This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
He with a little band made his way by wood and swamp, and after
Easter he made a fort at Athelney, and from that fort kept fighting against the foe.
V ol. 1. 1 Covenant Baptism
Athelney Chapterhouse is a Trinitarian cultural journal celebrating the simplicity of agrarian living, the stouthearted legacy of AngloSaxon Christendom, & the sacramental life hid with Christ in God. Threats to the good life abound: over consumption, industrial farming, ignorance, hubris, greed, the industrialization of life, feudalism, chauvinism, irreverence, cowardice, erosion, deforestation, and foreign conquest. We continue to answer king Alfred's call to fight these dangers with traditional virtues like courage, simplicity, fidelity, husbandry, frugality, & reverence. We see Athelney as an extended conversation on the pleasures of good work, family, good food, laughter, psalm singing, incarnational parish life, connection to place, a rich liturgical heritage, gardening, & eucharistic living. Therefore, in the spirit of concord we present these tracts for the edification of all, the healing of soul and body, and to show that we “are neglecting nothing that may serve the cause of Christian unity" but have received the true faith, the paradosis of Christ, from our fathers. If you find me to be right, I give credit to our venerable Fathers, especially Blessed Augustine, the Great Athanasius, the Great Gregory, Holy Cuthbert, the Venerable Bede, and the great king Alfred. However, where I am in error it is due only to my own absent-mindedness, sloth, and inattention to instruction. In this inaugural issue we discuss the doctrine of Holy Baptism. Is Baptism a human obedience or a divine act of saving love? What Old Testament metaphors are used in the New Testament to shed light on what Baptism is? Does God love our children and can our children be part of the Body of Christ? We will explore the great blessing and sacrament of Holy Baptism that unites us together, one Body through the Cross and in the power of the Holy Spirit [Col. 2, Rom. 6, 1 Pet. 3:21]. Lastly, pray with me for the welfare of Christ's Holy Churches, for the faithful and God-fearing people of God, for valiant living, great witness to the truths of the Gospel, and deliverance from this dreadful Frankish Captivity. Pray also specifically for me that I might not fall into any grievous sin nor hold to the dreadful heresy of the Frankish Normans. Rather, that together with all the faithful we might honor our Ece Dryhten, Eternal Lord, in thought word and deed and in all things glorify the All-Merciful Father together with his Almighty Son the Arch-Victor and the All Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen. Your Servant, Rhian
In Defense of Covenant Baptism …………….………………………………………… 3 Is Infant Baptism Apostolic? …………….………………………………………… 6 New Covenant Baptism ………………………………………………………. 9 Make Me Ever, Change Me to Your Art by Tami Close …………… 14 Symbolism, Human Relationships, & God's Love …………………………. 16 Baptism as New Life …………………………………………………………………….. 22 Baptism Sources Cited ……………………………………………………………………..27 A Prayer of St Chrysostom ………………………………………………………. 28
THE Morning and Evening Prayer shall be used in the accustomed place of the Church, Chapel, or Chancel, except it be otherwise determined by the Ordinary of the place; and the Chancels shall remain as they have done in times past.
We confess the undoubted Christian catholic faith that we share with all our Christian brothers and sisters in all times and places. This faith is Apostolic, Middle Eastern, Hebraic, Incarnational, Trinitarian, & Sacramental. In order to know what we believe about anything, please refer to the Nicene Creed and the Apostolic Fathers, particularly "Adversus Haereses" by Irenaeus of Lyons & "On the Incarnation" by St Athanasius. Visit our website at: www.unexpectedjoy.org/Athelney.
If an additional hymn is desired, it may be sung immediately before the Blessing or Dismissal.
You are free to share, which is to say, to copy, distribute and transmit, Athelney materials under the following conditions: Attribution: You must attribute the work in an acceptable manner (but not in any way that suggests that we endorse you or your use of the work). Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes. Share Alike: If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. Please send a copy of the reprint or subsequent work to: Rihan / 1206 W. Mt Vernon St / Springfield, Mo 65806
In Quires and Places where they sing here followeth the Anthem.
We are committed to the maxim that reminds us “Tradition without truth is just the antiquity of error."
2 Athelney Chapterhouse
¶ The Minister shall begin the Morning Prayer by reading, in a loud voice, one or more of the following Sentences of Scripture.
THE LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. Hab. ii. 20. I will bless the Lord, who giveth me counsel; my heart teacheth me, night after night. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not fall. Psalm xvi. 7,8. LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth. Psalm xxvi. 8. ‘There is one body and one Spirit’ just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’ Ephes. Iv. 4-6.
In Defense of Covenant Baptism
hank you for provoking me to look into these thing for myself to see what the Scriptures say concerning Baptism. I agree that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, able to sever bone from marrow, the doctrines of the Church from the doctrines of men. (Mk 7:7, Isa 29:13) The doctrines of grace, the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the destruction of sin and death on the Life Giving Cross, these are not sought out by the human mind alone, but are revealed by the Holy Spirit reminding us what has always been believed everywhere and by all. Therefore, we humbly seek after the old ways, the traditions that honor God, and the Apostolic teaching concerning Bible Doctrines in order to put away the "commandments of men." These doctrines are able to make sinners well again, and able to stand at the Last Day through the grace of God and our entrance into Life in Christ which is Baptism. Some may ask why this subject is important at all. It is important because in Baptism we get a glimpse of God's saving activity in our lives and in the world. Baptism is a picture of Christ Jesus' overwhelming victory over the power of sin and death with which the adversary and all the old gods held mankind captive. In
Baptism the Holy Spirit is powerfully active destroying the walls of sin, and self-love that turn us inward and keep us separated from God and man. What better place to start a conversation about overcoming the false gods and idols of our own world than Baptism? This is simply the teaching of the Church. I don't presume to "prove" anything to anyone, nor to be coldly and rationally "right." Often a calculating rationality will simply offend. Arguments don't change men's minds anyway, they either catch fire or they don't. Therefore, my intention is to simply present the teaching as I have received it with humility and willingness to listen. That is, listen to you, my reader. This is even more important since baptism aught to be the reality which unites us together as one body in the Lord not a point of contention. Yet I will endeavor to anticipate and answer objections for the sake of clarity. I understand that this is a very sensitive and controversial subject of great importance. I recognize that there are well intentioned churchmen (and women) on both sides of the debate who are equally concerned to remain faithful to Holy Scripture. (For these reasons, if you know this subject will make you angry, I ask you not to read this tract and to read the next issue, which I pray is more amiable, and interesting.) As we look into Scripture I ask the Holy Spirit to humble me, to enlighten my mind, and teach me what the Word of God says and to give me faith to believe whatever the Church teaches. I need a lot of faith.
With that in mind I must clarify something before I begin answering this question.
i. This is Protestantism
Sola Scriptura is only true if the Bible is viewed as the possession of the Church, and not the possession of the individual. It is the early Church that was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Gospels and Epistles. It was the Church who read them in the Liturgy and collected them in to the Gospel Book and the Epistle Book. Therefore it is to that Church that we must first look to guide our understanding of the deposit of faith found in Holy Scripture. To those of us raised with a deep suspicion of "the church" and "organized religion" this concept might seem, well, crazy. I understand where you are coming from. Why would you submit to believe what a "corrupted human institution" tells you to believe? When I say the word "Church" I don't mean the institution or a bureaucracy, but rather the Sacred Covenant Community created and made alive by the Holy Spirit which is the Body and Bride of Christ, the Family of God, and the people of the Heavenly Kingdom. Certainly this Great and Holy Church is not simply a "corrupted institution," but is inseparably intertwined with the Incarnation of God the Word, the Holy Spirit leading us into all truth, & the Holy Scriptures which are able to make us perfect. That is to say that right doctrine is never separated from what the Church teaches and what the Church teaches is never separated from what the Holy Spirit teaches it in Holy Scripture. Recently I was reading a fellow on the internet argue that what makes Protestantism "mature" is it's willingness to ignore and set aside the wisdom of the Church Fathers. If that doesn't make you sit up and take notice (or fall out of your chair) what will? For Evangelicals the ultimate arbiter of truth is often the individual wisdom and personal conscience of the autonomous self deciding what Scripture says. There is no higher standard of authority. To rely on tradition is to be like a grown man who continues to act like a child, looking to his father for direction. "Protestantism's increasing vitality," asserts Arthur W. Mielke in his book This is Protestantism, "is convincing proof that it must be understood, not as a protest which stimulated some much needed reforms, but as one of the most creative movements in history." Creativity expressed in the "fact that there are presently more than 250 different Protestant denominations in the United States. A manifestation of one of Protestantism's chief characteristics - a symbol of religious virility and an expression of the essential liberty of the Protestant conscience." Why this desire for "maturity" falsely so called? Why this celebration of disunity?
In the late Protestant mind, as well as the Roman Catholic mind, authority is externally enforced power. For the Roman Catholic this power is embraced. In Mielke's Protestantism it is rejected. But neither point of view is Biblical. Indeed, authority is an essential and indispensable element of human life and society. Blessed Augustine reminds us that we cannot know with absolute certainty who our fathers are unless we can rely on the trustworthiness of our mothers. Such knowledge cannot be arrived at rationally. Without confidence in the trustworthiness of others, what Augustine calls authority, "the sacred bond of the human race" would be shattered (Wilken, 171-172). In the early Church, tradition is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Body of Christ passed on through divinely directed process of spiritual "fatherhood" and "sonship" as described in St Paul's pastoral epistles, especially the letters to Timothy, the shepherd of the Ephesian Church. This is what we call Tradition. In my youth I was told that "tradition" was a curse word. We believed that every generation had to reinvent Christianity. Such a mindset is entirely foreign to the New Testament and Apostolic Christianity. Anyone who has read even a small sample of their writings would know that the Reformers did not intend to found a new church or reinvent the church but only reform the One Holy Church. They constantly appeal to the testimony of the early Church Fathers in support of their teachings. The radical autonomous authority of self to determine truth from Scripture on the other hand expresses the Anabaptist spirit of the Radical Reformation. This is the way that heretics have always expressed their right to dissent from orthodox teaching of the Gospel of Life. For an individual to employ a solo Scriptura principle (I base my belief on the Bible only) is a sure recipe for subjectivism, heresy, and disaster. To think that 2000 years of Holy Spirit filled, self emptied, Christ-bearing prayer warriors and defenders of the faith were wrong because of some new way of thinking that I just came up with on Wednesday just seems arrogant to me now. Given my track record interpreting and judging normal things, it seems crazy not to listen to the saintly pastors of the past and cling to my own wisdom. Why wouldn't I want to learn from the holy ones of the past? If I cannot trust the saints and spiritual fathers of the Church why on earth would I trust myself? True maturity means learning to judge rightly, which means carefully learning from our fathers. Today, though I realize that while there are traditions of men, the holy tradition is the legacy of voices from the past, from saints and confessors and holy martyrs, a treasury of good things gifted to us by the Holy Spirit that we might mature and grow up into the full
likeness of Christ. It is in the One Holy Church, the fellowship of the mysterion (1 Cor 1), where the true faith once delivered to the saints is preserved and handed down as tradition enlivened by faith much more than mere archeology.
