Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Monday, February 23

Dedication of our baby [Not an infant baptism]

Our miracle baby was dedicated in our morning service yesterday.

All went very smoothly, except that the person typing the dedication liturgy accidentally added the Vicar's male name as an additional middle name for our daughter, which caused the service to come to a complete standstill while every body had a good laugh. We started again, missing out the Vicar's name.

Now don't get too hung-up about the name - this was a dedication, not a christening.

The greatest difficulty for me in moving to the Anglican Church was it's practice of infant baptism. Most of my friends warned me not to go, because this doctrine makes the Anglican Church "in error" (spoken in the tone of voice that indicates heresy rather than a simple mistake). I dismissed them, because I knew the Lord was placing me in this church. But it was still a struggle for me. Surely God knows that this doctrine and practice is unscriptural and actively harmful, making unbelievers think that they are Christians! Yet the Lord did place me in this church.

He has been kind to me, and I have only been present for one infant baptism - for the rest by pure co-incidence I have either been away that day or missed it during a quick toilet break. So I know that he understands how I feel about it.

Now the thing with dedications is that very often they are used by people who don't believe in infant baptism, but still have a cultural urge to have some kind of ceremony or ritual: they still feel a need to have the baby 'done', even if they reject the theology.

Because of this, my own cultural baggage is that my parents were very strongly against me and my siblings being dedicated, and I have inherited their views, and usually been in churches that endorsed those views.

So for my daughter's dedication, I really didn't want this Anglican congregation to be in any doubt about my motives. So I was glad that I was given the chance to speak, and to say that I have not been in the habit of dedicating my children, but that since our daughter arrived only after much prayer and in defiance of medical statistics, therefore we were dedicating her back to the God that had given her to us. Which is also why she has a fantastic name full of deep theology - but I can't explain that on an anonymous blog when she has such a unique name.

Later, the guy in our church who is a former Methodist minister asked me what I meant, and this developed into a very nearly heated discussion in which I challenged him to give me the scriptures that support infant baptism, and he was only able to give me historical and cultural reasons for the emergence of the practice. I regret speaking the way I did, but he should have been able to answer better than he did.

I usually get given the Philipian jailer, who was baptised with all his household, which 'must have included infants'. But read on - it says a few verses further on that 'they all believed'. So it was believers that were baptised.

I am also given Philipians chapter 3, where it links to circumcision, which is of course administered to babies to bring them into the covenant. But of course, circumcision brought the biological descendants of Abraham into the physical covenant with Israel. Christians become spiritual sons of Abraham when they have faith. And so as soon as possible after coming to faith, they are brought into the covenant of faith through Baptism. That is the parallel with circumcision. There is no scripture that teaches that our physical babies are saved by that relationship, and the decline of the church as our children evacuate - whether baptised or not - is evidence plain for all to see.

Now I am cross with myself again, because this was supp0sed to be a post rejoicing in my daughter and I've got side-tracked into narky polemics. But there you go.

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