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Baptism


irreverance
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Reading another post made me think that this might be an interesting discussion.

 

What do you all think about baptism? What does it mean to you (as opposed to what does it mean in itself)? Given that understanding, how do you then think it best administered (if at all)?

 

(Out of respect for decency I will not even mention my irreverant vision of a grand water slide that shoots out of the side of a giant Jesus.)

Edited by XianAnarchist
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I gotta say that the water slide thing brings a whacky picture to mind.........

 

Actually, I don't think that baptism is necessary for salvation. I believe that salvation is actually an inner change, but baptism shows the world that you have/are making that change.

 

Also, I think that one baptism is enough. I was raised and spent most of my adult life as a southern baptist and they want to rebaptise for too many reasons, imo. If I was sincere the first time, then why should I redo it?

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ROFL Xian :P Somehow I got a picture of a giant Jesus (complete with blond hair and blue eyes) with a water slide coming out of his mouth (tongue) and dropping into a deep pool. Hey, it might at least wake us up briefly... that would be a positive! :lol:

 

Seriously, I don't intellectually see much point in baptism. I was baptised as an adult and was startled by the deep and intense emotional impact it had on me. It's not just a gesture IMO and experience. :) I like the covenant of infant baptism as it is consistent with my belief that we are ALL God's children; from a joining the church stance, adult baptism makes more sense, but this can be done in so many other ways.

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First, I think baptism is important....Jesus told us us to "make disciples...baptizing them..." When people came to faith in the Bible, they began looking for water to be baptised.

 

Sprinkled as an infant, I later struggled with whether or not to be "re-baptised."

As I searched the scriptures, what I saw was individuals choosing to be baptized (the Ethiopian eunuch, the Gentiles Peter ministered to in Acts 10). Even Jesus decided to be baptized....it was not done for him. This is what we call "believer's baptism." After much prayer, I chose to be baptised (immersed) based on MY decision to follow Jesus, not my parents' faith while I was an infant (although I certainly appreciate their heart and desire to raise me in the church)

 

I agree with Alethia that it is an outward show of what has already happened inside the believer. It is a symbol that the old self is buried, and the new creation is raised.

 

I think this outward expression to the public can be a huge moment in a believer's life. It should be celebrated, and the church should never tire of seeing baptisms!

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I view baptism as one of the special ways that God has chosen to show divine grace.

 

Since we are all God's children, I support the practice of infant baptism.

 

Baptism also serves as a reminder of our Faith Tradition's Jewish roots as the concept of a ritual cleansing using water is deep in Jewish tradition.

 

Since I see baptism as an act of divne grace, I don't support the concept of "re-baptism" as God's grace never fails and God made no mistake the first time.

That said, I see no problem with an adult re-affirming her or his baptism if they wish to. However, theologically I can't support "a second baptism".

 

As to the form that is used - as long as it is respectful, I don't care.

 

So to me - Baptism is a special way that God has chosen to show God's love to all God's children.

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Seriously, I don't intellectually see much point in baptism. I was baptised as an adult and was startled by the deep and intense emotional impact it had on me. It's not just a gesture IMO and experience

 

Cynthia-

 

Is this a mis-type? It just seems these comments are somewhat contradictory--that there's not much point, and yet that it obviously was very important and moving for you. Just wondering.

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You know I started the original thread, and at the time really saw no point in it, and it had sort of a negative connotation to me (that is of born agains saying "In the name of the father-- dunk, in the name of the son-- dunk, and the holy ghost-- dunk sputter gasp")

Another thing is that I have never seen an adult baptism (except on tv or the movies).

But my feelings about things have changed. However, I am a little nervous about being the first one (in my experience anyway).

 

I wasn't baptised as an infant btw.

 

--des

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"But my feelings about things have changed. However, I am a little nervous about being the first one (in my experience anyway)."

 

:blink: Can you be anything but first in your own experience... at least, at first :D ???

 

I found it to be emotional in a positive and moving way. Nothing scary, just an unexpected DEEP connection.... and teary eyes... :) I got sprinkled (well, actually patted), not dunked btw

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I was baptized as an adult in '98. I identified as a Christian (albeit an odd one) before said cool event. This, of course, led to interesting discussions/arguments in seminary as to whether one had to be baptized in order to claim a Christian identity. But, alas, seminary is filled with lots of what I would consider to be propaganda to condition future pastors to push membership.

 

Anyway, back to the baptism.

