Thursday, December 28, 2006

Whole Family Baptism – Part 2: My Baptist Upbringing

Update: I was mistaken about when my father was baptized. As it turns out he was baptized at age 12. It is likely that none of his siblings were baptized as infants. Guess I need to check my facts a little better.

The word of God was planted well and taking root in my life by the time I was nine. I remember wanting to be baptized during this period, but I was too scared to get up in front of the congregation and “give my testimony.”

The deep desire to be baptized and recognized as a part of the family of God conflicted with my deep fear of getting up in front of the congregation. I remember beginning to feel like I was not really a part of the church since I was not baptized. I was on the outside looking in.

It didn’t help that the charismatic church we were attending encouraged nine year old children to speak in tongues more than they encouraged them to profess faith in Christ and be baptized.

In the end, since I didn’t feel like I was a part of the church, I began to act like it. By the time I was in high school I was rotten through and through. I attended church each Sunday, loved to hear the sermons, but my life was hellish. The Apostle Paul sums up quite nicely my life at this time.

1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
I’ve often thought about how this happened. How does a young man who genuinely loves God become a young man who is a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God? Did Baptistic theology have anything to do with it? Maybe.

This is now pure conjecture, so take what I say with a grain of salt (or just throw it out).

I wonder if the Baptist understanding of children—namely, viewing children as little pagans until they show signs of conversion—does in fact conflict with the teaching of the New Covenant. I’ve begun to notice over the past few years that Paul does not differentiate between parents and children in his instructions.

Notice how even in the passage above, what looks like a passage about adults, includes statements about children, “disobedient to their parents.” Ephesians 6:1ff , "Children, obey your parents in the Lord," is also set up like this. Paul expects children of believers to be believers, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and he commands them to act accordingly.

Was it necessary for me to leave the fold of God for a period? If I had been baptized as an infant and been openly embraced by the church from my infancy, would I have been as likely to run after other gods? God knows. I wonder.

More later.

Above: All the ladies - Christmas 2006

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