Faith vs. Emotion

The enemy of my faith is not reason; my faith is, in fact, based on reason. The real enemy is my imagination and emotion. The battle is between faith and reason on one side, and emotion and imagination on the other.

A man who knows on perfectly good evidence that a pretty girl of his acquaintance ought not to be trusted, still finds that with her, his mind looses its faith in that bit of knowledge and starts thinking, “Perhaps, she’ll be different this time,”, and once more makes a fool of himself. His senses and emotions have destroyed his faith in what he really knows to be true.

Faith, therefore, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.

That is why faith must be constantly trained.

– paraphrased from C. S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”

Faith vs. Emotion

Lost love

People often say, “better to have loved and lost than not loved at all”. Mostly, it’s offered in consolation or encouragement.

But I wonder now if most people who say that so easily, really know what it means to have really loved… or really lost… Because I suspect that the people who really know what that phrase means, have also experienced the two lines above it; and would be much less quicker to try and say anything..:

I hold it true whatever befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost;
Than never to have loved at all.
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

Aside

When God Wants a Man

When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man…
When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall praise…
Watch His methods;
Watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects…

How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into frail shapes of clay that only God understands.
How his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands…
How he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes.
How He uses whom He chooses…with every purpose fuses him;
By every art induces him to try His splendor out…

God knows what He’s about!

When God wants to take a man and shake a man and wake a man…
When God wants to make a man to do the future’s will;
He tries with all His skill…
When He yearns with all His soul to create him large and whole…
With what cunning He prepares him…
How He goads and never spares him!

How He whets him and He frets him and in poverty begets him…
How often He disappoints whom He sacredly anoints!
With what wisdom He will hide him;
Never minding what betide him…
Though his genius sob with slighting and his pride may not forget;
Bids him struggle harder yet!

Makes him lonely so that only God’s high messages shall reach him…
So that He may surely teach him what the hierarchy planned;
And though he may not understand…
Gives him passions to command.
How remorselessly He spurs him…
With terrific ardor stirs him
When He poignantly prefers him.

When God wants to name a man and fame a man and tame a man…
When God wants to shame a man to do His Heavenly best;
When He tries the highest test that His reckoning may bring…
When He wants a [god] or king;
How He reins him and restrains him so his body scarce contains him…
While He fires him and inspires him…
Keeps him yearning, ever burning for that tantalizing goal.

Lures and lacerates his soul…
Sets a challenge for his spirit;
Draws it highest then he’s near it!
Makes a jungle that he clear it;
Makes a desert that he fear it…and subdue it, if he can –
So doth God make a man!

Then
To test his spirit’s wrath
Throw a mountain in his path;
Puts a bitter choice before him and relentlessly stands o’er him…
Climb or perish, so He says…

But, watch His purpose, watch His ways.
God’s plan is wondrous kind – could we understand His mind?
Fools are they who call His blind!
When his feet are torn and bleeding;
Yet his spirit mounts unheeding…
Blazing newer paths and finds;
When the Force that is Divine leaps to challenge every failure,
And His ardour still is sweet –
And love and hope are burning in the presence of defeat!

Lo the crisis, Lo the shouts that would call the leader out…
When the people need salvation doth he rise to lead the nation;
Then doth God show His plan…
And the world has found a man!

(Attributed to Anonymity)

When God Wants a Man

Purpose in suffering

If I find no other purpose and meaning in my pain and suffering, I can still remember this:

Those who caused me pain also showed me where I was weak and needed to grow. That which continually wounded me also kept alive my longing for my eternal home.

I may not find healing; I may not find a resolution.

But if my suffering does nothing else than to show me I am still in need of sanctification and reminds me I’m not yet home, it has still served that one purpose….

Purpose in suffering

Baptism & Burial

A look at Romans 6:3-4

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
(Romans 6:3-4 ESV)

This is a passage often quoted in support of immersion as the true biblical mode of baptism. In fact, with a cursory reading of the passage, it’s hard to argue; who can deny immersion when it clearly says ‘buried with him by baptism’? How can it mean anything else other than immersion?

But note, I said cursory reading of the passage. Let’s examine this passage closely and see whether the physical mode of baptism was in the apostle’s mind in this passage at all.

Context

Paul is attempting to establish the greatness of the grace of God in that the greater our sin, the greater is the grace of God that it should be forgiven by Christ’s death and atonement. Paul then anticipates a rationalization for sin; namely that if the abundance of grace is shown better by the abundance of sin, why not continue sinning. His answer to that rationalization is the passage under examination, namely why we cannot continue living a life of sin.

Baptized into Christ Jesus

What does this phrase mean? If we were to come to this passage with no preconception of the meaning of the word ‘baptize’, there is at least one other passage that uses the exact same language which should shed some light on what this particular phrasing of ‘baptized into’ should mean.

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
(1 Corinthians 10:1-2 ESV)

Here we have a description by apostle Paul of a series of events which he denotes as ‘baptism into Moses’. From what we know of the event of the exodus and Paul’s reference to it here, at the very least, we can conclude that Paul used this construction of ‘baptized into’ to denote a union of sorts with Moses and the Mosaic covenant. I am on purpose refraining from going into the details of what the nature of that union was, or the nature of the events that signified that union. For our present purposes, and approaching the text without preconceptions, it is enough that we can satisfy ourselves of the notion of ‘baptized into’ someone/something denoting ‘union with’ that someone/something based on this precedence.

