Last night I was discussing the subject of baptism with a Presbyterian friend. I was just listening carefully and not arguing against his paedobaptist ideas, when another friend came over and started to present believers' baptism with Scriptural counter arguments. An informal debate was quickly under way. After a few minutes I wanted to lighten the mood, so I stopped them both and said, "Here's the perfect solution: infant baptism by immersion!" After a slight pause, everyone erupted with laughter. It's the perfect way to end every baptism debate, and until this morning I thought it was a position no one held.
Just before this discussion took place, I had received and published a comment regarding the last post (the one about the Coptic Orthodox mega church that meets in a cave). The commenter asked why I take issue with Coptic Orthodox theology and tradition. This morning, while searching for a documentary I had seen and wanted to refer to, I found the short video below. It is a good short explanation of the Coptic Orthodox Church - and it includes footage of some infant baptisms . . . BY IMMERSION! This is not a joke, and it's actually thrilling to see, even though I'm not real kosher with baptizing babies. [NOTE: no babies were harmed in the making of this documentary]
In truth, infant baptism is perhaps the least of the issues dividing Biblical Protestantism from the Eastern Orthodox Church (in fact, our Reformed paedobaptist friends would not even disagree with it in principle). And while I don't know how to square my Biblical convictions with the theology of the Cave Church, I believe there are true believers there. Perhaps thousands of them. God knows. Christ saves sinners who trust in Him, even in an environment of unbiblical tradition, and even under egregiously poor theology (this is not meant as a harsh judgment on Eastern Orthodox theology, but as exaltation of the saving grace of our God - who is their God, too). While we can (and should) disagree with some teachings or practices, we can't stop Him from saving. And why would we want to? So, let us be ruggedly Biblical as we relentlessly strive to conform our minds to the Truth of God's Word. By all means, we must tenaciously fight off major and minor heresy at every turn. But at the same time, let's be generous and gracious toward those who disagree with us. It would be tragic to condemn those God has justified. After all, our Lord teaches us that we will be judged by our own standard of measure.
It's hard to evaluate who is and isn't a true believer, and it's difficult to know how much error can be present in a saved individual. More soberingly, it's impossible even to discern how much error we still have in ourselves! I haven't figured it all out (and you haven't, either). So we must avoid the trap of setting ourselves up as judges, and we must not close the fence in so tightly that we fail to see God's real work among real Christians in other branches of the visible Church. I welcome any comments on this, agreeing or disagreeing.
If you were a true believer living in Cairo, Egypt, how many churches would you have to choose from? You might well be attending Sunday services at the Cave Church with your arms raised and lovely tears streaming down your face . . . mixed with swirling clouds of incense before mosaic tile portraits of venerated old saints.
The infant immersion baptisms are at 4:50-5:20 on the video. You gotta see it to believe it.
Documentary on the Coptic Orthodox Church
Nice music, too. Perfect for the Christmas season!