It’s Epiphany season, when thoughts turn to the cluster of events very early in the ministry of our Lord Jesus: His visit from the Magi, His baptism, His first miracle. I have been meditating on the baptism of Jesus, what it means and why it matters. And it brought something to mind: we North American evangelical Christians have far too low a view of baptism.
We are suspicious of ritual. We (especially we Reformed folk) are skeered of being Roman Catholic. Big bugaboo there. Flashy conversion testimonies are everything, not low-key stories of being baptized at a young age and being trained by uncomplicated parents to love Jesus from the cradle. Have to stay away from a baptism that actually does anything, confers anything, or accomplishes anything redemptive. In our baptistic (apologies, Rob) Southern, buckle-of-the-Bible-belt culture, for something to “baptized” means that it has only a veneer of skindeep spirituality to it.
But try this on for size:
Baptism now saves you.
Let it sink in for a moment: baptism now saves you. That’s not me talking. I’m not trying to be controversial. I’m just quoting the Bible.
To quote it in full,
Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21) NAS
How many of us have a category in our theology for this statement? I just want to humbly suggest that if we don’t, then there’s something defective about our theology, and that trickles (!) down to our lives. If our baptism doesn’t flood our thoughts and loom large in our everyday lives and in our daily salvation experience, then we are (all wet?) not biblical enough.
Good thing it’s baptism that saves us and not our theology of baptism.