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Discussion about Testimony and Baptism

Discussion in 'Christianity DIR' started by Treks, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. Treks

    Treks Well-Known Member

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    Hello

    I'm preparing my testimony ahead of being baptised at a date TBC but hopefully soon.

    Testimonies
    What are your thoughts about testimonies? Any suggestions, stories, words of advice? Does your church even "do" them?

    It's taken me a while to accept that this testimony is like the prologue to the novel - not the final chapter. I've been delaying baptism because I'm not sure how to word my testimony. How do you say "I just know on a level I can't put into words that this relationship is real" since there is no earth-shattering personal evidence to support it? How do I know that what I have felt and thought and the "transformation" I'm perceiving in myself is "enough proof" that I'm serious about this?

    On a bit of a tangent, are we supposed to give a testimony when we get married to our spouse, justifying why we're marrying them?

    Baptism
    While I just want to dive into the porta-pool my church drags in when we've got a bunch of people to baptise, it's probably wise to really understand what baptism is all about, first. As above, do you have any thoughts or stories you'd like to share? Any good resources about the meaning and symbolism of baptism? I suppose it varies between denominations but I'm happy to hear from all sides. :)

    Thank you
     
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  2. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Firstly, I wish you the very best of luck @Treks with your pre-baptismal testimony and the actual baptism ceremony itself! And thank you for sharing the news of this special moment with us on the forum!!

    It is a hugely consequential experience in any one's life and in your case, as I understand it, the culmination of many years on the spiritual 'trek', so to speak. I hope you have a blessed day :heart:

    As for testimonies and being baptised myself, I cannot speak too well from personal experience - given that I was baptised by a priest as a baby, at the behest of my parents! (cradle Catholic here) - but I have watched many adult baptismal ceremonies down the years at Eastertime.

    Will it be a full-body immersion or a 'sprinkle on the head'? ;) I always feel that the first sounds much more exhilarating and would really make one intuit that they are being: "born again from above" (John 3:3). In my church the celebrant, immersing the candidate’s whole body or head three times, baptises the candidate in the name of the Trinity.



    N., I baptise you in the name of the Father, (He immerses the candidate the first time)

    and of the Son, (He immerses the candidate the second time)

    and of the Holy Spirit (He immerses the candidate the third time)


    After being baptised, candidates are clothed in a so-called 'baptism garment': which may be white or of a colour that conforms to local custom. The celebrant says the following formulary, and at the words ‘Receive this baptismal garment’ the godparents or sponsors place the garment on the newly baptised:


    N. and N., you have become a new creation and have clothed yourselves in Christ. Receive this baptismal garment and bring it unstained to the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may have everlasting life.

    Newly baptised: Amen.


    We do not use improvised testimonies - I would presume that your church is likely following more of a 'living in the spirit' approach to the ceremony, whereas mine is strongly liturgic and traditional - but rather adhere to a formalized set of recitals, akin to a couple taking wedding vows (which is a sacrament in my church just like baptism).

    The established practice in Catholicism is for catechumens - those who have been through the RCIA process of initiation, study of the essentials of the faith and formal conversion, akin to your church's Alpha course - to be baptised, confirmed and receive first holy communion (eucharist) during the Mass for the Easter Vigil (April 3rd 2021, I believe this year), as part of a special liturgical Rite of Reception.

    Each catechumen is accompanied by a 'sponsor' (godparent) as they come forward to receive the water of baptism. This was a person assigned to the convert during RCIA to bear witness to their ultimate baptism, help in their catechesis and aid their spiritual formation. (Its like a 'spiritual sibling in the faith' kind of relationship in the adult context.)

    If there are candidates to be baptised, the Priest, with hands extended, says the following prayer:


    Almighty ever-living God, be present by the mysteries of your great love, and send forth the spirit of adoption to create the new peoples brought to birth for you in the font of Baptism, so that what is to be carried out by our humble service may be brought to fulfilment by your mighty power. Through Christ our Lord. ± Amen.

    O God, who by invisible power accomplish a wondrous effect through sacramental signs, and who in many ways have prepared water, your creation, to show forth the grace of Baptism;

    O God, whose Spirit in the first moments of the world’s creation hovered over the waters, so that the very substance of water would even then take to itself the power to sanctify;

    O God, who by the outpouring of the flood foreshadowed regeneration, so that from the mystery of one and the same element of water would come an end to vice and a beginning of virtue;

    O God, who caused the children of Abraham to pass dry-shod through the Red Sea, so that the chosen people, set free from slavery to Pharaoh, would prefigure the people of the baptised;

    O God, whose Son, baptised by John in the waters of the Jordan, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and, as he hung upon the Cross, gave forth water from his side along with blood, and after his Resurrection, commanded his disciples: ‘Go forth, teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ look now, we pray, upon the face of your Church and graciously unseal for her the fountain of Baptism.

    May this water receive by the Holy Spirit the grace of your Only Begotten Son, so that human nature, created in your image, and washed clean through the sacrament of Baptism from all the squalor of the life of old, may be found worthy to rise to the life of newborn children through water and the Holy Spirit


    Afterwards, the catechumens make their first profession of faith by joining the rest of the congregation in a public recital that renews the baptismal promises made either at birth by one's parents or in adulthood at one's own baptism.

    The Profession of Faith follows a 'question-and-answer' format:


    Celebrant: Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?

    Candidates: I do.

    Celebrant: Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?

    Candidates: I do.

    Celebrant: Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?

    Candidates: I do.

