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Why should I get baptised?

(12 Posts)
TotallyUnheardOf Mon 27-Jun-11 17:45:00

Not me - I was baptised as a baby - but my dd2. Neither of my dds were baptised as babies, as dh is a total atheist and I was agnostic at the time and felt it would be hypocritical to 'go through the motions' when I wasn't really sure what I believed (I wasn't prepared to stand up and say 'I believe and trust in Him' and not mean it, basically...).

Fast forward 9 years. I have rediscovered my faith and dd2 comes to church with me regularly, attends Junior Church and says that she believes in God and is a Christian. (Dd1 is another matter, but that's a different thread, and actually I am happy for her to make up her own mind.)

I have talked to dd2 about maybe being baptised, but she insists that she doesn't want to. Now, I will not put any pressure on her, obviously; it's her decision. However, I don't know what to say when she says 'Why should I?'. It's a genuine question... I have told her that I don't believe that God loves her any less because she is not baptised (she was briefly at Catholic school and I was a bit worried about her being told that she would go to Hell because she wasn't baptised - I know that the Catholic Church abolished Limbo, but I was not sure exactly what the position would be on an unbaptised nine-year-old and I wasn't taking any chances!). I have told her that baptism is a welcoming into the Christian family, and a promise that we [well, I in this case, since dh wouldn't have anything to do with it] will bring her up in a Christian context, but she just says 'I go to church, I believe in God, you tell me about Jesus, what more do I need?'. Which is, I think, a good question... So far, I've just said 'OK, well, think about it and if you want to be baptised when you're older you can do so' (I've told her that I understand it's possible to be baptised and confirmed at the same time, though she claims at the moment that she doesn't want to be confirmed either...). But are there better answers than this?

I think, incidentally, that part of her reluctance comes from being quite shy and feeling it might be embarrassing to have everyone looking at her. Again, I am not going to put pressure on her, but am just interested in finding better answers to her questions.

Thanks.

hiddenhome Mon 27-Jun-11 20:47:43

How old is dd2?

I think that it's best not to push them into things they aren't comfortable with. Infant baptism is just a Catholic tradition really. Jesus was baptised as an adult and baptism represents the rebirth of the person as a Christian, which many believe, can only take place when that person is old enough to make that committment.

Wait until she's ready to make the decision for herself.

TotallyUnheardOf Tue 28-Jun-11 00:06:56

Thanks hiddenhome. She is 9.

I should have specified that I am CofE, so 'the norm' (for what it's worth) would have been baptism as an infant and then confirmation as a teenager. But I am definitely not pushing her to do anything she doesn't want to do (she loves church, and I am not forcing dd1 to come along too...), I am really just genuinely interested in how to answer her question in a theologically informed way.

Since the CofE does separate baptism and confirmation (and you have to be baptised before you can be confirmed), why is this (if there is not the belief that you go to Hell unless you are baptised, which I know was the original reason behind the baptism of infants)? Is it purely symbolic (the parents and godparents promising to bring the child up in a Christian way)? I totally see that level of meaning, but surely that's about the parents not the child. So in that case why the need to be baptised before you can be confirmed? I'm asking for me, more than for her, though if she does ask more I'd like to be able to answer in a non-making-it-up-as-I-go-along kind of a way.

hiddenhome Tue 28-Jun-11 12:16:18

What happens is that children are baptised as infants largely because of tradition and that the child then goes on to make their own public committment to follow Christ by choosing themselves to become confirmed.

There is no real need for infant baptism and the child won't go to hell if anything should happen to them, that's not how it works. It's just some church denominations that follow the tradition and it's largely persisted because this is what parents want - dare I say there's probably a large dose of good old superstition in there as well and some parents just do it because they want a nice service in pretty clothes and a party afterwards hmm

Don't push your dd or it might put her off. She's obviously not ready to be 'processed' into the church just yet, some people never feel the need and she may not even remain in the CofE once she gets older. There's dozens of independent churches out there and many people prefer those.

I'm hoping that my ds1 will want to be confirmed into the Catholic church at some point, but I just mention it casually from time to time to test the waters. So far he's up for it, but I just let him lead the way and if he changes his mind that's up to him.

The need for baptism is important as this is what Jesus directed his followers to do as a symbol of their rebirth as a Christian and to have their sins washed away. They wouldn't have had confirmation in the earliest church anyway, so baptism is more important. You cannot take communion in the CofE churches unless you've been confirmed into that church ifyswim. A similiar process occurs in the Catholic church as well. It's kind of like a formal admission into a club and once you've had that then you can go on to enjoy full membership of that club.

