John Partridge

Author's details

Name: John Partridge
Date registered: April 9, 2012
URL: http://www.blogger.com/profile/02271702233484025459

Latest posts

  1. Crossfusion: Trust is a Big Deal — September 16, 2014
  2. Crossfusion: Who Watches the Supplies? – A Football Meditation — September 12, 2014
  3. Crossfusion: Baptism: Why Didn’t I Feel Anything? — September 9, 2014
  4. Crossfusion: Why Don’t We Baptize Older Children? — September 2, 2014
  5. Crossfusion: Youth Questions: Why Do We Baptize Infants? — August 29, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Crossfusion: Just How Many Homosexuals Are There? — 1 comment
  2. Crossfusion: A Dream So Big — 1 comment
  3. Crossfusion: Christians are Wrong; Atheists are Right — 1 comment
  4. Crossfusion: This is not Barbeque Day — 1 comment
  5. Crossfusion: Is It Time to End Spousal Benefits? — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Sep 16 2014

Crossfusion: Trust is a Big Deal

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/09/trust-is-big-deal.html




    Have you ever had one of those “Duh!” moments when things start to make sense for the first time? But there are also moments when we read scripture and we completely miss important things because we assume that the people in the Bible were just like us.  In our scripture lesson this week, we read the story of Moses leading the people of Israel through the dry path God had created in the depths of the Red Sea.  But after the chariots, horsemen and soldiers of Egypt’s army are drowned, we read these verses in Exodus 14:30-31:

That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

    Most of us read this and think, “So what? They trusted God. God is trustworthy. Duh.”  And, because we assume that the people of Israel were just like us, we completely miss what a big deal this really was.

    We have lived our lives in possession of the entire Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  For many of us, there has never really been much doubt that God was trustworthy, even when we weren’t sure that God was real.  But the people of the Exodus did not know what we know.  The world that they lived in, and the gods that they knew, were very different.

    In the story of the Exodus, despite coming from the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Israelites had lived in the land of Egypt for 400 years.  At that time, they did not have a formal system of worship, or priesthood, they had stories.  The stories of their forefathers had been passed down to them from generation to generation, and even though the stories were magnificent, they lived in a world with very different stories.

    The Egyptians, like the Romans and the Greeks of the New Testament, were polytheists.  They believed, not in the one God of Israel, but in a collection of gods that were far from trustworthy.  The gods warred with one another through human agents and tens of thousands died for their amusement.  The gods of the Egyptians were capricious; they did what they wanted, when they wanted, often without any guiding morality.  To the gods, humans were little more than playthings and to humans, the gods were to be feared and not trusted.

    And so when the people of Israel saw that the God of Abraham had used his great power, not only to provide a means for them to escape their slavery, but to destroy those who sought to kill them, they saw, many for the first time, that their God was different.  Finally, the stories began to make sense.  They realized that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph was different than the gods of the Egyptians. 

They realized that the God of Israel could be trusted.

And trust really is a big deal.





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Sep 12 2014

Crossfusion: Who Watches the Supplies? – A Football Meditation

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/09/who-watches-supplies-football-meditation.html




    In the books of first and second Samuel we read the story of King David.  Many of us have heard stories about David, but there is at least one that we don’t often remember.  In 1 Samuel 30, we find David and 600 men who had just returned from fighting alongside Achish the king of the Philistines.  As they return home they discover that the Amalekites had raided their town, captured their wives (including two of David’s wives), their children, their livestock, as well as anything of value.  After consulting with their priest to find the will of God, David pursues the Amalekite raiding party.

    As they hurry to catch up to the raiders however, David finds that two hundred of his men are too exhausted to continue and so he leaves them behind with all their gear, supplies and what is left of their town.  David and the four hundred remaining men pursue the Amalekite raiding party and find them celebrating over all the loot that they had plundered.  David and his men attack and fight with the Amalekites from dusk that day, until the end of the following day, defeat them, and recapture every single animal, personal belonging, wife and family member.

    But when they return to their camp, the troublemakers began to stir things up.  They argued with David that the two hundred men who were left behind should not receive any of the plunder because they didn’t fight to get it.  They argued that these men should get their families back, but receive no share of the loot and plunder that they had taken from the Amalekites.

    David fights back.  David makes an argument that is important to every single one of us and one that is important to each of you on the football field.  David said:

“No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.

