Feb 26, 2006

a baptismal quandary

A few thoughts concerning the heartache my aunt endured for years while associated with a very legalistic church that valued their perfect reasoning over her peace of mind.

As a young woman, my aunt was baptized while associated with the Baptist Church, and after being persuaded to join ranks with the Church of Christ she soon realized that her prior baptism was deemed suspect by a good majority of her new brothers and sisters in Christ.

After years and years of flak about her "unholy" baptism "into" the Baptist Church she relented, and was baptized "into" the COC by a COC minister (which made everything OK;) finally she was an acceptable sister in the one and only true church.

Years afterward she still believed her original baptism was for the right reasons and acceptable to God, and rightly wondered why she was so unacceptable to members of the COC until she was rebaptized. I wonder today as well!

Many (if not most) tribes of the COC have grudgingly changed much of their Pharisaical attitudes and no longer force their straight jacket opinions on God's children. Finally in some circles, God's mercy and grace take precedence over unerring perfectionism and tradition.


Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Larry -

I really appreciate this post. My husband was baptized as a teenager in the Baptist Church and I have always considered him to be a fellow Christian as much as anyone I know. He may lack in some respects being the "faithful" Christian some would deem as faithful, but for me he has always shown God's love and exhibited God's grace more than anyone else I've ever known, and I've been around a long time, now, and have known a multitude of people.

I'm very lucky that the fellowship I'm in, Tammany Oaks Church of Christ in Mandeville, Louisiana - yeah - Katrina Zone) would accept him fully as a member if he can just strengthen his faith enough to take part in our work. In his everyday life he certainly exhibits all of those fruits of the Spirit we seek to perfect.

He is a much better person than I am, and I say that in all honesty and humbleness as to my stewardship as a child of God.

If your aunt is still alive, please give her my best regards, wherever she is, and tell her I admire her greatly as a sister in Christ and look forward to meeting her in Heaven.

Grace & Peace - Dee Andrews

jettybetty said...

We have a friend who was raised Baptist and married a COC girl and he told us one time, "I've been baptized twice--once for the right reasons (in the Baptist church) and the other time for his wife (COC)." Sounds like the second time he just got wet to me!

Larry said...

My aunt (Minnie Smith) was a wonderful Christian woman who put her love in action by helping others; especially older and neglected members of the church.

She has since gone to her reward and is dearly missed by all.

Prior to her rebaptism in the COC we discussed the situation often, and since I was still deeply rooted in all sorts of Pharisaical nonsense, her Baptist baptism was a little suspect according to my legalistic leanings. I honestly thought it was a good idea for her to be rebaptized at the time (the old safety net approach,) but now I realize my error.

Appreciate your remarks and candor.

Larry said...

It's truly amazing what a guy will do to impress his girlfriend. Changing church affiliation and being rebaptized is just the tip of the iceberg. :)

LEM'S Politics said...

Brother Larry I believe Baptism in like Marriage, you can renew your vows anytime you think you should. I truly believe there are many who should be re-baptized those who were baptized to please those other than Christ,and those who were baptized before they knew why, baptism is like making coffee we need to know what we are doing before we can do it right. one of our Elder said when de went to war his mother pleaded for him to be baptized so he did to please her. he was re-baptized when he found out why we are baptized.

David U said...

Great post Larry! Keep em coming, bro!

Larry said...

The point I was trying to make was that another persons opinion shouldn't be used as a sledge hammer to force a person already satisfied with their baptism, to be rebaptized (if there's such a word.)

I agree that when a person is baptized for all the wrong reasons, and later realizes their error, it is time for a baptizing. Any person in this condition is not being rebaptized, because they were never baptized for the right reasons in the first place, they just took a bath.

LEM'S Politics said...

right on brother

LEM'S Politics said...

