I am a young pastor in Chicago with the Evangelical Covenant. I just read your book A Better Atonement and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve struggled with the doctrine of Original Sin for a long while, but I’ve been thinking about how this, if at all, changes my view of baptism. I don’t believe that original sin is necessary for baptism but as I try to formulate my sacramentology I thought I’d ask if you had any thoughts.
Sam, it’s no surprise that this question comes from a working pastor. Unlike so many of the questions we’ve tackled in this series, this is not a theoretical question of systematic theology, but a practical question of pastoral theology. Like you, I watched many families who were negligibly connected to the congregation show up with their six-week old infant, sit through a baptism class, and proceed to the front of the sanctuary on Sunday. There they sat, awkward as can be in the front row. Meanwhile, the congregation dutifully smiled and laughed when the baby cried because the deacons forgot to warm up the water. I watched all this as a pastor, knowing full well that we’d never see that family again. They were getting their kid baptized because that’s what grandpa and grandma wanted.