(Dateline OC.net Palace): An unusually busy FrChris was sighted on the balcony of his office/bowling alley/brewpub complex, completely surprising the gaggle of OC.netizens gathered in the courtyard. Fortunately the trumpeters remembered the fanfare played to introduce the Post of the Month winners for January, Fenruary, and March 2009:
January's winner is this post
In esscence the term would apply to any in a given household. Thus, generally speaking, it coud include infants IF they were present in the home. However, to substantiate that one must be able to PROVE infants were in fact present. Besides, the context being that of baptism, which is directly connected Scripturally with a personal declaration of faith in Christ, limits the application of household here to only those in a given household who were personally capable of making such a declaration. In short -- believer's baptism provides' the context for understanding the application of household. To reason otherwise is to undo the statment of Scripture by adding to and broadening it. Indeed, contradicting it.I'm sorry, what is your source for this? Do you speak Liturgical Greek? My husband does (fluently, as well as modern Greek-- in fact he has won awards for his translation and is currently consulting on some works that will be coming out of a monastery in Greece in the near future). The term was used to denote ENTIRE families. Now no, this doesn't mean that there absolutely WAS an infant or child in every household, but what are the chances that of all the households mentioned, there were NO children? Slim to none. We do not need to prove that infants were present. As the term includes infants, you need to prove that they were NOT present. You also need to prove that this was not a practice of the NT church.
The term is not limited by Scripture, YOU are limiting it with YOUR interpretation of Scripture. You realize that this is going to be a circular argument? By binding yourself to the exact words of Scripture and refusing to acknowledge any other source (be it a source within the Church or a "secular" historical source), we are going to keep coming around to the same place. That is, with your reply of "but the Scriptures don't specifically say infants!"
"Believer's Baptism" does not provide the context. YOU are forcing a context which proves your point. Not the same thing.
I did not say children should never be baptized. In only insist that they be of sufficient mental ability to make a personal and true declaration of faith in Christ.Why do you insist this when the Early Church did not? Just curious.
The age need not be given of baptismal candidates since due to the fact that baptism is expressly stated to be for believers the practice assumes each candidate of sufficient "age" able to believe for themselves -- child or no.That's funny, I said the age need not be given! Why? Because infant baptism was done from the beginning. It is incumbent upon you to prove that it wasn't.
Oh, and the other reason is because infants can and do believe. See below where I discuss my nephew and niece. Not that they're some paragon of Christianity, and though I may tell you I think they're the smartest kids in the world, I know they're not able to understand God fully (being 3 and 1), but they most definitely love and have faith in Him! I think their example will do just fine.
We are specifically told that baptism is needed for salvation. Why would that be, if the rite of baptism itself had no saving power? Romans 6:4 makes it clear:
-The saving power of Christ's presence in Holy Baptism (too long a point to explain here, it can be found in the article I posted above)Disagree with the premise. Can Christ save in or through baptism? I suppose. Can and does Christ save prior to baptism? Yep. So, does salvation wait for baptism? Nope.
"Romans 6:4 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
The emphasis is on God and what HE does for us. This is a fundamental difference between us. And really, I think we will not be able to come to any kind of meeting of the minds until we agree on this: that Baptism is more than just a commitment we make to God. It is something GOD does for us. Baptism bears witness to God's action of choosing us to be members of His body. Christ was not baptized because He needed to commit Himself to God. He accomplished seven things by being baptized, not one of which was "to commit Himself to God" or any other such affirmation of His own faith (as stated in the Orthodox Study Bible):
1. He affirmed John the Baptist's Ministry
2. He was revealed by the Father and the Holy Spirit to be the Christ, God's beloved Son
3. HE IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WITH HIS PEOPLE BY DESCENDING INTO THE WATERS WITH THEM
4. He prefigured His own death, giving baptism its ultimate meaning
5. He entered the waters, sanctifying the water itself (again--- sanctifying matter-- this is what I said in the Eucharist thread)