ii. The Words of the Faith
Wait a minute. Is all this stuff Biblical? Lets take a look at the New Testament perspective on "traditioning." Notice what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:3, "If anyone teaches differently and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine that is consistent with true piety, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing." This is an important statement. How do we determine whether or not a person's doctrine is "consistent with true piety"? How do we determine whether we are dealing with a sound teacher, or a schismatic heretic? The Evangelical answer is: "Read your Bible, and see if what is being taught agrees with your interpretation of Scripture." But that is not the New Testament answer. First of all, who are these words addressed to? They are addressed to Timothy, the bishop of Ephesus. And what was his responsibility as a pastor of the Church? It was "to charge certain persons not to teach differently" (1 Tim 1:3). Differently than what? Differently than "the words of the faith and the good doctrine you have followed" (4:6). Notice that he speaks here, not simply of accordance with the Bible, but of accordance with "the words of the faith." "The faith" is clearly a traditional way of understanding the teaching of Scripture which has been passed on to Timothy from Jesus Christ himself through the Apostle. That is why St Paul says, "If anyone teaches differently and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ." These sound words are a body of truth, an ecclesial testimony, and collective witness which is passed on through the teaching of the Church, from the apostles to bishops like Timothy, and from Timothy to other bishops and presbyters: "What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2). These words of Jesus were written down in part in Holy Scriptures but this process of traditioning did not end. These sound words have reached us on the other end of time. Therefore, If you want to know whether what a person is teaching is heretical or not, you must not simply open up your Bible and ask the Holy Ghost to show you the way. You must listen to the Spirit when he teaches us to seek out those to whom "the words of the faith" have been entrusted, namely the pastors of the Church. This is how the faith once delivered to the saints has been "traditioned" to us. If it were not for this "traditioning" the true faith would have been lost amid
the many heresies that attacked the Church such as Gnosticism and Arianism. Consequently, the Church, not the Bible by itself, and not the wisdom of the individual Christian who thinks he is "mature," is "the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15). Scripture is the revelation of the Word of God and the Church is the guardian and witness of that revelation (Rom 3:2). It is the responsibility of the Church to protect and preserve God's Word. It is not the job of the Bible to protect and preserve God's Church. Christ is her defender. The Reformers saw themselves as restoring the historic witness of the Church, as it was preserved in her collective memory in the early Creeds and Fathers, which had been obscured through the introduction of novelties by the Papal hierarchy which had lost its own sense of accountability to the 'words of the faith.' As Martin Luther put it: "When we oppose and reject the pope it is because he does not keep to these treasures of Christendom which he has inherited from the apostles. Instead he makes additions of the devil and does not use these treasures for the improvement of the temple" (Concerning Rebaptism, 1528). (Today, as in Luther's day, many Christians "do not keep these treasures" of the faith, the right interpretation of Scripture.) This is what we call the Frankish Captivity of the Church, and we have only Charlemagne to blame for it. It is what necessitated the Reformation and continues to necessitate one to this very day. But more on that in a latter issue.
Since both sides rely on Holy Scripture to substantiate their claims, settling such a dispute between credo-baptists and peado-baptists cannot be done solely through appeal to Holy Scripture. As Doug Wilson famously pointed out, "Baptists don't see any salvation by baptism passages in the Bible while we don't see any salvation by walking an aisle or filling out a card passages." Subsequently we spend a lot of time talking past each other instead of getting to the heart of the matter. Therefore I will disclose what Traditional Trinitarian Christians have always believed about Baptism. We see in baptism an act of adoption, sealing, and reconciliation preformed by a loving God on our behalf, that we could not have earned, which places us within the Family of God and clothes us in Christ. It is that simple. Baptism is more about belonging to the Family of God than an act of obedience or outward demonstration of inward faith. So the questions we tend to ask sound more like, "Who are those who belong to Christ and who are members of his covenant community?" These kinds of inquiries go a long way toward answering the more difficult questions. Questions such as whether our infant
children (not to mention mentally retarded adult children or the elderly with neuro-degenerative diseases) are holy, forgiven, adopted members of the family of God? These are the issues I must grapple with when answering the question with which I have been charged, namely, whether traditional Christians derive their practice of baptizing the infant children of believers from the Divine Revelation or from human tradition and human reasoning? In other words, is infant baptism in view within the Apostolic Deposit of Old and New Testament Scriptures? I believe it is. My biblical case for infant Baptism is three fold: (1) The case from the lack of evidence for credo-baptism of children of adult believers. (2) The case from the total Biblical doctrine of the covenant and covenant signs. (3) The case from the nature of human relationships and the love and free grace of God that does not depend on intellectual maturity. My second essay will delve into all of these issues a bit. The third essay will go into more depth on the nature of covenant signs and promises. The forth essay will deal with whether children are capable of relationships or responding in an age appropriate way to the call of God. This essay, in the form of correspondence between two friends begins to delve into the sacramental life and the victory of Christ. The last essay will describe the Biblical typology of Holy Baptism and its role in the Christian life. ¶
Is Infant Baptism Apostolic?
i. Decision Theology or Covenant Nurture
Although it is completely absent from the pages of Holy Scripture, there is a "theology of Christian parenting" nearly universal in the evangelical world. It says, "Teach your children that they are unrepentant sinners. Tell them about the hell that awaits them if they do not repent." I listen to a lot of evangelical radio, and this is exactly what I hear from the best radio pastors. It leaves me more than a little confused. Are our children really "unrepentant sinners?" Can we tell them God loves them? Is this teaching them to have faith or to doubt their salvation? Will they say to themselves, "I thought I loved Jesus, but Mom doesn't think so, and Dad isn't so sure. I guess I really am an unrepentant sinner just like they say." This approach to nurturing children, which teaches them to doubt rather than to walk by faith, is strangely necessitated by the decision theology of contemporary evangelicalism. D.G. Hart writes, Christianity of the evangelical variety has historically struggled with the question of succession. How does the conversion experience become a model for nurture? Countless evangelical converts, having left behind a life of sin and irreligion, face a difficult task when thinking about passing on the faith to their offspring. Do they encourage their children to pursue the life they did, one of rebellion followed by the ecstasy of regeneration, so that their sons and daughters will come to genuine faith? Not likely. Much more common is the decision to rear their children in the beliefs and practices of the faith, even when such instruction and nurture flatly contradict the model of the conversion experience. After all, turning to God's mercy is much easier after a life of drugs and sex than it is after a wholesome upbringing of church attendance, family devotions, and Bible memorization. (Deconstructing Evangelicalism) Traditionally, Christians raised their children as if they were part of the family of God. However, this model of covenant nurture is lacking a crucial element, the dramatic conversion experience. However, some people simply refuse to accept that someone can be saved and not remember such a life shattering experience. Such is the case with Bunnie, a Lutheran blogger, who writes, For those wondering, this thread resonated with me because it took me back to the time my training to be a pregnancy counselor at a crisis pregnancy clinic was halted because my "testimony" was wrong. Everyone else's testimony was dramatic. "I slept around and did drugs and then I accepted Christ into my
heart and now I'm okay." Mine was about how I was baptized at 23 days and raised in the faith. They told me, quite nicely actually, that I wasn't saved. They did ask if I would help them with fundraising, though. Christians seem to reward the most dramatic testimonies. But this only leads children into great confusion and even conscience rebellion in order to fit the mold of the prodigal son re-conversion. Of course God can and does save the worst sinners. As one of our prayers says, "It is a little thing to save a righteous man but a great thing indeed to save a sinner such as me. So save me Lord, wether I will it or not." And it goes without saying that the longer we live life in Christ, in the way of self-denying, repenting, forgiving, loving, Spirit filled life, the more we are convicted of sin and despairing of our own righteousness are driven to trust Christ alone. Christ Jesus our God, the alone lover of mankind, is willing and able to save the worst sinner so that where sin abounds grace abounds so much more! But do we actually want to encourage our children to sin that grace may abound? The prodigal son is a picture of what God's forgiveness looks like. It shouldn't be a model of Christian upbringing. Yet this is the message we are giving when we emphasize the titillating testimonies of attractive young ladies telling about their conversion from sex, drugs, sex, alcohol,and more sex. It almost makes us want to sin. The result in some circles is an adult addicted to periodic over emotional reconversion experiences. His salvation is a reoccurring subjective state of mind that relies on a fleeting emotional state rather than on the objective concrete fact of Christ crucified and confirmed in our lives concretely through the gospel promises made tangible in the waters of Baptism. Traditional historical Christians, while not denying that each person must eventually experience Christ for themselves, have never thought about covenant nurture in terms of individualistic decision theology because it occurred to them that raising their children as Christians was the most effective way for them to experience Christ in the first place. For this reason they raised their children as if they were part of the family of God, never knowing a time of separation from Christ and the Church. Believing that the gospel promises applied to Christians and their children, they raised their children as though they were covenant members in the Kingdom of God, admonishing their children to remain faithful to Christ and grow in spiritual maturity through the means of grace, prayer, fasting, the Word, and Sacraments. This meant they were baptized Christians, identified / united with Christ and his death and resurrection, full members of the Church and participants of church life, and expected to act as a son or daughter of God. This is a status they could not
have earned and which they are enabled to keep by grace, the blessings of which are acquired by faith. It is obvious that we are dealing with two very different ways of thinking about covenant nurture and conversion theology. These are the first hints that questions about Baptism lead us into unexpected territory.
ii. My Son, God is not your God
The Church is what salvation looks like. Subsequently the idea that "being saved" as a radically individualized event that turns us inward to our own hearts is completely lacking from Scripture. In the Hebrew worldview, children, family, and community are not separated. God doesn't just redeem individuals, he works through families and communities. Salvation is that divine act of freeing us from the inward looking prison of self-love that unites us with the life of God and his family. Can children really be separated from this reality? That is why you will not find a passage in the Bible that says anything like, "And Brutus, the reprobate son of Philemon the Just, at the age of eleven, gave his life to Jesus, gave a profession of faith acceptable to the adults, and was thus baptized by the elders. All the faithful rejoiced that another unregenerate, unholy, God hating, Cross despising, sinner had been brought into the family of God." Nor will you find this, "Remember my beloved, your children are dead in their sins, God is not their God. Teach them that they are sinners for they have no part in the inheritance of eternal life that you have for the sake of your maturity and profession of faith." What you will find is a man who receives a promise that he will be the father of many nations and that the whole world will be blessed through his children. His children are part of the promise; they are "children of the choice" by grace simply by being born into a family. This promise is repeated on the day of Pentecost by St Peter, when he said, "Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, For the promise is to you and to your children and to all who are afar off, as many as our Lord God will call." Thus the children of the New Covenant are not excluded from Christ. Jesus says, let the little children come to me. He loves them and wants them to belong to his family. Calling our children "unregenerate reprobates" or "God haters" is in effect excommunicating them, excluding them from entering into the Life in Christ, denying them the entrance into the Church, Unity with Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, and adoption as sons and daughters of God, all of which are promised in Baptism. To deny God the opportunity to express his love in this way is equivalent to saying to our children, "God is not your
God, you do not belong to him nor to his family. You are not forgiven, you are dead in your sins, and you will remain so until you reach a certain level of intellectual maturity." On the other hand, baptism is God telling our little ones they belong to him in the only way they could understand it, non-verbally, from the earliest moment of their lives. If you are scratching your head in confusion wondering what I am mumbling about, what all this has to do with the silly notion of baptizing babies, it just goes to show you that peado-baptists and credo-baptists aren't even asking the same questions. Credo-baptist want to know if infants are proper "subjects" of Baptism or not. (This the same kind of reductionistic thinking that lead us to think of Communion in terms of "elements," "accidents," and "moments.") Peado-baptists want to know what the status of our children is in the family of God. We want to know how to raise our children. We want to know if we can tell our children, "God is your God, he has made that very clear by sealing you with a sign, and you are to live according to that sign. All the gospel promises were offered to you personally from your earliest days. You belong in the family of God." Therefore the question is not whether there is any Scriptural or Apostolic warrant for peado-baptism, for given the right presuppositions, peado-baptists see substantial warrant for it in Scripture where credobaptists don't. Since covenant belonging lies at the root of our presuppositions, the question we should ask is, which belief concerning covenant belonging is found in Scripture? Let us therefore examine the basic credobaptist argument against peado-baptism in light of the Holy Scriptures. This argument is a five-fold interpretive grid, which say that: (1) We have explicit New Testament examples of "believers' baptism." (2) There is no explicit example or command that infant children of Christians be baptized. (3) The new covenant is made with exclusively regenerate individuals. (4) Little children cannot have faith and thus assumed to be unregenerate and not new covenant members. Therefore, the conclusion must be that the children of believers are not to receive the sign of the new covenant until they confess their faith. (5) It is therefore inferred that little children are incapable of having a relationship with God because of their inability to "understand" what adults understand and must therefore rely on their parent's relationship with God until they are old enough to have one of their own. I believe this argument to be flawed and therefore inadequate as an interpretive grid placed over Scripture. The answer to this line of reasoning is as follows.
