"We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" - Nicene Creed
My entire life I've been taught at our Evangelical Baptist Church that baptism is 'an outward sign, of an inward reality'. I was baptized at 16 and I thought little about it before hand. When I was in the tank I gave my testimony and conversion story and agreed with the whole saved sola fide (faith alone) blah blah, and then the baptismal formula and as I was dunked with the word 'Spirit' ringing in my ears I came out of the water. .... let it be known I'm no charismatic, I have no problem with them at all, but I'm more tempted towards rationalism than anything, I'm a doubter. But when I came out of that water I felt this rush come over me, it was a bit like being shocked, but in a good way. I felt incredibly holy. I was utterly confused and stumbled out of the tank... it did not feel like 'an outward symbol' ...
I am well aware that my personal experience should not be enough to convince anyone, but I find it interesting as I read St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Augustine, and the Nicene creed above all else that the early church - in my limited knowledge - seems like it was overwhelmingly in favour of 'regenerative baptism'. Now if you stumbled onto this blog and you aren't one of my theology friends then I'll explain. Regenerative Baptism is the idea that in baptism your sins are washed away, and forgiven. This is an idea within the East Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican and Lutheran churches (note *some).
As the Council of Trent says, "If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost" (John 3:5) are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema". Anathema means cursed to hell. I'm not sure I would go that far, but those Catholics, they're sticklers for orthodoxy.
I think it's interesting as I've never come close to believing that before, how it seems strangely close to the experience I felt. In St. Gregory's book he likens baptism to the Israelites crossing the Sea of Reeds (or Red Sea for you KJV folks). He says that as the Egyptians were drowned, so our sins are washed away. ... He also says creepy stuff about not being able to sin after baptism, but I'm going to ignore that for this post.
I think it's crazy how we can read those words from Nicea that Baptism is FOR the forgiveness of sins and still disagree with this idea. ... I guess it's like we can read the words "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" and ignore those as well.
I again am not sure where I stand on alot, I know so very little but I feel like I'm learning tons as I go along. I mean just yesterday I argued for believers baptism with Lance lol, but I think this position is alot stronger. Once again I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that in Protestantism the only place left is the teetering, splintering, liberal theology infested, Anglican communion. God save it.