6. He fulfilled the many types given in the OT, as when Moses led the people from bondage through the red sea, etc.
7. HE OPENED HEAVEN TO A WORLD SEPARATED FROM GOD THROUGH SIN.
I stress numbers 3 and 7 because, indeed, baptism is a sign of God's action, of what HE does for US. Yes, as adults being baptized, we must have faith and repentance, but OUR FAITH AND REPENTANCE OR LACK THEREOF DOES NOT, CANNOT, WILL NOT EVER TRUMP THE GRACE OF GOD AND WHAT HE DOES FOR US. As my Grammy used to occasionally say, "Not everything is about you." God forbid we just accept what God does, rather than trying to shove ourselves into the middle of His action and His plan, eh?
Hence baptism is more a corollary of salvation, a witness to the inner work of saving grace and faith already present in those who have believed. Show me where it says corollary, please. All I have seen is where Christ tells us it is REQUIRED (John 3). It is not a witness to US and OUR faith, it is a witness of GOD's work, GOD's action, GOD's grace. Again, it ain't all about us.
-The Old Testament symbols of Salvation and Baptism include infants (such as circumcision-- again, can be read above)Indeed! Like as they were those born of the flesh, believers are those born again of the Spirit.
Their circumscision was literal and pertained to literal birth (infants, etc.) -- ours is metaphorical, spiritual and pertains only to those who have spiritually been reborn. You stumble here with Nicodemus. As paul expressed to the Cornthians concerning "birth from the grave" so to we can discern application here... There is a natural and there is a spiritual. Albeit that which is spiritual is not first, but that which is natural. Afterward that which is spiritual. Hence, only spiritual infants have a right to the waters of baptism.
I'm sorry, explain to me how it is that you think I stumble with Nicodemus?
I think, rather, that you stumble with Paul, who tells us VERY clearly in Colossians:
"11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins[c] of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. "
He directly likens Baptism to Chrismation, calling it the "circumcision of Christ." He is clear that Baptism is the new circumcision. He does not make one different from another. So if, indeed, Baptism is the circumcision of Christ, then how can one object to giving that to infants? YOU may make this faulty distinction, but HE doesn't.
As well, we see two direct pre-figurements in the Old Testament of baptism. Lest we descend into Marcianism (discarding of the OT altogether), we are bound to recognize them, the first one most especially.
The first is Moses and the red sea. We must recognize this pre-figurement, as the Apostle specifically tells us to in 1Corinthians 10:1-4. He specifically says that they were "baptized into Moses." Did Moses leave the infants and children in Egypt? I daresay he didn't. ALL were baptized into Moses. And if Paul saw that the baptism of infants was a problem, he would have surely taken that opportunity to tell us! Surely he would have stopped right then and mentioned that we should not baptize infants, since he was giving this specifically as an example. If there was a place where the example differed from what was intended, he would have told us.
The second is Noah and the Ark. And we know his whole family was there.
I basically just parroted what was said in the article I posted, adding my opinion here and there. But since you didn't want to read the article, it left me no choice. No problem. I enjoyed it.
Are you telling me that when John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb at the sound of the Theotokos' voice (she who carried his savior), that he DIDN'T recognize?!? What, exactly, is it that you think he DID recognize? You think he was just dancing at the sound of her pretty voice? NO! He recognized that HIS SAVIOR WAS NEAR, THAT HIS SALVATION WAS IN FRONT OF HIM! It had nothing to do with the Theotokos. Her purpose has always been only in relation to Christ. And what is Christ's purpose? Well, if we really have to go that basic, there's a problem. This is a terribly legalistic and un-believing argument you are trying to present here. John's divine purpose was TO RECOGNIZE THE SALVATION OF CHRIST! It was the entire purpose of his existence... to pave the way for Him who came after, yet before him. He did this even from the womb! Are you telling me he DIDN'T? whoa.
