Tuesday, April 24, 2007

baptism on facebook?

this weekend, my 4 month old son will be baptized at the saturday evening church. baptism is such a funny thing. i grew up in a church that adamantly opposed any type of baptism accept "believer's baptism" a.k.a., dunk 'em-when-you're-older-style. (although "older" can be like 4 or 5!) any church that practiced infant baptism was obviously heretical and not bible believing. when i got a little older, i started to wonder what dunking someone in a bath tub in front of a bunch of already Christians had to do with 1st century baptizing of john or jesus or the religious people of that day.

a little later, i started listening to the arguments about infant baptism from my reformed friends. there are some things that make sense. for example, a biblical understanding of salvation was more communal and family orientated. joshua says "as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh." seems like a decision could be made by the parents for the whole household. job is seen sacrificing for his grown children. seems like children weren't responsible for their own sins until they were older.

those are weird to me and i can't quite place those instances in my head. whenever there's something in the scriptures that i can't fit into my pre-conceived theology, i have to question my perspective.

but i'm still not sure that baptizing a young child in front of a whole group of already Christians is getting at it still.

maybe something like this would be closer: you become a christian. you send "re-birth announcements" (corny, eh?) to all your friends saying that you're now a jesus-follower. you put spotlights in your front yard with a big sign that says "i'm a follower of jesus now."

is that any closer?

a couple weeks ago, an international student i know became a christ-follower. he was a hindu. he said that he changed his facebook "religious preference" from hindu to christian. that change would be seen on all his friends' home pages on facebook the next time they signed in.

now that seems close indeed!

i'm still having my children baptized. my pastor does a great job saying that infant baptism doesn't save a child...it's a parents' dedication of the child and an acknowledgement that God's love through jesus will be there waiting for children when they get older and profess their faith themselves.

we have to often live within the ideals, perspectives and values of christian church as it is now.


Anonymous said...

What is your view on baby dedications as opposed to baptisms at a young age?


Anonymous said...

Hehe, my church is the same as your old church "we don't throw stones at ppl who do infant baptism, but we don't." We do dedications though, pretty much for the same reasons it seems that you do infant baptism. So I'm gonna have to read your post a few more times to internalize it I think. Would you want him to get baptized later on when he gets (for lack of a better word) his own relationship with Jesus?

TulipGrrl said...

I grew up similar to you. . . and had a similar change. Our two older boys were baptized as a toddler/preschooler--and wow--that was amazing to accept that the Lord was working within their little hearts both through me and apart from me. Our next two were baptized as infants.

Rejoicing with you on your little one's baptism!

luke said...

ok, so here's some thoughts since i first posted...hopefully you'll see that i'm still processing....

my idea of facebook and baptism really gets at the witness side of baptism, but it doesn't do anything with the symbolic side. paul talks about how baptism is a symbol of identifying with jesus' death and resurrection. for many people, the actually act of being baptized is a powerful experience.

i see infant baptism much the same as a baby dedication from a distance. BUT, i think that baby dedications don't get at some things that infant baptism does.

in the reformed tradition, when a person who grows up in the church decides for themself to follow jesus, they stand in front of the church and profess their faith. it does the exact same things as adult baptism RE: telling other christians that you believe in jesus.

honestly, if i had to choose, i'd lean more toward the baby dedication side, BUT what i'm saying is that i'm just not sure it really matters the way that we do things in america. baptism just doesn't get at what it was originally supposed to when jesus commanded it.

that might sound heretical. i'm still in process here. talk back at me!