Dick Hunt's Blog

March 10, 2011

Christening? Baptizing? Confirmation? New Birth? Born Again?

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 8:41 pm

Christening? Baptizing? Confirmation? New Birth? Born Again?
by Dick Hunt, March 8th, 2011.

For some people, Christening  appears to be  a term applied to infants in their Baptism.  For many it is another name for Baptism of infants. It is really the same rite. The same words are spoken at the imposition of water poured over an infant as those used for youth or adults.  The given or “Christian” name or names is spoken along with “I Baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”.  There is no way to prove or to disprove the practice of Baptism of infants.  It is quite sure that in the case of the earthquake in Phillipi which broke open the prison doors and loosed Paul and Silas and other prisoners from their chains, that the Jailer was badly frightened for his own life when he thought the prisoners had escaped, enough to attempt to take his own life by falling on his sword, until Paul assured him they were all there. When he calmed down, he asked Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul told him he needed to believe the Good News.  And so he was taught and Baptized by Paul, he and all his whole household in  joy, when they believed the Gospel. (Acts 16:16-40) There can be little doubt that infants were Baptized at that time and that Infants have been Baptized regularly since that time in many Churches throughout History.

It is true of course that many Christians believe that Baptism can only validly be practiced as a response to Confession of Faith and Penitence on the part of the recipient.  That must be true for adult Baptism. Many also believe that the Gift of the Holy Spirit is given to indwell the person being Baptized, as I do.  We receive the gift of life at the moment of our conception and in this world as a gift of life outside our Mother’s womb as persons with all our physical features, as infants. It is true that we do not ask to be conceived or born into this world.  We have no control over that process whatsoever.

We also have no control over our life as tiny infants and only gradually do we have any control over what happens to us as people. All our infant years we are at the mercy of our parents or one or the other of them if they are not together. In any case,  adults are in charge in one way or another. We cannot survive without them. Our wards may be good or bad. They may act for our best interests of body, mind and spirit – or not – as the case may be. Ideally, they will see to our health of body, mind and spirit as wisely and positively as they are able. If we have had the blessing of being brought into this world by loving Christian Parents with backing from our extended family, we will probably have been Baptized into the Church which is the Body of Christ and then nurtured in the Faith as we are growing up into adulthood. In any case, it it is all too easy to fail to trust in the part God the Holy Spirit wants to play in our lives as Baptized members of the Church.

When I was in Campbell River and the Chair of the Ministerial Association, I walked into a scheduled meeting of our group in the Baptist Church.  I was immediately faced with a unprovoked confrontation with the young Four Square Minister. He called himself “Doctor “ and had a super ego.  He said, “oh, here comes the guy that sprinkles people and called that Baptism”.  All the others laughed and obviously agreed with him. I responded, “You guys make me sick. You come across as people who take credit for all spiritual growth as though it all depends on you. I have never heard any of you speak a word about the Grace of God in spiritual growth”.  There was an awkward pause and no more laughter. We need to give God not only our attention but our trust that He is doing what only He can do – make us over into what only He knows we can become, for His Glory and Praise. I was Baptized at six months of age. I was Confirmed at the age of 14 years, one of 15 young people.  We were “Prepared” by a young cleric from Wales and being told to memorize the Cathechism which we did.  But we were not told what it meant. Under those circumstances we might have had little chance of growth and Maturity as Christians. But most of us continued in the Faith and grew up into Christ in our adult years, with our family’s support.  And that was due to the Grace of God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  I believe that  in the case of Babies who are Baptized, the Holy Spirit is given as God’s precious gift and to be nurtured by us as our duty as parents, our wider family and the Body of Christ, the Church. If it should happen that Parents are careless of that duty or negative in their faith, the problem is not God’s but ours. I am appalled at the lack of knowledge and understanding of the Christian Faith and life of many professing Christians.  We as adults must bear the most of the blame if our families are wayward in their faith.

We receive many gifts in our lifetime, of many kinds.  Some we use.  Some we misuse. Some we put away somewhere and never use.  The gift of the Holy Spirit can be ignored for years.  Sometimes God seems to wait until a particular moment in our life when He will show us we need to change direction, undertake a new vocation or whatever.  Then He moves us to new and vibrant life for a particular task, as of leadership, greater effort of will or a new vision of His Kingdom. Often such a change results in great excitement, new and surprising insights and gifts beyond our wildest dreams.  I myself had never known God would call me to preach and teach the Gospel, exercise leadership in the Church and society,  and certainly not find my greatest joy  and fulfillment in doing so. I was born and raised to be a Cattle Rancher and had no hint that God had any special plans for me and for my family. I had never known a Ordained Minister who came from a life in agriculture. God be Praised, He works in mysterious ways.  And when He works in us for His own Glory, we must learn to listen. Nicodemus was famous and up in years and see what God did with him through our Lord Jesus. (John 3).

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