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Author Topic: Age of reason/baptism/chrismation/etc....  (Read 3670 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 01, 2011, 09:43:37 PM »

So my question is kind of confusing.  Im trying to get my wife to convert with me, but she has plenty of questions too.  So, I need some help.

Her question involves the Protestant view of the "age of reason" and that being the time that they make their confession of faith.  If an Orthodox child is baptized as an infant, then obviously they dont understand what is happening.  So at some point, dont they reach a time where they make sense of their faith and decide that a living a life for God is truly what they want?  When they reach that point, do they make another confession or announcement? 

Her example is when we went to Church camp and made the decision there to follow Christ as young people who were at the age of reason.  Thats when we were baptized.  When is this time of Orthodox kids?
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2011, 09:53:15 PM »

They are given their faith. They are brought up in it. It is theirs.

They don't choose to "accept" something they already have. They can only choose to continue in it. At some point everyone has to make this choice about anything they do, but there is no formal ceremony or anything else like that in Orthodoxy.

If I'm not mistaken, the first thing that a child is supposed to do based on the "age of reason" is confession when they are old enough to recognize their sins and confess them.
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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2011, 11:24:48 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2011, 12:07:26 AM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 12:16:08 AM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.


God unilaterally saved us all. The question is do we take the opportunity to grow in communion with Him or not.
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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2011, 12:22:11 AM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.


God unilaterally saved us all. The question is do we take the opportunity to grow in communion with Him or not.
I agree. I love how the Orthodox Church does away with a lot of the dichotomies which troubled me as a Protestant.
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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 01:17:40 AM »

They are given their faith. They are brought up in it. It is theirs.

They don't choose to "accept" something they already have. They can only choose to continue in it. At some point everyone has to make this choice about anything they do, but there is no formal ceremony or anything else like that in Orthodoxy.

If I'm not mistaken, the first thing that a child is supposed to do based on the "age of reason" is confession when they are old enough to recognize their sins and confess them.

Yes, and every Holy Confession is an acknowledgment that we are totally dependent on God and His loving mercy in our Christian walk. At every Orthodox retreat that I have attended, the Priest has reminded us that whenever they hear confessions, that it strengthens their own faith because it takes faith, hope, and love to come before God and confess ones sins before the Priest.

Confession is a humbling act not only for the penitent, but also for the Priest. Oftentimes, the Priest will acknowledge that he too struggles, and the advice and the remedy that he offers is from the Holy Spirit within his own soul.
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« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2011, 01:25:16 AM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.


God unilaterally saved us all. The question is do we take the opportunity to grow in communion with Him or not.
I agree. I love how the Orthodox Church does away with a lot of the dichotomies which troubled me as a Protestant.

Indeed, we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.

It is through the Holy Eucharist that we are deified and reach theosis, for the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, is the Giver of Life.
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2011, 02:35:45 AM »

What does reason have to do with anything?

Let everything which has breath praise the Lord!
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« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2011, 07:53:37 AM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.

When did Jesus choose to be Jewish?
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« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2011, 10:44:04 AM »

I used to be a Protestant and thought there was an age of reason, but then got to thinking that if probably differs with individuals, so I got used to infant baptism pretty fast when I converted to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2011, 02:23:13 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.
When did Jesus choose to be Jewish?

When He sent the angel to talk to His Mother, When He chose David as King, when he told Moses to bring His people out of Egypt and made them His people, when He changed Jacob's name to Israel, when He chose Isaac over Ishmael, when He called Abraham, when He had Noah build the ark, when Seth was conceived, when Adam fell, when the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2011, 02:26:02 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.
When did Jesus choose to be Jewish?

A better analogy would be the eight day old males who were circumcised into God's people, who aren't the eternal existing divine Word of God.

They didn't choose to become God's people, but had to stay inside of the boundaries set by God and could leave His people at any time by disobedience to the commandments.
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2011, 03:35:07 PM »

What does reason have to do with anything?

Let everything which has breath praise the Lord!

I like that.
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« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2011, 06:19:53 PM »

A better analogy would be the eight day old males who were circumcised into God's people, who aren't the eternal existing divine Word of God.

