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Author Topic: Dedication vs. Baptism
jimbo
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I would like to solicit fellow snopesters for opinions, suggestions, comments, etc....

About a week ago, my wife and I had our son dedicated at an Assembly of God church that my inlaws attend. My parents, who are very conservative Lutherans, attended of course. After the service, my dad and I went out to the parking lot as all good Lutherans do to discuss things. He gave me a look like, "what was that....?" We talked for a few minutes and finally he asked me, "so, when are we going to really baptise your son"? Hmmm...

So, now I'm left with a bit of a dilema. My wife set all the events in motion in the first place and I'm afraid I will make her mad if I have our son baptised. I also do not wish to offend her parents but yet my parents are standing there with arms crossed and tapping a foot waiting for us to do "the right thing". I do not entirely understand the differences between dedication and baptism, thus this post.

Thank you all for your anticipated advice.

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abbubmah
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In evangelical circles, sometimes parents have a "dedication" where they dedicate themselves to raising a child in a Christian environment. Baptism is seen as an individual's choice of an expression of faith, and not something an infant would be able to do.

Lutherans, and some other denominations, accept baptism as the act of salvation, so basically, do it as early as possible, "just to make sure".

I wonder, though, why you did it at all, seeing as how it wasn't even your church. Didn't the AG pastor talk to you and your wife about this? Sounds like you're being pressured to do things, but you really should be asking these kind of questions before you do stuff like this.

It might be a good idea to do a little research on the background of both practices, and then sit down with your wife first, then your parents and your inlaws, and explain to them how YOU want to raise your son.

This isn't something to be taken lightly, and the wrong approach can cause some family friction.

ham "not a light undertaking" bubba

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Gibbie
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Bubba writes:
quote:
Lutherans, and some other denominations, accept baptism as the act of salvation, so basically, do it as early as possible, "just to make sure".
Well this is not exactly accurate. I can't speak for Lutherans but in the Presbyterian church (which practices infant baptism) it is seen as a promise to God to raise the infant in the church and in a community of faith. The congregation as well promises to care and nurture the child in its spiritual life. It's incorrect to say that it is seen as "the act of salvation." Many people may see it as a band-aid to faith, but that is not what the sacrement is meant to be.

Gibbie

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jimbo
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First of all, thank you Ham for your post. I appreciate it.

Yes, I do feel as though I was pressured into doing this. My wife and I came from very religious families although both of us retired, in a sense, from attending church. I would like to do the right thing, whatever that may be(can you tell I'm not sure of what that is...)

The AG pastor did sit down and talk to just my wife. I do not think she explained to me what dedication meant and I was under the assumption(ya, i know ass u me) that it was just a normal christening. But now I'm still left with the dilema of making both sides of the family happy while trying to do the correct thing. And you are absolutely correct in stating this isn't something to take lightly.

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Jaime Vargas Sanchez
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quote:
Originally posted by hamzilla's bubba:
Lutherans, and some other denominations, accept baptism as the act of salvation, so basically, do it as early as possible, "just to make sure".

I doubt "salvation" is the right word, since as you know Catholics (to refer to the only denomination I know) believe in "salvation by works", and pre-Vatican II Spanish religion texts, for instance, were ripe with tales of children who were burning in Hell for stupidities like not saying their prayers at night.

Jaime

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abbubmah
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
Well this is not exactly accurate. I can't speak for Lutherans but in the Presbyterian church (which practices infant baptism) it is seen as a promise to God to raise the infant in the church and in a community of faith.

Well, yes. However, Lutherans and Presbyterians don't place as great an emphasis on "salvation by faith", like the evangelicals. A lot of times, even though it isn't church teaching per se, the attitude prevails among the members that if one is baptised at any point in their life, they are Christian. That's really the point I was trying to make, not get into a detailed child baptism theology discussion.

ham "worms, barrel, 55 gallon, one each" bubba

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Gibbie
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No, no barrels or worms, just perspective of someone who was raised and served in the Presbyterian church. [Smile]

On "salvation by faith" the real difference I find is more of a point in time salvation. Let me try to explain. Most evangelicals that I know have a moment where they go "I'm saved!" They often ask you "when were you saved?" I've been in church services where I've been asked "are you ready to be saved today?" However, in my experience in the Presbyterian church we didn't have this moment of "I'm saved." It was a lifelong process starting from the moment your parents and your congregation promised to teach you and raise you in the faith. It was not so much suddenly finding the light in the dark, it was being in the light the entire time. It's not so much the difference in beliefs between salvation by faith or not, it more of a difference between suddenly finding faith and having it all along.