Allow me to share a brief treatise about baptism, written by a spiritual giant 170 years ago:
“Views on baptism, as a mere external and bodily act, exert a very injurious influence on the understanding and practice of men. Hence many ascribe to it so little importance in the Christian economy. ‘Bodily exercise’ says Paul. ‘profits little.’ We have been taught to regard immersion in water, into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as an act of the whole man, - body, soul and spirit. The soul of the intelligent subject is as fully immersed into the Lord Jesus, as his body is immersed in the water. His soul rises with the Lord Jesus, as his body rises out of the water; and into one spirit with all the family of God is he immersed. It is not like circumcising a Hebrew infant or proselyting a Gentile adult. The candidate, believing in the person, mission and character of the Son of God, and willing to submit to Him, immediately, upon recognizing Him, hastens to be buried with the Lord, and to rise with Him, not corporeally, but spiritually, with his whole soul.
“Reader, be admonished how you speak of bodily acts in obedience to divine institutions. Remember Eve, Adam and all transgressors on the one hand. Remember Abel, Noah, Enoch, Moses, Abraham, down to the harlot Rahab, on the other; and be cautious how you speak of bodily acts! Rather remember the sacrifice of a body on Mount Calvary, and talk not lightly of bodily acts. There is no such thing as outward bodily acts in the Christian institution; and less than in all others, in the act of immersion. Then it is that the spirit, soul, and body of man become one with the Lord. Then it is that the power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes upon us. Then it is that we are enrolled among the children of God, and enter the ark, which will, if we abide in it, transport us to the Mount of God”.
-A. Campbell
The Christian System (pp. 215-16)
Bethany, VA, January 2, 1835

Hoots Musings said...

About 8 months or so ago, mom and dad let it be known to me and my family that they just did not feel comfortable when we came over to visit. They could not really explain why, but I kind of had a feeling why. Because of the divorce thing....So, this I am sure is why mom and dad felt the way they did.
Now, dad went on to tell me in this same conversation, that he had regrets of having me for a son. He felt that I should have paid him back for everything he ever did for me. Literally, he felt I owed him money. I reminded him of the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and if we was the true and devout Christian that he professed to be, then he needed to have the same love that the father in that parable had for his son, and be glad and happy that I had turned my life around and gotten back on the right path. Needless to say, I was pretty upset over all of this. So, I wrote dad a letter explaining to him that I would be willing to forgive and move on if he could only have the forgiveness as the Prodigal Son's father had. I never heard anything back. I called one day to ask why. He said he never received the letter. I can't believe that. Shortly thereafter dad's health started taking a turn for the worse. He did try several times to call me. I called back, but he really had no memory about all this, and really could not remember that I was his son. Mom said that he did mention to her that maybe he did not say the right things, but never really said he was sorry. On Wednesday of last week, I spent about an hour in his hospital room, talking to him. He had no clue that I was there. I just talked to him about how I wish things had been better between us. That I wished that we had had more of a father- son relationship. I told him that I would hold no grudges or ill wills, and that I would forgive him for feeling the way he did about me. I talked to him about the lessons he had taught me through life, even though he never paid attention to the results. I also told him, that I always longed for him to tell me that he loved me, but those words never came out of his mouth. Dad passed away later that very same night. Today, my boys and I, tell each other that we love each other several times a day, and we hug each other every single day. That never happened in my family growing up.

The above is from a dear cousin who's parents and one brother are of the extreme right wing of the CofC. It pains me to think of the blessings and joys they have deprived themselves of for the sake of being right.

Thank you for your candidness and honesty.

LEM'S Politics said...

Hoot, may God bless your cousin and his children with the relationship he never had with his parents, such a sad situation but it is not uncommon.

Larry said...

Thanks for sharing the letter.

It's difficult to understand how self righteous and hard-headed some Christians from the extreme right wing can be at times.

I know family members in one of these churches that have completely severed all relationship with each other, and haven't spoke to each other in decades; all because this church sent a few dollars to an orphans home out of the church treasury.

Your cousin is in my prayers, no one deserves to be rejected (especially by his own father) when they seek to mend fences broken in the past.

Unless you have been associated with one of these extremist churches you can't imagine what a detrimental effect they have on a loving person seeking to follow Jesus.

There are some wonderful Christians in these groups, and I proudly proclaim them as my brothers and sisters in Christ, whether they claim me as their brother any more is questionable.

Alan said...

Hey Larry,

It seems so difficult to bring the two sides together on questions like this. Those you view as extremists are not deliberately evil. They are just trying to do what they believe to be right, as we all hopefully do. As someone has said before, they may be brothers in error, but that is the only kind of brothers we have. We are brothers in error on some point also.


Larry said...

Thanks for your comments; couldn't agree with you more.

When I was an "extremist" I honestly believed my opinions were based on nothing but the pure and sweet Word of God. I completely failed to grasp that other Christians in churches other than my little group were my brothers and sisters.

It is difficult to bring two sides together unless both are willing to admit that some portions of their belief system just might be wrong.

JD said...

Larry, it's a great subject and I appreciate your words and those of the commenters. I do not get to read blogs like I used to, and like I would enjoy doing. But I wanted to stop by today, see what was up with you and remind myself that I always find a blessing here! Thanks!