Infant Baptism (postlude).

Father and daughter.

This past Sunday, April 22nd, 2012, our daughter Charlotte was baptized.

To many of our friends and family who are more evangelical in orientation this was unfamiliar territory, if not theologically errant!

I think I became convinced of infant baptism when I grew into a higher view of the church. Interestingly, infant baptism is usually practiced by those churches with a high ecclesiology and avoided by those churches with a low ecclesiology. Needless to say, (infant) baptism is very much tied to the sort of community the church is.

Here is a post I wrote almost one year ago outlining some popular evangelical arguments against infant baptism.

Here is a post I wrote shortly after to counter some of those arguments and put forth a different understanding.

Here is another related post on the language of decision and response and how that relates to baptism.

OK, so a short debrief.

Some brief reflections:

(1) Charlotte’s baptism was done by sprinkling. Father Ajit held Charlotte over the baptismal font and poured three cupfuls (?!) of water over the crown of her head. I think there is a lack of theological support for this method. I would rather have seen Charlotte baptized by immersion, though I think there is a lack of scriptural support for that as well. While there is certainly theological significance to immersion (dying and rising with Christ) I think the real thrust of baptism in the New Testament is that it’s a bath. Baptism is, most properly, a washing. This is Robert Jenson’s view as argued in his book Visible Words and that would have been my preference. No worries though, I do not think that the integrity of the event was diminished, it’s mostly just a matter of my own preference.

(2) I was somewhat uncomfortable with a few of the prayers said during the ‘Presentation and Examination of the Candidate’. In particular, I am thinking of the following questions that the parents and sponsors were asked on behalf of the candidate (Charlotte): Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Saviour? Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love? Do you promise to obey him as your Lord? To all of these, we answered on behalf of Charlotte, “I do”. Maybe it’s just that low-protestant itch I have but I admit I felt ever so slightly uncomfortable with these words. It just felt strange answering those questions on Charlotte’s behalf. That being said, I understand the significance and the theological mandate behind them and ultimately I am comfortable with that! Yet, there was also something beautiful and significant about it all. After all, is not the Incarnation Christ Jesus acting and answering on our behalf?

(3)Just prior to the ‘Thanksgiving over the Water’ the entire community prayed the following prayer for Charlotte:

Let us now pray for this child who is to receive the sacrament of new birth. Deliver her, O Lord, from the way of sin and death.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Open her heart to your grace and truth.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Fill her with your holy and life-giving Spirit.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Teach her to love others in the power of the Spirit.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Send her into the world in witness to your love.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Bring her to the fullness of your peace and glory.

Lord, hear our prayer.

It was very moving to be part of the community as we together prayed this for Charlotte.

(4) Many of the other prayers that were said were deeply moving. For example, after Charlotte was baptized Father Ajit prayed: “I sign you with the cross, and mark you as Christ’s own for ever.” And then: “Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon this servant the forgiveness of sin, and have raised her to the new life of grace. Sustain her, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give her an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.” Truly, this is our prayer for Charlotte and we will try to make a habit to pray these words for her each day.

Family and friends.

Anyways, those were just some thoughts that I have had since Sunday. It truly was a wonderful day and we are grateful to our family and friends that were able to join us on that special day.

Mother and daughter.

With the Godparents.

  1. Howard Moore said:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Wonderful to see the photos and your reflections on this special event. Thanks for sharing not only what was said during the prayers but your thoughts on different aspects of the ceremony. The prayers you quoted for Charlotte during the baptism are wonderful and meaningful.

    • jt* said:

      Hi Howard. Thanks for the reply. Hope you’re well.

  2. a. Christina is so lovely.

    b. I think those prayers are beautiful.

    c. I appreciate your honesty about your uncertainty/discomfort with certain parts.

    d. Charlotte is a delight. And I pray the community prayer along with all of you, that she would grow to know and love Jesus deeply.

  3. TanYeo said:

    CharLotte is blessed to have a prayerful parent and community. Blessings, The Yeo’s

  4. joshuawalters said:

    Great reflection, JT. The photos are indeed beautiful and the liturgy too. I appreciate your honesty about discomforts, etc. I find myself wavering back and forth and ultimately just wanting to promote both infant/believer’s baptism. So many advantages to both approaches. You mentioned an insight I’d never heard before: “After all, is not the Incarnation Christ Jesus acting and answering on our behalf?” That’s good stuff.

    • jt* said:

      Hey, thanks Joshua. I think you’re right about wanting to promote both infant/believer’s baptism. I think there is simply baptism, and that both confessing adults and not-able-to-confess infants can be baptized as a sign of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus. Indeed, I think that “believer’s” baptism seems to be the biblical norm, thus, “repent and be baptized!” And so, it is in light of this that we can understand infant baptism, theologically, historically, and biblically.

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