Baptism Reloaded: Listening to God’s Original Love Song

Matthew 3: 13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Message:

Early Church pictured Jesus going down or dipping in the River Jordan, and as he comes out of the water the Holy Spirit descends upon him in the form of a dove and the voice speaks from Heaven: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).Reflecting on this, they soon began to make connections with the Creation story which involved Water and spirit. At the beginning of creation, Genesis tells us, there was watery chaos. And over the watery chaos, Holy Spirit was hovering. There is watery chaos, there is wind of God’s spirit. Out of the watery chaos comes the world. And God says ‘This is good.’ This is how St Paul connected Baptism of Jesus to the Creation account and therefore gave the apt title to Christian life as New Creation. So the beginning of Christian life is a new beginning of God’s New Creative work. Just as Jesus came out of the water, receiving the the Spirit and hearing the voice of the Father, so for the newly baptized Christian the voice of God gives a new identity saying “This is my son/daughter, whom I love; with her/him I am well pleased.”

There is a tribe in Sierra Leone  called the Himba Tribe where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind.And when a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him.And then, when they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it. And then, when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child’s song to welcome it. And then, as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or hurts its knee,someone picks it up and sings its song to it. Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song. In this African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything to prove yourself or usurp what is not yours.

God is singing the original song at our Baptism where he says “You are my beloved son/daughter.” That is our identity and we should often be reminded of the original song.

What is the significance of Jesus’ Baptism. Jesus restores the creation to its purpose of ‘It is good’. When Jesus who restored humanity to the Original love song of God, entered into the river Jordan, symbolizing entry into the chaos of the human world. Jesus entered into our level, where things are broken, shapeless and meaningless, in a state of vulnerability and risk, to give birth to a New Creation of humanity. So when we share in the baptism of Jesus, it is not going to be a life that is going to be successful and in control of things, but it is going to be a life that reaches out from the pain of brokenness and loneliness (chaos), to be touched by the hand of God. So where do we find the Baptized? In the midst of brokenness, pain, death, illness, risk, in short “in the neighbourhood of chaos.”Being baptized means to be lead to where Jesus is. Therefore baptism means being led to the chaos and neediness of a humanity that has forgotten its identity and destiny. But more so, Baptism touches the depths of not just outside chaos, but also the chaos of her or his own life. Because the chaos is not just outside but also there is a lot of inhumanity and muddle inside us. A baptized person should have the honesty and courage to look at the chaos inside and should combat the chaos outside. If this is so, baptism does not confer on us a status that makes us special or a claim of privilege. It is a claim a new level of soladiruty with other people through Christ. Therefore Baptism never is a convocation or graduation ceremony for the privileged elite, but it is an entry into the messy, needy, contaminated world with Jesus. When Jesus rose from the water, it symbolizes that, through the resurrection of Christ, we will also overcome the forces of death and destruction. Baptism opens us to the chaos of the world and at the same time it opens us to the Holy Spirit. Baptism opens up to the brokenness and pain of the world and also gives us the joy of communion, with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It helps us listen to the voice of God, constantly reminding our identity as His beloved.

Now we have wasted a lot of energy, debating the validity of infant baptism and adult baptism. We have turned baptism into a validity contest of who is right and who has the entry visa to Paradise. That is how we completely miss the point. Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4) It calls for a complete identification with Jesus. . Church identifies Jesus to have lived a threefold identity: the prophet, priest and king. Baptism calls us to live a life identifying with these 3 roles. We do not see ourselves in such a perspective. Let us analyse these 3 roles

