You may not have noticed that Natalie — my wife, best friend, and mother to my child — is a contributor to this blog. She hasn’t posted here for a while. So consider this a not-quite-guest post from her:
I grew up in a church where babies were baptised. As a kid I always thought that’s just what you did with children you loved. To the extent that as a small child, when our guinea pigs had babies, I took it upon myself to ensure they were suitably baptised (rest assured, they were just sprinkled — not immersed like Ben!).
So I suppose I have asked myself as we prepared for toady: Am I still that little girl, doing what I’ve seen done before and bringing my own baby to be baptised because that’s just what you do?
For a couple of reasons ‘No’ — and for one reason ‘Yes’.
I’ve had the chance to reflect on baptism a bit more since then. We’re not dunking Ben just doing this because that’s what you do when you have a baby:
I’m convinced, first of all, that bringing infants to be baptised reflects the fact that God works and takes the initiative to save people. So our response isn’t the main game. The main game, as far as I can see in the Bible, is that God makes the first move. God does the saving — and our response is always more or less incomplete and not-fully-formed. Whether we’re an adult confessing our faith or an infant makes no difference to this. In fact, Jesus tells us that it’s adults who need to be more like children when they approach God than the other way around.
Second, I’d like to say something about Jesus. I’m amazed whenever I look at Ben to think of the fact that when God chose to become a human being he didn’t shun or step over being an infant. The Creator of the universe fully exposed himself to and embraced what it is to be human — including being a tiny, vulnerable infant. So I’m not only convinced that God loves infants, but that our trust in God doesn’t have to be rationally articulated to be real and genuine (as important and worthwhile as I feel rational articulation is — as a PhD student!).
But for one reason I think I had it right when I was as a little girl. As a little girl I knew that baptising babies was a sign of love. And so in the midst of what’s going on theologically, this is for us an act of love for Ben. Our intention is to raise him as a little Christian not a little neutral — because we don’t think there really ever is such a thing.
In some ways, what we’re doing today is just an honest announcement of our loving commitment to teach him about Jesus — in the same way as we’re committed to teach him other good and true things: that the world is round, that free markets occasionally need regulating, and that AFL is just a game.
Part of our raising him to be a little Christian will involve teaching him to make his own decisions and weigh arguments and evidence for himself. We trust that he will find the evidence for Jesus persuasive and that one day (in years that already seem like they will pass too quickly) he will choose to confirm the faith we’ve baptised him into today making these same promises for himself.
And so what we believe God is doing in this moment is a rather profound thing — grafting Ben in to Jesus and to God’s family, the church. Which is why we’re so delighted to have you here with us today to witness, support, and celebrate Ben’s baptism with us.