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Jon Komperda
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John, as a UCC pastor, I've wrestled with this question for a while and had a few thoughts. I'll present them by presenting where I stand. I will perform infant baptisms based on your argument for catholicity (how can I reject the baptisms and theologies of millions of Christians over the years?)- as long as the parents are active members who can present some sort of reason why they feel it is best for their child's faith and the community. For my own children (Lord willing), we will wait until they profess their faith (child-like faith included). The reason for this is my understanding of baptism as a formative symbol. I think ideally a person remembers their baptism, and what it symbolizes. I don't concede the assumption of the article that baptism is only a matter of entrance into the Christian community. In fact, it seems to me to be a symbol primarily that points to the heart of our faith in Jesus. I don't believe that just because someone isn't baptized, they're lost souls outside of God's community. I think this misses the point of the ritual to assume it is solely an entrance ritual. The parents are merely waiting for a time when they feel the symbol will have a more significant formative effect on the child. Perhaps some of this view comes from being a mainline lifer who has seen myriad baptized people who do not participate in the life of the Church at all. While the New Covenant is radically inclusive, one thing it does exclude is salvation based on birth or the faith of another. This seems to be the exclusion that non-infant baptists validly uphold. In sum, I guess I want to suggest we guard the significance of this powerful symbol and apply it in a way that most helps our communities grasp the work of Christ to which baptism points.
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Jun 4, 2010