Why I (Respectfully) Disagree with Infant Baptism

Why I (Respectfully) Disagree with Infant Baptism

Since I attend a Reformed Presbyterian founded college, it should come as a surprise to no one that I am surrounded by many RPs and Calvinists, even though I myself and others like me are not. Such an experience has been an enlightenment to me in some ways; I have been challenged and pushed, in a mostly positive theological way. However, I do have a big beef that I cannot dismiss, but it is a beef I will try to respectfully address. Some of you may disagree with me, but that’s perfectly alright. All that I ask is that you simply hear me out on this.

The beef is infant baptism.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand why people practice it. It’s not that the motives or intentions are wrong. And I’m all for child DEDICATION, which, while being SOMEWHAT similar to infant baptism, is really just asking God to bless the child, and asking the parents to dedicate themselves to raising the baby in a godly manner– which, if you really think about it, is all they CAN do, when it boils down to it. The baby, when he/she grows up, have to decide for themselves if they want to follow Jesus or not. And baptism in and of ITSELF is a GREAT thing, an open profession of faith. But infant baptism, I earnestly feel, just isn’t quite right– and I’m going to explain why that is.

My first point I’m going to make is, part of the reason some Christians probably practice it, is because they want to protect their children’s souls. This is entirely understandable, and relatable. I can easily imagine what it would be like to have the cure for a fatal disease in hand, that could cure your child of such a dreaded illness– only to have the child refuse to take it, much to your chagrin. It would be much easier, some parents must figure, to ensure their child’s safe salvation at the very beginning, when they cannot refuse.

But there’s a problem with that.

Actually, make that two problems.

The first is that being baptized does NOT automatically make you saved. It is a public PROFESSION of faith in Christ, that comes after you are ALREADY born again. I know plenty of believers who are unbaptized, but still saved. Mind, many DO decide to get baptized, but NO ONE can decide for you. Which brings me to the second problem:

Baptism is a PERSONAL choice, between you, the priest/pastor, and God ONLY. The fact that you are showing the world does NOT CHANGE THAT FACT. Having your baptism decided for you WITHOUT your consent is not right. It is a choice someone else CANNOT make for you. In infant baptism, who makes the real decision, the real public profession of faith? The parents and the priest/pastor. But why, then, isn’t it THEIR baptism? It just doesn’t make sense. They “baptize” the infant, believing that alone will help to secure salvation– but it won’t. That is almost as bad as– dare I use this provocative example– a young woman aborting a baby because she was led to believe that the baby wouldn’t want to live with “complications,” and it is for the best.

I know this because I came across such an incident a few years back, while helping as a summer Junior Missionary at Child Evangelism Fellowship, running a 5-Day Club. In one club we had, a young girl (probably no more than 4 or 5 at the time, I’d imagine) had been baptized as an infant, her mom being Catholic. (This is NOTHING against Catholics; one of my dearest friends is Catholic and holds more of my views than traditional ones when it comes to this issue, and I have Catholic relatives, as well. Not all Catholics are sold on infant baptism.) She saw it as leeway to actively misbehave at home, with the mindset of, “I’m already saved, since I was baptized as a baby, so I’m excused if I act up,” not only getting away with sinning and acting up, but her mother contributing this to her. The relative who dropped the girl off confided in us that every time the girl would act up, the mother would excuse the behavior openly, saying, “She’s really a good kid.” This absolutely broke my heart. Baptism should not be used an excuse for sin; it only confuses children later, if they have been baptized as infants.

I myself was baptized twice, once as an infant (when my parents used to be Lutheran), and once as a PERSONAL CHOICE, at age 14. Why twice? Actually, it was only once– I never counted the first as an actual baptism.

The second reason many, especially but not limited to RPs and Calvinists, practice infant baptism is a particular passage of Scripture, in Acts 16:31-34. It tells the after-story of what happens after Paul and Silas, who had been imprisoned for their beliefs (a very admirable thing, BTW), experienced a massive earthquake that essentially freed them. The jailer was so distraught, and knew that his superiors would kill him anyways if they found the jail empty, that he drew his sword to kill himself and spare them the trouble– only to be stopped by Paul, who assured him all the prisoners were still there. Then (this is the part that is tricky to interpret, but what RPs, Calvinists and some others use as evidence for so-called “infant baptism,”), when the jailer asks what must he do to be saved, Paul tells him to believe in Christ, THEN be baptized– him, along with his household.

There are a couple screwy things with some Christians assuming that that automatically means INFANT baptism. Number one being, we have NO conclusive evidence that said guard/jailer had a baby in his household. It simply says, “your household.” It does NOT say, “You, your wife, your children and baby/ies.” There is no implication of WHO was in his household, so how are WE to know? Paul likely knew, or God revealed it to him, but we do not. For all we know, the guard/jailer had a wife, and two middle-aged kids– no babies. We will perhaps never know, until Jesus comes and sets things right again.

