Total visitors right now: 96

Click here to check your private inbox.

Welcome to Stand Firm!

Vatican: Baptismal liturgies that omit the masculine names of the persons of the Trinity are invalid

Saturday, March 1, 2008 • 4:18 pm

I love this Pope.


from Religious Intelligence:

In a statement released on Feb 29, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said variations or approximations of the words “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” were impermissible. Persons baptized in the name of the “Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer” were to be treated as being “unbaptized” under Catholic Canon law.

“Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” the explanatory note accompanying the statement said “obeys Jesus’ command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St Matthew.”

“Variations to the baptismal formula, using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons” that have arisen “from so-called feminist theology” that seek “to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic” will “undermine faith in the Trinity.”

...more


75 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook
Comments:

So, do Catholics, in general, recognize baptism from other Christian denominations and this is a special case in which they wouldn’t?
Or is it that some Catholic priests have been baptizing in this non-Matthew compliant way?

[1] Posted by Deja Vu on 03-01-2008 at 05:27 PM • top

(1)  Some Catholic clergy have been doing this.  It is an abuse that is, thankfully, not too common.

(2)  Other liberal Protestant churches performing these baptisms, and I predict over time will abandon Trinitarian baptism all together.  This decision is a highly fateful one for ecumenism because, slowly but surely, some churches will no longer be considered as Christian by Catholics.  Baptisms in the name of the creator, redeemer, and sanctifier tends toward baptismal apostasy - and there are few more serious matters than that.

[2] Posted by Violent Papist on 03-01-2008 at 05:32 PM • top

Great question Deja Vu! I’m interested in the answer to that myself!

[3] Posted by TLDillon on 03-01-2008 at 05:34 PM • top

#1 Yes, Protestants are Christians in partial fellowship with Rome, to be in full communion a candidate takes classes (not necessary but essential if that makes sense) then confirmed to be in full communion in fact it Catholics would abhor a second baptism (the Protestant baptism would be recognized because all Sacraments are a work of the Spirit and not dependent on the worthiness of the priest—else nothing would ever happen).

So this is huge. It says liberals who go down this road are not a Christian!!! The definition of a Christian is any baptized person.

[4] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 03-01-2008 at 05:45 PM • top

Roman Catholics recognize baptisms that are done with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I live in a heavily RC area; some of my parishioners are invited to serve as godparents for their RC relatives and friends—and the RC parish contacts me to be sure that the potential godparent has been baptized.  I always need to send something in writing, but they accept baptisms we have done as real baptism.

Is it different elsewhere?

[5] Posted by AnglicanXn on 03-01-2008 at 05:47 PM • top

Of course, TEC has a bishop who has never received Christian baptism.

[6] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 03-01-2008 at 05:58 PM • top

I should clarify, often the liberal parent would be recognized, chances are they were baptized in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, but there children would not be recognized as Christians because no valid baptism was done.This will certainly complicate things as now Roman Catholic priests need to investigate any claims of one who said they were as a child, which type?

[7] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 03-01-2008 at 06:08 PM • top

Interestingly, very unlike their practice of closed communion, the RC Church has for a very long time recognized ANY trinitarian baptism performed by ANYONE.  This probably came from St. Augustine’s doctrine of a baby having his original-sin-hell-bound nature washed away by baptism. Throughout the middle ages, mid-wives were, quite often, the administers of trinitarian baptism.  The modern RC catechism, reflecting that old traditional practice states that even a non-Christian—for instance, say someone on a battlefield, who baptizes another using “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” performs a valid baptism.

I may be mistaken—and I’m not sure there is settle doctrine about baptism administered by non-Christians, but I believe traditional Anglican doctrine is the same.  Any trinitarian baptism is accepted.

[8] Posted by banned4Life on 03-01-2008 at 06:25 PM • top

Jim the Puritan [6] raises a very important point. Is PB Schori a baptized Christian? I wonder who among the TEC ruling hierarchs were not properly baptized and can therefore be proved to not be Christians.

[9] Posted by Deja Vu on 03-01-2008 at 06:29 PM • top

I would love to see the Vatican issue a statement on changing the meaning of baptism through the use of the “Baptismal Covenant.”

[10] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 03-01-2008 at 06:30 PM • top

KJS was almost certainly baptized validly.  The one who wasn’t was Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish.

[11] Posted by Violent Papist on 03-01-2008 at 06:32 PM • top

My husband and I were born and raised Roman Catholics. We later became Litherans, were amrried in a Luthran church, and our first 2 children were baptized in a Lutheran church. We returned to Rome when they were 8 and 6. My husband and I had to be married by a Roman Catholic priests, but our children did not have to be baptized again because Episcopalian and Lutheran baptisms were recognized by Rome as valid at the time. That was in 1984. Our Lutheran marriage was not valid because divorce is permitted in the Lutheran church. Don’t know what current Roman practice on recognizing baptisms is. Our oldest, a girl, is currently Episcopalian. Our older son is still Roman Catholic. Our younger son is nominally Catholic but doesn’t go to church at this point. My husband and are what I prefer to call Anglican, although our parish is still in TEC. I haven’t been too happy with Rome, but I too love this pope. It looks like he may save the RC church. He apparently isn’t too worried about losing people over this. I think the fear of losing members is part of the reason the previous pope let things get as bad as they are in the RC church. There is plenty of stuff going on there that is just as bad as what is going on in TEC. This pope seems to be taking a strong stand more and more frequently.

[12] Posted by Nellie on 03-01-2008 at 06:32 PM • top

What do you mean, Anthony?

[13] Posted by Deja Vu on 03-01-2008 at 06:33 PM • top

Carolyn Tanner Irish, bishop of Utah, a former Mormon, has never received Christian baptism.

[14] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 03-01-2008 at 06:34 PM • top

Yes, Christian baptism is recognized in the Catholic Church, as others have said.

Yes, there are some liberal priests trying that non-biblical baptism thing.  This is an effort to stop it.

