Baptisms

Thames BaptismPresbyterians accept all forms of Christian Baptism as valid. We believe that those who insist on Baptism by immersion point to a crucial truth, that Baptism is meant to be joined to a Profession of Faith. Hence this form of Baptism is often called "Believer's Baptism." This, however, is not our primary mode of Baptism. Ordinarily we practice pouring or sprinkling.

We practice Infant Baptism, by pouring or sprinkling because we believe this form best expresses, in the household of faith, the primary meaning of the sacrament as a sign of God's unlimited, undeserved grace and favor in our salvation.

We are keenly aware that both forms of Baptism are prone to misunderstanding. Those who receive Baptism as adults may be tempted to think that the great fact in their Christian life is their coming to decision for Jesus Christ, deciding to follow Jesus and becoming his disciple after whatever has gone before in their lives.

The New Testament is very clear that God has acted to save us long before we awaken to the reality of his love. Moreover while we may be tempted to think that God was not in our lives prior to our turning to him in faith, the truth is that God is never far from us, even in those times when we think we have no connection to him. And when at last we turn to confess him as Lord and Master, this isn't the start of our life; it's the culmination of all God has done to prepare us and bring us to this moment of acceptance and faith.

Infant Baptism, on the other hand, is the ultimate expression in worship of the deepest reality of our salvation, that God has loved us and sent his Son to save us and win us to himself even before we have known anything about him or been able to respond to him in any way.

Now, having said that, it is likewise true that the person who has been baptized as an infant is inclined to an opposite kind of misunderstanding about the nature of our response to God's gracious act of salvation.

It is not enough for us simply to know that God has acted for our salvation, but the saving God himself has come and lived among us to show us how to take our place among his people and to begin here in this life as an ambassador for the God of our salvation. This is exactly why our church goes to great lengths to educate our young people and to let them know that the God who saves us also calls us to live out our salvation in lives of holy and joyful dedication.

Baptismal FontEach of these understandings of Baptism expresses an indispensable truth: that God's salvation precedes all our efforts to move toward him. Still he does also desire that each and every one of us respond to his free gift of salvation by freely and passionately committing ourselves to live out our salvation in witnessing deeds and words of love and mercy. He charges us each one to spread the good news of our redemption and the free offer of God, to begin here and now to live that life of communion with God and his people that spread the joy of God's own children throughout the earth.

In that belief we rejoice in every baptism and every baptized soul. We practice Infant Baptism and Adult, Believer's Baptism, and through them both proclaim the great gifts of salvation by grace and the calling of every believer to receive God's salvation and to live in the power of his love.

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