  1. Prophet: We have reduced a prophet to just foretelling the future. But biblically if we analyze, the role of a prophet is to challenge the community to be what it is meant to be. So the baptized person, reflecting the prop[hetic role of Jesus Christ is a person who needs to be critical, a questioner. A person who asks, “Have you forgetten what you are here for?” “Have you forgotten the gift God gave you?” Prophetic role reminds us that we are God’s beloved and therefore questions the human practices in the wake of our identity. Prophetic role is a risky role as we pose uncomfortable questions to ourselves and to people around us, commiting ourselves to the identity that God has given us. We hold each other accountable to our faith and action. Prophetic role is not just about having a private life of faith, but a faith that overflows to combat injustice, discrimination and suffering. Let us remember our prophetic role.
  2. Priest: The role of a priest in Old Testament is one who interprets God and humanity to each other. Priest was seen as somebody who builds bridges between God and humanity when that relationship has been wrecked; somebody who by offering sacrifice to God recreates a shattered relationship. This is the priestly role Jesus espoused and we can try to identify with that role of being peacemakers and bridge builders. We offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:2). In a world characterized by brokenness and estrangement, Baptism calls us to the priestly role of building bridges between communities, races and people from different hues
  3. King: King is a one who had the freedom and power to shape the law and justice of society. King is a one who had the power to bring to fruition what he wishes to see. While prophets are those who break dividing walls and dismantle new structures, kingly role calls to build alternative structures. Kingly role calls us to shape our lives and human environment in accordance with the justice of God. We are part takers of the freedom and liberty that God gives us to make the world a better place.

So Baptism is not just a vain speculation of whose Baptism is valid, but it initiates us to a life of playing the role of Prophet, Priest and King. We live in times of mediocre faith that makes us feel that one must just tag along. Baptism is just seen as a societal necessity. There is a theory called Pygmalion effect. In the Greek mythology Pygmalion is a sculptor from the city of Crete. His statues were very popular and he was deeply admired. There were many girls who wished to marry him but he refused to do so. One day he sculpted a beautiful woman. It is said he fell in love with this statue. He kept telling the people of the city that the statue of the woman is his wife. People thought he had lost it to call a statue a stone, as his wife. It is said that his constant love and affection on the statue gave breath to the sculpture and the lifeless body came to life. Pygmallion effect says that any person ordinary, if endowed with expectation, love and responsibility can rise up perform beyond expectation. Through baptism, ordinary humans like us are endowed the love and expectation of our Lord to rise up to live the divine-human life of discipleship consisting of the roles of Prophet, Priest and King.

Rev Merin Mathew

Bethel Mar Thoma Church

Kolar Road, Bhopal

Ps: This article is adapted from Archbishop Rowan Williams’ book ‘Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, PrayerBaptism 2

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Born Again? Decoding the Question

John 3: 1-17

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.  I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Message:

Are you “Born-Again?” I have never known how to answer this question. I have had friends and pastors who have asked this question and when I blurt out unsatisfactory answers, I can see them turn out like quiz masters looking at hapless contestants “O I am afraid that’s the wrong answer.”  So what do people generally mean when they ask this question? Let us explore that. Generally, it has referred to an instantaneous moment of conversion, usually accompanied by an intense emotional experience, which is the sign of having truly accepted Christ as Saviour. For some church traditions, being ‘born again’ is the mark of being a true Christian – there are Christians and there are ‘born-again Christians’ It is treated by some as if it were a command from Christ: “What must I do to be saved?” “You must be born again!”

If I had a penny for every time I had been asked if I was ‘born-again’, as if it were a mark of my orthodoxy as a Christian Minister, I would be rich indeed!

Other church traditions suggest a slightly different idea: that to be ‘born again’ is a second conversion, if you like; the first being the moment when you decide for Christ and the second when you are filled with the Holy Spirit and receive the gifts of the Spirit, most importantly, speaking in tongues. Again, this creates a ‘two-tier’ system: Christians who are saved and Christians who are filled with the Spirit through having been born again. And, for that reason, most of these churches will teach a second baptism; being baptised as an adult to do the work that wasn’t really achieved through infant baptism.

There’s only one problem with this: Jesus doesn’t say, “You must be born again!” What he says is, “If someone is not born from above, they are not able to see the Kingdom of God.” And that is very different indeed…

So I want to discourage you from seeing this passage as an imperative from Jesus to ‘be born again’ in the sense that you are to make a one-off, personal decision for Christ that will be the root of your salvation and instead to see this passage for what it really says to us. It would make it our initiative, which is not the case

