Letter from a Lutheran Church

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Dr. Bob, Nov 8, 2003.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob
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    My granddaughter was born Tuesday morning. On Friday, the family received a very sweet letter from St. Mark's Lutheran (ELC) suggesting that if they did not have a church home for the baby, that they should contact the church to have Natalie baptized.

    The letter stated, "through baptism, she will receive God's grace and eternal life."

    I was appalled. To a Bible believer, that is such blasphemy! Wonder if any of you in your denominations have heard of such a thing?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Carson Weber

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    I have.

    "The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sins, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit."

    Origen, Commentary on Romans 5:9 (A.D. 244)
     
  3. Debby in Philly

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    Yes, that is what they teach. Similar, as we have been shown, to Catholic teaching. The same is true of Missouri Synod Lutherans as well. I know this because I have used Concordia materials for VBS, and had to go through all of the teacher's books correcting "when you were baptised" to "when you ask Jesus to be your Savior" for use in our Baptist church. Seems to me Luther didn't have a problem with that doctrine, just about the corruption in the church. I think there is a point of doctrine that attests that baptism MAKES one a Christian, but that the individual has to APPROPRIATE it through an act of faith, or perhaps the ceremony of Confirmation. I guess we'd have to ask a Lutheran scholar to explain it.
     
  4. thessalonian

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    I'll just answer with scripture:

    Acts 2:37-39
    Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
    Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    "For THE PROMISE is for you AND YOUR CHILDREN and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."


    What is the Promise?


    Acts 2:33
    "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the PROMISE of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.


    Can a child recieve the Holy Spirt?

    Lukes records of John the baptist:

    Luke 1:15
    "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.

    So baptism is about reception of the Holy Spirit which is life giving and yes babies can recieve it. The Holy Spirit leads the sinner to salvation. I just don't see the blasphemy.

    Blessings

    Blessings
     
  5. Chrift

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    "Seems to me Luther didn't have a problem with that doctrine"

    No he didn't.


    "Let us look at the reason why they hold that children do not believe. They say: Since they have as yet not come to use their reason, they cannot hear God's Word; but where God's Word cannot be heard, there can be no faith; Rom 10:17: "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God," ect. Tell me, is one who judges God's works in this way, according to our ideas, speaking like a Christian? Children have not come to the use of their reason, you say, therefore they cannot believe? What if you have fallen from faith through this reason and children have come to faith through their unreason? My friend, what good does reason do when faith and God's Word are concerned? Is it not a fact that reason most violently resists faith and the Word of God so that because of it, no one can come to faith and accept God's grace, as Christ says Matt. 18:3: "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." How often Christ points out to us that we must become children and fools and how often He condemns reason!
    Again, tell me, what sort of reason did the little children have whom Christ caressed and blessed and assigned to heaven? Surely they, too, were as yet without reason. Why, then, does He order that they be brought to Him, and why does He bless them? Where did they get the faith that made them children of the kingdom of heaven? The fact is that just because they are unreasoning and foolish, they are better fitted to come to faith than the old and reasoning people whose way is always blocked by reason, which does not want to force its big head through the narrow door....
    But since their reason so besets men, we must attack them with their own wisdom. Tell me, why do you baptize a man after he has come to the use of his reason? You reply: Hears the Word of God and believes. I ask: How do you know? You say: He confesses as much with his mouth. Should I say: What if he is lying and deceiving? After all, you cannot see his heart. Well then, if in this instance you baptize only because a man has outwardly professed faith but are uncertian of his faith and must wonder whether he has more within his heart than you observe, then neither his hearing nor confessing nor faith is of any avail; for it may be mere delusion and not a real faith. Who, then, are you to say that outward hearing and confessing are necessary for Baptism, that where these are not present we should not baptize, and that where they are present we should?... Is it not true that you must admit: You have no right to do or to know more than the person to be baptized be brought before you and that you are asked to administer Baptism; and you should believe, or rather, simply commit to God whether or not he really believes in his heart. Thereby you are excused, and you baptize correctly....
    Besides, tell me, where is the reason of the Christian believer while he is asleep, since his faith and God's grace admittedly never leave him? If, then, faith can continue without reason, why should it not also begin in children before reason is aware of is?...
    Commit the faith to Him who commands them to be brought and baptize them at His command, saying: Lord, Thou dost bring them here and dost command them to be baptized. Therefore Thou wilt surely answer for them to be baptized. Therefore Thou wilt surely answer for them; on this I depend. I dare not drive them away or forbid them Baptism...." - Luther
     
  6. BobRyan

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    The RCC admits that the error of infant baptism evovled over time in the Catholic Church.

