New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, June 25 2002 Volume 02 : Number 109
Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?
Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?
[NTCP] First for the Jew, then for the Gentile
Re: [NTCP] Infant Baptism
Re: [NTCP] Infant Baptism

Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 11:10:07 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

One common mistake in reasoning many infant baptism advocates make is to
assume one-to-one correspondance between the rite of circumcision and the
rite of baptism. They suppose that they both *equal* the same thing ...
only circumcision was for the old covenant and baptism for the new. They
seem to presuppose that what was precisely true for one is precisely true
for the other, except that the covenants have changed and therefore the rite
of entry has changed in form. But not particulars. That infants entered
the "old covenant" via circumcision through the intention of their parents,
therefore now infants may enter the new covenant via the intention of their
parents. Without the need for personal faith.
This, I'm afraid, is the fallacy that my dear "baby baptising brother"
TC appears to be committing. Let's look at the text he often quotes or
alludes to in his posts:

"In Him you were also CIRCUMCISED with the circumcision made without hands,
by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the CIRCUMCISION OF
CHRIST, buried with Him in BAPTISM, in which you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you,
being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has
made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.
2:11-13, emphasis mine).

I've read a lot of *speculations* on this thread as to what exactly
circumcision was/is. But does any post-er on this list thus far really
know? To TC it was "the induction of a 8 day old into the covenantal
community of the Jews" and symbolizes the "cutting away" of the sinful
nature. To Jay F. it is "the sign of inclusion into a flesh and blood
community" with pyscho-sexual undertones. To Link H. it is "a type and a
forshadowing of something greater, the circumcision of Christ".
I'll pick on Link first, then work my way back to TC. If Link was
relating his comments to the above verses from Colossians-- and it's pretty
clear he was-- then Christ's circumcision actually means *water baptism,*
with all that it effects. That's the simplest reading of the text:

"In Him you were also CIRCUMCISED ... by the CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST, buried
with Him in BAPTISM ..." (Col. 2:11, 12).

But did physical circumcision simply provide the typological foundation for
baptism? Was that it's sole, or even primary purpose? Or is there another?
Link goes on to elaborate that a "GREATER" circumcision was in view in
the OT-- a circumcision of people's "HEARTS". He in essence said that this
is the true "antitype" (remember that word from 1 Pet. 3:21?) to the "type"
we know as physical circumcision, done with hands. But which came first;
the chicken or the egg? Did God give Abraham the covenant of circumcision
*in order to* lay the groundwork for His later-to-come instructions about
"heart circumcision" (Deu. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:29; ... others),
... OR does circumcision serve a purpose of its own-- and God simply took
what Israel had known for centuries about the salient rite and significance
of circumcision (via pre-Sinai tradition), and then He built a *metaphor* on
that foundation?
I opt for the second view, primarily because of what the Apostle Paul
does and teaches in the NT. If physical circumcision were *only* a type to
be fulfilled once its greater significance of "the circumcised heart" were
realised, then why does Paul continue to practice the rite himself, ... well
after Calvary or Pentecost?

"PAUL wanted to take him [Timothy] along on the journey, so he CIRCUMCISED
him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his
father was a Greek" (Act 16:1-3, but Timothy's "mother was a Jewess and a
believer"-- emphasis and bracketed comments mine).

And why does Paul claim that there *is* (present tense! ... at least to his
post-Calvary/Pentecost time) some sort of advantage to those in Israel's
covenant community ... which, he elaborates, means those who are
circumcised:

"... what value *IS* there in circumcision? Much in every way!" (Rom. 3:1,
2, emphasis mine).

