An Elegant (and Innovative) Baptism?!?

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer
and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire
before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.
And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them,
and they died before the LORD.”

(Leviticus 10:1–2 (ESV)

Something’s got my dander up.  I had a friend post something on Facebook, a little video clip from a show called “Big Rich Texas,” in which someone is describing a “stylish, at-home, baptism.”  While not really wanting to promote the video or the show, I’ve embedded a link below – but be prepared, it might make you want to throw up.  Once you’ve watched it, read on.

There are so many things wrong here that I cannot cover them all, but I thought it would be helpful to give a brief list of some of the more egregious errors, and if there’s time, touch on some of the underlying problems. Here goes…

  • Elegant/stylish adult Baptism – I’m all for beautiful expressions of worship, but is elegance and style what a baptism is all about?  Does opulence add to or detract from the glory of God?
  • “It is appropriate to have a Baptism anywhere” – Is it?  If that’s the case, would it be appropriate to have a baptism in the commode at the nearest international airport?  Anywhere?  I would think that a baptism should be held wherever the body of Christ can gather as witness and to hear the witness of the one being baptized, but certainly some discretion should be given to the appropriateness of location.
  • “You could actually have it in a church, sometimes that’s more traditional” – Sometimes?  Thanks for reminding us that if the Moose Lodge is booked, the church is still an option.
  • “I prefer a beautiful swimming pool; it’s more controlled and its cleaner.”  Ah, nothing washes away my sins like the chlorinated waters of baptism.  I think we get here what’s at the heart of the problem in this video – control.  While there’s a shot of a robed woman “performing” the baptism, I wonder if the robe was only there to hide the brace she must be wearing to make up for her missing back-bone.  I’m sure the decision process for this “baptism” went something along the lines of… “Money, Television time, and an Open Bar – where do I sign?”
  • The Baptee wears white to signify purity, but you also need an after outfit, because you don’t want to drip.  First off, what the heck is a “Baptee.”  And while the pictured baptismal dress and after dress may signify purity, what they scream is $$$$.
  • As the Godmother, wear something classy, classic and tasteful.  Well that’s the only sound piece of advice given so far; but again, as stated at the very beginning, it’s all about appearances, isn’t it?  She goes on, “this is not a time to be ‘boobalicious’.”  (Okay, I just slammed my hands in the desk drawer, because I had hoped I’d never have to write anything as ridiculous as that.) Kudus, Godmother, for realizing that a Baptism is a time for, shall we say, modesty.  But let me ask you this; as a Godmother, when would it be appropriate to be “boobalicious?” (Again with the hands in the drawer.)
  • The Cake is the Centerpiece of the Baptism – of course it is – we wouldn’t want anything like that bloody Cross, nor the one who was on it, showing up at something so elegant.
  • A stylish ending – doves.  Nothing says style quite like doves.  (Unless its big giant dancing puppets in worship, or rainbow stoles and tablecloths.  Put them all together – death by style.)  Releasing doves signifies the purity and commitment to live a better life.  You mean it gets better than a mansion, swimming pool, and mimosas?  At least there’s no talk about dying to sin and living with Christ.  Rock on, party girl – what a stylish baptismal affair.

What’s really at stake here is the very understanding of what baptism means and signifies.  There is no mention of the preaching of the word, of the significance of being united with Christ by dying and rising with him.  This baptism was merely an opportunity to flout excessiveness and style.  Baptism is always a response to the grace of God that has awakened us to our sinfulness, and drawn us to salvation in Christ through the power of the Holy  Spirit – how was that signified in this service?

I don’t pretend to know the sincerity of the faith of the one being baptized, but by all outward appearances, this is vanity in its highest form; an empty ritual devoid of all health, life, and spirit.  Where is the church, the pastor, the elder, teaching and leading in this baptism about the true meaning and form of worship?  Where is the shepherd to guide the sheep through the dangerous waters of relativism, individualism, and success?  After getting really mad at the idiocy of the video, I’m even angrier at the impotence of whatever church/pastor let this atrocity happen.

Normally some obscure video from a show very few actually watch would not get under my skin like this, but I just heard at a Presbytery meeting that one of the reasons why the church is losing members today is because we have not had any innovations in the past 50 years.  Really?  I thought the progressive/liberal leadership of the church had brought a whole new world of innovation in theology and church life, but apparently it hasn’t been enough.  Is this kind of baptism the next innovation for the church?

Calvin once wrote, “Men can do nothing but err when they are guided by their own opinion; and those who introduce newly invented methods of worshipping God really worship and adore the creature of the own distempered imaginations.”  Amen, brother John.  Would you like some Baptismal Cake?

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About reveds

Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, SD Education: BS - Christian Education, Sterling College; MDiv. - Princeton Theological Seminary Family: Married, with Four children. Hobbies: Running (will someday run a marathon), Sci-Fi (especially Doctor Who and Sherlock), Theater, and anything else my kids will let me do.
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6 Responses to An Elegant (and Innovative) Baptism?!?

  1. reveds says:

    I see now that the Baptizing minister is none other than April Osteen Simons, sister to Joel Osteen. Nuff said.

  2. Brandon Kittlitz says:

    Um…wow. My head hurts and my heart is sickened. This is not a proper practice of our faith. Perhaps the participants had good intentions, but everything went right out the door pretty much from the get go. As Christians we are instructed to be humble, to remain above reproach. Even the slightest resemblance to the mainstream, “The Kardashians” or “Real Housewives…” and the like invites judgment, ridicule and scorn from the very people we should be witnessing to.
    Why are fundamentals not enough? Why do Christians need to change or become more modern to attract others? The change in our hearts, the attitude with which we approach life, the fundamentals of Christ’s teachings will attract others. Attempting to adapt only makes us look like everyone and everything else. How is being the same as the world any more attractive?

    • reveds says:

      What makes it even worse for you, Brandon, is they are from Texas :). I’d like to say this is not the norm, an aberration, but sadly, while many may not have the means for such a display, their hearts are in the same place. It is sad, and it is indicative of the greater problem of the church. Keep making concessions, keep giving away a little here and a little there… pretty soon your left with nothing.

  3. You mean that actually was a real minister and not someone dressed in a choir robe and pretending to baptize someone? EWW EWW EWW! Sorry for my elegant language, but that’s how this travesty makes me feel.

    The fact that actual Christians watch, let alone cooperate with, a show called “Big Rich Texas” means that there is something really messed up going on.

    Yikes, we’ve got it coming at us from Louisville (the big puppets were duly noted), and meanwhile, behind us on the other side, there’s this rot.

    Good analysis, Andy. Thanks.

  4. Tim McMullen says:

    I also found this video posted by a friend, to which I replied: “That is just too hilariously crass and irreligious even for this non-believer’s taste. Talk about your war on Christianity: I think that they have found another leader for their fifth column.”

    Another commenter responded: “Tim … can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or serious ….”

    My answer: it seems to me that this could be a sketch right out of SNL or Mad TV—”Hi, I’m Leslie from Big Rich Texas, and I’m going to show you ‘How to Throw an Elegant Adult Baptism.'” I was going to begin to articulate all the things that I find offensive in this piece, but in looking for the word “Baptee,” I stumbled onto this blog post which dissects the piece with very much the same absurdities that I found.

    And I posted a link to your analysis here. Very nicely done.

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