Nature and effects of Baptism - Printable Version
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Nature and effects of Baptism - John Mark - 16-05-2007
I have been wondering what the effect of Baptism is considered to be within the BOC; obviously it doesn't have the Catholic connection of removing original sin but it presumably;
Gives membership of the church
Forgives all previous sins (?)
The promise of salvation
It would be great to get a definitive answer
Baptism - John Charmley - 16-05-2007
Dear John Mark,
Baptism marks our spiritual rebirth. It is, if you like, a spiritual circumcision (see Colossians 2:11, 12). We are born with our old nature contaminated by Adam's sin - in baptism this is washed away.
We are received into the body of Christ, and we start to grow in the Holy Spirit. To quote HH Pope Shenouda III:
Quote:Baptism is also an essential and requisite part of being justified
I am sure someone else will expand and add to this, but I hope this helps begin a discussion.
Nature and effects of Baptism - kirk yacoub - 17-05-2007
Baptism washes us clean and fills us with the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. The fact that we still sin after Baptism means that, putting it simply, we soil what has been washed clean, hence the need for Repentance. How long or, to put it another way, how often we are filled by the Holy Spirit depends on other factors.
Those who object that new-born babies who are baptised haven't had the time or the opportunity to sin should remember that Christ Himself was Baptised,
and He was most certainly without sin. When He was submerged into the Jordan He cleansed all future Baptismal waters for our sakes.
When I was Baptised into the Syriac Orthodox Church I was also exorcised, spitting out the words of my rejection of Satan, and was chrismated.
This is a key area to understand so I will return soon with lots of information from Church Fathers(!)
nature and effects of baptism - kirk yacoub - 25-05-2007
"Because the Spirit was with the Son," wrote St Ephrem the Syrian, "He came to John to receive from him baptism, that He might mingle with the visible waters the invisible Spirit, that they whose bodies should feel the moistening of the water, their souls should feel the gift of the Spirit."
The waters of baptism, then, are no ordinary waters. St Jacob of Serugh puts it:
"All who follow Christ into the Jordan put on a garment of fire."
In the Syriac tradition the baptismal font is often referred to as "the forge", such is the thoroughgoing change that baptism brings us. St John Chrysostom explains:
"In baptism are completed the articles of our covenant with God;
death and burial, resurrection and life; and these take place all
The Syriac Orthodox baptismal service, which is attributed to the great
St Severius of Antioch, is based on the intense seriousness of baptism, not as a superficial symbol of entry into the Church, but as an actual sharing in Christ's death and His resurrection. In his "Exposition of the Mysteries of the Church", the Syriac saint, George, Bishop to the Arab tribes (686-724) goes into great detail about the significance of everything that happens during the baptismal service. If, at times, he seems to speak in the language of symbol (the one who is to be baptised has all his clothing stripped away from him as a sign of the stripping away of the old man), then more often than not, George uses the word "is" rather than the term
For example, in explaining the anointing of the body before baptism itself, St George says: "That his whole body is anointed makes it known that he is entering a contest with Satan; for he who enters a contest as a combatant against men is anointed with oil that the hands of the adversary may slip from him, so here also is oil the invincible armour against the demons."
St George then explains that:
"The font represents the tomb of Christ, and the water that is in it, the womb that brings forth children, spiritual and immortal and incorruptible,as by a resurrection of the dead;
The baptism of he who is baptized is a re-birth...;
That the priest says that such a one is baptized, and not "I baptize"
makes known by humility that this awesome act is not his, but that by grace the gift has been bestowed upon him to administer the mysteries;
The coming up out of the font is a sign of his going up into heaven...;
The white garments which they put on after baptism signify that they are become sons of the heavenly light...;
The light [of the candles] which goes before them declares the light of the divine knowledge which they have received through baptism... Their
entry into the service [ie the Easter Liturgy]... makes known their entry into the Kingdom of Heaven and their return to Paradise, from whence they of the house of Adam went forth..."
It is possible to read the text of the Syriac Orthodox baptism in Syriac, Arabic and French on the website of the Syriac Church in France. (See Margoneetho links).