Now let us keep all the debates aside and try to approach the text in a different way. Have you ever felt that you are doing things for the heck of it, just a matter of habit and motion, rather than inner motivation and inspiration? You talk to people as formality and not sincerity. You do your work because you get the salary and not because you love your job. You are in a romantic relation and it is no more how it used to be. Phone calls used to be fun and long and now it is tedious and a routine. Prayers once upon a time used to be deep and sincere, now it is just words and a ritual. Worship and singing was exhilarating but now it’s a drab and you do it out of pressure from parents or fear of something untoward happening. Now why am I on this trail? I feel Nicodemus in this passage was like many of us who was burdened and bored by his religious life. He was no simple man. He was a scholar who had a Ph.D from Harvard in religion. He was a smart man. But he was doing things as routine and not out of inspiration. And here is where Jesus and Nicodemus meet. I am sure when Nicodemus came at night, he wanted no one to know that he met the foolish Rabbi that the Pharisees detested. So it is here in his routine, boring religious life that Jesus tells him in John 3:3 Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]” So the point is, if one has to see the Kingdom of God, you cannot live by your current understandings. That does not work there in the Kingdom. So you need to be “Born from above”, which is the accurate Greek to English translation. So what is Jesus asking Nicodemus and most of us? I am including myself in this. As Christians, we are just so as we are born in Christian families, forced and threatened to go to Sunday school, given a choice, Church is not the place we would go on Sundays, either we would love to sleep or do something more interesting. But we go to Church, attend worship and pray.  We have all done the above to be in the motion and not do through motivation. We have done all this as it has given us some comfort, but no matter what, it has only distanced us from God. So was the case with Nicodemus. He knew many laws and rules to live by. So if Nicodemus has to be born again, it is logical, he has to die to something. He has to die to his kingdom, where he is the king. I never realized that the part of Lord’s prayer is rather dangerous. “…Your Kingdom come”. It is an understanding where we say, we are ready to let go of our kingdom where we are kings and queens. Easier said than done. Nicodemus and us, have to die to our current understandings of being in control and doing things. We have to start anew. It is a radical call. A very important one, like “Deny yourself, carry your cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But if we have to be born again, we know that no one can decide to be born. I did not one day wake and say “Hey, I want to be born”. It is the mother who goes through the very painful process of giving birth. So if anyone asks the question “Are you born again?” There is a problem there. It makes it the person’s decision to do so which is flawed. So how are we born again? It is Jesus who is the mother who gives us birth through his painful death at the cross, and it is participating in His resurrection, we have a new life or are born again or are a new creation. Let me use Paul here to get it more clear.” We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

John 3: 5 says Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

What does it mean to be born of the water? Just as a child cannot live without water within the uterus, you and I cannot live without the water of God inside of us and around us giving us life. Water, both in us and around us, gives us life, just as water is in the unborn child and around the unborn child when that child is in the uterus. In order to be spiritually alive, you must be cleansed by the waters of God. We need to have our sins washed away daily.

By nature, we are sinners. By nature, we get stressed out. By nature, we do all kinds of dumb things. And we constantly need our sinful lives washed clean with the cleansing waters of God’s forgiveness. God is constantly washing us of our sins. That is true of everybody here. There are no exceptions.

You never grow to become so religious that you outgrow the need to be daily washed of your sins.We are all equal here and there is no superior or inferior.

Now about the Spirit?

The Spirit, of course, is the Holy Spirit. But what is interesting in this passage is Jesus’ response to Nicodemus when he seems not to understand…

In verse 9, Nicodemus says, “How can these things be?” And Jesus is really short with him, verse 10: “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?”

Jesus is short with Nicodemus because, as a Pharisee learned in the Scriptures, his mind should have gone immediately to Ezekiel 37:5: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord to you: ‘I will cause the spirit to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put the spirit in you, and you shall live.”

So this reference to being ‘born from above’ is a reference to the resurrection, which is promised to us as a result of us being united with Christ in his resurrection. And Jesus strengthens this teaching in verse 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” It is the lifting up of Jesus on the cross that is the source of our salvation.

It is the resurrection of Jesus that is the source of our new life and, as Paul says, if we are united with Christ in his death, we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection.

Now was Nicodemus born again?   We can be fairly certain that Nicodemus did eventually get it, for the next time he is mentioned, playing a major role along with Joseph of Arimathea in the burial of the crucified body of Jesus (John 19:38-40), it looks very much as if he had decided to participate in the way of Jesus. Despite, or more likely because of, the metaphor, Nicodemus was born from above. He was ready to risk everything for Jesus.

