Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My friend Joanie asked me yesterday about our decision to baptize our children. (I don't come from a church background that does this, although Kevin does.) I'm not a theologian but I'll explain our reasoning. :)

First I should tell you that we've been on an interesting spiritual journey over the past few years, or at least it feels that way. I've come to further examine certain beliefs I always just took for granted. At some point along the way I wanted to understand why there is a division among believers over baptism, and discovered that the majority of Christians around the world baptize infants and children (Roman Catholics, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, etc. These groups do however disagree on the details of infant baptism, what it is etc.) In the Bible, entire households were baptized. After doing some reading and praying and looking at both sides I came to believe that baptism is a sacrament that God uses to impart His grace to believers. It's commanded by God and is the sign of the new covenant (the old being circumcision, which was of course for infant boys.) I think it's more than a mere symbol. And it's about God doing a work in us, not us doing something for God.

Up until we moved to Denver, we attended a nondenominational church that didn't baptize babies or small children, thus our kids were not baptized. When we moved we wanted to join a liturgical church that, among other things, held to this historical Christian view on baptism, and landed at a Presbyterian church downtown (which has since changed denominations and is now part of the Reformed Church of America.)

So in November all five of our kids received the sacrament of baptism. It was precious. They were all so excited. Except for Mary, who slept through the whole thing. :) Our senior pastor ended up going out of town at the last minute so our friend Ben, one of the associate pastors, did the honors. We were so incredibly blessed to have Kevin's cousins Steve and Tanya with us that morning.

A book that I have really loved (I've mentioned it before) is Evangelical is Not Enough: Worship of God Through Liturgy and Sacrament, by Thomas Howard (who happens to be Elisabeth Elliott's brother.) He grew up in evangelicalism and eventually came to join the Roman Catholic church. Even if you don't agree with his end conclusion, it's a great read and a beautiful introduction to the sacraments and liturgy.

I also read a couple of short booklets, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism by John P. Sartelle and Why Do We Baptize Infants (Basics of the Reformed Faith) by Bryan Chapell. Both were amazingly helpful, super interesting, and made for a great study on baptism from this perspective.

One of the things I love about this faith tradition is that children truly are considered part of God's family and part of the local and global church. So that's our story!


Joanie said...

Oh, very cool. I was baptized in an Episcopal church as a baby. Yes, I love the Liturgy there.

Interestingly, the rest of my family is adult-baptized. My brother S was the first, who got re-baptized when he joined his wife's SDA church. Then, my other brother G also for his wife, and I think to attest that he is born again. I am born again, but do not feel that I have received a calling to be baptized yet. My mom grew up Baptist and thusly adult-baptized, and my Dad's spirtiual journey brought him from a baby-baptized Catholic to an Episcopalian when he married my mom to a re-baptized adult attending a Baptist church as recently as a few years ago. My husband was baptized at age seven by choice, but has since lost some of that zeal. (A huge matter of need and prayer in our lives.)

Yes, it's confusing. I think a flow chart or excel document would explain it better.

I also find this interesting because Marissa and Kaitlyn were dedicated on the same day! Yes, a whole other story...

Thanks for enlightening me. You are a fascinating person!

Brianna Heldt said...

Joanie thanks for sharing! So interesting. I think it kind of comes down to, what do you think baptism IS? 1 Corinthians 7:14 seems to speak to the idea that our children somehow are part of God's family through believing parents.

Something amazing to think about is, even if someone has lost their zeal for the Lord, God has NOT lost His zeal for them, and never ever will. I'll pray for you guys for sure.

I so miss your sweet smile and encouraging words at church each week!!!


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