Does this make sense? I'm afraid it's not explaining very well. It's a point I've never been able to get across with my evangelical/fundamentalist friends.

Gibbie

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Mooommmeee
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In Luther's Small Catechism, he wrote:
quote:
What benefits does God give in baptism?

In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what he has promised.

Growing up LCMS, we were basically taught that baptism saved you until you were able to make a decision on your own. It didn't solidify the deal forever, but it was a good stop-gap solution for the person who couldn't make the decision on their own yet. When I was confirmed, that was to be the time when we made our own confession of faith and reaffirmed our baptismal vows. To me, dedication is more of a reversal of the process. When we dedicated the kids, we promised to raise them in a Christian home and to teach them the tenets of our faith. When they are old enough to make that decision for themselves as to whether or not they believe, they can choose to be baptised as a sign of their choice and in obedience to the Scripture that tells us that, "Whoever believes and is baptised shall be saved."

Personally, if you're not planning to raise your son in the church, I don't think I'd be too quick to jump up in front of a bunch of people and basically lie to them about it just to make your parents happy. IMO, the "right thing" is to be truthful.

~Mooommmeee

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LilMer8
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Never mind
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jimbo
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quote:
Personally, if you're not planning to raise your son in the church, I don't think I'd be too quick to jump up in front of a bunch of people and basically lie to them about it just to make your parents happy. IMO, the "right thing" is to be truthful.
That is not the issue at all. I did not state wether or not I plan to raise my children in church(which I fully plan on doing....) I don't understand how this makes me a liar Mooommmeee. The issue is, if you read my OP, how do I keep two sides of one family that have different beliefs satisfied that the correct thing has been done?
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LilMer8
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Jimbo, I think that Mooommmeee's point is your heart needs to be into it too, otherwise it is a lie. It isn't fair to your families, or those churchs.

I personally think this is one of those things that should have been discussed before you got married. Now, you and your wife need to sit down and talk about it. It is about your (your wife and you) family. You need to figure out what makes sense to the two of you and raise your children that way. No matter what someone is not going to be happy.

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abbubmah
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quote:
Originally posted by jimbo:
The issue is, if you read my OP, how do I keep two sides of one family that have different beliefs satisfied that the correct thing has been done?

Just like I said earlier. YOU and your wife make the decision, and everyone else had to abide by it. You're raising your son, not your parents or inlaws. "Correct" is in the eye of the beholder. If you can explain to both sides what you decision is, and why, everyone should be OK.

Summarize your intent to them. If you plan on raising your son in church, say so. The kids' grandparents will have to let this be your decision to get any resolution at all out of this.

ham "in church, what's the real issue then?" bubba

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jimbo
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Please understand Lilmer8 that my heart is into it. Obviously it must be or I wouldn't be posting about this and soliciting for advice [Smile] . If you read back to my earlier post, I stated that I was under the assumption(ya, I know ass u me) that a dedication was the same thing as a baptism. I do not wish to offend anyone because of their beliefs. I admit that I made a mistake because of the misunderstanding between my wife and I and now feel the need to correct that. I was raised in an ELCA Lutheran environment and believe that water baptism basically washed away all your sins and dedicated you to a Christian life. My plans for my children are such that I want to raise them in a church and Christian environment. If they choose to take another path sometime in their life, so be it. At least I attempted to start them on what I feel is the correct path in life.

My dilema is such that I do not want to cause friction in either side of my family. I know I can always sit down and just lay everything out in the open, but the damage has already been done.

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Mama Duck
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quote:
Originally posted by hamzilla's bubba:
However, Lutherans and Presbyterians don't place as great an emphasis on "salvation by faith", like the evangelicals.

