Who is a child of God?


In Diana Butler Bass's book Christianity for the Rest of Us, she relates the story of a woman who came to a Christian church in her adult life after having had a non-religious upbringing. The woman was dying to know if she had been baptized, and invested considerable effort finding out:

She tracked down relatives, made dozens of calls, and finally located the congregation that her grandmother had belonged to when Deanna was a baby. The church secretary told her that the baptismal records had been destroyed in a fire. Deanna was disappointed. But three weeks later, the secretary called back to say that she had tracked down other records. On January 6, 1956, Deanna had, indeed, been baptized. "I was overjoyed," she recalls, "I was a child of God all along and I didn't know it."
I find something very disappointing about that story. What is it in her understanding of Christianity that would lead her to conclude that she would not have been a child of God without a baptism?

I believe that we are all children of God, whether we are baptized or not.


Cynthia said...

One of my favorite cinematic scenes is in the movie "Gandhi" when someone calls out 'death to Jinhah' in Gandhi's presence. In his his reply he says, "I am a Muslim and a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew! And so are all of you!"

Confirmation is an important rite in that we get to affirm what our parents witnessed to on our behalf, that we are a child of God. Even though we may have been baptized, we may not be ready to affirm that statement. Just as in communion it is all about community. It is the community that informs us, that has the power of Spirit to tell us that we are children of God. Baptism in and of itself does not tell us that we are children of God; it is we and the community affirming that witness in love.