Friday, May 19, 2006

shocking baptism

well i watch 722 online and was shocked today when i saw them baptizing people. i am not ripping baptism because i think that's great, so great when adults come to faith. BUT i remember sitting there a few years back when Louie said it was not 722's place to baptize. He was right the church is where that should happen. 722 is not a church and i don't think it would claim to be but i think it may have stepped out of its calling as a para church ministry.
i must say as someone who was ministered to by 722 and its leaders i hope this is not the start of more stepping out of their role in supporting the church.


Matthew said...

When I first glanced at your entry I thought it was going to be about emersion versus sprinkle. I too watched 722 and I enjoyed seeing life changed being displayed publicly.

I'm not here to argue but I found it encouraging that 722 is changing people's lives and leading them in a biblical direction, baptism.

What is the church? The body of christ, not walls right? So is 722 a church? Well it has believers gathered in one name, spirit, and father.

I've heard folks comment on organizations like young life, but I've heard stories of people's lives being changed, so perhaps it is all good.

Add in some perspective as a "church" person, well one who works there.

Aaron said...

the church is its believers, but it is a place where you plug in and serve. yes you can serve some what at 722 but you and i oth know 98% of the folk go there to be served with no intent togive back. in the church that i am refering to you are community. 722 isn't a place with a close community.
i agree that its cool that people want to make the public display of their faith but there is no one to care for them and help them in their walk from there.
722 is a great ministry and has done great things for me and my walk, but when a church really lives out its calling it has people that invest their lives into the the new christian.
bottom line there is no disciplship at 722. no one to be held accountable for the new christian.
i don't think its 722's role.
i will try and post some more later this week, i will invest some time in some scripture to add.
didnt check spelling this time no time.

Whitney said...

Hello there, I'm a friend of Robert and Anna Prusa's, and I found your blog through theirs. I see that this discussion happened a few weeks ago, but I wanted to chime in even if it's a bit late.

I hope you've had time, Aaron, to investigate scripture as you mentioned because a passage that came to my mind as I read your reply to Matthew is Acts 8:26-40 where Philip baptizes the Ethiopian eunuch. The entire story begins with Philip being prompted by an angel of the Lord to go down a certain road. Then he's led toward the Ethiopian's chariot, and he hears the man reading from Isaiah's prophecy. Philip explains the gospel to the man, and the man, seeing some water, asks "what prevents me from being baptized?" So he stopped the chariot and Philip baptized him.

Now the most interesting thing to me is in verse 39: "And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing." So God did not call Philip to do anything beyond what he did. It was not Philip's task to disciple the eunuch further than baptism. Did God forget the eunuch needed further instruction as a new follower of Christ? Of course not.

My point is hopefully clear. If the leaders of the 722 ministry feel that God moved them toward offering a service of baptism at a meeting, then it doesn't matter who they are, what setting they're in, or who will be there when those folks come up out of the water. What matters is that God will be there. He will be with them out of the water from now on. We should be thankful that we can trust the Lord to take care of people who seek Him. After all, it's what we all are as Christians, right? Even those of us who are smack dab in the middle of a supportive and loving church family aren't guaranteed spiritual growth, right? We still have to be seeking God for that to happen.

I hope that your investigation into scripture on baptism will continue to open up other possibilities about the godliness of 722's actions. But like they used to say on Reading Rainbow: Don't take my word for it! :-)

Aaron said...

whitney i dont have time to write back tonight but i will respond thanks for writing.

Matt Adair said...

Thanks for adding to the discussion. I'd like to add a bit more if I may...

First of all, I'm thankful that you went to the Scriptures to base your disagreement or question about what Aaron brought up about 722's recent change of direction in relationship to baptizing people given that they are a support ministry of the church, and not a church itself. At the end of the day, the Scriptures must be the standard for what we believe and how we should live, and I'm thankful that this is the direction in which you went.

The question is not the intentions of 722 - no one doubts their desire to honor God and bless people. However - and this is a point frequently ignored today and one that we miss to our own misfortune - the Scriptures do not allow us to involve ourselves in activities that we simply do with the best of intentions. Because the Scriptures tell us often that our hearts easily deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9), we cannot rely on intentions alone.

I don't believe that Acts 8 can be used to validate the practice of 722 for several reasons. First of all, validating a belief or practice based on a single text is always a bad idea - cults start on the basis of isolating a single text from the totality of the scriptures. Second, the example of Philip and this Ethiopian brother is not to be seen as normative practice for Christians, but an example of the extraordinary work of God through the apostolic office, as well as revealing the diversity of method and audience which God was transforming with the Gospel. Third, following Philip's practice might be allowable if no organized church was around - that is not a problem in Atlanta where there are more churches than pollen.

We need to remember that baptism does not exist solely for the benefit of the person being baptized (our confessional standards call those in the church to remember the meaning of their own baptism every time we observe the sacrament - this makes baptism an important and regular part of our spiritual growth), nor should it ever be reduced to a me-and-Jesus thing. Can God take care of us apart from the ministry of a local church? Certainly. Is this his normative design? No. Particularly in places where local churches abound, God's design is for people to enter into his family (evangelism and baptism) and mature as a family (discipleship) and to do so in the context of a family that is bound together by its covenant promises (the practice of church-hopping and the nebulous nature of who's involved in a ministry like 722 are a whole other issue).

Just so we're clear - I am thankful for the ministry of 722. And again, no one is doubting the intentions of the leadership of 722, only their wisdom. Does this serve as an example of their service to the church or might this be construed as a way of keeping people from giving themselves fully to the church, even if such results are unintentional.

Aaron said...

thanks matt. I would agree with you. i would also ask Whitney: what is your view of the local church? what is your view of para church minnistries(young life, FCA, 722, metro bible study, ec.) ?

Robert Prusa said...

I am pretty sure there is more pollen in Atlanta than churches, lets be serious here eh?


Aaron said...

Robert: maybe so.
but i will say that there is no "roosters" in the ATL.

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