The second thing I want to look at with said passage is that it says, “…. he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God– he and his whole household.” (Acts 16:34, NIV.) This passage clearly reveals to us that not only the jailer but the HOUSEHOLD believed in Paul’s message of Salvation in Christ. However, this is where I must make a pivotal but astonishing point.

Babies cannot believe. They are fully human, don’t get me wrong there, but they have not matured enough in their knowledge and understanding to have believed for THEMSELVES; this may be yet another reason why parents baptize their babies for them. Children can believe, this I have both seen and hear happen on numerous occasions– but babies cannot. It does NOT mean that they can’t be saved in the near future, and that if they die in infancy they are going to you-know-where. I believe that God makes exceptions for certain circumstances, such as the latter. But babies do not have the mental comprehension to understand the significance of why some things are wrong and others right, and WHY they need a Savior in their lives; not at a point in time when they are simply learning to walk, talk, and recognize people they love. This passage clearly states that the “[jailer’s] whole household” believed, and THEN were baptized, so it may be fairly safe to say that there were likely no babies present in said household– thus ripping apart that part of the opposing party’s argument.

Overall and in conclusion, I tend to be very wary of things like infant baptism, for reasons such as I have listed. I do believe, however, that baptism and the IDEA of baptism is a beautiful thing. It is, in essence, representing openly saying that you are unashamed of the Gospel, unashamed of Christ, believe in Him and gladly follow Him. But it should be your own choice, since God gave you free will to choose– just like He gave you free will to choose between Him and the world. And no one can decide that for you, no matter how hard they may try. Remember that, even if you are born into a Christian family, this does not automatically make you Christian. Just a couple years ago, I’ve heard of a young teenaged woman in my own congregation back home, who came from a well-respected Christian family, recently accepted Christ into her OWN life– and became baptized as a PERSONAL profession of HER faith, no one else’s.

So think about it. But don’t just take my word for it– God made you with a mind, and free will, of your very own.

___________________

Image Credit: https://jimsomerville.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/i-just-cant-accept-infant-baptism/

 

 

Empathy

Empathy

I know You

Have come.

 

What was it like?

 

How was it You

Sacrificed

Your Glory

and Dignity

To be like one

Of Your own?

 

What was it like

To see Your own

Up close, to

See things

Almost as they do?

To laugh, to cry,

To celebrate

And further sympathize?

 

Your own did not

Receive You as

You had come;

In fact, they tried

To kill You

The moment You were born.

 

What sick logic is this?

 

You made us, love us, adore

Us, hold us;

And yet,

We reciprocate only

With threats, taunts

Cruelty, and hate.

We shake our fists

At You

Even as You

Lovingly,

Patiently respond

And offer warm refuge

Within Your caring arms.

 

Is this how it ought to be?

 

Oh, yet You were willing

To demonstrate

The power of love

and have us

Contemplate

The true meaning

Of Your Priceless Gift.

Love.

Understanding.

Joy.

Peace.

 

You shook the earth at the end,

Rattled senseless;

Old, fallen sense

Dying away–

New sense in

Its place.

 

But in the beginning, in now

And forever more,

Your Kingdom Has Finally Come. 

 

______________________

Image Credit: http://jabrikloveschubby.blogspot.com/2013/12/in-potter-hands.html

The Pianist

The Pianist

I know it’s Christmas Eve, but this is something I need to get out, constructively, on the page before it rips me to shreds. This has nothing to do with the season, but everything to do with a personal problem. Thank you for your time, patience, and understanding.

_________________

 

They have

Played me for

A fool.

Understand ME?

HAH.

I think not.

How can they

Truly understand

When they have lied, deceived,

Albeit with good intent

Or not;

How can they understand

When they

Have been equally

And yet unequivocally

Manipulative?

Their soothing, milk-warm

Voice

Does not fulfill

Its purpose;

Its cacophony

Sends barbs right

Through my skin,

Thronging and piercing

My very heart.

 

I bleed.

 

Do they now understand?

Can they truly when

They have lied

And played

Me just as much?

 

I am a fool.

 

_____________

Image Credit: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php?topic=51542.0

Review: Into The Jungle

Review: Into The Jungle

Hi, everyone!

So, tonight I’m going to be reviewing Disney’s newest rendition of “The Jungle Book,” which I just finished watching on Netflix (because I’m too cheap to keep going to a theater. LOL.). As an overall Disney fan, I loved it. The scenery and screenplay was awesome, and the little tidbits they added to make the story more interesting was both fascinating and mostly beneficial.

