From time to time it happens: you know how it is, you read the Church Times and then you get all flustered and annoyed about something. Well, this happened to me last night as those who Tweet will confirm!
On the back cover, there was an interview with a very nice lady who does stirling work as a Street Pastor (carbonara?) She does this work despite some serious constraints, and I am delighted that good people do good things for those they do not know. It is not about her work that I am upset, but about something she thrice claimed to have done:
she has been rebaptised...
I have a very specific diffculty with this. In her interview she talks of a very active life of prayer prior to her rebaptism. For me, baptism is a once-only absolute and sufficient rite of intiation into God's own family. It is an answer to God's calling that through baptism, we are called to Christianity. We are baptised through the grace of God and by the power of His Spirit.
I am left with questions:
- do some Christians regard baptism as a means of entry to a denomination or to the whole Family of God?
- Example: If I am my mother's son, how could I have need for her to adopt me again later? Even if I had walked away from my family, I am still her son and they still my family. I can return, but my family is my family. The same for Baptism - if we are recieved into God's family by God's grace, how can this lapse, especially in a life meshed with prayer as was described in the interview?
- Is one 'mode' of baptism more effective that another? Is full submersion the best way therefore?
- Rebaptism, to me, makes denomination supreme over Church. If that is the case, then we live in dangerous times.
- Can baptism lapse due to non-attendance at church? Is God's love that feeble?
I am trying hard not to be ranty and ravey about this, but I am appalled at the implications behind the state of affairs that can suggest a person is re-initiated from 'a religious club of like-minded people' (that's the Church of England she is describing) to another group who were 'aware of the love of Christ'. That's insulting, by the way. Packaged in this way, I read it as 'a poor baptism replaced by an improved one'. Not good.