Cold, Muddy Creeks & Heated Baptistries
Every Christian has heard of baptism. Some Christian communities are firmly established on the mode of administering Christian baptism. I remember when I was a young pastor, some of my parishioners believed baptism could only be administered by immersion, while others preferred sprinkling. Some insisted baptism was most proper if administered in a nearby creek. This method was preferred over baptism at the sanctuary's baptismal font or in the baptistry. To all of our readers who were baptized in muddy creeks, cold rivers, or gravel-lined lakes, I have a confession to make. I prefer the great indoors with the comforts of a heated baptistry. As a pastor, I especially enjoyed the felt-lined waders that kept me dry. My own baptism took place outdoors in a lake. When I was a small child, my parents took me to a service where my father was baptizing converts. Obviously, he knew me quite well and must have thought that I was a candidate for the sacrament of baptism. It is not a powerful memory in my life, as I was such a small child. I don't even remember if I was properly subjected to pre-baptismal training and instruction. I guess my parents were willing to take a risk and vouch for my love for Jesus. This brings me to an interesting point. The authors of Beacon Hill Press's New Testament survey, Discovering the New Testament: Community and Faith, make this statement: "Water baptism is a sign and symbol of an underlying spiritual reality accomplished by the Holy Spirit bestowed by Jesus." Christian baptism is no insignificant event. It is not a carry-over from Christendom's obscurity. As members of the universal Christian community, we are grateful for theologians, pastors, teachers, and preachers who remind us of this significance and relevance to Christian experience. Rob Staples helped us understand the power and magnitude of Christian baptism in his book Outward Sign, Inward Grace with his conviction that baptism, "always carries the meaning of into Christian faith and life." In this issue, theologian and university professor, George Lyons, adds his testimony to this conviction. I am thankful that my parents acknowledged my faith in Jesus Christ and accepted the charge to raise me in the admonition of the Lord. I am thankful they committed me to a community of faith where I could be nurtured and trained in the grace and message of the gospel. I am thankful for an environment that helped my weak faith grasp the Good News, helping me trust Christ as my very own Savior and Lord. —David J. Felter, editor in chief Holiness Today, September/October 2005
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