Roll Over Holy Rollers! Mainliners are baptized in fire, too!

Posted: January 18, 2019 in Uncategorized
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LET’S ADMIT IT. WE MAINLINE PROTESTANTS GET DOWNRIGHT SQUEAMISH WHEN ASK US IF WE’RE BAPTIZED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT OR FIRE! We tend to leave that kind of Spirit and fire business to our peppy Pentecostal siblings and their speaking in tongues, or to our quirky Charismatic cousins and their rolling in the aisles. No siree Bob Jones! A baptism of Spirit and fire just isn’t a part of our party line.

Baptism for us mainliners tends to be all about water. We have peace like river, joy like fountain, and love like an ocean but that Spirit and fire talk has been a bit of stumbling block for us forward thinking, Princeton University founding, academic loving, progressive Presbyterians and mainline Protestants.

Well listen up! That locust-breath, desert-dwelling prophet John the Baptist says baptism with Spirit and fire is what Jesus brings. “I baptize you with water,” says John,  “but one who is more powerful than I is coming . . . He will baptize you” en pnuemati agio kai puri – “with the Holy Spirit and purifying fire.”

Baptism with Spirit and fire is for even us Presbyterians, Methodists and the like, too. Perhaps there’s a way for God’s frozen chosen to get thawed out by God’s fiery Spirit but we just have to think about it in a new way.

Walter Brueggemann, one of the foremost biblical scholars of our times says that being baptized by fire means that “we may be visited by a spirit of openness, generosity, that “the force” may come over us, carry us to do obedient things we have not yet done, kingdom things we did not think we had in us, neighborly things from which we cringe.” Being baptized in Spirit and fire inspires a belief that “God may act in us, through us, beyond us” and in greater ways “than we imagined.”

In other words, being baptized by Spirit and fire means that we live with a certain confidence, a holy hope, because even though we can’t imagine a brighter future, or better outcome, or even a distinct possibility,  we know that our very good God can. God holds out more than we ever imagined! It’s like that old hymn says, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow!”

Baptism with Spirit and fire takes us beyond the limits of our own imaginations and opens us to the limitlessness of God’s. Baptism with Spirit and fire is the very essence of our faith that allows us to live with less fear and more trust, more courage, and more hope. More. Baptism with Spirit and fire allows us to get up off the couch and go up against the odds to work for peace and justice even in a world as divided, broken, and unjust as our own.

Next time you hear a voice from a closed mind – whether it belongs to someone else or even yourself, say, “Hey, sounds really nice, but somehow I just can’t imagine it ever happening!” You just tell that voice, “That’s okay, God can!”

Blessings of Peace and Love,
Mark

Comments
  1. Robin Jenkins says:

    Cousin Mark you always leave me with such simple replies that I myself can never come up with at crutial momments. I love reading your column and always look forward to how you spread the word and wisdom of God! Love from The Bluegrass State!
    Robin

    • Thanks, mia cugina. It makes me very happy that these posts are speaking to you! I think you and I had some exceptional faith influences in our lives. Hope you will share with others when something particularly meaningful is speaking. Love and blessings!

  2. Joel Dawson says:

    Well said. Enjoyed the article. Oh by the way i go to a Penticostal Church. I consider myself to be open to the spirit. Were all brother and sisters in Christ. 1 Corinthians 13.

  3. Bill says:

    I enjoyed your column. Was curious about Old Stone Church after I read [the article regarding abortion]. Perhaps the article was wrong.

    • Hi Bill,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to ask for clarification. You are the only one who has actually reached out to us with anything but ugliness. Not even the online resource that you linked here (Freedom Outpost) had the courtesy, or journalistic integrity to call or email our church before publishing their post.

      Of course, our church is definitely NOT pro-abortion. We believe that all life is sacred and we should do everything we possibly can to protect it.

      That being said, our associate pastor got a little frustrated by all the commotion and cameras outside of our sanctuary while trying to offer pastoral support to one of our members and spoke out of his frustration. Never a good thing to do . . . especially when cameras are pointed at you.

      Thanks again for taking the time to offer a thoughtful question and giving us a chance to respond.

      God’s Blessings,
      Mark Giuliano, Senior Pastor

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