iii. Lack of Evidence for Credo-Baptism (1 & 2)
The credo-baptist assumes that the examples of adult believers baptism are sufficient to deal with the question of whether their children should be baptized. However, examples of adult baptism, no matter how numerous, are insufficient to answer the question. Peado-baptists agree that adults should be baptized after announcing their faith, intention to follow Christ, and renouncing the work of the devil. But we find it ironic that the childless eunuch, a clear case of prior belief, becomes the paradigm for settling the question of baptism of Christian's children. The godly Ethiopian eunuch is actually an important key because of the issue of household baptism. As a eunuch he obviously had no children. Baptists claim that the household baptism do not imply infant baptism, while peado-baptists deny that examples such as the eunuch do not rule them out. In summary of the cases of In Defense of Covenant Baptism found in the New Testament, we find: The new covenant promise came "to you and your children" (Acts 2:39) on the days of Pentecost. 3000 men are baptized. "Men and women alike" (Acts 8:12) were baptized in Samaria, including Simon the sorcerer. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized (Acts 8:38). St Paul, who had no household, was baptized (Acts 9:18; 1 Cor 7:7-8). The disciples of John were baptized (Acts 19:5). On the other hand Cornelius' household was baptized (10:48, 11:14). Lydia's household was baptized (Acts 16:15). The Philippian Jailer's household was baptized (Acts 16:33). Many Corinthians were baptized, especially Crispus, Stephanas' household, and Gaius (Acts 18:8, 1 Cor 1:14, 16). (Greg Strawbridge, ww.wordmp3.com) Explicit warrant for the baptism of believers' children is lacking either for or against. There is also no direct injunction or example from the New Testament mandating infant baptism such as "And Paul baptized the infant Julius." There is also no explicit warrant for their exclusion. Therefore, there is no case of an "infant baptism" but neither is there a case of the "believers' baptism" of a Christian's child. Consider, for a moment, that there is also no explicit example or command that women partake of the Lord's Supper. There were, after all, no women in the upper room. You will search in vain for a passage that says, "And the women, Patricia and Hanna, partook of the Lord's Supper together with James and the other men." What we need to do is find passages that tell us about the status of women in the New Covenant, which is to say, in the relationship between God and his Church. This is what peado-baptists do concerning the status of the children of believers.
In conclusion, when fully considered the cases of baptism are not evidence of the Baptist view because there are just as many household baptisms as individual adult baptisms and these usually occur in the absence of a family. In other words, where a family is present, the whole family is baptized.
not to be deprived of the entrance sign of that covenant given by God wherein he embraces them with love. We now turn to the examination of the total Biblical doctrine of the Covenant and covenant signs and their relation to family life and raising children. ¶
iv. (3) Covenant Nature & (4) Peadofaith
The credo-baptist position lacks an explicit warrant from the New Testament to baptize our children but also lack an explicit command or example that demands their exclusion from the family of God. How then do we justify excluding our children from God's family? The credobaptist answer is that exclusion is inferred from a particular understanding of the nature of the new covenant; namely, a Christians' children are not covenant members because only those regenerated by an adult faith are included. The peado-baptist, on the other hand, possesses explicit warrant for the inclusion of children in the new covenant (Dt 30:6; Jer 31:36-37), in the church (Eph 1:1, 6:1-4; Col. 1:2, 3:20; 1 Cor 7:14), and in the kingdom (Mt 19:14; Mk 10:14; Lk 18:16). The children of the faithful throughout Scripture are always recognized differently than pagan adults and understood to be covenant members of the family of God. Moreover, we may argue from truly necessary inferences: drawing upon both the continuity of the promise that God will be our God and God to our children after us, as well as the examples of household baptism previously examined. It is also presumed that infants cannot have faith. But is this true? John the Baptist jumped for joy at the approach of his Lord. Infants know and understand more than we have traditionally thought simply because they are unable to verbally communicate. Infants can learn simple hand signs and communicate long before they can speak vocally. We know intuitively that infants can and do enter into authentic human, age appropriate relationship with older people and we must also assume that they should and can enter into age appropriate relationships with God. Therefore, we believe in what could be called "peadofaith" inferred from passages such as Psalm 22:9-10, 71:6, and Luke 1:15, 41. Thus we deny the impossibility of infant faith and affirm their sacramental covenant membership based on their age appropriate response to God's love and promises. In conclusion, the Holy Scriptures do not specifically forbid the baptism of the children of believers, nor is there a single instance of the baptism of a believing child of a believing parent in the New Testament. Rather, from a certain interpretation of the New Testament it can be inferred that infant children of believers are members of the New Covenant and aught
New Covenant Baptism
i. Continuity of the Old and New Covenants
I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream. [Am 5:21-24] For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. [Heb 10:1-4] Besides being very important in the discussion concerning worship, these passages also teach us that it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin under the Old Testament. What then was the purpose of the ordinances of the former Covenant? What does the Lord require? For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise. [Ps 51:16-17] And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. [1 Sam 15:22] God has always desired faithfulness, obedience, and belief in his promises and more specifically in Christ Jesus. Therefore the saints of the Old Testament were saved in the same manner that we are saved under the
New Testament, only they looked forward in faith to Christ whereas we look back. As it says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised (namely, Christ) He was also able to preform." (Rom 4:3, 20-21) Though you may say that what God had promised Abraham was a family, yet it is clear that God promised him much more. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. [Gal 3:8-9] For they are not all Israel who are of Israel. The children of the promise are counted as the seed. [Rom 9:68] On that day I will raise up The tabernacle[a] of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does this thing. [Amos 9:11, 12] And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. [Heb 11:39-40] Only those who are "of faith" are the seed of Abraham who was justified (counted righteous) by faith, as it is written, "the children of the promise are counted as the seed." Not all those who call themselves children of Abraham were part of the family of God just as not all those who call themselves Christians are true Christians. There is a continuity of faith between the saints of the Old Testament and those of the New. The tent pegs of David's tent have been expanded to include all nations. Therefore, the New Testament Church is the one chosen covenant people of God. Christians are true Israel, where the promise of salvation is fulfilled (made perfect) for all those who came before together with us and all those who will come after. We are one covenant people, united as one body, through our one Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. [Col 2:11-12] In the Old Testament, the signs God gave to seal his covenant to his people were circumcision (Gen 17), and certain covenant washings and meals (Ex 12), in which the whole family participated. In the New Testament these seals were fulfilled in Christ (Rom 10:4) and new signs were given to the Church to seal the New Covenant, namely, Baptism (Mt 3:11, 20, 28:16, Col 2:1112) and the Lord's Supper (Mt 26:17-30, Mk 14:12-25, Lk 22:7-20, Jn 6:27-29, 1 Cor 10:16-17, 1:23-26). St Paul specifically identifies baptism with circumcision. He does not merely compare the two. He says that baptism is in Christ what circumcision was in the old covenant (Col 2:11-12). Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. [1 Cor 10:1-5] St Paul says, that we were all baptized like the Israelites who passed through the Red Sea. Didn't the infants and young ones of the Israelites pass through with them as well (Ex 10:9; 12:37, 38)? The New Testament intentionally describes this event as a baptism. The children of Israel, adults and infants alike were "Baptized into Moses" thus God sealed the promises of the old covenant to them making them one family. Likewise, God puts his seal of Baptism on all his covenant children who receive the promise of the new covenant thus making them one family, the fellowship of the mystery (1 Cor 1). It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who preformed the service perfect in regard to the conscience- concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop and sprinkled both the book and all the people. [Heb 9:910, & 19] The word translated "washings" in verse 10 is the word "baptisms." One of these baptisms is described as being applied to "all the people." Little children were included in covenant assembly at Sinai (Ex 20:12). Furthermore, every covenant child, male or female, together with the mother, would have received a ritual baptism or washing after birth to cleanse them from
ii. Signs of the Old and New Covenants
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
ritual impurity and as a sign of covenant belonging prefiguring Christ. These baptisms are referred to as such in the New Testament. These texts refer to the Old Testament types and shadows to emphasize the spiritual continuity of New Covenant Baptism with the signs and seals of the Old Covenant. Baptism is not new, rather it pointed forward to and is fulfilled in Christ as a picture of the washing away of sins by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:4; 1 Pet 3:21; and especially Heb 9:13, 14, 22).
Baptism is a gift given by God and received by sinners. In water Baptism the Lord is washing, renewing, establishing, and placing his covenant seal upon his elect, those who belong to him. The Scriptures call this salvation. It is a sign that as surely as the Lord saved the children of Israel out of Egypt he has saved us out of the clutches of sin and death. Who are those who belong to Christ, who are members of the covenant community?
iv. The New Covenant is More Inclusive
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. [Gal 3:27-29] For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. [Heb 7:18-19] By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. [Heb 7:22] But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. [Heb 8:6] To Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. [Heb 12:24] The Old Covenant was weak, provisional, and ultimately ineffectual as a tutor rearing a young child. The Old Covenant was also restrictive. It was reserved for the Children of Israel and converts. Gentiles were excluded from all the blessings of the covenant of God. Yet the Church of the Old Covenant included infants. Circumcision signified their inclusion (Gen 17:14). Under the New Testament we have a better covenant, an inheritance of sons not slaves. Under the New Covenant the Gospel is preached to all flesh. There is neither Jew nor Gentile. If the New Covenant is not offered to children that means in this one respect the covenant is not "better." Especially for the first generation of covenant children, circumcised under the old covenant but specifically excluded by the new. If this was the case, how could this new covenant be a better covenant for these little ones?