-Faith as relationship of love and trust not limited to the mind-- The OT and NT examples of infants recognizing salvation and having faithI'm sorry, but you'll have to show me explicit Scriptural explanation that infants either recognized salvation or personally placed faith in salvation while in infancy. I see where God recognized infants, and graced them with divine purpose even form the womb. I see where confirmation of that purpose may be demonstrated by the infant, even pre-born, as in the case of John the baptist. But that is a far cry from infants actually understanding and applying saving faith in the person and work of Christ.
Now, perhaps if they came from the womb actually speaking intelligently I would be inclined to consider such an exaggeration.Yes, because, of course, the Bible was written for infants, right. So it must instruct them specifically to get to the church and be baptized, else they won't be recognized as Christians! Don't be ridiculous! It is you who are exaggerating, my friend. Exaggerating your own importance (I don't mean your importance personally, I mean as a human being) in God's plan-- He does the work in Baptism.
Wrong! Here I will just quote the article for you, rather than parrot it.
-The fact that the command of "believer's baptism" was one intended for adults, because the Bible was not written for infants- and the distinction between adult believers and infant- one needs to repent, the other does not (again, can be read above)And yet, by defintion, one CANNOT be a believer if they have not repented!
Larry Christenson, in his pamphlet "What About Baptism", quotes Edmund Schlink (author of The Doctrine of Baptism) as stating that the rejection of infant baptism was based on the secular philosophy of the sixteenth century which assured man's individuality, and was not the result of a new Scriptural inquiry:
"'Belier was seen in rationalistic and volitional terms, as an act of the mind and the will. 'Because an infant cannot think or decide, it cannot have faith, and therefore should not be baptized.' To this day. that is the only argument raised against the validity of infant baptism. One tosses off the sentence as though it were self-evident truth: 'A child can't believe.' But that 'truth,' upon examination, is neither self-evident, nor is it Biblical."
As Christenson goes on to say, faith is not merely a product of reason but relation. It is a relationship of love and trust, a relationship which is not limited to the mind. Some Scriptures which support the possibility of an "infant faith" are these:
"Yet Thou are He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breast." (Psalm 22:9)
"And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea." (Mark 9:42)
"For behold, when the sound of your greeting [Theotokos] reached my ears [Elizabeth], the baby [John the Baptist] leaped in my womb for joy." (Luke 1:44)
Over and over again I am told that is incorrect to allow infants to be baptized because the Scriptural order is to first believe, and then to be baptized (Mark 16:16). The error in this thinking is not that it is incorrect to have an adult believe before he is baptized, but that one cannot apply a command intended for adults to infants. The Bible was not written to infants and is therefore not going to direct them to do anything. They are under the care of their parents who can hear, understand, and believe. Additionally, there is an important distinction to be made between baptizing an infant and an adult believer-one has the need to repent, the other does not.
There are times when an argument from silence is perfectly valid. This is one. As in the example I gave above-- Paul gives us examples that we are to follow. If he meant for us to except children, he would have specified that.
-The fact that "infant baptism" was probably not recorded because the Gospel writers didn't see a need- it was rather obviousArguing from silence here. If you could give me a strong enough reason to entertain the Biblical validity for infant baptism (such as showing infants having sufficient reason and mental faculty to accept and place faith in Christ as Lord and Savior) then I might would entertain the notion as haing a semb lance of relevance. Otherwise, well, I cannot.
As far as infants having faith in Christ, see above. What other possible reason can you give (and PROVE!) for why John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb? Why would the Gospel have mentioned it? Because he recognized that His Lord and Savior was near! Not because he loved Mary's voice!
And what exactly does, "these little ones who have faith" mean, anyway?
And what about coming to Christ as a child? Matthew 18:3: "And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." What did he mean? We should grow physically younger? Nonsense! We are to come to him as a child-- with trust, loyalty, total dependence, and FAITH EVEN THOUGH WE DON'T UNDERSTAND! Apparently Christ thought children could have faith despite a lack of intellectual knowledge (they had knowledge of love and experience of faith). Why don't you?
