Through the years, I’ve been in various places and have supported the idea and practice of immersion in various ways. This fine Sunday morning, we had the opportunity to share in a baptism with a local church. Since there is no baptistry in the building, we met at the YMCA and used the pool.
I don’t recall hearing any verbal formulas that would betray any particular denominational dogmas; on the other hand, strong attention was given both to biblical conceptualization and to personal meaning. Some dyed-in-the-wool CofCers might have manufactured some concern or issue, but it would have been based on imagined reality, I’m convinced. (I did take minor exception to something said almost in passing in the preparation for the event—that “a church leader does the baptizing.” This is not an explicit NT teaching, but I suppose there is precedent for that understanding, and it makes some sense: in most cases, a church leader will probably have had some influence on the one being immersed. A passive, submissive quality is important for the person being baptized—both in grammatical and spiritual terms—and I don’t suppose it matters much who performs the action, although you obviously wouldn’t want someone who did it flippantly.)
Today’s only substantial negative was the odd mixing of a very biblically based spiritual event with the “vote” to “consider taking Kim in as a new member.” There was of course a unanimous approval, but it’s just weird to mix the social-club-like action, appealing to Robert’s Rules of Order, with baptism into Jesus’ death.
Other than that, it was an exceptionally positive event that included multiple participants, Ephesians 2 read by a lady who had spiritually influenced Kim, the singing of “The Power of the Cross” and “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” and Kim’s own reading of her personal story. I was glad that our son could have a good view of the action in the pool. He has asked about baptism and knows what it’s about, and this morning’s experience was part of his growing understanding and his walk.
B. Casey, 10/30/2016