Since verification of baptism is done at the parish level, I think the assumption is that the right words were used in a protestant baptism unless the pastor knows that all baptisms after a certain point at a certain church were invalid.

My question is, why is this an issue?  We were explicitly given the words to use for baptism in the Bible.  This isn’t a case of going back to the original language and talking about subtleties of translation, is it?

[15] Posted by Paul B on 03-01-2008 at 06:44 PM • top

The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.  In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention.  The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes, and to apply the Trinitarian baptismal formula.  The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1256 (footnotes omitted).

[16] Posted by slcath on 03-01-2008 at 06:47 PM • top

</blockquote>The one who wasn’t was Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish.</blockquote>

Then just how did she get to be a priest then a bishop? Isn’t baptism kind of necessary?! Geesh! What kind of church has TEc really become!???? No wonder we have so many issues!

[17] Posted by TLDillon on 03-01-2008 at 06:49 PM • top

My question is, why is this an issue?  We were explicitly given the words to use for baptism in the Bible.  This isn’t a case of going back to the original language and talking about subtleties of translation, is it?

It’s only an issue in a church whose leader invokes prayers to Mother Jesus.

[18] Posted by Jim the Puritan on 03-01-2008 at 06:52 PM • top

A little personal history may help illumine this controversy.  Way back in 1985 when I took the GOE’s (that’s the General Ordination Exams, laypeople), there was a significant essay question that asked how’d we would assess the proposal for allowing baptisms to be done in the name of “God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” (as the UCC had already approved, even back then).  Naturally, I replied that this was totally unacceptable, precisely because it betrayed classical Trinitarian doctrine and strongly tended toward modalism.

The interesting thing is how my answer was graded by the anonymous person who evaluated it.  He praised my knowledge of the “fine points” of Trinitarian docrine and then suggested that after all, social justice was much more important than being a stickler on such arcane matters of theology.  I passed, but needless to say, I was appalled not only by his evaluation, but by the fact that such a liberal was allowed to grade ordination exams.  I thought to myself then, as I would today:  “Good thing, you are evaluating me, and not the other way around, buster.  Because if the tables were turned, I’d flunk you for an answer like that and make you take theology all over again.”  My point is, this was considered a revealing and appropriate question to ask way back in 1985, when there was already strong pressure to use “inclusive language” at baptisms.

We didn’t get into this mess overnight.  And we won’t get out of it overnight either.  But in the meantime, I rejoice that Pople Benedict XVI has proven to be not a Rotweiler, but a German Shepherd.  He is incomparably superior to ++Rowan Williams.

David Handy+

[19] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 03-01-2008 at 06:53 PM • top

Hi Anthony,
Do you believe baptism produce a real change if it is done in the name of “Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier” rather than “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”? And, if so, do you believe it is the same change as for those baptized in the name of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?

[20] Posted by Deja Vu on 03-01-2008 at 07:52 PM • top

Maker, Redeemer and Sanctifier, besides being modalistic, makes the Father into the sole creator, whereas we know from John that ‘without Jesus was not anything made that was made,’ etc.

[21] Posted by Adam 12 on 03-01-2008 at 08:18 PM • top

He wasn’t the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for all those years for nothing.  I wasn’t for Benedict’s election, but every time he opens his mouth he proves me wrong.  The man’s spine is apparently made of steel.  He doesn’t care whom he p#$@&s;off.  It is a shame that the ABC doesn’t share his courage.

[22] Posted by terrafirma on 03-01-2008 at 08:24 PM • top

Has any one advised the Holy Spirit?
John 3:5-8

[23] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 03-01-2008 at 08:30 PM • top

I agree with Rome’s view on this.  It came up at a clergy conference several years ago (not whether or not to do do gender-neutral baptisms but what to do with those who had recieved them [or those about whom one wasn’t sure]).  My late bishop said he didn’t view them as valid and suggested conditional baptism in cases where we weren’t sure.  I thought it was sound then and still do.

The only thing is, pastorally speaking, I think one might have to conditionally baptize anyone baptized after, say, 1990 if they came from the PCUSA, UMC, UCC, etc. unless one was sure about the clergy and congregation concerned.  Maybe TEC too, but that would seem to be quite rare due to the fixed liturgy—even the 1979 Books sound on this point.

[24] Posted by Drew on 03-01-2008 at 08:35 PM • top

<blockquote>My question is, why is this an issue?  We were explicitly given the words to use for baptism in the Bible.  This isn’t a case of going back to the original language and talking about subtleties of translation, is it? <?blockquote>

I’m pretty sure the Bible explicity says to baptize in the name of the “Father, Son and and Holy Spirit”.  I know all the Baptist churches I’ve attended use that forumla, and they aren’t exactly sticklers for form and ritual.

[25] Posted by AndrewA on 03-01-2008 at 08:52 PM • top

The Great Commission is pretty darn straight on the words that Jesus asked to be used when baptizing someone.  On this issue, the Pope is right on.  I think, though, this thing HAS to be directed more at Catholic clergy and keeping them in line as opposed to establishing new ecumenical policies.  I mean, it’s one thing for me to confirm for a Catholic priest that a person was baptized back in 19-whatever.  But if I wasn’t here, how in the world would I know what words were used?  I’d simply assume that the words of the BCP were said.

[26] Posted by Vintner on 03-01-2008 at 09:32 PM • top

There was a time, many years ago, when the Orthodox Church would recognize Anglican baptisms, you may find one or two of the less strict jurisdictions who still might. But they would never recognize batisms performed by women clergy. I am fairly certain that the Roman Church will not recognize such baptisms; but that’s another story.

[27] Posted by RMBruton on 03-01-2008 at 09:48 PM • top

RMBurton, from my experience, that has not been the case.  Maybe they were the exception and not the rule, but I would question that one quite seriously, especially given the number of denominations that ordain women.  You would think that that piece of knowledge would be widely published and widespread.