My heart and my experience tells me infants can have faith as well. My little nephew, Nicholas and my niece, Emma both as babies, recognized Christ and His work and love. I can tell you all kinds of stories of how they recognized Christ and His love- literally! Wanting to kiss the icons for no apparent reason, pointing at them and laughing, hugging them (I know that they didn't learn that from their parents or anyone else-- we kiss icons, but I can't recall ever hugging one in front of them-- not that it's bad, we just haven't done it). I can tell you that they converse with angels, but I'm sure you'll brush it aside as hogwash, since it doesn't explicitly say in the Bible that babies can recognize angels, even though we know this to be true through experience. My nephew, Nicholas, is now three and a half. He can't possibly understand God fully, but he sure does love Him, and he sure does have faith in Him! You can't tell me that babies and children don't understand and expect me to buy it. Ridiculous!
-The entire LIST of questions that are put forward in the second half of the article posted above (I'm not going to retype here, even though I've already been redundant by typing all the other points)I appreciate the referece to the article. I am sure I wil enjoy perusing it, and others in the future. However, I did not come here to dilaog with an article, but with other particpants. Simply stated, I want to know what you think in your words, and engage you with mine. I want to interact with you, a being, and not with lifeless articles. Reference them, quote bite size excerpts from them, fine. Otherwise I will probably (as here) just skip right over them and keep on going.
Okay, then. I guess I'll have to ask them myself. I'll just waste my time parroting here again, since you don't want to just scroll up and read them. I reference it because I would really like to hear the answers to the questions. That is discussion.
1. If infant baptism is a later invention, when did it begin and who began it? Where did it originate?
2. Why are there no protests against the validity of infant baptism from anyone in the early Church?
3. Where is anything found in Scripture that expressly forbids the baptism of infants or children?
4. How is it that God established a covenantal, corporate relationship with the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, but you interpret the New Testament as abolishing the faith of an entire household with the father at its head in favor of a solely individualistic faith?
5. Where does Scripture prescribe any age for baptism?
6. Even if there were a special age when someone's faith reached "maturity," how could one discern that? Doesn't faith always mature? When is faith mature enough for baptism and when is it not? Who can judge?
7. Where in Scripture does it say that children are free from the effects of the Fall simply because they are not old enough to believe? (Even creation is under the curse of mankind's fall - Romans 8:19-21).
8. What about the many Biblical meanings and early Christian understandings of baptism other than the one defining it as a visible sign of inward repentance, meanings such as the sacrament of regeneration (Titus 3:5), a grafting into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), a passage from the reign of Satan into Christ's authority (Romans 6:17), the expression of the manifestation of God (Luke 3:21,22), an admission into God's covenant (Colossians 2:11), the Lord's act of adoption and our putting on of Christ (Galatians 3:26,27)? Why should these things be taken away from the small child of a Christian family?
9. If it was the norm to baptize children at a later age, why is there no evidence in Scripture or early Church history of instruction given to parents on how to help their adolescent children prepare for baptism?
10. If it is granted that baptism is for the remission of sins, why would the Church ever want to give baptism to infants if there were nothing in the infants which needed remission? Would not the grace of baptism, in this context, seem superfluous?
11. In essence, laying aside all the polemics and prejudices and academic intricacies, what Scriptural principle is being violated if a child is baptized and matures in his faith?
Some of these, I feel sure, will be answered in the course of discussion. Do me a favor, though, and if they are not answered in the rest of the discussion, answer them.
Metaphor appreciated! On the other hand, all that has become of your refusal to read the article and respond is that it has forced me to parrot it and take up time and space doing so. Your refusal to read it does not mean that I don't want answers to the questions and points made. It just means that, even though you think it's saving time to skip it, it's actually just wasting time. No offense, just being honest.
BTW just FYI, personally, when I post articles and quotes like that, it is not because I am trying to provoke or to dodge questions or anything. It is because whoever wrote the article says exactly what I would like to say clearly and succinctly. I figure it's better to just post the article (and reference it, of course) than to try and say the same things, as we know it can take me a long time to say what they can say quite fast. I do it simply to not waste others' time. I apologize if people don't like it when I post articles. I rather enjoyed that particular one, though.