In his fully human nature, which was limited and not omniscient, as a human he did not personally come to an age of reason and then make an official decision to become religiously Jewish. He was brought up in the faith; it was his from birth, so my example stands. A kind of condescension happened at the incarnation where the eternal Word limited himself, so I was noting that a lot of the human factors were basically out of his control and it was the job of the parents to give him his place in the covenant. Also, at the Annunciation the archangel did not say to let the child get to a certain age and decide if he wanted to follow the Jewish faith.
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« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2011, 07:01:13 PM »

I have a hard time accepting "age of reason"

When I was young my family went to church and had me baptised.  I was old enough to remember the baptism but how much choice did I have when it is my parents who raised me as a christian. 

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« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2011, 07:10:34 PM »

So my question is kind of confusing.  Im trying to get my wife to convert with me, but she has plenty of questions too.  So, I need some help.

Her question involves the Protestant view of the "age of reason" and that being the time that they make their confession of faith.  If an Orthodox child is baptized as an infant, then obviously they dont understand what is happening.  So at some point, dont they reach a time where they make sense of their faith and decide that a living a life for God is truly what they want?  When they reach that point, do they make another confession or announcement? 

Her example is when we went to Church camp and made the decision there to follow Christ as young people who were at the age of reason.  Thats when we were baptized.  When is this time of Orthodox kids?

Just wanted to add... if age of reason is the delineation, then what about a child born severely mentally handicapped?   Does this mean they can never come to the waters of baptism because they'll never come to an age of reason?   Who can fully understand faith?  Did not Christ himself say "Unless you enter the Kingdom of God as a little child...."  ?

We spend our whole lives making decisions for Christ.  Every confession is a Return to God.  We don't look at these "decisions" as a one time moment in our history.  It is a life-long path we follow.  I can always up and decide I've had enough of this churchy stuff and walk away.  Just like the Prodigal Son we can all reject this inheritance, but the gift is ALWAYS there waiting for us.   God does not withhold His Gifts to us, but we can reject them.

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« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2011, 08:01:52 PM »

Quote
if age of reason is the delineation, then what about a child born severely mentally handicapped?  

This is a good point.  i have used a similar analogy when explaining to them the belief that Mary did not sin.  Everyone always brings up where Bible says "All have sinned and fall short..."  I ask, "So does that include the severely mentally handicapped?"

Not trying to derail this thread, just tossing it out.

Its just hard to make people understand.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they dont want to accept it.  It takes time...
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« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2011, 08:33:39 PM »

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if age of reason is the delineation, then what about a child born severely mentally handicapped?  

This is a good point.  i have used a similar analogy when explaining to them the belief that Mary did not sin.  Everyone always brings up where Bible says "All have sinned and fall short..."  I ask, "So does that include the severely mentally handicapped?"

It depends on if someone accepts they are stained by original sin, because of what Adam did. That would have nothing to do with sins. If someone is born into sin, then it's a stain brought about by birth and blood which only the sacrificial, perfect blood of Jesus can cover.
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« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2011, 09:32:32 PM »

A better analogy would be the eight day old males who were circumcised into God's people, who aren't the eternal existing divine Word of God.
In his fully human nature, which was limited and not omniscient, as a human he did not personally come to an age of reason and then make an official decision to become religiously Jewish. He was brought up in the faith; it was his from birth, so my example stands. A kind of condescension happened at the incarnation where the eternal Word limited himself, so I was noting that a lot of the human factors were basically out of his control and it was the job of the parents to give him his place in the covenant. Also, at the Annunciation the archangel did not say to let the child get to a certain age and decide if he wanted to follow the Jewish faith.

My point was simply that when God became man, it wasn't through a random woman in a random culture at a random point in human history. The Gospels never really show Christ as not being in control of anything, with the exception of accepting the freedom of will of others and not overriding that.

But no, Mary and Joseph did not ask "would you like to commit yourself to God?" before having Jesus circumcised with the sign of the covenant of God's people at eight days old. This decision of being circumcised wasn't made by Him during His life as a human.
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« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2011, 09:36:32 PM »

Quote
if age of reason is the delineation, then what about a child born severely mentally handicapped?  

