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Author Topic: Is the Catechumen Saved?  (Read 2158 times) Average Rating: 0
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Irenaeus07
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« on: April 08, 2008, 11:34:55 AM »

Is the Catechumen Saved?

Greetings,

Well, I’ve been thinking about this issue for some time now. I was reading some things about the Baptism and the Christmation and came to realize there is an outward aspect of it and an inward aspect of it.  In rewards to the outward, Baptism the immersion into water and Christmation and anointing with oil.  Outwardly you are deemed a Christian, and outwardly you are deemed saved.  You could call this the legal aspect of the Baptism and Christmation, since legalism involves outward appearances.

But isn’t that which is most important is the inward.  If a catechumen, sincerely accept Christ as His Lord and Personal Savior in his heart, is he not saved, is not a Christian inwardly, is not endowed with the Holy Spirit? Even though he may not be a Christian outwardly being formally baptized and christmated.

In the Gospel of John it reads, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believers in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit…” (John 7:37-39)

Is not the Holy Spirit with the catechumen, “When He, the spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all Truth…” (John 16:13)Huh
Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16: 17-18)
Is not the true and sincere confession and the firm belief in Christ our Lord make one a Christian???

Before you jump on my, I am not trying to belittle the legal aspects of the Church, for Jesus also said, ‘Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.’ (Matt 5:17)

Even if we are spiritually connected to God, we must also establish the physical connection as well, for I believe Jesus showed us this to, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. (Matthew 3:13-15)  John wanted to be baptized by Jesus but Jesus said no.  Even though Jesus was already connected to the Holy Spirit and the Father, he had to show a physical connection, since it is the proper things to do, to fulfill all righteousness.

Is it ok to believe that you are endowed with the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit is with you, even though you have not be Baptized, is it ok to believe that you are Christian in spirit even though you have not be Baptized???  Since it appears that the Church is build on the confession of Christ???

In Christ
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2008, 11:43:32 AM »

No one is saved until death.

Yes you can call a Catechumen a Christian and yes they can be saved without baptism, but only by God's grace.

Baptism is not a legal aspect but rather is that which makes an inward transformation possible. It is REAL.  When I was baptized, I FELT the Holy Spirit descend upon me. There was a change.

I believe Cornelius had received the Spirit and then was baptized. We have to understand that we receive the Spirit in stages. The initial provocation is from without, from outside working in; baptism establishes the Holy Spirit in someone's heart and unites him to Christ.

Any experience or spirituality pre-baptism is a foretaste of things to come, which can only be fulfilled in baptism.

But yes, a catechumen can be called a Christian because he has professed his faith in Christ.
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« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2008, 11:47:24 AM »

Your question seems to border on the much larger question which is, "Are those outside of the Church saved?"  And, of course, we should not presuppose an answer or even venture a guess.  That is not for us to decide because that is for God alone.  What you should be doing is working out your own salvation with fear and trembling as St. Paul tells us in Philippians. 

However, let me say this.  If a catechumen should die during his/her catechumenate then the catechumen is given an Orthodox funeral.  We believe that those outside the church are not lacking in charismatic Grace, that is the grace bestowed by the Holy Spirit but are lacking in sacramental grace, that which is bestowed by our participation in the Holy Mysteries (communion, confession, baptism, chrismation, etc.).  Thus you should not have cause for concern. 

You should, however, rejoice in the chance to participate in the mysteries for it is through our participation to become one with God.  We say during the Liturgy and other places that "Christ is in our midst."  We realize that and we believe that.  But we want more to know than that God is always around us, but we want, as Peter said, to become partakers of the divine nature and we do that through our participation in the mysteries.  Think of it in another way as being an infant with the very rudimentary awareness of the world around him and that the mysteries increase his understanding and awareness so many times over.  Thus, I would submit to you that simply being Christian and aware of the doctrines, faith and dogmas is very good and to be commended, but you should want the whole package, the physical, as you call it. 

Again, work out your own salvation.  Our Lord and God and Saviour has revealed not only to you but to millions across the world the path of salvation.  Do not fret and work out your salvation. Hope this was helpful.
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Irenaeus07
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 12:32:34 PM »

You all cleared it up for me.  Thanks.