[28] Posted by Vintner on 03-01-2008 at 09:49 PM • top

Matthew 28:19.  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

To me, a formula laid down by Christ himself in Scripture really needs no clarification, modification, or rendering into more “gender neutral” language.  I think one would change the formula at one’s peril. 

As for Catholics recognizing baptism by anyone using the Trinitarian formula with correct intent, it is indeed true—I have a 1945 edition of the Rituale Romanum and it makes that point, also.  Generally, though, baptism is only done by a layperson in cases where there is danger of death (infant who may not live, delivered by a midwife, for instance).

Protestants (or Orthodox) who become Catholic who come from churches that use a Trinitarian formula are not re-baptized; where there is doubt (no baptismal certificate, for example) the baptism is done conditionally.  My understanding is that a person whose previous faith is not explicitly Trinitarian is baptized upon entering the Catholic church, even if the baptismal formula their prior faith used is Trinitarian (example being the Mormons), because the intent is considered defective (though the intentions are no doubt good). 

The 1962 version also mentions it, so this is by no means a new doctrine or a Vatican II innovation. 

http://www.sanctamissa.org/EN/resources/books-1962/rituale-romanum/07-the-sacrament-of-baptism-general-rules.html

The Church also recognizes baptism by desire and by blood (in the case of catechumen martyrs); I believe formally at least since the Council of Trent (though there is evidence/theology for it earlier). 

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#X

[29] Posted by The Abbot on 03-01-2008 at 09:53 PM • top

Sorry—my paragraphs got out of order.  “The 1962 version” paragraph and link belong above the paragraph beginning “Protestants (or Orthodox)”.

Too many parenthetical thoughts on a complicated and fascinating subject.

[30] Posted by The Abbot on 03-01-2008 at 09:57 PM • top

Smuggs,
Do you mean to say that Rome has been recognizing baptisms performed by women? If you mean to say that the Orthodox recognized baptisms performed by women, then I must assume that either someone did not tell the Orthodox priest who baptized them or he didn’t take the trouble to examine them before receiving them. I can assure you that in the Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Romanian Churches, as well as the Greek Old Calendarists, such baptisms could not be accepted, in most cases the convert would be required to be baptized, by triple immersion, then they would chrismated.

[31] Posted by RMBruton on 03-01-2008 at 10:00 PM • top

There was a time, many years ago, when the Orthodox Church would recognize Anglican baptisms, you may find one or two of the less strict jurisdictions who still might. But they would never recognize batisms performed by women clergy. I am fairly certain that the Roman Church will not recognize such baptisms; but that’s another story.

Actually—and this may surprise some who know me—I think that baptism by a female is valid.  Historically, any baptised Christian could baptize if a minister was not available.  While I can not accept women’s ordination (and, in fact, cannot in good conscience commune when a woman has been the celebrant), if someone has been baptized by a baptized Christian, using water, and the Scriptural formula (not the gender-neutral quivalent) then that person is baptized.  Optimal?  Certainly not, but unless one is willing to undo every other emergent baptism I think it is valid.

I mean, it’s one thing for me to confirm for a Catholic priest that a person was baptized back in 19-whatever.  But if I wasn’t here, how in the world would I know what words were used? 

Individual churches tend to keep more or less the same flavor.  While in college I attended the First Presbyterian Church of Milledgeville, Georgia, for a couple of years.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was pastored by the Rev’d Bill Morgan, a self-described “old hippie” and theological liberal.  In place of the traditional doxology they sang, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise God all creatures here below, praise God above ye heavenly host, Creator, Christ, and Holy Ghost.”

Bill’s been retired for some ten years now and I’ve not set foot in that church since 1993.  I’d bet good money, though, that they’ve not reverted away from the gender-neutral doxology, though!

As an aside, Bill Morgan once apologized to any who might be offended by the male references to the Almighty prior to the singing of the old Negro spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  No, I’m not making this up.

[32] Posted by Drew on 03-01-2008 at 10:14 PM • top

A nice breath of fresh air from the Vatican.  Watch for how few Anglicans even understand it, let alone realize it’s important.  True, no Orthodox consider designer trinities.  Check out the “Seeker’s Center” on the ECUSA website for pure, refined modalism.  Open communion follows void baptism which follows from worshipping something other than Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The current house of bishops and the head thereof follows from the first three.  It’s now 40+ years since James Pike called the Trinity “excess baggage”.  No action has been taken on the issue in ECUSA yet.  In fact, P.427 of the current BCP has a purely optional use of the Trinity, “Or, in the name of God”.  Just the way Pike used to begin his sermons!  Want to bet the house of bishops and Rowan *don’t* consider this worth a meeting to talk about t?

[33] Posted by nwlayman on 03-01-2008 at 10:52 PM • top

Actually—and this may surprise some who know me—I think that baptism by a female is valid.  Historically, any baptised Christian could baptize if a minister was not available.  While I can not accept women’s ordination (and, in fact, cannot in good conscience commune when a woman has been the celebrant), if someone has been baptized by a baptized Christian, using water, and the Scriptural formula (not the gender-neutral quivalent) then that person is baptized.

Just to reiterate something already mentioned, once upon a time it was very common for midwives to perform Baptisims, particularly when there was concern about the health of the infant.

[34] Posted by AndrewA on 03-01-2008 at 10:55 PM • top

I mean, it’s one thing for me to confirm for a Catholic priest that a person was baptized back in 19-whatever.  But if I wasn’t here, how in the world would I know what words were used?

 

Post 1979, I don’t know how you would. However, if the person had been baptized according to the 1662 BCP or the 1928 American BCP or one of the other traditional Prayer Books you’ can be assured that, unless there was some ommission made by the person baptizing, the order was followed.

