Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Baptism. This is a thing I received almost no instruction on or dialogue about in seminary. Strange. Because baptism is the coming-together of several areas of theology. The Reformers wrote a lot about it. With baptism, we have the touching of soteriology, anthropology, ecclesiology and pneumatology. A normal application of the Great Commission compels us to see this as a command for the church, for church leaders and for all believers in Christ. There is an urgency in the New Testament accounts. There is no evidence of delay being taught or accommodated. But there also seems to be a strange lack of didactic teaching about it. We are left to hammer out our own theology of baptism, and thus, the widely divergent views on the subject. But for the lack of conversation about it in my seminary days, it has been a major event in my whole ministry experience. And the central question is, what IS it? I believe it is a personal identification. I do not believe it includes any membership implications into the body of Christ. (I received a letter the week after I was baptized in 1953 at eight months old--welcoming me into the body of Christ.) I think pastors and church leaders should have a regular and lively discussion on this topic far more often than we do, which seems to be never. We seem far more interested in talking about worship, and politics, and women in ministry. Baptism comes up often--at least in our circles. We require it for church membership. We teach it as an "ordinance," a commanded ceremony. We level it with the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, and we love to read about the accounts of baptism in the Book of Acts. I wish I had some people to talk about it with, on an extended basis.
Posted by Rev. Dr. Neil Damgaard at 5:25 AM