There is an interesting article in the newspapers today about an athiest who wants to be de-baptised.

I have too many questions about this.  What do you all think?

23 Responses

  1. It’s just politics. The Godless are looking to be noticed and have the numbers recorded – and have the roles of the Churches reduced – in order to gain political / social power.

  2. In my head it does something like this.

    Priest [Reading from the record book]: “On 1st September 1943 Joe Bloggs was baptised”

    Joe Bloggs: “No he wasn’t”

    Priest: “But it says it here in the book”

    Joe Bloggs: “But it shouldn’t”

    Priest: “But On 1st September 1943 Joe Bloggs was baptised”

    Joe Bloggs: “No he wasn’t”

    Priest: “But he…… was. Wasn’t he? We have a record of it.”

    Joe Bloggs: “Ah yes, well my parents brought me to the church and had water poured on me”

    Priest: “So you were baptised. Good, I thought we had made a mistake with the records”

    Joe Bloggs: “Can you remove me from the records?”

    Priest: “No”

    Joe Bloggs: “But I have renounced my baptism”

    Priest: “But it still happened”

    Joe Bloggs: “But my parents made the decision and I had no choice”

    Priest: “But it still happened”

    Joe Bloggs: “But I didn’t want it to happen”

    Priest: “But it did happen”

    ad infinitum.

    A) The complaint is not with the church, it is with the parents. Go and give them some grief.

    B) It is the legal right of all people to be baptised or bring an infant to be baptised in their local parish church. Their hands are tied.

    C) If God doesn’t exist, it isn’t a problem. Nothing sacramental happened, no ontology was harmed in the splashing of this water. Your parents got to have a nice day celebrating that their child was born safely.

    D) You need a time machine. It happened and to undo it and undo any legal record of it requires it to be undone. When people divorce they don’t go and claim that they weren’t married. That would be an annulment. They go and terminate/end/cease their marriage. It doesn’t get struck from the record as though it never happened. As with renouncing your baptism vows, it doesn’t mean that your baptism never happened, it means that you don’t think it did anything.

    That feels better.

  3. Absolutely agree with you – if they don’t believe that the baptism means anything, then just throw away the certificate and it’s done with, it doesn’t mean anything, never did – it’s like they are afraid that it does mean something.

    I tried to think about how I would feel if my parents had brought me up in a different religion and had had some kind of ceremony when I was a child. If I had then converted to Christianity, would I want to do something about that ritual? I think I wouldn’t actually – I would be baptised and believe that this act was what counted. Surely as an atheist, they belief that their act of ‘scientific and logical thinking to bring them to a position of non-belief’ (which is how many describe it) would be the important act?

  4. Surely this is the issue with infant baptism and one reason not to do it.

    If the people are not saved then we are not doing them any favours (we are not saved by baptism).

    Surely only believers should be baptised, that can still mean children of course but only after they have given their lives to Jesus.

    Does de-baptised mean you are soaked with water then put under a huge hand drier until it is all gone?

    Now that could be funny…..

  5. Dr Ruth – Trusting in their faith?

    BTD, welcome to my blog 😀

    The problem with the question of when to baptise is that nothing is clear either from the bible or the church traditions.

    In the bible John’s baptism was done in a river but Johns baptism wasn’t the same thing as Christian baptism. The Ethiopian was baptised on the side of the road in the middle of Africa so it is unlikely to be by full immersion.

    The Centurion’s whole family were baptised on the basis of the head of the households conversion. The individualistic view of faith is a modernist concept. When the OT talks about faith it is the communal faith of the entire nation of Israel. This continued through the first 1500 years of the Christian faith. When Constantine converted that meant that “his empire” converted, much as all of the Israelite leaders in the OT. It isn’t until the reformation that we get to grips with the concept of individuality and personal faith.

    Even now we do faith as individuals as a corporate activity.

    As for the age of baptism, the early churched that Baptism was a salvation issue. Through baptism people’s sins were washed away. It would be performed as close to death as possible so as to guarantee salvation. As mortality rates changed it would be performed earlier and earlier. Eventually with infant mortality rates being high it would be done just after birth. This is still the case when people have a terminally ill child.

