Prison Ministry and Baptism – they went hand in hand in the mind of Chrysostom.
Karl Barth reminds us of the importance of visiting and caring for the prisoner, but John Chrysostom, the early church’s greatest preacher, emphasizes the centrality of the ministry in the life of each Christian.
Chrysostom includes a prison ministry how-to in his Baptismal Instructions. Regrettably, that practice seems to have fallen by the wayside of ordinary Christian experience over the centuries, but Chrysostom’s reasons for emphasizing it are scripturally right on: he reminds us that each of us were in a type of prison when Christ first came and visited us. None of us were pure, refined, or upright and yet Christ didn’t refuse us. Thus, we have no right to refuse prison ministry on the basis that all the men there are “murderers, grave-robbers and purse snatchers”:
(Jesus) was not ashamed, but came and visited our prison. Though we were deserving of innumerable punishments, He brought…
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