This is a good point.  i have used a similar analogy when explaining to them the belief that Mary did not sin.  Everyone always brings up where Bible says "All have sinned and fall short..."  I ask, "So does that include the severely mentally handicapped?"

Not trying to derail this thread, just tossing it out.

Its just hard to make people understand.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they dont want to accept it.  It takes time...

I think you bring up a very good point about Mary's sinlessness.  I've never thought about it that way before.  Thanks...

 And I agree with you on the final point.  Some people just refuse to see.
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« Reply #21 on: October 02, 2011, 09:38:24 PM »

It depends on if someone accepts they are stained by original sin, because of what Adam did. That would have nothing to do with sins.


We are all born with a fallen human nature. This is objective reality, whether or not we "choose to accept" that.

Quote
If someone is born into sin, then it's a stain brought about by birth and blood which only the sacrificial, perfect blood of Jesus can cover.

This is problematic as a Christian.
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« Reply #22 on: October 02, 2011, 09:50:08 PM »

Quote
if age of reason is the delineation, then what about a child born severely mentally handicapped?  

This is a good point.  i have used a similar analogy when explaining to them the belief that Mary did not sin.  Everyone always brings up where Bible says "All have sinned and fall short..."  I ask, "So does that include the severely mentally handicapped?"

It depends on if someone accepts they are stained by original sin, because of what Adam did. That would have nothing to do with sins. If someone is born into sin, then it's a stain brought about by birth and blood which only the sacrificial, perfect blood of Jesus can cover.

So Im clear, thats not the same as the RC view of being "automatically guilty" right?  I could see how in that view, even the severely mentally disabled would be sinners because they carry that guilt...

In the Orthodox view, are people like this able to sin if they, sadly, arent able to understand?  I thought that they werent able to...
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« Reply #23 on: October 02, 2011, 10:02:16 PM »

In the Orthodox view, are people like this able to sin if they, sadly, arent able to understand?  I thought that they werent able to...

We are responsible for what we do with what we are given.
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« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2011, 10:17:43 PM »

In the Orthodox view, are people like this able to sin if they, sadly, arent able to understand?  I thought that they werent able to...

Forgive my speculation, but as I currently understand it there is an imputed guilt by virtue of being human in the Roman Catholic view, but they do not believe that it is possible to personally sin until the "age of reason", hence the lack of communion and confession before that point. After the imputed guilt of original sin is washed away in baptism, there is nothing to be forgiven until the person is able to be rational and reasonable. This might account for a Western belief in Roman Catholicism and it's offspring of various Protestantisms that it is impossible for a severely mentally retarded person to personally sin, if personal sins have to be rational and conscience decisions.

The Orthodox view differs in that ancestral sin affects everyone, but that there is not a personal guilt for the sins of our ancestors, only the fallen world that we live in with a propensity toward sin. However, unlike the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox believe in involuntary sins. This means that a person can sin as a result of their condition, hence a child can sin if it it was not a deliberate and willful choice. It's the same principle that says that for a man a nocturnal emission is a sin, even though often these are completely biological and are not a willful act of lust. It is an involuntary sin because of the condition of fallen humanity, where part of the responsibility falls upon each person, as we are all Adam.

But this is all just what I've gathered over the last couple of years, and I'm sure parties on both side will say that I'm mischaracterizing their churches positions.
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« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2011, 10:25:00 PM »

Quote
nocturnal emission

Forgive my immaturity, but this made me laugh....

But in all seriousness, that type of event could be caused to impure thoughts, or lust, during the day.  If these things are on your mind during the day, I dont see why they couldnt be on your mind sub-consciously at night...

As always, I could be wrong! 
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« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2011, 10:27:10 PM »

Forgive my immaturity, but this made me laugh....

I completely understand. Penises are hilarious!
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« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2011, 10:53:13 PM »

Well. Ask her to explain to you why until 1700's thats 200 years in proetstant history all children were baptized and then to delay paying taxes , some people started to be baptized late. Later they found a interpretation that seem to give them some cloud for doing this practice.

