LIFE Baptism: Christ Marks Us as His Own - p.6 Into the Womb of the Church Again - p.8 Infant Baptism—An Ongoing Event in the Christian Life - p.10 Baptism: A Christological Work - p.12 In the Field - p.14 WORLD of the For the July 1999. Volume Three, Number Three For the Life of the World4 F E A T U R E S 3 From the President 5 Letters to the Editor 6 Baptism: Christ Marks Us as His Own by the Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer Professor Systematic Theology Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, Ind. God's presence in Baptism is more than His working in every place in the universe, but in Baptism He takes us and our children to Himself and He comes to live within us. 8 Into the Womb of the Church Again by the Rev. Kent J. Burreson Pastor, St. Peter Lutheran Church Mishawaka, Ind. The baptismal rite, and in particular the Divine Name and life-giving water, is the womb of the Church out of which the Lord resurrect- ed us to new life in Christ. 10 Infant Baptism—An Ongoing Event in the Christian Life by the Rev. Peter J. Scaer Pastor, Emanuel Lutheran Church Arcadia, Ind. Infant Baptism gives expression to the truth that we have been saved by grace alone, apart from works. Infant Baptism is God's love made concrete and real. 12 Baptism: A Christological Work by the Rev. Prof. Lawrence R. Rast Professor Historical Theology Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, Ind. Baptism is pure grace—God’s gift in Christ that gives everlasting life 14 In the Field by Pam Knepper Managing Editor For the Life of the World Features the Rev. Alfonso Espinosa, Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Laguna Beach, Calif. Cover Photo: The cover photo features the baptism of Renee Lee Knepper, infant daughter of Pam Knepper, Managing Editor of For the Life of the World, and the Rev. Grant A. Knepper, Assistant Pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, Tucson, Ariz. For theLIFE WORLDofthe PRESIDENT Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe PUBLISHER Rev. Scott Klemsz MANAGING EDITOR Pam Knepper ART DIRECTOR Steve Blakey For the Life of the World is published quarterly by Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 6600 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher of For the Life of the World. Copyright 1999. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at Fort Wayne, Indiana. To be added to our mailing list please call 219/452-2150 or e-mail Rev. Scott Klemsz at CTSNews. For the Life of the World is mailed to all pastors and congregations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the United States and Canada and to anyone interested in the work of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. page 6 page 12 CONTENTS page 10 page 8 Baptism: A three year delay in the publication of the Baptism volume in the Confes- sional Lutheran Dogmatics series allowed me to come across any number of pertinent items in Luther about this Sacrament. For him Baptism was more than an initiation rite, but was virtually synonymous with the entire Christian life. Being a Christian and being baptized was the same thing. Baptism allows us to see ourselves as Christians and sets the church's boundaries. The baptized community is the church–or is it the other way around? It is the foundation Sacrament for the other church rites. Confirmation is the affirmation of Baptism and Confession and Absolution is the practice of Baptism. Except for the outward form of the Sacraments, Lutherans often do not distinguish the benefits of one Sacrament from another especially in regards to the benefits. All the means of grace, including the preached Word, give the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Homogenizing the Word and the Sacraments blurs the distinct value and operation of each, an approach common to Reformed theology as was evident with the renowned Karl Barth, the father of Neo-Orthodoxy, the theology popular at mid-century. A resur- gence of sacramental interest in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod from the same period focused on the Lord's Supper. Now Confession and Absolution is receiving some attention. Of all the mysteries the church celebrates, the Eucharist is most pro- found through which we Christians as God's priests enter with our High Priest to be included in His self-offering to the Father and to receive the benefits of His atone- ment in eating and drinking His sacrificial body and blood. Undergirding the solem- nities of that Sacrament is the prior and fundamental mystery of Baptism by which we are included in Christ's death and resurrection and so are made members of His own Body, the Church. Baptism and Holy Communion are complementary Sacra- ments with one requiring the other, but without one being allowed to be substituted for the other. In Baptism we become part of Christ and in Holy Communion He becomes part of us. The Holy Spirit by Baptism unites us with the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who unites us with His Father. Now we are marked with the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and are