What seem to be very simple rituals and teachings become, under sustained reflection and a reflective spiritual walk, immensely rich. This is the case with this episode, which continues a series started this past December and January (episodes 261, 263-264) discussing topics in Samuel M. Brown’s book, First Principles and Ordinances: The Fourth Article of Faith in Light of the Temple (Maxwell Institute, 2014). Joining Sam again, as he did for the episode that covered Faith and Repentance, is philosopher and theologian Adam Miller, this time for a terrific discussion of the ordinance of baptism. What are some of the ancient world’s ritual forms from which baptism emerged? What is the significance of John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul in expanding its usage and meanings? What potential problems arise when we over-emphasize the common teaching that baptism is primarily about being cleansed of our sins? In their conversation, the panelists also reflect in very rich ways upon its symbolism, as well as its role within Mormonism, including its ability to help bind us together as the “body of Christ.” As the discussion unfolds, they then turn to the role of the sacrament and its intricate connection with baptism. How does this ritual meal act as a ritual meal that binds us closer to God and each other?
Please listen and then share your reflections in the comments section below!
Awesome job guys!! Your thoughts at the end about the Bishop being the first, during the sacrament, to acknowledge his need for Christ reminded me of this insight from an Episcopalian Liturgical Scholar: “Confession in the Eucharist is a corporate matter. We are a community, and we make confession as a community for failing to be the Body of Christ before God and in the world….the point is to recognize that our sins contribute, together, to a failure of the church to do its work in joyful obedience to God. In other words, the Confession is not an aggregation of individuals expressing their sorrow for their individual failures at the same time, but a body of people expressing their sorrow for the church’s failures to live up to its calling.”
Excerpt From: James W. Farwell. “The Liturgy Explained.”
I don’t share this to disagree with you guys in regards to the problematic perspective that someone can develop about God by fixating on their sins and His punishments. I’ve just wondered if the sacrament could technically be a regular opportunity for members to expand their awareness of fallibility by broadening it to the Kingdom as a whole group and consequently as an organization itself. As a result, the existence of sin could be somewhat depersonalized and the accessibility of atoning grace could be implied more clearly in the ordinance for those overcome with unnecessary levels of guilt. People are hypersensitive though and I think it’s because of Paul saying in 1 Cor 11: 29, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself,” also in verse 30 he says that doing so has made people sick and even caused some deaths. I would love to see these verses addressed in a less radical way but Paul’s wording makes it difficult sometimes.
Ah, mistakenly hit the back button and lost my whole comment before sending it. Then I realized that saved you having to read a lot of words to express a few very simple thoughts:
1. Perfect group for this discussion.
2. As usual, listening helps me cultivate generosity toward perspectives different from my own.
3. “Woman up” sounds awesome when it comes from a guy.
4. It’s always a happy little thrill to get the notification of a new MM episode. Thank you!
What a wonderful discussion. Thanks to all who participated.
I agree that the discussion of baptism within the context of being cleansed from sin often tends to be overemphasized. It was stated that this is a fine preparatory emphasis for the little Saints but I disagree with that. In Primary that aspect of thinking about and preparing for baptism is certainly the main emphasis. “I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain…” I actually think cleansing from sin is the wrong emphasis for kids approaching 8. According to our doctrine, those kids are sinless and pure when they enter the water (give or take a day or two:) I prefer to emphasize with the kids the idea that this is the beginning of their adventure or journey in growing up and becoming in charge of their own choices and yes, that they are now officially part of the body (community/followers) of Christ and are armed with power (conferral of the gift of the Holy Ghost)to go forth and do and help! Also the kids can think about the starting point in the journey home to Heavenly Father through the gate of baptism. In contrast to a convert baptism of an older person, the 8-year-old being baptized is most like Christ’s baptism. A sinless soul entering the water for reasons other than being cleansed. I prefer the other baptism song in Primary – “To fulfill the law,” said Jesus, when the Baptist questioned Why? – “And to enter with my Father in His kingdom up on high.” I feel the little and pure ones are better served with this emphasis and that the cleansing from sin emphasis is more helpful and applicable as we get a little older.
I LOVE the Buffy/Joss Whedon reference!! I totally remember that episode.:)
I listened to this the day before I baptized my daughter. It was something that was tremendously helpful for me to hear. Thank you for putting in the time and effort.
Beautiful! Thank you for reminding me why I am a Latter-day Saint, why I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and why I stay in the church. I have always believed more in the merits and mercy of Christ having the potential to make us “unspotted” than in the heavy-handed emphasis on works. I wish our church lessons and talks emphasized the love of Christ as I heard in this podcast. You have added richness and splendor to my understanding of baptism and the sacrament.
I’ve been away from this blog for a quite a while, since Feedly didn’t update any posts. I revisited the podcast this week and listened to this one on baptism and a couple of others, and I loved it. It’s substantive, interesting, and faith-centered. From the few Mormon Matters podcasts I’ve listened to over the last few days, I think you have the best podcasts out there discussing LDS topics. You’ve definitely earned my financial support (however meager it may be) and I look forward to catching up with what I’ve missed over the last year or so.
Thanks for the podcast very much appreciate all of MM work.
I’m a bit surprised that Adamic baptisms are not mentions as indicated in the pearl of great price where it seems that Joseph Smith wanted to instill the idea of baptism being an ordinance since the beginning of time… (see Moses 8) although I have to wonder how credible that is.
Any comments on that?