So why for 1700+ years everyone baptized their children.

Then ask her to read John 3:3 and John 3:5 where basically in my understanding it means that without baptism children can not see Heaven. So why does she believe that children should die after certain age to get to Heaven ?

A former sorceres turned christian that spoke with devil said that nothing was most pleasing to sick angel than unbaptized children.

If baptizing would be wrong, the sick angel would not be happy for unbaptized protestant children that may not be able to enter Heaven until maturity because of SOLA IMAGINATION.



So my question is kind of confusing.  Im trying to get my wife to convert with me, but she has plenty of questions too.  So, I need some help.

Her question involves the Protestant view of the "age of reason" and that being the time that they make their confession of faith.  If an Orthodox child is baptized as an infant, then obviously they dont understand what is happening.  So at some point, dont they reach a time where they make sense of their faith and decide that a living a life for God is truly what they want?  When they reach that point, do they make another confession or announcement? 

Her example is when we went to Church camp and made the decision there to follow Christ as young people who were at the age of reason.  Thats when we were baptized.  When is this time of Orthodox kids?
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« Reply #28 on: October 03, 2011, 01:54:45 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.

Something that has always puzzled me is that this sort of decision theology, which is not shared by Lutherans, RCs, Orthodox and maybe Episcopalians and others (which would make it the dominant Christian belief, numbers-wise) along with other beliefs which are only common to Baptists and evangelicals are presented as normative, not only for Protestants but for Christians in general. Why is that?
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« Reply #29 on: October 03, 2011, 02:39:07 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.

Something that has always puzzled me is that this sort of decision theology, which is not shared by Lutherans, RCs, Orthodox and maybe Episcopalians and others (which would make it the dominant Christian belief, numbers-wise) along with other beliefs which are only common to Baptists and evangelicals are presented as normative, not only for Protestants but for Christians in general. Why is that?

I don't know. Maybe it's because in American culture, evangelicalism is so popular. I bet if they took their views to Greece or Russia, it wouldn't quite be so "normal"
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« Reply #30 on: October 03, 2011, 02:43:57 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.

Something that has always puzzled me is that this sort of decision theology, which is not shared by Lutherans, RCs, Orthodox and maybe Episcopalians and others (which would make it the dominant Christian belief, numbers-wise) along with other beliefs which are only common to Baptists and evangelicals are presented as normative, not only for Protestants but for Christians in general. Why is that?

I don't know. Maybe it's because in American culture, evangelicalism is so popular. I bet if they took their views to Greece or Russia, it wouldn't quite be so "normal"

 Grin Very true!
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« Reply #31 on: October 03, 2011, 03:42:41 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.

That is why they are called "Mysteries" which only God Himself can properly explain, not to our thinking minds, but our experiencing hearts.


In the Ethiopian tradition we Chrismate at Baptism in the same day, and also give First Communion that day (in fact it is mandatory to receive all three together on the same day) and our "age of accountability" is 13 when youth are expected to fast, pray, and attend all obligatory Liturgies.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #32 on: October 03, 2011, 04:58:43 PM »

Is this so-called "age of accountability" even in the Bible?
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« Reply #33 on: October 03, 2011, 05:19:31 PM »

I know several Orthodox Priests (in the Greek Orthodox Church and in the OCA) who will hear the first confessions of children as young as three (3) years old.

If the parents request that their child be admitted to Holy Confession, and the child agrees and shows that he/she knows that they did something wrong and is repentant, then the Priest will hear their confession, give advice, and say the prayers of absolution.

When we were Catholics, no child younger than the magic age of seven (7) was to be admitted to Confession, unless they were in one of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
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« Reply #34 on: October 03, 2011, 06:17:41 PM »

I think she just has a problem understanding how someone can be "given" their faith as an infant.  That view is very un-Protestant, which is our background.  Your response makes complete sense to me, though.  People just want faith be something that they themselves decide on when they have reached the age of reason.  When someone presents something different, its kinda tough to make sense of it.
I've a hard time with it as well, but I don't think it's as anti-protestant as we might think. All three main branches of Protestant thought: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Lutheranism all affirm that due to the sin nature we all incapable of coming to God on our own. He must first call us with an initial motion of His grace.

Now where the three branches disagree is what happens next. Calvinists posit Irresistible Grace, the believer will follow on without fail into a  Christian life. Arminians claim that God allows an escape hatch of sorts where we can turn back before full conversion using our "temporarily" freed will. The Lutherans are similar to the Calvinists though I don't know the full details.

So if God saves an infant unilaterally then gives her/him the option to leave later, I don't see this being significantly different from the Arminian view.

Something that has always puzzled me is that this sort of decision theology, which is not shared by Lutherans, RCs, Orthodox and maybe Episcopalians and others (which would make it the dominant Christian belief, numbers-wise) along with other beliefs which are only common to Baptists and evangelicals are presented as normative, not only for Protestants but for Christians in general. Why is that?
Depends on what you mean by decision theology. I wasn't referring to the idea that all on must do is raise their hand and say the "Sinner's Prayer" and then their salvation is a lock. I was just talking about the mechanics of soteriology in which a "decision" is only a small part of the beginning process.
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« Reply #35 on: October 03, 2011, 06:21:04 PM »

When I was first exposed to Christianity in the American South, I was exposed to the Missionary Baptist faith. That is, Baptists who are Calvinists but believe in evangelizing (i.e., missions work). This is opposed to the Primitive Baptists who are so strongly-convicted about their Calvinism, they do no missions work at all. These two groups split off from each other a few centuries ago. Of course, being Baptist, they taught that baptism by immersion was vital, but not as a salvific act. It was an important proclamation of faith. Being baptized meant that you were publicly announcing that you have already become a Christian, and that baptism symbolically shows you have already died with and been reborn into new life through Christ. The act of baptism does nothing, but is an outward sign of inward grace already imparted by God to the new believer. Of course, to believe and make this proclamation one must be of this magic "age of reason" in order to understand the decision you're making. As I got older I ventured into other traditions. Without fail, as long as the congregation of the church was Evangelical Protestant, this was their perspective on baptism, regardless to what denomination the church sign said out front. It seems to be the default understanding for all Evangelical Protestants.

This is completely at odds with the Orthodox Faith. Baptism is not an outward symbol of a work already done in the heart. Rather, baptism is the carrying out of that work, the reception of that grace itself, not a symbol of it. We are baptized for the remission of our sins, not because we understand our sins or because we understand God's grace. How presumptuous it is to say we understand God in such a way! We aren't baptized for knowledge's sake. We're baptized for Christ's sake, for the remission of our sins by uniting ourselves to Christ. For many converts, we do willfully choose to be baptized as adults because we weren't baptized into the Church as infants. However, for those blessed with pious Orthodox parents, they are brought into the church for baptism, for the remission of sins. To be united to Christ, even as babes, that they may grow up in the Church.

This is no different than being born Jewish. Jewish boys never got the choice about being presented in the temple for circumcision (and, personally, this is something I'd want a little more say in than being dunked in some water!), yet they were brought and admitted among the People of God through the act itself. Even to this day, male converts to the Jewish faith must be circumcised (even as adults). Just as circumcision initiated a person into the covenant people, so now does Holy Baptism initiate us into our Life in Christ, uniting us to His death and resurrection. It's not about understanding a concept, it's about knowing a Person. It's about the remission of sins. It's about life everlasting.
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« Reply #36 on: October 03, 2011, 06:27:26 PM »

When I was first exposed to Christianity in the American South, I was exposed to the Missionary Baptist faith. That is, Baptists who are Calvinists but believe in evangelizing (i.e., missions work). This is opposed to the Primitive Baptists who are so strongly-convicted about their Calvinism, they do no missions work at all. These two groups split off from each other a few centuries ago. Of course, being Baptist, they taught that baptism by immersion was vital, but not as a salvific act. It was an important proclamation of faith. Being baptized meant that you were publicly announcing that you have already become a Christian, and that baptism symbolically shows you have already died with and been reborn into new life through Christ. The act of baptism does nothing, but is an outward sign of inward grace already imparted by God to the new believer. Of course, to believe and make this proclamation one must be of this magic "age of reason" in order to understand the decision you're making. As I got older I ventured into other traditions. Without fail, as long as the congregation of the church was Evangelical Protestant, this was their perspective on baptism, regardless to what denomination the church sign said out front. It seems to be the default understanding for all Evangelical Protestants.