So from my standpoint Link's answer is only partially correct. I
agree that there is, of course, some connection between the physical rite of
circumcision and the prophesied circumcision of the heart. But I think that
the latter was a metaphor derived from a salient ritual which still has
present significance. Circumcision *never* had a direct connection to
justification; justification has ALWAYS been by faith alone ... "made
complete" through appropriate action (Jam. 2:22)-- of which circumcision
NEVER (can I emphasize it any more?) had any bearing.
Jay too inadvertently presents a truncated truth. He emphasizes that
circumcision *brought* (past tense) a person into a "flesh and blood
community". Which is of course true. I would argue however, that it still
does that today. At the very least. He also sees a metaphor for intimacy
in the fact that circumcision was (is!) done to the male sexual organ.
While there may be some of that, it is better in my opinion to simply
remember that circumcision as a covenant was (is!) directly related to
descendents (literally "seed," ie. sperm). Through which and for which the
promises about the land would be literally fulfilled.
Let's go back and remind ourselves of what God actually said to
Abraham when he initiated this stage of His *everlasting* covenant with the
patriarch. Please avoid any allegorizing impulse to say, "this stands for
that, etc.," but simply allow the Bible to tell its own story. Before we
ever say, "this stands for that ...". First things first, okay?.
The enumeration and emphasis below is mine, but the words are directly
out of the Bible (Gen. 17:7-14, NKJ-- very literal):

"THIS IS MY [YHWH's] COVENANT which you shall keep, between Me and you and
your descendants after you in their generations, for an EVERLASTING
COVENANT,

1) TO BE GOD TO YOU and your DESCENDANTS after you.

2) Also I give to you and your descendants after you THE LAND in which you
are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an EVERLASTING possession; and I
will be their God."

Numbers 1) and 2) above highlight what God Himself will do. This is
without condition save that Abraham and his descendants must "keep" the
covenant. What follows in the flow of the passage are the specific
responsibilities enjoined upon Abraham and his descendants which they must
"keep" in order to remain in this particular covenant with the LORD, with
the further elaborations of a) how to keep it, b) who is to keep it, c) what
function their keeping it will serve, d) when they should keep it, e) where
they should keep it f) how long they shall keep it, and g) what will happen
to someone should he not keep it:

"And God said to Abraham: 'As for you, you shall KEEP My covenant, you and
your descendants after you throughout their generations. THIS IS MY COVENANT
which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you:

a) (who?) EVERY MALE CHILD among you shall be circumcised; ..., every male
child in your generations, ... he who is born in your house or bought with
money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your
house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised,

b) (how?) and you shall be circumcised IN THE FLESH OF YOUR FORESKINS,

c) (what?) and it shall be A SIGN OF THE COVENANT between Me and you.

d) (when?) He who is EIGHT DAYS OLD among you shall be circumcised,

e) (where?) and My covenant shall be IN YOUR FLESH

f) (how long?) for an EVERLASTING covenant.

g) (what happens if not kept by someone?) And the uncircumcised male child,
who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be
CUT OFF FROM HIS PEOPLE; he has broken My covenant' " (Gen. 17:7-14).

So while Jay is right that circumcision *was* what brought one into
the "flesh and blood community" of what eventually became Israel, the rite
also has present covenantal significance. It's *everlasting* (see above).
Not only that, circumcision was itself the only human part of the covenant.
That's it. If the present day descendants of Abraham maintain themselves as
a covenant people via this fleshly ritual, then YHWH WILL BE THEIR GOD and
they (or their descendents) will eventually INHERIT THE SPECIFIED LAND OF
CANAAN for a possession. Those are God's promises, not my interpretations.
Again, a reminder: this has no reference to justification-- not every
covenant does.
Finally-- and returning to TC's seeming belief in a one-to-one
correspondence between circumcision and baptism-- I would ask him why, WHY
he believes that "the foreskin represented the original sin inherited from
Adam from the day the person to be circumcised was conceived" since Jews did
not and do not believe in "original sin" as most Christians today conceive
of it? Where do you get this interpretation? Just something you thought
up. Or is there scriptural and/or historical precedent for it?
Some more questions for TC: since in your view baptism = NT
circumcision, does baptism too, in some way, cut (or wash) away "the
original sin inherited from Adam from the day the person ... was conceived".
A very "Catholic" view. And why isn't baptism "painful" like circumcision?
Circumcision has no direct reference to salvation. Never has.
Baptism on the other hand does. There is not a one-to-one correspondence
between the two rituals. I suggest to you all therefore that, while baptism
is not "Christian circumcision" per se, they both were thought by Paul to
accomplish a similar thing: covenant entrance. One for one covenant,
another for another covenant. Each covenant accomplishing a different
aspect, a different phase if you will, of God's eternal plan for Israel and
the nations. Hence their analagous use in the above Colossians passage.
While not holding a one-to-one correspondence view as TC seems to, I
maintain that baptism in faith is the scriptural means to enter the new
covenant. That is the correlation, I would say.