The filmmakers did an amazing job of choosing the setting, and how they shot the film. The cameras were in all the right places at all the right times; you felt as if, at times, you were actually Mowgli– whether it was tumbling down a wet, mud-slicked ravine to get away from Shere Khan, darting past trees, gazing into Kaa’s ominously mesmerizing eyes, or staring down Shere Khan.

Speaking of Kaa, I’m right glad that she (?) made only one appearance. (I totally called when she was going to make her (?) cue, even before the snakeskin discovery.), although I was genuinely surprised they decided to switch his gender to female. I suppose it was an effort to give Kaa a more seductive, more alluring sort of feel, with her (?) being all mesmerizing and “I’m-gonna-swallow-you-alive-and-whole,” sorta business. Still, the fact that hypnotism overall mortally terrifies me, and that I generally don’t like or trust snakes (the animals or the people) made me relieved that she (?) only made one appearance, rather than 2-3, as the original film portrayed.

The actor who played Mowgli did marvelous. Not only did he look like the original, but he acted like the original. I like how the directors played into Mowgli’s creativity even more at the end; this led to one of the few differences between the endings of the original Disney film and the live-action: Khan actually perishes in the fire, in the latter.

The story was excellent, as well, with a few tweaks. Aside from Khan’s death and Kaa making only one appearance (thank goodness), we have the watering hole truce (a nice story play-off, if I do say so myself), the monkeys kidnapping Mowgli at a slightly different time, King Louie being a Gigantopithecus (instead of an orangutan– most likely to emphasize his kingship, power and influence), Baloo using Mowgli to get down honeycomb rather than bananas, Khan trying to sway wolf pups to his side rather than their mother’s, the cut-out of Mowgli with the vultures when he’s down, the alteration of when Mowgli tries to join the elephants (he instead shows them a deep respect by bowing at different points in the story, and at one point uses an invention– rope– to help rescue a little elephant), and the fact that ultimately, Mowgli decides to stay in the jungle with his friends, since the threat of Khan has been eliminated. There is now no need for the man village, for the young girl to make her flirtatious entrance into Mowgli’s  life. This, above all else, was one of the major storyline differences– and one of the few I’m not entirely sure I actually agree with. After all, if the man village is introduced, then forgotten, it is simply a red herring– a “rabbit trail” to make us go down with hope that it might, just might, be like the original film. There is no real point to having introduced it into the story if they are not going to do anything with it, unless they wanted to reference both Kipling’s book and the original, or wanted to use it as reference to Mowgli’s past. That aside, it serves no real purpose, since Mowgli remains in the jungle at the end, Bagheera content, and the main antagonist thwarted (but…. KAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

On to antagonists other than Kaa, Shere Khan was pure malignity. Note, not motiveless malignity, but malignity. He had motive– he was burned and scarred for life by his arch-nemesis’s dad. He had a goal– eliminate any human in the jungle, regardless of gender or age. He was not even a Machiavellian villain, but at the same time that was something that kind of worked in favor of making you love to hate him more– he not only wanted to kill Mowgli personally, but wanted to propagate the rest of the jungle into believing HIM– starting with the wolf pups Mowgli had grown up with. When he opened his mouth, I somehow expected a different voice from him, however– something more, I don’t know, suave, cool and yet deadly. The actor’s voice almost sounded a bit too upbeat for the job, IMO, but I guess it’s a challenge to voice a character like him.

One of my favorite characters was Bagheera. His no-nonsensical way of looking at life, dedication and loyalty to his friends, as well as his subtly dry sense of humor, reminded me immensely of Obi-Wan. ….Apologies, “Star Wars” fangirl in me just kicked in.

Anyways, I overall rate this film a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and would recommend any Disney, or even non-Disney, fans to watch it. You won’t be let down, and you can count on the “bare necessities” of the film to leave you on the edge of your seat, hankering for more.

 

____________________

Image Credit: http://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/the-jungle-book-2016/

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat

Hi, guys! (I know, I know… long time, no post… 😦 )

(Long story short, I have a Rhetoric final to make a post for, so this ought to be interesting… But just decided to fill you guys in a bit so you’re not completely in the dark.)

Anyways…Ever heard that ancient expression up above? Maybe your Mom said it to you when you were a tyke, munching away on candy while watching TV. Or maybe it was referenced in your high school health class? Either way, I’d like to tell you there’s actually some merit to that cliche– not in the sense of you LITERALLY being junk food, but of you being more of a… junk food JUNKIE.

To put it even more bluntly, an addict.

“Whoa, wait a minute, hold on,” some of you may be saying. “That’s going a bit too far. People who are into tobacco, drugs and that sort of thing are the addicts– not people like me. Just a few slices of pizza, the occasional bag of chips, and a chocolate bar every now and then won’t cause any REAL harm.”

