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There’s a method to our modeness….

July 23, 2008

When I was in Bible College, I took a class on pastoral leadership. It covered everything from counseling to weddings to funerals. One of the topics we covered was baptism – not the doctrine, but the “how to.” In fact, one day we took a trip to the school pool for baptism practice. Being a proper Southern Baptist school, we would be practising immersion. Unfortunately, it was mid Februrary – in Kentucky – so it was much too cold to practice in the pool. Fortunately, though, there was a hot tub. So we all got in our swim trunks and commenced to baptizing. In a class of about 20 guys, it would seem that the best plan of action would be to pair up, with each team practising on each other when their turn came up. Nope. My professor had the bright idea that if everyone was able to immerse the biggest guy in the class, then they should be able to immerse everyone. That big guy was me. So for the next hour I was immersed into a hot tub about 50-60 times. Why so many? Well, when a 5’5″ 125 lb. guy has to immerse a 6’4″ 270 lb. guy, sometimes it takes a few (see 10 – 12) times. Which got me thinking….

If immersion is the proper mode of baptism, does being a weakling disqualify you from the ministry? Should ordination require some sort of fitness program? Maybe every church should require at least one staff member of significant strength… just in case. And what about the baptizee? What if Shaquille O’Neal became a baptist? I guess you could rig some sort of pulley system. And what if your in an area that doesn’t have an indoor baptismal? What about all the years leading up to the invention of the indoor baptismal? Is this why there are more Southern Baptists than Northern Baptists. Let’s face it… if I got saved 80 years ago in rural Minnesota, mid- January, I’m seriously considering Lutheran over Baptist. Of course, this leads us to more serious considerations: what about the disabled, the sickly, the elderly, the babies (oh, wait, nevermind)…

For the record, hot tubs are not meant for immersion… they’re not pools. They’re also not meant for strenuous activity… this is why there are not olympic sized hot tubs. So, needless to say, I was almost baptized to death that day. I was completely dehydrated, had a migraine, and my eyes were a pretty shade of red. But I did feel much better after a nice cool shower… hmmmm….

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2008 9:39 pm

    Hopefully this post is a joke, and you’re not arguing mode based on the fact that a) some people are too huge, and b) sometimes it’s too cold. Come on, B.

  2. July 24, 2008 9:17 pm

    Kevin,

    Well, the main point of the post was that I thought this was a funny story… it wasn’t funny then, though… I was seriously dehydrated. But it does highlight some of the more obvious (and humorous) problems that immersionists have in their mode of choice.

  3. John Super permalink
    July 29, 2008 4:38 am

    Brian,

    I remember that day! You were ragged out!! I’m sorry but it’s pretty funny now.

    I laughed at your rural Minnesota part…

    JS

  4. July 30, 2008 6:31 pm

    The Coptic Orthodox right down the road from St. Mark immerse their infants. They prefer Rubbermaid feed tanks over hot tubs, or at least they did a few years back…

  5. August 1, 2008 7:07 am

    “What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?” (1 Cor. 15:29, NASB).

    I’m sure it’ll work retroactively. You should start a list of all the people you want those baptisms to apply to…

  6. August 1, 2008 1:53 pm

    Chris,

    Now here’s a proper baptism:

  7. August 2, 2008 8:44 am

    Billie,

    If I’m not mistaken, don’t most, or all, of the Orthodox churches immerse their babies? I read the meter to that Coptic Orthodox church, and I’ve always wondered what they’re all about. They always give me funny looks when I’m there. Immersing your infant just seems so odd to me… I know they would say that scripture overrides logic…. but c’mon!

  8. August 2, 2008 10:11 pm

    I think all Orthodox do baptize infants. That’s just the only one I’ve ever been in.

    Coptic is the language of the Egyptians at the time the first missionaries (James, I believe?) came there. (They could tell you which apostle, and name all their bishops in succession since that time, and their chain of command, so to speak down to the priest over each congregation!) At that time, they wrote in hieroglyphics, but the missionaries took their language and gave it the Greek alphabet. Their services are all in 3 languages–English, Coptic written w/Greek alphabet, and Arabic (modern language of Egypt).

    They gave me funny looks, too, but that’s b/c they typically don’t have anyone other than Egyptians there. They also probably don’t often encounter American girls who speak Arabic. They probably thought I was a spy or something. I went for a Christian Religious Traditions class where I had to experience either a Catholic Mass or an Orthodox service. Given my language background, I thought this would be a neat experience on two levels. I went on Ascension Sunday, so was in for an extra couple hours, I mean, special treat!

    One thing I did learn that is interesting about them is that they have a “Coptic Creed” rather than saying the “Nicene Creed” because they believe that Jesus was “made” rather than “begotten”–one of the arguments over orthodoxy in the early church that caused the phrase “begotten, not made” to be a part of the Nicene creed.

    As for the mode issue, I’ll leave that discussion for David. 🙂

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