Infant Baptism completes the circle of family and God

I’m reading “The Study of Liturgy” by Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold and Paul Bradshaw. It’s a very comprehensive of liturgy from the earliest times to the present, yea, definitely a little dense, but a great resource.
The debate is in terms of the nature of baptism. Reformed theology in the United States is very much about the individual, it is often referred to as “decision theology”. Meaning, it’s all about us and our decision, we wait until we are old enough to chose, that we can make some kind of informed decision and “decide” for Jesus.
The argument is often made that people don’t want to “force” their children to accept their religion. Those same people will expect their child to accept other aspects of the family, but, well, religion, should be a “choice”. Way too many people treat being a Christian as being a part of a lodge or VFW. Yea, let’s treat our eternal life as if it’s a matter of convenience, preference, taste, everything but what it is, the one true God who has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ and through His revelation to His prophets of some 1,500 years. We are often taught we should be in fear and awe of God, I mean yea, come on He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Instead we treat Him like Burger King, we will have it our way. Afterall God is all about making our life easy, doing what makes us happy and He should be happy to accept just any old thing we present to Him. No, we should treat God reverentially, in fear and awe, that is in true respect. Not some cowering fear, but in a fear and respect and awe that is felt and loved right down to the core of our being.
For too many people the attitude really comes down to “I have nothing very important to share with you, to pass down to you, anything that I have chosen really shouldn’t influence you, I shouldn’t teach you anything or try to impose decisions on you in anyway. When you are old enough you go ahead and make your own decision. Which is just bizarre! We want to provide our children with security, with a sense of belonging, for that matter of eternal security, but we deprive them of the security of eternal salvation, of belonging to the Kingdom. Jesus says “let the little children come to Me and hinder them not”. Why wouldn’t we baptize them in His Name, along with the Father and Holy Spirit. If they really don’t want the gifts and grace of God they can certainly reject them, but as for me, I want to give my children security in Christ. After that they can decide to reject Him, but it won’t be without truly knowing what they’re doing.
Contrary to this idea that anything to do with God is up to us, Christian theology is really about what God does to and through us. Our “making a decision” for God is contrary to the idea that He is Lord of all creation. That it is according to His plan, those who are faithful look for and follow God’s will, not their own. There is even a hint that there is really a choice. No one has ever been able to explain to me what/who the other options are, if Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me”, I don’t know what is left, but there you have it. One of Martin Luther’s most famous books is “Bondage of the Will”, where he makes it very clear there is no choice. There is Christ and every thing else. Every thing else is condemnation, it may be something that makes you happy, but the result is the same if you aren’t in Jesus, you will exist in eternal condemnation. Like to tell you otherwise, but well there you have it.
Referring back to “The Study of Liturgy”, the writers make another point that I think is important: “…Infant baptism emphasizes the corporate faith and the faith which the child shares with its parents’; by means of the sacrament ‘the promise and claim of the Gospel are laid on the child.” (p 171).
Another point, too many Christians claim that baptism is some sort of initiation, some sort of public proclamation and not a “sacrament”. Lutherans believe that there are two sacraments and they are very much from Christ and contain His power and His promises. In the Lord’s Supper we are very much receiving His Body and Blood and in baptism, we are very much born again in the spirit and saved. In both we receive the forgiveness of God and His grace. Nothing else gives us these eternally important promises.
Having said that, the writers make a great point, as we emphasize community, the “Body of Christ” in the sacraments, other Christians emphasize self, it’s my decision, it’s simply for my benefit and it’s my call. We say no, it’s all about “the Body”, whether we are taking His Body and Blood or we are sharing with others in the Body of Christ. Baptism is that inclusion in the Body, it is about us being saved because we are the Body of Christ. But doesn’t that create a compelling image? Here is the church, the parents, the pastor and in the presence of His church, He includes a baby in the eternal Body. Individual baptism is usually not that way, it’s about that one person, making all the promises, the decisions and commitments entirely about him/herself.
The writers also make the point that the parents, the God-parents, the church, all take more seriously their responsibility for the nurture of baptized children to mature commitment in Christ. Isn’t that the ideal, to raise children in the community, the Body of the church? All on an equal basis of being baptized, saved, grafted into the vine children of God? If a child isn’t baptized he/she are not saved, not part of the Body. You can make whatever sentimental argument you want, but there is no alternative.

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