The christian dictionary already bulges. Who needs more terms? Who needs more words ending in “-ize” or “-ify” or “-ation?” Yet new times bring new needs. I would love to sneak in “baptistification” to describe the most dramatic shift in power style on the Christian scene in our time, perhaps in our epoch.

We already have a counterpart term, “catholicization,” which A Supplement to the Oxford Dictionary connects with “catholicize,” “to make catholic or Catholic.” Now we need “baptistification” to link with another new and necessary word, “baptistify.” Elegant these terms are not. They are helpful and easy to catch.

To “make baptist” would mean to help lead individuals or groups to take on a baptist style of Christian life, whether or not this means joining a Baptist church or communion.

Baptistification is occurring because there is a void on the catholic landscape. A typical book title from that scene is Structures of Initiation in Crisis (Seaburg, 1979). In it Roman Catholics ponder their emptying churches in Europe, the apathy millions of members show. They question whether the way they initiate people into the church by baptizing all the infants of people who are members in name alone achieves a Christian purpose. Are the terms of life in Christ too cheap, too low? Has the baptist world a point?

Think of the catholic and baptist approaches as the yin and the yang (or, if you will, the yang and the yin) of Christian understanding and strategy. These Chinese terms refer to “opposite but always complementary” forces. They coexist and are likely to do so indefinitely. Both draw on impulses in the Bible and strands in Christian tradition. The Holy Spirit may need both. They have to understand each other.

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