    In Christ,

    Bob
    </font>[/QUOTE]
     
  7. BobRyan

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    Thomas Bokenkotter's "A Concise History of the Catholic Church" pg 49

    "at first the Christian presbyter or elder avoided any resemblance to the pagan or Jewish priests and in fact even deliberately refused to be called a priest.

    He saw his primary function (instead) to be the ministry of the word...but the image of the Christian presbyter gradually took on a sacral character.

    This sacralization of the clergy was brought about by various developments...the Old Testament priesthood was seen as a model for the NT priesthood (gradually). The more elaborate liturgy of the post-Constantine era, with it's features borrowed from paganism, enhanced the image of the minister as a sacred personage. The ministry of the word diminished in importance when infant baptism became the rule, for infants could not be preached to...

    Before Constantine the whole church was considered the realm of the sacred as opposed to the profane world outside; after Constantine and the breakdown of the separation between church and the world, the polarity between sacred and profane was transformed into one between sacred clergy and profane laity"


    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  8. BobRyan

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    And of course - we do not have a single case of infant baptism in the Bible nor a single case of saints on earth praying to the dead nor a sinlge case of purgatory mentioned - period.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  9. Debby in Philly

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    CHRIFT: Can you or someone else give a brief description, from a Lutheran perspective, what it is that takes place in the life of an individual at baptism (presumably as an infant), at first communion, and at confirmation? And by "what takes place" I mean both spiritually and physically as it pertains to status in the local church.

    An explanation would help Baptists understand the platform others are standing on. Just for info. Thanks!
     
  10. Ray Berrian

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    God is sovereign and apparently this was a special dispensation where the Lord God tells us that the Baptist had the Spirit perhaps even at the time of conception. Almighty God does not say that Zacharias and Elizabeth had a solemn service of infant baptism so that the Holy Spirit might enter his life.

    Personally, I have no problem with an infant being baptized as a sign of the covenant or of 'household baptism' [Acts 16:15 & 16:31]but I am not yet convinced that the Spirit enters the newborn in a solemn service of baptism. In these two references if there were more adult conversions to Christ they probably would have been named. Apparently, Lydia had children of a minor age under her spiritual care and supervision.

    In Acts 2:38-39 it was not only people who were converted and were baptized, but the promise reached out to infants and minor children. Jesus, Himself said, 'Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such are the Kingdom of Heaven.'
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Appreciate the good thoughts. Even those religious groups that place great emphasis on baptism (like Lutheran and Catholic) I am befuddled as to how they can handle verses that explicitly connect the outward rite of baptism with the inward faith, repentance, belief . .

    Repent and be baptized

    He that believeth and is baptized

    If thou believest, thou mayest

    et al
     
  12. john6:63

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    1 Corinthians 1:14-17, I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

    If the teaching of baptismal regeneration were true, then Paul could’ve never thank God that he baptized so few in Corinith, and he, as an evangelist, could never say Christ sent me not to baptize… In addition, it seems baptism wasn't that important to Paul for he couldn’t even remember how many he did baptize, … besides, I know not whether I baptized any other… If baptism was such of importance why didn't Paul keep a better record of his converts through baptism?
     
  13. Ray Berrian

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    john 6:63,

    The Apostle Paul was essentially an evangelist to the Gentile nations; when he established a churches in his travels, he assigned Elders to minister to the flock. The Elder in a given church would have baptized adults and children of covenant families. [Acts 16:15; Acts 16:31] Beside, Lydia, who else made up her household? {Acts 16:15b}

    The 'keeper of the prison' who was led to Christ by Paul and Silas also had a household. Who was included in the household of the prison guard?

    Luke said that those who he was talking to were ' . . . children of the covenant.' [Acts 3:25b] The children and infants also were integrated into the covenant family of Israel.

    Again, what is the meaning of ' . . . and her household?' [Acts 16:15b]

    Ray Berrian, Th.D.
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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    Sorry, Dr. Ray, but the "household" argument is about as weak as can be imagined.

    How many on the BB, if they heard the message of salvation and got saved, would have a household that included babies? Very small percentage.

    In the Bible, household could include slaves and servants, all ages of folks, not just dad and mom and kids.

    And also the bible uses "children" to refer to whole generations and adults - like we would use the word descendants.

    Funny note: In a sermon I mentioned the "children of Israel" sinned blah blah blah. Afterwards a boy came to me and asked if their PARENTS had done stuff wrong, too, or just the kids! :rolleyes:
     
  15. Ray Berrian

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    The Rev. Dr. Bob Griffin,

    Lydia [Acts 16:14] was probably a middle class citizen without servants; it is very negligible that she could have afforded servants especially with other children in her spiritual care, and a 'keeper of a prison' [Acts 16:27] is hardly in the upper layers of human society, then or now. Sorry, Dr. Bob, but the "household" argument is about as strong as can be imagined.