- alexander - 26-05-2007
From the Glastonbury Confession, which was the basis of our faith before joining the Coptic Church:
We confess that holy Baptism, through the sanctified element of water administered in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matt XXVIII:19) is the Mystery of entrance into the Church, the Sacrament of New Birth, by which man dies to his old life and sin and is regenerated in the Holy Ghost. Through Baptism our sonship becomes effectual and the revelation of God as Father, through his Son, Jesus, by the power of the Holy Ghost, reinstates us in the image of God. With Christ we enter into the intimacy of Divine Life. In Baptism Satan and all his works are renounced and we receive remission of our sins, are born again as children of God, become inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven and receive sanctification in our human nature through union with the Body of Christ. Through Baptism and resurrection we enter into eternal life. Baptism images the death of Christ and is already the beginning of our resurrection, a way out from the labyrinth of death. Under the Patriarchal and Mosaic Dispensations infants entered into the covenant of salvation and congregation of the Lord through the sign and seal of Circumcision, which anticipated the Sacrament of Christian Baptism (Col. III: 11-12). In the Christian Dispensation of Grace the Church from Apostolic times has brought infants to the Sacrament of Regeneration and has thereby admitted them to participation in the full sacramental life of the Body of Christ.
Baptism - John Charmley - 27-05-2007
Dear Kirk, Dear Alexander,
We are in your debt for two excellent posts which give us a very clear picture of the importance of baptism.
I wonder if I could ask either of you, or others here, how important the form of baptism is? That is, does it have to be total immersion? I know that some argue that it does, and that it is more Orthodox; but I wonder what you think?
- Fr Gregory - 27-05-2007
The question of the requirements for Baptism in the Orthodox Church is not as easily answered as it might be. The simplest answer is that Orthodoxy requires Baptism by full immersion in water with the Trinitarian formula administered by a Priest within the Orthodox Church. However, in reality there are variations. The Trinitarian formula does seem essential: Baptism in ?the Name of Jesus?, for example, could not be acceptable. However, the requirement for full immersion can be overcome, for example, in cases in which frailty or illness (as with a dying infant) make that impossible. Likewise, Baptism may be administered by a lay person in cases of emergency (again, with a dying infant). In both these example, the principle of Economy may prevail. However, Baptism by affusion (pouring) because a healthy adult refused to be immersed could not be seen as valid.
The really difficult question relates to ?within the Orthodox Church?. In traditional Orthodox theology, no Sacramental Grace exists outside the Orthodox Church. But what are the boundaries of that Church? Is Oriental Orthodox Baptism to be recognized by the Eastern Orthodox, and vice versa? In the past there has usually not been such recognition; in the present, the situation would seem to be more variable.
As for Roman Catholics, Rome has long accepted all Orthodox Baptism (as indeed it accepts Baptism by water ? immersion or affusion ? with the Trinitarian formula even when administered by heretics or non-believers). Orthodox Churches, and individual Bishops and Priests, have varied in their response to Baptism within the Roman Catholic Church, some accepting and some rejecting. The case of the Eastern Rites in communion with Rome has sometimes caused other problems.
Whereas Rome has focussed on the form of the Baptism, Orthodoxy has tended to focus on the context. It is important to note that (at least in traditional theology) Orthodoxy does not pronounce on ?validity? in the abstract, but only considers specific cases.
Some of the more conservative Orthodox groups (for example, the True Orthodox Churches) have been inclined to ?re-baptize? those joining them from the mainstream Eastern Orthodox Churches, holding that no Grace is t be found in such Churches.
Because Orthodoxy does not have conditional (?sub conditione?) Sacramental administration, a person must be held to have been Baptized (in which case no purported ?re-Baptism?) can be administered, or not (in which case the person must be Baptized).
Some Orthodox Churches or jurisdictions have issued formal statements on Baptism, most often in relation to ?mixed marriages?. For example, The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has declared:
?In the case of mixed marriages, the non-Orthodox partner must be a person who belongs to a denomination which accepts the sacramental character of Holy Baptism. Having been baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity, he or she would declare responsibly that future children will be baptised according to the rites of the Eastern Orthodox Church and that they shall be raised in the Orthodox Faith. Marriages with persons who belong to the Pentecostal Church, Baptist Church, Salvation Army, Christian Revival Crusades, Reborn Christians, Assembly of God, Church of Christ and other similar religious groups are prohibited.?
This presumably means the Archdiocese accepts Baptism within the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The status of Baptism within the Anglican Church would be an interesting one in Sydney: the extremely ?low? Anglican Archdiocese of Sydney certainly denies the existence of ?sacramental character? altogether.
As far as I am aware, Coptic practice has been variable and not altogether consistent. In the Pastoral Agreement between the Coptic Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Alexandria (2001) mutual Sacramental recognition was declared, so presumably recognition is now given to Baptism within the Eastern Orthodox Churches. While under its current Code of Canon Law, Rome accepts Baptism in the Coptic Orthodox Church, I am unsure of whether any official Coptic policy exists on the matter.
