Sunday, August 14, 2005


We had a baptism today at church. Afterwards I remarked to the mom of the baby that she had been so good; the mom replied, “She had no idea what was going on.”

I guess the appropriate response to that is, of course not, none of us really do.

My denomination believes in baptizing infants, the sooner to receive God’s grace.

Grace, not the same as protection.

It’s easy to cross the line from saying baptism is important and we believe it somehow changes a person, to equating baptism with the sprinkling of magic water. I can’t explain the difference, but I know we’re taught to baptize babies, rather than waiting till, as some denominations, the “age of reason,” in which an individual must actively assent to the act. (Oddly enough, many of those churches have now instituted an infant blessing or naming ceremony, in which the child isn’t baptized with water, but is presented to the church, promises are made on its behalf, etc. Sounds a lot like what we try to do with baptism!)

Baptism is a sacrament—that is, an important activity performed by the church, instituted by Jesus. (That, by the way, is why we have only two sacraments—communion and baptism—actions started by Jesus. Marriage is important, but not a sacrament. When Bill Frist talks about the “sacrament of marriage,” he’s a Baptist using Catholic language and displaying his ignorance about his own religion. Yet another reason he should just STFU. Ooh, profanity in a post about religion.)

Baptism, like taking communion, infuses us with God’s grace. Can you be “saved” without either? I believe, yes. But performing these actions helps us to be and live as better Christians. How? I don’t know, but we assert that the sacraments give God’s grace the opportunity to work in us.

What happens to people who are baptized, and then never make another positive action toward Christianity? When they die, where do they go? I don’t know. My church says baptism is sufficient for salvation. (Sufficient, but not necessary.) Can you renounce your baptism, and the promises made on your behalf? I don't know.

The orthodox Catholic hell contains a lot more souls than mine does. For example, they would say Joseph Stalin, Martin Luther (the founder of my denomination), the woman who’s unrepentant about using a diaphragm, and every Aborigine who’s never heard about Christ. My vision has hell a lot emptier.

We’ll see who’s right when we die.


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