Ok, just a point here. Lutherans when asked "When were you saved?" should respond "About 2000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem." Baptism is not so much an act of salvation as an entrance into the kingdom of God. YOu aren't the one acting during baptism. God is. God is claiming you as a child of God, regardless of the age. YOur "act of salvation' would more closely aligned with our Confirmation. This is when the baptized decide if they want to accept God's gift of salvation and then live accordingly.
So we have your Baptism. We just call it Confirmation.

~And then there's First Communion~

PS-All of this is beside the point. Jimbo, you and your wife must decide what's best for the child and everyone else must go along with it. If you think infant baptism is inappropriate for your family, your in-laws will just have to get over it. And besides, the child will eventually get baptized. It will just be a diffent age.

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jimbo
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quote:
YOU and your wife make the decision, and everyone else had to abide by it.
You are absolutely correct Ham. The problem that I have though is both sides of my family do not agree on a lot of things and this will just add more fuel to the fire. I don't want to be the supplier of that fuel.

Thank you for your post.

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Mooommmeee
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quote:
Originally posted by jimbo:
That is not the issue at all. I did not state wether or not I plan to raise my children in church(which I fully plan on doing....) I don't understand how this makes me a liar Mooommmeee.

So what WAS the dedication? What exactly did the pastor say? What did you say? I've been to a number of baby dedications at various churches and have never been to one where there wasn't at least some mention of bringing up the child in the Christian faith and with the help of the Christian community (the Church).

I was under the impression that you and your wife aren't too interested in the whole Church thing (you did this at your *in-law's* church, you're "retired" from church attendence, etc.). And if that's where you are, no big deal. One of my biggest munchkins is when people make commitments in church, in front of God, with no real intentions of following through on them, but rather to make someone else happy.

Beyond what you've already done, you and your wife need to sit down and examine what the Bible says about baptism and decide whether or not you want to pursue that or not. If you do decide that it's something *you* believe, then the right thing is to baptize the little guy. If you don't think it's biblical or necessary, then don't go through another ceremony just for the sake of doing the ceremony.

~Mooommmeee

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I mostly dine on the idea of health that is absorbed into my body through the consciousness of the universe. Or Fat Burger if I'm in a hurry. ~The Ninja

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jimbo
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You are correct Mooommmeee, I did state that my wife and I "retired" from church. That does not mean we don't attend, it's very sporadic. I went through with the dedication at my in-laws church because my wife set everything up. I figured, what difference does it make if my son is baptised in church A or church B, just as long as I follow through with the committment to God and raise him as a Christian. I made a mistake by assuming that dedication meant the same thing as water baptism.
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MHDIsHere
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I'll add my two-cents worth.

I'm Anglican, my church practices infant baptism as the norm (although I was Baptized as an adult). My wife is non-denominational/charismatic/evangelical, her church practices infant dedication and adult baptism.

Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics and perhaps others view Baptism is a Sacrament. The "formal" definition of a Sacrament is "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual Grace". In plain English, it's a promise by God that if we do certain things (pour water over someone with the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit", with the intention that the person be baptized) then God does something (imparts Grace to the person, cleanses of sin (original and actual) and makes him/her part of the Church). A clearer example of a Sacrament would be marriage, when you do something (exchange vows) God does something (makes you husband and wife and accepts you as such). Your relationship changes. Likewise in Sacramental Baptism your relationship to God changes.

In dedication the baby is dedicated to God and the parents promise to raise the child in a Godly way. Baptism is reserved for such time as the person can make their own commitment to God. While one would hope that the parents would ask for and receive God's help in raising their child, there's no specific promise made by God.

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Elkhound
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The American Book of Common Prayer has two services Holy Baptism and the Celebration of the Birth or Adoption of a Child. The latter contains prayers thanking God for bringing mother & child through delivery safely, asking God's blessing on the new relationship with other members of the family (older siblings), and asking for God's blessing and protection on the child as s/he grows up; parents can also promise to raise the child as a Christian.

While be practice Infant Baptism--and MHDIsHere gave a good explanation--there are sometimes pastoral situations in which baptism isn't the best way to welcome the new child. For example:

1. If it was a difficult birth and the child had problems, the hospital chaplain might have already baptized the child;
2. In the case of an adopted child, the child might have already been baptized, either by the birthparents or by the Sisters at the orphanage;
3. Sometimes parents will take a child back to the grandparents' church to be baptized, in which case the 'Celebration' would be appropriate for their own parish--or vice versa.
4. In the case of a Mixed Marriage in which one parent comes from a tradition that doesn NOT practice infant baptism.
etc.