 

I'm PC(USA). We'll do pretty much any form of baptismal ceremony (sprinkling or immersion in a sanctuary or at a river) as long as it is done within the context of communal worship. However, according to our Confessions (theological herigate), apparently it used to be the case that we only did sprinkling because that's the way Moses consecrated the people (with blood, not water).

 

I'm personally fond of sprinkling.

 

What does it mean to me? That depends on my mood. For me, I'd say primarily it is the way that Christians liturgically celebrate God's claiming power and enter into distinct community. Because my life has led me to believe that God's claiming power through sovereign love is beyond our awarness and not ultimately contingent upon our response, I believe in infant baptism. What better way to say that we are all ultimately like infants in our awarness of the divine depths of the greater Reality in which we are immersed. We see only in part, and even what we can see we can barely grasp. So, through the liturgy we are also saying something distinct about God identity as we claim our own.

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I think baptism as done in churches misses the point. The inward change is a life long journey so for baptism to suggest that someone *Has* changed (past tense) is deceptive and suggests that they are done changing. I see it as a meaningless ritual, like wearing crosses and taking communion that has lost its meaning through out the ages.

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How could baptism and communion, both commanded by Jesus, be meaningless? (He led by example in both, btw). Now certainly over the years we could miss the meaning, perform them casually, diminish their meaning,etc. So WE could get it wrong, I agree. But did Jesus, the one we follow, get it wrong?

 

I agree that baptism should not be a destination, but a "jumping off" point, the beginning of a new life, spent trying to "walk as He walked" in love, compassion, prayer, obedience.

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I don't think anyone was arguing Jesus got it wrong, but more that his followers in an attempt to institutionalize his teachings got them institutionalized into meaningless behavior following patterns. Yes it is WE who get it wrong, though not always we as individuals (that can be so as well).

 

I think the institutional representation of Baptism-- or perhaps a media based representation-- is what I have been reacting to.

 

--des

 

How could baptism and communion, both commanded by Jesus, be meaningless? (He led by example in both, btw).  Now certainly over the years we could miss the meaning, perform them casually, diminish their meaning,etc.  So WE could get it wrong, I agree.  But did Jesus, the one we follow, get it wrong?

 

I agree that baptism should not be a destination, but a "jumping off" point, the beginning of  a new life, spent trying to "walk as He walked" in love, compassion, prayer, obedience.

Edited by des
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How could baptism and communion, both commanded by Jesus, be meaningless?

 

First, are you sure Jesus commanded both? Seeing as how the Gospels were written after the Pauline letters are you sure that they aren't examples of where the early Church put words in Jesus' mouth?

 

Secondly, are you sure you understand what was being done and said at the "last supper?" (Assuming it was a historical event). Are you sure you understand what happened when Jesus was baptized?

 

That is how it could be meaningless.

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Well there is that too, October. I wasn't even getting into that. I was assuming Jesus had wanted it and so on. But even assuming Jesus commanded it, something can still be made meaningless by an institutionalized response. Full of the "letter" and none of the "spirit".

 

I do see that happening. I have been very disappointed with communion since leaving the church in Illinois where we got around the table and it was so intimate and meaningful. They pass the bread and grape juice around the pews-- and I don't see anything special in it. I still participate, and I don't see it as totally meaningless, but imo it has lost a lot of meaning.

(The one thing I am happy about is not sharing a wine cup with a large no. of other people.I don't care how many napkins wipe it off.)

 

 

 

--des

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Sounds like we all agree that man (or woman) can and has often taken what Jesus meant and misconstrued it, or added to it, or taken from it, or just generally messed it up.

 

As to whether Jesus really said those things....

 

This is a deeper question that has arisen on this board before. For me, if that question is valid, then it's also valid to question the other things attributed to Jesus. Maybe He really didn't say "do unto others"; "forgive 70 times 7"; "you cannot serve God and mammon"; "blessed are the peacemakers"; etc. Perhaps these too are examples of where the early church put words into Jesus' mouth.

 

I acknowledge that all factions of the church, no matter which particular bent, can be guilty of championing those particular ideas we like or agree with in the Bible, and pushing aside or diminishing those ideas that don't particularly sit well with our belief system.

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Sounds like we all agree that man (or woman) can and has often taken what Jesus meant and misconstrued it, or added to it, or taken from it, or just generally messed it up.

 

Agreed.

