Summary Thoughts on Baptism

I’ve written a lot about the Eucharist on this blog in the past two and a half years, but not as much, comparatively, about Baptism.  In the past year, though, Baptism has been increasingly on my mind.  It was planted by a good essay written by an internet colleague that got me thinking, then I did a teaching series on Baptism during Lent, and I’ve touched on it a few times since then including these two articles of a yet-unfinished four-part series.  I got to teach through that unwritten series recently, which was fun, but I still haven’t written it all out yet.

But this peskily complicated subject keeps popping up at odd times.  A digression during a Bible study on the book of Acts took a group that I’m a part of into the murky waters of baptismal theology (pun fully intended).  Led by a Baptist, the discussion was enough to make the modern evangelicals happy while leaving those from Reformed churches a little confused about their infant baptism practices, not to mention leaving those from Catholic [in this case Anglican] perspectives feeling left out.  In the aftermath of this, I find myself in the interesting position defending the Reformed perspective from the Baptist perspective while still adhering to the Catholic perspective.  There’s a first time for everything! 🙂

Here’s my attempt to summarize these three categories of perspectives:

Baptistic View

Baptism is a matter of obeying Christ’s ordinances.

Ordinance = a declaration of God’s grace of regeneration.

**This view assumes you have already been born again**

(therefore you only baptize professing believers)

Scriptural Favorites:

Matthew 28:19 = Baptism is part of making disciples

Acts 8:36 = Baptism follows the act of believing

Reformed View

Baptism is a matter of covenant relationship.

Sacrament = a sign & seal of God’s grace of regeneration.

**Baptism assures you that God has/does give(n) you rebirth**

(therefore baptizing infants is acceptable to do)

Scriptural Favorites:

John 3:3 = Regeneration precedes faith

1 Corinthians 7:14 = children of only one Christian parent are still holy

Catholic View

Baptism is a matter of sacramental presence.

Sacrament = an effectual communication of God’s grace of regeneration.

**Baptism declares you are (now) born again**

(therefore baptizing infants is important to do)

Scriptural Favorites:

John 3:5 = Baptism is the new birth

1 Peter 3:21-22 = Baptism saves us by applying the Cross of Christ to us

I appreciate feedback if you find any inconsistencies.  It’s intentionally short and sweet, because this needs to be my five-minute explanation of the different views without putting any of them down too much.  My goal is primarily to help people understand the theology they’ve been raised in so that they can better serve in their respective home churches.  If they continue to waver and want my input, then I’ll teach more thoroughly according to historic Anglican doctrinal positions.

And for those of you who stumble upon my blog looking for a comparison of theologies of Baptism, I hope this summary works!

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About Fr. Brench

I'm a Priest in the Anglican Diocese in New England interested in spiritual formation, theology, and the growth of God's Kingdom.
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