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Saturday, August 22, 2015

So, What Does God Do?

On Thursday, I began an exploration of baptism with a brief look at what the Church of the Nazarene article of faith, regarding baptism, has to say.  You can catch up on that post here.  My biggest concern about the article was that it didn't say much about the part God plays in baptism, and I think we're going to find it's rather essential, seeing as we view baptism as a sacrament.  As has been the case with so many of these Sacramental Saturday posts, today I turned to the Catholic Catechism to learn and share some additional perspective.  Here's what I found.

First, the Catholic Church is really serious about baptism.  I think this should probably be obvious, but this particular paragraph stood out to me as relatively astounding,

"Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift... We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift.  It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism, because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship" (Kindle Location 1216). 

I know I need to tread lightly, but when I read this, I thought to myself, "I sure wish our article of faith said that."  Still, I found myself asking, what is it, exactly, that God does through baptism?  And maybe more specifically, what grace is this that is imparted?  It will probably come as no surprise that I really liked what the catechism had to say about this grace.  It is,

"sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;

- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;

- allowing them to grow in goodness through moral virtues" (Kindle Location 12876).

Now, stay with me here.  The Catholic Church is very adamant about the need for further learning and growth in faith, especially in connection with infant baptism, but taking the above statement on its own merit, I think the Protestant Church would look at this and conclude that baptism is everything.  And yet I don't necessarily see us treating baptism with this kind of reverence.  It's something to think about.

There's so much more yet to explore here.  Soon.


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