baptism is a play

 image courtesy of south biscayne church


Yesterday I introduced a series on baptism.  And I’ve not yet figured out how to organize my many thoughts on the subject.  I only know that I want to begin with my favorite description of baptism: 

Baptism is a play in which the participant reenacts the story of Jesus while at the same time claiming it as his own story.  

“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  — Romans 6:3-4

Baptism is a play.  A performance.  A production, if you will.*  And Christians are the performers.  In baptism we act out the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all to see.  In baptism we declare that the story of Jesus is true.

But Jesus’s is not the only story being recounted.  In baptism I publicly proclaim that his story is also my own.  I declare to all that I myself have died to sin, been buried with Christ, and am being raised to live as a new creation.  

Baptism is a play about two deaths, two burials, and two resurrections.


[The next post in the series will be baptism: a brief study of water.]

* Forgive me the alliteration overboard.
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14 Comments

Filed under baptism

14 responses to “baptism is a play

  1. Pingback: baptism: an introduction | aliens and strangers

  2. JMF

    Interesting series. You said something yesterday that I think sums up baptism possibly more than anything: many of our positions/beliefs on it are reactionary (paraphrase).

    You and I have a Restoration Movement heritage, and my guess is that the strong emphasis on baptism came from what seemed to be the Baptists’ supposed indifference towards it. Of course, the RM was in intense competition with the Baptists in the mid-South in the 1800’s, and I can see how major defining lines would be drawn… just our human nature.

    Fast forward 200 years, and I am on the other side of the reaction. Growing up with the believe that unless you were baptized — and for a specific set of reasons — you were damned, I find myself reacting to my heritage by downplaying the importance of baptism.

    • i’m with you, fife. i think a lot of our (over)reactions are due to the fact that we want baptism to be easily explained. we want everything cut and dry. we go quickly to questions like “is it necessary?” and “is that a work, because works can’t save you.” but we skip over questions like, “what is baptism’s significance?” and “why water?”

      we’re uncomfortable in the vague middle ground where baptism is indeed a little bit magical or mystical. or where maybe baptism was intentioned for us, but a misunderstanding of it is forgivable.

  3. This is a great series. Looking forward to reading more. You have a great definition of baptism. I really like that. I believe that the person being baptized, isn’t the only “performer.” 1 Peter 3:21 says it is an appeal to God for a clear conscience and Acts 2 says that we receive the Holy Spirit at baptism. So I also see God as showing up and performing something big in the life of the person being baptized.

    I may be in the minority here, but regardless of some of the specifics of where you stand on baptism, I believe that it is supposed to be unifying. If you believe you were saved prior to it and I believe you are saved after it, then we should unify on the fact that we were baptized at all. =)

    • glad you’re enjoying it, stan. i like your unity take. that will come a little later in my series (i don’t mean to sound as if i’ve thought of everything) under something about baptism giving us an identity. the Holy Spirit’s coming as well.

  4. Amber

    Do you remember Brinkerhoff’s “significance of baptism” study? Your excellent definition reminds me of a little portion of that. Probably also based primarily on the Romans 6 passage you referenced. I’m paraphrasing… Yes, baptism is symbolic, but it is also able to accomplish what it symbolizes. Once my head stops spinning from that, I really like it.

    • i don’t remember that. was it part of the “mandatory” wednesday night freshmen class? i remember lots of talk in that class about the cross…

      • Amber

        Hmmm. I don’t remember. It’s just one of those things that stuck with me, and I ran across a copy in my filing cabinet a few years ago and used it in a bible study I was part of then. I’ll shoot you a copy. Maybe it’ll jog your memory, or there will be some nugget in there that will inspire another piece of this series.

  5. Pingback: baptism: a (brief) study of water in the bible | aliens and strangers

  6. Thank you for this conception of baptism. I had not thought of baptism in this way before your observations here, and yet I find this view compelling! Thank you

    Grace and peace, Matt

    • thanks, matt. i appreciate you commenting.

      also, i checked out your blog. and subscribed. interesting stuff over at desposyni (spelling?). though i have to admit i’d have never subscribed if it’d been about ants.

  7. Pingback: is baptism a work? (Jesus + ______) | aliens and strangers

  8. Pingback: baptism: a new identity and a new name | aliens and strangers

  9. Pingback: baptism is for believers | aliens and strangers

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