Last evening we had a long conversation with Monk about his desire to be baptized. We're still trying to get a sense of his desire, wanting to make sure that he is not asking to be baptized simply because he senses it would please us or make us proud. Monk is going to be turning nine years old in just a couple weeks. So he's really at about the youngest I would think he ought to be baptized. That is, speaking from my Baptist perspective. If I switch theological hats, back to my Lutheran one (where I went to seminary), I'm perfectly fine with infant baptism. But we are Baptists--so I feel it's important to be respectful of that tradition in this case.
Several of Monk's thoughtful responses were very beautiful to me and I decided I wanted to share them here. As much to have some friends and family aware of how he's feeling about things these days as to have me remember these "thick" days myself someday.
When D asked why he was feeling he wanted to be baptized, Monk responded: "I feel as though Jesus was a really important person who made very good decisions in life. And I want to live my life in a way that follows Jesus' example. And I figure baptism is the place to begin."
Monk also said that he wanted to be able to tell kids that he was a Christian and not to be embarrassed about that, but to simply be able to tell them that that was a part of who he is.
When we asked what he thought it meant to follow Jesus' example, he answered: "To live in a way that is kind to other people, to be thoughtful, and generous, and loving. To help people. And if I get signed someday as a hockey player for millions of dollars that I would give away half of it to help other people. Because it's not right that I would have so much when other people don't have enough food to eat every day."
Then D asked Monk: "A lot of people talk about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. What do you think that means? Is that something you believe?"
"Not really," Monk answered. "I think Jesus was killed because the Roman government thought he was a real threat to their power. And that worried them a lot. When he wouldn't back down, then they killed him to set an example for all the other people in case they were thinking of resisting the government, too. The Romans thought they had won, but then God proved to them that love is stronger than death."
Because we're reading the Bridge to Terebithia right now, we had just the night before encountered the scene where May Belle is worried that if Leslie doesn't believe in Jesus that "God would damn her to hell." Monk giggled every time I'd read the line, because all he heard in it were the curse words. But last night I explained to him more about why May Belle would say that. "Some people are taught a theology that if someone doesn't believe in Jesus then God will send them to Hell."
"Do you have that theology?" he asked.
I told him I did not. D admitted that when he was baptized, he did believe that. But that he didn't believe it anymore.
"Well, I think that's a pretty dumb theology," Monk said. "I mean, God created different genders, right? And God created different species. And different continents. And different vegetables. And different kinds of people. Why wouldn't God also create different faiths? Doesn't that just make sense?"
So that's where our boy is right now.