Blogging through Advent 10
No. Not baptising gorillas, though the idea appeals to my odd sense of humour, but taking baptism away from church control.
Two things from the service at Holy Trinity Huddersfield last Sunday:
- The reading from the Gospel was Luke’s account of John the Baptist.
- There was a testimony that mentioned baptism.
Starting with the second.
The person testifying, or whatever they are officially called… (Actually I don’t think they are officially called anything as giving testimonies in an Anglican setting is hardly commonplace. Anyway, I digress.) The person testifying said she had been to a service some years ago, a baptism service in a Baptist church, where after the dunkings (another unofficial term) an appeal was made to anyone who wished to be baptised to put their hand up. She did.
So, after changing into someone else’s wet clothes, she was also baptised.
Which brings me to John the Baptist.
John was not part of the establishment. He did not baptise in the Temple, or in the synagogue, but in the wilderness. He did not make people wait until they had done a 10 week baptism course, but baptised those who came and repented. As for the official religious leaders, he actively dissuaded them.
What both have in common is that there was no long preparation classes, people were baptised there and then. The story of Philip and the Ethiopean in Acts 8:26-40 shows the on the spot baptism continuing after the time of Jesus:
36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
The church has baptism nicely under control, it is the act of joining the church. What would happen if some people took it away from the churches’ control and started baptising any one who would come. In a river, on the coast, in a lake, a mobile pool in the town centre. Anyone who repents can be baptised.
This is what I mean by guerrilla baptism.
These thoughts are purely my own and do not reflect those of the leadership, or anyone else, at Holy Trinity Huddersfield.