Or… will it?

Well, let me put it this way–have you ever realistically craved (I mean CONSISTENTLY) healthy foods? Or has there ever been that one lonely little slice of pizza you can’t seem to bring yourself to waste after the party’s over? Or just started getting in the mood for chocolate out of the blue– but still not feeling satisfied even after having eaten it, wanting more?

If yes to the latter two questions, you’re more than likely to be addicted to junk food, aka processed food, even if only in the early stages. But the good news is, not only is the addiction preventable, it’s curable. But my main claim I’m going to argue is, processed food is highly addictive, and we need to do something about it.

But back to your question: How DO we know we’re addicted? Great question.

Addiction is generally defined as, “being physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.” (Google Definitions.) If you’re addicted to something, you crave it; you need it. If you attempt to part yourself from it, it will take a toll on your body; you’ll go through a kind of withdrawal, including shaking, etc. Just like a drug addict trying to clean up.

I know this feeling all too well: both the feeling of an addict, and the want of complete and utter denial of anything being wrong. I myself have struggled/am struggling with it right now. My current diet consists probably of about 90% processed foods. I am not kidding. I know it’s tough to stave off those foods, especially when the craving for chocolate or ice cream hits. But I am trying in earnest to limit myself, to stave off cravings (within reason.). In part, I chose this topic in particular for that reason– and also in part so that I might be more aware of how to help others with this issue.

They (meaning various scientists and researchers) have actually done in-depth studies on these processed/junk food addictions, believe it or not, and there’s this whole complicated science behind it. While there’s a mass of complicated scientific factors including but not limited to endocrinology, genetics, brain chemistry, neuro-imaging, and the state of hunger affecting food-related stimuli, the most important one to keep in mind is your brain’s reward system.  Your brain has a reward system set up with two different receptors for a special brain chemical called dopamine– the pleasure chemical. They learned through series of tests, such as comparing brain scans of obese people (who were addicted to processed foods) to those of drug addicts; not only were they shockingly similar, but both had the access to the second dopamine receptor, D2, cut off. This is important to note, because it’s a receptor that actually regulates actions, or responses to receive any kind of pleasure. When this particular receptor gets blocked, as was the case with both kinds of addicts and even lab rats, both people and animals were found to become compulsive eaters in regards to processed foods MUCH more quickly.

If you are a compulsive eater, you eat more for recreation and if you’re bored rather than if you’re actually hungry; essentially, you’re an impulse eater. This will up your chances quite dramatically of becoming a processed food addict.

But it doesn’t just stop with brain and body chemistry; oh no, there’s a reason behind being addicted to processed foods, too. Essentially, they have certain ingredients that are addictive to people, such as hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, and casein (the last one is actually known as the “nicotine” of the processed food world; it’s found in all kinds of foods, including pastries, creamy salad dressings, milkshakes, and cheese. We Americans are cheese-addicted.). These ingredients are cheap and easy to manufacture, so processed food companies are all for them– but really, at what cost? Are we letting them reap profit while our health continually suffers for it, and we become addicted to their products, thus causing us to buy more?

I propose two fairly simple solutions, friends. The first is that we take a stand against food companies who use such ingredients, and find foods that are better for us, more natural and less processed, less addictive. This will make them take notice, and, once they realize what the demand of the public is, they’ll replace (or start to) the ingredients with healthier, less/non-addictive ingredients to regain business. Although not every company is this way, sadly, many are; if concern for their customers’ well-being does not speak to them, then money unfortunately will. This has been shown to be an actual thing; it happened when the “trans-fat free” craze broke out, in fact. Companies scrambled to ensure their product were just that to ensure their customers’ fealty– and the security of their profits. Today, many boast of being “trans-fat free,” but my point is that, the more the public does their research, the more we can say with confidence that this stuff isn’t good for us, and companies need to act, or we will.

My second fairly simple solution suggestion is that, for the sake of our health, that we drastically reduce our intake of processed foods to try and wean ourselves off them, since I believe it is unreasonable and unrealistic to just quit cold turkey and outright eliminate them right off the bat. We should decrease our exposure to them, and substitute ingredients, instead; seeking better alternatives. This way, no one has to necessarily even give up favorite foods– just alterations to make them better for you and your health.

It is imperative that we make these changes to our health, to our lifestyles– because these affect the society around us in seemingly minor ways that could have a hugely negative impact on it in the long run. An addictive lifestyle with processed foods can even affect unborn children in expectant mothers, just like alcohol and tobacco.

So please, when it comes to food choices– choose wisely. And remember,

“You are what you eat.”

_________________________

Image Credit: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/what-are-processed-foods.aspx