Friday, April 14, 2006

The Use of Baptism

My Methodist doctrine professor, Dr. Bob Tuttle, began his ordained ministry at a dying church in a slum in Chicago. People often approached him and asked him to baptize their babies. His reply was always, "Sure, I'll be delighted to baptize your child -- if you would just give me a couple hours of your time so that I can be assured of your salvation." Eventually, half of the members of his church were people converted to Christ during those conversations.

I know that other pastors ask parents to read certain materials or be aware of certain theological concepts or parental duties in preparation for the baptism of their children.

What preparation do you request of parents before baptism? How do you make use of this sacrament for the benefit of not only the child, but the parents and congregation as a whole?


Chris said...

This is a great question (and one that almost got me kicked out of my first church).

Baptism is important, and when we as pastors take it lightly, so will the congregation. This is a covenant with God that we are making - both the parent and the church family.

If the family attended church, no problem. I would have a simple conversation to make sure they understood what was happening.

If the family (or parent) came to me, and they did not attend church, I would aske them to attend regularly for a period of time, and then we would set a date.

Five years later, I wrote a bible study on baptism and asked families (attenders or not) to attend for four weeks.

I had families that would not even attend this study (which was held after church) for 4 weeks!

The blessing was when one of those families, that did not attend, wrote me a thank you for making them do this.

see-through faith said...

Tuttle is coming to our seminary in Tallinn (either May or August) to teach on Acts or the Holy Spirit (can't remember which is which. Mullholland is coming too.

We are so blessed that Asbury also pours teaching into us waifs and strays in exile.

I loved what Tuttle said though - it's so important

rev-ed said...

Personally, I wait till the kid is older to dunk him...

But in dedication services, I set parents down to discuss actual salvation stuff to be sure they understand what I am saying and what they are doing. I haven't had a family yet ask to dedicate a baby if they did not attend church. I have had a family ask me to baptize a baby, but they balked at a dedication. It seems they wanted baptism "to guarantee the baby would go to heaven."

The theological discussion which followed was a waste of time.

Revwilly said...

Dedication? Show me where in the Bible it says we are to dedicate children. I can show you where we are to mark them in some way to show that they are part of the covenant community, but dedication for a child, I don't think so. As as United Methodists, we don't do that - we baptize children showing that they are a part of God's covenant community and recipients of the benefits.

see-through faith said...

Ouch! Rev Willy, different churches have different practices as we all know - I find it sad (and discouraging) that a valid question as asked here, ends up in 'sniping' ...

(If I misunderstood your comment I apologise -)

John, I linked to this over at my place . Thanks again for the info - I found it very encouraging. Chris, I hear you. It's not an easy line to dread - but I too am of the opinion that it is 'meaningless' to baptise an infant unless their parents /gurardians are committed to bringing them up as Christians. (as best they can)

We baptise INTO the church family.

John said...

Remember that Rev. Ed is not a United Methodist.

Revwilly said...

Regardless of denomination I still ask, where does the Bible teach dedication of children as an alternative to baptism?

see-through faith said...

Rev Willy ... does it say we are to baptise BABIES specifically?

John said...

Hush, Lorna. Your DCOM might be reading.