This Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Mark Anderson of Lutheran Church of the Master is about   Baptism  < click 

 The author Flannery O’Connor was at  Mary McCarthy’s apartment, and Mary McCarthy said that the communion wafer was merely a symbol of the Holy Ghost and a good one at that, whereupon Flannery O’Connor made her famous reply, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”

                                                                                               Same thing with baptism.  Right?

27 Responses

  1. It really doesn’t matter what mere man says or thinks about these things…The word of God says do it…So as disciples of Christ…we just do it and let God sort out what happens, will happen, shoulda-coulda-did happen…*: )

  2. Steve,

    I just heard a good point by a former Baptist turned Lutheran pastor on this issue of the sacraments as symbolic versus means of grace. This one was about the Lord’s Supper in the so called symbolic evangelical churches, but applies by extension to baptism. It’s so obvious, having been there myself. He said the odd thing about the LS is that they take Paul’s warning of cursing true on the supper, to eat unworthily. Of course they define “unworthy” in pietistic terms but non the less the curse is real to them. Thus, while they deny it as a “means of GRACE” they affirm it as a “means of CURSING”. Therefore at length the Lord’s Supper either is nothing, symbol, or curse. This person, and I myself struggled with this back then, avoided the LS (which really isn’t the LS) for 10 years.

    My wife captured it well, very simple but very straight forward, she grew up continuously in the Baptist church of various kinds. She said, “You know I grew up believing that I was suppose to some how just be remembering Jesus while we ate these crackers and drank this juice”. I told her, “That is, whether you know it or not, a profound layman’s observation of the doctrine.” She wasn’t being polemical or anything, just obvious and honest.

    I’m looking forward to hearing this sermon, thanks!!!!!!!!



  3. People often say they want to be baptized because Jesus was. But He gave a reason for our baptism that’s different from the reason for His. (I hope it’s okay to point to scripture?) Mark 16:15,16 & Acts 2:38,39 & Acts 22:16 and Romans 6:1-6 and I Peter 3:21 all suggest that our baptism is connected with our becoming innocent so we can have fellowship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Yes, of course baptism is a symbol; the water doesn’t do anything! But it is a symbol of what is actually taking place as we are baptized It is a symbol of washing, and as we do it, our sins are washed away. It is a symbol of a new life starting, and as we are buried beneath the water and raised up, our new life in Christ begins.

    (Please notice baptism is passive, it’s not something we do for ourselves, or to earn anything.)

    Nothing else in the New Testament or in early church history would take baptism’s role at this point.

  4. Nancy,

    Right on!

    Who’s in charge? Us?

    If God told us to do it, He must have a good reason.

    So, we do it, and trust that His reason is good enough for us!

    Or…we could help Him a bit, and take over the helm.

    Thanks, Nancy!

    – Steve

  5. Larry,

    That is a great point about the Evangels…”the curse is true…but the promise is false.” Excellent observation!

    It is very difficult to explain to the average Evangel how they are so similar (just like) the Roman Catholics when it comes to their doctrine of justification.

    They may look completely different but they are teaching and doing the same thing.
    ‘A lot of God and a little of me.’

    In reality it almost always turns out to be the other way around. So you end up with these great religious projects instituted by the church and carried out by the people. Yuk.

    Glory vs Cross. You are right, Larry. It hasn’t changed in two thousand years.

    Thanks, Larry!

    – Steve

    PS- Let me know what you think about the sermon – when you have a chance to listen to it.

  6. Wil,

    Thanks for your comments, Wil!

    It is always good to point out scripture here! And you highlighted some excellent verses concerning baptism.

    And you are right to point out that it is not water only that does this great thing for us…but God’s WORD attached to that water that gives it the power of God.

    The Word with the water. The promises of God actually given to us…DONE TO US!

    That is something we can trust in…absolutely!

    Thanks very much, Wil!

    – Steve

  7. See, Steve – This is how you keep this blog hopping!

    Whole denominations were formed over this stuff 🙂

  8. TOA…

    “Or…we could help Him a bit, and take over the helm.”

    Have you burned your copy of Luther’s Small Catechism?…*; ) Well, it’s…it’s only a small one…

  9. Nancy,

    I’ve got it around here …somewhere.

    Maybe I ought take another look at it! 😀

    Actually, we’ll be looking at it again tonight after worship.

    Thanks, Nancy!

  10. Revolutioninthespirit,

    Thanks Steve! It’s good clean fun…and it’s a matter of life and death as well!

    New denominations? I’m sure they will come and go..but the pure sweet gospel of our Lord will never pass away!

    May the fire that is faith in our Lord Jesus and what He has done for us, grow into a raging bonfire for all those that will hear!

    Thanks Steve!

  11. “May the fire that is faith in our Lord Jesus and what He has done for us, grow into a raging bonfire for all those that will hear!”


  12. Bravo to O’Connor! A spot on appropriate use of the H word. The theological impact of her quote would be lost without that 4-letter word. And bravo to Luther whose humanity made good use of “bad” words.

  13. BG,

    Thanks BG!

    Right on!

    – Steve

  14. Well that kind of says it all doesn’t it?

  15. Hello St. David!

    Indeed it does. Indeed it does.

    Thank you, sir!

    – Steve

  16. if taking communion in an unworthy manner brings condemnation i wonder what being baptized in like manner will bring?

    nevermind lets just give out smiley stickers when the children get dunked.

  17. Graceshaker,

    What is taking communion in an unworthy manner?

    I think Believer’s baptism where you think nothing is really happening is an “unworthy manner”.

    If nothing is really happening, then (as Flannery O’Connor said) “…to hell with it.”

