Welcome to Advent, which here at the OSI means it’s time to start thinking seriously about What Baptisim Means To Me.
Yeah, I got nothin’ really so far.
But there was a time in the recent past where I was hanging out at a nondenominational Pentibapticharismatic church. That’s what they called themselves (I guess because Chariscostist sounds funny). And I dove into the whole thing head first.
That’s right, I spoke in tongues. Interesting experience. Not the point.
As such churches do, as soon as they get a live one on the hook who’s signed off on the Sinner’s Prayer, they start throwing you into Beginner Christian classes. The point of these classes is threefold:
- Explain the important Biblical concept of Ministry.
- Explain the important Biblical concept of Tithing.
- Explain the important Biblical concept of Believer Baptisim.
I went in head first, remember? Yes! Yes! I can exercise my ministry of being a pray-er and a sing-er and a do-er and a teach-’em! Yes! Yes! I will gladly give a tenth of my income, give abundantly of the rest of my income.
But I balked at being baptized again. I had a godfather and a godmother, I’d been going to church for years and participating as a full member until I stepped through the doors of this particular church, I’d even confirmed the vows made by my godparents when I was a wee atheist of 12 years old. I knew in my heart I was a Christian, I didn’t understand what all the fuss about taking another bath was about.
And that brought my inclusion into that church to a screeching halt. Everyone else in my Beginning Christian class was baptized within two weeks and moved on to claim their ministries in that church. I kept attending faithfully on Wednesday nights, and kept going to the Monday night Prayer Team meeting even though I wasn’t allowed, as an ‘unbaptized’ member, to lead in prayer. When we were blessing the new building, I was assigned to bless the bathrooms.
Well, hell, you folks know me better’n the pastor. I thought that was the best thing ever and I blessed the holy shit out of it.
(Last Vestry meeting, my priest said that you can say ‘shit’ in church just so long as you put ‘holy’ in front of it.)
I knew I was in trouble when I was called to the bishop’s office. The bishop sat me down and said, “Child, why won’t you be baptized?”
“I was baptized,” I said. “As a baby.”
He made a tch noise. “That wasn’t baptism.” And the Bible came out and I got preached at for twenty minutes. At the end, the bishop said, “When can we get you baptized into God’s family?”
“I’m sorry, bishop,” I said. “I’ve prayed over this a lot, but I think I’m already covered.”
He told me to go pray some more. And I did. And about six weeks after that, after my infamous slip of the tongue in Prayer Team meeting, I was tossed out of that church for being an unrepentant sinner.
So this leads me to the most basic belief about baptisim that I hold: Baptism is a one-time deal.
I’ll tell you when I figure it out meself.