Notice to Kip's Churches - You're Doing It Wrong!
This may sound crazy. OK, it does sound crazy. But it looks like the early Christian church may have practiced nude baptism. Actually, NUDE, COED baptism.
First, the evidence: respected Christian historian Hippolytus is believed to have written the following description of early church baptism in the early, pre-Catholic church:
"When they come to the water, the water shall be pure and flowing, that is, the water of a spring or a flowing body of water. Then they shall take off all their clothes. ...the men will be baptized. Finally, the women, after they have unbound their hair, and removed their jewelry. No one shall take any foreign object with themselves down into the water. ...the bishop passes each of them on nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, likewise, will go down with them into the water. …then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church."
So here we have men, women, and children (children mentioned in an edited-out part) all getting totally butt-naked and going down to the water together.
Pictures on the walls of the catacombs depict people being baptized nude. Baptism itself is based on a nude Jewish water purification ritual called Mikvah.
Recipients of water immersion were nude to symbolize their state before the eyes of God, who sees everything that we try to cover up. This is ironic to me as Kip works so hard to cover up many aspects of the inner workings of the church from as many people as possible. Also ironic since the externally-focused techniques of discipling lead members and leaders alike to cover up their true feelings and opinions, and instead pantomime righteousness - the polar opposite of what Jesus wanted.
Note that in ancient cultures, when people did not have modern clothing, nudity was not seen as much of a "big deal" as it is to Westerners like us today. And nudity was not necessarily viewed in such a sexual way as we do. Think of being naked in a locker room, or at a doctor's office. Even today in Europe evangelical preachers have been known to go, nude, to nudist beaches, and preach to naked people there, and hold naked baptisms, and without it being a weird, sexualized experience.
Church tradition holds that Jesus was baptized naked, as was John the Baptist.
Some churches baptize still infants naked today to carry on the teaching.
On another note, please notice also that the baptism was to be practiced in running water, a reference to the "living water" double-meaning command of Jesus.
To ICC-er's: Do you want to be sure that your baptism is valid? You already did it with every single part of your body immersed? If your pinkie or toe didn't go over, did you re-do it? Did you make sure you were a totally 100% committed to God and to God's One True Church before you were baptized? Did you believe all of the correct doctrines and none of the incorrect ones? Did you completely repent of every single sin? Did you confess absolutely everything? Were you baptized by a true disciple who also believed and practiced all of and only the correct teachings? Do you believe that you are going to Heaven as a result of all those things, and that everyone else who has not done the complete list will be suffering eternity in Hell because of it?
Good. Because, well, one thing you lack. The apostolic tradition of the first few hundred years of the church, and the oral, "practical" teaching of the church was that you had to remove all of your clothing before getting into the water, and the practice continued up until about the Middle Ages. Also note that the water should be living, that is, flowing. If you had any clothes on, or if the water was not living, then MAYBE YOUR BAPTISM WASN'T VALID. Can you really be sure? Surely God won't be turning away billions of other lost souls for incorrect baptisms, and completely ignore the fact that you read this and still were not baptized correctly?
Oh, the times have changed today, you say? It wasn't specifically mandated in the Bible, so you don't have to obey it? Let me mention here that the Bible was not even officially collected in its present form and list of books until A.D. 367, and that many different parts of the church accepted and rejected books on and off that list, but they all held to the "discipling" traditions of the apostles, such as nude baptism.
So maybe what we should really waiting to see is a huge re-baptism of everyone, this time the way Jesus intended it - completely butt naked.
What better reason to want to come back to the church, anyway?
Links: Early Church Baptism Was Nude, Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (see section 21), Baptism of Christ, Wikipedia on nude baptism.