Michael
Jerusalem


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Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2002 21:42:39 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Deborah wrote:

>
> I opt for the second view, primarily because of what the Apostle Paul
>does and teaches in the NT. If physical circumcision were *only* a type to
>be fulfilled once its greater significance of "the circumcised heart" were
>realised, then why does Paul continue to practice the rite himself, ... well
>after Calvary or Pentecost?
>
>"PAUL wanted to take him [Timothy] along on the journey, so he CIRCUMCISED
>him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his
>father was a Greek" (Act 16:1-3, but Timothy's "mother was a Jewess and a
>believer"-- emphasis and bracketed comments mine).
>
>And why does Paul claim that there *is* (present tense! ... at least to his
>post-Calvary/Pentecost time) some sort of advantage to those in Israel's
>covenant community ... which, he elaborates, means those who are
>circumcised:
>
>"... what value *IS* there in circumcision? Much in every way!" (Rom. 3:1,
>2, empha
>sis mine).
>
Dear Michael,

I wonder if I could say in love, that you get my vote for the religious
glutton for punishment award. Having said that let me quickly add, I'm
grateful that you got that part, not me. Grateful that the Jews got the
job of being the foreshadowing people. As I look at it, the advantage
that Paul saw in being God's Old Testament covenant community, was and
remains bought at a very high price. I believe that the advantage Paul
was speaking about was the advantage that foreshadows have in
understanding shadows. The shadows turn out to be only the dim lights of
a tunnel. Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel. The danger for
those in the tunnel is that they get so hung up on the lights in the
tunnel, that they never see the light at the end. I'm not talking
replacement theology here, but fulfillment theology.

As for Paul's "continuing practice", perhaps I could share the following:

WHY

In seeking The Lord about what this apparent contradiction in Paul's
ministry and action could possible mean, several possibilities have
presented themselves; One, As a mere babe in Christ, my first
understanding was that Paul was simply trying to be "... all things to
all men."1 Two, As I grew in my own understanding of Paul's conflict
over the issue of Christian liberty, as over against legalistic Judaism,
I concluded that Paul himself was deceived, both in going to Jerusalem
the last time, and, out of a desire to be accepted by the Jerusalem
establishment, letting himself get involved in the purification rite.
Three, At this point I can only conclude that Paul in fact was compelled
by The Spirit of God, both to go to Jerusalem and get involved in the
purification rite. Paul, in his frustration with the judaizers, knew
exactly what he was doing, and what was at stake.

ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN

One, it does not take very much study of the Scripture to discover that
circumcision is too central an issue or, at least, was to the Judaizers,
for Paul to treat it so lightly in Timothy's case, or allow himself to
get entangled in a judaizing sham ending in a blood sacrifice.

A QUESTION OF BELONGING

Two, a deceiving spirit compelled him to go, and having already been
deceived, he fell into the further deception of participating in the sham.

