Baptism or Christening?

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Ernest
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Ernest » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:56 am

Baptism is a service of Christian Initiation. It brings the newly baptized into the Family of the Church, bestows Grace and Blessing on the baptized and is the first stage of a commitment of the baptized in promises (often made for them by parents and god parents) to a life of faith in Jesus Christ.
http://www.churchofengland.org/weddings ... ptism.aspx


Baptism with the Eucharist is one of the two Sacraments accepted by the Anglican Church, although, I like many believe that there are five more Confirmation, Matrimony, Confession (or Reconciliation), Holy Orders and Extreme Unction (Anointing the Sick).
http://www.americancatholic.org/feature ... aspx?id=29


There is also a practice accepted by the CofE of "Thanksgiving for the Birth of a Child", which allows parents who might not wish to baptize a child to celebrate the new life at the time of birth. This isn't baptism, but a way of perhaps marking a rite of passage of a child and welcoming them into their family.

The baptism of Prince George highlighted that baptism or christening, the two terms used for the Sacrament can be confusing for some, albeit they are the same thing. My personal preference is for baptism, but I'm not sure that what it's called matters that much, as long as the intentions of the parents presenting a child for baptism or an adult seeking baptism are those of the promised made at baptism.

My question is really about the semantics of names and actions. Do we really need to be baptized to be fully a christian living a life of faith in Jesus Christ?

What do you think?
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Pam
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Pam » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:17 am

What do YOU think? :biggrin:

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Joyce
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Joyce » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:56 am

Coronation is the other sacrament. We tend to forget to mention it because it's been a long time since the last one and could still be a decade and a half or more before the next,God willing.It's extremely serious and the breaking of the oath has led to unpleasant consequences in the country for kIngs and the people. Our present Queen takes her vows and her anointing very seriously.
I find 'christening' rather than 'baptism' is a more general term used by those of all faiths and none. In addition to being a synonym for baptism,it can refer to peripheral things associated with the procedure, such as the party, the presents, the outfits, the cake, the name. And then there's the metaphorical and humorous usage where the word 'baptised' would seem slightly disrespectful, such as 'Well I've christened my new skirt' when somebody has spilt something on it, or ' We've got a new plant in our office and we've christened it Walter' or 'His name is Jeremy Hurgle Gurgle Smith. His parents didn't choose his middle name : when he was christened the vicar fell in the font'.
It's also a useful term for a service of Thanksgiving After Birth or Adoption, or a baby dedication service in other denominations, when there's no baptism,as Ernest points out.
'Baptism',I've noticed, tends to be used specifically and refers to the actual ceremony of initiation with water into the Christian Church, whether it's of a baby or an adult.
There's no hard and fast rule. It's something I've been making a mental note of for a long time,when listening to what people say.

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Ernest
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Ernest » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:09 pm

Pam wrote:What do YOU think? :biggrin:
I deliberately forgot to put what I think. :confused:

I acknowledge Christian Baptism as the custom and practice of the Church itself from the early days. Christ himself allowed himself to be baptized, so it would seem to me that it's the appropriate way of bringing people into the Christian fold.

But I have buried underneath all of this those things that I was taught in early life of the Catholic view (which I don't agree with) of Limbo as a place where unbaptized babies go. :confused: Than more recently the catholic Church revised something that we were taught as doctrine:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/storie ... 506867.htm

But I find it difficult to accept that if God is love, why would he consign billions of unbaptized people to Limbo or never sharing with Jesus in the promised new Kingdom of God.

The catholic church doing the theology at the link now seems to be saying that 'everyone' can be saved through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, whether they are baptized or not? The final paragraph though seems to be hedging their bets:

"The existence of original grace "does not justify resignation," or thinking that everyone will be saved automatically, he said, "but it does justify hope beyond hope" that those who die without having had the opportunity to be baptized will be saved"


Iif I were to stretch this further I'd say that many other faiths might be seeing God, if not through Jesus Christ, but through other images of God as received by them. So, it's quite difficult for me to say that you 'have' to be baptized to be saved, but I might say that it's one route for Christians to receive the Holy Spirit and God's mercy, but not the only one (is that heretical?) :praying:
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Joe Parrish
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Joe Parrish » Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:03 am

Baptism fully initiates a person into Christ's Body the Church, to paraphrase our BCP, and it does so by water and the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is not confined to Baptism or the Eucharist. We use the term 'sacramental rites' for actions other than Baptism and the Eucharist, namely confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction, which are done 'under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.'

For us to decide whether God allows the non-baptised to come into God's kingdom is a bit of a stretch that we are not supposed to make--the 'judge not that we may not be judged' sort of thing. But we Christians do seek to fully initiate others into Christ's Body the Church, and thus we baptise.
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Ros
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Ros » Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:18 pm

Joyce wrote: (Re: Christening): "It's also a useful term for a service of Thanksgiving After Birth or Adoption, or a baby dedication service in other denominations, when there's no baptism,as Ernest points out."
In my experience, most Baptists would be horrified at the use of the word "Christening" for a baby dedication service because of its association with infant baptism. They would want to underline that that they are doing something quite different.

Similarly, they aren't very happy about infant baptism ceremonies being referred to as baptism. As far as they are concerned, faith must be present in the person being baptised for it to be true baptism. So they will only baptise those who believe.

There is, of course, something to be said for the Baptist view because it immediately does away with the theological problem of unbaptised babies. Since faith is all that is necessary for salvation and baptism does not happen without it, it follows that baptism cannot be necessary for salvation!

Personally, over the years, I have come to a much more relaxed view of baptism than the one (above) that I grew up with. I still don't believe baptism is necessary for salvation. I still don't believe the water does anything. I still believe baptism is (or should be) a celebration of Christian faith. But I now extend said faith to include that of church and family, not simply the one being baptised.

