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Author Topic: Does Orthodoxy teach "infant faith?"  (Read 2121 times) Average Rating: 0
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Volnutt
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« on: August 01, 2011, 10:40:23 PM »

I've been struck by how literally some Orthodox authors seem to take Luke 18:16.
Quote
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Doesn't "little children" even extend to infants? Is it possible that some infant baptisms at least are accompanied by faith on the part of the infant?

Also, how does Orthodoxy read Psalm 71:5-6?
Quote
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 04:01:12 AM »

I often see infants who cry during all the Liturgy and stop right before taking the Eucharist. They have faith, I'm sure.
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 04:02:40 AM »

I've also seen infants that don't start to cry until they're about to receive. Maybe they're infant heretics?
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 04:05:10 AM »

I've also seen infants that don't start to cry until they're about to receive. Maybe they're infant heretics?
Jim Henson's "Docetist Babies," coming this Fall.
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 04:20:59 AM »

I've also seen infants that don't start to cry until they're about to receive. Maybe they're infant heretics?

In your Church?
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 04:27:55 AM »

I've also seen infants that don't start to cry until they're about to receive. Maybe they're infant heretics?

In your Church?

No in somebody else's church.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 07:28:18 AM »

I often see infants who cry during all the Liturgy and stop right before taking the Eucharist. They have faith, I'm sure.
I've also seen infants that don't start to cry until they're about to receive. Maybe they're infant heretics?
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 08:22:30 AM »

I've been struck by how literally some Orthodox authors seem to take Luke 18:16.
Quote
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Doesn't "little children" even extend to infants? Is it possible that some infant baptisms at least are accompanied by faith on the part of the infant?

Also, how does Orthodoxy read Psalm 71:5-6?
Quote
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.
"No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit" I Cor. 12:3.

Earlier in Luke the Holy Spirit fills St. John the Baptist in the womb and he, with his mother Elizabeth, acknowledge Christ as Lord while Jesus and St. John were in the wombs.

Infants receive the Holy Spirit in baptism.

So of course infants have Faith that Jesus is the Lord, as the Holy Spirit is not dependent on the power of the infant.
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 10:12:05 AM »

The life of St. Rumwald of Buckingham may be illuminating on this matter. (Albeit, I expect most here would dismiss it.)
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 10:40:07 AM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumwold_of_Buckingham

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In the Vita, Rumwold's mother is described as a pious Christian who, when married to a pagan king, tells him that she will not consummate the marriage until he converts to Christianity; he does so, and she becomes pregnant. The two are called by Penda to come to him when the time of her birth is near, but she gives birth during the journey, and immediately after being born the infant is said to have cried out: "Christianus sum, christianus sum, christianus sum" ("I am a Christian, I am a Christian, I am a Christian"). He went on to further profess his faith, to request baptism, and to ask to be named "Rumwold", afterwards giving a sermon. He predicted his own death, and said where he wanted his body to be laid to rest, in Buckingham.
Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." Well, I certainly can't rule out such a miracle.

As an aside, I wonder if this is the source of the Hadith wherein Muhammad did something similar at birth.
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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 10:43:51 AM »

The life of St. Rumwald of Buckingham may be illuminating on this matter. (Albeit, I expect most here would dismiss it.)

Illuminating in the sense that there is a precedent for an infant confessing the faith in a fully developed human language? I suppose so, though it would be hard to argue from his case that all infants are similarly able to express or understand the faith in ordinary language. They might understand it in a non-linguistic fashion, but how would we test that? We could extrapolate from this example that with supernatural intervention such is possible, but then don't we already hold that all things are possible with God?
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« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2011, 10:47:05 AM »

I don't think God would use him as some kind of puppet to make a confession which had no actual faith behind it. Obviously there was true (sublingual) belief there.
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2011, 10:48:19 AM »

In any case, I thought the traditional doctrine surrounding infant baptism is that infants are held to the promises of their confession through the surety of their godparents, i.e. they are bound to the promises because those with complete authority over them, their parents and godparents, made them. So even though the infant did not make the promises himself, he is still responsible for keeping them.
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2011, 10:50:11 AM »

I don't think God would use him as some kind of puppet to make a confession which had no actual faith behind it. Obviously there was true (sublingual) belief there.

Well I never said he was a puppet. I'm just saying I don't see how individual miracles like this, assuming they are genuine, can be used to argue that all infants are ordinarily capable of this kind of faith. As my previous post suggests, the traditional way of explaining the manner of the baptized infant's faith suggests the infant was not normally considered capable of this kind of conscious profession of faith.
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2011, 10:53:11 AM »

I don't think God would use him as some kind of puppet to make a confession which had no actual faith behind it. Obviously there was true (sublingual) belief there.

Well I never said he was a puppet. I'm just saying I don't see how individual miracles like this, assuming they are genuine, can be used to argue that all infants are ordinarily capable of this kind of faith. As my previous post suggests, the traditional way of explaining the manner of the baptized infant's faith suggests the infant was not normally considered capable of this kind of conscious profession of faith.
If he wasn't a puppet, what was the incident? God gave lingual expression to something which would normally be only sublingual. The faith was not altered, only the way it was (temporarily) expressed.
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 10:56:51 AM »

I don't think God would use him as some kind of puppet to make a confession which had no actual faith behind it. Obviously there was true (sublingual) belief there.

Well I never said he was a puppet. I'm just saying I don't see how individual miracles like this, assuming they are genuine, can be used to argue that all infants are ordinarily capable of this kind of faith. As my previous post suggests, the traditional way of explaining the manner of the baptized infant's faith suggests the infant was not normally considered capable of this kind of conscious profession of faith.
If he wasn't a puppet, what was the incident? God gave lingual expression to something which would normally be only sublingual. The faith was not altered, only the way it was (temporarily) expressed.

I see your point. But perhaps the miracle also lies in bestowing a precocious intellect on the infant child, so that the child is not only able to express his faith linguistically, but even to have the kind of conception of faith that is normally only possible among those who are much older?
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« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2011, 11:01:42 AM »

That's what I meant to say. You're more articulate than me, I guess.  laugh
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2011, 12:54:49 PM »

The life of St. Rumwald of Buckingham may be illuminating on this matter. (Albeit, I expect most here would dismiss it.)
What does the life of St. Rumwald of Buckingham have to say on this matter? Could you post his hagiography here?
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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2011, 02:42:35 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2011, 03:13:16 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley

I have to say that post had me literally (I mean literally) crying in laughter for almost five minutes. My co-workers thought I was having a seizure.

I was just trying to imagine what the reaction of a parent would be to the situation.
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« Reply #20 on: August 02, 2011, 05:08:08 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley

I have to say that post had me literally (I mean literally) crying in laughter for almost five minutes. My co-workers thought I was having a seizure.

I was just trying to imagine what the reaction of a parent would be to the situation.

Probably depends on their socioeconomic class. Inner city welfare mom may just slap the kid with a "Shut yo' mouth". Suburban yuppy would go into a trance, dreaming of college scholarships and employment at the most prestigious legal or financial firms.
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« Reply #21 on: August 02, 2011, 05:42:35 PM »

I often see infants who cry during all the Liturgy and stop right before taking the Eucharist. They have faith, I'm sure.

Coincidentally, we were just talking about a 2 year old who cries and fusses every Sunday right up to the moment she gets communion. Then she always stops .

I think kids see the lights coming out of the Chalice. 
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« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2011, 05:44:00 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley

I have to say that post had me literally (I mean literally) crying in laughter for almost five minutes. My co-workers thought I was having a seizure.

I was just trying to imagine what the reaction of a parent would be to the situation.

Probably depends on their socioeconomic class. Inner city welfare mom may just slap the kid with a "Shut yo' mouth". Suburban yuppy would go into a trance, dreaming of college scholarships and employment at the most prestigious legal or financial firms.

Bitter are we?
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« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2011, 05:45:33 PM »

I have never heard the expression "infant faith" and I don't know what it means.

But we do know, because the Saviour tells us, that every child has an angel to protect him and that angel is constantly gazing on the face of God in heaven.
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« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2011, 05:51:48 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley

I have to say that post had me literally (I mean literally) crying in laughter for almost five minutes. My co-workers thought I was having a seizure.

I was just trying to imagine what the reaction of a parent would be to the situation.

Probably depends on their socioeconomic class. Inner city welfare mom may just slap the kid with a "Shut yo' mouth". Suburban yuppy would go into a trance, dreaming of college scholarships and employment at the most prestigious legal or financial firms.

Bitter are we?

Well sweet isn't funny.
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« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2011, 05:57:21 PM »

I have never heard the expression "infant faith" and I don't know what it means.

But we do know, because the Saviour tells us, that every child has an angel to protect him and that angel is constantly gazing on the face of God in heaven.