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jimbo
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Thank you Elkhound and MHDisHere. Both were excellent explanations and advice.

Thank you to everyone that posted. I think I need to just "buck up" so to speak and deal with the family issue.

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LilMer8
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quote:
Originally posted by jimbo:
Please understand Lilmer8 that my heart is into it. Obviously it must be or I wouldn't be posting about this and soliciting for advice [Smile] . If you read back to my earlier post, I stated that I was under the assumption(ya, I know ass u me) that a dedication was the same thing as a baptism. I do not wish to offend anyone because of their beliefs. I admit that I made a mistake because of the misunderstanding between my wife and I and now feel the need to correct that. I was raised in an ELCA Lutheran environment and believe that water baptism basically washed away all your sins and dedicated you to a Christian life. My plans for my children are such that I want to raise them in a church and Christian environment. If they choose to take another path sometime in their life, so be it. At least I attempted to start them on what I feel is the correct path in life.

My dilema is such that I do not want to cause friction in either side of my family. I know I can always sit down and just lay everything out in the open, but the damage has already been done.

I believe your heart is.... I wish you the best with all of it. It can't be easy. Just remember to focus on what you and your wife think. There where some great explinations here. Good luck.
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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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jimbo, this is only the first of something around a billion differences of opinion that your son's grandparents will disagree with you and your wife about regarding the raising of your son.

He is your son. It is up to you and your wife to decide what you think it best for him.

(Here's the part where I say what I think is best for him; feel free to ignore)

I'm opposed to the baptism of those who cannot choose to do so (I also don't think that baptism is a necessary thing, but is purely symbolic [though, in a good way]).

(Here ends the part in which I inject my $0.02.)

Congratulations to you and your wife on your boy.

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jimbo
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quote:
jimbo, this is only the first of something around a billion differences of opinion that your son's grandparents will disagree with you and your wife about regarding the raising of your son.
You can say that again! [Big Grin] And it isn't the first time nor will it be the last!! [lol]

My parents, as I metioned earlier, are very staunch Lutherans who believe in water Baptism. They believe it should be done as young as possible. Symbolic or otherwise, it is still theirs(my parents) and my belief. I completely respect and understand others beliefs about the person "making the choice for themselves". The issue I was trying to resolve was how do I not cause any more friction within both of my families. Also, like I said earlier, I'm just going to have to "suck it up" and address the issue. I received some very good advice from everyone and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

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Elkhound
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quote:
Originally posted by jimbo:
quote:
jimbo, this is only the first of something around a billion differences of opinion that your son's grandparents will disagree with you and your wife about regarding the raising of your son.
You can say that again! [Big Grin] And it isn't the first time nor will it be the last!! [lol]

My parents, as I metioned earlier, are very staunch Lutherans who believe in water Baptism. They believe it should be done as young as possible. Symbolic or otherwise, it is still theirs(my parents) and my belief. I completely respect and understand others beliefs about the person "making the choice for themselves". The issue I was trying to resolve was how do I not cause any more friction within both of my families. Also, like I said earlier, I'm just going to have to "suck it up" and address the issue. I received some very good advice from everyone and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

You might want to look in the Lutheran Book of Worship (or whatever they call it) to see if there is an equivalent to the Episcopalians' BCP "Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child"; if so, you can explain to your grandparents that the Dedication was the equivalent, and why the tradition in which you are raising your children doesn't believe in infant baptism. (If not, the BCP is available online, and Episcopalians and Lutherans are close enough that you could print out the service from the BCP to show them.)

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abbubmah
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Hey, you could always do the Lutheran infant baptism, and when your son is old enough, heck, he may want to do it "the other way" on his own, which is perfectly acceptable.

In other words, you do what you think is right now, and don't discourage any decision he makes later.

ham "I hate these dilemmas..." bubba

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jimbo
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Elkhound, Fabulous idea!! Thank you so much!!!
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Mouse
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I kind of like the Anabaptist beliefs. The Anabaptists is a sect of christianity consisting of Amish and Mennonites. They don't believe in infant baptism. Their rationale is that only an adult is mature enough to make a decision on whether or not to commit themselves to God.

