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I am sure I am not going to ask this correcly, but what are the "liturgical limits" of using the font/waters of baptism in worship times that are not, strictly speaking, baptisms? For instance, I've read a couple of times about "renewal of baptism" or "rememberence of baptism" services within presbyterian/reformed churches in which part of the liturgy may include placing ones hand in the water or using the water to place a sign on one's forehead.  If this is allowed, how much water is allowed?  A sprinkle?  A handful?  What is appropriate, and when would it stray into a theologically "ambiguous" area?  Is any amount of water appropriate, or should just the font itself be used in such ceremonies?  Is this kept from being seen as a rebaptism because an ordained person does not pronounce the triune formula?  How does this connect with our desire to see baptism not just as a moment in time but as an ongoing condition and way of life?

A hopeless muddle, which I cheerfully present for discussion.



In our congregation we have "remembrance of baptism" or "renewal of baptismal vows" from time to time, perhaps twice a year depending on the occasions for it, and then we do not apply water to anyone's head or hand.  Instead, the minister has a big cup of water that he/she visibly pours into the baptismal font.  We then say the renewal liturgy together: Do you renounce sin and do you desire to follow Christ, etc. and the congregation says "We do."  Since it is not applied, there is no doubt that this is NOT a rebaptism of any kind.

Just as cheerfully yours,



Another option would be to use anointing oil during part of the ceremony.  Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, as is water.  When I did a renewal of baptism, I asked the congregant to give a personal testimony of his life and why he wanted to renew his baptismal vows.  I read a scripture passage that he selected shared about his journey.  Then in front of our baptismal font anoited him with oil making the sign of the cross on his forehead using the words, "You are a child of God, you belong to God, live for Him, In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  However, I like Henry's Idea of the renewal liturgy.  I'll use that in the future. 

Is not the Lord's Supper, at least in part, a "remembrance of baptism" or "renewal of baptismal vows"?  Do we not at the Lord's Supper profess that we renounce sin and desire to follow Christ?  Why do we need somthing along side of the Lord's Supper.  Apparently the Lord's Supper, God given, instituted by Christ, and biblically based is no longer sufficient.  Why is the CRC continuially adding Old Covenant type ceremonies, rituals, and objects for the purpose of enhancing the worship experience?  The Belgic Confession Articles 25 and 29 make clear that it is the false church that is not satisfied with what God has provided by the preaching of the Gospel and the (only) two sacraments and "basis itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ"?

I think it's a fantastic idea to dip one's hands in the baptismal water to "remember your baptism". Is this really an issue?

How wonderful - a ceremony to celebrate a ceremony!  The only issue is that the truth of the scriptures is replaced by human imagination.  The risen Lord Jesus Christ is replaced by "I THINK" fantasies.  Obviously, the living Word, the Risen Christ, the teacher of the church by his Word and Holy Spirit is so weak and feeble he needs to be propped up with all kinds of human inventions, OT type ceremonies, and visible object lessons of all kinds.  "And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."   (Genesis 6:5) 

Worshipping by dipping your hands in water is no more scandalous or idolatrous than Eve’s eating the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden.  The essential point: does God tell us how he wants to be worshipped or do we tell him how we are going to do so?  The essence of sin is to think that we know as God knows and therefore we can add all kinds of ceremonies and visible images to our worship.  Christ gave the HIS church, not ours, the gospel and only TWO visible outward signs and SEALS for the growth and confirmation of our faith.   My question for you is why are you not satisfied with with Chriat has provided? Is it not sufficient?  Do you know better than he does?  See the description of the church that acts falsely in Belgic Confession Article 29.

Your worship ceremony of hand dipping in essence and nature is identical to all the OT God given liturgical practices which the NT describes as “elements” and “rudiments” of the world which kept Israel in bondage until Christ came.  They were all God given and he made exceedingly clear that Israel was not to add or subtract anything from what he had revealed.   The OT liturgy was composed of “shadows” and now we have the reality.  Why the urgency to return to shadow land of our own devices.  The second commandment forbids any attempt to make God visible and the NT forbids returning to OT type ceremonies.  Furthermore the NT forbids adding or subtracting anything from God’s revelation.

When Christ is central and we realize the fullness of all blessings that are in him, how he shares all that with us and the great hope that he is – dipping hands is quite meaningless.  Paul in Philippians 3 clearly considers that  all his attempts to live as an OT Jew are simply manure compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. 

Furthermore Jesus in talking to the Samaritan woman at the well makes clear that no longer in the mountains and high places with man made statues and idols, nor in Jerusalem with its God given OT liturgy,  has any relevance to the true worship of the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

We can create all kinds of worship ceremonies and visible representations and teaching tools but we cannot create seals.  We simply cannot decide for God by what means the Spirit of Christ is going to work in our hearts and lives.  Nevertheless, the church continually wants to abandon faith and seeks to live by sight.   The problem of the false prophet as recorded in scripture makes clear the human attempt to abandon God’s word and live by man’s imagination and fanciful ideas.  Not a good idea.  See Calvin’s Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 11.

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My  position which you label as "such an extreme" is essentially that of John Calvin.  You may find it helpful to read Book 1, chapter 11 and Book 4, chapter 10 of Calvin's Institutes.  Calvin's understanding is also embodied in the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism and has been the position of the reformed and presbyterian churches until this modern era.  Should I be insulted that you got my name wrong?

Baptism points to entry into union with Christ.  The Lord’s Supper points to our continued union with him.  Christ by his Holy Spirit uses these to confirm and strengthen our faith.  Thus they are both signs and seals.  We can create all kinds of visible representations and ceremonies.  But we cannot effect what Christ alone can do.  Dipping your hands in water may mean something to you but it is simply useless to confirm and strengthen faith.  We can create signs but we cannot effect the sealing of the Holy Spirit by any of them.

It puzzles me why someone invented a visible church ceremony to rehearse entry into Christ when we have the Lord’s Supper, which is not a human invention but God given, and should remind us not only of our entry into him but also our continued union with him.

Why do you wish to add to what God has given in Scripture?   Why do you think that the Lord’s Supper is not sufficient?   Why do you think that what God has given needs to be propped up with man’s devices and ceremonies?

I would really like to know the reason why.

So if I hear you correctly, Henry E., you are in favor of times of covenant renewal, as we do see in the OT, but see that those times of renewal should be very strongly, or exclusively, linked to the Lord's Supper.  Is that correct?

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