    It is important to remember that when you win, it isn’t just the superstars and the heroes that win the game.  Every member of your team had a part, Every coach, every water boy, every trainer, every teacher you ever had who helped you to earn the grades you needed to play ball, it took the guy on the sidelines who sprained his ankle before the season started, every football booster, every friend who gave you a ride home from practice, every relative, every parent, and every brother or sister that comes to watch you play.  As David said, these are the people who “watch the supplies” for you. 

    When you win, it isn’t just because of the guy who threw the touchdown pass, or who caught the interception, or who made the big tackle.  Your victory didn’t come because of the superstars; it took every single one of you. 

And that includes the people who just watch the supplies.



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Sep 09 2014

Crossfusion: Baptism: Why Didn’t I Feel Anything?

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/09/baptism-why-didnt-i-feel-anything.html




    After I wrote my recent blogs on baptism, my friend Tod Moses asked several questions regarding the supernatural participation of God in the ritual of baptism.  First, Tod found it odd that baptism is thought to be supernatural, when “most people feel nothing special upon baptism (other than knowing that they have done something good in terms of faith and duty.”  Later, Tod added, “I have known some pretty fine people of faith and had this baptism conversation with many of them. I've never come across one who said it felt supernatural or saving. Good, positive, affirming, obedient.... yes.”

    And so, the questions Tod is asking are these: If baptism is a supernatural experience, then why didn’t I feel anything?  Why have I not met people who thought that baptism felt “supernatural?”

These are all good questions. 

    Fundamental to the question is the assumption that because the act of baptism is supernatural, then baptism must therefore be miraculous.  Because we believe that God is the actor in baptism, we wonder why all baptisms are not like the one in Acts 19 where twelve men, immediately upon their baptism, began to speak in tongues and prophesy. But in fact, even in the New Testament, that sort of supernatural demonstration was rare. When Simon the Sorcerer came to faith in Acts 8, he is baptized by the Apostle Phillip, follows Phillip and was “astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”  Luke never claims that the act of baptism was, in itself, at all astonishing.

Likewise, our theology makes no such claim.

    In Wesleyan theology, baptism is held to be a “means of grace,” a path through which God comes close to us and pours grace into our lives.  Moreover, even though baptism is a sacrament of the church and the sacraments are considered to be among these “means of grace,” in his sermons, John Wesley “does not list baptism in the places where the means of grace are discussed.”[i]  While baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace, and it is an avenue through which God draws near to us and through which chooses to pour out grace, and while it is a potent symbol of our membership in the body of Christ, baptism is not, in and of itself, transformative.

    Baptism is, however, a beginning.  It is the opening of a door that leads to grace.  When we choose baptism, we can choose to walk through that door and receive God’s grace and at an infant baptism, the parents vow to raise that child in an environment of grace.  But ultimately it is our choice whether or not we will follow the path that leads onward from that door.

    If baptism was transformational or at all miraculous, baptized people wouldn't go off the rails and do all sorts of unchristian things. We all know it happens and it isn't a new problem.  John Wesley once said, “Say not then in your heart, “I was once baptized, therefore I am now a child of God.” Alas, that consequence will by no means hold. How many are the baptized gluttons and drunkards, the baptized liars and common swearers, the baptized railers and evil-speakers, the baptized whoremongers, thieves, extortioners? What think you? Are these now the children of God? Verily, I say unto you, whosoever you are, unto whom any one of the preceding characters belongs, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye do.” Unto you I call, in the name of Him whom you crucify afresh, and in his words to your circumcised predecessors, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”[ii]

    Baptism is a gift, an invitation, an opening.  It is, as Tod declared, “Good, positive, affirming, obedient” but not, in and of itself, saving or miraculous.  The supernatural aspect of baptism is not that we are miraculously transformed in some way, but that, as in communion, God promises to be present and uses that opportunity to open the door to grace.  So is baptism ever feel supernatural?  Sure, it happens for some people.  I have met one or two over the years, but for most of us, "Good, positive, affirming" and "something good in terms of faith and duty.” is about as much as we can expect.

    For most of us, that grace flows into our lives a little at a time, sometimes in waves but at other times in what feels like a trickle but truth be told, the limiting factor is not God, but us and our willingness “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with our God. (Micah 6”8)

    I once stood on a dock in England from which the HMS Beagle, the Mayflower and many other famous ships had set sail.  All along the dock, signs were erected to remember them.  It was not the dock that made those voyages famous or memorable, but the adventures themselves.  Likewise, we mark the occasion of baptism, not because baptism itself is remarkable, but because, knowing that God chooses to be a part of that life, we have confidence that the adventure that is beginning will be remarkable.



