Friday, August 25, 2006
We had our first baptism recently using the new fountain that stands out in front of the church. Through study and prayer, I have come to realize that a covenantal understanding of baptism, which also includes children and infants as candidates for baptism, is the most biblical approach.
The argument for a covenantal approach to baptism goes something like this: Circumcision is the mark of the Old Covenant. And, in the Old Covenant, infants were "baptized" or "marked." Baptism is the mark of the new covenant and water replaces the knife, telling us that instead of being included based on the mark of cutting a foreskin, which designates or points to Abraham's seed, we will be marked by water which points to the death of Christ and the washing away of sins through his death.
As Colossians 2:9-12 says, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead."
What is important to see here, besides the fact that baptism signifies inclusion in the rights and privileges that Christ's death brings, is that baptism does not save us. Instead, Paul tells us that we are included in the new covenant through baptism, but made alive in Christ through faith. When we look at baptism from a covenantal perspective, it becomes clear that baptism and faith need to go together, but do not equal one another. Hence, just as the circumcised Jew, cut on the eighth day after birth, needs to come to an individual faith (see Jacob and Esau) so to does the Christian baptized as an infant, need to come to individual faith in Christ in order to receive salvation.
Since the Old Covenant makes no stipulation for adult inclusion based on faith first, then circumcision, why would we exclude babies from the receiving the mark of the New Covenant and then make stipulations only for adult inclusion based on faith first, and then baptism? It is consistent with the whole of Scripture (based on the pattern set forth in the Old Covenant) to baptize infants with the mark of the New Covenant and to then await the time when the person comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
For more on the subject of infant baptism, I would highly recommend John Sartelle's Infant Baptism.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
When I was a kid, me and my sister would get in these arguments. I would say, "Yes it is" and she would say, "No it's not." Then it would progress into, "Yes it is no it's not Yes it is no it's not Yes it is no it's not Yes it is no it's not Yes it is no it's not." We were passionate about truth. Either it was my turn or she cut the line. Somewhere along the road to adulthood things became more complex. We learned how to rationalize meaning we convinced ourselves that smoking pot was ok because we wanted to do it. This lead to more sophisticated forms of sophistry like pretendeding that absolute truths were constructs of culture and ended up saying bizarre things to close friends like, "That may be true for you but for me..." When it all comes down to it, we either live in a world where we all get to make up our own rules and do whatever we want (cut in line, smoke illegal substances, and create our own realities despite the consequences to ourselves or others) or there are some guidelines to the universe; 1. Love Your Maker, 2. Do not Make up false deities that suite who you think God should be, 3.Do not Defame the name of the One who gave you life, 4. Make one day a day that honors the one who gives us rest, 5. Honor moms and dads and your mom and dad, 6. Do not lie, 7. Do not murder, 8. Do not sleep with anyone but your spouse, 9. Do not steal, 10. Do not lust after other peoples stuff. Maybe today is a good day to be honest about Truth or just try (go ahead and try) to reconcile yourself to a world where we all get to do whatever we want whether that means being cruel or kind.
I am 3/4 of the way through The Wedge of Truth. Thus far, it is amazing. Every Christian who is serious about their faith ought to read this book...