I understand, really. However, quotes of that length tend to stifle conversation (IMO). So do original comments and posts normally. But in your case, I have so come to enjoy your written expression of thought, your passion in engaging the subject, not to mention your tact and personability, that I find myself willing, even eager in most cases, to savor YOUR words. I can handle snippets of quotes from others added therewith for taste, but not much else. To use a metaphor that may have meaning to a chef -- I don't want a warmed over "meal" someone else prepared. I want your own unique fresh presentation of the dish.
Also, I think the article on the original website was moved. So to make sure I clearly reference my source, I will post the new web address below:
The Post of the Month for February 2009 is this gem
by Sakran MM:
We can't pretend that we're in 16th century Moscow or 11th century Constantinople. The Church is not stagnant. With that said, it's not revisionism I'm advocating - if anything, those that only communion once, twice, or four times a year are the revisionists. Communing this infrequently demands extensive preparation, like a one-week fast.
Just because the Russian or Serbian church has been fasting a week before communion for three or four centuries doesn't make it right! How in the world does fasting from meat for a week, a 3-4 minute confession, then saying a few prayers, make you worthy of communion? As if anything makes you worthy! This kind of thing is "yia-yia-ology"...old women passing this kind of thing on to their kids without having any clue why the church does it, other than that's what their yia-yia taught them.
If you noticed in my original post, I don't advocate minimalist preparation. Yes, fasting is essential. Prayer is essential. But you absolutely cannot separate communion from normal life. Communion is meant to sanctify life, not separate us from it.
In terms of Eucharistic participation, until the 4th cent., the presupposition was that all baptized Christians were worthy to receive communion, and everybody would receive unless they were under penitential restriction. Just read the text of the liturgy - it presupposes that everyone present will commune. It's the saddest thing in the world when the priest brings the chalice out, and no one approaches.
After the 4th century, the above supposition is turned on its head, and the Christian was seen as unworthy to receive communion; this was especially strong in monastic circles.
I can't speak for what every single individual Christian was doing in Antioch, Moscow, or Constantinople for that matter. But what I can say is that this excessive kind of preparation is linked directly to the reasons which I gave before. It's a result of people beginning to see communion as simply a means of individual grace and sanctification instead of linking directly with corporate membership in the Church as understood in the New Testament.
This kind of thinking isn't "Schmemannite" or "modern." This line of thinking is in continuation with the tradition of the Church, the text of the liturgy, and the Holy Fathers. The abuse is abstaining from communion all year, fasting for a week and going to a 3 minute confession, declaring yourself worthy to commune, then going back to your original unworthy state 2 seconds later. This is not what Christ intended. This is not what the liturgy presupposes. Read the texts of it.
True preparation is continual Christian life. Excessive preparation leads one to spiritual pride, thinking that what they do makes them worthy, rather than simply the mercy of God. Prepare for communion - yes. Do so with spiritual pride - no.
Finally, the March 2009 Post of the Month was given to LBK for this
worthy example of a post:
No, that icon should not be venerated. It is simply a polemical propaganda piece, promoting a particular ecclesiopolitical ideology. Some food for thought:
Iconography is, above all else, concerned with the revelation of God in Trinity: of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God which has allowed the sanctification of fallen creation (matter), including humanity (made in the image of God)**; of the signs and wonders of the Divine revelation in both the Old and New Testament periods; and, in its portrayal of the saints, their transfiguration from mere men and women into those who have attained deification, a "oneness with God" and full participation of the heavenly life with God and in God, through the conduct of their earthly lives and their steadfast witness to the true faith. They have become true icons and reflections of the Divine. The word godly is most apt to describe them.
(** St John of Damascus sums this up beautifully: "Of old, the incorporeal and uncircumscribed God was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of God who can be seen. I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, who through matter effected my salvation. I will not cease to venerate the matter through which my salvation has been effected.")
