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Mor Ephrem
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« on: October 19, 2004, 05:43:29 AM »

Question- what does the term "without grace" mean in connection with a church's sacraments? That they "aren't valid" (western terminology)?


I don't know if it means they are not valid (because some view Protestant baptisms as "valid" and don't repeat them, but rather chrismate).  I am almost certain it means that they don't confer any sacramental grace.  But since the Western terminology implies this when it says something is invalid, I suppose that would work.
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2004, 10:37:19 AM »

The whole "valid"/"grace bearing" argument as it's now being debated (all too often on the internet) is steeped in superficiality and narrow ways of thinking which I think are out of keeping with the lived, genuinely traditional Orthodoxy of centuries prior to our own.  Attempts to revise this, to seek after a "purer" Orthodoxy we can imagine from picking and choosing amongst ancient patristic texts (St.Cyprian of Carthage seems to be a favourite in this regard), is simply a varient of Protestantism.  That's not a value judgement, I'm just calling it what it is - and last I checked, Orthodoxy is not Protestant in any sense, rather it is "traditional"; adhering to that which is passed downward in time, with the faith and understanding this transmission is filled with and protected by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

The fact of the matter is that there was a fork in the road between the Greek and Russian Orthdox (local) traditions several centuries ago.  The EP (and those who followed him) decided that the baptismal form used by Latins (or those like them, like certain confessional Protestants), because it was pouring (and not full immersion) was invalid.  Thus, all converts from Catholicism had to be Baptized.

OTOH, the Russians after their own internal debates, decided the Latin method of Baptism was "valid" - so Baptizing them with immersion was not necessary.

The discussion of GRACE otoh, actually quite separate to this.  How the two got mixed up together is a long discussion.  Suffice it to say, there are now some Orthodoxy who have confounded the two absolutely.  IMHO though, this was not the original discussion - rather the original disagreement, was whether or not pouring water three times could in any way be deemed a valid Baptism.

Grace is the merciful outpouring of God's energies, of Himself, joining us to Him, reforming us, saving us.  Frankly, God can do whatever He pleases, though He has revealed what we are supposed to do - whatever may (or may not) occur outside of this, is hidden in Him, and not something any of us can claim to be privy to (and this is where heretical ecumenism falters - it's gross presumption, claiming as a matter of fact where and how God acts outside of His expressed will.)

Obviously the Church, communicates this salvation to those who can receive it.  Her Holy Mysteries are genuine, they are sanctified and they sanctify.

As for those who are to varying degrees cleaved from the Church, we really cannot say.  While we cannot be blind and pretend signs of grace do not exist where they very well appear to (such as in some Roman Catholic saints) or at least not dismiss them and claim they are really the work of the devil, what we equally cannot do is pretend to know what the extent of this perceived grace is, or it's universality within said sect or schism.  Also, even if we could know that such and such persons in such and such schism have grace (which we really cannot), what we can definately say is that their way is not for us; frankly, they do not know better, we do, and while God may smile upon their loving, cheerful ignorance, we will not be forgiven of doing as they do without repenting of it.

This is also why, in principle, I don't see a problem with either approach in regards to converts (Baptizing them or receiving them by the second or third rite, depending where they came from.)  The Church can energize a graceless, if valid Baptism, or She can simply repeat the entire thing since it would not be a repetition of the grace of regeneration.  Perhaps this is particularly valuable in our day, since the western confessions have so far strayed away from Orthodoxy with their liberalism and theological creativity, that it's not even certain how much but a little water and some words remains in their baptismal ceremonies.  It's not even clear if many of these westerners even believe in the Holy Trinity, even if they utter the same words when they pour water three times over the forehead.  In this light, the "re"-Baptism of converts would also be covered under ancient canons which rule that when the possible Baptism of someone in the past is doubtful, a Priest should not hesitate to Baptize them, even if it potentially means they are being "re-Baptized".  The danger of doing the latter, is far outweighed by the uncertainty involved in not properly initiating them into the Holy Mysteries.

