Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lecture XVIII

There are a handful of us who are enrolled in REL410—Life and Legacy of Saint Augustine. In that class we have discussed how the Bishop of Hippo believed that Christian baptism provided purification for all sins beforehand.
In Lecture XVIII Cyril says, “The past wounds therefore of soul and body God heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves, that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practicing fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God;”
I wish that our modern efforts of evangelism would emphasize baptism. I sense that too often it is an after thought; it is discussed as if it has no influence upon our soul and body. If Cyril and Augustine are correct when they say that Christian Baptism removes sins inquired before our submersion in the water and anointing with oil, then many of our evangelistic efforts are tragically disconnected with our respective theological underpinnings.
First, if Baptism truly does remove the past wounds of our soul and body, then why are we holding this blessing and opportunity for healing from future believers? Second, if Baptism truly forces one to acknowledge one’s sin (our past wounds), then how are we certain that individuals might begin to realize the drastic nature their own sins? It would be profitable if we did emphasize why an individual needs to submit themselves to Christian Baptism, in doing so we would truly be handing children good gifts, just as our Lord does.

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