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This past month, we had the joy of having Caitlin baptized, welcoming her into the covenant community of the Christian church. Baby Molly, the daughter of our friends Chris and Paige was baptized at the same time. A fellow missionary videotaped the event and I include it below. The video is all in Thai and I am afraid that I haven't had time to add English subtitles.
Pastor Natee, who did the baptism, had some really helpful comments about the nature of baptism that got me thinking. First, people are baptized not because of what they have done but in recognition of what God has done. Therefore, in the case of people who come to Christ and are baptized as adults, they are baptized in recognition of God's work in their life, regenerating their heart and granting them faith and repentance. They are baptized because it is evident that God has chosen to bring them into the fold of the Christian church. Baptism welcomes them into the visible church because God has already brought them into the invisible church.
This past Sunday, we had Joshua baptized. It was wonderful to see Joshua formally recognized as a part of the covenant community of God's people at Grace Presbyterian Church. I know that Joshua will remember none of it, but he was as content as could be as I held him in my arms and Pastor Ron asked us the appropriate questions and sprinkled his little forehead. God has given his covenant promises to his people, both adults and children (Acts 2:39), and as Joshua grows up, he will be reminded that the waters of baptism signify God's promise to wash away the sins of all who trust in God, confessing Christ to be their Lord and Savior.
The objection was not uncommon. I recently received an email from an American college professor requesting advice for a Thai student of his who had recently become a Christian. The student’s Buddhist mother back in Thailand was greatly upset about her son’s decision. But she would be okay with his new faith under one condition. He didn’t get baptized. The first time I ever heard this objection to baptism, it seemed a bit odd. Why would a Thai Buddhist, who is largely unfamiliar with the Christian faith, object to baptism in particular? Why would they single out baptism as the one thing that “my son” or “my daughter” can not do? Why does not church attendance, Bible study or prayer solicit the same fierce opposition?