Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Good Washing....

I've been thinking a lot about Baptism lately. Largely due to the fact that Traci and I are going to have our boys baptized finally. Once Tommy was born it seemed like we had a lot more going on than getting him baptized. Although I tried to have the priest at the hospital in Spokane do it before his first surgery, he refused as Tommy wasn't seen as being in danger of death from surgery.

Sadly baptism seems to be another of those things that divide Christ's followers. Some see it as a symbolic acceptance of Christ's message others see it as a regenerative cleansing and acceptance of the new covenant. For Catholics baptism is the first sacrament of initiation. It cleanses the soul of the stain of the original sin and breaks sins hold on the baptized. St. Peter likens the waters of baptism which save souls to the flood of Noah, we see this in 1 Peter 3: 20-21.

Going back a generation however; we see Jesus himself advocating Baptism. When questioned by Nicodemus, Jesus tells him one must be born by water and the spirit to gain eternal life. Jesus is calling back to his own baptism when he infused the Spirit into the water. Immediately after discussing this with Nicodemus, Jesus and the 12 begin baptizing people. John 3:5, 22.

Another argument I have seen against infant baptism is that babies can't make the profession of faith required of the baptism. This argument seems far more damaging than it is, one need only look to the shadow of baptism seen in the old covenant to realize that it was performed on infants as well. The mark of the old covenant was the ritual circumcision done on eight-day old boys. Jesus was himself presented and circumcised at eight days. In the old covenant as well as the new it is the parents of the child who seal them into the covenant. I doubt even the Incarnate Word was able to profess faith at a week of age. Also Colossians 2: 11-14, tells us that in baptism we die with Christ to be risen to eternal life. This passage is quoted nicely in the Catholic baptismal ritual. 

In addition to all of this Ezekiel tells us that God will unite us to himself with a regenerative bath in pure water. Ezekiel 36:24-28. This passage outlines all of the things baptism does for us. Cleanses us from sin, imparts the Holy Spirit, enables us to avoid sins in the future and makes us covenant children of God. Powerful stuff. I also like what St. Paul says in Romans 6:4.

I have vague memories of my own baptism as I was about Tommy's age when I received my entrance into the new covenant. Mostly I have memories of lots of baptisms that I helped with as an altar server for nearly a decade. I am excited to start Matty and Tommy on their faith journeys and can only hope they learn to love and live their faith. That is the charge given to parents and Godparents at baptism to see that they raise these children as children of God. Here's hoping that between God, Traci and myself we do just that, with a little help from the boys Godparents, when we need it.

A tip of the cap to two wonderful websites that helped formulate a lot of my writing on this topic. They had the appropriate Bible verses searched out already. Shameless Popery and Jesus I Trust in You.

No comments: