About this site

RichardI’m going to be using this site to plot my progress over a few weeks’ of reading I’ve got as part of my Study Leave.

The focus is on baptism – in particular, focusing on the very rich theological language used about baptism in the New Testament (rather than simply arguing over who got baptised [or didn’t] in the early church), linking it with some interesting themes in current NT scholarship (especially N.T.Wright’s work on covenant and the People of God) and trying to think usefully about how clergy working in their local parish contexts can preach more confidently and work more effectively to give this incredibly powerful sacrament space to breathe.

My “incoming stance” (declaring my baggage) is as a convinced “paedobaptist”. That’s the term most often used for those of us whose theology of baptism means that there are circumstances in which we believe it appropriate to baptise babies… It has to be said that one of my dreams is to come up with a rather better term, since the point about this approach to baptism is specifically NOT simply trying to “prove” that the early church baptised whole households (though I believe they did), but to see how the language of baptism in the NT, set in the context of the early church and their roots in the Hebrew scriptures, shapes our theology and practice.

I’m hoping that…

  1. It’ll give me a sense of achieving something (don’t hold your breath for that blockbuster paperback!) – so even if no-one reads this, it’ll make me feel better!!
  2. It’ll perhaps give a few useful resources for others who are interested: my aim is to make everything I end up with – notes, quotations, thoughts – available freely here at some point.

If you’re somebody interested in the subject, do get in touch – I’d love to chat!

2 Comments

  • Hi Richard,

    The blog looks good. I was wondering whether tomorrow might address the question “how can I find a better word than paedobaptist?” Just kidding! I am intrigued by this subject in general, after the many fuzzy edges we encounter in this area as Anglican clergy. I am particularly interested afresh, as I prepare to serve in a non-denominational setting in Canada in order (as you know) to help contribute to church planting there. Basically, I’ll be going ‘non-denom’ in order to save the ‘denom’ buildings, we hope! There are now hundreds going up for sale across the country there.

    The question for baptism is: how am I as an Anglican minister, to bend my understanding of baptism into a church culture where adult baptism and dedication is the norm. I know the danger of reading from Scripture what want to read… but seeing as you’re writing a new book 🙂 what I WANT you to say is that it doesn’t really matter and a sacrament is an outward sign of an inner transformation, done in this case in at least 2 or 3 totally valid way depending on the pastoral need… ALSO – I someone handed me an ‘Anglican’ liturgy for dedication done in a Surrey parish a few weeks ago. That I found interesting!

    Much love from Graham

  • Hi Richard, You may remember me nee Lee! The best sermon I ever heard on the subject of baptism was by John Madinda, principal St Phillips theological college, Tanzania. He spoke of the practicalities. You don’t do full immersion in the dry season.; if the river is dry then a sprinkling is fine. Likewise I understood the trend for sprinkling was a result of not wanting to harm the baby. Most churches use warm water in the font. Happy research, reading and writing.

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