I think I’m going to start using this video in my ecclesiology classes to introduce our discussions on baptism. Just don’t tell my dean. He might not like it.
(Oops, I forgot to HT Unsettled Christianity)
The perennial question of the Baptist parent: when is my child ready to get baptized?
And, once you’ve asked that question, you begin to wonder, what does it even mean to be “ready” for baptism? Was I “ready” when I got baptized? Then, if your brain isn’t fried yet and you haven’t decided just to ignore the question and go watch a movie, you might even ask, What is “baptism” anyway and how does it relate to things like “faith,” “repentance,” and “salvation”? If you’re not careful, you might accidentally end up doing theology.
I can almost hear the TV calling.
Whether we should baptize small children (not infants) is the question that John Starke addressed recently. Specifically, he’s responding to Trevin Wax’s post arguing that there are good reasons for delaying the baptism of small children until they’re ready. Starke understands the concerns, but he thinks they’re misguided and offers 4 reasons for baptizing young children without delay:
- The regular pattern in Scripture doesn’t give any indication of a probationary period.
- A probationary period seems to imply that there is something more than faith we need to do in order to be a Christian.
- Affirming belief in the gospel is never false assurance.
- The New Testament pattern is reactive rather than proactive concerning conversion.
You’ll have to read the post to get his full thinking on the subject, but I think he makes some good points. I’m particularly concerned about the second point and the suggestion that we need to wait until a child “owns” her faith or has a sufficiently “mature” faith before getting baptized. The first concern seems to rise directly from our rampant individualism and the idea that if the community (or family) serves as a shaping force in a person’s faith development, their faith no longer belongs to them in some way. And the second implies that you’re not really converted until your faith reaches a certain level of maturity, as though my salvation depended ultimately on the quality of my faith.
One of these days I’ll finally get around to writing my own post (it will probably take more than one) explaining how I view baptism and how my wife and I are approaching it with our daughters. But for now, just read Starke’s post and see what he has to say.
Update: Nathan Finn also addressed the issue this morning, with an interesting reflection on how his views on the subject have changed slightly over time.
- Stephen Colbert interviews Lisa Millar about her book Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife. Colbert’s interviews are always fascinating.
- Jason Goroncy offers a list of lectures that T.F. Torrance gave on The Ground and Grammar of Theology.
- John Armstrong explains why he moved from credobaptism to paedobaptism. (HT Euangelion)
- Michael Jensen gives 5 reasons why he doesn’t like lists of Bible verses.
- I hate to offer another link to the Ted Haggard situation, but NPR has an interesting piece.
- And, if you want to get your cleaning done faster so you can enjoy your Saturday, try Baby Mop.