Tomorrow, we’re going to be feeling really blessed as we give thanks to God publicly for Sophie’s life. We believe he gave us the extraordinary gift of this child and want to acknowledge that.
Jess and I both come from the Anglican tradition of baptising/christening infants, so why is it that we’re not involving any water?
And what exactly is a thanksgiving anyway?
Hopefully these few thoughts will try and answer those questions – although I am a long way from being an expert!
The New Testament plainly states that all those who belong to Christ’s people ought to be baptised. It is a command from Jesus himself that those who follow him are baptised and publicly recognised as one of his, even if that process has already gone on inside long before.
The question is when?
Many people choose to baptise their tiny babies. This ceremony welcomes them into the church even at such a tender age. But where does this come from? In the New Testament, baptisms that take place are of adults who believe, with infants unmentioned, although household baptisms would suggest infants were involved.
Our current church usually does Thanksgiving services rather than Baptism services because it generally adheres to the idea of “Believer’s Baptism.” In other words, an individual should be able to understand and profess their own faith in Jesus before being baptised. Any earlier would be inappropriate. Therefore, a tiny baby who cannot articulate or understand ought not to be baptised.
Whilst I have crudely summarised it here, this position of Believer’s Baptism with a Thanksgiving for children is hugely popular amongst Christians, because it gives thanks to God for a child’s life but emphasises the individual’s own personal relationship with Him.
However, the grey area surrounds whether a child born to believing Christian parents has been brought into God’s people by association. Are they part of “the covenant”, the family of God receiving the blessings of his promises, or do they have to make that step of profession themselves?
A child baptist would argue that God welcomes children of believers into his covenant. Therefore, just like in the Old Testament when eight day old babies were marked out as his people through circumcision, it is perfectly acceptable, indeed appropriate, to baptise babies.
This shows that they have been included, until such a day that they decide to step out of it. It places the emphasis on what God has done in Jesus to save his people, rather than on the individual’s personal response to God’s grace
Christians have debated this for centuries and for Jess and I, it’s simply not a huge deal. We accept the Bible’s teaching that a member of God’s church should be baptised, but as for when it ought to happen… well, we’re not sure. Both sides of the argument have strong points and flaws.
We’ve decided to go with a Thanksgiving Service because we are certain that it is right to thank God for her, but not certain over whether it is right to baptise her. It seems the best thing to do at this juncture with a prayerful option to revisit the decision in coming years.
As long as God is given the glory, the praise and the thanks, nothing else matters.
A thanksgiving declares our faith in God, our dependence on Him for raising our child and our thanks to Him for her life. Hopefully, this will happen tomorrow! We have also asked some godparents whom we love and trust to pray for our little girl and help us bring her up to know Jesus for herself.
Let’s just hope Sophie can handle the situation and not get too distressed – particularly when our minister Mike takes hold of her. No pressure!