Could Peter Leithart be on to something when he calls 2 Kings 5 “the richest Old Testament story of baptism,” one that “anticipates Christian baptism”? The very thought of baptism makes me shudder. I remember mine, since my parents didn’t take me to be sprinkled as an infant. At age eight, terrified by a Baptist preacher, I sprinted to the altar to avoid the flames of hell. In short order, I found myself donning waders in a bathtub-like pool behind the choir. The minister hoisted me backward not once but thrice, dunking my head under water—more traumatic than you might imagine since I had never learned to swim. I flailed and embarrassed myself and the preacher.
James C. Howell is senior minister of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and author of What Does the Lord Require? Doing Justice, Loving Kindness, Walking Humbly (Westminster John Knox).