03 December 2008

solving the immersion debate

While doing some reading today I ran across an interesting case for immersion baptism as a biblical mandate.  It comes from Jeremias Felbinger (1616-@1687) and his community of Polish Brethren.  In 1661 he published a Christian Handbook (Christliches Hand-B├╝chlein), over half of which is devoted to the subject of baptism.

He begins with, "To baptize and to immerse are one in the same. . ."  So far nothing new or particularly exciting about this position; his statement reflects typical anabaptist thought for this period.  What strikes me is where he takes his argument, via an exposition of the baptism which John administered and which was endorsed by Jesus himself.  Felbinger concludes that if John was interested in sprinkling a little bit of water on the foreheads of the repentant, he would not have needed to choose a location with so much water!

It won't do much to argue with that kind of logic.  The only questions which really remain are the further spiritual implications of the amount of water at any given baptism.  That is, does more water and a deeper, more prolonged immersion have anything to do with the spiritual connotations or the level of spiritual experience during the ordinance?

And, does it support Tilling's notion?


UPDATE: It seems that I speak too soon, because Chris Tilling is obviously back on the road with a need to convert the lost via large puddles remnant from heavy downpours. . .


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