[35] Posted by RMBruton on 03-01-2008 at 10:57 PM • top

There is no question that, according to long-standing Catholic understanding, a woman can validly administer Baptism.  (Lawfulness may be another matter, and may depend on circumstances.)  As quoted (p. 255) in Handbook of Moral Theology, by Dominic M. Pruemmer, O.P. (1957), the Council of Florence defined:  “In a case of necessity not only a priest or deacon but also a lay man or woman and even a pagan or a heretic have the power to baptize, provided that they observe the form prescribed by the Church and have the intention of doing what the Church does.”  (See also CCC par. 1256, quoted in my post above, #19.)

[36] Posted by slcath on 03-01-2008 at 11:18 PM • top

For the information of my fellow Protestants. It is interesting to read the Rubrics found in the 1662 BCP for The Ministration Of Private Baptism Of Children In Houses.
“The Minister of every parish shall warn the people that without great cause and neccessity they procure not their children to be baptized at home in their houses. But when the need shall compel them so to do, then Baptism shall be administered on this fashion.

First let the minister of the Parish (or, in his absence, any other lawful Minister that can be procured) with them that are present call upon God, and say the Lord’s Prayer, and so many of the Collects appointed to be said before in the form of Publick Baptism, as the time and present exigence will suffer. And then, the child being named by some one that is present, the Minister shall pour Water upon it, saying these words: ...

And let them not doubt, but that the Child so baptized is lawfully and sufficiently baptized, and ought not to be baptized again. Yet nevertheless, if the Child which is after this sort baptized do afterward live, it is expedient that it be brought into the Church, to the intent that, if the Minister of the same Parish did himself baptize that Child, the Congregation may be certified of the true form of Baptism, by him privately before used, In which case he shall say thus, I Certify you, that according to the due and prescribed Order of the Church, at such a time, and at such a place, before divers witnesses, I baptized this Child.

But if the Child were baptized by any other lawful Minister, then the Minister of the Parish, where the Child was born or christened, shall examine and try whether the Child be lawfully baptized, or no. in which case, if those that bring any Child to the Church do answer that the same Child is already baptized, then shall the Minister examine them further saying, ...

And if the Minister shall find by the answers of such as bring the Child, that all things were done as they ought to be; then shall not he christen the Child again but shall receive him as one of the flock of true Christian people, saying thus, ...

But if they which bring the Infant to the Church do make such uncertain answers to the Priest’s questions, as that it cannot appear that the Child was baptized with Water, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, (which are essential parts of Baptism,) then let the Priest baptize it in the form before appointed for Publick Baptism of Infants: Saving that at the dipping of the Child in the Font, he shall use this form of words.

If thou art not already baptized, N. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

My friends it is important to study the rubrics.

[37] Posted by RMBruton on 03-02-2008 at 12:00 AM • top

As for evidence of Trinitarian baptisms [#7], I vaguely recall my baptismal certificate attesting to baptism “in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

Do ECUSA baptismal certificates still use language like that? If so, do feminist clergy sign them anyway?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Interesting to hear about the emergency option of baptism by a pagan [#42]. But how can one know whether the baptizer has the correct intention?

[38] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-02-2008 at 12:22 AM • top

But if they which bring the Infant to the Church do make such uncertain answers to the Priest’s questions, as that it cannot appear that the Child was baptized with Water, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, (which are essential parts of Baptism,) then let the Priest baptize it in the form before appointed for Publick Baptism of Infants: Saving that at the dipping of the Child in the Font, he shall use this form of words.

If thou art not already baptized, N. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

My friends it is important to study the rubrics. 

Indeed it is!  That’s what I meant by conditional baptism in [#30].  I administered one several months ago.

[39] Posted by Drew on 03-02-2008 at 12:36 AM • top

I love David Handy’s reference to Pope Benedict as a “German Shepherd.” What a lovely use of metaphor - so fitting.

[40] Posted by Nellie on 03-02-2008 at 01:12 AM • top

I think I can summarise the complete position of the Catholic Church on Baptism. Partly because I wrote a piece on it in regard to non-Christians for an atheist-barely-gone-theist friend of mine.

The Catholic Church’s definition of a Christian (barring one who has apostacised) is one who has been baptised according to a Trinitarian Formula.  In terms of definition of apostacy I think this would be effectively non-belief/rejection of the Nicene creed.  (Cue VGR who has not seen fit to declare he now DOES believe in the creeds!)  Heresy is distinct from apostacy.  One can still be a heretic and be a Christian though there would be risk to the soul depending on level of knowledge and willfulness.  Note that the definition of heresy is ‘one who causes schism’ and you can’t cause schism if you aren’t a member in the first place.

As such, since TEC and, it seems pretty much the ACC deny the Creeds (or at least will not affirm them which amounts to the same thing) they are apostate.

That’s basic definitions.

Not all sacraments need to be conferred by a minister.  Marriage is the clearest on this where the couple administer the sacrament to each other.  The Priest merely witnesses and declares the administration valid in the eyes of the Church.  (That’s who marriages outside the Church can be recognised including non-Christian marriages before conversion.)

Baptism CAN be administered by the laity!  It can be done!  However, the teaching the Church is that a Priest is the normative presider (conferring validity) and the Catjolic Church has a bit of thing about the sacraments being done by the Priest at the representative of Christ on Earth in a way us lay people are not.  But, where a Priest is not available, all baptisms done in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – with water – are regarded as legitimate and truly sacramental.  This includes baptism by a woman and even by a non-Christian.  That includes those by women priests – though no other sacraments would be regarded as valid except in the case of marriage where the sacrament, as explained, is conferred by the participants

This is, as has been noted, linked to the belief in God’s will for the salvation of all through the mechanism of Baptism.  In the absence of Baptism by blood, in the case of martyrdom the unbaptised are believed to be baptised by blood, and in the case of those desiring Baptism (implicitly) who died before receiving it there s the concept of baptism by desire [As Abbot has noted].  This is a bit conditional, of course, on the grounds that the individual intended to get baptism when available and was not able to do so before death.

