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Author Topic: Non-Orthodox Baptisms  (Read 2642 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: May 13, 2003, 04:17:06 PM »

Orthodoxinfo.com just recently put up a very interesting article by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) on Baptism.
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2003, 04:33:04 PM »

I was baptized into Orthodoxy nearly four years ago after having participated in a "ceremony of baptism" as an Episcopalian during my teenage years.  I have been told by some that my baptism into Orthodoxy should not have been allowed.  Some have suggested that it's mocking the sacrament that I had been through a ceremony in a heterodox Church and then baptized in an Orthodox Church.

I am wondering if there were others who were in the same boat as me.  This is probably a topic for gerondas and not website forums, so I'm not trying to debate. Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2003, 05:05:22 PM »

I don't think there's anything wrong with what happened: in fact, I think it's the best procedure. You can technically become Orthodox without a baptism in the Orthodox Church, but I think the safest, fullest, route would be best. (For the record, I was baptized Catholic and only chrismated)
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2003, 05:54:36 PM »

That's interesting that you ask that question; we had to address a hypothetical question like that on an exam in dogmatics class.

Suffice it to say I argued that while the Orthodox Church technically does not comment on sacraments outside of her visible boundaries, she is the bestower of the sacraments and as such may act with economia (the bishop may relax the strictness of a canon).

Since we can ascertain ecclesiastical reality outside of the visible Church (as Florovsky once said, the charismatic boundary of hte Church is not equal to its canonical boundary), I think it is good to receive via economia.  The sacrament is not considered "valid" before entering Orthodox; no, it is only made full by the act of joining oneself to the body of Christ.

I also argued that since the Church may decided at any time to act according to strictness, baptising a convert is a valid option, too.  Basically, what it comes down to is: it's between the bishop and you.  So tell anyone that complains that you "violated" your baptism that you followed the Church's will and you cannot be attacked for that.

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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2003, 06:15:56 PM »

I've never understood why people get so upset if someone is received by Baptism who was Baptised as a Protestant.  It's not saying the Protestant Baptism is invalid, it's just saying who are we to say that this Baptism, not done by immersion or by a preist as Christ taught us to do is valid?  Who are we to say it's not valid?  Only God knows what He did.  So since we don't know if it was or wasn't, isn't the only safe thing to do to Baptise the person?  Why must that be taken as a statement that the previous Baptism was invalid and be offensive, why can't it just be taken as it is, as us saying there's no way for us to judge it's efficacity?
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2003, 06:18:07 PM »

Indeed. I do not understand people getting upset when an Orthodox convert is baptized into the Faith.
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2003, 06:31:57 PM »

I don't think it's a case of people being upset that converts are received by baptism who were previously baptised, it's more of a case of a very small minority of a minority that has proclaimed quite loudly that there is something wrong if a convert is not received by baptism and the resulting divisions those proclamations have caused.
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2003, 07:02:42 PM »

I've never understood why people get so upset if someone is received by Baptism who was Baptised as a Protestant.  It's not saying the Protestant Baptism is invalid, it's just saying who are we to say that this Baptism, not done by immersion or by a preist as Christ taught us to do is valid.

Then shouldn't they be doing a conditional baptism? If they aren't, then they are saying that they are sure it is invalid.
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Anastasios
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2003, 07:32:44 PM »

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a conditional baptism in Orthodoxy.  As previously mentioned, there is no status of "validity" or "invalidity" outside of the Orthodox Church.  Again, we can recognize the reality of ecclesial status outside of the visible Orthodox Church, but the Church reserves the right to baptise without in any way saying whether a previous non-Orthodox baptism was valid.

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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2003, 07:42:45 PM »

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a conditional baptism in Orthodoxy.  

Well, the Hapgood service book tells how to do one.

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Anastasios
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2003, 07:47:03 PM »

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a conditional baptism in Orthodoxy.  

Well, that's not so, according to the Hapgood service book, which tells how to do one.



That's why I said strictly speaking.  Hapgood is not the offical text of the Orthodox Church, for one thing.  I'd also have to see the context.  Could you copy or scan, or summarize the introduction to the rite? (I can get the book tomorrow in the library)  There is a form of conditional baptism for those who it is assumed were baptised Orthodox but maybe it was done incorrectly, etc.  I doubt that applies to converts.

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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2003, 08:01:33 PM »

I was received by chrismation based on the principle of oikonomia. As long as that was okay with my bishop and is a traditional practice of the Church, it's okay with me (what's more important: I believe it is okay with God).

My baby daughter Anna, however, being the "cradle Orthodox" that she is, was baptized beautifully by triple immersion in our Church.

I envy her.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2003, 08:24:36 PM »

I'm quite happy it turned out the way it did for me, being Baptised and Christmated at the Greek Cathedral of St. Sophia in London.  I was just shocked that when people heard I was "baptized" (for lack of a word) in the Episcopal Church and then Baptized in the Orthodox Church in my return to Orthodoxy that I would not only have lay people raising eyebrows, but also some clergy.  It has gotten to a point where I don't even mention my Episcopal experience so as not to be a scandal.

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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2003, 10:33:06 PM »

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a conditional baptism in Orthodoxy.  

Well, that's not so, according to the Hapgood service book, which tells how to do one.



That's why I said strictly speaking.  Hapgood is not the offical text of the Orthodox Church, for one thing.  I'd also have to see the context.  Could you copy or scan, or summarize the introduction to the rite? (I can get the book tomorrow in the library)  There is a form of conditional baptism for those who it is assumed were baptised Orthodox but maybe it was done incorrectly, etc.  I doubt that applies to converts.

There's an appendix at the end which talks about the symbology and provides additional rubrics. The mention of conditional baptism comes at the beginning of a paragraph which states that converts from "other Christian churches" are not rebaptized, but are simply chrismated. (This would correspond to the older practice in the west, in which a change of denomination typically involved confirmation.) I'm assuming that Hapgood is reporting the "OCA" practice of her day.

I would agree with the assessment, in context, that conditional baptism as she reports it would typically be used for cases of doubt about Orthodox baptisms-- most typically, in the case of an inability to obtain proper records. That's why I think that we are dealing with certain denial here and not real doubt. When people can talk about the Episcopal baptisms as mere "ceremony", I don't see doubt; I see denial and rejection.

In the West, those who care about whether baptisms are valid do not distinguish among churches in recognizing them-- not even the Catholics. In the West, refusing to acknowledge baptisms is the ultimate act of schism. It is the sacramental equivalent of saying to the members of another church that they might as well be pagans.
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2003, 10:45:35 PM »

I'm having some trouble following the article, in that it seems to be a mixture of text and commentary without clear distinction between the two. Some of what is said near the end is extremely problematic. The statement that "There are no Mysteries outside the Church, the living Body of Christ, just as there are no senses outside the human body" goes against scripture in precisely the sense in which the Protestants understand the Mystery of the Church. One cannot say that there are no senses outside the human body for the very good reason that scripture teaches us from one end to the other that God Himself is sensate.

Also, the first footnote is trying to claim a control over English that nobody can claim. To admit that two words have the same denotation, but that one has negative connotations which the other does not, is to intend those connotations in choosing the negative word. It is not something that can be excused by doubletalk.

i'm guessing that the Balamand Agreement is an OCA or Antiochian document?
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