Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Baptism: Believe, Complete This Form, and We'll Get Back To You

A couple nights ago I attended a baptism service at a local church.  One of my students was being baptized that evening, as well as my “adopted” cousin, Gary.  I love baptisms – I love the joy on the faces when they come up out of the water, I love to hear their testimonies, I love knowing that the Holy Spirit is present in the room when we are gathered to witness proclaiming publicly their decisions to follow Christ.  It is truly a good thing, a holy thing.  It is the right thing to do.

However (c’mon - you knew there’d be a “however”) …

*FYI - The following rant will most likely offend some of my very good friends.  I apologize if you are offended, but if you really know me, you realize by now that I am utterly incapable of keeping my big mouth shut.  Sooo ... I'm gonna say what I'm gonna say and let the chips fall (and they will fall).  Deal with it.

(begin rant ….)

I just don’t get all the hoops people are forced to jump through on the way to the baptism bathtub?  Many churches (including my own) have a way of making it a major pain in the royal rumpus to get dunked. 

I sort of get that people are afraid of accepting non-believers into membership.  Yeah, OK.  I get that.  I really do.  But we’re talking about baptism, not membership.  It should be simple and immediate. 

In Acts 2:38, Peter says, … “Repent, ye, and be baptized.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Short, simple.  No forms to fill out.  One person, one God, one decision. 

Acts 2:38 DOESN’T say this:

  1. Repent.
  2. Prove your repentance to everyone.
  3. Go to an approved church for several months so they can see that you have repented.
  4. Sign up for the “baptism class.”
  5. Attend said “baptism class” (usually 2 Saturdays)
  6. Upon completion of “baptism class,” complete an “interest card.”
    1. “Interest card” states that you are “interested” in becoming baptized.
  7. When the deacons and elders schedule the next baptism, complete the “baptism application.”
  8. Schedule an interview with the elder/deacon board.
  9. If you are approved, then be baptized at a scheduled time.

I happened to be a member of our elder/deacon board when “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” (my two oldest children) were baptized.  They went through the whole “baptism class” thing, etc…. and I kept my big mouth shut … until it came to the “interview.”

I’ll admit that my being on the board afforded me an advantage that others wouldn’t necessarily enjoy.  I allowed the board to fire two (and ONLY two) questions at my kids:

  1. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? And
  2. Can you hold your breath under water?

I wasn’t really even keen about asking them question #1, because after all, aside from oneself and God, whose business is it anyway?   
Did Philip insist that the Eunich be interviewed and schooled before he was baptized?  On the contrary, he saw some water and asked to be baptized, and Philip stopped the chariot and baptized him right then and there.

(*GASP!!)  You mean he wasn’t approved by the board first?!!??  Did he at least take the class?  Does he have his baptism certificate on file with a a proper church (you know, the “right kind” of church – not one of those other churches)?!  

You know what?  When the time comes I’m gonna baptize my own kids and I'm not gonna make them fill out any paperwork.  Maybe it'll in the ocean, maybe in the lake, maybe in the bathtub.  Whenever they decide they’re ready, we’ll find some water and just do it.

(…end rant)

… Later.

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