It is the concept of baptism by desire – even implicitly – which allows the Catholic Church to hold out the olive branch for non-Christians to receive salvation after death.  But, because only God knows the heart, only God knows the opportunities a person has had to hear the Gospel and freedom to respond, we cannot assume Salvation for non-Christians – it is very much an unknown – and, as such, we must evangelise and secure salvation through Faith and Baptism.  The importance of Baptism for the Catholic Church cannot be understated and, in many ways, it forms a foundational viewpoint for much of the Church’s theology.  If you understand the Catholic notion of the necessity for Baptism (in some form if water is really, really not available) for Salvation then you’ll end up understanding a lot of the Churches teaching and actions.  Unlike the Baptists who, ironically given the name, kinda think Baptism is an optional sign only, the Catholic Church sees Baptism as vital.

Because it is seen as being so vital it is believed God is very generous in it’s bestowing.  The primary vehicle of saving grace is not regarded as being kept only in the holy of holies away from common folk (unlike other sacraments that are so guarded – the Eucharist being one of them and, hence, communion only with those in complete union with the Catholic Church.)

Therefore, given the necessity for Baptism for the Salvation of souls God allows the efficacious use of Baptism by ALL who administer it with a Trinitarian formula.  The use of water and the Trinitarian formula are absolutely vital.  The Church cannot minimise the requirements for a valid baptism anymore so mucking about with the formula is *right out!*

Thus, Protestant baptisms are seen as completely efficacious and valid. Where Protestants can provide a valid baptism certificate by a Protestant denomination at the point of conversion) this is accepted.  Where such a certificate cannot be shown, then there is likely to be a conditional baptism.  My Salvation Army friend, concerned by the non-sacramental nature of his denomination (he’s in that Church largely due to his wife who loves it and really, really, would not ‘get’ any other denomination – she really wouldn’t) baptised his son in the bath one day.  The baptism would be seen as efficacious but the Catholic Church would baptise said son again so as to have a certificate of a valid baptism so there is no doubt for the receipt of other sacraments, such as Marriage in the eyes of the Church and the Eucharist.

So the Catholic Church accepts all baptism done by anyone – even atheists where there is risk of death – in a Trinitarian formula.  However, it gets nervous when such a baptism cannot be proven with a recognised certificate and so tends to rebaptise where such cannot be produced so there is a known, witnessed, baptism. Hence the need for a priest for baptism under normal circumstances.

Another friend in a United Reformed Church had his son baptised and was readily informed that the Catholic Church recognised his baptism and would recognise the certificate.  Indeed, the Catholic Church would recognise HIS baptism in the Church of England.  So as he said, “Bang goes the idea the Catholic Church does not think Protestants are Christians.” 

We may think you’re heretics, but we still think your Christian!  grin

Now, the TEC – that’s apostate!  The days are approaching fast where Baptisms by TEC and the ACC will not be recognised given that the Trinitarian formula is being dropped (along with everything else except Hinduism, Buddism and Rainbows.)

Which is interesting because that would kill ecumenical relations with certainly those parts of the Anglican Communion stone dead – they would be treated as any other non-Christian religion, or frankly, as New Agers the Church would have _nothing_ to do with – and could led to recognition of an African Communion, not a Canterbury based communion.  Seriously. Baptism is absolutely CORE to the Catholic Church’s view on Salvation.  That’s why the concept of Limbo for non-Baptised babies is still floating about.  It’s THAT serious for Salvation. If you ain’t baptised you ain’t saved. We open the doors as wide as we can even to baptism of desire, but if screw around with water baptism and the Trinitarian formula you are NOT saved. (Yes, that gives the Catholic Church a theological headache with the Salvation Army who are totally non-Sacramental.)  If the CoE mucks up the Trinitarian formula the Catholic Church is likely to sever ecumenical relations completely and Talk to Akinola, not Williams.

And that explains why The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” are so darn important.  Every other compromise, every other extenuation has already be given. There ain’t nothing more to give.  Remove the water and the formula and have nothing by which you can measure the validity of Baptism.  Baptism by blood can be measured (you die!) but desire cannot. 

Hope that makes it all clear!

[41] Posted by jedinovice on 03-02-2008 at 06:59 AM • top

At one time some Roman Catholic clergy routinely conditionally baptized all converts.  I remember that President Johnson’s daughter Luci was conditionally baptized at the RC Cathedral in Washington, DC, even though she had been baptized as an infant by Mac McKinstry in San Antonio.  A few years later as Bishop of Delaware he baptized me - according to the rite of the Book of Common Prayer.

[42] Posted by TomRightmyer on 03-02-2008 at 08:36 AM • top

How about baptism using the trinitarian formula in the name of the “Source, Wellspring, and Living Water”?  These designations are not based on Feministical Theology,  but are instead derived from biblical references to God.

[43] Posted by Chazaq on 03-02-2008 at 09:05 AM • top

I like Rock, Paper, Scissors myself.

It’s a sad day when the Roman Catholicks stick to scripture, tradition, and reason (not to mention good ‘ol common sense) more than us Anglicans.

And, yes, I love this pope, too.  If only Canterbury . . . :sigh:

[44] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 03-02-2008 at 09:19 AM • top

Chazaq,

Because Jesus gave specific instructoins, “Go baptise in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  He Himself set the form.  We have been given specific inctruction so we gotta follow them.

And, of course, it has been understood for the last 2000 years that specific instructions have been given.  It is only recently that modern man has decided he is above specific instructions and wisdom of his predecessors and can do what the hell he likes.  Never before has anyone seen fit to muck about with the Baptismal formula (with the exception of the Jehovah’s witnesses who are not trinitarian.)

That’s basically why.

[45] Posted by jedinovice on 03-02-2008 at 10:02 AM • top

I am baffled as to what would make someone think it *needed* changing. Isn’t it one of those things that defines Christianity? How common is it now to baptize in the name of Whoever, Whatever and Whyever?

