This Makes Me Mad

Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Blog | 10 comments

I was on a church's website the other day.  Large, happening place in San Antonio.  Scurried to the "We Believe" page.  Curious.  They listed eight chief parts of faith.  They didn't call them chief parts, but for my sacramental brethren, you get it.

Each part had three sentences max.  Nice, tight, commercial-snippet savvy blurbs.  Fair enough. 

But for part number 8, there were paragraphs.  And scriptures.  Three columns of scripture passages.  A variety of verses so that you would fully grasp the subject.  

This must be important.

The faith topic?  Fasting.  Yup.  Fasting.

Now, please, no hate mail.  I'm not contra-spiritual disciplines.  Quite the opposite.  

But I think we'd all agree fasting is not a matter of salvation.  Not even close.  I can be a great, God-fearing faster but know not Jesus and Satan, fix me a bed.

I guess I expected more fleshing out of Jesus instead of fasting.  Just seems bass-ackwards.  Kind of like focusing on the little overhead light instead of the 4.2 liter, super-charged power plant that takes you from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.  Now that's cool.

After simmering some, I decided to check out their click-through baptism statement.  At level two they had nice paragraphs about who and what and how.  

Nice symbolic, non-powerful understanding. "Nothing new to see here, folks.  Move along."

But then I stumbled on this and Mr. Farenheit climbed a little. 

What Is The Meaning Of Baptism?

It illustrates Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”(1 Corinthians 15:3–4) “Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)

My wonderment here flows from using a scripture passage like Colossians 2, which speaks so mysteriously about how in baptism you were buried with him, in those wonderfully passive Greek constructs, like a dead man being buried by someone because, you know, he can't crawl out of the coffin himself and do it.  How and why would one draw that conclusion — that baptism symbolizes Jesus' death and resurrection but not that it ties you to Jesus' death and resurrection?  Help me here.

Mr. F took off, though, with this one:

In the Bible we find parents bringing children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But he did not baptize them, and he did not tell anyone to baptize them. 

Please.  At least treat me with some respect. "Jesus never baptized children nor told anyone to." So roll credits and tie a bow on it? 

So when Peter told the crowd "the promise is for you and for your children" then proceeded to baptize 3000 people that day, or when Paul answered the Philippian Jailer's "What must I do to be saved?" question with "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household," and scared Jailer Man that night got baptized with his entire family, so they were wrong?  Because Jesus never said (that we know of) baptize children?  C'mon.  Even though at age 8 days old, the male Jewish child would receive the sign of the convenant upon his body, and Colossians 2 compares baptism to that same circumcision rite?  "Well, Jesus never did it so neither should we."  Please.

How much better — how much truer — to at least say "There are a number of passages where entire households were baptized, and in that culture, since even the slaves belonged to the owner of the house, chances are everyone — every, last, one — of the people, of all ages, would have received this washing."  That would at least show you know your history.

Bottom line: best to stay away from passages like Colossians 2 and Romans 6, where crazy, mysterious trans-location stuff happens when water and Word are joined over a spiritually dead, "let's bury 'em" person.  

Yeah.  Avoid those.  It will make me happier.


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