    That said……. personally I would rather not baptise someone who has no say in it. From my point of view I liked making my own decision as an adult and wouldn’t want to take that away from someone.

  6. beatthedrum – i don’t think it is at all.

    the Methodist baptism service emphasises the fact that Jesus is and was our salvation long before we could possibly know about it.

    Like Dr Ruth says if the person baptised has a problem with that then their reasoning should be enough for them in terms of debaptism.

    As Robb said it’s all about what you think happened

    if someone comes to a new understanding of faith after their baptism there are many more ways they can publically demonstrate that committment – Confirmation and membership for instance

  7. Are we talking predestination there then Duttyo? 😉

    The ethiopian would have been fully immersed otherwise it would not use the word for baptism in the greek.

    We have no way of knowing if there was family in the centuraians ‘household’ if he was in active service then it is doubtfull as the wives did not travel with their men during the reign of the emporers in the early empire. Therefore the likelyhood of children is remote, he may however have had some young slaves, again doubtfull but posible. Not conclusive evidence either way. However there may be others elsewhere in the bible as posible but no definates.

    Sorry confirmation and membership is nothing like baptism, they are completely man made structures that hold no biblical precident. The bible tells us with baptism we are sealed into Christ.

    But to each their own I am sure I do lots of stuff thats not in the bible or do wrong that which is….


    (Oh and I did not realise this was your blog robb!)

  8. nope we’re talking previenient grace. ‘the grace that goes before’ it’s something that is central to Wesleyan theology.

  9. I suspect that he may be talking “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.

    Why would it not have used the word for baptism in the Greek with connection to the Ethiopian?

    The centurion – yes, I did use the word family rather than household. My point is still true that it was a corporate thing rather than an individual thing.

  10. Can I clarify that we are talking about Cornelius in Acts 10?

  11. Ok lets un-pick this a bit

    Acts 10:24 tell’s that he had called together his relatives and friends.

    Peter then talks

    this is the cruitial verse in my opinion

    Acts 10:44 “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on ALL who heard the word”

    Since the Holy Spirit had fell on ALL then they all had to have believed. So ALL were baptised.

    I think this still falls under believers baptism, rather than pedo-baptism or Adult Baptism. I have no problem with kids getting baptised providing they have chosen to follow Christ for themselves.

  12. ‘Sorry confirmation and membership is nothing like baptism, they are completely man made structures that hold no biblical precident.’

    depends what you think confirmation and membership are….if you think they are signs of a willingness to engage in and be formed by discipleship than surely that is at the very centre of Jesus’ commands?

    I think that baptism forms part of the lifelong process of salvation and at whatever point of life it occurs there is still a need for it to be followed with repentence, faith and commitment. For me the baptism service whether it happens at infancy or in later life is a sign of the previenient grace of God. It is God reaching out to us, initiating us into his covenant and allowing us to be ‘born anew’. What we then do with that is the important thing. Salvation, i feel, should incoporate both Gods grace which he initiates (we love because God first loved us) and a willing human response to that grace.

  13. Jesus’ ‘command’ on this was repent and be baptised.

    I struggle with confirmation, but not membership.

    The discipleship is interesting as the discipleship to confirmation is discipleship to a process of man not a scriptual one.

    Also there is something very significant that takes place in baptism that of being buried with Christ (Romans 3) and clothes with christ (Galatians 3).

    Surely this is different from a man made act.

    I do not doubt that it has real meaing for those who do it, nor would i pour water (excuse the pun) on their faith. But Baptism is in many ways different.

  14. Jesus’ command on this was ‘follow me’

    Be careful with the whole ‘it’s scriptual’ argument. not just in this instance but generally. Remember it’s also ‘scriptual’ that women should not talk in church, slavery should be accepted and meat should always be cooked well done!

    I agree that there is something significant that happens at baptism but i don’t see a seperation between this act and the rest of our discipleship.

    Confirmation (which it’s important to note is not considered a sacrament in the Methodist church. Only Baptism and Communion are) is a recognition of the grace that God has given us in Baptism. there is no disciplship to confirmation…that phrase confused me! Discipleship is always a call to follow Christ, to try and gain a greater understanding of Gods love and grace.

