Saturday, May 20, 2006

Close/Closed Baptism?

What if someone were attending, lets say, an LCMS congregation with a fiancee that was LCMS for life. What if, hypothetically, this person was never baptized because this person was raised in a non-sacramental denomination? What if this person realizes that the sacraments are more important than the non-sacramental denomination make them out to be, but thinks that weekly Communion would become rote (and I must admit that among the nominally RC, I have witnessed what appears from the outside to be thoughtless partaking), and that Baptism is not "necessary." What if this person, seeing that Baptism is probably a good idea, still didn't want to be baptized until ready to join a church. Let's also say this person and significant other were thinking RC because the significant other likes High church, primarily for aesthetic reasons.

Here then is my question, what level of doctrinal agreement do you think is necessary before administering Baptism to an adult, who professes Christ though mired in sundry untruths taught from youth. I am a proponent of Close Communion, but I don't know that I would be a proponent of Close Baptism. Frankly, it never entered my mind until now. In a way, I think I would feel desperate to have this person see that Baptism is fundamental, to submit to this command of our Lord, even if not fully comprehending what it is that is happening.

I'm grateful that my faithful Pastor won't let me forget the power of God in the sacraments. He recently asked those who were being confirmed, "What does the Holy Communion represent?" to which the expected answer was, "NOTHING." The Supper does not signify anything, it is the Body and Blood of our Lord.


Blogger Christopher Gillespie said...

I think it was Gerhard Forde that said:

What we have today is close baptism and open communion when historically the church had open baptism and close communion.

I'm all for baptizing and working the kinks out before they go to the altar. Unfortunately tradition and adult confirmation practice basically make baptism an open door to the altar.

1:50 PM  
Blogger CPA said...

I'm not quite sure what Gerhard Forde meant by that. Historically (and for me historically means second/third century), baptism was always immediately followed by chrismation and communion. It was a package.

The separation of these that occurred later is purely a concession to unresolved church schisms.

Given that fact, I would say, anyone you baptize you should commune. And if you can't commune that person, you can't baptize him or her.

If someone has been baptized in some other church, but is one with in faith, then we know that he or she has our understanding of baptism -- and if you believe it you have it. But if we baptize someone who doesn't have faith in it as a promise, then we are placing that person in a position of sin (despising God's promise).

10:48 AM  
Blogger Bob Waters said...

Doctrine and all its articles.

Anything short of that, and you're stuck asking the Warren/Abanes/PopChristianity question of exactly which teachings of our Lord and Savior are such that belief in them are optional.

We baptize those who confess the same faith we do. Period, paragraph, end of story. That confession might be implicit. But if the person rejects any teaching of the Christian faith as we confess it, we cannot, with integrity, baptize that person.

The person in question is correct: he or she should not be baptized until ready to join a church. Only by joining a church does one join the visible Church. On the other hand, as Augustine points out, it is not the absence of baptism, but contempt for it, that condemns. Nobody is lost because they believe, but misunderstand the role of baptism.

6:54 PM  

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