all in” except for the church thing. It took me several months before I could go through any of those motions or rituals. My childhood experiences with people of the church and its liturgies had been discouraging. Eventually, I did attend a church in Manhattan, an anachronism to say the least (beehive hairdo’s, long black dresses on the women, knee thumping gospel, etc.). But after some weekly exposure to the Pentecostal teaching, I was drawn to being water baptized as an adult.

Even then, with little understanding of Christian norms, I knew it was a symbol; it was a personal gesture; it was an act of submission to God; it was an agreement between us; it was my pledge to let go of everything that had gone before and to move forward with God and Christ. It was a “yes.”

Do I believe I could be a Christ follower without the dunking pool? I do. Did it seem odd and a little ridiculous at the time? It did. Was I self-conscious of its process? I was.

But I am not sorry I did it. And in a way, I’m thinking water baptism should be considered as an act that can be done more often, much like communion, as an expression of intent, an agreement, a promise.

This, too, then is a “start-over.” It makes a lot more sense when we re-examine the baptisms that John the Baptist ran before Jesus had even started his ministry. It was a gesture of hope back then too.

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