hybrid baptism

May 7, 2010

This coming Sunday is Mothers Day (happy Mothers Day Mom)!  Vanessa and I decided several weeks back to schedule for all of our boys to be baptized together at our church.  While talking with a friend about this issue this week I made the statement that it is a “hybrid baptism,” which just sounds cooler than “mixed baptism.”  My two oldest sons are at an age where they can (and do) articulate faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, our youngest son is not… he’s only 11 months old.

The idea of infant baptism has been growing on me for many years and since I grew up in a tradition that did not practice it I have come to this position slowly… like over the past 13 years.   Many of my close friends will disagree with this conclusion and many of my personal heroes sit on the other side of the aisle on this as well.  It all started with my pesky Roman Catholic Church History Professor in my undergrad at ORU (yes, as strange as it may seem to some, ORU has a phenomenal Theology Department full of a diverse group of incredible teachers from various ecclesiastical streams).  While I didn’t convert to Rome even though his class was structured to at least make one consider the possibility, I did grow in my love for the history of the church as a whole in all of its mess and beauty.  One of the things that was an eye opening concept to me was that for the vast majority of history believers did indeed practice infant baptism.  Of course that didn’t settle the matter from a biblical perspective but it did at least give me reason to question my own inherited tradition which is not a bad practice for anybody.

“But it’s not in the Bible,” or more specifically, “it’s not in the New Testament!”  That was my argument and is no doubt many adult dunkers’ objection.  The only problem with that objection is that it is not an objection.  Just because there isn’t an instance where it expressly written does not mean that it is not present or true.  Just like the term “Trinity” isn’t mentioned either doesn’t mean that it, or more appropriately They, aren’t there.  Regardless, I think it actually is there and is simply assumed by Paul and many other NT writers.    The most referred to text is Colossians 2:11-14 where Paul connects circumcision of the Old Testament with baptism in the New.  So the argument goes that since it is not prohibited in the New Testament then believers would have assumed (and looking at the history that is what occurred) that their children should receive the sign of the Covenant just as adult converts did.

I think all of that is well and good, and needed for discussion and learning.  More importantly in my mind is the picture this provides us with what faith really is and how God transcends our reliance on linear events.  The circumcision of the Old Testament was pointing forward to the cross even though the believers didn’t realize how God would fulfill all his promises.  Likewise, baptism now points us backwards to the cross and reminds us of our utter need for the grace God extends to us in Jesus.

I could go on but I’ll save it for another blog… all that to say I am crazy-happy to have all three of my sons join the covenant community of faith this Sunday! Share my joy!

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3 Responses to “hybrid baptism”

  1. Zennie Says:

    Precious children…..baptism doesn’t save us…so when they are able to make their own decision…that’s what counts…..

  2. Rob Dennis Says:

    “I thought it was a good word bro . . .I still remember those Church history lecture’s with Dr. J. Seems the ancient Jews and Christians had a more communal than an individualistic understanding of salvation. The distorted emphasis on individual choice arose at the same time that western europeans were rejecting the inextricable link between how we reason about ourselves and the world, on the one hand, and how we view ourselves as part of a particular community on the other. The upshot of this development was this: once people ceased viewing their membership in a community (in this case, God’s covenant people) as part of who they are ‘essentially’, and begin viewing their membership in a particular community as ‘accidental’ to who they ‘really’ are, as something to be ‘chosen,’ then their understanding of God and themselves has been radically altered. In the communal view, the people of God is not ‘constituted’ by people who have been saved independently of that community, as if it were a cycling club made of people who just happened to like cyclying independently of whether or not that club existed; rather people are saved ‘because’ they have entered God’s family. Salvation is not ‘me and God, then we and God’ but rather ‘me and God, because we and God.’ I am being saved because I have entered the community in which, through which, and on which God is doing his saving work. There is no accepting Christ the Head with accepting the Church the body. ‘ So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built INTO IT for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.(Eph 2) I could go on but I better stop now in case Dr. Shelton spots some heresy in this post and rebukes me for misprepresenting the catholic faith. For a good debunking of the Enlightenment notion of the autonomous individual, see ‘After Virtue’ by Alisdair Macintyre. It is a work in the history of ethics, not theology, but the Enlightenment notion of the individual which it describes has infected much protestant and catholic theology. It is an important work. God bless. “


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