My friends let me end. I have painstakingly written this so that we can reclaim this word “Born again” which is not a privilege of a select few or a sect of Christians. It is not the basis for creating Tier One and Tier Two Christians. It is not saying that infant baptism needs re-doing as an adult. It is not saying that we need to be baptised in the Spirit as a separate, conclusive event after being converted to Christ. It is not saying that this new state of being must be evidenced by speaking in tongues. It is much more simple than that…

“Unless you are born from above, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

It is a process we need to go through and a radical call. Christ has birthed us through the painful death on the Cross and in his resurrection we have new life. But we need to grow in our faith. The other problem with the emphasis alone on Born Again is, we make it as a one time event. This is not natural. Whoever is born, does not stop at that. What does s/he do? S/He grows. I am sure Nicodemus was just not born but he also grows into discipleship and faith as his  presence at the burial is evidence that ever since that conversation with Jesus he had been growing, growing in understanding and participation, on his way to maturity in the world of God alive.

So, birth. Then growth. The most significant growing up that any person does is to grow as a Christian. All other growing up is a preparation for or ancillary to this growing up. Biological and social, mental and emotional growing is all ultimately absorbed into growing up in Christ. Or not. The human task is to become mature, not only in our bodies and emotions and minds within ourselves, but also in our relationship with God and other persons.

As Paul says  “ Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4: 14-15). So my dear friends you are not just Born again, but also are called to be growing Christians in the resurrection of Christ.

Rev Merin Mathew

Bethel Mar Thoma Church

Kolar Road, Bhopal

What-do-you-mean-born-again

Baptism: Confusions and Doubts Regarding Infant Baptism

 

 

I Corinthians10:1-6

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did.

Message

Many of us live in doubt whether our Baptism is valid as we do not proclaim our faith. This gives us the impression that maybe our church practice is wrong. How can an infant affirm his or her faith? He or she is not aware of what he is getting into, so the baptism is a meaningless ritual is the common argument. This is a common rationale to persuade many believers in adult baptism as the first baptism is neither biblical nor true. Historically this argument comes to the fore, thanks to the 16th century radical group called ‘Anabaptists’ which means ones who had rebaptised. Their argument was that one has to affirm his faith before baptism. This strand of argument is adopted by many Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal Churches. I am not questioning their position. But I debate that their argument is not tenable. We need to analyse the given text and understand its symbols and significance. This section is called “ Warnings from Israel’s History”. According to Rev. Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla, the Principal of Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam, Baptism is not a graduation of faith as is presupposed in the arguments of Believers’ (Adult) Baptism. He contends that Baptism is the initiation into the ‘Salvation History’ and Eucharist is the edification in the journey of Salvation History. He elucidates this with the support of the above text. Here we see Paul’s Hermeneutics at work which is allegorical. He symbolizes the cloud that guided the Israelites in the wilderness and the Reed sea that they walked through as a process of Baptism. They were being initiated and guided into the journey towards ‘The Promised Land’. Spiritual food here is alluded to be the manna that Yahweh fed his people with. The drinking from the rock that is Christologically alluded reminds of the incident of Moses striking the rock with the rod from which people in their Journey drank water from. The manna and the water symbolize the Eucharist which edifies us in our journey as being part of ‘The Salvation History’. Verse 5 strikes the ultimate warning that even though the Israelites were initiated into the journey towards ‘The Promised Land’, “God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.” Though many started their journey very few made it to the promises land. Verse 6 explicitly states that this occurred as a warning for us that we may not fall into the trap of being assured of completing our journey. Baptism initiates us into the faith community where faith is not an individual or personal matter but is formed in the context of a community. During our first communion we own our Baptism and faith and are edified with the salvific memory of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Abraham Kuruvilla illustrates that being initiated in the education system at the nursery level is not a graduation but an initiation. One is not guaranteed to finish his education process. One needs to review and work at it. So let us be clear that Baptism and Eucharist are important landmarks in our faith journey, but it has to be regarded as Initiation and edification respectively.

Note- the above are reflections of our Principal, Rev. Dr. Abraham Kuruvilla, and it is brought to flesh with my limited comprehension about the subject.

On the basis of the above thesis let us look into the biblical and theological basis of infant baptism.

