Farewell address Henk Schoot: The Meaning of Baptism for Church and Culture

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There is no part of the Christian faith or it can be associated with baptism. Baptism is a sacrament, confers grace and bestows new life. It goes back to the baptism of Jesus, which has been depicted many times on religious works of art and icons with beautiful symbolism. These are some of the reasons why baptism is so fascinating, argues outgoing professor of theology Henk Schoot in his speech on March 3.

For decades, the church in the Netherlands has seen a dramatic decline in the number of baptisms administered. But relatively speaking, the number of adults being baptized is increasing. This focuses attention on the early church, when baptism was generally adult baptism.


Christian baptism goes back to the baptism Jesus received. We read about it in Scripture, and it is depicted countless times on sarcophagi, icons, paintings, baptismal fonts, etc. In each case it involves mainly two beliefs: baptism offers the possibility of being born again, and through baptism the baptized person becomes one with Jesus who dies and rises from death, the death of the old life. We call that grace.

Baptism is what connects all Christians across church lines. That too goes back as far as the third century. But it also raises the question of how great that unity is today. Another reason why baptism is topical is because of the synodal process Pope Francis has begun with the church: every believer has an inalienable dignity and responsibility founded precisely on the grace of baptism.

Prof. Henk Schoot was endowed Professor at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology on behalf of the Thomas Fund Foundation with the teaching assignment Theology of Thomas Aquinas 2006-2012 and 2017-2023. Prof. Henk Schoot will give his farewell on March 3 in the auditorium at 4:15 pm. The farewell address is titled: "The Grace of Baptism". Live stream is available. You can contact science editor Tineke Bennema, at persvoorlichters@tilburguniversity.edu or 4668998.

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