 

I also agree with you Darby that if we are going to call ourselves Christians, and if the only record we have of Jesus is in what we call the New Testament (and some would say the coptic and gnostic writings), then we need to be willing to give a little credence to what the NT has to say. (I'm not saying anyone here is suggesting tossing out the Jewish or Christian scriptures, but I have spoken to liberal Christians who pretty much espouse that idea.)

 

And yes, I do believe in mystical experience and I believe that the Spirit can "speak to" individuals (which the Bible also says), but I think what the scriptures say about Jesus needs to enter into it somewhere. It's taken me a long time to move past my "fundamentalist" AND my liberal views of the Bible (which for a very long time I thought were my only two choices.) :)

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I think baptism as done in churches misses the point. The inward change is a life long journey so for baptism to suggest that someone *Has* changed (past tense) is deceptive and suggests that they are done changing. I see it as a meaningless ritual, like wearing crosses and taking communion that has lost its meaning through out the ages.

I suspect that many churches do. However, if we look at the origin of baptism, I think we find that it pointed us in a different direction.

 

Background part:

 

In Judaism, water baptism was associated with ritual cleansing rather than entry into a covenant community. It was circumcision that identified one as being part of the Jewish people. One did not enter into the covenant community as a "clean" or "pure" being, but rather a being-in-process. Ritual cleansings, then, served as a liturgical way of expressing that becoming that happens inside the community.

 

In mystery religions, as best we can tell, the story is as follows: A diety or son of a diety enters into our world. This diety/son is rejected and slain. The diety/son raises/is raised in vindication. Those who want to follow this risen diety/son go through a time of purification before they enter into the pure community. The initiation ritual is that of baptism, through which the initiates are baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of the diety/son. Once inside the community, they are allowed to share a communal meal (often bloody meat I believe) through which they partake of the body and blood of the risen diety/son, thus having bestowed upon them eternal life.

 

The key here is the understanding of purity. From the Jewish perspective, the community is not so much a community of the pure as it is a community where purification happens. In the mystery religions, purification happened on the outside and being pure was something that was required to be part of the already purified community.

 

When I look at the origins of baptism, I see an attempt at liturgical and theological syncretism that says "the God whom we worship is the God of all people." However, their understanding rejects the standard mystery religion understanding of the intended makeup of divine community in favor of embracing a distinctly Jewish understanding.

 

Of course, as the first century came closer to an end, the Jewish leaders gave the Christians the boot and Christianity took in more gentile converts. As a result, we see a drastic shift in the meaning of baptism. The catecumenate arose and people were expected to be purified before baptism in order to maintain purity within the community. Hence, Christian baptism came to abandon it's original Jewish theological roots in favor of the mystery religions understanding.

 

So, I would argue that originally, Christian baptism was intended to make a distinct contextual statement: the life of Christian faith is not about being a pure/holy individual, but about a process of becoming pure/holy within the context of human community.

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Those who want to follow this risen diety/son go through a time of purification before they enter into the pure community. The initiation ritual is that of baptism, through which the initiates are baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of the diety/son.

 

I find it highly ironic that JW's, who do so very much to avoid anything having "pagan" connotations (no Christmas, halloween or birthdays, no saying "bless you" after sneezes, no throwing rice at weddings) embrace the "mystery religion" (ie pagan) view of baptism. All who are baptised must be of an age to demonstrate that they understand what sin is and that they are avoiding engaging in any sinful behavior. All candidates must study (with a teacher) at least two books (published by the WTS) that teach the JW view of the Bible (usually takes about 2 years). All baptismal candidates are interviewed by congregational elders and have to answer a series of questions pertaining to sin, purity and doctrine.

 

I know most churches operate the same way, but not many denominations are as concerned about cleansing all pagan customs from the practice of Christianity as JW's are. Hmmm, maybe I should send them an email? ;) I wonder what they would do, reinstitute daily baptisms as ancient Jews did in order to be more "Biblical"?

 

I wonder if Jesus, being Jewish, was (1) baptised more than once or (2) if he intended to start a new custom?

 

The question of just how "Jewish" Christianity really is (ala NT Wright) has been bugging me over the past few days. Some days I find it very enlightening to look at Jesus (and the New Testament) through completely "Jewish lenses." Other days I wonder if Jesus being Jewish was just a "coincidence." I've read a couple of good articles this past week as to why Jews truely do not believe Jesus was their messiah and I've read a couple of good articles as to why some believe Christianity is not Jewish in origin at all (not syncrestic to Judaism) (outside of Jesus being Jewish), but is actually a mystery religion that just happens to have some Jewish flavor. I'm so confused! :blink::D

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