Thinking baptism … and formation

underwater-sculpture-parkToday, Halden (pbuh) had me thinking about baptism. I had this – or at least something like it – to contribute:

Baptism is both God’s sign to humanity that we have been redeemed by Christ, and humanity’s sign to God that we are willing partners in God’s work of reconciliation. Baptism, in other words, finds its basis in the hypostatic union through which God draws near to humanity and humanity draws near to God. Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity. It is the prius of the divine ecomony in the incarnation that baptism testifies chiefly to, and not to any subjective attainment of our confession, which might change. To put it another way, baptism is nothing less than our participation in the full and vicarious humanity of the Son of God.

This then got me thinking about the relationship between baptism and formation, at which point I recalled Bonhoeffer’s words:

Formation comes only by being drawn into the life of Jesus Christ. It comes only as formation in His likeness, as conformation with the unique form of Him who was made man, was crucified and rose again. This is not achieved by dint of efforts ‘to become like Jesus’ … It is achieved only when the form of Jesus Christ himself works upon us in such a manner that moulds our form in its own likeness (Gal 4.19). It is not Christian men who shape the world with their ideas, but it is Christ who shapes men in conformity with Himself. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics (ed. Eberhard Bethge; trans. N.H. Smith; London: SCM, 1955), 18.

[Image: Jason deCaires Taylor]


  1. While I recognize that you have mentioned infant baptism neither here nor in your comment at Inhabitatio Dei, I would add (because of the context of the original discussion) that Bonhoeffer defended infant baptism…and actually in almost exactly the same ways that Luther did, and very closely to the theological reasons I gave in my few posts at Halden’s site.


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