 Previously: 

Why do we baptize infants?
Why Don't We Baptize Older Children?

Others questions in this series can be found here: Ask the Pastor


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Other questions and answers in this series can be found here: Ask the Pastor

To have Crossfusion delivered directly to your email, click here.



[i] United Methodist Doctrine, The Extreme Center, Scott J. Jones, Abingdon Press, Nashville, p.244

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/baptism-why-didnt-i-feel-anything/

Sep 02 2014

Crossfusion: Why Don’t We Baptize Older Children?

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-dont-we-baptize-older-children.html



Note: I asked our youth to write down any questions that they had about faith, the church, or life in general.  This is a part of that series.

Question: Why don't we baptize older children?

     The original question I received from our youth was why it seems like older children are required to belong to the church for a while before we will baptize them.  The questioner also wonders if it has to do with accepting the Lord fully or completely.

    Honestly, there is no rule about baptizing older children.  As I noted in my last blog (Why do we Baptize Infants?), our church baptizes babies, so baptizing children shouldn’t really be a problem either, and the reality is that we will, and we do.  It may seem like we wait for older children for some reasons that often have more to do with the parents than the children.  Generally, children who are not baptized fall into two groups, those who weren’t baptized simply because the parents didn’t get around to it or weren’t going to church when the children were born, and those whose parents wanted them to be old enough to either choose baptism for themselves or simply be old enough to remember their baptism when they were adults.

    Parents who aren’t active in church often “forget” to baptize their children for a variety of reasons but more than likely if church isn’t a priority for them, then baptism probably isn’t a pressing item on their agenda either.  But when these same parents return to church, there is no reason that their children cannot be baptized and I have done such baptisms several times.  What often happens in these cases is that the children are already old enough to go to school.  They can talk, read, write and think and so their parents may want to make sure that they understand what is happening before they are baptized.   At some point the children are close to the age when they can take confirmation classes and join the church, so perhaps parents are thinking, “We’ve waited this long, why not wait until then?”  In any case, we see parents with older children return to church and it appears that they wait for a while before baptism.  Theologically, there is no need to wait, but whenever everyone feels “ready” then baptism can happen.

    The second group of parents have thought about it and made a conscious decision not to have their children baptized.  Some, despite our church’s belief in the effectiveness of infant baptism, find their personal theology to be more in line with a “believer’s baptism” (see my blog about this) and want their children to be old enough to choose.  Other parents simply want their children to remember the experience of being baptized.  John Wesley preferred infant baptism, but did not require it saying, “I believe infants ought to be baptized, and this may be done by either dipping or sprinkling.  If you are otherwise persuaded, be so still, and follow your own persuasion.”[i]  Remember that The United Methodist Church came about through the merger of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church and the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church.  The ME Church commonly performed infant baptisms, but the EUB church performed both infant baptism and infant dedication.  In dedication, parents bring their children to the church, and before God, to commit their lives to God and both they, and the church, make many of the same vows that are made at baptism, but they choose to wait until the children are older for baptism to happen.  Because the remnants of both the ME and the EUB churches remain a part of us and who we are, there are United Methodist churches where this continues to happen.  

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 Previously: 

 

Why do we baptize infants?


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Other questions and answers in this series can be found here: Ask the Pastor

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[i]Kenneth J. Collins, A Faithful Witness, John Wesley’s Homiletical Theology (Wilmore, KY, Wesley Heritage Press, 1993), 94.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/why-dont-we-baptize-older-children/

Aug 29 2014

Crossfusion: Youth Questions: Why Do We Baptize Infants?

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/08/youth-questions-why-do-we-baptize.html





Note: I asked our youth to write down any questions that they had about faith, the church, or life in general.  This is a part of that series.

Question: Why do we baptize infants?


     A question about infant baptism reminds us that there are two ways to understand baptism, those who baptize infants, children, and adults and those who only baptize adults.  The second group is generally those who perform “believer’s baptism.”  This group (and a great many churches belong to it) believes that in order to be baptized, a person must be old enough to understand what baptism means and make a conscious decision to put their faith in Jesus before being baptized.

