agreeing with Martin Luther… whatever next?

All too often in Northern Ireland you can find yourself asked the question,

Are you saved?

which can be roughly translated to mean

Are you sure of your redemption and membership of the Church having been born again and accepted Jesus Christ as your personal saviour?

On Sunday morning at the meeting house this was the subject of the sermon by The Rev. Nigel Playfair (not that Nigel Playfair), Minister of FIrst Presbyterian Church, Belfast who was standing in for our minister who is on holiday for three weeks.

Mr Playfair explained that

The question “Are you saved?” is not really a question. It is a statement, albeit a coded statement.

Those that ask this question full of implication are looking to catch you out. They are asking it basically to make you out to not be in the ‘In’ group. That group of people who believe that they are the real Church, the real Christians. If you hesitate at all in answering instead of responding with

Yes brother, Praise the Lord.

you are showing that you are not really sure about your salvation, that you don’t belong to their sect of the Church.

As Mr Playfair was speaking, I leant over to Andrew and stated that the day I was saved was 20 August 1978.* It became apparent that the preacher and I were on the same wavelength on this one – and indeed, strange as it may seem, I was in agreement with Martin Luther.

We were told that whenever the Protestant Reformer was worried or distressed he would repeat the phrase,

Baptismus sum.

which means, “I am baptised”. For it is by baptism that we are all truly brothers and sisters. We are all part of God‘s family. It can be extended:

I am baptised: I belong to God.
God has never yet lost anything that belongs to Him. (from NC Presbyterian Pilgrimage)

Some Protestant Reformers managed to keep infant baptism despite it not being found in the text of the Bible. In some ways they replaced circumcision with baptism for infants. Others of course held that

The Council in Santa Maria Maggiore church; Museo Diocesano Tridentino, Trento. via Wikipedia

Infants, not being able to make an act of faith, are not to be reckoned among the faithful after their baptism, and therefore when they come to the age of discretion they are to be rebaptized; or it is better to omit their baptism entirely than to baptize them as believing on the sole faith of theChurch, when they themselves can not make a proper act of faith.

(one of many doctrines anathematized by the Council of Trent)

* Sancti Bernardi, Abbatis & Ecclesiæ Doctoris

the date on which I was baptised though we were nearly locked out of the church – that’s another story…

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