iii. It is the Lord who is Baptizing Us
And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord. [Acts 22:16] Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." [Jn 3:5] Holy Scriptures tell us that Baptism saves us by washing away our sins through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The participant in the sacrament / mystery of Baptism is passive, as it says, "Be baptized" (Mk 10:38-39, Acts 1:5, 2:38, 10:48, 11:16, 22:16). Therefore it is the Lord himself who is doing the Baptizing. As it says: But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. [Titus 3:46] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [Eph 4:30] And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. [1 Cor 6:11] Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. [2 Cor 1:21-22] In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. [Eph 1:13-14] and finally, There is also an anti-type which now saves us: baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. [1 Pet 3:21]
v. The New Covenant includes Children
Surely the New Covenant includes children, as Christ says:
Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. [Lk 18:16] And St Peter said: Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. [Acts 2:38-39] And St Paul said: For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. [1 Cor 7:14] Therefore we know that the gospel promises of the new covenant belong to the children of believers as much as it belongs to the believers themselves. Water baptism is the instrument and seal of God's grace. Won't God seal the promises of the better covenant to his covenant children? We know he does because they are considered holy, not by any merit of their own but for Christ who said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them." And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us. [Acts 16:15] And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. [Acts 16:33] The Apostles baptized whole households of converts as recorded in the Book of Acts. This is consistent with the Biblical vision of covenant nurture and sacramental belonging that Paul reminds of us of when he say that the children of believers are not unclean, but are made "holy" by the faith of a believing parent. Baptism makes us holy. Infants are therefore included in the human household, not excluded from the household baptisms, and included in the household of faith.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. [Ps 51:1-2 & 5-7] Children are born in sin (v. 5), and in need of cleansing and healing only God can give (v. 7). Baptism is the means of cleansing sin (v. 2). This applies to both believers and their children (Acts 22:16; 2:38). Furthermore, sinful as we are, we cannot merit the forgiveness of sin any more than an infant. Just as membership in our human family cannot be earned but is pure grace, God adopts us and saves us as a free gift we cannot earn. Therefore, there is no reason to withhold from covenant children the sign and seal that makes them covenant members with Christ until they could perhaps merit such blessings. But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." [Lk 18:16-17] Since Jesus welcomed the little children, we too should bring them to him in Baptism. Since Jesus said that adults had to come to the Kingdom as children and not the other way around, we should by no means require that children come to Christ as adults before being made members of the Body of Christ in Baptism and partakers of Christ in the Lord's Table. This would be completely backwards. Baptism is their beginning just as it was our beginning (speaking of adult converts). After which, both infants and adults have the responsibility to chose, to say yes by faith to the gift of love objectively given. This is not based on human reasoning but on the revelation of God concerning the nature of the Love of God, the gracious membership in His family freely offered, and the commands he has given to Christian parents. As we have seen, the types and shadows of baptism in the Old Testament are referred to as baptisms in the New Testament. They were fulfilled in Christ and preserved in the New Covenant Church through the practice of infant Baptism and the "churching" of new mothers. Is there any explicit evidence of this in the New Testament? Yes.
vi. Children should also be baptized
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving-kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
vii. Do any Christian parents place upon their infants a covenant sign?
[Acts 21:18-25] When St Paul arrives in Jerusalem, he gives a report of his missionary efforts that causes the brethren to
glorify God. A false report had reached the Church in Jerusalem before Paul's arrival that accused him of teaching Jewish Christians to stop circumcising their infant sons. This was a false report. James the Just knew this report to be false and helped Paul clear his name. This is not a lapse of judgment on Paul's part as we see in the next chapter. Paul, still in prison as a consequence of his actions in Jerusalem, says, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." So Paul did not require Jewish Christians to stop circumcising their sons. Certainly circumcision was fading away, but it was still understood as a sign of the covenant promises made to Abraham. It was still given to the infant sons of Jewish Christians. Christians, both Jew and Gentile were considered the "true circumcision" (Phil 3:3), the true sons of Abraham. Those who were circumcised physically but did not have a circumcised heart were covenantally unfaithful apostates who had rejected their Messiah. Gentiles were accepted into the Church on the basis of their baptism and recognized as sons of God through faith in Christ just as Abraham had been. Jews also received the sign of Baptism since there was one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Peter instructs his Jewish audience on the day of Pentecost to repent and be baptized. So Gentiles had baptism and Jews had baptism and circumcision during the time when the ordinances of the Old Covenant were passing away and being fulfilled in the life of the Church of Christ. This was finished in 70 CE (Christ Empire) when the Old Covenant temple was destroyed. Until then circumcision was still a sign and a seal for Jewish Christians because it demonstrated their unity with Abraham and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises. Baptism was also essential to demonstrate their unity in Christ with Gentile Christians. So, infant sons of Christian Jews were still circumcised on the eighth day. Circumcision had such a deep covenantal significance for Jewish Christians that they had to be persuaded to accept uncircumcised Gentiles as Christian brothers. If circumcision had been required of Gentiles, it would obligate them to fulfill the whole Law of Moses. A Gentile who allowed himself to be circumcised under legalistic false teaching had fallen from grace. Therefore, the adult circumcision of Gentile converts to Christ was forbidden (Acts 15; Gal 2:3-5, 5:34). The circumcision debate in the early Church was not whether Jews should stop circumcising their sons, but whether adult Gentile believers had to start. Given that circumcision signified belonging to and entrance into the Body of Christ and specifically the local synagog or church, what relationship would a small three-week-old Jewish boy have to the local church? If there was Christian circumcision, and if there were Christian synagogs, then we know that there were infant
members of the Church of Christ in Palestine during the time of the Apostles. During this time, if a Jewish couple presented their infant son to the elders of the Church for baptism, on what grounds would he be excluded considering that he had already received the sign of circumcision? If baptism signified a heart change (1 Pet 3:21), and it does, circumcision also signifies genuine heart change (Rom 2:28-29; Phil 3:3) yet it was still permissible to circumcise him according to St Paul. Now if infant sons of Jewish Christians were new covenant members of the Body of Christ and infant sons of Gentile Christians had to wait until they were mature enough to make a profession of faith this would reinforce the difference between Jew and Gentile which is forbidden. There is no Jew or Gentile in Christ. Children of Jewish Christians would grow up as members of the Church because they were circumcised and children of Gentile Christians would grow up excluded from the Church because they were not baptized. This is intolerable to the Apostolic witness. Of course children received the sign of Baptism into the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
viii. Children are Clothed with Christ
Furthermore, the letters of St Paul address little children as if they were fully members of the Church and united to Christ. In his letter to the Ephesians, for example, the Apostle, wishing to encourage the church there to live in a way worthy of the Cross of Christ tells them, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph 4:23-24) Immediately after this, within the context of explaining how those who have "put on the new man" should behave, St Paul addresses children as members of the Body of Christ, admonishing them to "obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." (6:1) How can they obey "in the Lord" if they are not "in the Lord." Now, are being "in the Lord," "putting on the new man," and Baptism related in the thought of St Paul? Yes they are. Consider his letter to the Galatians: "For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:26-28) In the teaching of Paul, baptism is equivalent to taking off the old man, the old corrupt way of doing things, and putting on the new clothing of Christ the New Man. Baptism is described as being "clothed with Christ," united as "one Body" because we are "one in Christ Jesus" who is our Lord and God. Thus, St Paul's vision of the people of God united as one body in Christ is absolutely central to his call for their holiness, a
holiness which manifests the Kingdom of God and which extends to every member of the family, even children. Thus the Ephesian children can obey their parents "in the Lord" precisely because they have been baptized into Christ.
In conclusion, traditional Trinitarian Christians see in baptism an act of adoption, sealing, and reconciliation preformed by a loving God on our behalf, that we could not have earned, which places us within the Family of God and clothes us in Christ. This sign and seal is for the children of God, the Body of Christ, all of us. There is but one people of God, one covenant and one way of salvation and that is Christ crucified and resurrected. There is one baptism for the remission of sins because in that Baptism we are clothed with Christ and are thus united with his resurrection life and belong to him. Therefore whosoever belongs to Christ is sealed with these signs by Christ himself (Gen 17:9-11, Rom 4:10-12, Jn 6:26-27) and made covenant members of the Church, with all the saints, by grace through faith alone. ¶ But that's just musical talent. To me, finding music I love that has words I don't mind having repeated in my head all day is very important. I usually have a song or two going constantly in my head so it is good to have something intelligent and uplifting there to fill it with. This is where Ringhofer truly excels. He is a literary genius. He can take something as heavy as the Psalms and compact it into a friendly, almost funny poem. He often uses word-play to get his point across. And he makes his point without apologizing or drawing it out in lengthy, unnecessary descriptions. Half Handed Cloud takes God's Word seriously and does not try to disguise what the Psalms say, even if it is hard to swallow. Tongues that Possess the Earth Instead is a great example of this. It is a song that parallels Psalm 73: The unbelievers seem to have it good (73:12) And I envied arrogance when I saw their prosperity (73:3) They've no struggles, free from burdens Common to mankind with lives that shine resplendently (73:4-5) Pride is their necklace They deck themselves out in violence (73:6) The conceits of their minds know no limits (73:7) Mouths lay claim to heaven but tongues possess the earth (73:9) They seem like they're doing fine (73:12) And I've worshiped all this time (73:13) Have I followed You for nothing, Lord?
Then you show me they walk on a ground that is slippery (73:18)
Cantus: Half Handed Cloud
by Tami Close
Make Me Ever, Change Me to Your Art
Half Handed Cloud is an astounding band that sings you the Psalms. If you are ever world-weary and need a reminder of our Father's love John Ringhofer will take you up to the clouds in his album Halos & Lassos. The music is reminiscent of children's music, yet it's form and content are complex enough to engage adults for hours. Obscure instruments and imaginative metaphors are your guide on this journey through the Psalms. The band's three members move around changing instruments throughout each song. If you ever get to see this phenomenon in real life, it is almost funny to watch until you see the serious look on the musicians’ faces. They take their music very seriously. On one song, Ringhofer is sitting in front of a keyboard, with a guitar strapped to him, a trombone off to the right, and a small snare drum to his left. He goes back and forth between all the instruments and vocalizes with a sing-songy, play ground voice. Yet it all makes perfect sense musically. If you were to close your eyes, you would imagine that there are four different people playing his parts. As a trumpet and banjo player, I cannot imagine switching so quickly between these dramatically different instruments. It almost takes a different part of the brain to go from a brass instrument to a string instrument.
In Your mind they're a dream
When You wake their life's theme will be only a fantasy (73:20) Now, that is a hard truth to listen to but the message is given with a fast, friendly beat, dancing notes off the xylophone, crazy organ arrangements, and John’s unforgettable voice. While listening to different songs, you will hear the human instrument used amidst the various man-made instruments. Any music that includes hand clapping in its composition deserves my attention: clap clap, do dodo-do, da-da da, aw aw aw, la la la, ooooo ooooo ooooo, snap snap snap. Who can’t help but join in? The best part about Ringhofer's lyrics is that even though he is making judgments on whether an activity or thought is good for the soul, he does not judge people. And it is very humbling like a daily confession of sins sung out with joy. Instead of assuming that Sheep are Sheep and Goats are Goats, he invites everyone to come back and join into the Life of God. A Bed That Breathes With Him is a good example of this: The strangers attacking Our hearts are all lacking But God means nothing to them The hit-men hold coupons And say God is gone Or trying to do me in Oh search and be silent On a bed that breathes with him Our hearts are forgetting The thugs are all betting That God will only condemn Their questions rhetoric I wish they'd get homesick And find their way back again Feed your Sheep a Burning Lamp is another song dealing with serious theological matters. Feed your sheep a burning lamp Feed you lamb a course on herding Feed your goat to feed the fire Goats are fuel for fires burning Goats and lambs on either hand Lambs on hand for righteous yearning Lambs with hands receive the crown Coronate with brilliant gilding Emitt Rhodes in a burned-out building "Somebody Made For Me" is played Every time a lamb is crossing Bridges laid for oily lamps Held by lambs and sheep-hands holding Tried to cross the castle moat But you gave your goat a drowning boat
Here's how goats turn into lambs: Shepherd's hands Then goat's hearts turning These songs expresses a bright sadness that is hard to find. In fact there is a strong sacramental emphasis throughout the album. In Tree Replanted Back in Eden, you hear, Chewing on the word of God A tree replanted back in Eden Garden under harden hardened heart Here he emphasizes the role of the Eucharist where we chew on the "word of God" as essential in realigning our hearts with God and replanting our hearts where they belong, in edenic communion with the Trinity. In You've Been Faithful to Us Clouds, he sings, Vertical in posture but kneeling in our hearts Found you down here with us destroying the ramparts You wash feet with kisses we worry to demean You look up and say to us "This is the only way you can get clean." Ringhofer is telling us that in Baptism Christ is "destroying the ramparts" as the Arch-Victor. Christ Jesus washes our feet as he did for the Apostles. As when Peter refused the Lord's service, when we refuse Christ's saving activity in our lives he says, "This is the only way you can get clean." In the first track, Earth Outside of Ghost Will Only Be Quicksand, Half Handed Cloud sings a song of Satan crushed and Eden recapitulated, I'm still your dad my son I'm still your mom my daughter But a fire guards the garden And it led the way back home. A home in folds of skin Earth outside of ghost will only be quicksand Garden was your dwelling place, but now you have been banned Garden is overgrown so take me by the hand Would you have preferred it if I'd left this ship unmanned? This world is still the Lord's The devil is a squatter And he can't give you a pardon when he's bound the earth to roam The earth for him's a jail It's going to get hotter When I take You in my body and my heart becomes Your home. Half Handed Cloud is a vision and joyful celebration of an all-consuming search for God’s kingdom skillfully condensed into a playground song without condescension. Go to www.halfhandedcloud.com to find out more. ¶
Symbolism, Human Relationships, & God's Love
“No theology can be valid and sound unless it is based first of all on the icon that God offers in the first pages of the book of Genesis: God created man according to His likeness, one nature revealed in many persons, as the one divine nature is revealed in three distinct hypostases. He created man to live in the likeness of His own life. That life is revealed to us in types and symbols, for God, and from Him the Holy Church, clearly have understood that mankind's mind and its brain, his knowledge and his language are all symbolic, that language develops on the matrix of vision, and that even what we see enters the brain and is processed in symbolic images. It is interpreted by the mind in the brain symbolically and the concepts attached to this symbolic unfolding constitute the meaning that one gives to all things.”
sacraments are human efforts to merit or earn salvation. Salvation is being united to Christ, not through human effort, but by the grace of God alone. How is this new Life communicated to believers? In other words, how do they receive this amazing grace and grow in it. God communicates it through tangible signs that are a seal of his presence when accepted by faith.
Traditional Trinitarian Christians believe that Baptism unites us with Christ in faith. Since this is what salvation is, baptism is "normally" or "ordinarily" necessary for salvation precisely because it is NOT A HUMAN ACTION. It is an act of a loving God to his child. Because we are all God's children, in a way all baptisms are infant baptisms. Once you understand this everything else falls into place. Baptism is of God not man, of grace not works. What of the thief on the cross? He was not baptized yet the Lord said he would be with him in paradise. So baptism is not necessary for salvation. Right? Must things be so completely black and white? There does not seem to be any concept that something might be normatively necessary rather than absolutely necessary. First of all, you are probably not the thief on the cross. Secondly baptism is grace not works. It is the ordinary means of entering into Life in Christ. Baptism is not necessary in an absolute sense, such that God has tied his own hands. Nevertheless, God has decided and declared in Holy Scripture that when he wants to save a person, he ordinarily arranges to have them Baptized as a beginning of the New Life he desires to give them in Christ. He is able to save in an extra-ordinary way those who are unable to be baptized or who die before being baptized. All that is required is the desire to be united to Christ. The Church does not deny that many who have been baptized will turn away from Christ and be lost due to their own unbelief and disobedience. Many who were not baptized will nevertheless be saved by grace for the sake of Christ. For all that, despising the gift of salvation freely offered in baptism is a dangerous rejection of grace and the gospel promises offered there. How can baptism be an instrument of assurance if some of the baptized do not accept the gift of eternal life? You might as well ask the same question about the Holy Scriptures. Can the Word be an instrument of assurance if some who hear its promises don't accept them? Baptism and the Word only fail to demonstrate the love of God when those who receive the promise do not believe it. Baptism and the Word fail to be a sign of salvation to people who regard God as a liar. Baptism is the divine gift of the Gospel promises applied to us by name. There is nothing more reliable than that. We can have 100% faith in God for our salvation. We get into
i. Of God not Man
Dear Phaedrus, Baptism is a loving physical sign and seal from a compassionate God, making his intention to save us tangibly known to us. God uses baptism to make us objectively united to the Holy Church, which is not a human institution, rather the Body of Christ. Through the sign of Baptism, the Father makes us covenantally united to Christ when we accept and receive this gift by a faith appropriate to our condition. The ability to pass a theology exam has no bearing on this gift or our ability to respond to it, just as an infants ability to understand English does not preclude the infant receiving the gift of a grandfather's love. In this way, Baptism is intrinsically and powerfully linked to Salvation. In the language of rhetoric, baptism is the "efficient cause" of our salvation. Which is to say, Baptism is the "external entity from which the change or the ending of the change first starts." It has this power only because of the promise of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the only "formal cause," or preexistent origin of our salvation. The water of Baptism is the "material cause" or "raw material" from which the change is made. The "change" is that from darkness to light, from death to life, from slavery to freedom. In other words, Baptism is the free gift of the gospel promises of God. According to Holy Scripture it unites us to Christ and we should earnestly desire him and seek him through faith. I agree that some people get baptized or take communion in order to earn salvation, but this is a profound perversion of the truth. Just because some people abuse the Biblical mysteries doesn't mean we can disregard them. The Bible nowhere indicates that the
problems when we look for assurance more reliable than the promise of God. Furthermore, being baptized makes one liable to Christ for being a faithful covenant keeper. A covenant breaker is worse off than a non-covenant member. A man who breaks his marriage vows does not cease to be a married man. The wedding ritual affected that and he cannot annul this covenant. It is done, it is objective. He has the choice between being a faithful husband or an unfaithful husband. If one is going to be a covenant breaker, it would have been better if he had not been baptized (or married) in the first place. That is why infant baptism is not cute. People who want their children to be baptized probably don't know what they are asking for. If they did they wouldn't be asking for it. This is signing the child of for martyrdom. When the child goes under the water, people are usually alarmed. They should be. The child is dying. Dying to this world and being made alive in Christ. Martyrdom is what being "in Christ" is all about. Sincerely, Ryan
iii. Mere Symbols?
Dear Phaedrus, Are the Sacraments or Mysteries only symbols? Obviously symbols represent something that is very real. If a young man was in love with a young woman but refused to use superficial symbols such as words, gestures, letters, or touch to express his love on the grounds that his love was pure and spiritual and above such "worldly" tainted expressions, sadly his love would never be consummated, or even communicated. What we need to realize is that symbols are not just a means of communication but they are the substance of
relationship itself. With out some kind of symbolic communication there is no possibility of relationship. Furthermore, the thing symbolized is never absent when the symbol is present. Who among us would give our child a hug but deny her the love that the hug symbolized? In the same way, our relationship with God is communicated to us in many different ways, not the least in the Holy Signs that are the seal of God's presence. In other words, the sacraments are the place where God has promised to meet us. They are not human acts but divine acts. Divine hugs! The things the Holy Signs symbolize are actually, objectively present and communicated to us when accepted by faith. Baptism is a picture of washing, purification and thus forgiveness of sins. It is also a picture of dying and rising from the dead and thus symbolizes our being united with Christ, our identification with his life and death and new life. When accepted by faith the Holy Sign of Baptism is not a human work, but the tangible presentation of the Gospel promises. Communion is a picture of the Body and Blood of Christ and thus the sacrificial atonement on the cross we accept by faith alone. It is also a picture of our being united as one loaf, the Body of Christ that is the One Church. When accepted by faith the Holy Sign of Communion is not human effort but God feeding us to strengthen our spiritual lives for the work we have to do in the world. And all this is done in the context of a sacred covenant community, the One Church, the Bride of Christ. Many people think that the Church is optional for Christians, like some kind of Christian country club. This is not true. The Church is what salvation looks like. It is the new humanity, united in a redeemed community of love and forgiveness, praying, reading Scripture, feeding the poor, & preparing for the second coming of Christ. So who would say that the Church, Baptism, and Communion play no part in our salvation unless their idea of salvation was a "once saved always saved" "believe it and receive it" contractual done deal? The Church and the Sacraments are the gifts of God to his children to establish and build them up in the faith through grace. They are his wedding gifts to his spouse, the Bride of Christ. Salvation is not a contractual event like walking down an aisle and saying a prayer or filling out a card. It is a living, dynamic, loving relationship of trust and affection. Salvation is life in Christ.
