Tomorrow evening, we are baptizing our little boy. I know infant baptism has been an issue to split entire denominations, and so I thought it appropriate to pause and acknowledge the “why” of our decision to baptize our 9 month-old.
First, a few notes as to what this occasion is not.
- It is not a mere religious formality. In fact, we are not fans of religion. Let me explain. Religion is the approach to God that says we need to do certain things to make him happy or to appease him. Religion says that God sets a standard and that we are constantly doing things to reach that standard. It’s karma. Build up enough good stuff to make God happy. We are not baptizing our child to make God happy. We don’t go to church to make God happy. That’s religion, and we (despite our classification with the IRS as members of a religious missionary organization) are not pro-religion. Additionally, we are not pro-formality. We aren’t baptizing Little Ben to check off a formality. In fact, if you come to our church, very little is formal. The pastor doesn’t even tuck in his shirt.
- We don’t believe that this baptism saves Little Ben. He is still saved the “old fashioned way” via the instructions in Romans 10:9-10. He confesses his need for a savior, and asks Jesus to be that savior, through the power of the regenerating Holy Spirit.
So that’s what the baptism isn’t. Here’s what it is. (I should note that this is an “agree to disagree” issue for me, and I understand that for some it is not. I apologize for not arguing with you about it. There are men and women I greatly respect and look up to like John Piper on the other side of the theological fence from me on this issue. We agree to disagree.) We believe that scripture teaches that God works through the unit of families. When Abraham entered into covenant with God, he and all the males in his family were circumsized. In many instances, God uses language like “the promise is for you and your children…” to demonstrate that His plan is to work through the family. We see baptism as the new covenant version of circumcision. Jesus’ death on the cross took away the need for blood to enter into the covenant.
So tomorrow when little Ben is baptized, what we are doing is acknowledging that he is a sinner in need of God’s grace, and that God has sovereignly placed him in our care to steward and shepherd into a man who one day will enter into God’s family. The faith on display is not his faith, but ours.
What a beautiful picture of God’s grace: a selfish, self-centered baby is dragged (most likely screaming… the service starts near the fussiest time of the day) into a covenant where his sworn enemy (God) becomes his sacrificial lamb.
Feel free to join us as we celebrate God’s grace tomorrow night.