Friday, January 8, 2010

The Baptism of Our Lord - Year C - Conclusion

Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17,21-22

The Baptism of Our Lord affords us the liturgical opportunity to remember our baptism which is a good thing to do. It’s not like being re-baptized, which we would say is not such a good thing even if you were only sprinkled when you were so young you thought it was just another bath. At least that’s true for Lutherans who believe baptism is about God and not the believer because the baptism comes before the believing. Of course we baptize big people who know what’s going on but like Cornelius in Acts who spoke in tongues before he and his whole household was baptized sometimes with God the cart shows up before the horse. So this Sunday those of us who can’t remember the day we were “saved” will remember that we are baptized which is the same thing. Martin Luther thought that was such a good idea we should do it every morning, like brushing your teeth or washing your face. That’s because I am baptized claims God’s Word through Isaiah, I have called you by name you are mine. I am baptized hears the Voice in the terrifying and terrible as strength and peace. I am baptized claims the promise that like Peter and John in Samaria someone laid hands on us and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. And finally I am baptized means we are marked with the cross of Christ and forever joined to the crowd of witnesses because being baptized joins us to the death of Christ so that we might share his life. So remember your baptism even if at the time you thought it was just another bath.


  1. Being a Lutheran most of my life and then becoming a Baptist a few years ago has given me some different perspective on this. I was, of course, sprinkled as a Lutheran infant and then was baptized by immersion at Fellowship Church six years ago.
    Baptists think that Lutheran baptism theology is works righteousness in that Lutherans see it essential to the mediation of God's grace.
    I was baptized by immersion, but I was in no way "re-baptized." This is one of those areas where people use the same word but mean entirely different things. It's apples and oranges.
    Some of those who have heard my story know that I was married once to a woman who used the same word - marriage - but meant an entirely different kind of relationship than I did in using that term. I really think the same is true with baptism theology.
    What Baptists claim about baptism, at least at the Baptist church I attend, is that the act of stepping forward to be baptized is simply "going public with your faith." It is a simple act of obedience in which a person follows Jesus' example. It signifies saying through an act of obedience and humility that one has repented of an old life and turned toward a new life, chooses Jesus Christ as his/her own and has actively engaged in the ensuing journey.
    Baptists don't claim that baptism is a requirement for salvation or for belief, or that the act of being baptized in any way precedes faith. They would point to Cornelius' faith as an example of baptism in Scripture...Cornelius was baptized first with the Holy Spirit and later with water.
    Some of my Lutheran friends thought it was strange that I'd get "re-baptized." Except, I didn't in the sense that Lutherans understand baptism. I simply made a public proclamation of my faith, in deference to a congregation I wanted to be a part of.
    Apples and oranges...

  2. Thanks Greg for the apples and oranges commentary. It may be that God intended to keep things vague and wanted us to work it out for ourselves within the two sided coin of the one commandment Love God / Love Everybody but like most things that draw denominational lines the problem is we’ve not been given enough rules and so we make them up to suit our fancy and fancy everyone else as wrong. I don’t believe baptism matters a hoot when it comes down to it. Would God say I died on the cross, the least you could do is get baptized the right way? No. As you have said so well baptism is about a public profession of faith. So you made yours for you and I made mine for my children. The real question then is does God prefer one fruit over the other?