iv. No Age Barriers
Furthermore, this kind of relational communication transcends all age barriers, mental and physical. Just because our new born baby cannot understand what the loving grandfather means when he speaks and hugs his grandson doesn't mean that we forbid such acts of affection. No one would stop visiting their beloved great grandmother just because she developed Alzheimer's. If
we deny our babies the symbolic and relational communication of our love, on the grounds that they do not understand it, they will never grow up to learn how to talk, love, and belong to a family. We symbolically communicate our love and affection for new and old members of our family, even though they cannot understand it and have not earned it, precisely because without such symbols they will never know the realities that lie behind them. In the same way children and the infirmed should not be separated from the Life in Christ that is the life of the Church. When we separate them from our prayers, our fellowship, from Baptism and Communion we are in effect saying, “You are not a part of the Church like we are, you are not a child of God, not forgiven and united to Christ, and have no part in the things reserved for God's holy people.” On the contrary, Jesus said, let the little children come to me and do not forbid them. God wishes to lovingly and intimately communicate the new Life in Christ to little children, through Holy Signs that he has ordained to be like divine hugs. We should baptize children, not because we think that without it they are unsaved, but because we do not want to stand before God and answer for why we forbid the little children from coming to Jesus. Salvation is about relationship, not dead and dry religiosity. It is about a loving intimate relationship with the holy Triune God. It is the relationship of sons to their Father, of a bride to her Bridegroom. So our conventional picture of heaven has to change. Man is not spending a never-ending day in the park. God is not far away in his glowing palace in the sky. In heaven and even before heaven, God and man are not apart, but united in Christ in a perpetual personal, intimate relationship of love and faith! Sincerely, Ryan
v. Repentance is everything
Dear Phaedrus, You have said that since the promise is to those who "repent and are baptized," that if we teach children that they don't need to repent because they are already baptized we have put a stumbling block between them and Christ. Of course we would, if that is what we taught them. It is not either repentance or baptism. It is both. Whether one is baptized as an infant or as an adult, the result is the same, a baptized child of God who must love the Heavenly Father and accept Christ with faith and repentance every day. We never cease to have faith. We live by faith from beginning to end. The only difference is that peado-baptists don't believe that belonging to the Family of God requires more from a human than a response appropriet to their age. We think the "beginning" is earlier, thats all. Or else salvation would
not be a free gift for all mankind, rather it would be reward for maturity and open for only a certain portion of mankind. When the Jews were in evangelization mode with unbelievers they taught the same thing that St Peter did on the day of Pentecost, convert, repent, be circumcised, be baptized in the case of the apostles. More importantly, the call was to be circumcised in your heart. This means that to be a part of the Family of God one must genuinely love and trust God as their Father and Lord. No one disputes this. The question is whether children of covenant members are also unconverted and thus dead in their sins. I don't believe they are. I believe they belong to God. Yet they still repent, love, and trust God. We all do. Which is to say that once they are formally introduced to Christ in the sacrament of Baptism, there is no difference between infants and adults. They both need to repent, trust, and love God. The hang up might be with the order in which St Peter gave this admonition. First repent and then be baptized. The Holy Scriptures frequently list two or more objects without reference to temporal sequence. Most famously, the Evangelist says that when the soldier pierced Jesus' side, blood and water gushed out of the wound. Yet scientists tell us that in fact the water would have come first followed by a greater quantity of blood. Lists such as these sometimes tell us more about the quantity or importance of what is listed than the direct sequence. The Christian Church has always been more concerned with the salvation of souls than with following rigidly prescribed rules as if everyone were the same. Pastoral care requires an individualized respect for the unique way each person comes to Christ. With infants, this means not excluding them from the family of God. With adults this means requiring them to demonstrate their sincerity and commitment to Christ before being baptized. In Christianity there is no one size fits all approach. Furthermore, you say that you do not call your children reprobates, but you do tell them they must be regenerate. "Children brought up in Christian homes to the point that they are ready to make a personal choice to receive Christ are not reprobates." You may not call children "unregenerate reprobates" but unregenerate is precisely the evangelical and biblical description of a life without Christ. There is no limbo. You are either dead to God or alive in Christ. Therefore, in your view, children who have not exercised "personal saving faith" in an intellectually mature way are by definition unregenerate sinners. I don't agree that covenant children make a "personal choice" to receive Christ. I believe that the children of believers already belong to God's family and are united to Christ in just the same way that they already belong to their natural families. Of course they could not earn the gift of belonging to either family. It
couldn't be grace if it were any other way. I do believe that they must personally receive the blessings that come along with belonging to Christ and the Church, that they must believe and love God and not reject him. The fact that someone rejects a gift does not mean that the gift was never given. Lastly, I simply do not make as great a distinction between adult human beings and infant human beings in terms of faith. In fact I tend to think that the simplicity and trust infants have, unencumbered with doubting intellect is a great benefit, not an impediment, to faith. In short, I believe that infants do have faith. Sincerely, Ryan
vii. Who Among Us Has the Correct Knowledge? or The Neo-Gnostic Heresy
I believe you are a thoughtful, highly intelligent Christian with the highest concern to remain faithful to the Word of God. I respect that and God honors that. I believe that this question has to do with the difference between faith and doubt. The "real baptism," as you put it, is not the one we authenticate on our own through our own effort of sincerity. The "real baptism" is the one God performs objectively and which we are required to take hold of subjectively through faith. This can happen at any point in our lives. The reason infants are baptized in the Church is that we want them to have those wonderful gifts and promises such as adoption and the remission of sins from the earliest days of their life. We want them to never know a time when they were excluded from the grace of God. The Bible does not say that "knowledge" or "gnosis" is a prerequisite for receiving the grace of God, only an age appropriate response to the free gift of Christ with a faith which is also given to us by God. Who among us has the correct knowledge? Should we all be continually rebaptized with every new re-commitment to Christ as we go from glory to glory? What can we know about what goes on between the youngest human hearts and Christ? Because it shows a lack of faith in the free gifts bestowed by God and thus doubts God's goodness, Christians do not generally "re-baptize" adults who have been baptized as infants. Baptism is not a form of "work righteousness." Grace cannot be earned. Christ put it this way. A rich man goes to the gates of the village to recruit workers for his vineyard. He did this three times, once in the morning, again at noon, and again in the afternoon, promising them all the same payment. At the end of the day as he pays his workers, those recruited at the beginning of the day protest the their wages were unfair. The rich man asks the, "Have I wronged you in any way? Have I not given you what I promised? Shouldn't I be able to do with my money as I wish." Who among us can approach the throne of God and pretend to make Almighty God his debtor. No one can. Because he has formed us and given us life and sustains that life and makes it possible to come into a saving relationship with him by trampling down death by death in Christ, bestowing life to those in the grave. Furthermore, baptism is grace. Baptism is the free gift of wages not the labor in the fields. Our labor in the fields could never merit anything. Everything we get from God is a gift of his never-ending love. Grace is God's whole way of being toward all of creation a loving, forgiving, and generous Father. Grace is God's saving activity within us. In other words, grace is the gift of the Holy Spirit. And even our ability to accept
Dear Phaedrus, Thank you for your response. I must disagree. It is not "impossible" for children to respond in faith to a degree corresponding to their natural state. Especially since faith is a gift of God. John the Baptist jumped for joy in his mother's womb when Mary the God-bearer came to them with the Lord Christ Jesus in her womb. It is not consistent to believe infants can begin ageappropriate relationships with other human beings but not with God. Is God initiating a relationship with the child in some other way? It is impossible that an infant could comprehend a relationship without any physical signs. If the divine/infant relationship is mediated in a way invisible to the observation of adults, how could the infant perceive it or even benefit from it? Secondly, it is inconsistent to believe that salvation and forgiveness of sins is a free gift but that it requires either "maturity" or "intellectual attainment." Both are a form of works that is set up as a prerequisite to salvation. If, however, Baptism is a symbol of God's grace, forgiveness, and salvation and if we believe that our Heavenly Father would not hypocritically withhold the reality he has "symbol-ized" to us, then we must conclude two things. First, that salvation is "objectively" conferred, or promised, and our response is one of faith saying "yes" to the gift given. Secondly, that initial gift of initiation cannot be earned or attained through any kind of intellectual maturity but is rather a free gift. Lastly, it is inconsistent to say that children are "not excluded" from the family of God when they are "denied" entrance into the Church, unity with Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sins, and adoption as a son of God, all of which are promised in holy baptism. To deny God the opportunity to express his love in this way is equivalent to saying to our children, "God is not your God, you do not belong to him nor to his family. You are not forgiven, you are dead in your sins."
this grace, to be toward God the loving children who accept with faith the divine generosity, is a gift. Our responsibility is to cooperate with the saving, loving, transforming activity of God within us. It is to say yes to the gift given and never stop saying yes. Would our heavenly Father give us a stone if we ask him for bread? Are infants utterly incapable of entering into symbolic relationships? Does the Bible actually teach that God's grace, loving promises, and transforming activity are reserved only for adults and not for children and families? Are infant children of believers members of the Family of God or are they dead in their sins? Are our children outside the grace (the saving activity) of God? Was Abraham a conscious or an unconscious participant when the Lord made his covenant with him in Genesis 15:12-20? Sincerely, Ryan
viii. Of Faith not Magic
Dear Phaedrus, I disagree that the Holy Church has added to the Apostolic Deposit. The Church has not added anything, but has preserved the truth from that time until now so that sinners can discover it again 2000 years latter. However, I cannot speak for the Roman Church, with whom we are not in fellowship because we think they have added to the Apostolic Deposit. The Church rejects such doctrines as the infallibility of the pastor of Rome and purgatory precisely because they are not Traditional. Peado-baptists don't believe that Baptism works by the power of "majical shamans." We believe that the grace and power of God is promised to us in Baptism based on the nature of human relationships, communication, and the free grace of salvation. Often, the counterfeit revivalists will have a healing service. But instead of giving God the glory they are drawing attention to themselves. They will call it the "Joe's Healing Service: with signs and fireworks, etc." and people will say, "Have you been prayed for by Joe, he can heal you real good." I know, I've been there. God does not respond to magic words spoken by elite magicians named Benny or whomever. He responds to simple words spoken in faith and love. In the New Testament Church, the pastors together with all the faithful will pray and they all pray in the same way, so that when the sick are healed no one says, "Wow, pastor Eric healed me! He prays really well!" This is because anyone can be an instrument of God's grace, and all Christians participate together with mutually indwelling, self-emptying love as one Body of Christ praying one common charismaticaly directed prayer. That is why prayers don't have to be fancy. We don't have to make it up. We don't have to worry about what people will think. We just pray the words the Holy
Spirit gives the whole Church. Christ is the great healer, not pastor Mike wearing a Hawaiian shirt. The Holy Spirit is the one praying through the Church with words and utterances we hardly understand, and no human being, whether he is a pope or not, becomes the center of attention. The Holy Three-Personed God is the center of attention and nothing else crowds into the way. With out the distraction of rationalizations, intellect, personal opinions, and questionable innovations, we enter into the intimate presence of God. We enter into the holy of holies, behind the veil in our very souls. We meet Christ and he embraces us. Many people live under the impression that the "liturgy" and prayers are magic and the minister a magician reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead or some such nonsense. There is no magic formula. Prayers do not change God's mind. Rather, every liturgical action of the Church is communal, an affair of the household of God. And when the Church gathers to celebrate the mystery of the sacrament of Holy Baptism, or any other act of prayer, it is a manifestation of the selflessness of God seen in his people who have put away their egos in order to be joined together, struggling to conquer selflove. The sacrament is not accomplished by reciting the right words, the words are there to instruct the faithful so that we may all understand the action of worship which we are taking together. We are called by God and together call down the Holy Spirit to be with us and to seek the grace of God in faith and mutual love. This is communion with God through faith. This is how the Holy Spirit unites us mysteriously with Christ and each other as one family of God. When we pray together, and not just as simultaneous individual worshipers, we offer up a single great offering of worship and a sacrifice of praise in Spirit and Truth! The Holy Spirit is not compelled by our saying the proper words. Baptism is NOT water plus a magic incantation from a representative of a "church" so-called, a human institution. The waters of Baptism are not blessed and sanctified by God without a genuine faith and a sincere intent. The words are not magic. God does not respond to formulas. It is our faith and mutual love coming together in Christ and through Christ that gains the response of the Holy Spirit and brings us into dynamic communion with the Heavenly Father. This is why St Gregory Nazianzen said that if a person steps into the baptismal font without faith and with an improper motive nothing happens except that he gets wet. As he says, "Of those who have received the gift [Baptism], some were altogether alien from God and from salvation, both addicted to all manner of sin, and desirous to be bad." (Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 40) As in the healing service, the person doing the baptizing is irrelevant exactly because his own personality is not what is in view. Rather it is his appointed role in the Christian community to represent
