Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ethan's Getting Baptized! Part I

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. --Genesis 17:7

I suppose, since the time is drawing near and I will be posting pictures of the event here, I should just come right out and say it: Ethan is being baptized in about a week and a half. No, I have not converted to Catholicism, and yes I said baptized and not dedicated. I've been wanting to write a series of posts on the subject, because if you had told me 5 years ago that I would be having my infants baptized I would have looked at you like you had two noses. But here I am, and I couldn't be more excited about little Ethan's big day.

Steve and I started going to a reformed church right after we got married. I had always grown up in non-denominational churches, and it was Steve's preference to attend a Presbyterian church. I didn't really think there would be a huge difference. I was a little wrong. We started going to Redeemer and becoming reformed really changed my theology a lot. Even still, my biggest sticking point with all of the new things I learned was not the total depravity of man, or the idea of a limited atonement, it was the relatively small point of baptizing babies. Anyway, I don't want to give a big theology lesson in these posts because, honestly, I understood the theology behind infant baptism long before I was comfortable with committing to it for my own children. I would mostly like to write about my own experience with baptism and what ended up changing my heart, and why I am so excited about Ethan's baptism. However, Patch Blakey has written an absolutely excellent article which sums up the theology behind infant baptism really well. Since you will inevitably be confused at my attempts to explain things, that article is a good place to start and see where I'm coming from.

To start out (yes, I'm just now starting; the above paragraphs were just, er, not the beginning), I want to say that I was baptized as a believer. I have witnessed many wonderful child dedications. I don't think either of those things are wrong by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think that my baptism "didn't count" because it wasn't done as an infant, and I don't want to make anyone feel like I think their baptisms were less than sufficient. But I am going to talk about why I think infant baptism is better, so hopefully I don't offend a whole mess of you.

I was baptized when I was 15 (some of you reading this were there! how neat!). I had come to confess my faith in Christ only a year before. Leading up to my baptism, there were one or two Sundays when I met with my youth pastor and we talked about my testimony. The main question was, "how did you come to know Christ?". There was an emphasis on when I accepted Christ into my heart and my story. During my actual baptism, I stood in the baptismal and told my story to the whole church. It was really a great day for me, and I was glad to experience it.

So why would I want to deprive Ethan of that experience?

Well, looking now, through a new lens of theology, I really feel that the day focused too much on me and what I had done to become a Christian. The thing I started asking myself when I was studying reformed theology is: if I am totally sinful (as the Bible teaches) how was I able to choose Christ at all? In Matthew 16, when Peter confesses Christ as the Son of Man, Jesus tells Peter that it was the Father that revealed the truth to him (Peter) and not flesh and blood. Peter didn't come to his faith on his own, the Father gave him his faith! So maybe the focus on my journey to Christ during my baptism should have been more of a focus on the faith that the Father had given to me.

So then what? Why does an issue of apparent semantics -- me choosing Christ or Christ choosing me -- mean that babies should be baptized? They haven't chosen or been chosen at all yet, right? How does their baptism mean anything if they don't even remember it?

Ahh, now that I've thoroughly offended everyone, I have to go attend to my wee babe. I will answer my own questions in the next post (maybe tomorrow).

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