Baptism: Choice, Covenant, Challenge

The Waters of Baptism

Mark 1:4-11 & Acts 19:1-7
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

These two texts are about baptism.
Baptism of Repentance by John.
Baptism of Covenant by Jesus.
And introduced by Paul,
Baptism of Challenge and Courage by the Holy Spirit.
Arcane thoughts, concepts, categories, and presuppositions.
And yet at times we do make choices that lead us to
repent, apologize, confess,
express regret—to another.
In our culture we have chosen
contracts over promise, law over trust,
and consciously, sometimes unconsciously,
because of a strong sense of our lack of allegiance—
to anything—
many of us seek ways of connection to
dysfunctional systems of belonging.
In our hearts we are deeply afraid
of the great Challenge that Mystery presents.
When was the last time you have stepped
out into the unknown—
financially, emotionally, physically, spiritually?
Can you name a time when you have
taken on a challenge that was greater, bigger, than you,
and, win or lose, given it your best?
The Baptism of which Paul writes
is one of Challenge,
but that comes with its own bolstering Courage
to engage the Mystery full on.
If, in our own time, we can look at baptism in this way:
making choices that are life changing,
being grounded in right choices,
and seeking healthy relationships,
we can then begin learning the larger challenge of
stepping into the Great Mystery that is Life itself.

It does seem that in most of our Christian Denominations Baptism is both Sacrament and Choice.  While some understand it as a public statement of commitment, others see it as a means of salvation itself.  People have been killed over this issue!

I have long been of the persuasion that all the various understanding, contentions, posits, claims made for any theological doctrine hold some part of the truth, not the whole truth as the promoters of each nuance would have you believe, just some part of it.  Therefore I believe that each claim has some small validity.  There fore I believe that any given doctrine is so multilayered that the doctrine itself can only be understood in terms of its many definitions, and therefore actually non-definable and non-understandable.

With this said, I will add that as a theologian, I see it as my job not to support any one definition af a doctrine but to add definitions to it.  You see, I believe that there truly is Mystery, and that Mystery can never actually be known, but can be approached through many, many, layers of various statements.

An example of this is that I actually believe that the True Believer’s claim that “God is everything,” and the Atheist’s claim that “God is nothing,” are both correct.  Think about it.  If indeed God is everything, then God has to be nothing as well as everything between.  No way around it.  Give me a statement about God and I’ll agree with it as a part of the Truth.  Tell me that statement is THE TRUTH, and I will tell you you are wrong.

BTW, Thanks to all of you who read these theological meanderings, and especially to you who comment on this site.  Whether you agree with my writing or not your statements mean a lot to me.  H

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