The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Category Archives: Baptism

Rethinking Christian Rituals: Water Baptism

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THE ORIGIN OF BAPTISM

Read through the Old Testament and you won’t find a single mention of baptism.  The bizarre tradition of a grown man briefly dunking individuals into water first shows up in the New Testament with a guy who made such a career out of dunking people that he became known as John the Baptist.

Now John was an ethnic Jew and a devoted follower of Yahweh.  The religion he practiced was Judaism, and he lived in the land that had once belonged to the nation of Israel, back when she was a sovereign nation.  But Israel had lost her independence centuries ago, and in John’s lifetime, she was considered part of the territory of the Roman Empire.  Read more of this post

Romans 6: Paul Baptizes Christians Into Despair

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The New Testament epistle of Romans was written by the apostle Paul to believers in Rome.  The audience he’s talking to is a mix of Jews and Gentiles, and he rotates which group he’s speaking to as he moves through this letter. Sometimes he speaks of general concepts which both Jews and Gentiles would grasp, but most of the time he speaks of concepts which only followers of Judaism would understand, such as all of his talk about sin coming through Adam that we dealt with in our study of Romans 5 (see Romans 5: Paul Leads Us Astray on Sin & the Character of Yahweh).  Realize that the whole Adam and Eve thing originated from the Torah.  It was a part of Judaism, and Judaism is just one of many religions that are being adhered to in the Roman Empire of Paul’s day.  Every religion has its own explanation of how the world came to be, and such creation accounts vary widely.  This means that a Gentile who comes to Christianity with no background in Judaism isn’t going to know the Jewish Scriptures, nor will he be familiar with the many quotations from those Scriptures that Paul peppers his letters with. So whenever you find Paul quoting Scripture or referring to Old Testament characters like Noah, Abraham, and Adam, realize that in his mind, he’s addressing folks who are familiar with Judaism.  And because Paul believes that his own ethnic group is far superior to all others (see Romans 11), often it is only ethnic Jews who he’s talking to, and we can tell that by how exclusive his language becomes.  Read more of this post