[46] Posted by oscewicee on 03-02-2008 at 10:08 AM • top

Mad Potter, the Vatican probably has to address the matter because so many Anglicans of uncertain baptism are fleeing to Rome.

[47] Posted by oscewicee on 03-02-2008 at 10:11 AM • top

“If the CoE mucks up the Trinitarian formula the Catholic Church is likely to sever ecumenical relations completely and Talk to Akinola, not Williams.”.....And why do we care? Rome can talk to whoever Rome wants to talk to.

I don’t really care what Rome considers a valid baptism. I also don’t think the Vatican is loosing sleep over what an Anglican thinks is a valid baptism.

Absolutely!  I think TEC know this, as you state, they don’t care.  They have that right.  They have the right not to care.  But, bear in mind, if TEC change the baptismal formula (certinaly if they do it *officially*) Rome will disregard TEC - if not the whole Western Communion - as non-Christian.  Because to Rome Baptism matters. 

Now, we know TEC doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  We’ve seen that.  So it’s OK,  TEC can renounce Christianity (and Rome will see changing the Baptismal formula as doing just that!) and then we’ll know where we stand. TEC is a non-Christian, largely Unitarian organisation using some Christian liturgy, and Rome will accept that and treat you guys as another religion (just barely) and talk to Akinola.

Fair enough.  You pays yer money and makes yer choice.  TEC thinks homosexuality is the issue worth severing off the rest of it’s own Church (leave alone the rest of Christianity full stop) while Rome will regard Baptism as the issue worth severing you guys off in the end.

If you don’t care - that’s fine!  I didn’t think you would.  But Rome will care about the trinitarian formula, believe you me!

[48] Posted by jedinovice on 03-02-2008 at 10:12 AM • top

If you REALLY don’t care what Rome thinks is a valid baptism, either:

1.  You don’t think Rome is Christian
2.  You don’t CARE if Rome is Christian

Which is it?

[49] Posted by Ed the Roman on 03-02-2008 at 10:30 AM • top

Does anyone believe that revisionists give a rat’s ass about whether or not God (or anyone else) accepts the “new thing” baptism form as being valid or not?

[50] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 03-02-2008 at 11:02 AM • top

Lots o thoughts are running through my mind as I read these comments. 

1.) Liberal Christians in general, GCC in particular, are passionately and hopelessly addicted to pushing the envelope.  But then, like Wiley Coyote in the cartoons, they find themselves well beyond the brink with nothing below to hold them up.  Much the same is going on with the baptismal formulary.  They think words mean whatever they want them to mean, but then, they really don’t do they?

2.)  I assume they clergy who use “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier” or “Milk, Potato, Sausage” have access to certificates to verify that.  Hopefully they are not using certificates that claim “Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.”

3.)  Part of what is going on here is a parsing between two perspectives that cannot be reconciled.  One, the RCC, takes it’s sacraments seriously.  The other, TEc, does not.  TEc lives in an Alice-In-Wonderland-world where, as I noted above, words mean whatever they want them to mean.

4.)  To #37: yes there are Orthodox who will accept baptism by women as no different from a lay baptism.  That is one of the sad and confusing realities of the Orthodox in the US.  Each juridiction has its own canon law, usually inherited from “home.”  If you don’t like the answer you get from a Greek priest you can look for a Russian or Antiochian who will provide a different answer based on his canons.  BTW, the chances are excellent that the OCA or Antiochian priest will be an escapee from TEC who knows your rector from seminary!

[51] Posted by Nikolaus on 03-02-2008 at 11:37 AM • top

How about baptism using the trinitarian formula in the name of the “Source, Wellspring, and Living Water”?  These designations are not based on Feministical Theology, but are instead derived from biblical references to God.

I read this in David Cunningham’s book “These Three are One.” I can’t recall the reason Cunningham proposed these titles, but I suspect it is because he doesn’t like the idea of using traditional masculine language. I enjoyed parts of that book, and I know that various Church Fathers used source/wellspring language to *describe* the relationship between the Father and Son, but nonetheless, they didn’t tamper with the formulas. I don’t accept the feminist critique of traditional language for the Trinity, so I didn’t see any need to come up with new names/titles for the persons of the Blessed Trinity, whether “Creator…” or “Source…” I prefer sticking with the biblical command, and 2000 years of Church Tradition, rather than feeling forced to “re-imagine” the Trinity because of a modernist critique of the traditional language, which only seems to be a problem for a few academics and mainline clergy.

[52] Posted by DavidBennett on 03-02-2008 at 11:39 AM • top

To #37,
I had a suspicion that you’d bring-up the OCA and the Antiochians. Both of whom I am quite familiar with. I am refrring to the vast majority of Orthodox who generally abide by the Pedalion/Rudder. Jurisdictions like the two you mention made a joke of oeconomia. They are two of the easiest to join and it is as rare as finding hens’ teeth to find a priest who will abide by the standards of Canon Law for the reception of converts in these jurisdictions. It’s too politically incorrect and in many cases former TEC clergy have themselves been “received” improperly. You’re barking up the wrong tree. One thing I learned after twenty years as an Orthodox Christian, two as a deacon, eight as a priest and two years living on Mount Athos was the importance of adhering to Canon Law and not making it up by myself. We Anglicans would be a lot better-off if we’d stick to the Book. I make no apologies for that.

[53] Posted by RMBruton on 03-02-2008 at 12:46 PM • top

RMBruton:  I think you misunderstood my comment and that is my fault for not being more clear.  However, I won’t pursue it further as I think we are on the same page.  You say “we” Anglicans.  Does this mean that you left Orthodoxy for Anglicanism?

[54] Posted by Nikolaus on 03-02-2008 at 12:59 PM • top

We Anglicans would be a lot better-off if we’d stick to the Book.

Well of course!  This is perhaps the most succinct summation of the difference between revisionists and reasserters.  However, the point at which I think we perhaps differ is that I would rather trust my soul (and hope to do so) to the Antiochians or OCA than anything in TEc.