    We LOVE to baptise babies! No smiley faces when a baby is baptised at our church. If fact…the first thing that happens to the kid is that he or she is put to death.

    Then God raises the child (with Christ) to new life.

    It is so gracious, and so totally reliant upon God for this death and resurrection, that I can understand why some people have a problem with it. It takes their will right out of the equation.

    We think that is the best part!

  18. BG

    “And bravo to Luther whose humanity made good use of “bad” words.”

    Almost sounds Driscollesque (as in Mark) to me…*: )

  19. Steve,

    “I think Believer’s baptism where you think nothing is really happening is an “unworthy manner”.

    If nothing is really happening, then (as Flannery O’Connor said) “…to hell with it.””

    That’s a great illumination on “unworthy manner”. In a lesser earthy analogy: If my wife kisses me to show her love for me and I say, “I didn’t receive anything”. That’s quite an insult to her, and I received it unworthily.

    Worse and stupid if I say when she kissed me, “I just showed and proved my love for her.” Even worse if when she kisses me and I’m not loving back toward her I say, “I didn’t even get kissed just then”. Even worse when she kisses our six month old on the forehead and someone else says, “That baby wasn’t kissed, you’ll have to kiss them when they get 18 for it to be a kiss”.


  20. “That baby wasn’t kissed, you’ll have to kiss them when they get 18 for it to be a kiss”.


    Good one, Larry!

    I like the’ kissing’ illustration!

    Nice job!

    – Steve

  21. Eugene Osterhaven states, “Thus the Reformed tradition, with most of the Christian church, believes it pleases God to use earthly materials water, bread, and wine in the reconciliation of the world to God.” But does Scripture teach this? The best way to answer that is to simply read the passages, where Baptism is called “remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:16). Paul announced, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The Sacrament and faith were not separated in Paul’s mind, for apart from the latter the benefits of the former were not received although the Sacrament was performed. In Baptism we were buried and raised with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5). Far from viewing Baptism as a human work, Paul said “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by his grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. 3:5-7). A. A. Hodge writes, “Men were exhorted to be baptized in order to wash away their sins. It is declared that men must be born of water and of the Spirit, and that baptism as well as faith is an essential condition of salvation. The effect of Baptism is declared to be purification (2 Kings 5:13, 14; Judith 12:7; Lk. 11:37-39).” As Hodge observes, in infant Baptism, there are four parties: God, the Church, the parents, and the child, and the only party wholly passive in the affair is the very person being baptized! We simply cannot say that we take a literal approach to the text while interpreting these clear passages as allegorical of a spiritual reality detached from the obvious reference to physical sacraments.

  22. “I think Believer’s baptism where you think nothing is really happening is an “unworthy manner”.”

    As far as I know, Lutherans do not rebaptize those who were baptized in churches that taught symbolic believer’s baptism, though … doesn’t it have more to do with the Word of Christ than with what I think about it? If it is in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit then it is a valid baptism because it is being done in the Name of the Triune God. He is doing it to me, regardless of what I believe about it.

  23. Dawn K,

    You are absolutely correct.

    I didn’t word that properly. I didn’t mean at all that the baptism would not be valid.

    I was in error to use that language.

    Thanks for pointing it out to me, Dawn!

    – Steve

  24. Steve,

    Actually the wording is perfect because it presupposes that there IS something one is receiving unworthily, therefore in and of itself valid. The reason Lutherans nor Reformed for that matter don’t rebaptize is precisely because it IS something based solely on the Word and name of God and not “man’s faith”.

    Baptist rebaptize (or baptize for real the first time in their language – assuming the second go around itself has faith, I’ve seen adults run through 4 “rebaptisms”) because the first baptism becomes a “no-baptism” due to the doctrine, what it is remains a mystery to everyone. It matters little whether that first baptism was an infant (which is presumed without faith) or an adult that in fact didn’t have faith.

    This just proves what you said, they don’t think anything is really received from God and hence unworthily received. If there really wasn’t anything being given from God, if that were true (it’s not but IF for the sake of debate), THEN it would not be unworthy for there’s nothing to be unworthy.

    Lutherans and Reformed don’t rebaptize unworthily received “first” baptisms if you will because THAT baptism in and of itself is of the HIGHEST worth, namely the Word and Name of God – its irrelevant if faith was or was not there.


  25. Larry,

    Good points, larry.

    The baptism is still valid. The promises made are still true. It’s just that the lack of trust in God’s promises deems it unworthily received.

    Like you said, it’s not so much that they don’t trust the promise, they think there was no promise there to begin with. Even worse!

    Thanks Larry!

    – Steve

  26. Steve,

    While I agree with the statement “Believer’s baptism where you think nothing is really happening is an “unworthy manner”, I cannot grasp the idea that an unwanted/undesired baptism is by any means “worthily” done.

    What do you say about all the forced (no other option but death) baptisms after miltary conquests in the middle ages? Contrary to Dawn’s inference “He is doing it to me, regardless of what I believe about it.
    “, how can grace save an unbelieving person? (see Hebrews 11:6)

    We are constantly adjured to “keep” and “guard” our faith. How can one keep what they do not posess? And if they do not believe, though baptized, doesn’t Christ say “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 ESV) ?

  27. ProdigalKnot,

    The Scriptures also say in many places that we are “dead in our sins and trespasses”.

    How can a dead man choose anything?

    Jesus says that “no man CAN COME TO ME, unless he is drawn by the Father.”

    He also says, “I chose you. you do not choose me.”

    The following is one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard regarding the topic:

    You may not agree with it, PK, but if you could hear it you will better understand our position.

    Thank you, my friend.

    – Steve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: