|Photo by Bonnie Hoffman.|
Now, for Part 3:
Christopher and I baptized our daughter as a baby and will soon baptize our son because we want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the faith in their hearts is God's work and not their own. When they fall into doubts and questions of faith, we don't want them to analyze, "Did I really have ENOUGH faith"? We want them instead to return to what God did for them when they were baptized. We want them to remember that when they were helpless as infants, that is just when the Holy Spirit dipped into their hearts and gave them the gift of faith. God is the subject of the sentence, not us.
We also want them to know that because they are a part of this family, faith is their heritage and birthright. We are a family who is "in Christ." We are together being made new. The way we operate in our family is in constantly seeking the Lord.
I pray almost every day that God will continue to grow faith in my children's hearts. Nothing in this world is more important than this.
So this is the way we have chosen to pass on our faith to our kids: infant baptism followed by discipleship and teaching. A lot of my friends think differently. They feel a conviction that their kids need to say a "Sinner's Prayer" and make a decision for Jesus. Either way, the good news is that we are parents who want our kiddos to know and love God. We want them to experience the blessing of salvation, the freedom of life in Christ, the unmerited favor that God's grace provides. Some of us will dunk our kids. Some of us will sprinkle them. Some of us will encourage a choice for Christ. Some will emphasize Christ's choice for us. Either way, we are united in the knowledge that faith comes from the Holy Spirit alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our human language is so limited in trying to express the truths of Scripture. That doesn't mean we shouldn't study the Word and try to understand its teaching. In fact, it is crucial that we do so. But both Lutheran theology and evangelical theology will fall short at one time or another. Whatever we call conversion, the Holy Spirit is the One who gives faith and whenever people come to faith or deepen in their faith, it's worth rejoicing about. I rejoice when people go forward at altar calls. I rejoice when parents care enough about their kids to dedicate or baptize them. If we are all centered on Jesus and on His Word, how can we lose? My Bible study teacher said once (reflecting on Paul's teaching in Romans) that we should not argue so much in the Church on disputable matters such as all the minutiae about baptism. She said, "Jesus said we should get baptized, so we should do that and not argue about how and when and all that." I so appreciated that sentiment and completely agree.
So, when we baptize our little Mr. Bean in a couple of weeks, this is why we are doing it. But that baptism day is just the beginning. From then on, a path of teaching and prayer remains. Hold us in prayer as we teach our little ones just what faith in Jesus is all about. Nothing is more important.
3 John 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (NIV).