A story just posted at Time.com, “De-Baptism Gains a Following in Britain”, details a new practice in Great Britain: buying a “de-baptism” certificate. The story author, William Lee Adams, reports on the story:
“More than 100,000 former Christians have downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” in a bid to publicly renounce the faith, according to the London-based National Secular Society (NSS).
The campaign has become so popular — with nearly 1,000 certificates downloaded each week — that the NSS has started taking orders for certificates printed on parchment, at $4.50 each; they’ve sold nearly 2,000 in just three weeks. “Every time the Pope says something outrageous we get another rush on the certificate,” Sanderson says, noting that traffic to the site skyrocketed last month following Pope Benedict XVI’s comment that condoms could worsen the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa.”
I read the piece with a mixture of feelings. I’m sad to see many people distance themselves from any link to Christianity. From an evangelical perspective, Britain is not faring well, though renewal movements do seem to be exerting an influence in this and many other countries.
On the other hand, I am glad to see a reaction against nominal Christianity, which may even be worse as an enemy of true Christianity than outright paganism. When one is far from Christianity and knows it, one is perhaps more likely to come to some point of spiritual crisis. It seems much more difficult for a nominal Christian who fears no spiritual crisis due to the assurance given them by their baptism to reach a crisis point that leads to faith.
Whatever one’s ultimate opinion about de-baptism and its significance, one is reminded by this story to pray for English Christians, who are living in the kind of society that we might see one day. America is different from Britain in many ways, but it too has a strong tradition of nominal Christianity and weakening historic denominations.
We are also reminded to seek a faith for the people of our churches that invests the sacred rites of the church with all the importance Christ Himself gave to them. Baptism is not meant to be a mere ritual, but is a mark of the church, a symbol of personal faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the One whose majesty shatters both outright atheism and lukewarm faith.