Flotsam and jetsam (7/11)

  • Matt Flannagan offers some reflections on three atheist billboards in New Zealand.
  • Rod Dreher comments on the University of Illinois professor who was fired for having the audacity to teach (in a class on Catholicism and Catholic morality) that Catholics teach that homosexuality is immoral.
  • C. Michael Patton explains why he decided to baptize two of his children at home in his swimming pool. Even beyond his rather low-church approach to baptism, I found his credobaptist reflections on how to determine when a child is ready for baptism to be particularly interesting.
  • Brian LePort continues his discussion of Jon Levison’s Filled with the Spirit. And James McGrath is still working his way through The Historical Jesus: Five Views with comments on the chapters by Jimmy Dunn and Luke Timothy Johnson.
  • In a shocker, the Church of England’s recent attempt to reach a compromise on the ordination of woman was unsuccessful.
  • And, although I refused to comment on the LeBron James fiasco last week, I would like to point out that almost 10 million people watched it. Apparently they thought they had nothing better to do than invest an hour of their lives on this. Though I’m sure that if any of you watched it, you only did so because you were conducting high-level academic research.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on July 11, 2010, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Patton on baptism:

    “My … daughter … was desirous to be baptized. In actuality, she has been for at it some time. Every time I have said “no.” I just have not been comfortable with her sincerity. It is not her trust in Christ that I question, but her reasons for wanting to be baptized.”

    “Sometimes I think we make baptism far too complicated and in the production lose some of the meaning.”

    Wow! The irony is that he makes it WAY more complicated because he makes it more than about his daughter being a Christian (he says she is). But that isn’t enough. It ends up being about HIS perception about her motivation, too (sounding suspiciously like faith + works). Not to be too cheeky, but isn’t credo-baptism about being a “show off,” anyway? It is a way of publicly bearing witness about what God has done internally (“I’m washed outside because God has cleansed me on the inside, etc.”). The emphasis is on the decision of the recipient. Sure, you come humbly. But at the end of the day it is about your choice.

    He also makes it more complicated because he wants to strip it of its public and corporate significance for the body of Christ by doing it privately in his backyard. Who is she bearing witness to, btw? Just him? Why is the church thought of so minimally in his considerations? What he describes in terms of process and motivation gives full throat to the weaker aspects of expressive individualism.

    And his theology of Phillip’s ordination is wrong, too. Phil didn’t offer a personal certificate of ordination, but Acts did in chapter 6 when discussing him. Because of his being set apart for ministry by the laying on of hands, he no doubt felt the responsibility to baptize the eunuch when the opportunity arose. And the importance of ordination is not that it invests the ordinand with some kind of sacerdotal prerogatives, but that it is a setting apart by the Church (i.e. more than one guy!) for ministry of Word and Sacrament. But the whole corporate aspect of baptism and discipleship didn’t seem to figure that importantly in what Patton describes.

    • Somehow I thought this link would elicit a response from you. From a paedobaptist perspective, this has to be a great example of many of the things you find lacking in the credobaptist position as a whole. So, let me just say that there’s a lot not to like here from the credobaptist perspective as well. At the very least, I’d be interested to know exactly what Patton thinks baptism is and what it does. It apparently doesn’t involve the church, so it’s not a public testimony, and it’s apparently not just a symbolic re-enactment of our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection, or why prevent the older daughter from participating. He doesn’t give any indication of seeing any depeer meaning in the rite; and, if he did, that would raise even more the question of why he would prevent the older daughter’s involvement. So, I’m left wondering what’s driving the decisions that he’s making.

      I think there’s also an interesting parallel here to Luther’s struggles with confession. Luther rightly pointed out that if a true confession requires real contrition, then forgiveness depends on the quality of one’s repentance. And, as is well known, this resulted in a self-destructive spiral as Luther agonized over how he could ever know if his contrition was really sincere. Patton seems to have a similar problem. As soon as you bring the issue of personal motivations into the equation, things are going to get muddy very quickly. Does the mere fact that the younger children were willing to do this privately mean that their motivations were pure? Of course not. We have have mixed motivations for why we do things. If purity if motivation (or faith) is what counts, we’re all in trouble.

  2. “Somehow I thought this link would elicit a response from you.”

    I knew you were lobbing me a softball, and didn’t want to disappoint.:-) I also didn’t think that his view is the best – or even a good – articulation of credo-baptism. His view does seem like some funky a-ecclesial hybrid, like pater-dotalism (i.e. he bestows the gift because he knows when it counts). Sadly, I’m not sure what he did with his children in the backyard is actually Christian baptism. If his daughter came to our church as an adult and told me as part of her testimony that “Daddy dunked me in the pool one night after supper and said I was baptized,” I’d ask her to be baptized in fact as a part of her membership. I suspect that a lot of Baptist churches would do the same.

    • Of course, that raises its own question of what constitutes a legitimate, Christian baptism. What are the marks of a valid baptism that you would use to guide a decision like this?

  3. 1) water applied
    2) in the name of the F-S-HS
    3) as a means of entering into the visible church, i.e. not simply a private ceremony. This is why presbyterians (and most other Christian branches) have ministers perform baptism. It is about entrance into Christ’s body, and those who have been specially set apart by the rest of the Church to exercise discipline, teach, administer the keys, help maintain some semblance of order and universality to the rite.

    Patton’s baptism fails on the third.

    • If Patton was a duly ordained ministry serving a local body, would this constitute a legitimate baptism for you, then? I’m sure you’d still question why it wasn’t done in the context of the community, but would you still question its validity?

  4. He does say in the post that he is an ordained minister of the gospel. But because he essentially divorces the rite from any relationship to the Church (aka Christ’s body) then he has unfortunately transformed it into something else that comes really close to being baptism, but falls short.

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