[55] Posted by Nikolaus on 03-02-2008 at 01:26 PM • top

Nikolaus,
The answer to #61 is yes, we became Anglican in 2000. My affiliation is with the Province of Nigeria through CANA. Certainly almost anything is a better option than TEC. I would make other recommendations than the OCA or the Antiochians. I spent many years in both the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, who are now re-unified with the Moscow Patriarchate, as well as in the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate.

[56] Posted by RMBruton on 03-02-2008 at 02:25 PM • top

jedinovice…once again to quote you….
TEC is a non-Christian, largely Unitarian organisation using some Christian liturgy, and Rome will accept that and treat you guys as another religion (just barely) and talk to Akinola.” And to quote midwestnorwegian….I don’t “give a rat’s ass” who Rome talks to or what the RCC thinks of the Western (Northern) branch of the Anglican Church.  More power to Big Pete if Rome wants to talk to him

Indeed!  I expected nothing less.  We have already established that TEC does not care what anything of any denominaiton thinks about them.

The point is (and we KNOW you don’t care so it’s all good!) that the TEC is now reaching the point where major Christian denominatoins are very likely to break off ecumenical ties with TEC and the ACC and, quite probably, the whole of the Western Communion.  You guys are going to be treated as non-Christians as you systemactially deny and change every single aspect of Christian orthodoxy.

You accept the consequences which is fine.  It just means clarity all round.  You can the baptism formula you stop being Christian in the sight of many, many denoninations - not least Rome but not just them.  You accept that.  It’s fine.

Just don’t complain when it happens.  Don’t complain when people regard you as Unitarians.  That’s the identity and ‘theology’ you have chosen.  You accept the consequences of that which is fine.  In time you’ll fine new alliances with the Unitarians and some like minded Presbyterians.

And, yes, some of us do believe that Catholic Church is the one True Church (whilst being highly ecumenical and regarding other denoninations as Christian and having aving grace) because you see, some denominations actually *believe* things and have a creedal base.  It’s wild I know.  :-D

[57] Posted by jedinovice on 03-02-2008 at 03:09 PM • top

RMBruton: I honor any choice you felt the need to take in your spiritual walk, but, really, few Anglicans (including those in CANA) have any place to be criticizing the Orthodox - including the OCA or the Antiochians.

[58] Posted by Phil on 03-02-2008 at 04:02 PM • top

RMBruton (#64),

Although it’s somewhat off-topic, I for one would love to hear about your spiritual journey on this or another thread.  We hear about a growing number of people who have left TEC for some form of Eastern Orthodoxy, but relatively few who’ve gone the other way, especially since AD 2000.  What drew you to Anglicanism and CANA?  And are you connected in any way with the St. Alban-St. Sergius Fellowship?  I think the latter is mostly English and Russian, as the name implies, but I’m sure there are other forums for fostering Anglican-Orthodox bonds of fellowship and increasing mutual understanding.

Personally, I think we Anglicans have much to gain from getting to know the Orthodox tradition.  Among other things, they are the undisputed world champs when it comes to fasting, which the East does far more of, with much greater zeal and intensity, than we do in the West.  But especially, it seems to me that we could learn so much from the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox when it comes to understanding the place of suffering in the Christian life.  No part of the Church universal has suffered so much, for so long, as our Orthodox brothers and sisters, whether under the heavy hand of Islam or Communism (or both).  Our GS Anglican partners may have experienced a lot of suffering for Christ’s sake, but we in the western world certainly have not.  What I’m trying to say is that I think we have much to learn from both the Global East and the Global South.

Feel free to contact me privately, if you prefer.

David Handy+

[59] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 03-02-2008 at 05:33 PM • top

#68,
I’ve sent you an e-mail with my telephone #.

[60] Posted by RMBruton on 03-02-2008 at 06:02 PM • top

#28:  [Benedict]’s

spine is apparently made of steel.  He doesn’t care whom he p#$@&s;off.  It is a shame that the ABC doesn’t share his courage.

Amen, amen, and amen, terrafirma, but, of course, it would also be wonderful if the ABC shared the Pope’s convictions about what is true and right.

I hear it again in my mind:  The memorable bass voice of the late Bishop Robert L. Terwilliger (1917-1991) of blessed memory, sometime Suffragan of the Diocese of Dallas, talking in the late 70s and early 80s, about the the roots of the push for inclusive language.  He also wrote about the de-masculinization of the Holy Trinity:

Concerning the maleness of Christ and the priesthood of Christ, the maleness was disparaged as an element in the true matter of the incarnation. Christ did not become a man, but he simply became human, human apparently without sexuality, as an essential attribute of his particularity. Inevitably the masculine image of God came under attack. This has increasingly been a centre of agitation. The parable of the woman seeking for a coin, and Jesus’ words over Jerusalem, that he would have gathered God’s people as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, were both quoted as evidence of the femininity of God, and the femininity in Jesus. In fact, it was not uncommon to say not that God is beyond sexuality, but that God is androgynous. Jesus’ choice of male apostles and the continuation of this principle by the Apostolic Church were discounted as a matter of cultural conditioning. The society of the first century did not recognize the place of women, and Jesus had to conform to it in order to create an acceptable apostolate. This relativizing of Jesus sometimes became quite radical. The Christology of much of this propaganda was obviously not Nicene. It has often been pointed out how frequently those who have been protagonists of women’s ordination do not speak of Jesus, but only of Christ. It is also interesting that so many speak of Jesus as a ‘Christ figure’, and apparently have an equal place for other ‘Christ figures’ of other religions, past and present. In any case, it was stated that there is nothing in the New Testament which suggests that we should never try anything new. The whole history of Christianity and of Anglicanism has had a place for innovation. This is a time for another innovation that need not be governed by obedience to the example of Jesus, the precedent of Christian history, or any other authority, except the present impulse which is attributed to the Holy Spirit.