 

Biblical And Theological Grounds For Infant Baptism-

The major confusion of the Mar Thoma Christians is directly related to the validity of Infant Baptism. The lack of clarity on this subject and the illusion that it is not biblically based has caused major concerns for the Mar Thomites who are succumbed to believe that this particular practice is not biblical. This is a challenge and an opportunity to clear certain misconceptions regarding this topic. We will first consider this historically. In the time of the Apostles we have direct evidence that 3 distinct families or households received Baptism; that is the household of Stephanas, Lydia and the Phillipian Jailor. The term household signifies infants and children included as well. Even in Acts 2: 38-39, it signifies clearly Child Baptism. Origen mentions that the “ Church has an order from the Apostles to give baptism to the infants.” At the Council of Cathage, A.D. 251, the question was asked that whether it was not necessary to postpone baptism of infants until the fourth day , when it was decided that “no person should be hindered from receiving baptism, especially infants and those newly born.” The fourth Century Archbishop of Milan, Ambrose, wrote on the subject of “ Infant Baptism in the time of the Apostles.” This also shows that infant Baptism was uniformly practiced by the Early Church. W.F. Flemington in The New Testament Doctrine of Baptism argues that baptism of infants is a thoroughly legitimate development of New Testament teaching, a practice in full accord with the mind of Christ. J. Jeremias , the New Testament scholar says that Colossians 2: 11,12 shows that Paul considered Baptism equivalent to Circumcision that opened the way for Christian parents to baptize their children. The Old Testament says that circumcision was practiced on the 8th Day, which admitted the child into the Jewish Church. Nowhere in the Bible are children treated outside the scope of blessing. As we have seen that Baptism is the seal of faith. Romans 4:2 says, ‘ And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith, which he had yet being uncircumcised.’ So there is a connection of circumcision to be ‘ seal of faith’ and baptism that is called a seal of faith which are tied to respective covenants. As in Gen 17: 11,12 that says “Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the mark of the covenant between you and me. Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised…”. So this is a ‘seal of faith’ and ‘token of covenant’. Circumcision then like baptism now fulfilled a double purpose. It is the seal of the believer’s faith and also the sign of God’s covenant.

So who is included in this covenant? The answer is found in Acts 2: 39 “ the promise is unto you and your children.” Let me quote from Dr. Wall’s “ History of Infant Baptism”( vol 1., p. 3) as follows ‘It is evident that the custom before Jesus’ time was to baptize as well as circumcise any proselyte that came over to them from nations. This was based on their belief that rest all were impure and not worthy to enter into a Covenant without a washing or baptism from their uncleanness and this was called baptizing unto Moses. If any such proselyte , who came over to the Jewish religion, and was baptized into it, had any infant children then born to him, they also were baptized and circumcised. The child’s inability to declare his faith was never looked on as a bar against his reception into the covenant.”

Bernard Manning in his book, “Why Not Abandon the Church”, summarizes beautifully about baptism. He says “In Baptism the main thing is not what men do, but what God has done. It is a sign that Christ claims all men as his own and He has redeemed them to a new way of life. That is why we baptize children and infants. The water of baptism declares that they are entitled to God’s mercies to men in the passion of Christ. Your own baptism ought then to mean much to you. It ought to mean all the more because it happened before you knew anything about it. Christ redeemed you on the Calvary without any thought or action on your part. He did not wait for any sign or confirmation on your part. Similarly we baptize a child and declare to the world in a solemn manner what God does for us without our merit and even without our knowledge. In Baptism, more plainly perhaps than anywhere else, God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

We have to realize that the objection to infant Baptism needs to be rooted to the cult group called the Anabaptists who gave importance to the profession of faith as an imperative for Baptism. This logic is reductionist and places the onus of faith on an individual. No faith is individual but it is a formation of the community that fosters faith. Infant baptism sets apart a child and he becomes part of the Body of Christ to be formed by the faith practices of the community and the God Parent is the representative of the community to ensure that the child is formed in faith. The family is the nucleus of this faith formation. So the corporate formation of faith has been given emphasis in infant Baptism.

Conclusion

As we have surveyed the theological basis of baptism and the rationale for infant baptism, we the ministers in formation need to engage deeply with the liturgical practices of baptism. I personally feel we need to pay a lot of attention in teaching this to the youths, sevika sanghams and prayer meetings in our parish assignments. I have observed the lack of clarity on this topic has made many of our church members vulnerable. We personally need to learn more about it to be convinced about our baptism and to relive and reaffirm the faith that was symbolized at our day of baptism. May God guide us.

 

Rev Merin Mathew

Mar Thoma Syrian Church

Guwahati