Theopolis ArticlesFilter

  • Infant Baptism in the History of the Church

    Ancient practice in the Church sets an important precedent for present day practice. This certainly doesn’t mean that Christians are bound to only do things as they have always been done, but the principles of catholicity and unity move us not to break from historic church practice on a particular item unless there is a […]

  • Unequal Holiness

    In 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 Paul deals with how the Corinthian Christians are supposed to be relating to unbelieving spouses. He essentially tells them, “Look, if your unbelieving spouse is willing to stay with you as a faithful Christian, don’t initiate a divorce. If he/she wants to leave you, let him/her go. The believer is not […]

  • Baptism and Contextualization, 1

    I can imagine someone reading the title of this essay and saying to himself, “I have two questions. First, what in the world is “contextualization”?” Second, even before hearing the answer to the first question, he may wonder, “what does baptism have to do with such an awkward and vague notion?” Let me begin by […]

  • Like A Dove II

    In the previous article in this series, I drew attention to the threefold meaning of the Spirit of God descending as a dove on Jesus at His baptism. On a related note, I also argued that 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Titus 3:3-7 were parallel passages that addressed the same issues in very similar language. One […]

  • Like a Dove

    Peter Leithart’s book, The Priesthood of the Plebs: A Theology of Baptism, argues that baptism is parallel to and the fulfillment of the old covenant rite of priestly ordination. But this is not something explicitly stated in the New Testament. Why, then, should we believe it? Leithart shows in detail that new covenant baptism does […]

  • God is Shouting, “Baptism Saves!”

    Unfortunately today, baptism seems so…tiny. It’s actually…cute (maybe sweet?) when it’s given to a child. A little baby, a small gathering of people, a little bowl of water, tiny drops sprinkled upon the little baby’s head followed by a small applause and a short prayer. How…small! As it currently stands, it sure does take faith […]

  • Renewing Circumcision

    When the Aaronic priests were ordained, the blood of the ram of “filling” was placed on the lobe of the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe (Lev. 8:22-24). Similarly, the cleansing rite for a leper included smearing the right ear lobe, thumb, and big toe with blood from the `asham (“guilt” […]

  • Water, Spirit, Fire, 3

    In the previous essay, we saw that fire is a work of the Holy Spirit. The two are related so closely that they cannot be separated. Now we turn our attention to the Spirit’s relationship to water. Many have understood Spirit baptism to be a dry baptism, one that is of a spiritual nature only. […]

  • Water, Spirit, Fire, 2

    In the introduction we saw that Matthew and Luke are the only gospels which include “fire” in John the Baptist’s narrative. If Matthew and Luke are the priestly and prophetic gospels, the inclusion of fire is of great importance. Priests are servants of the altar, working with fire every day. They were to keep the […]

  • Water, Spirit, Fire, 1

    John the Baptist says, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me . . . will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Mt. 3:11).” Much debate surrounds the nature of this statement and what exactly it prophesies. Sacramental, baptistic, and charismatic Christians have differing interpretations when it […]

  • Embracing Embodiment: Baptism and the Nuptial Meaning of the Body

    In my previous two articles, I argued for the significance of the fact that baptism addresses our bodies in their objectivity. In the body, the self has an existence that runs deeper than our consciousness, decision, self-expression, and action. In washing our passive bodies, baptism seals us with an anticipatory seal of future resurrection. The […]

  • Presenting Limbs and Organs: Baptism and Sacrificial Ethics

    Although we tend to define ourselves by our subjectivity—our perceptions, thoughts, feelings, decisions, actions—we are frequently forgetful of the objectivity of the self as body, the reality of the self that underlies and precedes all of our subjectivity. The body is the site of our ‘givenness’, where we are embedded in nature, tradition, society, and […]

  • Sealed for Resurrection: Baptism and the Objectivity of the Body

    Christians, even those who say much about ‘incarnational’ faith, can say surprisingly little about the way that God claims our bodies. Perhaps this is most striking in treatments of baptism, where the intensely bodily character of the rite would especially seem to invite comment. Even if the term ‘baptism’ were to be regarded as synecdochal […]

  • Baptism as Exorcism

    Alexander Schmemann in his book, Of Water and the Spirit, expounds the question that appears in nearly all the older baptismal liturgies, “Do you renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world and all sinful lusts of the flesh.” This renunciation, according to scholars, was used almost universally […]

  • And He Gave Some To Be Parents

    Standing in the narthex at the font, parents joyfully approach with their newborn child. The pastor asks the parents a series of questions that may include their renunciation of the devil and all his works, their faith in God the Father, Son, and Spirit as explained in the Apostles’ Creed, and their commitment to rear […]

  • Recreated in Four Dimensions

    Have you ever been to a wedding where the heavens opened and a voice declared the couple “husband and wife”?  Few of us have. Beautiful as they are, most marriages are quite mundane. Yet when Jesus talks about marriage, He describes it as something that God does: “What God has joined together, let no man […]

  • Baptismal Imagery in James 1

    Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21). James hooks the different sections of his epistle together by using the same or a similar word at the close of one section and the opening of the following section. […]

  • Does Baptism Justify?

    Peter says “baptism saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). Does the New Testament teach that “baptism justifies you”? I think the answer is Yes. That’s a controversial answer, and demands some defense and explanation, but first some critical qualifications.  No New Testament text states “baptism justifies you,” so my argument will be that some passages imply […]

  • Do Baptists Talk to their Babies?

    Protestants have always insisted that the sacraments bring no benefit without a response of faith, but this seems to undermine infant baptism, since infants do not appear to be able to exercise faith. Luther and Calvin held together their insistence on faith with infant baptism by claiming that infants can believe. Baptists see this as […]

  • Baptism and the Spirit

    Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is often formulated along dispensational lines. The Holy Spirit’s work in the Old Testament, we tend to think, was earthly, concerned with political and military leadership, while in the New Testament the Spirit’s work has to do with mediating salvation achieved by Christ. The Spirit’s work in the […]