This is completely at odds with the Orthodox Faith. Baptism is not an outward symbol of a work already done in the heart. Rather, baptism is the carrying out of that work, the reception of that grace itself, not a symbol of it. We are baptized for the remission of our sins, not because we understand our sins or because we understand God's grace. How presumptuous it is to say we understand God in such a way! We aren't baptized for knowledge's sake. We're baptized for Christ's sake, for the remission of our sins by uniting ourselves to Christ. For many converts, we do willfully choose to be baptized as adults because we weren't baptized into the Church as infants. However, for those blessed with pious Orthodox parents, they are brought into the church for baptism, for the remission of sins. To be united to Christ, even as babes, that they may grow up in the Church.

This is no different than being born Jewish. Jewish boys never got the choice about being presented in the temple for circumcision (and, personally, this is something I'd want a little more say in than being dunked in some water!), yet they were brought and admitted among the People of God through the act itself. Even to this day, male converts to the Jewish faith must be circumcised (even as adults). Just as circumcision initiated a person into the covenant people, so now does Holy Baptism initiate us into our Life in Christ, uniting us to His death and resurrection. It's not about understanding a concept, it's about knowing a Person. It's about the remission of sins. It's about life everlasting.
How can baptism be the new circumcision when Abraham believed and was called righteous even before His circumcision? Circumcision is obviously not salvific like baptism is in Orthodoxy. The analogy breaks down.
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« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2011, 06:39:20 PM »

When I was first exposed to Christianity in the American South, I was exposed to the Missionary Baptist faith. That is, Baptists who are Calvinists but believe in evangelizing (i.e., missions work). This is opposed to the Primitive Baptists who are so strongly-convicted about their Calvinism, they do no missions work at all. These two groups split off from each other a few centuries ago. Of course, being Baptist, they taught that baptism by immersion was vital, but not as a salvific act. It was an important proclamation of faith. Being baptized meant that you were publicly announcing that you have already become a Christian, and that baptism symbolically shows you have already died with and been reborn into new life through Christ. The act of baptism does nothing, but is an outward sign of inward grace already imparted by God to the new believer. Of course, to believe and make this proclamation one must be of this magic "age of reason" in order to understand the decision you're making. As I got older I ventured into other traditions. Without fail, as long as the congregation of the church was Evangelical Protestant, this was their perspective on baptism, regardless to what denomination the church sign said out front. It seems to be the default understanding for all Evangelical Protestants.

This is completely at odds with the Orthodox Faith. Baptism is not an outward symbol of a work already done in the heart. Rather, baptism is the carrying out of that work, the reception of that grace itself, not a symbol of it. We are baptized for the remission of our sins, not because we understand our sins or because we understand God's grace. How presumptuous it is to say we understand God in such a way! We aren't baptized for knowledge's sake. We're baptized for Christ's sake, for the remission of our sins by uniting ourselves to Christ. For many converts, we do willfully choose to be baptized as adults because we weren't baptized into the Church as infants. However, for those blessed with pious Orthodox parents, they are brought into the church for baptism, for the remission of sins. To be united to Christ, even as babes, that they may grow up in the Church.

This is no different than being born Jewish. Jewish boys never got the choice about being presented in the temple for circumcision (and, personally, this is something I'd want a little more say in than being dunked in some water!), yet they were brought and admitted among the People of God through the act itself. Even to this day, male converts to the Jewish faith must be circumcised (even as adults). Just as circumcision initiated a person into the covenant people, so now does Holy Baptism initiate us into our Life in Christ, uniting us to His death and resurrection. It's not about understanding a concept, it's about knowing a Person. It's about the remission of sins. It's about life everlasting.
How can baptism be the new circumcision when Abraham believed and was called righteous even before His circumcision? Circumcision is obviously not salvific like baptism is in Orthodoxy. The analogy breaks down.

