First, I promise Father Paul that I will not continue to “steal” his format of questions and answers which he uses for his most excellent articles here in The Citizen.
Second, I must say that this topic is a bit controversial within the various denominations of the whole Christian Church. I know there are two ways of looking at it. I know both “sides” offer Scriptures as “proof” for their particular understandings and practices. I offer this not as an escalation of a “bitter fight,” but to give my answer to this question. And my prayer is that it might help us understand each other as all being brothers and sisters in The Body of Christ.
Q: Pastor Kollmeyer, is there water involved in the confirmation services that you do at Prince of Peace? (Note: confirmation is the rite of affirmation of baptism that happens typically for eighth grade young people who were baptized as infants.) The reason I ask is I am currently attending (a particular) church and to become a member you have to have had some sort of baptism after your profession of faith. Since I did that through confirmation they said sometimes there is water involved in confirmation services so it counts as a baptism. I have no desire at this time to be re-baptized. If you could clarify this issue it would be great for me. — Thanks, “Susie”
A: “Susie,” you have a good question.
Your “confirmation” had everything to do with baptism. What you did the day you were “confirmed” was to make your “profession of faith” and then to “confirm” (“affirm”/“declare to be valid for yourself”) that you are a “water baptized” believer in Jesus Christ. It just so happens that in order to give you the blessings of Christ even as an infant, you received “the water” of baptism at a previous time when you were a child/infant.
I attached our baptismal service and our confirmation service in an email to Susie. A couple of portions are printed below. Our confirmation service is even called “Affirmation of Baptism.”
For centuries “believer’s baptism” churches have questioned the true validity of “infant baptism.” Many traditionally “believers’ baptism” churches are now accepting the “infant baptism” of those wanting to join their churches. But it sounds like (this church) is wanting to deny.
Have the pastor call me. I’d be glad to clarify the validity of your Baptism. I’m serious.
This is my “Baptismal Theology” — Ephesians 4:4-6 makes it clear that we “only need” one baptism. However, God never “condemns” “more” baptisms. Scripture never says God will “punish” anyone who goes under for baptism more than once. Your one baptism is sufficient. It is baptism for salvation. So, if you were to decide to follow the “requirements” of a church that insisted on a “believer’s baptism,” I do not believe that God would “hold that against you.” And, by the way, we Lutherans are not against “emersion” baptism (dunking full body under), we “just do not insist on it.” Thus, we “sprinkle, pour” etc. I have, however, done one “full emersion” baptism in a lake. It was great!
I hope this helps. Again, what you bring up and what (this particular church) seems to be insisting is a very old point of disagreement. Maybe someday we’ll just be able to agree to disagree and declare that some things are done differently even within the One Body of Christ.
For our Citizen readers, here are a couple of portions of our baptismal service and our confirmation service.
From our baptism service: “In Holy Baptism our gracious heavenly Father liberates us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born children of a fallen humanity; in the waters of Baptism we are reborn children of God and inheritors of eternal life. By water and the Holy Spirit we are made members of The Church, which is The Body of Christ. As we live with him and his people, we grow in faith, love, and obedience to the will of God.”
And to the parents and sponsors/God-parents, “In Christian love you have presented this child to receive the sacrament of Holy Baptism. You should therefore faithfully bring him to the Services of God’s House, and teach him the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and The Ten Commandments. As he grows in years, you should place in his hands the Holy Scriptures and provide for his instruction in the Christian faith, that, living in the covenant of his Baptism and in communion with the Church, he may lead a godly life until the day of Jesus Christ. Do you promise to fulfill these obligations?”
And from the confirmation service: “Confirmation marks the completion of the congregation’s program of confirmation ministry, a period of instruction (intensive classes for grades six-eight) in the Christian faith… These who have completed this program were made members of The Church in Baptism. Confirmation now includes a public profession of faith into which the candidates were baptized, thus underscoring God’s action in their Baptism.”
Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Ga., www.princeofpeacefayette.com