Biblical stories about baptism are connected to, but also at odds with, historical theology about baptism as well as the current liturgical practices of baptism. Reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ baptism together with contemporary theologies offers a glimpse of the radical solidarity of Jesus.
*This post originally appeared on the Politics of Scripture January 2, 2017.
The divine violence of the drowning of the Egyptians in the deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea raises challenging questions about the character of liberation and the foundation of nations.
Biblical stories about baptism are connected to, but also at odds with, historical theology about baptism as well as the current liturgical practices of baptism. Matthew’s account of Jesus’s baptism gives us a helpful window into the reality.
The words that we use to describe ourselves and others are significant. John the Baptist’s description of the Pharisees and the Sadducees as a ‘Brood of Vipers’ lies at the heart of a powerful prophetic critique.
Jesus, against our expectations, comes to bring division in places where unity formerly existed. He calls us to be attentive to the way the winds of our age are blowing.
Both in Jesus’ baptism and in the later giving of the Spirit through the laying on of hands in the early Church, we see significance accorded to touch. This importance given to touch—to the tangible—summons us into the realm of human and bodily connection and engagement with others.
The account of the baptism of the Eunuch can be read in several ways. Fruitful readings have focused on the gender and the nationality of the person. The political implications have often been overlooked, even though this is an early and potentially fruitful tale for the political theologian.
“Faith is the womb that conceives this new life, baptism the rebirth by which it is brought forth into the light of day. The church is its nurse, her teachings are its milk, the bread from heaven is its food.” Gregory of Nyssa’s words are both beguiling and poetic, but in my own urban context, those who bring their children forward for ‘baptism’ often seem to understand it through two, less theologically nuanced notions…