Theopolis Podcast: Fourth Sunday of Advent

In this episode of the Theopolis Podcast, Peter Leithart and I discuss the readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:2-5, Hebrews 10:5-10, and Luke 1:39-56.

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Should We Sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus at Christmas? (#QTWTAIN)

I recently ran into a new (to me?) liturgical trend that seems to be suddenly ubiquitous, and that, at least initially caught me somewhat flat footed: Celebrating Christmas by singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, and/or making part of the Christmas celebration a birthday party for Jesus.

My initial feeling is that this celebration is extremely misguided, and I think I can articulate some objections; but I’m having some difficulty clearly and thoroughly articulating an objection (assuming it is problematic), and I don’t know how to respond well. What are your thoughts on this sort of liturgical practice, and how to respond to it well? I’m particularly concerned regarding the catechesis of my daughter.

(RE: Its ubiquity: Today our pastor said the church would sing “Happy Birthday to Jesus” in the liturgy after the Christ candle in the advent wreath is lit–as if the Christ candle were His birthday candle(!), and there’d be birthday cake for Jesus after the service; my daughter sang it as part of her preschool’s Christmas celebration; and my nephew’s LCMS Christmas celebration was a celebration of “The birthday of our best friend, Jesus”.)

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Transcript for ‘How Did I Change My Mind on Infant Baptism?’

One of my supporters has very kindly transcribed this video on my movement to a paedobaptist position. I don’t have time to transcribe my videos myself, so anyone willing to volunteer to transcribe one video every week or fortnight would be greatly appreciated! I’ve very lightly edited the transcript at a few points for the purpose of comprehension.

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How Did I Change My Mind on Infant Baptism?

As you have shared in several places, you came from a Reformed Baptist theological background and later moved to an Anglican setting. I am in a similar situation where most of my theological background and education has been in a Reformed Baptist context, yet I have been on the edge of embracing infant baptism for several years now.

Could you speak to what pushed you over the edge on the issue of infant baptism? Did you switch to that view quite easily? Or was it a long journey?

I want to give some background as to where I am in thinking through this: The basic Presbyterian arguments don’t fully persuade me, though they are compelling. I also don’t want to put all my theological chips in the scant references to infant faith, as some in the Lutheran circles might. I have followed Peter Leithart for some time now, and he and Leonard Vander Zee have been perhaps the most helpful and persuasive in this conversation. In many ways Leithart’s Baptized Body has ruined me for thinking about the covenant community as made up of those who are half way in and those who are fully in, which goes against typical Presbyterian view. Yet, I am also cautious to embrace Leithart’s position full on, because I don’t think I can get on board with predestined real apostasy, as he seems to hold in that book. Yet, the Baptist demand that the church be a regenerate covenant community and their insistence on a link between repentance and baptism hold me back from embracing paedobaptism entirely.

I imagine that you’d find yourself near Leithart’s views in some ways, but I would love to hear from you some of the biblical support for infant baptism that original compelled you to embrace the position and also how your views have developed since then. Also, how, in your view, does your position on paedobaptism relate to paedo-communion? And if you could recommend some books that depict your general position well.

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