Continuing with the “Journey Through The Faith” series, I will be sharing several reflections from my college faith experience before moving on to post-college years. My last post was on becoming Baptist by default, and the next two posts will be on my journey in the church during college.
There are moments in life that feel like a point of no return. Points were we step over a threshold and into a whole new existence; one we cannot return from.
Double dipping was one of those times.
Double dipping is a breaking of an unwritten rule. It’s either being greedy or being gross, or both. In my case, it was entering the waters of baptism a second time.
Between the majority of my classmates and professors at school and the people at church, I came to have serious doubts about whether I should let my first baptism count. In high school I had said that I wanted to wait and be baptized until I was a member of my own church, and now here if was, a part of this Baptist church. In essence, I had been lying. I was loathe as a high schooler to get into theological battles during my pit stop with the fundamentalists, and I knew no one would ever even take me seriously. That church, and specifically the pastor, could eat people alive. I finally broached the subject with the youth pastor at the church about the legitimacy of my earlier baptism. He gave the response I assumed, that I should be baptized as a believer, but he was not combative or condemning. He was honest and dialogued with me. He was pastoral about it, and I respect him for it. So I was baptized a second time. Double dipping.
For a long time after I resented Baptists, resented people who would just let someone make a decision he or she regretted. And I regretted it within months. But the resentment was a veil to my own sinfulness in the situation: I let fear of being wrong and the rules of men to sway me around, never once seeking God in it. I was the one who made the decision. I wasn’t coerced. I don’t mean to imply that rebaptism is right or wrong. All I mean is that my heart was very much in the wrong place.
This episode in my life caused a deep repentance and a change in how I approached God, so not all was lost. In seeing my profound weakness in the situation, I realized that I could not look at any spiritual action as a product of me. Spirituality is a co-product between God and a person, and God is both author and perfector. We are but participants in the story God places before us.
What I learned in this double dipping was that baptism was not mine. That’s where so many error: claiming baptism. Baptism is God’s, not ours. Yet I acted as if I could control the theological and spiritual aspects of my life without God’s input.
This event defines my spiritual life up to this day. It was one of my brazenly calloused moments. I took something of God’s and made it my own. I made an idol of baptism.
I don’t make as many idols today, and I’m thankful that God is faithful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, a love he has shown me since the day I was born, my first baptism, my second baptism and all the years in between.