Christ. This means that it is Christ who is "relevant" in baptism. For Traditional Christians, baptism is a sign and a seal of the Gospel Promises, the reality of which is not withheld from those who say yes to the gift given with evangelical faith. It objectively grafts them into the Body of Christ. It objectively cloths them with Christ. Baptism is the objective entrance into the Family of God. And these are precisely what we believe God has promised Christians and their children. In the mouth of God's ministers we hear the very words of Christ spoken powerfully, objectively, and prophetically to us. "You are baptized. . ." "You are sealed with the Holy Spirit." "You are forgiven your sins." "You are healed." "This is my Body... This is my Blood." This is an affair of Word and Spirit, faith and miracle. There is nothing magic about it. Science fiction author Gene Wolfe writes, "We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin, an asimi stamped with the profile of the Autarch. Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life. They are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all." (Wolfe, 8) In Baptism we see a symbol re-shaping us on the deepest level. It is a mistake to believe that we must be conscious of this re-shaping for the symbol to have any effect. Whether we know it or not we have received a free gift from God, citizenship in the Kingdom of God. We can accept that citizenship and live accordingly, fighting sin, loving and serving our Lord the High King of Heaven. Or we can choose to live in rebellion to that calling. Baptism is the symbol, the communication of the Three-Personed God, freely offering the gift of relationship, which, if accepted by faith with love unites our lives to Christ and transforms / re-invents us through his Resurrection Life. In conclusion, the words of St Gregory preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381 sum up everything I have just said beautifully: XVI. But are you afraid lest you should destroy the Gift, and do you therefore put off your cleansing, because you cannot have it a second time? What? Would you not be afraid of danger in time of persecution, and of losing the most precious Thing you have: Christ? Would you then on this account avoid becoming a Christian? Perish
the thought. Such a fear is not for a sane man; such an argument argues insanity. O incautious caution, if I may so. O trick of the Evil One! Truly he is darkness and pretends to be light; and when he can no longer prevail in open war, he lays snares in secret, and gives advice, apparently good, really evil, if by some trick at least he may prevail, and we find no escape from his plotting. And this is clearly what he is aiming at in this instance. For, being unable to persuade you to despise Baptism, he inflicts loss upon you through a fictitious security; that in consequence of your fear you may suffer unconsciously the very thing you are afraid of; and because you fear to destroy the Gift, you may for this very reason fail of the Gift altogether. This is his character; and he will never cease his duplicity as long as he sees us pressing onwards towards heaven from which he has fallen. Wherefore, O man of God, do thou recognize the plots of your adversary; for the battle is against him that has, and it is concerned with the most important interests. Take not your enemy to be your counsellor; despise not to be and to be called Faithful. As long as you are a Catechumen you are but in the porch of Religion; you must come inside, and cross the court, and observe the Holy Things, and look into the Holy of Holies, and be in company with the Trinity. Great are the interests for which you are fighting, great too the stability which you need. Protect yourself with the shield of faith. He fears you, if you fight armed with this weapon, and therefore he would strip you of the Gift, that he may the more easily overcome you unarmed and defenseless. He assails every age, and every form of life; he must be repelled by all. XVII. Are you young? Stand against your passions; be numbered with the alliance in the army of God: do valiantly against Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:32) Take your thousands or your myriads; thus enjoy your manhood; but do not allow your youth to be withered, being killed by the imperfection of your faith. Are you old and near the predestined necessity? Aid your few remaining days. Entrust the purification to your old age. Why do you fear youthful passion in deep old age and at your last breath? Or will you wait to be washed till you are dead, and not so much the object of pity as of dislike? Are you regretting the dregs of pleasure, being yourself in the dregs of life? It is a shameful thing to be past indeed the flower of your age, but not past your wickedness; but either to be involved in it still, or at least to seem so by delaying your purification. Have you an infant child? Do not let sin get any opportunity, but let him be sanctified from his childhood; from his very tenderest age let him be consecrated by the Spirit. Fearest thou the Seal on account of the weakness of nature? O what a small-souled mother, and of how little faith! Why, Anna even before Samuel was born (1 Samuel 1:10) promised him to God, and after his birth consecrated him at once, and brought him up in the priestly habit, not fearing anything in human nature,
but trusting in God. You have no need of amulets or incantations, with which the Devil also comes in, stealing worship from God for himself in the minds of vainer men. Give your child the Trinity, that great and noble Guard. (Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 40) Sincerely, Ryan ¶
who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship. (Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 40)
i. Flood Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer, the service book of the Church of England following the Reformation was influenced by the German Mass composed by Martin Luther and other Lutheran services used in Germany. The liturgy for Holy Baptism also comes in part from the Lutheran liturgy. Historically, both Lutherans and Anglicans used the Flood Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, according to Your strict judgment You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood, yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. You drowned hard-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, yet led Your people Israel through the water on dry ground, prefiguring this washing of Your Holy Baptism. Through the Baptism in the Jordan of Your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, You sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood, and a lavish washing away of sin. We pray that You would behold N. according to Your boundless mercy and bless him with true faith by the Holy Spirit that through this saving flood all sin in him which has been inherited from Adam and which he himself has committed since would be drowned and die. Grant that he be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serving Your name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in Your promise, he would be made worthy of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Noah is saved and the unbelieving world is condemned. Pharaoh is hard hearted because he does not believe. The central petition of the original prayer is for the gift of faith. The version of the prayer used by Lutherans today has changed the word "made" to "declared" as if what God declares does not also make it happen. Either way it is clear, God gives us the gift of faith. Baptism is "being separated from the multitude of unbelievers" so that "with all believers in Your promise." The prayer went through a few changes in the English liturgy eliminating the idea of water used to destroy God's enemies: Almighty and everlasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy holy Baptism; and by the Baptism of thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in the river Jordan didst sanctify Water to
Baptism as New Life
n a way, Baptism is the beginning of our life in Christ. That life may begin with hearing the gospel preached or witnessed to by a friend, or through God's love demonstrated to us in the service of a stranger. Subjectively God may give and strengthen faith in our hearts. But baptism marks definitively and concretely our passage from life to death in the moment Christ speaks our names and applies the promises of the gospel to us personally. That is why it is spoken of as the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5; Jn 3:5), the gateway to life in the Spirit, the sacrament of new birth, and the seal of our adoption. The plunge into the waters of baptism symbolizes the sinner's burial into Christ's death from which he rises united with Christ in resurrection as a new creature (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12). On the day of Pentecost St Peter declared to the pilgrims astounded by his preaching: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38) From that day the apostles and their freinds offered Baptism to anyone who believed in the Christ. (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13; 10:48; 16:15) Baptism is inexorably connected to faith as St Paul declared to the Philippian jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:3133) The Church today continues to fullfill the great commision to "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Mt 28:19). Receiveing in Baptism the Word of God, "the true Light which gives light to every man," the new Christian becomes "illuminated," indeed he becomes a child of the light and is welcomed into the Body of Christ. (Jn 1:9; 1 Thess 5:5; Heb 10:32; Eph 5:8) As St Gregory Nazianzen says, Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those
the mystical washing away of sin: We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon this Child, wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost; that he, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ's Church; and being stedfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass through the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee world without end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. First of all, there is nothing about water being a picture of the wrath of God and an instrument for destroying God's enemies. Secondly the words referring to belief or faith have been removed. This Baptismal rite teaches us that Baptism is a promise received by evangelical faith. Since we are confident of the Lord's willingness to save we ask him for exactly such faith in Baptism and separation of unbelief and unbelievers. We pray that the Holy Spirit will plant them like a tree within the garden that is the Church.
Miles puts it, "Night and ocean as mankind knows them are the remains of the uncreated chaos of darkness and water that God dammed up to make the world." (Miles, 43-45) By combining these ideas with being "born anew" and the Son of Man being lifted up, Jesus is also mystically prophesying his own suffering and death as a decent into the chaos of death, and his resurrection as a recapitulation of creation itself. So the Biblical way of thinking of the death of Christ is that while he lay in the tomb for three days, the cosmos was literally unmade. With his resurrection it is completely remade. In the sacrament of Holy Baptism we are united / identified with Christ and we are re-created in his likeness.
iii. Baptism as New Victory
N.T. Wright helpfully points out that the imagery that John the Forerunner uses in the wilderness is that of new exodus. The people are still in bondage and in need of redemption, rescue from the powers and principalities of this age. The Coming Messiah is Moses redux and his mission is nothing less than Exodus Recapitulated. And just as Moses went through the waters of the Nile River as an infant and latter together with God's people at the Red Sea, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River, where the people of Israel first entered the Promised Land. In Hebrew poetry, Egypt is sometimes referred to as Rehab, a mythological water-serpent prototypical of primordial chaos. This chaos is symbolized in many creation myths from the Middle East and poignantly implied in the Genesis story of beginnings. "And the spirit hovered over the waters." In this myth, the Lord Almighty destroys Rehab and brings order to the chaos in the same way that light fills up and overcomes the primordial darkness. The prophets did not believe that there was a primordial serpent deity that existed before the creation. They were using legendary imagery to explicate the victory of the Lord over his enemies the Egyptians. Just as God defeated the princes and powers of Egypt, God also poetically destroys and defeats the serpent Rehab. Typologically, the Exodus out of Egypt is new creation, the ordering of chaos recapitulated in terms of God Almighty, Lord of Hosts and defender of those in despair, defeats the evil gods of Egypt. The Apostle uses this same imagery when referring to the Exodus' typological significance for those now vitally united to Christ. "All our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." Christ was the liberator who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptian gods and at the
ii. Baptism as New Creation
In the Gospel of St John, the Pharisee Nicodemus visits Jesus in the night and asks him, "Truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit," Jesus words, rich with meaning, are referring to the mystery of Baptism. Baptism is what being "born anew" looks like. Jesus says to Nicodemus, "You are a teacher of Israel, yet you do not understand this?" We are not any better. The farthest thing from our minds when we hear these words is the Genesis creation account. Nicodemus should naturally associate a reference to being born of water and the Spirit with the first verse of Sacred Scripture and the time when "darkness was upon the face of the deep, and God's Spirit breathed over the face of the waters." In the creation narrative God creates light, he does not create darkness that is only the absence of light. God contains the darkness by separating it from light as he does later by separating the sea and land. "God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day." Day is a created space cleared within the darkness, which we assume he did not create. Darkness is the absence of light, the absence of created things. Likewise, time is a space cleared within eternity. Time begins when light permeates the primeval and timeless darkness. "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years." As for the primordial waters, he does not so much as create as contain them on the second day. "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear." Thus as Jack
same time poetically slew the water-serpent, slicing through the chaotic Red Sea like a knife. And this radical victory is what St Paul calls baptism. "All our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." And that is why the crucifixion of Christ is the victory of God over the adversary, the radical and overwhelming defeat of the devil, and all false gods and demons. Christ descends into the depths of the world and rises victorious, remaking the cosmos. The name Jesus means savior, but the word savior in the Hebrew is not separate from the word "Victor." As Athanasius puts it: If, then, it is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ that death is trampled underfoot, it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power. Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Saviour and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by the very Christ Who mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally. When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun that has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark. Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Saviour's manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself Who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples. (The Incarnation, § 28) Baptism is thus a picture of new creation and Christ the Archvictor. The old us is made new. Baptism is new creation and defeat of the evil one.