Whatever Paul had said in Romans, he may not have fully worked out the
implications of grace. After all, the council at Jerusalem left room in
Paul's thinking for the circumcision of Timothy. The need to belong is
such a great longing of the human heart, that even Paul may have been
coerced by the Judaizers, in order to win their acceptance. This
possibility would certainly be consistent with a prophecy of Daniel:

"Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified
and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at
the appointed time."DAN 11:35

While we can imagine the desire for acceptance is so strong, that Paul
might have been willing to compromise,2 we are left with more questions
than answers. Why did he feel "compelled by the spirit" to go up to
Jerusalem in time for Pentecost. Having been specifically warned that
the Jews of Jerusalem would bind him, 3 why would Paul willingly walk
into such an obvious trap? Would it have been deception for him to do
so? Later on Paul told Felix that it was to bring gifts for the poor,
and present offerings he had gone back to Jerusalem.4 This is consistant
with what he had written to the Romans while still enroute to Jerusalem.5

While Paul, doubtless was carrying such gifts, this could simply have
been his cover story similar to the one Samuel had when he went to
anoint David as king.6

1 1CO 10:32, 2 GAL 2:5, 3 ACT 21:11-13, 4 Acts 24:17, 5 ROM 15:25-28, 6
1SAMUEL 162-5
-2-

Three: Finally, we were forced to look deeper still for the explanation.
On the way to Jerusalem, Paul wrote:

ROM 9:1-4a "I speak the truth in Christ-I am not lying, my conscience
confirms it in the Holy Spirit- I have great sorrow and unceasing
anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut
off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the
people of Israel."

Stated here, and assumed elsewhere, that Paul is not lying, the Holy
Spirit did compel Paul both to go, and to participate. Jesus, led by the
Holy Spirit, had become a curse for us, establishing a precedent for
Paul. It is not inconsistent with God's ways as revealed elswhere in
Scripture that Paul's participation and resulting imprisonment was
designed in the purposes of God to finally resolve the circumcision
issue. Paul, for God's sake, as a sheep to be slaughtered, was willing
to be imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.1

Paul had been driven to his wits end to know what to do about the
continuing legalism which kept coming out of the Jerusalem Church. We
could imagine, perhaps even identify with a man who, from time to time
had to wonder if he was crazy,2 if he was, "running in vain."3 Paul had
been plagued from the beginning of his ministry to the Gentiles by the
bondage of anti-christ:

"We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will
not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in
every way: ... in beatings, imprisonments and riots;.. through glory and
dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as
imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown;.." 2CO 6:3-10

"Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I
am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been
flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five
times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I
was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,.. I have been in danger from...
my own countrymen,.. Gentiles;.. false brothers..."2CO 11:23-29

The ultimate conflict of Scripture is between man's doing and God's
doing. The saints are "God's workmanship"4, and "the beast is given
power to make war against the saints and overcome them5. This is to say,
that old creation man is contrary to new creation man. In the short run,
it would appear that old creation man is the winner in this conflict.

The events, their sequence, the content of the Scriptures, including
Paul's letters, and the Spirit with which he wrote, all suggest that
Paul's frustration and confrontation of the Jerusalem Church, expressed
the mind of Christ. Paul, for his part, was ready to be a cursed, if
necessary, in order to finally pull down this stronghold against the
liberty of God's people, even those of his old creation race.

We could imagine that in the privacy of his heart, he was saying to the
judaizers, "All right, nothing I have done or said has prevailed to
resolve this issue, we will play it your way, and see what God does
about it." We can as well imagine that in taking this course, Paul's
intention was to put the resolution of the conflict squarely in the
hands of The Lord.
1 EPH 6:19,20, PHI 1:12-14, 2 2CO 11:23, 3 GAL 2:2,21, 3:4, 4:11, 4 EPH
2:10, 5 REV 13:7
-3-

Paul was on his way to the old Jerusalem with blood in his eye. The
battle would be The Lord's. The issue was foundational to everything
else, and it mattered not to Paul if he would be bound or killed in the
process of bringing about its resolution,

"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to
be slaughtered."1

Returning from the counsel in Jerusalem, Paul had stayed on in Antioch
for some time.2

We are inclined in this case to read the sequence of Galatians 2 as
reflecting the chronology of the events it describes. Even before the
circumcision of Timothy then, in Acts 16, Paul was once again embroiled
in conflict with the circumcision group as evidenced by his
confrontation with Peter, Peter himself suffering under the intimidation
of the men who had themselves come from James. After fourteen years of
ministering with Paul, even Barnabas was led astray. The judaizing
deception was chronic, endemic, pernicious and pervasive.

