Monday, June 16, 2008

Stuck in my Craw

OK, maybe I'm just missing something here, but my understanding of the Nazarene's stance on infant baptism is that it is a symbol, but it is not salvific. Huh?
If that's the case than what's the point at all? How can we claim to have any understanding of sacraments, grace or God if baptism is effective only in certain situations?
I'm on the cliff ready to jump . . . please tell me I'm missing it.


Marsha said...


Does Baptism in and of itself EVER impart salvation? Isn’t it an outward expression of obedience, or if my Nazarene theology is up to snuff an “outward sign of an inward work”? Where in the Holy Scriptures does it say you MUST/HAFTA be baptized in order to receive the gift of salvation or that by doing so salvation is awarded—to another (infant)? Now, if this is going to cause a long, drawn out theological discussion, then ----- well, you know that is fine with me. I know I am not as worthy a contender as others more versed, but I am always in for great conversion. I do have an imperative question – Is this a deal breaker for you?
Love you lots,

Eric said...

On Baptism:

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

Romans 6:3
Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Galatians 3:27
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Let's not forget that the great comission does not comission us to get people saved, but to baptize them and teach them to obey.

The early church certainly connected the two.

From a scriptural point, A curosry reading of the Acts of the Apostles will show this to be true.

From a historical point a quick comparison of the Apostles' and the Nicene creeds will show this to be true. The nicene creed always expands and explains the apostles'. For instance, "I believe in God the Father almighty maker of heaven and earth" becomes "I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen."

Similar expansion and clarifications are readily visible in the sections on Christology and Pneumatology.

Interestingly, the apostles' creed confesses "I believe in the forgiveness of sins." The Nicene confesses "I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." So we see that the later Nicene Creed, in an effort to explain "forgiveness of sins" does so via baptism that is "for the forgiveness of sins."

Lastly, as to the Nazarene theology, a sacrament is an "outward sign of an inward grace AND A MEANS BY WHICH WE RECEIVE THE SAME [GRACE]. We must not forget the second part. For baptism then, baptism is an outward sign of the forgiving, lifegiving grace of God. But it is also the means by which we receive the forgiving, lifegiving grace of God.

I know we have talked this though many times, Evan, but the Nazarene view is essentially this:

1) Infant Baptism is a valid sacrament.
2) It is not important enough to encourage all to receive the grace of God that validates the sacrament.

It is quite the contradictory possition. Either it is a sacrament or it is not. If it is, then all ought to be encouraged to participate. If it is not, none should be allowed to participate.

More later.

Marsha said...

See, I knew there was someone out there much more versed than I---Thanks Eric---
Great post.

Evan and Julia said...

Yeah! Finally posts!

Marsha, mmm, yes.

I think I've heard this piont posed before before from people far more contentious than you ;), and it seems to me to be in part almost a misunderstanding of the works-righteousness issue. See how I'm hedging. THis means don't quote me on it. Of course salvation is not magically given upon performance of baptism. However, there has to be something particularly efficacious about the act that makes it what it is. If something of salvation is not present then there's no need to do it in the first place.

Which, I think is Eric's point and mine. What is the point? If we say we should do it and then strip it of all its meaning, why do we pretend it's important at all? I mean, why even believer's baptism if there's something not fundamentally and essentially salvific (and gracious) about it? I find it harder and harder to find middle ground because, as Eric suggests, these two premise are incompatible. This is ultimately a discussion (infant baptism being the lightning rod) about how we really feel about God Himself.

Does this make sense?