letters to surfers

Q: The Bible uses strong language: "We die to our old selves and are made new in Him."

by Robert Brow - February 1999

Isn't this more serious (or dramatic or what have you) than just joining a school. We are crucified on the cross with Christ and are remade in Him."

One model for understanding this is to assume it means that an internal change has to occur in our will (die = mortify, crucify = ruthlessly kill) and emotions (remade to be perfect) before we are fit candidates for baptism. That of course means that no one could ever make it, even Mother Theresa.

By the second century the western church started having a long probation for baptism. During forty days the idea was to try and force the candidate to crucify all the old habits of thinking and feeling. I believe that was a total denial of the NT practice of immediate baptism into the School of the Holy Spirit without any probation.

The other meaning is the one I suggest in Go Make Learners. When a boy is enrolled by his parents at a famous school like Eton or Harrow, not only does his status change but immediately all that Eton and Harrow have by way of education, honour, future prospects are his. And that before any change has taken place in his will and emotions. But he has certainly died to the mediocre village school he might have continued in.

When my wife and I immigrated into Canada, our status changed and becoming Canadian followed more or less. In England they used to say that when a Frenchman becomes an Englishman, his family can say "We won the battle of Waterloo."

I believe this is the language that Paul uses in Romans 6, as I set out in the Commentary on Romans on the web site. Perhaps you could read that, and then fire back any counter-examples that occur to you.

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