Baptism: A Change of Allegiances

“In baptism, a human individual is transferred from the world to the church. The world registers a loss in loyalty; the church registers an advance in loyalty. . . . Because of this shift, baptism marks a definite realignment of power. . . . If the church grows through the initiation of one member at a time, it seemingly shrinks through an equivalent but opposite process. The world attempts to regain its lost members, to secure its former loyalties, and to establish its earlier power. In this way, baptism is an overtly political act. Like the burning of draft cards, baptism declares a switched identity, a refusal to be one thing and a determination to be something else.”

– Crag Hovey, To Share in the Body
(quoted by Richard Beck in The Slavery of Death, p. 81)

2 thoughts on “Baptism: A Change of Allegiances

  1. Apart from God there is no loyalty. Apart from God there is no power. A switched identity will be recognized by a changed life of obedience. If there is no obedience in persons life no matter what end of the pool you get dunked the point is mute. The cousin of Jesus message still rings true today…..Repent. People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.


  2. Well, yeah. It’s a fundamental shift in being. It’s a shift from, what Paul would say, “flesh-being” to “Christ-being”. Faith is, at its root, not merely a redirection of the mind, but of the self. It’s not merely a new pistology, it’s a new ontology, because ultimately said being is derived from a new source. And upon switching that form of being, we switch our citizenry as well, from that of an earthly kingdom to that which stands against all earthly kingdoms. And he’s right, ultimately baptism is (or at least should be) the final seal against such returning to the world…


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