Where does the Savior tell us this?
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2011, 06:17:20 PM »

Well sweet isn't funny.

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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2011, 07:49:36 PM »

I often see infants who cry during all the Liturgy and stop right before taking the Eucharist. They have faith, I'm sure.

I saw that a few times this past Sunday.   angel
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« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2011, 09:22:37 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I've been struck by how literally some Orthodox authors seem to take Luke 18:16.
Quote
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Doesn't "little children" even extend to infants? Is it possible that some infant baptisms at least are accompanied by faith on the part of the infant?

Also, how does Orthodoxy read Psalm 71:5-6?
Quote
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Hmm, perhaps, but lets take something into consideration.  Only the Protestants believe that we receive the Grace of God out of our own force of will or decision making.  They say you can't baptize infants because folks must chose to be baptized.  We disagree, Baptism is  Mystery, its a matter of Grace which is free, not earned or decided upon.  We can AGREE and COOPERATE with God's Grace but we really do not chose them, we are invited and we can only accept.  So really while we can't understand it, (after all its a Mystery Wink ) even these infants in their Baptisms are both involuntarily receiving the Grace of God and yet also cooperating with God's Will just as we all do whenever we ourselves receive any of the Divine Mysteries as they do.  After all, while we may feel like we decided or desired to say, receive Holy Communion, truly it is a Gift of God's own invitation, and we only cooperate and accept, and if anything God's Spirit put that same desire or decision into our hearts in the first place! Its not a matter of human will, but Divine Will. 

The infants than do not necessarily need faith or wisdom or discernment, but I also would not be so naive as to assume they have no such capacities simply because they not have the agency yet to explain themselves. Frankly we don't know WHAT infants think or feel aside from our gut interpretations and assumptions, so perhaps they are more theologically sound than we are!  My cat doesn't speak English, but surely she feels, thinks, knows, and even communicates these with me.  Infants to than perhaps can think and feel and communicate these with God beyond our comprehension of it Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2011, 09:33:59 PM »


Hmm, perhaps, but lets take something into consideration.  Only the Protestants believe that we receive the Grace of God out of our own force of will or decision making.  They say you can't baptize infants because folks must chose to be baptized. 
You do know, I hope, that I agree with your post. However, in fairness to many of our Protestant friends - and especially those who join us here - it needs to be pointed out that many Protestants do baptize their infants. While each denomination may have a slightly different reason for doing so, the general idea is still that God will work through the faith of others and that parents have a responsibility to bring their children into the Christian faith as they understand and practise it.

Methodist, Presbyterians, and Lutherans are among those who baptize their infants.
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« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2011, 09:34:48 PM »

Wow, talk about "out of the mouths of babes." from the pens of hagiographers.

Fixed that for you Smiley
Meh, maybe I'm a rube but I don't see any reason to doubt it outright.
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« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2011, 09:37:53 PM »

I've been struck by how literally some Orthodox authors seem to take Luke 18:16.
Quote
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Doesn't "little children" even extend to infants? Is it possible that some infant baptisms at least are accompanied by faith on the part of the infant?

Also, how does Orthodoxy read Psalm 71:5-6?
Quote
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Hmm, perhaps, but lets take something into consideration.  Only the Protestants believe that we receive the Grace of God out of our own force of will or decision making.  They say you can't baptize infants because folks must chose to be baptized.  We disagree, Baptism is  Mystery, its a matter of Grace which is free, not earned or decided upon.  We can AGREE and COOPERATE with God's Grace but we really do not chose them, we are invited and we can only accept.  So really while we can't understand it, (after all its a Mystery Wink ) even these infants in their Baptisms are both involuntarily receiving the Grace of God and yet also cooperating with God's Will just as we all do whenever we ourselves receive any of the Divine Mysteries as they do.  After all, while we may feel like we decided or desired to say, receive Holy Communion, truly it is a Gift of God's own invitation, and we only cooperate and accept, and if anything God's Spirit put that same desire or decision into our hearts in the first place! Its not a matter of human will, but Divine Will. 