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mizake the mizan
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I consider baptism to be an insulting act, which declares a religious affiliation on those not yet old enough to understand religon or hold religious beliefs. Like circumcision, it is a statement of the parent's religious beliefs merely using the infant as a "prop".

A proper religous induction ceremony should be fully voluntary and conscious on the part of the inducee.

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the Virgin Marrya
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my 5 c, for what it's really worth: As a celebrant, I perform 'secular christenings' - baby naming/blessing ceremonies.
Now, I'm a fundamentalist Christian myself, and my daughter was 'dedicated' (not water baptised, though), and I really don't see much difference between any of the options.

IMHO, the ceremony in whatever form, is about the parents formalising their intent re: the raising of the child, generally touching on moral/philosphical/religious tenets.

At times, I've been tackled by irate grandparents asking how I can justify what I do (they'd prefer a sprinkly type ceremony).
At the end of the day, the type of ceremony makes no difference to the child, UNLESS you beleive in infant baptism as a way to heaven (e.g. that if a baptised infant and an unbaptised infant died, only one would get to heaven)
I don't believe in that kind of God.

The question for your family is, do you?

If the worst were to happen, and you hadn't had the baby 'properly baptised' would it make any difference?

Your answer to that should clearly indicate to you whether you need to go ahead and have a small, private baptism ceremony, or to tell you folks (nicely) to butt out.

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jimbo
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quote:
I consider baptism to be an insulting act, which declares a religious affiliation on those not yet old enough to understand religon or hold religious beliefs.
And this makes a difference to the child how.....?
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Jason Threadslayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Mouse-Ra the Everliving:
I kind of like the Anabaptist beliefs. The Anabaptists is a sect of christianity consisting of Amish and Mennonites.

The Anabaptists were a sect of Christianity that died out after the disasters of the Peasant's War (1524-1525) and Muenster (1533-1535). After those events, along with suppresion by Catholics, Lutherans, and other Protestants, they broke apart into the more peaceful Mennonites, lead by Menno Simonis, and Baptists.

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Jason Threadslayer
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by mizake the mizan:
I consider baptism to be an insulting act, which declares a religious affiliation on those not yet old enough to understand religon or hold religious beliefs. Like circumcision, it is a statement of the parent's religious beliefs merely using the infant as a "prop".

A proper religous induction ceremony should be fully voluntary and conscious on the part of the inducee.

Umm, isn't anything parents do to/for a child a statement of parental beliefs?

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LilMer8
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Jimbo, obviously people have different points of view when it comes to when it is right to baptise a child (even though I don't think that has anything to do with your original question). I think that is because different sects of Christianity have different beliefes on the purpose of baptisim (what it is for). You need to look it up, and figure out what you believe. Personally, I don't think it would help you for me to say what I believe unless you asked. I wish you the very best....
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mizake the mizan
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by jimbo:
quote:
I consider baptism to be an insulting act, which declares a religious affiliation on those not yet old enough to understand religon or hold religious beliefs.
And this makes a difference to the child how.....?
You're declaring the Child to be of a certain religion. The child is not of that religion. The child does not know what religion is.
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Double Latte
Happy Holly Days


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No, mizake. You are the one who is insulting. You are perfectly entitled to your negative feelings about baptism and about Christianity. But just because you dislike it does not make it wrong for everyone.

My husband and I joined our Lutheran church about 1-1/2 years ago. We decided our little family would be baptised all together the same day. In that ceremony, we not only declared our own faith, but also that we would raise our two children to believe likewise.

This was done before the entire congregation, and our children were welcomed as members of that congregation. It was a very special moment for everyone there. We have received great support and encouragement from people there.

My daughter (age 9) loves our church. She is an acolyte and sings with the children's choir. Our church is an important part of her life, and though we never attended church when she was younger, she cannot imagine life without it now.

Baptism is beautiful. My son was too young to remember that day, but both children will grow up always knowing they belong to God. What they do with that knowledge in adulthood is up to them.

I am not forcing my religion on anyone. With God's help I am doing right by my childen.

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God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do
And the eyesight to tell the difference.

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