In Christ.
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2008, 01:22:48 PM »

Yes, the faithful Catechumen is saved, by virtue of his desire for Baptism.

St. Ambrose of Milan:

"But I hear that you grieve because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me: What else is in your power other than the desire, the request? But he even had this desire for a long time, that, when he should come into Italy, he would be initiated, and recently he signified a desire to be baptized by me, and for this reason above all others he thought that I ought to be summoned. Has he not, then, the grace which he desired; has he not the grace which he requested? And because he asked, he received, and therefore is it said: “By whatsoever death the just man shall be overtaken, his soul shall be at rest” (Wisd. 4:7). Grant, therefore, O holy Father, to Thy servant the gift which Moses received, because he saw in spirit; the gift which David merited, because he knew from revelation. Grant, I pray, to Thy servant Valentinian the gift which he longed for, the gift which he requested while in health, vigor, and security. If, stricken with sickness, he had deferred it, he would not be entirely without Thy mercy who has been cheated by the swiftness of time, not by his own wish. Grant, therefore, to Thy servant the gift of Thy grace which he never rejected, who on the day before his death refused to restore the privileges of the temples although he was pressed by those whom he could well have feared. A crowd of pagans was present, the Senate entreated, but he was not afraid to displease men so long as he pleased Thee alone in Christ. He who had Thy Spirit, how has he not received Thy grace? Or if the fact disturbs you that the mysteries have not been solemnly celebrated, then you should realize that not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens, for they are not crowned if they are not initiated. But if they are washed in their own blood, his piety and his desire have washed him, also." (Oration at the Funeral of the Emperor Valentinian I)

St. Augustine of Hippo:

"That the place of baptism is sometimes replaced by martyrdom is supported by an argument by no means trivial, which the blessed Cyprian adduces from the thief, to whom, though he was not baptized, it was said, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  On considering which, again and again, I find that not only martyrdom for the sake of Christ may supply what was wanting of baptism, but also faith and conversion of heart, if recourse may not be had to the celebration of the mystery for want of time. For neither was that thief crucified for the name of Christ, but as the rewards of his own deeds; nor did he suffer because he believed, but he believed while he was suffering. It was shown, therefore, in the case of that thief, how great is the power, even without the visible sacrament of baptism, of what the apostle says, “With the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  But the want is supplied invisibly only when the administration of baptism is prevented, not by contempt for religion, but by the necessity of the moment." (On Baptism against the Donatists, Book IV, 22)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 01:40:32 PM by Symeon » Logged
Irenaeus07
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« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2008, 04:57:03 AM »

Thanks for your reply as well.  It is always good to have references.  Thanks again.
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2008, 01:10:39 PM »

Yes, the faithful Catechumen is saved, by virtue of his desire for Baptism.

St. Ambrose of Milan:

"But I hear that you grieve because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me: What else is in your power other than the desire, the request? But he even had this desire for a long time, that, when he should come into Italy, he would be initiated, and recently he signified a desire to be baptized by me, and for this reason above all others he thought that I ought to be summoned. Has he not, then, the grace which he desired; has he not the grace which he requested? And because he asked, he received, and therefore is it said: “By whatsoever death the just man shall be overtaken, his soul shall be at rest” (Wisd. 4:7). Grant, therefore, O holy Father, to Thy servant the gift which Moses received, because he saw in spirit; the gift which David merited, because he knew from revelation. Grant, I pray, to Thy servant Valentinian the gift which he longed for, the gift which he requested while in health, vigor, and security. If, stricken with sickness, he had deferred it, he would not be entirely without Thy mercy who has been cheated by the swiftness of time, not by his own wish. Grant, therefore, to Thy servant the gift of Thy grace which he never rejected, who on the day before his death refused to restore the privileges of the temples although he was pressed by those whom he could well have feared. A crowd of pagans was present, the Senate entreated, but he was not afraid to displease men so long as he pleased Thee alone in Christ. He who had Thy Spirit, how has he not received Thy grace? Or if the fact disturbs you that the mysteries have not been solemnly celebrated, then you should realize that not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens, for they are not crowned if they are not initiated. But if they are washed in their own blood, his piety and his desire have washed him, also." (Oration at the Funeral of the Emperor Valentinian I)

