Brother Ron Barnes
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Lutheran Baptism


Dear Brother Ron

Do you know if there is particular wordage for use in a Lutheran baptism ceremony? My church is non-denominational, but some of the folks were raised in certain religions or be- liefs. These folks want me to baptize their kids using the Lutheran way, but they don't know what to say either. I told them that I would do what I can to accommodate their request. I hope you can point me in the right direction. Thanks and God Bless!

Tom


Dear Tom

LUTHERAN: "Baptism effects forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and grants eternal salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare. It is not the water that produces these effects, but the Word of God connected with the water, and our faith which relies on the Word of God connected with the water" (Luther's Small Cate- chism, 1529, IV). "It is taught among us that Baptism is necessary and that grace is offered through it. Children, too, should be baptized, for in Baptism they are committed to God and become acceptable to him. On this account the Anabaptists who teach that infant Baptism is not right are rejected" (The Augsburg Confession, 1530, IX). "Being by nature sinners, in- fants as well as adults, need to be baptized. Every child that is baptized is begotten anew of water and of the Spirit, is placed in covenant relation with God, and is made a child of God and an heir of his heavenly kingdom" (Baptism formula used by Lutheran pastors in bap- tizing infants, The New Analytical Bible and Dictionary of the Bible, Chicago: John A. Dick- son Publishing Co., 1973).

That Lutheran baptism assumes faith in the infant being baptized can be seen in the Luther- an baptismal liturgy. Before the child is baptized they are asked:

"(Name)., do you renounce the devil?"
Answer: "Yes."
"And all his works?"
Answer: "Yes."
"And all his ways?"
Answer: "Yes."
Then he shall ask:
"Do you believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and
earth?"
Answer: "Yes."
"Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was born
and suffered?"
Answer: "Yes."
"Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, one holy Christian church, the
community of saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and
after death an eternal life?"
Answer: "Yes."
"Do you want to be baptized?"
Answer: "Yes."

This liturgy is taken from Luther's baptismal book, published in 1523 and republished in 1526 (from which this text is taken). This translation is taken from the Book of Concord, ed. Kolb and Wengert (Augsburg Fortress. Minneapolis, MN, 2000. p. 374-375).

The rubric calls for the sponsors to answer the questions in the place of the child, but nevertheless, it is the child who is asked the question, and so it is the child who says, "Yes, I renounce the devil. Yes, I believe in God the Father. Yes, I believe in God the Son. Yes, I believe in God the Holy Spirit. Yes, I want to be baptized." This assumes that the child has faith before they are baptized. So Lutherans, following the Lutheran liturgy, baptize    believers.

You can find some good general guidelines at
http://www.mountolive.ca/baptism.htm

Hope this helps.

Best always
Brother Ron