Sunday, May 04, 2008
Fort a teenage unbeliever
I disagree with the practice of early confirmation. I think it's too young an age. It's also an age when a lot of kids go through the process only because it's easier than resisting it. They aren't certain of what they believe, or are passing through phases, & yet are asked to declare that they have no doubts, by adults who won't admit that they have doubts. Kids that age are are rarely ready for the serious literature of spiritual doubt & anxiety, particularly the reasoning literature. So God bless the young man who could neither make the promises nor treat Christian confirmation as a mere traditional formality.
I'm more generous toward infant baptism. It is a reassuring sacrament for adults, always an occasion filled with deep sentiment. The infant is welcomed into the community of Jesus Christ, usually, not always, with the promise that the child will be raised Christian. The exact meaning & purpose of infant baptism vary. But it is not a decision made by the infant. That's a theological & physical impossibility. It's a decision by parents on behalf of the baby & the community. Here's where my variety of protestantism kicks in. Although the child now belongs to the community of Jesus, which is preached as existing both temporally & eternally, no earthly organization has the right or the power to stand between an individual & God by predetermining the timing & conditions of that relationship. The community, or any institutional structure created by the community, doesn't have this right or power even when an individual is completely turned away from God, denying the existance of God, seemingly at the most extreme estrangement. A baptized person remains within the accepting embrace of the community no matter where that person stands in relation to the community. For all that I cannot affirm with certainty, for all that I doubt, I affirm this as gospel truth. The door is never closed because there is no door. The Christian belief is that God is not & can never be estranged from this world or anyone in it. This relationship doesn't depend on how we feel about it. It doesn't exist because a number of people happen to believe in it. The relationship would still exist if nobody believed in it. That's the good news of the Easter message in a hardboiled decorated eggshell. Whether you or I believe it or not.