found acceptable to share in Christ's sacrifice through Holy Communion. Baptism may be seen only as a rite for children. Holy Communion happens every Sunday or at least once a month. Baptism is usually practiced less often. Our focus is more often directed to the altar from which we receive Christ's body and blood than it is to the baptismal font. It attracts our attention on those Sundays when it is used. A recent remodeling of the seminary's Kramer Chapel allowed for an expanded choir loft. Beneath the enlarged loft is a chapel within the Chapel with pews facing a baptismal font carved from Indiana limestone in the middle of the aisle. Here, the font serves first as the focus of a small chapel area used for daily matins and vespers with their smaller attendance of twenty or so persons. Placed squarely behind the center doors of the narthex opening into the nave, it blocks the central aisle. Each person entering the main chapel through the center doors has to decide on which side of the font to walk. In leaving chapel he has to make that decision again. It is impossible to walk straight down the aisle. A procession into the chapel for special services no longer proceeds in perfect formation. The baptismal font is an impediment to order- For the Life of the World6 By the Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer Christ Marks Us as His Own God finds His home in the water of Baptism and on that account it can do such great things as forgive sins, grant life and salvation, and actually confer the power of Christ's resurrection. ly traffic and forces all those who pass it to ask why an obstacle was placed right in the middle of the aisle. It is as if John the Baptist were standing at the chapel doors telling us to repent of our sins. He points us to the baptismal font where we can find Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Every font is a reminder to every Christian that he or she was once baptized into Christ and that the Holy Trinity came to live in him or her. Something like this happened in the Old Tes- tament story of Baalam whose way was blocked when the animal which carried him saw an angel of the Lord. That font blocks our path so that we by faith see the Holy Trinity in the water who joined Himself to us in Baptism. Some years ago a portable, non-pretentious baptismal font stood in the front of the chapel. It was largely ignored except for times when one or two students had their children baptized there. A layperson wrote a letter arguing that since the seminary community was not an incorporated congregation, the font had no place in a student chapel. The easy and yes, coward's way out of that complaint, was its removal. It was not particularly attractive and seemed to be no more than a meaningless piece of fur- niture, a nuisance, which had to be moved when the chapel was full. Luther had a different focus on Baptism. God finds His home in the water of Bap- tism and on that account it can do such great things as forgive sins, grant life and sal- vation, and actually confer the power of Christ's resurrection. God's presence in Bap- tism is more than His working in every place in the universe, but in Baptism He takes us and our children to Himself and He comes to live within us. Through Jesus we share in the divine nature. We become the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within us. In the Old Testament the presence of God was dreadful. Israel stayed far from Sinai because God was on that mountain. Isaiah saw God in the temple and trembled. Can a man see God and live? And the answer is no. But in Baptism we come face to face with God. Instead of wrath and death, we are given the life of God Himself and our sins become permanently past tense. The unapproachable God approaches us in water. During the past few years, students from the former Soviet Union have been on the Fort Wayne campus. These Russian-speaking seminary students have a real commit- ment to our Lutheran Confessions. They also bring with them their own piety, which is influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is unfamiliar to most Ameri- cans. In passing by the baptismal font, some of these students instinctively put their hands into the water and make the sign of the cross across their breast in the tradi- tional Russian way. For some this is novel. Perhaps it should not be. Luther urges us to kneel at the baptismal font because from there the voice of the Holy Trinity sounds. Making the sign of the cross at the baptism font or kneeling is our confession that the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush speaks to all Christians through His Son in Baptism to give us His Spirit. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer is a Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. 7JULY 1999 Luther urges us to kneel at the baptismal font because from there the voice of the Holy Trini- ty sounds. Making the sign of the cross at the baptism font or kneeling is our confession that the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush speaks to all Christians through His Son in Baptism to give us His Spirit.