Secondly, in the same way that the saints have obliterated their passions to give themselves completely to God, icons must also reflect this dispassionate quality. Obvious displays of human emotions, even a “positive” one such as laughter, are considered to be manifestations of human passion, and therefore have no place in iconography. Christ’s kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18: 36), therefore the portrayal of saints in their spiritually transformed state must be dispassionate. This also applies to church singing and reading; the singers and readers are there to glorify God and serve the church by their efforts, not to self-aggrandise. Even the display of sorrow in the face of a saint or the Mother of God should be kept subtle, with the emotion conveyed with the eyes, not through histrionics.
Thirdly, there must be complete agreement between scripture, liturgical content (which represents the distillation of the doctrinal, dogmatic and theological position of the Church), and the pictorial content of an icon for any icon to be deemed canonical.
Hence there is no place for ugliness, anger, enmity, and other negative emotions in iconography. The purpose of an icon is to draw us closer to God. Of course, there are specific examples of didactic icons, such as Last Judgement and Ladder of Divine Ascent which feature fearsome dragon-like creatures swallowing unrepentant evildoers. The Resurrection icon shows the personification of sin and death bound in chains in the abyss. It may be said, therefore, if there is room for such portrayals in these canonical icons, then why object to the presence of the figures in the Ark of Salvation image?
I offer this reply: An icon is a material, tangible expression of the incarnate God. The iconographic portrayal of the saints as icons of Christ, then, should reflect the sanctity, dispassion and boundless compassionate mercy of Christ to those who repent of their sins. Do we not pray to the saints and the Mother of God to intercede on our behalf? Are we not exhorted to pray for our enemies, to love them, and not to hate them? Of all scripture passages on this theme, Matt. 5: 43-48 is perhaps the most useful and succinct:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
We are also assured that God is Love, and that His love and mercy are available to all who seek Him in true faith. There are petitions in various Orthodox litanies which ask for the repentance and return to the true faith of sinners, apostates, and, yes, enemies. One which immediately comes to mind is "Let us pray for those who love us, and those who hate us", a petition in the litany sung towards the end of the Great Compline services of Great Lent where the Canon of St Andrew of Crete is sung.
There is the question of the iconographic portrayal of prophets and saints who denounced kings and princes. Such scenes are found in the smaller panels of a "life" icon of a saint or prophet (an icon which has a large central panel of the saint or prophet, surrounded by a series of smaller panels showing scenes of his or her life). Keeping to the dispassionate nature of icons, these scenes of rebuke of kings and princes (such as in icons of Prophet Elijah, and any number of OT and NT saints and righteous ones) show the saint standing before the errant ruler with a hand raised in rebuke, but nothing more. It is also significant that such scenes, almost without exception, are never used as icons in their own right.
it is not surprising that certain schismatic groups have favoured this so-called Ark of Salvation image as it reflects their particular ideology. This image suggests that those who are not Orthodox are somehow beyond repentance and redemption. Can we really agree with this as Orthodox Christians? The persecuting Pharisee Saul openly boasted of his zeal and success in persecuting Christians, yet, by the grace of God, became one of the Princes of the Apostles, a pillar of Orthodoxy. There are also innumerable converts to the Orthodox faith who have come from every religious background imaginable, including atheism, paganism and communism; many who have become saints, in times of old, and in our present day. The grace of God knows no bounds.
Iconography, as I have said before, must never be used for political or ideological purposes. To portray the non-Orthodox as a whole as being irredeemable and in league with demonic and evil forces to destroy Orthodoxy is a shameful debasement of iconography. I am reminded of a reply to a convert to Orthodoxy as to how he came to the conclusion that the Orthodox faith was the true faith: "The Soviet Union was capable of destroying anything. Yet, despite its immense power and resources, it could not destroy the Orthodox Church. So that was good enough for me." The gates of hell cannot prevail, indeed ...
The crowd had almost forgotten to give their assent, but soon their shouts roared throughout the courtyard:AXIOI! AXIOI! AXIOI!