iv. Baptism as Life in Christ
The life of the Holy Trinity is an ever giving and receiving, mutually indwelling life of self-emptying love and sharing which over-flows in magnificent creative power. As God's children we are meant to take part in this self-emptying, creative, mutually indwelling love, receiving life from God in the form of the world, giving thanks to God for all things we offer it back to him as a sacrifice of praise. God blesses our gift and gives it back to us, uniting all who draw close to him into a family of selfless sacrificial love. In the Christian life the practice of prayer represents the communication between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the family of God. Almsgiving represents the self-sacrificial life of the Trinity and fasting represents the self-emptying denial which over flows in love for our family and those around us. At least this is how it was meant to be. In our fallen state we are disconnected from God and other people. We build up walls of separation so that
we can live lives as isolated individuals, safe and secure in our own little cocoon, curved inward and turned in on ourselves. And somehow we need to be transferred from this old life into the new life in Christ. When we are born, we are ripped out of a warm, safe, dark environment into a cold, dangerous, noisy, light we were completely unprepared for. That is why the Church Fathers describe Christian baptism as a new birth into Christ where fallen man enters the shared mutually indwelling life of love within the Holy Life-Creating Trinity and the family of God. The Christian is literally baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thus, as we have seen, an essential element of the new birth, which is Baptism, is the overcoming of the demonic powers that keep us in bondage within our cocoon-like prison of self-love. When we are baptized we are denying the devil and all his works and accepting Christ, his victory over the devil, and his victory over the power of sin and death with which the devil was holding us captive. That is why immediately before and after baptism we may experience demonic warfare and temptation from the evil spirits who don't want to be cast out and the walls of separation torn down. Therefore, Baptism is the beginning of this Life in Christ. We put off the old man, the layers of sin and separation we build up around our hearts, and put on the new man and the garments of righteousness. As the Apostles says, "As many as have been Baptized into Christ have put on Christ." But this pealing back the layers of the onion through the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us is a lifelong healing process. Every time we sin we build up new walls that we must tear down by fighting sin within our hearts through confession and repentance. Every time we connect to God in prayer and others people in self-sacrifice we are tearing a bit of our walls down and being healed of our self-sickness. But this process can be very revealing, we can begin to feel naked and exposed, which is why God gives us garments of new righteousness. Healing can also be very painful. And many times people give up because they realize that if this healing continues much further they will have to reveal and let heal some hidden imperfection or bitterness they are unwilling to let go of. In Baptism we plunge into the Life of the Triune God. The Holy Spirit enters into the Body, Mind, and Spirit of the believer. God joins himself to the life of the one who by faith receives him. This is the result of the rising from the dead of the Sun of Righteousness who has destroyed sin and death as Arch-Victor and who is continually building up monuments to his victory in his saints. Glory be to God forever!
Chrismation or confirmation was an inseparable part of the sacrament of Baptism in the Apostolic Church. Some have suggested that the early Church imported the practice of anointing with oil from gnostic sects. I don't believe that those great pastors of the Church who fought the gnostic heresies so valiantly through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, adopted gnostic practices as their own. It is more likely that the gnostics adopted these practices from early Christians. The practice can be shown from Scripture. Christ breathed on his disciples and said, "receive the Holy Spirit." It was the practice of the early Church to lay hands on the newly baptized Christian to anoint them to receive the Holy Spirit. This follows from the ministry of of the Apostles. The Apostles Peter and John, laid hands on the Samaritan believers and "they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-18) In Ephases St Paul laid hands on them and the "Holy Spirit came upon them." (Acts 19:6) "As the Christian community expanded both numerically and geographically into many locations both within and outside of the Jewish world, the Apostles were soon not the only ones preaching the Gospel and Baptizing people into Christ." The bishops in each local church, such as Timothy, were the successors of the Apostles. They baptized and placed their hands on new believers. In time, once the Way spread out of the cities and into the country sides, the bishops who began to superintend multiple local churches in a given area were unable to be personally present for the baptism of each new believer. This responsibility was conferred on the bishop's representative, the presbyter, or pastor of the local assembly. However the bishop’s place was still symbolically present through the oil of Myrrh that he consecrated, which means to set apart for God's service. In this way the unity of believers separated geographically was maintained. During the Baptism, the ritual of chrismation involved anointing the head, the chest, the hands, and feat of the new Christian to sanctify and seal the whole body to God. This comes from the anointing ritual of priestly initiation in the book of Leviticus. The message is clear; the servant of Christ, newly baptized is being commissioned as a priest with a ministry of reconciliation and commission to make disciples in all the earth. Chrismation is the radical confirmation of the priesthood of all believers. Thus, Baptism and Chrismation were never supposed to be separated in the early Church. They were not two sacraments but only one sacrament with two actions always done together. Thus in the early Church, no one was ever Baptized without receiving the Holy Spirit. This was not the case in parts of the western Church where heretical Frankish Papalism retained the practice of the bishop alone conferring the gift of the
Spirit. Thus Chrismation, or Confirmation as they came to call it, was postponed until after children were of age and after they had passed a catechism class. Thus it became a separate sacrament. And it does not involve oil, only the laying on of hands. The Lutheran and Anglican traditions still practice confirmation of children at the age of ten or so prior to receiving "first communion." Some Presbyterian churches still practice it as well. It is obviously missing in Reformed peado-communion churches and for good reason. Since confirmation was separated from the act of Baptism and reserved for a time after the completion of catechism it was understood as an entrance into the mystery of Communion. Those who wish for their infant children to receive the Lord's Supper, and never know a time when they were separated from the People of God, would obviously reject the idea that completion of a catechism would be necessary for reception of the Lord's Supper. Nor would they wish to postpone admitting their children to the Table until the age of ten or so. Some Lutherans are beginning to see the benefits of peadocommunion and are trying to make confirmation available at an earlier age. Though it is consistent to reject the innovation of confirmation, it would surely be of great value to restore the Apostolic tradition of Anointing with oil to the sacrament of Baptism as an inseparable spiritual aspect thereof.
vi. Baptism in the Life of the Believer
Baptism is the Word of God made physical. It is the Gospel promises given to each believer when they become children of God and join the family of the Church of Christ. Regardless of when one has been baptized they aught to properly understand that their baptism was not a human act of an individual or of a priest, but a divine act of sealing the promises of the better covenant to one's life. Their baptism means that God has put a claim on their life and their proper response is faith, repentance, and thankfulness. Believing in one's baptism, rightly understood means believing the Gospel promises of the New Covenant, that have been sealed to us by God in Baptism. As it is written, only those who are "of faith" are the seed of Abraham who was justified by faith. (Rom 9:6-8) For we know that the righteousness of God is "through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." (Rom 3:2122) Therefore, infants, by receiving the Gospel promises God gives us in baptism, are forgiven and regenerated by the faith God also gives them by means of hearing the promises. (Acts 2:38-39; Rom 10:17) Therefore baptized children of God have every reason to believe and no excuse for unbelief because God himself has put a seal on them and calls them to covenant faithfulness. Whenever one has doubts,
remembering the event of one's Baptism gives a believer an absolute and concrete / objective proof of the reality of the Gospel promises sealed upon their lives. Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." [Acts 2:38] Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." [2 Timothy 2:19] The Apostle correctly calls to mind the event of our baptism in order to encourage us to be faithful. The Holy Spirit thus uses one's baptism as an instrument to create & strengthen faith and produce faithfulness throughout ones life. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love. (Jn 1:12; Rom 3:28, 5:1; Jas 2:17-26; Gal 5:6)
restored where by we acknowledge God as the Creator / Giver / Lover and our relationship to him as thankful creatures / receivers / beloved. Second, our original edenic vocation from before the fall as priests is restored or recapitulated in Christ, whose once for all sacrifice on the cross for our salvation enables us to make a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. When we do this on a cosmic scale, the whole cosmos is being transfigured. Whether we like it or not, food is one of the most central elements of our lives as humans. Eating makes up a large part of our personal identity. We wake up and we eat. We eat all day long. Our lives revolve around what we will eat next because without food we die. Many people have begun to lament the contemporary extinction of the last natural ritual, the family dinner, for without that ritual to endue the eating experience with meaning, specialness, and familial communion, life ceases to have meaning, specialness, and communion. When we eat without thinking, without mindfulness of our place in the cosmos and before the face of God, our whole person is debased. The family ritual does not make eating less meaningful. It actually fills eating with meaning and puts God back at the center of our lives. Food comes from God, and our hunger for food is meant to point to a hunger for the one who lovingly provides us with all our needs. When we wake up we aught to pray and thank God for our entire lives and give them to him first, and only then eat. Then our place before the God who gives is restored. Food eaten for itself without thankfulness is union / communion with that which is dead. If we would open our eyes and see that all good things come down from our heavenly Father we would be in communion with Life himself. When we lead lives of Eucharistic / Thankful eating, we show that we are truly Christian, because we are willing to put God at the very center of our lives, not serving measured quantities of carbohydrates, calories, and proteins, but being drawn into a loving relationship with Life himself. Thus the Eucharist is the natural correlation and completion of Baptism. In Baptism we are Baptized "into Christ" and in Holy Communion we eat the Body and Blood of Christ so that we are in Christ and he in us. There is no other more intimate relationship that can be comprehended. This is the life of sacramental thanksgiving that is the objective fact for the Christian made right with God. There is no doubt that as we cling to him in faith he is our nourishment. There is no biblical reason why children should not come to the table and be fed by the King from the time they are baptized and experience the over flowing love of God from their earliest moments. ¶
vii. The sacrament of eating
We don't live to eat, nor do we eat to live. I think that this is a false dilemma. If we eat to live we have replaced God at the center of our lives by making food the source of life. If we live to eat then we have replaced God at the center of our lives by making our stomach lord. This dichotomy represents the extremes of pagan and atheist thought concerning life and the human person. The atheist does not see through the world to its source. For him the world is dark and opaque. He eats because food is fuel for the body engine, consequently he thinks of humans as machines or animals. Eating is not something special, but neither is anything else. As Christians we know this debases the dignity of man as the image of God and devalues human life. In the beginning God created all things and he called them good for the sake of blessing us. The Christian receives both his life and food from God as an unseparated gift. Consequently he sees through the world as transparent to catch a vision of the love of God. In fact the entire world is an expression of the love of God. When seen in this way, even eating can be understood as a sacrament of the presence of God. When we eat, we must give thanks for the food. We must also offer it back to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. But because God does not need anything, he blesses it and sanctifies it and gives it back to us. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we receive the life of the world from God and, united to Christ Jesus, offer it back to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. When we do this two things happen. First, a right relationship with God is
Baptism Sources Cited
Wilken, Robert Louis, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2003 Hart, D.G., Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestantism in the Age of Billy Graham, Baker Academic, 2005 Wilson, Doug, To a Thousand Generations, Cannon Press, Moscow, 2007 Gregory Nazianzen. Oration 40. The Oration on Holy Baptism. XXII. Preached at Constantinople Jan. 6, 381 Wolfe, Gene, Shadow of the Torturer, Timescape Books, New York, 1980 Miles, Jack, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, Vintage Books, 2002 Luther, Martin, Concerning Rebaptism, 1528
Page 3, A Child's Book of Saints, by William Canton, Illustrated by T.H. Robinson, J.M. Dent & Co, London, 1902 Page 6, Symbols of the Four Evangelists, From Folio 27v of the Book of Kells Page 14, King David composing the Psalms. From Folio 30v of the Vespasian Psalter, English circa 750 (Public Domain image courtesy of Wikipedia) Page 17, Baptism of Augustine of Hippo as represented in a sculptural group in Troyes cathedral, 1549 Back, Baptism of Christ, From Folio 25 of the Benedictional of St. Aethelwold, Anglo-Saxon, Winchester School, c. 963–984; in the British Library (Britannica.com)
A Prayer of St Chrysostom
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests. Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of they servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.
NEXT TIME: The role of women in ancient Greek society, precognition vs. predestination, a smiling providence, mankind's yes to God, & why there is no such thing as doctrinal development. AND THEN IN DECEMBER: Liberal capitalist transformation, individual Awakenings, Cheap Grace, & the mystery of salvation.
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