St. Augustine of Hippo:

"That the place of baptism is sometimes replaced by martyrdom is supported by an argument by no means trivial, which the blessed Cyprian adduces from the thief, to whom, though he was not baptized, it was said, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  On considering which, again and again, I find that not only martyrdom for the sake of Christ may supply what was wanting of baptism, but also faith and conversion of heart, if recourse may not be had to the celebration of the mystery for want of time. For neither was that thief crucified for the name of Christ, but as the rewards of his own deeds; nor did he suffer because he believed, but he believed while he was suffering. It was shown, therefore, in the case of that thief, how great is the power, even without the visible sacrament of baptism, of what the apostle says, “With the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  But the want is supplied invisibly only when the administration of baptism is prevented, not by contempt for religion, but by the necessity of the moment." (On Baptism against the Donatists, Book IV, 22)

Excellent example of the type of reponses we need on the Convert Issues Forum!!!!

Short, concise with references.

Thomas
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2008, 01:50:53 AM »

The thing that I learned as a catechumen is that Orthodoxy has a very different definition of "salvation" that the one I learned as a Protestant.

In Orthodoxy salvation is an ongoing process rather than a state of being. The process of salvation which starts during life, maybe even with the decision to become a catechumen, is an ongoing process that continues even after death.

Of course...
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2009, 04:32:06 PM »

I have difficulty reconciling the modern day catechism process to the early church practices. When reading Acts, I find that when missionaries went to preach the gospel to someone, and the convert confirmed that they accepted/believed the truth, that they were immediately baptized and received into the church. This training process of several years before someone can gain entry into the Orthodox Church communion doesn't seem to me to have a historical basis in the early church. (It almost seems to me like you are proving to someone that you are "worthy" to become a part of an exclusive club. In reality, no one is more worthy than another to become a part of Christ's body; we have all sinned.)  Perhaps someone could provide me with some enlightenment here?
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 04:40:39 PM »

I have difficulty reconciling the modern day catechism process to the early church practices. When reading Acts, I find that when missionaries went to preach the gospel to someone, and the convert confirmed that they accepted/believed the truth, that they were immediately baptized and received into the church. This training process of several years before someone can gain entry into the Orthodox Church communion doesn't seem to me to have a historical basis in the early church. (It almost seems to me like you are proving to someone that you are "worthy" to become a part of an exclusive club. In reality, no one is more worthy than another to become a part of Christ's body; we have all sinned.)  Perhaps someone could provide me with some enlightenment here?

I would guess that with experience of some instance converts falling away (see St. John's warnings to the 7 Churches of Asia), the Apostles thought it wise to test them first.  As the persecution became institutionalized, and hence the problem of assuming that converts would be with the community to be incorporated, finding disciples who didn't even hear of a Holy Spirit (Acts 19:2), etc. the need for a catechumenate was felt, and it was instituted.
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 04:48:52 PM »

Ortho_cat, in those days, the Apostles themselves participated (I think) in the baptisms. Often they were the ones that taught those being baptised. We know the people they baptized held the Apostolic faith, as they were taught by the Apostles, the Disciples or those who knew the Apostolic faith.

Today, we have many Christian sects, denominations, etc... Many of these promote a "personal" Christianity where you pretty much are allowed to create your own doctrine and beliefs. To receive someone into the Orthodox faith today (and it's always been this way) means that person has to be Orthodox in faith, belief, life etc...

Say Mr. John Doe wanted to convert, and he is a non-Denominational Christian who believes in his own doctrine according to his personal interpretation of scripture, lets call it, John Doe Christianity.
If John Doe were baptized immediately, he would still believe in John Doe Christianity, and would not be one in faith with Orthodox Christians. He would be his own island, his own "sect".
However, if Mr. John Doe converted from John Doe Christianity, and were a catechumen for a year, he (presumably) would learn and accept the faith believed and taught by the apostles. He thus would then be baptized and become one with all Orthodox Christians in baptism, communion, faith, and hopefully, life.

One cannot be an island in Orthodoxy. We believe in the faith, once delivered for all by the Apostles. We have kept this faith for over 2,000 years, and all Orthodox Christians adhere to this same, common, universal faith.
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