Coming back to the passage under consideration, can ‘baptized into Christ’ refer to the physical ceremony/rite of baptism in this context? Absolutely! However, even in that interpretation, the emphasis would be on the union with Christ. So, whether that refers to the work of the Holy Spirit to unite us to Christ in spirit or to the physical rite that declares we are united to Him, evidently, in this context, the use of ‘baptized into Christ’ refers to being ‘united with Christ’.

Baptized into his death

Given the precedence described above for ‘baptized into’ referring to ‘united with’, it follows that the second part the verse refers to a union with Christ’s death. The implication of the apostle here, again in answer to the rationalization for sin, is that our union with Christ implies our union with his death (to sin). What the meaning and implications of this union are is, again, an entirely separate discussion and much can be gleaned from it. However, here we are trying to determine the presence/absence of a mode in the reference to baptism in this passage. For that purpose, it is sufficient for now that we can conclude that so far, the apostle Paul says that our union with Christ (baptism into Christ) should also imply a union with his death (baptism into his death).

Buried therefore with him

There was a bible teacher I used to listen to who, when teaching from Paul’s writings, would always say something along the lines of ‘whenever you encounter a “therefore” in the scriptures, you need to stop and ask “what’s it there for”’. So, true to that, we need to stop and consider that whatever the apostle is saying in verse 4, he builds on the conclusion of verse 3.

Since verse 4 says we are buried him, and that is based on the conclusion of verse 3 which is that our union with Christ also implies a union with his death, we must conclude that the burial here is a result of the union with Christ; i.e. union with Christ implies union with his death implies union with his burial.

Here then is the first place I think many people make a mistake in the interpretation of this passage; namely that rather than ‘buried with him’ referring to the physical act of baptism, the passage makes it clear that the burial with him (Christ) is a result of union with his death and with him.

Buried with him by… baptism?

The contention of immersionists is that the baptism here refers to the physical rite, i.e. we are buried with him when we are buried in the water. However, we have just established above that the burial in verse 4 is a result of the union with Christ and his death. The physical rite of of baptism has not at all entered into the picture. So, is it being brought into the picture here in the middle of verse 4?

Buried… into death?

If as the immersionist contend burial in verse 4 is a reference to burial under water by baptism and that we are therefore ‘buried by baptism’, a problem arises. If the ‘by baptism’ is simply a description of how we are buried, normal rules of language should allow us to remove that sentence fragment of the description and retain the meaning of the remainder of the verse.

Consider the sentence, “he traveled, by train, to France”. Normal rules of language would allow us to remove the description of the mode of travel (by train) and the main meaning of the sentence (he traveled to France) remains.

The problem with interpreting verse 4 to say that the burial happened by baptism is that if that temporary descriptor is removed in order to focus on the main meaning of the verse, the main meaning of the verse is unclear, because it then reads as ‘we are buried therefore with him into death’.

What would ‘buried into death’ mean? We would have to go to stretches of figurative and metaphorical language to find a meaning for burial into death. The closest interpretation I could give to ‘buried into death’ was to perhaps say that it meant we are buried alive. However, that would go entirely against the context of the passage where Paul wants to emphasize a reality of our death in Christ death. The language no longer makes sense.

Buried by baptism into death

Let’s also not forget that the phrase ‘baptism into death’ occurs in verse 4. We have already established from verse 3 that this phrase refers to union with Christ’s death. We have also established that verse 4 is an inference or conclusion drawn upon what is established in verse 3. Putting these together, the best interpretation of verse 4 is that we are buried with him by our union with his death, i.e. Union with christ, implies union with his death, implies union with his burial; which would supplement the apostle’s use of ‘therefore’.

Raised to newness of life

Verse 4 continues by saying that we were buried with him, so that we may be raised with him as well. In the later verses, Paul explains this further, that Christ’s death was our death so that his resurrection could be our resurrection. Here again, attempting to interpret the burial in these verses as referring to the physical burial under water muddles the message of the apostle. His entire argument throughout this passage is that Christ’s death is and should be our death, finite, and done; a one time event in the past already accomplished in order that a future event for us can take place, namely the ability to live the new life. Attempting to read our burial happening at the time of our baptism and attempting to tie our death to sin with our burial under the water, which would go against Paul’s argument that our death to sin happened with Christ’s death to sin.

‘Exradicism’ and Burial

To further clarify that the burial does not draw any inference or meaning from the physical act of baptism, I suggest the following exercise. Let’s substitute the word baptism for a word I’ve just made up ‘exradicism’ in these two verses.

Do you not know that all of us who have been exradicized into Christ Jesus were exradicized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by exradicism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Would you need any knowledge of the word exradicism in order to get the main argument of the verse as Paul intends? I don’t think so. In fact, I think it now becomes much clearer that even if were to find exradicism meant standing on one leg, arms outstretched and having the exradicizer blow over your head (as ridiculous as it sounds), it would have just the same connection with burial that baptism has in this passage.

In other words, the physical rite of baptism has a connection to burial by the scriptures’ definition of it having that connection and not by the nature of the physical rite itself. In fact, many physical rites in the Bible have the same property, i.e. they have a connection to things they signify not in an of themselves by their physical form but because of the definition of significance attributed to it. However, that is an entirely separate discussion in itself.

Conclusion

To summarize, we are buried with him in baptism because by definition it is meant to symbolize union with Christ, his life, death, and resurrection, not because of the physical nature of the symbol of baptism. Can we think of burial in to the water and raising up of the person from the water as symbolizing their personal death and burial. Yes, it is a plausible symbolism. However, that is a symbolism WE are attributing to it, and not one drawn out of this particular passage.

Baptism & Burial