Disclaimer: this is the first of two Searching Sabbath videos that I accidentally shot wearing the wrong shirt!! By the time I realized my mistake I didn’t have time to re-shoot. I’ve been wearing my “Love, Hope, Optimism” shirt for every one of these videos because apart from providing visual continuity, I like that it keeps me grounded in my core values while I talk about doctrinal issues. However, this week and next week you’ll have to make do with me wearing a pretty T-shirt featuring clothes on a clothesline, which used to belong to my mom.
This week I’m talking about the Adventist church’s teaching on baptism, which, perhaps surprisingly, I have no quibbles with. If you are taking the Bible as your rule of faith and practice, I find it hard to see how you could find a firm Scriptural foundation for anything other than what the Adventist church teaches — baptism is a ceremony marking the individual’s decision to follow Christ and join the community of faith, and as such, it is a decision that needs to be made by a reasoning adult. Also, the practice of full immersion in water signifies the death to sin and resurrection to a new life. So yes, I’m a big fan of adult baptism by immersion; I think it’s very telling that all the New Testament references to baptism are to people making the decision to be baptized, and baptisms being carried out at places where there is “much water” or people “going down into the water.”
I also get into a little side-rant that may be controversial or offensive to some, but I really take issue with the practice of people bringing their children for infant baptism, or even for a baby dedication in a church like ours that doesn’t baptize babies, just as a cultural ceremony (or “to please the grandparents” or something) when they have no intention of raising that child in the church community. I guess it’s hard for me to understand why someone would want that (even though lots of friends of mine, people I greatly respect, have done this). I think there ought to be some kind of secular naming ceremony that gives people an excuse to gather and welcome the new baby, rather that a ceremony where you take a baby to a church you don’t attend and promise to raise them in a faith you may not even believe in yourself.
There are lots of other issues and questions to be raised around the whole topic of baptism, but if people want to raise them I’ll look forward to reading about (and discussing them) in the comments!