Tomorrow morning I’m getting baptized. Actually, I’m getting rebaptized. I don’t have to, I want to; it’s important to me. But many people have no idea why I would do such a thing so I thought I’d explain.
I was baptized in my early teens. One night I dreamed that my grandma had died and woke up that morning to a phone call informing me that she had actually died. It shook me up and I figured it was God talking to me so my response was to get baptized. It wasn’t until some point in my early 20’s when I realized that I really had no idea what I was doing when I was baptized. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a Christian. I didn’t understand what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand what it meant to take on the yoke of Christ. I do now (if it is possible to ever really know…).
What baptism means to me:
There are as many different thoughts on baptism as there are denominations; even the different Mennonite streams can’t agree. Full immersion or sprinkling? Believers baptism or infant baptism? Baptism in the trinity or just in the name of Jesus?
It’s a ceremony. A rite. A ritual. For me, baptism is a public declaration of my faith; a visible testimony to an inner faith. I don’t believe it to be necessary for salvation* or entrance into a/the church. It is a confession of my faith. It has nothing to do with original sin. It is not cleansing. It does signify transformation. This transformation doesn’t take place within the act of baptism, but signifies that a transformation has taken place.
Throughout the book of Acts there are numerous references to “they believed and were baptized.” These acts go hand in hand. Water baptism follows spiritual baptism. It’s the spiritual baptism that really matters, and water baptism is a (the?) public act that follows. This is what I am doing tomorrow. The words of Peter Riedemann, an early Anabaptist from the 16th century, resonate with me. He believed in a three-fold baptism, that people “first heard the Word; then [they] believed it; and then [their] faith was sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I now feel as though I have gone through that three-fold baptism and am ready to publicly declare it through the ritual of baptism.
It seems fitting that I am getting rebaptized in a Mennonite church; a Christian denomination of the Anabaptist tradition. The term “anabaptist” comes from the Greek term meaning “one who baptizes over again.” They emerged out of the reformation and rebelled against the doctrine of original sin and infant baptism (among many other things). But this is where their name comes from and what they are known for. They believed infant baptism is a robbery of the right baptism of Christ.
So it’s kind of fun that I’m getting rebaptized in the church that pioneered rebaptism. I might not totally agree with their original intent (particularly since I don’t believe water baptism to be necessary for salvation), but I find it adds to the story and could make for a good story should I become a Mennonite pastor one day.
Tomorrow will be a public acknowledgement that I have been baptized in spirit. That I have heard the Word, believed, and received the Holy Spirit. I’m not worried about the theology of it all, but it remains important to me. It is an important step in my faith journey and one that I have been looking forward to for a while now.
It feels right. As I shared in my last post, I feel like I am in a community in which I can continue to grow and cultivate my faith. Where I will be challenged and encouraged. Where I can be honest and open. Here is the place where I want to make this outward testimony of my inner faith.
“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” -Acts 22:16 (NIV)
*The link between salvation and baptism is a struggle of mine. Also, the concept of salvation deserves its own realm of discussion.