Exploring baptism through stories

Review of "Living Under Water" by Kevin J. Adams.

As the pastor of Granite Springs Church in California, Kevin Adams engaged in a yearlong study of baptism with the members of his church community. Much of what they discovered is included in Adams’ compelling narrative in which he invites readers to enter into the mystery of the sacrament: “Baptism tells us we are beloved. It invites us to hear the affirming voice of God as he whispers his ongoing love for us.”

Adams employs a narrative approach to understanding baptism. He explains, “When we approach baptism through story, we find to our great relief and delight, that our truest identity isn’t dependent on our mode of baptism. Neither is it something we create or build ourselves. It is a gift we receive. We live under water. Baptism enters us into an alternate story line, one told since the dawn of creation, through which we understand our truest selves with all our joy and trauma and by which we are united with a group of people unbound by race or language, continent or generation.”

Adams presents his baptism stories in four parts. First, baptismal identity: “What is baptism? And how can it guide our lives?” Second, baptismal liturgy for life: “How does baptism threaten our status quo? And what is the connection between baptism and following Jesus?” Third, Adams reviews baptismal abuses: “What is genuine baptism and what is hollow? Why is baptism so often divisive?” Finally, Adams considers the hope baptism generates: “Does baptism offer healing? Can baptism offer unity in a divided world?”

Recommended for lay persons as well as church ministry staff who desire to grow in their understanding of what it means to “live under water.”


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