Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Episcomuslim Priest and Baptism

The story about the Seattle Episcopal priest who insists she is both Christian and Muslim is the gift that keeps on giving. In spite of the wishes of certain TEC leaders that this story would go away, it hasn’t yet. Here’s a list of some of the blog activity on this.

Now, it may shock you for me to say this. But this is not an occasion to bash liberals, not all of them at least. For many of them are appalled by this “priest.” In two interesting threads here and here at the Ship of Fools (Be warned on the language. Also, the links will eventually become defunct.), for instance, I’m pleasantly surprised to see a number of normally flaming liberals state that they think she has violated her vows and ought to at least suspend acting as a priest.

Also, this is not an occasion for you Cartholicks to chortle. For she will begin teaching this Fall at Seattle University. Isn’t that a Jesuit institution? Hmmmmm?

I don’t want to repeat all that’s been already said about this story. But something stands out to me that has gotten relatively little notice:

Redding knows there are many Christians and Muslims who will not accept her as both.

"I don't care," she says. "They can't take away my baptism." And as she understands it, once she's made her profession of faith to become a Muslim, no one can say she isn't that, either.

This bothers me. It’s not the first time I’ve heard unfaithful apostates express faith in their baptism like it was some golden ticket. Some seem to feel it’s o.k. for purported Christians to ditch the Trinity, the Resurrection, the divinity of Christ -- even to become a Muslim or Hindu. But if you question whether those who act so unfaithfully remain in the faith, they get very indignant and say, “I’ve been baptized!”

That’s one reason baptism was the most difficult issue I had to wrestle with when I became Anglican. I now see that the church fathers emphasized baptism much more than I did in my Bible Church background. I now see it’s linked more to salvation than I once thought.

But then I see how traditional and catholic doctrines of baptism get so easily twisted into a baptidolatry that puts getting one’s head wet as a baby over the faith and faithfulness. It almost makes me want to throw out the baby and baptismal waters all over again as I once did – and then add disclaimers to the baptismal liturgy to boot.

Of course, all good doctrines and practices get twisted. Satan loves to do that. But baptism seems especially prone to perversion and idolatry -- and deadly self-deception.

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