I was baptized as a child by a Lutheran pastor. I didn’t actually become a member of a church until about 10 years ago, I’m now 41. During the time between my infant baptism, and joining our church, I spent some time battling the issue of baptism. As Lutheran’s go, baptism is one of the sacraments, meaning it is a gift from God. From the perspective of the believer, age, or even having accepted Christ isn’t important because it is a gift. I’m not turning down my gift. I’m not about to argue with God on this. Well, wait, yes I am. Just who is the heavy weight baptismal champion of the world? There are two schools of thought when it comes to baptism, and I vacillate between them freely depending on which way the wind blows.
In This Corner – Sacramental Baptism
In this corner there are those that believe, as Lutheran’s do, that baptism is one of the sacraments. The conditions under which one is baptized (age, ability to believe or not) do not matter. God is “tagging” his people, if you will. When we get around to accepting Christ as our savior, the deal is done, and your membership is in good standing. I don’t disagree with the idea of sacramental baptism by any means, but the next option seems to make sense to me as well.
Annnnnd In This Corner – Post Accepting Christ Baptism
I don’t know what to call it other than the above, so I’m just going to go with it. There are those that believe you can’t/shouldn’t be baptized until you have accepted Christ into your life, it is a conscious decision to follow Christ, and baptism is one of those things you really need to do, and know why you are doing it.
It is a pretty clear-cut argument on both sides, and I like them both, though I lean towards baptism after one accepts Christ. Folks like Charles Stanley, whom I respect a great deal, believes this. Don’t do so unless you have given your life to Christ. The church of which I’m a member believes otherwise. I asked my pastor one day about this because it was bothering me a great deal. Not only do I have no recollection of the event, it wasn’t even in a church, and for some reason that seems like it’s part of the deal. Perhaps I feel cheated? That is a story for another time, but my parents both assure me even though it wasn’t in a church, I was indeed baptized by a Lutheran pastor. For some reason I keep asking if it counted or not.
The pastor told me that baptism was a one time shot, and I had already been shot, so to speak. My consolation prize could be a reaffirmation of baptism, but not a baptism. That didn’t sit well with me because I wanted him to say, “Sure! We’ll get you covered!” I just don’t have the answer, and the question keeps coming up in my head; perhaps God is nudging me, “Psst. Water. Good. Go get some.” I feel like being a little rebellious one day, and run off to a some non-denominational church to have their pastor give a dunk in front of the church custodian (can I have a witness?!).
I leave you, and God, with a simple question. When does a baptism count?