Monday, November 22, 2010

"Every baptism is an infant baptism"

Last weekend the local RUF (Reformed University Fellowship, that is, not a ministry for canines) pastor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Peter Rowan, was ordained at our worship service. It was a beautiful and moving event to see a young man step forward to commit his life to guiding people to their Savior through the Word of the gospel. Then, in his first act as an ordained pastor, Peter baptized his infant nephew. Peter started his brief explanation of baptism with this provocative phrase: "In some sense, every baptism is an infant baptism." The sign of baptism, Peter explained, shows that we, like newborn babes, live entirely dependent lives before God, living entirely on what he gives us by grace alone in Christ.

I think this really is a beautiful picture we miss often by too quickly getting on with the business of responding to our baptisms by following Jesus' call to death-and-discipleship. No matter how zealously we follow Jesus and serve his church, we must recognize that every good and every blessing come to us not on account of our faith or our energy for God, but far prior to that. Baptism reminds us that it was "while we were still weak" and powerless like a little child with no strength or skill or virtue to offer, "Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). Brennan Manning points out in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel that children are the model citizens of God's kingdom "because they have no claim on heaven. If they are close to God, it is because they are incompetent, not because they are innocent. If they receive anything, it can only be as a gift" (p. 28).

1 comment:

J-man said...

Infant baptism is the main problem I have with Presbyterians and I would like to discuss it with you more!