Source:  http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/terwill.asp  Great reading.

And, no, Commentatrix, I’m NOT trying to hijack this thread into a discussion of WO, but there IS a connection in these matters.  Bishop Terwilliger’s writings help in the understanding of how we (the whole Church) got to this point where +++Benedict XVI has to put his foot down and say, “no, that’s not okay; it’s beyond the bounds”.

[61] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 03-02-2008 at 06:02 PM • top

#70,
Indeed, what goes around comes around. A Catch 22 situation. Thanks for the link to Bp Terwilliger.

[62] Posted by RMBruton on 03-02-2008 at 06:13 PM • top

MP, re: “I simply disagree that Rome or any other conservative denomination sets the standard for what is right and proper in any other Christian denomination.”

Perhaps not, but, in this case, the standard was set by Christ.  One would like to think He carries sufficient authority.

[63] Posted by Phil on 03-02-2008 at 06:18 PM • top

RMBruton (#69),

Thanks.  I’ll call you to hear more of your story.

And Connie (#70),

I have fond memories of +Robert Terwilliger too.  He confirmed me in Dallas in 1979 when I was a young graduate student.  I went to hear him preach as often as I could.  And I once made an appointment to seek his counsel when I was beginning to think I might be called to ordination.  At the time, I was earning an M.A. in Linguistics (at Univ. of Texas-Arlington) and was planning on becoming a (lay) missionary Bible translator with Wycliffe.  He stunned me, when he took a long, hard look at me and solemnly said, “David, are you sure ordination wouldn’t RUIN your ministry?”  I was flabbergasted.  I’d never thought of that.

Well, as it turned out, I never made it overseas as a missionary.  And I did end being ordained.  But I never forgot his words.  And I still think they contain some profound wisdom.  All too often, we in TEC have acted as if any lay person who shows unusual devotion MUST be called to ordained ministry.  After all, lay people just aren’t that zealous (blah, blah, blah).  NOT.

David Handy+

[64] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 03-02-2008 at 06:54 PM • top

RMBruton, I would also like to hear your story.  I imagine some others would too.  Father Handy was right in pointing out that your faith journey took the opposite direction of most we hear about.

[65] Posted by terrafirma on 03-02-2008 at 08:32 PM • top

Mad Potter,

The RCC has always kind of acted a bit superior…all that “only true church” stuff. Sounds like some of you believe them.

Whatever could possibly have given you THAT idea?

Ed the <h2>Roman</h2>

[66] Posted by Ed the Roman on 03-02-2008 at 09:43 PM • top

It is now up to our judgment guided by the holy ghost to do what is right.

  Actually, MP, our judgement must first be informed by Holy Scripture.  Then any guiduance from spirits must be tested by Scripture.  I can confidently assure you that any spirit whose guidance is contrary to Scripture is not Holy.

[67] Posted by Nikolaus on 03-02-2008 at 10:31 PM • top

MP #75 - I probably find myself in the “disagreeable” category on this issue - but I appreciate the spirit in which you comment here.

[68] Posted by Phil on 03-02-2008 at 10:35 PM • top

MP—Jesus gave us a specific formula for baptism.  Why do you think that He would want us to change it, just because it’s 2008?  Jesus treated women with enormous respect, and rejected the Jewish idea that they are only second-best—but He still said that we should
baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  Exactly who are we to second guess Him? 

Also, can you tell me where in Scripture Jesus tells us that we don’t have to care about the rest of His church, if we are happy in our own little enclave?  I can’t seem to find it.

[69] Posted by In Newark on 03-02-2008 at 10:41 PM • top

Please enlighten this non-liturgical, non-sacramental, radical protestant.  I know the RCC recognizes trinitarian baptism, no matter who does it.  The military instructs the OB doctors how to baptise a dying infant for each denomination.  I once had to give a certificate of triune baptism to a former member who moved and was to marry a RCC groom.  I recall that early in church history the validity of the sacriments didn’t depend on whether the priest was bad or not.  I think it had something to do mith the donastist heresy.  Yet I recall that when the Anglican Church hived off from Rome, the pope declared that the prient and bishops had no clout and their acts, and apostolic succession were no longer valid.  Am I wrong?  Now, doesn’t the communion have to be performed by a proper priest to be effectual?  I know the WO issue with Anglo Catholics and also the RCC and others hinge on this.  So why would a sacrament of baptism not require all those credentials, or am I confused?

[70] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 03-02-2008 at 11:27 PM • top

To Prophet Micaiah:  Excellent questions.  In Catholic understanding, only a validly ordained priest can consecrate the bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord.  (CCC 1411.)  Only validly ordained bishops can validly confer the three degrees of the Sacrament of Orders.  (CCC 1576.)  On the other hand, “In case of necessity, any person, even someone not baptized, can baptize, if he has the required intention…”  (CCC 1256.)  So the question of the validity of Anglican orders necessarily impacts the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Orders, but not Baptism.

[71] Posted by slcath on 03-02-2008 at 11:49 PM • top

MP, I’m cradle as well, and never left.  I’m here as a voyeuristic interloper, I guess.

[72] Posted by Ed the Roman on 03-02-2008 at 11:55 PM • top

Prophet Micaiah:

As far as I know, baptism requires water and the invocation of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It does not require a priest.

Everyone else: I’m amazed no one has mentioned the Nicene Creed, which states that we believe in “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” That would mean, of course, that no one who has been baptized properly (with water and in the name of the Trinity) would ever need to be re-baptized.

[73] Posted by PollyPrim on 03-03-2008 at 12:46 AM • top

Having had to listen to a sermon yesterday which featured the claim that God the Mother gave birth to the world, this statement comes as a welcome relief!

[74] Posted by Marcus on 03-03-2008 at 05:37 AM • top

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.


Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere about the crisis in our church. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments that you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm, its board of directors, or its site administrators.