So I posted an item on the BHT telling Michael Spencer why I couldn’t be bothered to read a sermon he’d linked by John Piper expounding the Baptist position on baptism, and giving a very brief summary of the Lutheran position on baptism as Christ’s promise to us rather than our response to him (having in mind Phillip Cary’s “Lutheran syllogism”).
This then prompted a post in response by Frank “Centuri0n” Turk of TeamPyro fame, in which Frank gives my post a mild fisking and restates the Baptist position to which he holds. Which is fine: we disagree, but Piper, Frank and Michael are all just being (in their very different ways) Baptists, and I’m not exactly shocked to find out that Baptists disagree with the Lutheran understanding of baptism. Indeed, given what Frank believes about baptism, I appreciate his willingness to challenge me rather than simply pass by my “disobedience” to Christ.
However, I’m not going to respond to Frank’s arguments myself. This is mainly because I can’t motivate myself to devote what would inevitably turn into hours of my life to a discussion which will almost inevitably end up where it started, with Frank as a Reformed Baptist and me as a baby-splashing Lutheran. I have better things to do, like not getting fired from my job, and acquainting myself with my wife and children. So no, not “mission”, Frank: vocation. 😉
If anyone else fancies taking Frank on, however, then be my guest. 🙂
Another reason is that I don’t regard myself as a spokesperson for the intellectual and theological arguments in favour of infant baptism. In many ways, the whole of my understanding of baptism amounts to the words I used as the title for my BHT post: “Baptizatus sum!”, “I am baptized!”. This is not just sloganeering for me, but the outcome of a hard-fought process following my return to faith in 1994, when I struggled for a good couple of years with the question of whether I should undergo “re-baptism”.
I accepted intellectually the arguments in favour of infant baptism put forward by Anglican evangelicals such as John Stott, J.I. Packer and Michael Green, but felt challenged emotionally every time I witnessed a “re-baptism” when visiting Baptist churches. As a matter of personal experience, what finally brought my intellect and emotions into alignment was realising that I was able to say, like Luther, “I am baptized!” (even though it was some years before I came to agree with Luther on the nature and effects of baptism).
Now I’m certainly not presenting this as an argument in favour of infant baptism. I know that Frank and other Baptists will say I was just deluding myself or resolving my cognitive dissonance. Fair enough. But that’s the point I’ve reached, and it would take an awful lot to persuade me to turn round and say, with Frank et al, “I am not baptized!”. And frankly I don’t see why my baptism should be made to reapply for its job every time a blogger somewhere decides to raise an issue on which sincere Christians have disagreed for four or five centuries.