Baptism Before Communion?

Just baptized Hannah (November 15, 2008)
I have already stated that I believe that someone should first be baptized before taking communion, including our children. I know that is a strong statement, and one I didn't fully buy into for a long time.

And I have a feeling that most people don't get this either, which is fine. (If you haven't done so, please that the two polls -- one about baptism, and one about communion to the right.) Ever the scientist, I always like gathering data. If you are lucky, I'll even make a graph.

For now, I want to present a case for why I think that baptism should precede communion, for adults and for children. But the problem is that I'm not a theology expert.

So this is what I'll do. I'll give my own perspectives, and then next week I'll post what Jeremy Keever (a pastor on staff at Grace Church) wrote. I appreciate his willingness to take the time to help me out once again, (since he and his wife already gave me their perspectives on why they have their kids in public school).

Here's my two simple thoughts on this issue:
  1. Communion is about partaking in what Christ offers (His body and blood). Baptizing is identifying with Christ. You cannot (or at least shouldn't) partake in something unless you first identify with it. It's reaping the benefits without a commitment and cost.
  2. From a personal or parenting perspective, taking communion is relatively easy, but being baptized requires more effort and trust. To be baptized (at least to be baptized at our church) requires giving a public testimony and taking a step of humility by being immersed in front of hundreds of people. I have told parents that if their child is not ready to trust Jesus with doing a video testimony, they are probably not ready to trust Jesus with being baptized, and they are probably not ready to partake in Communion.
 
Not saying all this is perfectly accurate; it's just where I land (for now). Be sure to stay tuned, as I will publish what Jeremy wrote about this issues.

What do you think? Should baptism precede communion? Why or why not?


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4 comments:

  1. Interesting question. As it relates to children, it seems there may be more going on than "effort" and "trust". "Personality" and "fear" may be reasonable conditions for postponing a public testimony or full immersion baptism. As it relates to "reaping benefits", it seems, biblically, that they are available through faith alone in Christ Jesus.

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  2. Thanks, James, for your insight. You know that I respect yours, especially in light of the fact that while you (while you were mentoring me) were the first and main one to consider why I wasn't baptized, though I had been a believer for a couple of years.

    I don't mean to come across with a blanket statement, since you are right in that there can be other factors. And the last thing I want to see is a parent push baptism on a child before he/she is ready.

    I think that in this case, we can see that the topic of baptism isn't the end, but can be used as a tool to see what is really in the child's heart. In my experience as a pastor, I saw a lot of kids want to be baptized for the wrong reasons, especially if they saw their friends getting baptized.

    Yes, these sacraments are available through faith alone, but the issue is whether that faith is real.

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  3. What about people with disabilities?

    I'm preparing a blog post on baptism and will back link to here.

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  4. That's a great question, Jen.

    I know at Grace we have baptized one child who had cerebral palsy and autism, and one child who had Tourette's and Asperger's. In both cases, we (the church and the parents) felt the child had responded as best they can to God, in faith. They could each verbalize the gospel truth, and they wanted to be baptized. In light of that and of Jesus saying, "Don't hinder the little ones . . ." we feel like we did right by allowing them to be baptized.

    What do you think?

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