Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Beginning of the Distinctively Christian Life

Quoting from Dr. Henry Hamann’s book On Being a Christian: A Personal Confession:
…Baptism is the beginning of the distinctively Christian life. It is possible—and, indeed, it happens often enough—that a person comes to faith before the actual act of baptism, and that such faith produces the desire to be baptized. But Baptism is still the beginning of the Christian life. For it is an objective, out-there act that can be observed, and as such it has a concreteness about it that faith cannot have. Baptism can be observed by everybody; faith, by nobody. What is more, faith is never an unbroken, continuous line, like physical life. Faith may be lost; a person may come to faith again and again. Because of this movement involving faith and because of such repeated acts of faith, no one act of faith can be the beginning of the Christian life.

...Lutherans speak of daily contrition and repentance, a daily coming to faith. Faith may be subject to doubt, but Baptism never fails. It links believers with the great act of Jesus Christ for their salvation: his death and resurrection. As that event is always valid for the Christian, so Baptism which links the Christian to that event is always valid for the one baptized.
Henry Hamann, On Being a Christian: A Personal Confession, (Milwaukee: Northwestern, 1998) 93, 94.


Anonymous said...

Henry Hamann was one of the great minds of the twentieth century. This is a valuable little book, and should be in every library: it is an eloquent proclamation of the Christian faith.

Joe Strieter

Michael Paul 白霈德牧師 said...

Thanks for posting this quote, Scott. Very nicely put. I've never gotten around to finishing the book (only just began it years ago). This gives me motivation to get back to it.

Anonymous said...

Here's another little gem by Henry Hamann: "The False Antithesis: 'Not Lutheran but Christian.'" Lutheran Theological Journal, May 1965, pp 47, 48.
Australian Lutheran College. Sorry, I could not find a link.

Joe Strieter

Scott Diekmann said...

Here's a link for Hamann's "False Antithesis" paper: