Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Do We Baptize Babies? 2

In my first post I wrote, "Anglicans believe infant Baptism is ... an authentic expression of the meaning of Christian baptism and salvation as taught in scripture." 

So ... what is the meaning of baptism?

The Book of Acts gives a number of examples of people being baptized in water. In every case, this ritual is tied with them following Jesus and joining the Church. It's a kind of threshold; a kind of doorway into life in Jesus and life in the church.

With that in mind, I will define baptism as a rite of entrance - entrance into life in Christ and entrance into life in the Church.

How does infant baptism express this? Anglicans believe that baptism is the beginning of a journey. And so when parents bring their children to be baptized they are bringing them to Jesus and bringing them to the church. Baptism is a ritual that marks their entrance into life in Christ and life in the Church. I realize that raises questions about the inability of a baby to profess faith in Christ. That is a very important question and I will address it in a later post. Right now, the key idea I want to stress is that we do not understand baptism as a once and for all event. It's not some magical act that gives a kid eternal life no matter what happens subsequently to baptism. It is a beginning. It is an inauguration. It's a threshold. When mom and dad bring their seven month old daughter and have her baptized, they are beginning a journey that they will take with their kid to raise her into the fullness of life in Christ and the church.

The next question, is why do we believe little kids can be brought for baptism apart from their own profession of faith. I will answer that in the next post.

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