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January 25, 2005



I go with where I think Chris is going with this: appreciating that the communal formation thing is far more important than the modernist indiviualist ideology would have us believe. We are far more formed by others than this ideology would have us believe. I've already mentioned language [no-one speaks their own langiuge; it is always a communal inheritance] but research shows that we cannot even gain the prerequisites for learning and cognition without imitating others. Before we are capapbel of rational thought we have already had a great deal 'inscribed' in us. Besides which I find it suspicious that the issue of baptising infants is not an issue until individualism starts making its cultural appearance; until then people take the entirely sensible position of recognising that people tend to be formed by those around them. It is we moderns with our obsession with the atomistic individual who have the pathology.

That's not to say that there aren't important things in valuing individual identity and formation just that, perhaps, we over-do it: It seems to me that part of the Christian journey of sanctification is to learn to take appropriate individual responsibility; implying that our formation is actually fairly communal on the whole. As Christians we have the responsibility to make the best use of that fact of human nature [communal because fashioned in the image of God who is Community in Godself]. The trick is to do that formation in such a way that the Christian faith is allowed to commend itself even to the person who is experiencing the drive to individuation.


I appreciate the "household" perspective that Andii has mentioned, especially in connection with what you've mentioned, Benjy -- namely being raised into the faith of one's family. Modern individualist notions of faith development will naturally struggle with this. "Community" involves much more than personal choice.


I used to be a baptist but now I happily baptise kids of belieiving families. Our own were all baptised as infants becaue we took the view that just as they had no choice but to learn to speak English with us and they inevitably pick up all sorts of basic life skills from us and our observation is that by and large children share the world view of their families, so Christian faith was part of their nurture and if they wanted out then so be it later but mean time we fulfill our part of obeying the making diaciples command by baptising them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. Besides how could we teach them to pray 'our Father' and deny them the sacrament that marks them out as children of our heavenly Father? If we want to teach our kids to pray by praying with them then we are treating them as Christians, ergo we baptise them. It is inconsistent to disciple ones children without enrolling them as disciples through baptism. Baptists should be consistent and desist from any exposure of their kids to Christian faith until they are of an age to believe properly [whenever that is ... anyone know? Any biblical hints?] -Okay that's provocative but I feel that us paedobaptists get enough forceful and hurtful propaganda the other way to occasionally warrant a robust counterblast. I don't find infant dedication in scripture; seems to me you either interpret household baptism as including infants or you don't do anything with kids until their reach 'discretionary years' -biblically.

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