Christian: Reexamine Baptism On John’s Nativity

https://readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2013/03/wpid-SF_0610_Nativity_of_John_Baptism.jpgTHURSDAY, JUNE 24: Both Western and Eastern Christians recall a sacrament undertaken by Jesus today—and performed by one of the most highly regarded men in the Bible—as Christians celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. (Details are at Wikipedia.) According to Christian tradition, John was someone of miraculous birth, a cousin of Jesus and a “forerunner” of Christ.

The man who baptized Jesus is such an important figure in Christianity that he is the only figure—other than the Virgin Mary and Jesus—to be honored with feast days for both birth and death. Orthodox churches actually commemorate even more events in John’s life each year than churches in the Western branch of Christianity. (See the site of the Greek Orthodox Church of America or the Orthodox Church in America for details.)

While other saints are remembered on the anniversary of their death and, therefore, the day they entered Heaven, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary are unique. Many believe that Mary was free of Original Sin from conception, and John the Baptist was freed from Original Sin while in his mother’s womb. (Visit Catholic.org for the Catholic perspective.)

The only Gospel writer to include details of John’s birth was Luke, although a second writer—the Jewish historian Josephus—also wrote about John near the end of the first century. John is also mentioned in the Quran. (PBS has a special report on John the Baptist that includes general information.)

Among major American denominations today, baptism is a matter of urgent concern in the Southern Baptist Convention because the number of baptisms has been declining in recent years. (Get details on the Baptists’ recent annual convention in a Jacksonville, Fla., newspaper.) In Southern Baptist churches, where beach or river baptisms are not uncommon, a primary focus is on baptism. While other Christian Churches look to membership numbers to measure their ability to “reach out,” the Southern Baptist Church looks to baptism numbers—and those numbers have fallen dramatically.

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