    We have a Lehigh Valley Prison in Allentown, newly erected with 'weight rooms, air conditioning and televisions, but the prison guards do not have a visible entourage of servants; I also doubt if their wives have people come to clean their homes.

    It is also unthinkable that these 'house churches' had baptismal tanks so as to immerse their new converts. Only a few people lived near large bodies of water like the Jordan River.
     
  16. CatholicConvert

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    Dr. Bob --

    In order to understand infant baptism, you have to think like a Jew in the first century AD.

    First of all, the only way that Jews understood the work of God among them was by covenant. Covenant was EVERYTHING to the Jewish nation. Life for the Jew began and ended with covenant. Therefore, the only way that those who wrote the scriptures would have understood this practice would be in a covenantal framework.

    In the Old Covenant, the babies of the Jewish people were every bit admitted to the covenant as were the elders. Baby boys were circumcized into the covenantal kingdom on the eighth day of their lives. They did not have to have faith in order to be part of the kingdom and therefore part of God's gracious salvational plan for mankind.

    Now imagine that you are a Jew who is hearing Apostle Peter preach on the day of Pentecost and you hear of being entered into the New Covenant by baptism. You have come to understand, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit upon the words spoken in your ear, that this Jesus is the Messias, that He has inaugurated the New Covenant of which Isaiah spoke, and that you wish to be entered into that covenant with your family members. You wish for yourself and your family to be every bit as fully a part of the New Covenant as you have been a part of the Old Covenant.

    So....upon hearing that baptism is the rite which is now required to enter the New Covenant and to become part of the kingdom, you march forward towards the river. You have your 3 sons and 3 daughters and your wife. But upon reaching the river, Apostle Peter looks at your infant son in your arms and says "Hold on....not the babies. They have to wait till they understand fully and can accept Jesus as their own personal Savior."

    WHAT, sir, do you think would have been the reaction of those Jews to such a change? Do you think they would have had any interest in a New Covenant which EXCLUDED their infants when the Old Covenant graciously welcomed them?

    NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!!

    There would have been a riot!! Or at least a discussion of some considerable heat. And I personally believe there would have also been a church council, akin to the one which took place over the issue of circumcision for believers.

    The New Covenant is described in Scripture as a "better covenant speaking of better things"

    Now if the Old Covenant admitted children and the New Covenant excludes them from the kingdom of God, suppose you tell me how the New Covenant is superior in grace and mercy to the Old Covenant when it excludes family members?

    Sorry, Bob, you are about as wrong as you can be on this one, and it is because your thinking is that of a 20th century Evangelical rather than a first century Jew.

    Think Jewish and you will get clarity on this issue.

    Brother Ed
     
  17. dumbox1

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    Personally, my problem with the Lutheran church's letter is that they appear to be offering to baptize any baby that somebody brings in the door, without any consideration of the faith (if any) of the parents, without any indication that they'll raise the child up to be a Christian, etc.

    (Sorry to lapse off topic -- now back to your previously-scheduled argument).

    Mark
     
  18. CatholicConvert

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    Mark, that is an EXCELLENT point!!

    Such behavior is why there are so many lapsed Catholics and so many Catholics who know absolutely NOTHING about the FAITH (and therefore act like pagans in front of the whole world).

    Our priest, God bless him, refuses to do "drive - by" weddings or baptisms of folks. If he knows there is no commitment there, he will challenge them to get involved in the parish for at least a year before he will consider such a thing.

    Point well taken.

    Brother Ed
     
  19. Ray Berrian

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    Ed,

    In the words of Lawrence Welk--'Wondeful! Wondeful! Wondeful!'

    I agree 100% with your understanding of the New Covenant as you explained it. Really, good explanation.

    Ray
     
  20. CatholicConvert

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    OH!!! OH !!! OH !!!!

    MY HEART!!

    Git them paddles over here!!!

    300 volts. CLEAR!!!!

    *zzzzzzzttttttt*

    AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

    Ray, don't DO that to me!!! :D :D ;)

    Man, this must be some sort of strange lunar cycle or somethin'. Brother Ray and DHK both in a week's time agreeing with somethin I said.

    HOLY MOLEY!!!

    (But I agree, Brother Ray....the covenant is a beautiful thing and God be praised that by GRACE ALONE He offers it to us poor sinners.)

    Thank you for the kind words.

    Brother Ed
     

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