By Larry Beane
I'm getting a lot of requests for baptisms lately.
But it's not necessarily good news.
Just today, I got a call from a guy who lives about an hour away and would like his children "christened" at Salem Lutheran Church "Christened." That's always the first clue. He said the name of his home church quickly, and then explained that his parents live in the area and that it would be most convenient to "just do it there." So, could I just do the baptism?
I slowed him down and found out that he belongs to a Presbyterian church. I told him that we do have Presbyterian churches in the area and that it would be best to find out which one is in fellowship with his church. He insisted that Salem Lutheran would be more convenient, and that Lutheran and Presbyterian is really the same thing anyway. So, could I just do the baptism?
I explained to him that Lutherans and Presbyterians do have some fundamental differences. I briefly explained, for example, the difference between our views on the Eucharist. He said that he was christened a Catholic and had no problem with our view of the Sacrament. So, could I just do the baptism?
I recommended that he find a church that believes the way he believes. I asked him which denomination of Presbyterian his church belonged to. He didn't know. He explained that did not pick that church based on belief, but based on the fact that they are convenient and have a really good school. Belief really isn't the issue. So, could I just do the baptism?
I explained that if I were to baptize his children, they would be under my pastoral care. They would be Lutherans. He replied that this would be fine with him. He would have no problem being a Lutheran. He didn't know what Lutherans believe, but he was certain that he would be fine with it. But he really likes to go to the Presbyterian church because it's so convenient. And they have a really good school. So, could I just do the baptism?
I felt like I was stuck in one of those Rev. Hans Fiene Lutheran Satire cartoons complete with the monotone computer voices, circular reasoning, the astonished silent blinking pastor, and Offenbach's Can Can music.
So, could I just do the baptism?