Johan Maurer: Quaker Baptism and Social Safety
. To risk oversimplifying, it's as if 375 years ago in Great Britain, Friends bore social risks by not being outwardly baptized upon making a Christian commitment; now these new believers are running a social risk by being baptized upon making that same kind of commitment. I haven't asked whether water baptism is being presented to these new Friends as a theological imperative; I suspect not. What impresses me about this story is their deep desire to make a public commitment, and this practice is the outward form that is presented to them as a way of doing that.
Most of us who try to describe or shape normative Quaker faith and practice in the West operate in a context of social safety--a safely partly based on social class and partly based on our societies' trivializing and privatizing religion. When we traditional Quakers begin harrumphing about water baptism among Friends, we ought to pause humbly and think about that safety factor. What did we gain and lose by committing to the household of faith through the Quaker door? Did our faces shine with the confirming presence of the Holy Spirit?
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