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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2004, 11:30:20 AM »

We also need to take into account that the baptism of heretics is utterly invalid per the Apostolic canons, but the Russian and Greek Churches took different takes on who was a heretic.

I also would say that the local Russian custom of its time worked in that system when people knew that Orthodoxy and Catholicism are not the same Church, so there was no question that they were entering the Church, and that they had been separated from it.  Now, however, in this age of attempts to declare non-Orthodox sacraments in and of themselves valid, I think it is important to restore akreveia and baptize converts.

Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2004, 11:39:20 AM »

I agree, anastasios.
'+++¦+¦+++++++++¦+¦' should be employed in only the rarest and extreme of circumstances and not used as a convenient dodge so as to not offend sensitivities.

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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2004, 11:52:33 AM »

We also need to take into account that the baptism of heretics is utterly invalid per the Apostolic canons, but the Russian and Greek Churches took different takes on who was a heretic.

I also would say that the local Russian custom of its time worked in that system when people knew that Orthodoxy and Catholicism are not the same Church, so there was no question that they were entering the Church, and that they had been separated from it.  Now, however, in this age of attempts to declare non-Orthodox sacraments in and of themselves valid, I think it is important to restore akreveia and baptize converts.

Anastasios

[edit:  had a thought and clicked on submit before I actually responded]

Anyway...forgive me if this is inapporpriate, but...

Anastasios,
I remember around a year ago we (the forum) was discussing points made in the book The Non-Orthodox by Patrick Barnes.  Someone (me?) brought up the section in the book where Patrick criticizes Fr. Thomas Hopko and John Erickson for their Ecumenism re Baptism and you got all huffy.  Are you saying you now agree w/ Patrick Barnes?
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2004, 11:59:40 AM »

'+++¦+¦+++++++++¦+¦' should be employed in only the rarest and extreme of circumstances and not used as a convenient dodge so as to not offend sensitivities.

Setting aside the question of whether you all think I should have been accepted into the Orthodox Church at ALL  Grin ...

I was baptized as a Southern Baptist at age 14 via triple immersion in the name of the Trinity - dunked backwards and fully immersed for each person of the Trinity - in a four foot baptism pool behind the pulpit of the Church.

I presented this original Baptism certificate from the Church to my Priest to prove this. He looked at it and said something like: "Southern Baptist! I guess there is no question of your Baptism being done correctly."

Do you feel that I should have been rebaptized?
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2004, 12:07:48 PM »


Do you feel that I should have been rebaptized?


For you, my friend, repeatedly and continually...until it "takes". Grin

I am not going to second guess your priest, are you?

Demetri
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2004, 12:19:08 PM »

I am not going to second guess your priest, are you?

I think that is what is known as "a loaded question"  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2004, 02:05:38 PM »

We also need to take into account that the baptism of heretics is utterly invalid per the Apostolic canons, but the Russian and Greek Churches took different takes on who was a heretic.

Well said; this, I think, gets to the crux of the difference between the positions.

Quote
Now, however, in this age of attempts to declare non-Orthodox sacraments in and of themselves valid, I think it is important to restore akreveia and baptize converts.

You know what?  I agree that it'd probably be wiser, when all is said and done, to receive converts through baptism.  However, I also think that chrismation of Trinitarians from other confessions, being a legitimate Orthodox practice as well, isn't worth taking all these "stands of resistance" against and separating from.  I personally hope and pray that all Orthodox are eventually brought to practice the former, but I don't see practice of the latter as being a threat to our existence or identity as the Church.
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2004, 02:44:00 PM »

Elisha,

Yes, I have reversed my position after much study and prayer.  I do not agree with the polemics associated with such people as the orthodoxinfo.com crowd but I believe they are right on the issue of converts.  Maybe some time I will go into more detail as to why I changed my mind, but interestingly enough I changed my mind after reading arguments AGAINST baptizing converts and realized I don't agree.

