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Author Topic: Coptic Baptism for the dead?  (Read 3578 times) Average Rating: 0
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NewOrtho
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« on: August 15, 2009, 05:12:09 PM »

I was reading an article by a Mormon about the historicity of baptism for the dead (baptism by proxy), and the article:

http://mi.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=21&chapid=104

Stated that the Coptic Church (assuming the Coptic Orthodox Church) practiced and still practices baptism for the dead.  Is this true?  If so, are there any articles discussing this practice?

http://www.fairlds.org/Misc/Baptism_for_the_Dead_the_Coptic_Rationale.html
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Fr James
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2009, 05:30:47 PM »

May peace and grace be with your spirit,

            In fifteen years I have never seen or heard of such a baptism for the dead, either like the heretical and lost Mormons or not like theirs. There are no liturgical services that I know of that even come close.

            One needs to remember that "Coptic" was also a national language for a periopd as well as the "culture" of Egypt for quite some period as well. Heretical gnostic "gospels" so called were in the Coptic language, yet had naught to do with the Coptic Orthodox Church. Various sects abounded all over the post Constantine world as in Montannists, Marcionites and Arians who also wrote in the Coptic langauge at times.

              So you will not find any links between the heretiucal Mormon sect and the Coptic Orthodox Church. I have even seen the heretical Seventh Day Adventists try to link themselves with the Coptic Orthodox Church to justify their heretical Jewish practices (food laws, Sabbath worship etc)

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NewOrtho
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2009, 06:28:48 PM »

May peace and grace be with your spirit,

            In fifteen years I have never seen or heard of such a baptism for the dead, either like the heretical and lost Mormons or not like theirs. There are no liturgical services that I know of that even come close.

            One needs to remember that "Coptic" was also a national language for a periopd as well as the "culture" of Egypt for quite some period as well. Heretical gnostic "gospels" so called were in the Coptic language, yet had naught to do with the Coptic Orthodox Church. Various sects abounded all over the post Constantine world as in Montannists, Marcionites and Arians who also wrote in the Coptic langauge at times.

              So you will not find any links between the heretiucal Mormon sect and the Coptic Orthodox Church. I have even seen the heretical Seventh Day Adventists try to link themselves with the Coptic Orthodox Church to justify their heretical Jewish practices (food laws, Sabbath worship etc)

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Thank you very much for that Father James.
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Divinus
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2009, 02:16:38 PM »

But if Baptism for the dead wasn't ever a church practice way the fourth canon of the Council of Hippo (AD 393) declared:

Quote
"The Eucharist shall not be given to dead bodies, nor baptism conferred upon them."

It makes sense to be decreed only if it was being practiced.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2009, 02:48:35 PM »

The Council of Carthage (419 CE) has a similar canon. I don't think it necessarily means that early Christians within the Church were practicing the baptism of the dead, though. Sometimes canons seem to speak against things that those outside the Church are doing (e.g. what heretics are doing). I don't know the history of the canon(s) in question, though.
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ialmisry
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2009, 04:51:05 PM »

But if Baptism for the dead wasn't ever a church practice way the fourth canon of the Council of Hippo (AD 393) declared:

Quote
"The Eucharist shall not be given to dead bodies, nor baptism conferred upon them."

It makes sense to be decreed only if it was being practiced.

What you are talking about is baptism of the dead, not for the dead. It is something like post Vatican II forbidding giving last rites to the already deceased.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2009, 04:55:15 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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Divinus
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2009, 05:33:06 PM »

But I think ICor 15:29 speaks of baptism for the dead and not of the dead although it makes the differentiation between they who baptized for the dead and not us so it could be used as an example of someone doing the practice to teach the principle of Resurrection as the main theme of the chapter.

Not sure but I heard the Gnostics did practice such baptism for the dead. So the practice seemed to be there somehow in the timeline but maybe not by Christians or maybe some Christians adopted as an erroneous practice I guess all these are speculative and may well have happened.

