Baptism - Some Questions Answered
What is a Christian?
Two thousand years ago a Galilean carpenter was executed by the Roman Governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate. His disciples were stunned, because he was a good man. He stood up for the rights of the poor and oppressed and cared for the sick and outcasts of society.
Yet some days later their grief had changed into joy. The power of God had destroyed death and brought Jesus Christ from the tomb, and exalted him as Risen Lord. Those who met the risen Lord were converted and became the first Christians. Even after he had ascended to his Father, the Christians knew that he was still with them. They have celebrated the breaking of bread in his name for 2,000 years.
Christians are men women and children who believe that Jesus has conquered sin and death and that he offers us his Risen Life. We shall enjoy that life eternally in Heaven.
Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?
To be free from sin and death is something to celebrate. Christians come together on the Lordís Day to do this, because on that day the Lord rose again from the dead. As he lives so we share in his new life.
St. Paul taught that we are Christís Body and belong to each other because we belong to Christ.
A Christian who doesnít come to church can hardly be called a Christian at all.
Can his faith be something to celebrate?
Can he be called part of Christís Body, the Church?
Can he belong to Christ?
Living faith in the Lord Jesus is too wonderful to keep to ourselves
What happens when you are baptised?
At the very beginning of the Christian Church no one was baptised until they had living faith in the Lord Jesus.
Baptism makes you a Christian. In baptism the Lord uses water to make us clean from our sin and to give us a share in his New Life.
The first Christians were baptised in rivers. They went into the water then were completely submerged, praying that their old sinful self would be drowned. They came out of the water rejoicing that the Lord had truly washed their sins away and given them New Life.
What does it mean to baptise a baby?
A baby cannot have a living faith. However, from the earliest days of the Church, parents brought their babies to Sunday worship. It seemed right that just as they shared their love for each other with the child, so they should share their love for God.
Because of their faith and trust in the Lord, parents made the promises of baptism for their children. It became common to baptise babies, but the only reason for doing so was the faith of the parents.
Today in England things are very different. Parents without a connection with the Church family, sometimes without any faith, expect to make the same promises.
Will your Church baptise my baby?
We should be delighted to do so. A commitment of this kind on your behalf would join your family to the family of the Church. You would then share with us the New Life which Jesus has brought us. We celebrate this New Life Sunday by Sunday at the Eucharist.
That life is there for you and your child; all we ask of you is that you will not make solemn promises in the Church and then deny your child his right to celebrate the new Life in Christ every Sunday as a baptised Christian.
You must ask yourselves:
Is it right to commit my child to a way of life that I am not prepared to follow myself?
But on the other hand
Should I prevent my child from joining the worship of the Christian family?
Why has the Church changed its baptism policy?
For a long time now the Church up and down the country has been concerned about the way that holy baptism has been treated by many people.
In this parish we have a policy of seeing all the parents and Godparents in a class to explain the meaning of baptism and the great responsibility that is placed on parents who ask for it on behalf of their children.
We have also, by baptising only at the main Sunday Eucharist, tried to emphasis the fact that baptism is the means of entry into the Church, and not a private family celebration.
This policy is one that worked for the first Christians and one that is becoming more and more popular today.
Our policy is to ask you as parents whether you are ready to join the worshipping family of God in this parish.
Baptism is about commitment and commitment involves worship and fellowship within Christís Church.
I thought that Jesus said, ďLet the children come to meĒ. Why are you refusing my child?
Yes, Jesus took the children and blessed them. But baptism is very different from a blessing. To be baptised we must show our love for Jesus by repenting of our sins, by turning to him and joining his Church. If your child is not baptised it will be because you have been honest enough to admit that at present you cannot see your way to the commitment it will mean for you as parents.
Iíve heard is said that unbaptised babies go to hell if they die.
This simply is not true. None of us is fit for heaven, but surely it is more likely that God would receive into his kingdom an innocent unbaptised baby, than a grown up person, who, having been baptised, has never bothered to find out what it involves, or who hasnít bothered to carry out the obligations of baptism.
But if you donít baptise my baby it wonít have a name.
We are not refusing to baptise your baby. Nothing would give us greater joy than to welcome your family into the family of the Church. Whatever you decide to do about baptising your baby, he or she was named when you went to the registrar and wrote the name on the birth certificate.
I still want my baby to have the best start in life
In that case you can do no better than to seek the New Life that Jesus offers you and your child, through the Churchís life and worship. A baptism service on its own cannot give your baby a Christian upbringing.
The best always involves the most effort for a childís parents.
If they arenít baptised, they canít get married in Church
This is hardly a good reason for baptism. In any case, the Church will marry a couple provided at least one of them has been baptised.