Anastasios
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2004, 05:58:42 PM »

Elisha,

Yes, I have reversed my position after much study and prayer.  I do not agree with the polemics associated with such people as the orthodoxinfo.com crowd but I believe they are right on the issue of converts.  Maybe some time I will go into more detail as to why I changed my mind, but interestingly enough I changed my mind after reading arguments AGAINST baptizing converts and realized I don't agree.

Anastasios

Thank, just curious.
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« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2004, 08:15:11 AM »

Anastasios,

Quote
We also need to take into account that the baptism of heretics is utterly invalid per the Apostolic canons, but the Russian and Greek Churches took different takes on who was a heretic.

I think what would be more accurate to say, is that there was discussion in the medieval Byzantine world as to what was meant by "heretic" in the Apostolic Canons.  For example, the Russian Orthodox took their que from Byzantine canonists of the middle ages (and I've been told this is reflected in the Russian codices of canons) who said that the heretics being spoken of in these ancient canons were those who adhered to errors that basically resulted in the worship of a foreign god, and a totally misconstrued idea of just what the economy of salvation is.  In other words, their relationship to the Church really was that of pagans and infidels.

IOW, there seems to be a distinction here between "big H" Heresy and "small h" heresy.

Quote
I also would say that the local Russian custom of its time worked in that system when people knew that Orthodoxy and Catholicism are not the same Church, so there was no question that they were entering the Church, and that they had been separated from it.  Now, however, in this age of attempts to declare non-Orthodox sacraments in and of themselves valid, I think it is important to restore akreveia and baptize converts.

The problems now are different than they were then.  At that time, there was if anything, more open hostility from the western confessions (particularly Catholicism) towards Orthodoxy than there is now.  HOWEVER, a new "hostility" of sorts exists now, created by the ecumenical movement - the blurring of all distinctions, a sort of "neo-Orthodox pietism" where "doctrine really doesn't matter."

I think what perhaps makes the so called "strict" reception of converts more favorable these days, however, is the degeneration that has occured in modern Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in the latter half of the 20th century.  Being familiar with Catholicism (personally), I know that there has not only been an obvious rubrical/liturgical degeneration in it, but also a profound doctrinal one as well.  As such, where the RCC really stands, and where the typically even more liberal confessional Protestant groups really stand, is hard to say.  That said, while they may "utter the words" and pour water thrice, who can say what belief or thinking is involved in these rites.  I can also say firsthand, that at least in Catholicism, there is also very little care being taken in the administration of baptism itself - pouring from an Orthodox p.o.v. is at best barely valid as it is (which is why it's only supposed to be used in emergencies), but the careless way I've seen it done by RC priests makes the whole thing even more dubious.

For those reasons, and the kind you (Anastasios) pointed out, I'm very much inclined to agree with the type of stance taken by ROCOR and other like minded Orthodox Churches, at least in the cases of converts from western confessions (as for non-Chalcedonians, OTOH, I'm personally inclined to believe the original canons formed in their regard should be observed...nothing stricter, nothing more lenient.)

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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2004, 11:20:26 AM »

Augustine,

Yes, I agree with you re: Non-Chalcedonians.

Anastasios
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2004, 05:59:21 PM »

I am being received into the Orthodox church a month from now.  I am being baptized.  It would be virtually impossible for me to get another copy of my baptismal certificate from the early 1960s or to get statements from witnesses.  (It was Prot. baptism when I was in the USAF;  much later I became Roman Catholic.)

I am glad to be baptized in any case, as then there would be no question in other jurisdictions.  

and for Tom:  You are the first person I ever heard of having been baptized by triple immersion in a Southern Baptist church.  The Church of the Brethren, similar groups, and a few of the Mennonites who practice immersion instead of pouring have the practice also.  (Of course all those groups view baptism as simply a sign with no grace -- the usual Prot. argument that God does not use means.  Angry )

For me the journey has been very long:  I am glad that it is finally over.  Now it will take longer than I have left to live just to assimilate Orthodoxy.