Clearly, my experiences with other denominations had some influence in my understanding. However, it was thinking through a theology for the profoundly disabled that finally led me to where I am now.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the church has come to view these things in a far more individualistic way than perhaps the first Christians did. The whole fact that the Roman Catholic Church could worry about where this baby or that baby was going to end up demonstrates that. As does the strong Baptist focus on the faith of the person being baptised. At the time of Jesus, it was much more usual to talk about the faith of families, groups, communities, even nations. There seemed to be much more of an understanding that we are all in this together. So we would expect their celebrations to reflect this?

Where I have come to now, I believe baptism to be about:

(i) The grace of God
(ii) The faith of the church in the grace of God
(iii) The celebration of the person or family's place within that

It's about setting out on a journey and it's about those who will accompany us on that journey. It's about belonging.

And that's why I would see baptism as pretty meaningless for those who not only have no understanding of the grace of God themselves, but who have no tangible links with a family or community who do.

Does this mean it is pointless in that situation?

Far be it from me to draw lines round what God can or cannot do when such a thing happens! As I have said, I tend to take a relaxed view of these things. But I do not think such a celebration would be the celebration that I believe Baptism was originally intended to be.

Not sure if this is the answer you were expecting, Ernest, but it's what I think!

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Beth
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Beth » Thu Nov 07, 2013 1:50 pm

I grew up a baptist and was dedicated as an infant. A ceremony made me feel as if I belonged and I was extremely proud I'd been "let in" as a child! Nagging insecurities remained, however, and they were serious (to me). I don't know if another ceremony would've had a magical assuaging affect. The context dedication happens within wasn't well explained and when we were teenagers my sister spent a couple of hours rifling through boxes for "her adoption certificate".

What I like about Christening is the involvement of other family members. I've been baptized as an adult. The church who dunked me made me attend for a year and have preliminary classes beforehand. At the time I was impatient to get on with it. In hindsight I received more benefit afterwards for waiting and being sure I'd purged unforgiveness etc, which is something they asked me to do. I ended up with a massive list of grudges which was more than a little humbling. However, I prayed over the names and at least symbolically felt as if I was starting a new life.

I'd still like to be Christened and or confirmed. The older I've got the more I've come to appreciate ritual, firstly because my life lacks structure and meaning, and secondly because not being a member of a community has been a deprivation and I'd like to turn it into a blessing.

Theologically, I'm pretty convinced infants can have hope, faith and love, the three cardinal virtues. They may not conceive of the object of their worship correctly, though I'm sure that's true of many of us. I enjoyed my time in the baptist church, but a relentless head-faith, and one that will never let a believer go, seems too programmatic to me, especially when the final step is unassailable.

In answer to Ernest's question, I think baptism is an external sign and the changes in the heart are what God sees. That's not to diminish the importance of having a ceremony which is an outward sign of wanting to be conformed to God's likeness. Both my elder brother and sister have been baptized and neither is now very interested in faith as an active construct. My sister did get married in a baptist church.

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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Richard11 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:20 am

Personally I have come to believe that baptism / christening (and indeed all the other sacraments) are all symbols of what we believe. As opposed to having any special "magical" effect. I was once told that a sacrament was a visible sign of an invisible blessing. Now you could take that to mean that by engaging in the sacrament you are in some way blessed by God. But I'm more inclined now to feel that it is the person's participation in the activity that provides the blessing because it: reminds them, helps them to reflect, is a witness to others, makes them think (pick your choice). Hence an infant christening may not affect the baby (except to wake them up) but the symbolism for the family and the whole church can (if entered into fully) be very powerful - even life changing.

Of course I could be wrong, but I feel it is the attitude and way in which I prepare for and take communion that is important not the fact that I have taken it. In the same way, I feel, whether or not a person is baptised is probably less important to God than it is to the person themselves.

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Joyce
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Joyce » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Richard, that is spot-on !
It sums up very well the Anglican doctrine as I've always been taught it.
Infant baptism is about the adults who take the vows, not the water poured on the baby. Having said them aloud before God and other human beings in this ceremonial fashion, we are likely to think about them and take them seriously. At least that's the idea.
The same goes for all sacraments. How the anointed monarch supports the country and watches the government on behalf of the people, for instance,is what matters, however elaborate or simple the Coronation.The Bible tells us that ceremony not backed up by the right action is worse than pointless, it is an abomination. God hates it.
The value of any ceremony is that it demonstrates vows publicly. It's an outward, visible sign,and the spiritual, invisible motivation and its consequences are what count.
So far as we know with our current scientific knowledge, nothing happens to the physical properties of water, oil, wine, bread, buildings, crowns,wedding rings, vestments, and so on when certain words are said over them, but the fact that a blessing has been said can affect our attitude and behaviour.
Having said that, we know that miracles, such as healing of the body, do happen,so who knows ?

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Ernest
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Baptism or Christening?

Post by Ernest » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:14 pm

I believe that a Sacrament (any one) is an Outward Sign of Inward Grace. which differs little from how Richard has ascribed to the Sacraments as a whole!

In terms of Holy Communion I was brought up as a Catholic to believe in transsubstantiation - that the consecration of the elements turns them into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. But, that was one of the doctrines that I had great trouble with. As an Anglican I actually have the freedom to believe what I want about it, from Nothing at All to a Commemoration or Remembrance to the full blown body and blood of Christ.

I tend towards the view that the act of consecration is representative of the sacrifice on the Cross and that the Holy Spirit pours God's grace into the act of Consecration and consumption of the elements to sanctify what is being done in Jesus' name.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
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