    Our church (the United Methodist Church) does not subscribe to this interpretation of scripture for two basic reasons (although I’m sure theologians could identify – and argue about - more).  The first reason for why we baptize infants is because the disciples did.  In Acts 16:14 Lydia and her household are baptized. In Acts 16:32 the jailer who oversaw the imprisonment of Paul and Silas, “and his whole household,” are baptized. In Acts 18:8, Crispus and “his entire household” are baptized and finally, in 1 Corinthians 1:16 Paul remembers that he baptized “the householdof Stephanus.”  It was a time in history when the head of the household, male or female, decided the faith of everyone.  We might think that’s odd until we remember that our world isn’t all that different.  Few of us decided to attend church as children.  We came to church because our parents decided we were going to church.  Then, the head of the house decided for everyone, adults, children and even servants, and today parents still make some of those same decisions for their children.

    The second reason was one that mentioned in my last blog “What is Baptism?”  We believe that the “thing that happens” at baptism is something that God does and not something that we do.  At baptism, the Spirit of God enters into us and begins work inside of us.  After baptism, God’s presence goes with us and is active in our lives drawing us toward faith and a belief in Jesus Christ.  Since the disciples baptized whole families, we understand that God can do what God does in the lives of children even before they are old enough to make a conscious choice to follow Jesus.  We may not completely understand what it is that God does, or how God does it, but we choose to allow God to be a part of the lives of our children, even as infants, through baptism.

Previously: What is Baptism?

Next: Why don't we baptize older children?


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Other questions and answers in this series can be found here: Ask the Pastor

To have Crossfusion delivered directly to your email, click here.


Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/youth-questions-why-do-we-baptize-infants/

Aug 27 2014

Crossfusion: Youth Question: What is Baptism?

Original post at http://pastorjohnpartridge.blogspot.com/2014/08/youth-question-what-is-baptism.html





Note: I asked our youth to write down any questions that they had about faith, the church, or life in general.  This is a part of that series.

Question: What is Baptism?

    In order to understand what baptism is, it might be helpful to understand where it came from.  Jesus didn’t invent baptism but the events of his life, death and resurrection changed it forever.  But first, the history: If you’ve ever heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls, you have probably heard of the Essenes, the folks who hid them.  The Dead Sea Scrolls are the most ancient copies we have yet discovered of many ancient texts and they tell us a lot about the culture of the people who left them behind.  From the scrolls and from archaeology, we know that these people regularly dipped themselves in water, not to remove dirt, but as a form of ritual purification, to become purified in the sight of God before worship or prayer.  In the same way, priests and everyday folk would pass through a ritual bath before entering the Temple during the time of the New Testament.  The priests often had ritual baths (called Miqveh, pronounced mick-vuh, or mick-vay) in their homes, but ordinary folk could pass through some swimming pool sized baths (men and women were separated, of course) that were just outside of the Temple.

    In that world, we meet John the Baptist in Mark 1:4-5 who appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

    John’s baptism built on this cultural idea of ritual purification.  People came to John to be baptized as a symbol of their repentance before God.  But after the coming of Jesus, something changed.  In Acts 19:1-7, Paul and Apollos meet followers of God in Ephesus that had been baptized by John but who had not heard the story of Jesus.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples  and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

    Something happens at baptism that is more significant than just ritual or symbolism, and more than just the repentance of the person who is baptized.  What happens at baptism is something that God is doing, far more than the people who are participating in the baptism.  In our church we say that baptism is a sacrament, one of the two (along with communion) in which God is present and is a participant in the event.  We believe that the “thing that happens” at baptism is something that God does.  This is why we do not typically “re-baptize” those who have already been baptized.  Doing so would be saying that God didn’t do it right the first time.

    But in addition to what God is doing, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus also added layers of meaning to the symbolism of baptism.  In Romans 6:3-5, baptism is compared to Jesus’ death this way…

 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

    The symbolism of baptism is now more than just repentance, going under the water and coming back up also symbolizes Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection so that, through baptism, we too are buried and are raised to begin a new life.  Peter tells us (1 Peter 3:20-22) that baptism saves us through the resurrection of Jesus, just as the ark saved Noah and his family.

    And the final layer of meaning and symbolism is added by Paul in Colossians 2:10-12 where he says,

 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    In God’s covenant with Israel (the Old Covenant or Old Testament) the symbol of joining and being a part of the covenant was male, infant circumcision.  But now, after the life of Jesus and the coming of God’s new covenant  (or New Testament), the symbol of belonging is no longer male circumcision, but baptism for all people.  For us, baptism is the outward sign that we have put our faith in Jesus Christ and have chosen to belong to God’s people.



Next: Why do we Baptize Infants?

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Other questions and answers in this series can be found here: Ask the Pastor

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/youth-question-what-is-baptism/

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