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…]

You were there

You know that old spiritual that asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?. . .when they nailed Him to the tree?. . .when they laid Him in the tomb?. . . .when God raised Him from the tomb?”  Well, the answer to that question is YES.

According to the Bible, if you were baptized, you died with Him, you were buried with Him, and you rose from the dead with Him. [Read more…]

The movie vs. the flannelboard

We saw the movie Noah.  It had some good cinematic touches (such as the imagery with the seven days of creation), and I don’t begrudge some of the imaginative liberties (such as having the animals be in suspended animation on the ark).  I was even finding myself liking it for awhile.  Some of the criticisms, I saw, were ill founded.  (That they made Noah a vegetarian?  Well, compare Genesis 1:28-30 and Genesis 9:2-4, which suggests that God gave permission to eat animals after the flood.)  But the flaws in the movie kept getting more and more damaging.  Like an ark that has a few leaks, which let in more and more water, the force of which makes the leaks bigger, until the sides stave in and the vessel goes down to the watery depths. [Read more…]

Creation and the new creation

In last Sunday’s sermon on the dialog between Nicodemus and Jesus (John 3), our pastor drew parallels between the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters at the creation (Genesis 1:2) and what Jesus told Nicodemus about the role of water and the Spirit in the new creation (John 3:5). [Read more…]

A member has been added to your Body

On the Sunday of All Saints yesterday, a new saint was added to the number of saints who constitute Christ’s church.  My new grandson, Thomas Gene Edward Hensley, was baptized.

“When[the church]  baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member.”  John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII

My father’s name was read among the dead, and now his name-sake enters the church, so it was all very meaningful to me.  In honor of All Saints, now that I am thinking about John Donne, after the jump I’ll quote the context of the above passage from his Devotions, a series of meditations as he was undergoing a serious illness, which as far as he knew may well be fatal.  The “for whom the bell tolls” refers to the custom of ringing the church bells to call people to prayer for someone who was dying, and he was wondering if the bells were ringing for him. 

[Read more…]


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