The infants than do not necessarily need faith or wisdom or discernment, but I also would not be so naive as to assume they have no such capacities simply because they not have the agency yet to explain themselves. Frankly we don't know WHAT infants think or feel aside from our gut interpretations and assumptions, so perhaps they are more theologically sound than we are!  My cat doesn't speak English, but surely she feels, thinks, knows, and even communicates these with me.  Infants to than perhaps can think and feel and communicate these with God beyond our comprehension of it Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
[/quote]Thanks. I actually agree with both of you  Smiley.
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« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2011, 09:39:00 PM »

I've been struck by how literally some Orthodox authors seem to take Luke 18:16.
Quote
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Doesn't "little children" even extend to infants? Is it possible that some infant baptisms at least are accompanied by faith on the part of the infant?

Also, how does Orthodoxy read Psalm 71:5-6?
Quote
For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.
By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

Concerning Psalm 71:5-6, how do you compare it to the John the Forerunner leaping in the womb of his mother when the Mother of the Lord came?  Does such a reaction indicate a level of faith of an unborn infant?
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« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2011, 09:50:12 PM »

Hard to say. I've heard it interpreted that way, but also just as a pure miracle without John being consciously involved.
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« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2011, 10:47:19 PM »

Hard to say. I've heard it interpreted that way, but also just as a pure miracle without John being consciously involved.

Let me guess: by some protestant taking the "plain meaning" of the scripture as his hermeneutical framework?
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« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2011, 10:49:36 PM »

Actually, I seem to recall an Orthodox speaker saying that (though Protestants also). My memory isn't to sharp here though  laugh.
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« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2011, 10:51:17 PM »

Actually, I seem to recall an Orthodox speaker saying that (though Protestants also). My memory isn't to sharp here though  laugh.

It is certainly contrary to the "plain sense" of the passage.
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« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2011, 10:53:47 PM »

Agreed.
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« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2011, 10:54:43 PM »

Hard to say. I've heard it interpreted that way, but also just as a pure miracle without John being consciously involved.

From Vespers for the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist:

You were shown to be a prophet and Forerunner from your mother's womb, O John, Baptist of Christ, leaping up and rejoicing within her when you beheld the Queen, bearing the Timeless One who was begotten of the Father without mother, coming to her handmaid and to you, who shone forth from a barren woman and an elderly man according to God's promise.

Elizabeth conceived the Forerunner of grace, and the Virgin conceived the Lord of glory. Both mothers kissed each other, and the babe leapt up, for within her womb the servant praised the Master. And the mother of the Forerunner marvelled and cried out: "How is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? May He who has great mercy save a despairing people!"


From the Litia:

Today Elizabeth gives birth to the ultimate prophet, the first of the apostles, the earthly angel and heavenly man, the voice of the Word, the soldier and Forerunner of Christ, who leapt up beforehand in token of the promise, and before his birth proclaimed the Sun of righteousness; and she rejoices. Zechariah is astonished in his old age, putting aside his silence like a bond imposed upon him; and as the father of the voice he prophesies: "For you, O child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High and shall go forth to prepare the way for Him.: Therefore, O angel, prophet, apostle, warrior, Forerunner, baptizer, preacher and instructor of repentance: As the voice of the Light and Word, pray unceasingly for us who keep your memory with faith.

Seems pretty clear to me that the unborn Forerunner was indeed aware of what he was doing.
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« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2011, 11:04:46 PM »

Thanks!
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« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2011, 12:19:55 AM »

I have never heard the expression "infant faith" and I don't know what it means.

But we do know, because the Saviour tells us, that every child has an angel to protect him and that angel is constantly gazing on the face of God in heaven.

Where does the Savior tell us this?

See Matthew 18:10.
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« Reply #41 on: September 04, 2011, 07:27:10 AM »

Quote from: Ps 8, 3
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise
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« Reply #42 on: September 04, 2011, 07:51:42 AM »

Hard to say. I've heard it interpreted that way, but also just as a pure miracle without John being consciously involved.
Is that how Protestants define "being filled with the Holy Spirit," a sort of case of possession?  God doesn't operate like Satan.

No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit, whether an infant or an adult.
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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;
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #43 on: September 04, 2011, 07:57:55 AM »

Hard to say. I've heard it interpreted that way, but also just as a pure miracle without John being consciously involved.
Is that how Protestants define "being filled with the Holy Spirit," a sort of case of possession?
I've never seen it defined this way, just in maybe the case of baby Johh being like Balaam's Ass.

Of course, I'm almost nominal Protestant now. I've forgotten some of these things.
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« Reply #44 on: September 04, 2011, 08:05:44 AM »

Quote from: Ps 8, 3
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise

This is also a persistent theme of the hymnography for the services for the Entry into Jerusalem, the Sunday before Pascha.
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