Circumcision and Baptism aren't exactly the same thing, but Baptism does accomplish the Old Testament act of Circumcision, i.e., admittance into the covenant People of God, whether is it the Church (lit. assembly) of Israel or the Church (lit. assembly) of Christ.

Also, do you believe that people outside of the Church don't live pious and righteous lives because they lack baptism? Not true. Far from true. I know many people in other faith traditions that are far more humble, loving and kind (i.e., more Christian) than I am, even with Orthodox baptism. While Christ has given us the command to baptize for the remission of sins, that does not mean He cannot act in His grace outside of it. He's God.

Although, you're right in that circumcision isn't for the remission of sins, while Baptism certainly is for the remission of sins. Welcome to the New Covenant. Baptism also has replaced the necessity of the mikvah, the ceremony of ritual cleansing necessary many, many times in the life of a Jewish person to restore them to a state of cleanliness after they had been declared unclean (this also sometimes was accompanied by a sacrifice, though not always). Many Jews to this day still practice the mikvah. Christ Himself even submitted to the mikvah. He submitted Himself most importantly to the baptism of St. John, which was for the remission of sins, but also in order to have even entered the Temple Court, he would've had to go through the ritual mikvah. As the Church teaches us, particularly at Theophany, Christ has sanctified the waters of baptism and fulfilled the Old Covenant practice.

And we do, by the way, as Orthodox Christians re-enter into our baptism many times in our life, every time we go to confession. We repent of our sins and receive absolution. The Holy Fathers of our Church teach that the tears of true repentance in the confession of our sins is our second baptism.

EDIT: I should add that the fulfillment of circumcision in Holy Baptism is not limited to Orthodoxy. Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and many other Protestants also hold to this belief. It was taught to me as a Presbyterian.
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« Reply #38 on: October 03, 2011, 06:44:32 PM »

I know several Orthodox Priests (in the Greek Orthodox Church and in the OCA) who will hear the first confessions of children as young as three (3) years old.

If the parents request that their child be admitted to Holy Confession, and the child agrees and shows that he/she knows that they did something wrong and is repentant, then the Priest will hear their confession, give advice, and say the prayers of absolution.

In my parish, we have one young man (I think he's 21 or 22) who is severely challenged both physically and mentally. He has the mental ability of a 3 or 4 year old. He understands most of what is said to him, but has almost non-existent verbal skills. Over the five+/- years I've known him, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have heard a recognizable word - but he does communicate other things well. For example, he loves to greet people and he's very sincere. One Sunday morning the family was unusually late for DL. I was reading the Epistle and he ran right up to me wanting to shake my hand  Cheesy.

I digress. He does have our priest hear his confession. His mother accompanies him, and it appears she does the speaking. However, he does kneel respectfully and waits for absolution. It's one of the rare times that I see him not fidgeting. It really is a delight and he is an encouragement to all of us.

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« Reply #39 on: October 03, 2011, 06:53:38 PM »

When I was first exposed to Christianity in the American South, I was exposed to the Missionary Baptist faith. That is, Baptists who are Calvinists but believe in evangelizing (i.e., missions work). This is opposed to the Primitive Baptists who are so strongly-convicted about their Calvinism, they do no missions work at all. These two groups split off from each other a few centuries ago. Of course, being Baptist, they taught that baptism by immersion was vital, but not as a salvific act. It was an important proclamation of faith. Being baptized meant that you were publicly announcing that you have already become a Christian, and that baptism symbolically shows you have already died with and been reborn into new life through Christ. The act of baptism does nothing, but is an outward sign of inward grace already imparted by God to the new believer. Of course, to believe and make this proclamation one must be of this magic "age of reason" in order to understand the decision you're making. As I got older I ventured into other traditions. Without fail, as long as the congregation of the church was Evangelical Protestant, this was their perspective on baptism, regardless to what denomination the church sign said out front. It seems to be the default understanding for all Evangelical Protestants.

