John the Baptizer

The great figure of Advent is John the Baptist.  We think of him as that harsh, say-it-like-it-is prophet who ate insects.  But what he preached was repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  Which he conveyed by baptism. [Read more...]

“No Sacraments, No Protestantism”

Reformed pastor Peter Leithhart says that Protestantism requires a high view of the sacraments.  He focuses specifically on baptism and its role in a key Protestant teaching:  the assurance of salvation. [Read more...]

A liturgy for people offended to be called sinners

The Church of England is revising its baptism liturgy to accommodate contemporary people who are offended to be addressed as sinners.  Also missing, along with the rich language of the Book of Common Prayer, is mention of the devil and the charge to bring children to church and to teach them the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. [Read more...]

Churches that don’t baptize

Some churches that work hard to get people to “make a decision for Christ” never get around to baptizing them!   In fact, there are some ostensibly Christian bodies that don’t baptize at all.  And more that will baptize if someone asks for it, but most members don’t go to the trouble.  And according to Christian scholar Roger Olson, “one Texas megachurch pastor reported that nearly a third of the people who receive Christ in his church are never baptized. ”  [Read more...]

Baptists discovering toddler baptism

Southern Baptists are concerned that the number of baptisms is way down.  (And yet many of their churches are growing.  Is it that converts, new members, and the Millennial generation are unwilling today to be baptized?)  But one demographic of Baptists is getting baptized in greater and greater numbers:  children five and under.

That is not all that different from what we Lutherans practice as infant baptism.  Traditionally, Baptists–who require faith as a precondition of baptism, rather than seeing baptism as a means of grace and the faith that receives it– have insisted that infants and young children cannot have faith.  I have never understood that.  Of course babies and toddlers can have faith.  They have faith–which has to do with trust, a sense of dependency, and relationship and is never just intellectual knowledge–in their parents.  Why not in their Heavenly Father?  So I salute this trend among Baptists! [Read more...]

Sarah Palin’s blasphemy

Sarah Palin, in a speech to the NRA, said that “waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”  Lutheran journalist Mollie Hemingway calls that blasphemy.  Her article in the Federalist includes a shoutout to the Cranach Institute, a quote from my daughter, and a critique of civil religion. [Read more...]


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