TotallyUnheardOf Tue 28-Jun-11 17:06:45

Thanks again, hiddenhome, and once again I am definitely not pushing her: it's entirely her decision, as it's her decision to come to church or not. I am just interested.

Interesting what you say about other churches. At the moment she is 'very CofE'... she gets really cross when the vicar who comes into their school says 'Forgive us our sins' instead of 'trespasses' - and that's a CofE vicar, just a more 'trendy' one than she's used to! She likes her tradition!!

There's a contradiction in what you say (or, rather, in what the CofE does), though, isn't there about, on the one hand baptism being more important than confirmation (because of the biblical precedent), and on the other the fact that it's confirmation that acts as the 'gateway' to communion and to full membership of the church? At least, it does in the CofE in the UK. In the Episcopal (i.e. Anglican) church in the US, anyone who was baptised was allowed to take communion - even very small children (i.e. much younger even than the age at which children would take FHC in the Catholic Church). In a way, if we were still in the US I think it'd be easier to answer dd's question than it is here in the UK...

gingercurl Tue 28-Jun-11 19:37:38

There is Biblical basis for both infant and faith baptism. In Acts 16 there are two instances where, upon coming to faith, new believers are baptised along with everyone in their household. In 1 Cor 1 Paul mentions, as in passing, that he baptised Stephanas' household. In those instances, it seems unlikely that any young child in those house would know what they are baptised into, but, just as today, the parents were committing to raise their children in the church and faith. Faith baptism is performed on the believer's request and is perceived as following Jesus' example and to symbolise how, in faith, we are dead from sin/washed clean and risen to a new life. Interestingly, in the book of Acts coming to faith is always followed by the new believer being baptised so it is clear that the apostles put a lot of emphasis on it. Along with Holy Communion, baptism is also the only ceremony established by Jesus, so in Biblical terms it it seems quite important.
Good for you for not pressurising your dd. I'm sure she'll let you know if and when she's ready. Personally, I don't think that Jesus established baptism nor Holy Communion because he or God need them, but because we need them. Just like the act of getting married and making promises in front of witnesses can support us in staying together with our spouse, baptism (or confirmation in case of infant baptism), and Holy Communion, can support us in our desire to follow Jesus. And, because we open ourselves to him when we perform them, he can act through them (but not exclusively) and in our lives.
Sorry for long post.

mummytime Tue 28-Jun-11 20:01:24

Lots of C of E get baptised later. Some churches have their own baptistry. And the Bishop here regularly dunks people as part of Confirmation services (at the local swimming pool or a portable one in churches).
Mine haven't been done as I have theological objections to infant baptism (and DH isn't bothered strongly either way), my middle one will probably be done in the next year as part of a confirmation service.

TotallyUnheardOf Tue 28-Jun-11 22:58:14

Thank you, gingercurl and mummytime.

gingercurl - Yes! Your final point is what I was looking for (though I didn't articulate it very well... I wasn't sure what I was looking for myself till I saw it!). The idea that Baptism (etc.) is something that we need for ourselves, as a way of publicly affirming (and thus hopefully helping us to stick to) our faith is a really useful one. Thank you so much. smile

gingercurl Wed 29-Jun-11 08:37:48

smile Glad that my ramblings made sense.
Doh! Just realised. Not "ceremony". I meant ritual, but I couldn't find the correct word last night.

MmeBlueberry Fri 08-Jul-11 07:25:41

We are baptised because 1) Jesus commanded it, and 2) it seals you into the worldwide church family.

MmeBlueberry Fri 08-Jul-11 07:35:21

Re: baptism before confirmation.

In the early church, it was the bishop (episcopos) who baptised his flock. As the church grew and spread, the bishops could not baptise everyone for practical reasons. Therefore, the presbyters would baptise, and the bishop confirm this in his sporadic visits.

In the Church of England, there is baptism for the children of believing parents followed by bringing themselves to confirmation when they have their own faith.

The confirmation service starts of with baptism for the candidates who have not already been baptised. Some churches will baptise their confirmation candidates on the Sunday before confirmation if they are having the confirmation service in a different church, but this is not necessary.

TotallyUnheardOf Fri 08-Jul-11 15:35:02

Thank you MmeBlueberry... that's interesting about baptism/confirmation together. I was confirmed so long ago now that I remember almost nothing about it. I can tell dd2 that she can decide when she's a bit older if she wants to be confirmed and then if she does she can be baptised at the same time, and that seems to make a lot of sense on the practical side...

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