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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2004, 06:04:52 PM »

Quote
and for Tom:  You are the first person I ever heard of having been baptized by triple immersion in a Southern Baptist church.  The Church of the Brethren, similar groups, and a few of the Mennonites who practice immersion instead of pouring have the practice also.  (Of course all those groups view baptism as simply a sign with no grace -- the usual Prot. argument that God does not use means.   Angry )

I was raised in an independant fundamental Baptist church and I was baptized by triple immersion, using the Trinitarian formula. I was not aware that SB's baptized any different than this.... I thought that was what made Baptist's "Baptist"?

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2004, 09:00:09 PM »

I was raised in an independant fundamental Baptist church and I was baptized by triple immersion, using the Trinitarian formula. I was not aware that SB's baptized any different than this.... I thought that was what made Baptist's "Baptist"?

SBs baptize by single immersion, because "Christ only died ONCE, not three times"...the form matching the burial and whatnot...even so, it's "just a symbol," even though the identification of being "baptized into His death" is even more pronounced.

Porter: congrats and many years.
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« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2004, 09:13:58 PM »

SBs baptize by single immersion, because "Christ only died ONCE, not three times"...the form matching the burial and whatnot...even so, it's "just a symbol," even though the identification of being "baptized into His death" is even more pronounced.

Well, maybe the pastor in my church was just thorough. This was back in 1973, so I don't know if it is done differently now.
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« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2004, 09:22:30 PM »

:If we're talking about "every detail," I'd agree...for example, in Orthodoxy, some churches (small c) teach pews are ecumenism, as well as beardless priests...which I disagree with.  But there's a big difference between "signing off on every detail" and ascribing to things which are dogmas of your confession.  The latter had better be ascribed to; that's serious business! :

I suppose the question is what we mean by subscribing to a dogma. It seems to me that if one believes that the Bishop of Rome has a rightful primacy within the Church, then a reasonable and humble person will be open to instruction on the exact nature of that primacy. I simply don't understand the ability of modern Christians (especially Americans) to make statements of absolute certainty as to whether they believe or disbelieve fairly complex doctrines. Isn't that what the Church is for? If you accept the basic principles, can't you take a lot more on trust? Even if you have some questions about the specific way something has developed, why would you be so certain that your way of looking at it is correct?

It seems to me that "private judgment" should be a matter of basic intuitions, and if the teaching of the church to which one belongs does not blatantly violate those basic intuitions, one should take the rest on trust.

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Edwin
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« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2004, 09:30:23 PM »

Quote
SBs baptize by single immersion, because "Christ only died ONCE, not three times"...the form matching the burial and whatnot...even so, it's "just a symbol," even though the identification of being "baptized into His death" is even more pronounced.

Pedro,

Thanks for letting me know, I now consider myself fortunate that I was baptized with the triple immersion. I had no idea that this was the common practice of the SB's, I just assumed that all Baptists baptized in the same manner and I must admit that I am still surprised to find this out.

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2004, 05:38:40 PM »

Folks,

I split off some of the posts from the "orthodox converts to catholicsm" thread into a new thread, as we've gotten off topic but could still continue this idea.  That having been said:

Pedro,

Thanks for letting me know, I now consider myself fortunate that I was baptized with the triple immersion. I had no idea that this was the common practice of the SB's, I just assumed that all Baptists baptized in the same manner and I must admit that I am still surprised to find this out.

In Christ,
Aaron

Well, hey, what do I know...there may be some SBs who've now decided to start with triple, some independents who've gone to single, etc.  Both SB churches I attended growing up did single, so that's what I know.
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« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2004, 06:18:46 PM »

Folks,

I split off some of the posts from the "orthodox converts to catholicsm" thread into a new thread, as we've gotten off topic but could still continue this idea.

I was wondering what happened...I knew I didn't start this thread.  Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2004, 08:47:16 AM »

I'm still "officially" Southern Baptist and I've been dunked twice.

First, when I "walked the aisle" as kid.  Second, after I "walked the aisle" again as a teenager, because I had doubts whether I was really "saved" or not before being baptized the first time. I had to make sure I got baptism (which at the time I thought was only a symbol and an "ordinance") on "the right side of salvation".  Each time, however, I was only immersed once.

Just thought I'd share.
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