One of the many great things about living in Durham for the past two years has been the opportunity to spend time with Alastair Roberts. Alastair is a fount of biblical and theological knowledge, and has recently started making videos responding to submitted questions. Recently he shared a few thoughts on baptism, along these lines:

  • What does baptism do for a person?
  • Apparently a great deal!
  • But how does that work?
  • Think of a wedding ceremony. It is the entrance into a lifelong union. Baptism, likewise, is the entrance into a new life. It does not have magical powers, but it must be received properly, as is the case with a wedding ceremony.
  • Think about adoption. Its significance is mostly seen in what happens next. Baptism, likewise, leads on to new life in Christ.
  • The efficacy of a wedding ceremony is seen in a lifelong union.
  • The efficacy of baptism is seen in an ongoing life of faith in Christ.
  • Think of a coronation. It seals and confirms something that is already the case, but also brings it to a new level of existence. Baptism is similar.
  • Many do not enter into the reality of baptism. Its true significance is seen when the sign is received by faith.
  • Baptism is performed on our bodies.
  • My body precedes my agency, subjectivity and volition. It is the basis of my selfhood.
  • Baptism therefore claims us at a deeper level than that of our agency, subjectivity and volition.
  • Christ’s story is focused on his body: birth, death, resurrection, etc.
  • Baptism marks out our bodies for resurrection.
  • Our bodies are much more significant than we often realise.
  • Baptism connects us with Christ’s redemptive work, and with the story of Scripture. For example, baptism connects us with creation out of water, the flood, the Red Sea crossing.
  • Baptism does wonderful things, by the Holy Spirit, when received by faith.

The videos are also available in an audio (podcast) format (Soundcloud, iTunes). Here is the above video in its various guises: