Friday, April 27, 2012

The Front Lines: Baptism- should it be a choice?

Lately, it's been a big thing in Catholic circles to let a child choose Baptism.  This is Protestantism creeping in.

For Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, a person must choose to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and pray the Sinner's prayer.  And this can be done at the Age of Reason, ie when a child can reasonable accept Jesus into their heart.

Problem.

1) I've always known Jesus and accepted him.  Let me explain it this way.  Once my parents did the horizontal mambo that created me, that was it.  God took over.  My parents couldn't make their sperm and egg meet.  They had no control over what cells became my eyes and my feet.  Heck.  I didn't either.  I still don't.  Let me try.  Nope.  Couldn't make new skin cells all by thinking about it. God, the Creator, does/did all that.  So to say that I've not known about this since my conception is a bit harsh.

2) Yes, but you weren't aware.- I wasn't aware of who my biological parents were either, but they were still my parents and I have always since the moment of conception been aware of them.  Over time, I did learn that they held the title of parent.  And I also learned over time the many roles that title has: nurturer, provider, comforter, role model, protector, guide, mentor, etc.

This is true of my spiritual father and God in Heaven.  I have always known of God and accepted him.  Over time I grew in my understanding of my Creator and what other roles he holds in my life.

3) But sin.  Sin.-  Catholics also have an Age of Reason.  But it has nothing to do with conquering Original Sin which we are all born with.  I'll repeat that last part if you didn't get it.  We are all born with sin regardless of whether we are aware of it.  The conquering of Original Sin is at Baptism, which is the beginning of our spiritual journey, not the end.  The Age of Reason for a Catholic is around the age of 7 when children become aware of right/wrong or sin.  Once that happens, sin by choice becomes a factor and new sacrament to absolve that comes into play:  Confession/Reconciliation. 

4) Yes, but you must accept him in adult understanding-  When?  Do I need an exact moment?  I don't think so.  I think it's an "at every moment" thing.  For Catholics, faith begins at Baptism, but it doesn't end there.  It doesn't end until our death when we completely know Christ.  It's an on going understanding.  And Protestants understand this because they have adult education classes too.  They normally call it Bible Study or Sunday School. 

5) But Salvation- There's no such thing as Eternal Salvation for a Catholic.  You can't pray the Sinner's Prayer and be done with it.  And Protestant's don't really believe that either.  You know that people lapse and that a person who truly is saved lives out that salvation.  Catholics believe that too.  We just have more hoops to jump through because our salvation is always in jeopardy.  We can always fall prey to sin and the Devil.  And this especially becomes true the more we mature in our faith and understanding.

And that's why, dear Catholics, you cannot think like a Protestant.  You must understand that your child already accepts Jesus by their very existence and that faith is an ongoing process from birth until death.

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