Fortress Press

Death by Baptism: Sacramental Liberation in a Culture of Fear

Death by Baptism

Sacramental Liberation in a Culture of Fear

Frank G. Honeycutt (Author)


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Our days are filled with a variety of known and lurking fears. Christians who name Jesus as Lord on Sundays are inundated with stories (real and imagined) inducing fear and caution throughout the week: random violence, health concerns, the perceived threat of people different from us, and economic worries, to name a few. News sources and national political leaders manipulate these fears in a fashion that threatens (and sometimes usurps) the church's ultimate trust in Christ.

A pastoral assumption: at the core of this national anxiety is the looming fear of death, spawning various supplemental protections that have little to do with the promises of Christ. This fear of death (and the false promises claiming to shield us from such) may prompt us to nudge the One we call Lord to the margins of daily life, or even solely to the afterlife--a savior we'll all meet in heaven one day but whose quaint teachings have little to do with problems we're now facing.

In this book, gifted storyteller Frank G. Honeycutt calls on his many years of pastoral experience to examine one of the most stunning (and overlooked) theological claims of the New Testament: how baptism radically unites followers of Christ in his death and resurrection. In baptism, we have already died (Romans 6). Disciples commence life in the kingdom on this side of the grave. Believing this with theological rigor and trust relieves personal (and corporate) anxiety about any day in the future when a believer stops breathing.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506470047
  • eBook ISBN 9781506470054
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 192
  • Publication Date August 24, 2021


"Honeycutt's exploration is a masterful piece of baptismal theology. He plunges us into a wide range of authors who become sources of insight in pastoral care and preaching while keeping sacramental formation in view. This book will stimulate pastoral reflection for years to come."

Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"When I want to think clearly and imaginatively about baptism, I go to a Lutheran for help. We couldn't have a better guide than Lutheran pastor/writer Frank Honeycutt. This is a remarkable book that can help any Christian find new meaning and significance in the sacrament of Christian initiation."

Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School

"With characteristic honesty and humor, Honeycutt shares the kind of wisdom that only an experienced parish pastor can provide. In a time when countless voices are clamoring to make us feel fractured and fearful, he offers a word of hope soaked in the waters of baptism."

Christa Compton, pastor, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Chatham, NJ

"Teeming with unpretentious wisdom and rich biblical insight, Death by Baptism calls the church to rediscover and remain faithful to the liberating power of its radical baptismal identity. This is a must read for clergy looking to reestablish a relevant and vital sacramental foundation for their ministries."

Wayne Kannaday, Newberry College

"Honeycutt achieves the remarkable: to talk so effectively about baptism's power to free us from fear that the book itself becomes a journey of liberation, a loosening of the fetters of fear. In effecting what it talks about, Death by Baptism reflects the special power of the sacraments to do what they say."

John F. Hoffmeyer, United Lutheran Seminary