Paul had already spoken in private to the Jerusalem leadership, strongly
suggesting a Matthew 18 intention over his concern with running in vain.
In Galatians 2:14 Paul rebukes Peter openly, in front of the whole
church. Not only is this consistent with his later instruction to
Timothy in First Timothy 5:20, but quite appropriate in light of his
already attempting, and obviously failing to get this issue resolved in
private. In his letter to the Galatians, he shares his concern once
again, and this time with the Church, even us. This is very strong
indication of his frustration with his continuing inability to penetrate
the strongholds of tradition resident in Jerusalem and its leadership.

Paul's words and tone in the opening chapters of Galatians are not those
of a man who is reconciled, at the time of its writing, with the
leadership about whom he is speaking. To begin with, he goes out of his
way to disassociate the gospel he preaches with the understanding of the
Jerusalem leadership.3 When he does acknowledge contact with the
leadership, he is careful to note that it was only for the purpose to
"get acquainted",4 not to be taught or affirmed. Finally, he refers to
the leadership as those who, "seemed to be leaders,.. seemed to be
important,.. those reputed to be pillars,.. were not acting in line with
the truth of the gospel,.."5

1 ROM 8:36, 2 ACT 15:35, 3 GAL 1:11,16,17, 4 GAL 1:18-20, 5 GAL 2:2,6,8,14

>So from my standpoint Link's answer is only partially correct. I
>agree that there is, of course, some connection between the physical rite of
>circumcision and the prophesied circumcision of the heart. But I think that
>the latter was a metaphor derived from a salient ritual which still has
>present significance.
>
Not so, Michael, "REALITY IS FOUND IN CHRIST!!!" "I dare not trust the
sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus Name."

>Circumcision *never* had a direct connection to
>justification; justification has ALWAYS been by faith alone ... "made
>complete" through appropriate action (Jam. 2:22)-- of which circumcision
>NEVER (can I emphasize it any more?) had any bearing.
>
Circumcision has to do with connection.

>Jay too inadvertently presents a truncated truth.
>
(Great choice of words here!)

>He emphasizes that circumcision *brought* (past tense) a person into a "flesh and blood community". Which is of course true. I would argue however, that it still does that today.
>
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor
uncircumcision, but a new creature." Galatians 6:15

>At the very least. He also sees a metaphor for intimacy in the fact that circumcision was (is!) done to the male sexual organ. While there may be some of that, it is better in my opinion to simply remember that circumcision as a covenant was (is!) directly related to descendents (literally "seed," ie. sperm). Through which and for which the promises about the land would be literally fulfilled.
>
Until we get to Christ, we have no idea what "literal" is. He is the
literal, all that preceeded Him is the metaphor.

"While there may be some of that,... " Come on Michael, "Get a Life!"
The answer for sexuality, is not denial, it is, "... Christ and the
Church." It may have been a great mystery at one time, even to the
shadow people, but it is not a mystery any longer, or, at least
shouldn't be, for those of us who say we believe in Him. And even if it
has something to do with "seed", this is still the biproduct of
intimacy, and if "seed" is in view, in the first instance, it is not,
"And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And
to thy seed, which is Christ." Galatians 3:16b

>So while Jay is right that circumcision *was* what brought one into
>the "flesh and blood community" of what eventually became Israel, the rite
>also has present covenantal significance. It's *everlasting* (see above).
>Not only that, circumcision was itself the only human part of the covenant.
>That's it.
>
The literal circumcision, the one in the human heart by Christ, is no
longer the "human part", "In whom also ye are circumcised with the
circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of
the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:" Colossians 2:11

The literal circumcision is not something that can be done by human
hands. It can only be performed by the crucifixion of Christ. There is
no way that we can do it as a covenantal sign. the closest that we can
get is baptism. That is the outward sign of our agreement with what He
has done in our inward parts. Baptism is now the outer sign of our
agreement with, and inclusion in, the everlasting covenant.

