Baptismal Honest Moments

I’m basically a Presbyterian—a Westminster Standards kinda guy. And I have Particular Baptist (1689 LBCF) friends who occasionally experience existential honest moments and confess themselves to be “Presby-Curious”. To have and share such an honest moment of my own, I’m periodically Bapti-(re)considerate. I’m far from being comfortably settled in my baptismal theology beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I had no informed opinion about baptismal practices growing up. There simply was what there was at church in my youth. I was still learning, and the teaching was very limited. I took ownership of my faith during my college years. And that happened in the context of churches and ministries that were credobaptist in nature.

For years after that, I had some measure of exposure to defenses of paedobaptism. But it wasn’t part of my native ecclesiastical habitat. When I joined a confessional Presbyterian church, that changed. And that change in communal environment was critical in making that changing in theological commitments.

In fact, the exact moment when I switched was when a young man who was raised in a credobaptist context was asking me to explain the argument for paedobaptism to him. I was just presenting the case, and I hadn’t even come close to finishing it. He said, “That sounds right to me; I guess I’m paedobaptist now.” I was taken aback momentarily and replied, “Oh … Well, I guess I am too then.” Yeah, that’s how it really happened.

I guarantee that if I were to embrace a credobaptist commitment again, the motivating factors will be conforming to communal peer-pressure and navigation church branding. That’s been something I’ve long sensed at work as I’ve been on either side of this issue.

The credobaptist vs paedobaptist debate in the present cultural moment and milieu is governed every bit as much by marketing forces and brand dynamics as everything else that is governed by consumerism in Christianity now. In fact, this reality of the present consumer culture makes the credobaptist position much more plausible. Developing a personal brand undercuts the paedobaptist / oikobaptist framework for everyone but the most seriously self-conscious and intentional subscribers to the position. Credobaptism leans into the grain of making personal brand decisions.

This gives a tremendous weight to returning to the credobaptist position for me. And it’s not without its merits, given how the Christian Faith has to maintain its substances and navigate the present cultural conditions.

And there’s a part of me that doesn’t really care all that much. Good Christian parents on either side of the issue raise their children in substantially similar ways. Each parenting situation has its own challenges fitting the ordinance of baptism to the path of Christian nurture and how to hand off ownership of faith to children.

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