Baptism - John Charmley - 27-05-2007
Dear Fr. Gregory,
I am most grateful for your help here; I had a feeling from what I read that it was not as simple as all that - something you have confirmed in spades!
On another site, Peter Farrington and I have encountered those from the EO who take both the views you mention; the Alexandrian example which you mention is interesting - and may end up being the prelude to more such.
nature and effects of baptism - kirk yacoub - 30-05-2007
There could be no more concise an expression of the seriousness of baptism than these words of Tertullian:
"Those who understand the importance of baptism will rather
fear its attainment than its delay."
As for the arguments about whether only total immersion renders a baptism valid, one of the oldest Church texts, the Didache (c.100AD)
"Baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit in running water; and if thou hast not running
water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold,
in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water thrice upon the
head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
It is not the water that matters, but rather it is what has happened to that water, namely its transformation by prayer and invocation, by the presence of the Holy Spirit which has made that water the same water which was blessed by Christ's presence in the Jordan, when He was baptized by John, that water which has been mingled with the fire of the
Spirit. And although total immersion seems preferable, more explicitly enacting our death and resurrection in Christ, the Didache affirms the validity of the pouring of baptismal water upon the head. It is permissible for a Church to say, Total immersion is our tradition, therefore we will continue with it; but it is not permissible for that Church to deny the validity of the pouring of baptismal water upon the head of the one who is baptized, because this would be a legalistic approach, and it would seem to attach too much importance to the outer motion of the water, rather than its inner act of cleansing and renewal. Perhaps somebody will object, saying, If only the head, then why not only the foot, or only the elbow, to which we answer that the head is the honourable and superior member, the home of the intellect, "that governor and high priest" as St John Klimakos puts it, which must place the heart under its surveillance.
In the early centuries of Christianity, when the Light of Christ plucked adult souls from the clutches of paganism, total immersion would have been the norm, but by the time that Christianity had become a dominant religion, few adults would have been baptized, the overwhelming majority of those baptized being infants, hence the tiny font. However, as a 6ft 2in
adult, I would not fit comfortably into a font, therefore the holy waters of baptism were poured upon my head, and I can testify to their subtly
Now that, in some ways, we have come full circle, when Christianity is not the norm of belief, when it is the duty of the Church to pluck lost souls from the clutches of modern paganism, it seems very likely that many catechumens will request baptim by full immersion.And who could deny them? Not me.
- John Mark - 06-10-2007
With regards to validity, acceptance etc the BOC does baptise people who are received into the Church, even if they have already been baptised, is this to do with the concept that outside of the Orthodox church other baptisms are not adequate or is it just that baptism as it is a very solemn and Holy occasion msut be done correctly?
Baptism - John Charmley - 10-10-2007
John Mark Wrote:Dear all,
Dear John Mark,
The way it was explained to me is that non-Orthodox baptisms are not adequate; this can seem a hard saying, but from my own experience all I can say is I have no regrets at all.
- John Mark - 11-10-2007
I think you are right to say it is a "hard saying" but nonetheless if as say the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Copts all profess to maintain the true faith one can understand why "their" baptism is required for a convert.
Now what is really interesting is that as far as I know it is only OO churches and some EO Greeks (?) which require new Catechumens to be (re-)baptised as it were, is that correct?
Baptism - John Charmley - 11-10-2007
Dear John Mark,
I would be very surprised if the Russians did not demand a new baptism, but would be happy to stand corrected.
What is the Roman Catholic position here?
- John Mark - 11-10-2007
It is a source of major discontent amongst different Catholics some more liberal would consider that any baptism is valid as long as it is carried out with the formula "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost".
Whilst more traditional types would suggest that although the above form of baptism was valid they would want to make sure it was correctly carried out. Thus a 'conditional' baptism would be performed by a Catholic priest or deacon. The only time that a conditional baptism would be carried out by liberal Catholics is if a person had only been baptised in the 'name of Jesus' for example. The Trinity is the key issue.
If pressed I would subscribe to the latter position given that the other 6 sacraments of the Church are performed by a suitably qualified clergyman so why should baptism be any different.
RC baptism - John Charmley - 24-03-2008
I turned to this old thread hoping to find an answer to the question of how our Church regards RC baptism, something I have been asked about on another Forum.
I see from Fr. Gregory's answer that our practice varies. Has anyone further information on this?