Thursday, September 18, 2008

Being Presbyterian in a Baptist World

Its really interesting pastoring a Presbyterian church in an area where 50-60 percent of our visitors seem to come from a Baptist background. First of all let me say that I am so thankful for God for my Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ. Usually, their zeal and passion for outreach puts us Presbyterians to shame. Having said that, I often find that the first questions I am asked by visitors are, "Why do you guys baptize infants?" And, "Why don't you guys immerse?" Since I'm asked this question so often, I thought I'd just put up my initial response on the blog...and I can always come back and add to it later. First, the issue of baptism comes down ultimately to the issue how we form doctrinal beliefs. Many people feel that there must be a particular verse that clearly reveals a doctrine as obvious before they'll believe it...that's unfortunate. If that were how doctrine is defined, we wouldn't be able to prove the Trinity...that God is One God who exists in Three Distinct Persons. As is the case for the Trinity, so it is for baptism. We don't look for proof-texts, but rather we look at the entire counsel of God and look for themes that are repeated over and over. When it comes to baptism, we don't just look for individual verses, nor do we just consider the New Testament! We must look at the entire Bible to arrive at our theology. When we look at the entire Bible, one thing becomes is impossible to understand New Testament doctrine without also being familiar with Old Testament theology. As a matter of fact, almost all of the New Testament is either an Old Testament direct quotation, or an Old Testament reference or flows out of a theme covered in the Old Testament. When it comes to baptism, even the New Testament makes it clear that we can not understand baptism unless we understand Old Testament circumcision. If you ARE one of those people who are looking for a verse, check out Colossians 2:11-12. In those verses Paul writes, in effect, that we have been circumcised by being baptized! He equates circumcision and baptism! I have a lot more to write down...but gotta play car-pool dad.

1 comment:

gbrad said...

I am a confessed Southern Baptityrian and admit struggle with infant baptism. We have not had our children baptized due to this struggle. We often wonder if you recognize us as those who haven't had their kids baptized (kidding). How do you tie in Jesus' baptism with infant baptism? Wasn't He circumcised and baptized? Baptist is short for anabaptist meaning to baptize again. Those who were brought to faith, if baptized as an infant, were baptized again in a "believer's baptism".