    Celebrant: Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his empty show?

    Candidates: I do.


    Then the celebrant, informed again of each candidate’s name by the godparents/sponsors, questions each candidate individually:



    Celebrant: N., Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

    Candidate: I do.

    Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?

    Candidate: I do.

    Celebrant: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

    Candidate: I do.


    After the water baptism itself, the celebrant takes the Easter candle in his hands or touches it, saying: Godparents, please come forward to give to the newly baptised the light of Christ.

    A godparent or sponsor of each of the newly baptised goes to the celebrant, lights a candle from the Easter candle, then presents it to the newly baptised. Then the celebrant says to the newly baptised: You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as children of the light and keep the flame of faith alive in your hearts. When the Lord comes, may you go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom. Newly baptised says in response: Amen.

    In theological terms (I'll spare you the technicalities, fear not :p), the baptised are justified by faith and incorporated into Christ - the Church. As such, baptism is also the the sacramental bond of unity and foundation of communion between all Christians, no matter the denomination; because Christ has one body and we are all members thereof, through the regenerative waters of baptism. As the Nicene creed (325 CE) affirmed very clearly: "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins".

    Whilst we are not 'physically' circumcised - as are Jews - it is part of our belief that we are "spiritually circumcised" in heart and soul (i.e. you may remember Moses saying in Deuteronomy: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked" (Deuteronomy 10:6)), through baptism as St. Paul states: "In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism" (Colossians 2:11-12).

    In baptism, we die to our 'old self' and put on the 'new self'. As the Jewish Talmudist scholar Daniel Boyarin wrote in relation to baptismal doctrine amongst the early Christians, in his study of St. Paul (A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity):


    In the process of baptism, in the spirit the marks of ethnos, gender, and class are all erased in the ascension to a univocity and universality of human essence which is beyond and outside of the body...[Paul] allegorically interpreted circumcision as the outer sign performed in the flesh of an inner circumcision of the spirit


    This reality, our newness and equality of life in Christ beyond all temporal 'distinctions', is expressed in St. Paul's letters by a pre-pauline baptismal creed of the early church which he cites:


    "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28) and

    "In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!" (Colossians 3:11).

    Those words would have been recited over newly baptised people by the Apostles: all binary categories that divide human beings whether race, sex or social status are superseded by the one grace of the baptismal sacrament, in which Christ "is all and in all" no matter who we are.

    As noted earlier, 'Baptism' is understood by Christians to constitute a "new birth" by which a person becomes a member of Christ's spiritual body as a new creation. But salvation is not a one-time event. It is a life-long process of growth in our baptismal calling towards fullness in Christ. It is a continual commitment to live according to our new birth in Him that has justified and liberated us: a new life that we must keep living every day, an ancient beauty ever new.
     
    #2 Vouthon, Jan 8, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
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  3. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    First... I think it is wonderful that you are cementing your faith with the act of baptism, the symbols of the act and the declaration of faith.

    Really, your testimony is simply what is the greatest thing God has done and transformed in your life. For me it would be "My marriage was heading for a divorce but God saved my marriage", for another "I have found real life instead of heading down a road that would have led me to destruction". A friend of mine would say "God delivered me from drugs when I met Jesus as my Lord"... Just whatever God means to you and what He has done in our lives.

    Not necessary to justify why we are marrying our spouse. Some people create there own vows to express what our future spouse means to us. Not justifying but simply expressing one's love for our future spouse.

    As far as what baptism means: When you accept Jesus Christ as Lord, you are born-again. (John 3) and you have become a new creature 1 Cor 5:17 - something that is completely different and recreated into the perfect image of God. But that happened internally and no one can see that.

    So baptism is like looking at a picture of something or a time that happened in your life at a previous moment (in this case when you accepted Jesus). As you stand in the water, you are standing as the old person that you used to be. When you go in the water, it is a picture of that old an dying - your old self with the water representing the cleansing power of the blood and the word of God, and as you are pulled out of the water, it is a picture that the person who came up is a new person, a new creature, old things have passed away and behold I have a new beginning.

    Sometimes, the one baptizing will have you confess Jesus as your Lord... just depends on the denomination or non-denominational church you are in.

    You could pray before this happens (the day before or the morning of :) or when you are getting ready), "God (Father or Dad), let this moment be a time where I just receive more of your Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and presence like never before)

    Have a great experience. It will cement some things in your walk in your obedience of baptism.
     
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  4. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    I love the comparison to the baptismal practice of the early church, from the time of Hippolytus; the candidate for baptism must be introduced to the representatives of the Church (they are called teachers) by someone who was a Christian, "And let them be examined as to the reason why they have come forward to the faith. And those who bring them shall bear witness for them." The catechumenate lasted for three years, a period of moral trial plus instruction. "And when they are chosen, those who are set apart to receive Baptism, let their life be examined, whether they lived piously while catechumens, whether they honored the widows, whether they visited the sick, whether they have fulfilled every good work."
     
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  5. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    That's a fascinating example of ante-Nicene baptismal practice! Nice find.
     
  6. pearl

    pearl Well-Known Member

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    For me the early liturgy of the Church is fascinating.
    "...the history of the past ends in the present; and the present is our scene of trial; and to behave ourselves towards its various phenomena duly and religiously, we must understand them; and to understand them, we must have recourse to those past events which led to them. Thus the present is text and the past its interpretation."
    Cardinal Newman, quoted in 'The Early Liturgy', Josef A Jungmann
     
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