Ben Myers has written a marvelous post entitled “On catechesis and catastrophe”. He tells, in his usually brilliant and beautiful way, the story about how his mother received her driver’s licence from a charmed police officer without taking a driving test, and proceeded to wreck two cars that same week. He uses this to illustrate his concern over pastors who administer baptism on a lowest-common-denominator bases, without teaching the would-be baptized about what their faith entails. Just as the policeman should not have given Myers’ mother a licence without the usual examination, he says, so too should the church not baptize people without verifying and strengthening their faith, lest their officially approved faith rot or break from lack of support or understanding.
I find that this resonates very deeply in me, not least because I still have the Harmony resolution rattling around in my thoughts. The proponents of the resolution have outlined a set of beliefs regarding church membership that throw the doors of the church wide open, and promise inclusion and tolerance as cardinal virtues. But in addition to finding such views historically un-Anabaptist, I’ve also been very personally uncomfortable with these particular beliefs. I find it difficult to see how the church could remain strong and robust if it admits to itself members who may be at cross-purposes with the church. I do not see how such a perspective allows for the practices of church discipline outlined in the Gospels and the Epistles. When I read Jesus telling his would-be followers to count the cost of discipleship before beginning, and denying the requests of would-be disciples to say goodbye to family or bury a parent before following Jesus, I can’t help but think we’re doing a disservice to those we vacuum up into the church on the first sign of interest.