I am struggling with my faith today.
I just read a small blurb on the internet that Casey Anthony has put out a statement that she is being baptized in order to “to ensure her own salvation so that she’ll see her daughter again someday.” She also says that she is “looking for a new beginning.”
If you don’t know, Anthony is the young mother whose trial for murdering her 2 year old daughter was a national obsession. She is widely thought to be guilty even though she was acquitted at her trial. And in reading the comments from others who have read this article it is clear that most think that there is no redemption for her.
So the first question, which is one asked by the author of the piece is: is baptism and salvation a media event? Why did she think it was necessary to let everyone know? It reminds me of the time in college when my mother and I were at a car lot looking at a used car for me. After some high pressure sales tactics the salesman looked at us and said, “I’m a Christian. I don’t lie.” We didn’t buy a car from him. Anyone who would use Christ to sell a car was not someone we wanted to deal with. And make no mistake, Casey Anthony is trying to sell herself to a public who vilifies her.
Her next question is whether being baptized is all she has to do to “ensure her salvation”? According to the Book of Discipline, baptism is “God’s gift of unmerited grace through the Holy Spirit. It is an incorporation into Christ which marks the entrance of each person into the church and its ministry (Romans 6:3, 4, 18)”(page 197). It also states that “Faith is the only response essential for salvation.” (page 47) So according to our Methodist beliefs it is not baptism which brings salvation but faith. But we are also a people of grace. We believe that there is no place we can go that God is not already present in prevenient grace. “God’s grace also awakens in us an earnest longing for deliverance from sin and death and moves us toward repentance and faith.” (page 46) My last question is about the pastor who will be baptizing her. Has he/she counseled with her. Is the pastor required to do it? Can a pastor refuse simply based on his/her belief about her guilt?
So many questions and so few answers. I believe in God’s grace and I believe in forgiveness of sins. But are there sins that can’t be forgiven? If she is guilty of murdering her child can God forgive that simply by the act of baptism? How do I know if she is sincerely wants a new beginning or simply wants to keep her name in the public eye? How do I know if she is worthy of forgiveness? The answer, of course, is that is doesn’t matter what I think. I cannot be her judge and I do not get to decide who is going to heaven. In Acts 10:15 a voice from heaven tells Peter, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Has God or will God make her clean? Will she ensure her salvation with her baptism? Is she beginning a new life in Christ? I don’t know and I don’t need to know. This is God’s business and not mine. My job is to remain faithful in Christ and to live according to that faith in order to ensure my own salvation.
Everything else is out of my control. And so I pray for Casey Anthony that she may truly find her way to faith and to salvation. All of the rest is up to God.
And that’s Good News!