    So confirmation, i believe, is a renewing and acceptance of the promises that are made on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves. It forms part of that same life long act of salvation.

    so i still can’t accept your suggestion that this case stands in support of the case against infant baptism

  15. BTD – if we put that verse back into its context it is about gentiles being able to be baptised rather than the form in which baptism should take place.

    As a cuddly charismatic I was at Spring Harvest when the Holy Spirit fell upon everyone present. I also know that there were non-Christians in the big top.

    I am amused by the word paedobaptism. 😆

    There is a big problem with trying to find “biblical church practice” in that the historic church didn’t have the bible for hundreds of years. Even after Nicea there was only “the canon”. For the first few hundred years baptism practice was developing and then they decided at the council what was scripture. Mostly that was to do with the heresy of the era so they weren’t thinking about setting up a canon that defined their practices but their core beliefs in connection with the creed that they wrote.

    As a bit of an evangelical type I really appreciate the advent of the printing press. It means that everyone has access to the scriptures. However, it also means that we tend to view them as “the bible” rather than the “bible”.

    I am quite happy that I was baptised as an adult. It gave me an opportunity to say something about my faith. That said, I was not brought up to be a Christian. I wasn’t brought up to follow Jesus. I was able to be baptised when I converted.

    I also know people who have “always been a Christian”. They didn’t have a “conversion experience”. They grew up with Christian parents who brought them up in the Christian faith. In fact, I have a friend whose two year old* was telling me all about Jesus yesterday evening whilst she was in the middle of potty training.

    I also know people who believed and got baptised as an adult and then moved on to the occult.

    I personally wont be baptising my kids in infancy (if I have any). I will also be quite happy to baptise the children of the faithful in a couple of months time.

    An interesting thing to throw into the mix. When we went to a baptist church Dr Ruth wasn’t allowed to be a member because she hadn’t been baptised by full immersion. She wasn’t allowed to be baptised because she had been baptised as an adult by pouring (as there was no provission for anything else in the Cathedral). She wasn’t allowed to be a member of the church and would never be allowed to be a member of the church. This is an interesting way to hold the keys to the kingdom.

    *Ironically she hasn’t been baptised but was dedicated instead.

  16. I have no problem with children being baptised if they are believers Rodd no matter what their age.

    As to baptism and membership I think it depends on the person. I would say that Dr Ruth had been baptised if it took place as an adult and that the pouring was what the church she was part of at that time called baptism.

    I do believe though that if your a church that proscribes to believers baptism and if you have a membership then anyone who want to be a member has to have been baptised as a believer, it should not matter what form that took, provided it was with water and into the name of Jesus.

    I was baptised in a church that did not have a baptisry at the time so i had to go to the nearest river to get ‘dunked’, it was a great time, but very cold!

    As to the context the apostles would only have known full emmersion baptism and would not have known of any other way of doing it, so the context is for the gentiles but the actions would have been by the Apostles there, which would have been emmersion.

    Still this is what I call ‘practices’ not core christian doctrine which we sould hold close. We are all still in Christ and loved by him and working with Him.

  17. Baptised into the name of Jesus?

    How do you know that the apostles would only have know full immersion baptism?

    I was dunked in the biggest font in the world. It was the north sea in the middle of February.

  18. Whoop whoop thats ‘hard core’ baptism that is Robb

    The Jews baptised typically in rivers and the only historic recording of them is in full emmersion.

  19. We should start a “hard core” baptism group on facebook 😀

  20. Now that would be funny Robb….

    Of course we would then need “Biblical Hardcore” group for those baptised in the Jordan

  21. “Biblical Hardcore” would be what happens if we take the remains of the temple in Jerusalem and grind them down. Then use the results to terrac my garden 😆

    [Unfortunately I am too chicken to google an example of builders “hardcore” 😆 ]

  22. If he’s really an athiest, then being dunked in water and the record in the church should be meaningless to him. However, in my experience, most people who profess athiesm are pretty angry at the church. While there certainly are many people arrive at that position via consideration and contemplation, I have found that often there is nothing more effective than the believers in God to inspire disbelief in their fellows.

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