“So, Maggie, what is it you wanted to see me about?” Pastor Bob reached for a legal tablet and ballpoint pen, ready to scribble notes.
“I’m afraid my baptism didn’t take.”
“What, exactly, does that mean?” The previously poised pen slipped from Pastor Bob’s fingers as he peered over his bifocals at Maggie.
“You know … it didn’t count.”
Pastor Bob hastily bit the insides of his cheeks to suppress the smile begging to escape his pursed lips. Maggie stared at him with immense, pale blue eyes. Her intense look told Pastor Bob that she was serious, and he didn’t want to trivialize her distress with a misplaced grin.
“Why do you think your baptism didn’t … count?” Pastor Bob furrowed his eye brows, trying to visually match Maggie’s level of concern.
“Well, I was raised in the Church of the Brethren. Have you heard of it? It’s kinda like the Mennonites, or the Amish. Anyway …”
As Maggie paused to take a breath, Pastor Bob interjected a bit of church wisdom.
“Yes, I know of the Brethren. So you were a Dunkard, huh?”
“What?! Why would you think I was a drunk?! I don’t drink, and if you knew anything about the Brethren, you would know that they are teetotalers. I admit that I kinda like daiquiris -- strawberry daiquiris -- and those mud slide things, but that’s only because they taste like chocolate milk shakes, and I’ve only had a couple of those in my life. We never had alcohol in my house growing up … and we don’t have any in our house now.”
Pastor Bob worked hard to swallow the guffaws desperately struggling for freedom. “No, Maggie, I didn’t say drunkard, I said Dunkard.”
Maggie took a moment to assimilate Pastor Bob’s words. “Oh. I guess I gave you too much information then, huh? So, what’s a Dunkard?”
“A Dunkard refers to a member of the Church of the Brethren. The Brethren were called Dunkards because they practice triune immersion in baptism. You were immersed, or dunked, three times, right?”
“Yep. I was dunked forward, not backwards like most churches do, and I was dunked three times -- once in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
“No need to worry, Maggie, your baptism still counted, as you call it. The Bible isn’t completely clear about the baptism procedure. While there isn’t a specific passage to suggest that a person should be immersed three times, there also isn’t anything that specifically says the immersion should be just one time. So whether you were dunked three times or only once, it doesn’t mean that one way is right and the other is wrong.”
“That’s good to know, but that’s not what I was talking about. I figured I was covered triple since I was dunked three times.” Maggie laughed at her wit before continuing.
“Anyway … the reason I don’t think my baptism took is because I was baptized by a pastor who lost his pastor rights … you know, like being disbarred, or depastorized -- something like that. Anyway, he was having an affair with a woman in our church … they were both married … it was a smaller church … you can imagine the scandal. They tried to keep it from us kids … well, we weren’t really kids, we were teenagers, and you know how teenagers like to know everything, and make up what they don’t know, especially if it’s a juicy story. Anyway, that’s why I’m afraid my baptism didn’t take. I was baptized by a sinful man.”
Maggie blinked her tear-filled eyes, and looked innocently to Pastor Bob for reassurance.
“We were all baptized by a sinful person, Maggie. Romans 3:23 says, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ Jesus commanded the disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matt 28:16 NIV) – which might be where the Brethren get their idea for the triune immersion. Jesus gave this command, instructing his disciples to baptize others, knowing full well that his disciples were sinful men. So, if you accepted Christ as your Savior, and asked Him to be Lord of your life, then your baptism counted.”
Maggie exhaled audibly – relief momentarily enveloping her visibly tense body. Satisfied with Pastor Bob’s explanation, Maggie ventured to her next topic of concern. “Anyway … about communion …”
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