More importantly, it is Baptism that made me a child of God and a part of God's kingdom! It is Baptism that washed me clean of my sins and gave me forgiveness and salvation!
If you're not a Lutheran, then that's probably really difficult for you to accept, especially if you believe that we only truly become a Christian when we "Make A Decision For Jesus Christ" (a.k.a "Decision Theology" or something else I used to believe wholeheartedly).
Ok, so what does the Bible actually say about Baptism? What do Lutherans actually believe, teach, and confess about this Means of Grace? What about that whole "baptizing babies" stuff too?
The Holy Sacrament of Baptism continues to be a contentious issue between Christians, especially between Lutherans and non-Lutherans due to the differences in beliefs about what God does to us and for us through Baptism, and it will continue to be that way.
I thought this brief devotion on the subject was a good one to help explain things though...
The Lutheran Church baptizes infants. This is a scandal. Of course, it's presumed the infant can't believe, right? But what does Jesus say? "One of these little ones that believe in me" (Mark 9:42). It's the Greek word for the tiniest little, tiny baby: a micron. The engineers among our readers know how big a micron is. It's not very big. We are talking about a baby in arms, a newborn. And Jesus says they believe in Him. And you in your great wisdom are you going to poke Him in the chest and say, "Jesus, they can't believe." What right do you have to say such a thing to your Lord? Shame on you. Because you may be undergoing the very judgement of which Jesus speaks in Mark 9:42: "Woe onto those who would scandalize the little ones who believe in me. It would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the sea." These little ones belong to Him. They believe. How dare we say they cannot, when he says they can and do believe?
Family life is always a challenge. Your first child comes along. What if, when he is about 3-4 years old, you say to him, "Now we're going to let you decide if you want to be a member of our family or not." It's all up to you. You know, we'd kind of like to have you but still it's your choice. If you want to pack up and go live with the family next door, you're welcome to do that. This would not upset us a bit. Have a great life. Make your own choices. Go for it, kiddo!" What would be the response of the four-year-old that hears that speech? At first there might be some glee because the family next door have a dog. But after thinking about it, your 4 year old is going to gasp and think, "They don't want me. I'm not part of the family." Would that be good? Would you want to hear that from a parent? "You have your choice. You don't have to be a part of this family if you don't want to be." Those are words of rejection. If we are children of the Father, He does not want to leave us making "our own choice" about joining the family. What father lets his children decide if they want to belong? Now what does our Father do? He says, "You are my child. My name is on you." And this, by the way, is why marriage as one man and one woman, created by God, not to be changed, not to be broken, is so important. Why? So that the child knows whose they are and where they belong.
The point is who we are in relationship to God: We are named by Him at the font. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That is who you are! And that's true from infancy, when you're baptized as an infant, throughout your entire life. Our loving God does not want you to wonder whose family you belong to. He wants you to know that you belong to His. And that he's going to the most extraordinary lengths to make sure that is the case and to make it happen. I don't want to be anything other than a child of God. I've said it from this pulpit before: the Bible never says, "Be adults of God!" It just isn't there. There are no adults of God. There are only children of God. That's what I want to be.
*- Rev. Scott Murray
We must never forget that it is Baptism that makes us children of God and not any kind of birthright. I mean, who are we as sinners to just assume that we are children of God...just because?
More importantly, as previously stated, Baptism is a "Means of Grace" for us too. In other words, my children aren't "automatically" Christians just because me and my wife are Christians.
If you're wondering how all of this squares with the "household references" in the Bible, then I encourage you to check out this very helpful Bible study on the topic from a Lutheran Pastor in Texas.
Martin Luther preached about this very same thing too...
John the Evangelist rejects the physical birth and position in life, no matter how high and noble, because it contributes nothing toward our becoming children of God. He also repudiates the Jews, to whose lineage Christ the Lord belonged, for boasting of their blood and presuming that their descent from Abraham would stand them in especially good stead. This they are accustomed to do to the present day, interpreting all the sayings of the prophets to mean that God performed great miracles, exterminated kingdoms and monarchies, out of respect for the blood of Abraham. Thus they claim to be preferred by God before others. But birth from a particular father and mother does not make one a child of God.
If it were possible for a hundred thousand emperors to have been our progenitors, this would not accord us the slightest advantage in any filial relationship with God, since this would not give us birth for heaven. Yet God does not belittle physical birth and position in life; He preserves each with all its due dignity in the world. Yes, He commands that children honor their parents, though the latter may be poor beggars, that subjects obey the government, and also that parents and government use their office for the welfare and good of children and subjects and administer their office well. But all this does not earn them regeneration for life eternal.
*- Martin Luther, Sermons On John, 1.13
Baptism is so much more than just a "symbolic" act that draws all the attention to us. It's a pure gift from God and one that was instituted by Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18–19); a gift to be used as a means to impart forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation till the end of time.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, we Lutherans baptize microns, because God tells us to, and why would we ever want to withhold a good gift of God from a child let alone ignore what He clearly says that we should do?
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!