The Blessings of Baptism
- It is the only religious ordinance (that I know of), that deals with guilt and shame equally at the same time. In the East, shame is the big issue--not measuring up to communal expectations. In the West, guilt is the primary issue, having crossed a line individually. Consider the wisdom of God to give us a practice that is capable of dealing with both our sociological and spiritual needs at once and across all cultural divides.
- This 'enacted sinner's prayer' is far more memorable than any articulated prayer. Ask how many people remember what they 'said' when they converted; then ask how many remember where, when, and how they were baptized? God knows we are tactile. This is the perfect gift to help us remember our beginnings.
- Furthermore, this 'sinner's prayer' is always said correctly. It is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You CAN NOT DO IT WRONG! I need that with all the stupid things I say.
- It starts our Christian walk right. We begin by imitating Jesus in his salvific act. It brings us to 'dead' center in our theology so that our beginning in Christ aims at the core of Christianity as well as our ultimate destiny of resurrection.
- The Scriptures bind together this gift with the promise of a cleansed conscience and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I want that!
I'm not so stricken with the question of 'only one way to convert'. I suspect God is far more creative than we give him credit for. However, given these five blessings of baptism, it boggles my mind why anyone would be contentious in refusing such a gift directly from the hand of Jesus, especially when it models the self-abnegation he enjoined on his disciples.