Baptizing bedfast church members

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by PapaG, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. PapaG

    PapaG
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    I hope this is the right forum for this topic. I am a pastor of a Southern Baptist church and I have several hospital/nursing home folks (new Christians) who happen to be bedfast. My dilemma is this: How do you handle the request to baptize a person who cannot be immersed in the normal way? What are the options?
    Thanks,
    PapaG
     
  2. JonC

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    I’ve heard two views from Baptists. One is that you can ignore the immerse part as the observance is symbolic. The other is that baptism by definition is immersion so if the individual can’t be baptized at the nursing home/hospital (tub or such) then it isn’t to be done because it would be an unbiblical observation.
     
  3. PapaG

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    I am also familiar with these two views. I am not sure I agree with the "don't baptize at all" viewpoint. These folks do not believe baptism is required for salvation and it is purely a personal preference to follow the Lord in baptism (literally) but I have church members on both sides of this issue. I really have to think this through before I make a decision.
    Thanks for the reply.
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    The problem in this situation is:

    1. We have a responsibility to scripture and that is the only way being complete immersion by water.

    2. We have a legal liability. It is a physical risk to attempt to baptize these good folks by water and even if you are successful the family could come back and sue for putting their loved on at risk.

    The best move here is to explain the risks and the scripture and let it go.
     
    #4 Revmitchell, Sep 17, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2013
  5. Deacon

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    Mennonites are Baptists of a sort.
    They have a tradition of pouring or immersion.

    If you and the infirmed person were open to it you might discuss pouring as an option.
    You'd need planty of towels. :tongue3:

    A key component of the ceremony is the aspect of a public declaration of their belief in the Christ of the bible.

    Rob
     
  6. PapaG

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    Point well taken! I agree with the obligation to be true to the Scriptures, and I had not thought of the legal ramifications.
     
  7. ktn4eg

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    Hi there Papa G!! :wavey: Always good to have a fellow Tennessean here on BB to help us try our best to set the other folks straight LOL! :smilewinkgrin:

    Although I'm not a preacher/pastor, I'll relate to you of two instances of baptisms I've witnessed [& both of them were here in the Volunteer State BTW :laugh:]:

    One was for an adolescent girl who, although she wasn't strictly bedridden, had a huge body cast practically from head-to-toe. She really wanted to be scripturally baptized [immersed] so what the pastor did was to have her body and/or body cast wrapped tightly several times with heavy duty plastic wrapping and then (with 4-5 deacons also in the baptistery helping) very quickly immersed her and then had several ladies very quickly [in private] both towel and blow dry her body cast.

    There were no subsequent repercussions from this, but, as Rev Mitchell pointed out in his Point 2, that may not always work out for you as this case did.

    The other case was that my current church's ( www.lighthouseministries.org ) founding pastor did use pouring for some believers who live in the south east Asian nation of Laos. There, Christians are forced to live very dangerous, precarious conditions [and many pastors have been martyred for their faith!!] and are under constant surveillance by government officials. So about all he could do was to use the mode of pouring for their baptisms. {Yeah, I know all about the baptizo thing. But when it's in a situation such as this, what else are you going to do?}

    Don't know if this is of any particular help in your situation..... Just take it FWIW.

    Blessings my dear brother!
     
  8. Deacon

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    Correcting my previous post regarding Mennonite baptism:
    Pouring is considered a form of immersion - the other form of immersion is submersion.


    We have an outdoor baptismal that we use for our services.

    It's a small 5 foot swimming pool that we remove from its base and cover after each use.

    I've noted that occasionally the hand held by the baptizer during the immersion is often left high and dry above the water.

    Was this person really baptized? [I'd say "yes!"] - So at least to me, immersion doesn't always equal a total submersion.

    Rob
     
    #8 Deacon, Sep 17, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2013
  9. DocTrinsoGrace

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    I understand Mennonites to have arisen from the Anabaptist movement. Anabaptists were not the roots from which Baptists came into being -- despite how the word sounds. Indeed, some of the earliests confessions were to dissuade non-Baptists of that very impression (e.g., London Baptist Confession of 1644, paragraph 1).

    That was very well said, Rob. Our ordinances are very public, for they specifically are affirmations to one another, as well as affirmations to our Lord, of the completed Work of Redemption. Thank you for pointing that out! :thumbsup:
     
  10. Jkdbuck76

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    I don't know if this belongs in this thread or not, but wasn't baptism always done in rivers in the NT?

    So why have baptistries?

    Please....somebody say "convenience" and "safety".

    Then maybe apply "convenience" and "safety" to baptizing someone who should not be fully immersed in water (ie, a person at a nursing home with very brittle bones).

    I'm not saying that I have all the answers. I'm just trying to generate some thoughtletts on the subject.
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    You provide a rare instance where you affuse them.

    The early church permitted, on rare occasions, baptism by pouring when the person was infirm or would not survive the baptismal ceremony. These "emergency baptisms" were exactly as they sounded and were very rare.

    If a person would die or be increasingly injured if baptized through immersion we have a moral and ethical obligation to baptize them appropriately so as not to cause harm.

    About two years ago, we had a situation like this with a young man who had suffered a massive set of medical complications and was nearing death (he would die six months after his baptism.) So, in his hospital room, with his friends and family around we baptized him through affusion. We placed his feet up to his knees in water and had his head on a sink (the kind your barber uses to wash hair) and we poured water over the crown of his head and had a regular baptism ceremony.

    It is the only time we've permitted this and our leadership was in unanimous approval of doing this.

    Just our take on it. I'm bound to the Word of God as the foundation for my theology. This seems to be one instance where we can provide grace in practice. :)
     
  12. Jkdbuck76

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    Are you speaking of the didache when you speak of the early church? Just curious.... We're thinking here. This is a good thing.
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    A little bit of the Didache, but since that is limited to CE 70-90, we should also include texts like The Apostolic Teaching by Hippolytus and some others of that time frame. :)
     
  14. Jkdbuck76

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    Thank you for sharing.
     

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