>Let's go back and remind ourselves of what God actually said to
>Abraham when he initiated this stage of His *everlasting* covenant with the
>patriarch. Please avoid any allegorizing impulse to say, "this stands for
>that, etc.," but simply allow the Bible to tell its own story. Before we
>ever say, "this stands for that ...". First things first, okay?.

First is the natural, (flesh) then the spiritual.

>The enumeration and emphasis below is mine, but the words are directly
>out of the Bible (Gen. 17:7-14, NKJ-- very literal):

>"THIS IS MY [YHWH's] COVENANT ... an EVERLASTING
>COVENANT,

>1) TO BE GOD TO YOU and your DESCENDANTS after you.

>2) Also I give to you and your descendants after you THE LAND in which you
>are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an EVERLASTING possession; and I
>will be their God."

>f) (how long?) for an EVERLASTING covenant

You have cited several "forever" passages, and there are certainly more,
but God knew what He was talking about, the foreshadows didn't. What He
was talking about was Jesus. When Jesus came to His own, (the
foreshadowing people) His own received Him not.

The foreshadowing circumcison was the forever sign of a relationship
with God, only because it would find its fulfillment in Christ. The
foreshadowing land of promise was a forever land only because it would
find its fulfillment in Christ. The foreshadowing temple was a forever
temple, only because it would find its fulfillment in Christ. Hello??

>If the present day descendants of Abraham maintain themselves as
>a covenant people via this fleshly ritual, then YHWH WILL BE THEIR GOD and
>they (or their descendents) will eventually INHERIT THE SPECIFIED LAND OF
>CANAAN for a possession. Those are God's promises, not my interpretations.
>Again, a reminder: this has no reference to justification-- not every
>covenant does.
>
The final details on how God keeps His promise are not yet fully seen or
understood. Even in Christ, we are still,"... looking through a glass
darkly."

>Finally-- and returning to TC's seeming belief in a one-to-one
>correspondence between circumcision and baptism-- I would ask him why, WHY
>he believes that "the foreskin represented the original sin inherited from
>Adam from the day the person to be circumcised was conceived" since Jews did
>not and do not believe in "original sin" as most Christians today conceive
>of it? Where do you get this interpretation? Just something you thought
>up. Or is there scriptural and/or historical precedent for it?
>
Dear TC, welcome to the brotherhood of the clueless!

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 01:58:36 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: [NTCP] First for the Jew, then for the Gentile

Dear Michael,

I neglected to mention one more thing, in that last. It is not as though
I believe that the Gentiles are going to get off scott free, for Romans
2 tells us: "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth
evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and
peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the
Gentile: Romans 2:9,10

It seems to me that there is a very good chance that it will go for us
as it did for the Jews:... the desolation of our population centers.
This is not to say that it was any picnic in the country side
surrounding A.D. 70.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 00:08:20 EDT
From: TheologusCrucis * cs
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Infant Baptism

David,

Thank you for your most kind post!

You wrote:

>Well, I abandoned infant baptism when I realized that many of the great
reformed theologians admitted that "sprinkling" was not the scriptural or
apostolic method. If they were mistaken as to the mode, perhaps also the
subjects of baptism, as well, I reasoned and began to rethink my steps.<

You do have a point. I myself wasn't baptized as an infant, and haven't
performed any infant baptisms. Yet -- wouldn't sprinkling, in the case of an
infant, be pragmatic in any time, in any place? For a child or an adult,
immersion would be the apostolic pattern.

And I am not dogmatic on this subject myself! But this conversation could be
useful, don't you think, as a way to get us individualistic, isolated North
Americans to think of election and salvation as not only on individualistic
terms but in a family and even on a corporate level?

>Christ's teaching that he could "make children of Abraham out of the
stones" and his warning to "say not that were Abraham's children,"
settled this question with me.