So did ever the Orthodox church practiced baptism of or for the dead? Not recently but a few centuries ago? Is there any record sustaining such practices? and if not why would the Mormons say that the Coptics have indeed done so? What sources do they have or rely on which sustains the claim? The sources they present are as follows:

Quote
That baptism for the dead was indeed practiced in some orthodox Christian circles is indicated by the decisions of two late fourth-century councils. The fourth canon (fifth in some lists) of the Synod of Hippo, held in 393, declares, "The Eucharist shall not be given to dead bodies, . . . nor baptism conferred upon them." The ruling was confirmed four years later in the sixth canon of the Third Council of Carthage.5

Some churches not represented at these minor councils did not feel bound to discontinue the practice. Consequently, the Copts of Egypt continued baptisms for the dead.6 The vast majority of Christianity, however, rejected proxy baptism. In some cases—as in the Roman Catholic faith—proxy baptism was replaced by prayers and masses for the dead. As early as the second century, prayers of this nature were known.7 Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, "Many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? . . . We, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, wear no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves."8

and:

Quote
Among the ancient documents that mention baptism for the dead, a large preponderance were written in Coptic, the latest form of the Egyptian language.39 Though no longer spoken, Coptic remains the liturgical language of the Coptic Church of Egypt. Though there is abundant textual evidence for this practice among early Christians in Egypt, some of my Coptic friends assure me that it is still practiced in the case of family members who die unbaptized. To date, I have found only one modern story of an Egyptian girl who was baptized by proxy after her death.40

It is likely that the Egyptians more readily accepted baptism for the dead because of earlier pagan practices prevalent in that country. Hugh Nibley noted that the Coptic pseudepigrapha is not only related to other early Christian literature but is also highly dependent on earlier Egyptian texts. Concerning baptism for the dead, for example, he gave many references to water purification in ancient Egypt, both for the living and the dead. Indeed, washing in water was essential to the resurrection from the dead in ancient Egypt, just as is baptism in the pseudepigraphic literature.41

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LBK
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2009, 06:51:53 PM »

Hello Divinus

My experience with groups which call themselves "christian", but who have little, if any, true connection with authentic Christianity, is that they are quite capable of seizing rulings and canons (such as those from Ecumenical Councils) and putting their own spin on them to suit their own ends, in order to "prove" the "corruption" and "apostasy" of the "early" Church.

Similarly, many modern sects have taken heretical elements (which were, after due consideration, dismissed as heretical, often from more than a thousand years ago), and proclaimed them as "hidden and suppressed teachings of the christian church". (think of the "Da Vinci Code", or "the Gospel of Thomas".) Such people really need to learn their church history. In other words (I am NOT being condescending, believe me!), they are trying to reinvent the wheel.

Therefore, canons which prohibit baptism or administration of sacraments to the dead, must be seen in the light that, even in the earliest Christian period, there were folks and church communitiesthat were doing this sort of stuff, very likely "in good faith", but, who, nevertheless, had to be corrected.

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ialmisry
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2009, 07:03:58 PM »

But I think ICor 15:29 speaks of baptism for the dead and not of the dead although it makes the differentiation between they who baptized for the dead and not us so it could be used as an example of someone doing the practice to teach the principle of Resurrection as the main theme of the chapter.

All the commentary I've seen on the passage points out that it was a gnostic practice, which St. Paul points out, makes no sense as the gnostics had no use for the body-my body, your body, Christ's Body, His Mother's body, etc.  In other words, their practice belied their preaching.


Quote
Not sure but I heard the Gnostics did practice such baptism for the dead. So the practice seemed to be there somehow in the timeline but maybe not by Christians or maybe some Christians adopted as an erroneous practice I guess all these are speculative and may well have happened.

So did ever the Orthodox church practiced baptism of or for the dead?

No.

Quote
Not recently but a few centuries ago?

Never.

Quote
Is there any record sustaining such practices?

Just that heretics practiced it, but they aren't in communion with each other: Mormonism has an opposite view of the Body than the gnostics had.


Quote
and if not why would the Mormons say that the Coptics have indeed done so?

Copts aren't so well known in the West, except that they are known among the earliest Christians.  So an Apostolic peg upon which to hang Joe Smith's heretical mantle, hoping that such claims won't be examined but taken on face value.

