MY THIRD OF FOUR GRANDCHILDREN got baptized on Sunday.
So I thought I would revisit an article I wrote a couple of years ago, when his brother was about to get baptized. It’s about the appropriateness of baptizing babies.
When Grandson One came along, his mom and I had a short discussion about whether to have my grandson dedicated or baptized.
My wife and I had our kids dedicated, mainly because that was the practice in the church we attended. And it made sense to let the kids decide for themselves, later, if they wanted to become Christians and get baptized.
But the church we attend now prefers to baptize kids before they have a chance to mess the dickens up.
My daughter and I talked about what the difference is between infant baptism and dedication.
I’m fairly simple about things. So I told her the difference is water.
My theology prof would roll over in his grave if he were still there and had the capacity to roll.
He was a big advocate for infant baptism. Theologians are in the business of studying details of faith that often escape the rest of us. They see big headlines in what we read as footnotes.
Baptism is a church ritual, called a sacrament. It’s a physical expression of something invisible. In this case, it’s an expression of God’s kind welcome into his spiritual kingdom.
Scholars call the sacrament of baptism a:
- visible sign of an inward grace
- sign and a seal of saving grace
But try to picture either one of those in your head.
Pastors often call baptism a:
- symbol that God has washed away a person’s sins
- sign that the person is now a member of the Christian community
But does that really apply to a goo-goo baby whose worst sin is a blown up diaper with a stained onesie, and whose idea of joining anything is to latch onto Momma?
When we dedicate something to God, we’re giving it to him. We’re saying it belongs to him.
People dedicate churches, houses, and kids—among other things important to them.
When we dedicate a house, we might be saying we want what goes on in there to please God…for the most part, anyhow. There will be those occasional episodes that will end up in someone’s journal.
When we dedicate a child to God, we’re making a commitment about how we’re going to raise that child.
We won’t teach our kid how to bully on the playground, dump trash in someone’s front yard, or use the stock market to cheat old folks out of their pension. Other people will teach them that in spite of us.
We’ll do the best we can to encourage our kid to become a Jesus-like person: someone gentle, kind, and loving.
Whether it’s baptism or dedication, I think that for practical purposes we’re saying pretty much the same thing.
When my daughter and her husband stood in front of the congregation and had their son baptized, I don’t know what they were thinking.
I was videotaping. I’m famous in the family for that.
But once I pressed the “record” button, I was quietly praying, thanking God for this little grandson and asking God to help me be the kind of grandpa he and his parents need me to be.
Whether it’s baptism or dedication, we’re putting the ball and the baby in God’s Court.
Try to remember that next time you see your kid dribble.
I know. I know.
It’s just too hard to resist.
I’m like that with peanut butter cookies, too. And yes, I had some today.
What do you think about it?
I’m curious about those of you who have either had your baby baptized or dedicated in church.
What did you think you were doing?
Really. What did you feel you were doing in those moments?