Baptism is about new birth - not merely birth. Regeneration - not
genetics.<

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I believe regeneration prefigures faith
and repentance. Which could lead to a couple of different discussions that
this list isn't necessarily about! ;)

Actually, I brought up this subject not emphasize infant baptism, but to ask
just what is baptism to an house church community of faith? What is baptism? What is
it's significance?

I had quoted M. Jinkin's book The Church Faces Death:

"We are soaked to the skin in the death of Christ. Our union with Christ
drips from us. We never "get over" this immersion; this drowning in Christ's
death marks us daily; it marks us out, "names" us to the world and to one
another as "children of God"; we are shipwrecked, run aground on the death of
Christ; we trail wet footprints of this drenching wherever we go; we never
dry off."

Is baptism merely a remembrance? A symbol? a sign and a seal? Is it an
ordinance or a Sacrament? Should our gathering for worship and fellowship be
centered on this? If so, how? And if it is this radical death and rebirth --
and everyone on the list would at least agree to that -- what does that mean
practically? Where do our loyalties lie? I know how baptism is treat in the
A/G and most other Pentecostal groups: we like our Christianity Christless --
we skip the cross and head straight to Easter and Pentecost. Most of the
time, baptisms are stuck at the end of a Sunday evening service after a
sermon not even on the subject. Most of the HCs around here treat it a type
of relational/thereputic emphasis. How does your house church handle baptism?

Again, thank you for your kind post, David. I am always surprised when I
realize that someone actually reads my posts -- I reread my stuff before I
send it (usually) and I bore myself to tears. If I could only communicate
what was really inside my head...

Blessings to you, David.

TC


------- <><><> -------


Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 19:16:34 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Infant Baptism

TheologusCrucis * cs wrote

> Is baptism merely a remembrance? A symbol? a sign and a seal? Is it an
> ordinance or a Sacrament? Should our gathering for worship and
> fellowship be centered on this? If so, how? And if it is this radical
> death and rebirth -- and everyone on the list would at least agree to
> that -- what does that mean practically? Where do our loyalties lie? I
> know how baptism is treat in the A/G and most other Pentecostal
> groups: we like our Christianity Christless -- we skip the cross and
> head straight to Easter and Pentecost. Most of the time, baptisms are
> stuck at the end of a Sunday evening service after a sermon not even
> on the subject. Most of the HCs around here treat it a type of
> relational/thereputic emphasis. How does your house church handle baptism?

Dear TC,

I hope you don't mind my butting in to your correspondence with others.
That it is on the list rather than in private, I take to be an
invitation for others to respond, and so I do.

In answer to your question, and possible answers, I want to say once
more that a wedding, (wetting) is a very good picture of the
significance of baptism. The very heart of it is "the pledge of a good
conscience toward God."

While weddings tend to be and most certainly have very family
implications, the relationship that baptism is all about is one that
"flesh and blood cannot inherit". It has to do with the participant's
assent to the transformation of the inner man. You can do everything you
can to effect that transformation in another, a spouse or children, for
instance, even sanctify them for fellowship purposes, but, at the end of
the day, that assent must be their own. Historically there have been too
many who think they are Christians just because someone took them to
church when they were young or because they grew up in a "christian
nation", (an oxymoron). Infant baptism only reinforces this presumption.
This has not done the cause of Christ either justice or service. It has
rather been in the nature of a fraud, a fraud on the participants, and a
fraud on the harvest field.

If we really want to save our families, then let us bring them in by
love, rather than what, for the unregenerate, seems nothing more then a
preoccupation with religious externals.

Over the years, we have used lakes, and pools, creeks, rivers, the
ocean, even IC baptisteries. We have invited friends, and welcomed
strangers. After all, baptism is not only a statement of, and to our own
conscience, it is a statement to the world around us, a statement to our
sphere of influence. It is our declaration that we are through with the
old creation, and have entered into a new creation.

Yours in Christ,

Jay
 


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