The reference to the practice, from the snippet view available, sounds like an act of desparation rather than regular rite.

Quote
What sources do they have or rely on which sustains the claim?

None.

Quote
The sources they present are as follows:

Quote
That baptism for the dead was indeed practiced in some orthodox Christian circles is indicated by the decisions of two late fourth-century councils. The fourth canon (fifth in some lists) of the Synod of Hippo, held in 393, declares, "The Eucharist shall not be given to dead bodies, . . . nor baptism conferred upon them." The ruling was confirmed four years later in the sixth canon of the Third Council of Carthage.5

Some churches not represented at these minor councils did not feel bound to discontinue the practice. Consequently, the Copts of Egypt continued baptisms for the dead.6 The vast majority of Christianity, however, rejected proxy baptism. In some cases—as in the Roman Catholic faith—proxy baptism was replaced by prayers and masses for the dead. As early as the second century, prayers of this nature were known.7 Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, "Many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? . . . We, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, wear no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves."8

and:

Quote
Among the ancient documents that mention baptism for the dead, a large preponderance were written in Coptic, the latest form of the Egyptian language.39 Though no longer spoken, Coptic remains the liturgical language of the Coptic Church of Egypt. Though there is abundant textual evidence for this practice among early Christians in Egypt, some of my Coptic friends assure me that it is still practiced in the case of family members who die unbaptized. To date, I have found only one modern story of an Egyptian girl who was baptized by proxy after her death.40

It is likely that the Egyptians more readily accepted baptism for the dead because of earlier pagan practices prevalent in that country. Hugh Nibley noted that the Coptic pseudepigrapha is not only related to other early Christian literature but is also highly dependent on earlier Egyptian texts. Concerning baptism for the dead, for example, he gave many references to water purification in ancient Egypt, both for the living and the dead. Indeed, washing in water was essential to the resurrection from the dead in ancient Egypt, just as is baptism in the pseudepigraphic literature.41

Just because many heretics wrote in Coptic, doesn't make it Coptic Orthodox.


[/quote]
« Last Edit: October 25, 2009, 07:05:25 PM by ialmisry » Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
Divinus
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2009, 09:39:35 PM »

Thanks for the replies. Just another note on Mormons for their tendency of lying to people. I have resigned from the Mormon church about a year ago after 20 years there because of the many things, such as lies, false prophecies, false translations and contradictions which unfortunately only after 20 years I came across with.

Luckily I joined them when I was 13 so I'm 33 now and still have time to enjoy a good honest church as Orthodox seems to be.
At least I thought they had something on here although heretical but not even this issue of baptism for the dead they could keep it clean without misleading or claiming on true facts without consulting with the sources before. Anyway it's Mormonism and without imagination it could not survive and grow as it has.

I believe (because I was one) that Mormons have a great connection to the LDS church because of all the doctrine on restorations, apostasy, priesthood and so on as taught by Mormonism. They actually now how a church needs to be as far as organization and genuine authority is concern, just that they use a pirate version of it to attract people but with a force of over 60K missionaries in the world there's a big chance each person will eventually have them knocking the door.

I think if Orthodoxy works on missions on Mormons and show them its roots and apostolic succession/history, they would have great success. Many Mormons think Orthodoxy is a branch of catholicism and that the Pope in Rome is the spiritual leader of all and that's a big turn off for them because they see the catholic church as the church of the devil thus anything connected with cannot be true. So I think the OC should if not already reach out for this people.

 I have read in some forums several Mormons gaining a great interest in Orthodoxy after knowing what its history. Believe me or not 90% of the Mormons do not know that the there's a history in the OC which can be traced until the apostles and Christ. The average Mormon as I was believe that the primitive church fell after the death of the apostles and a continuation of that authority didn't occur thus the need of a restoration which would make sense if it was the case, but it isn't. And even if it was the Mormon church couldn't ever be the true church as they have failed the test many times in their short history.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2009, 09:42:37 PM by Divinus » Logged
Tags: baptism baptism for the dead Coptic Orthodox Church Mormonism 
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