Thursday, August 25, 2005

Due to a number of conversations, both on- and offline, I have been thinking about what I'll call the problem of baptism. The problem I'm referring to is this--what should I say, as a person with a fairly high view of the sacraments, to someone whose sole claim to being a Christian is that he was baptized as an infant?

I phrased it that way because I was thinking more about what sort of rhetoric to use with a real person than about trying to get theologically precise about the situation. I came up with a little analogy. Tell me if if this seems helpful.

Me: So you say you were baptized.

X: Yep. I guess that makes me a Christian.

Me: What if we think about it this way, X. Let's say you hired someone new at your office. You sent him a letter informing him that he has been hired, but he never actually showed up to work. Would you say that person is working for your company?

X: Of course not.

Me: Baptism is a little like that. It is supposed to mark the beginning of your life as a Christian, just like being hired marks the beginning of your work.

X: Well, I have gone to church for Christmas services. That should count for something.

Me: Ah, so the hiree shows up for the complany annual picnic. NOW does he work there?

X: I guess not. Plus, even if he wanted to come to work after all that time, he'd probably have a few things to get stright with the boss.

Me: I think you're getting it.

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