This is completely at odds with the Orthodox Faith. Baptism is not an outward symbol of a work already done in the heart. Rather, baptism is the carrying out of that work, the reception of that grace itself, not a symbol of it. We are baptized for the remission of our sins, not because we understand our sins or because we understand God's grace. How presumptuous it is to say we understand God in such a way! We aren't baptized for knowledge's sake. We're baptized for Christ's sake, for the remission of our sins by uniting ourselves to Christ. For many converts, we do willfully choose to be baptized as adults because we weren't baptized into the Church as infants. However, for those blessed with pious Orthodox parents, they are brought into the church for baptism, for the remission of sins. To be united to Christ, even as babes, that they may grow up in the Church.

This is no different than being born Jewish. Jewish boys never got the choice about being presented in the temple for circumcision (and, personally, this is something I'd want a little more say in than being dunked in some water!), yet they were brought and admitted among the People of God through the act itself. Even to this day, male converts to the Jewish faith must be circumcised (even as adults). Just as circumcision initiated a person into the covenant people, so now does Holy Baptism initiate us into our Life in Christ, uniting us to His death and resurrection. It's not about understanding a concept, it's about knowing a Person. It's about the remission of sins. It's about life everlasting.
How can baptism be the new circumcision when Abraham believed and was called righteous even before His circumcision? Circumcision is obviously not salvific like baptism is in Orthodoxy. The analogy breaks down.

Circumcision and Baptism aren't exactly the same thing, but Baptism does accomplish the Old Testament act of Circumcision, i.e., admittance into the covenant People of God, whether is it the Church (lit. assembly) of Israel or the Church (lit. assembly) of Christ.

Also, do you believe that people outside of the Church don't live pious and righteous lives because they lack baptism? Not true. Far from true. I know many people in other faith traditions that are far more humble, loving and kind (i.e., more Christian) than I am, even with Orthodox baptism. While Christ has given us the command to baptize for the remission of sins, that does not mean He cannot act in His grace outside of it. He's God.

Although, you're right in that circumcision isn't for the remission of sins, while Baptism certainly is for the remission of sins. Welcome to the New Covenant. Baptism also has replaced the necessity of the mikvah, the ceremony of ritual cleansing necessary many, many times in the life of a Jewish person to restore them to a state of cleanliness after they had been declared unclean (this also sometimes was accompanied by a sacrifice, though not always). Many Jews to this day still practice the mikvah. Christ Himself even submitted to the mikvah. He submitted Himself most importantly to the baptism of St. John, which was for the remission of sins, but also in order to have even entered the Temple Court, he would've had to go through the ritual mikvah. As the Church teaches us, particularly at Theophany, Christ has sanctified the waters of baptism and fulfilled the Old Covenant practice.

And we do, by the way, as Orthodox Christians re-enter into our baptism many times in our life, every time we go to confession. We repent of our sins and receive absolution. The Holy Fathers of our Church teach that the tears of true repentance in the confession of our sins is our second baptism.

EDIT: I should add that the fulfillment of circumcision in Holy Baptism is not limited to Orthodoxy. Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and many other Protestants also hold to this belief. It was taught to me as a Presbyterian.
Ok, thanks. That makes sense.
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« Reply #40 on: October 03, 2011, 09:20:43 PM »

How can baptism be the new circumcision when Abraham believed and was called righteous even before His circumcision? Circumcision is obviously not salvific like baptism is in Orthodoxy. The analogy breaks down.

This broken analogy is used by Paul in scripture. In the OT, circumcision was the sign of being a member of God's people. In the NT, baptism is the sign of being God's people ransomed to Him through the cross.

Phil 3:3
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Col 2:11-12
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
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« Reply #41 on: October 04, 2011, 12:52:04 AM »

When exactly is this "age of reason"?

I don't think I've achieved any state of true reason, and I likely never will.  laugh
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« Reply #42 on: October 04, 2011, 02:02:03 PM »

The point about the Jewish people never "choosing" to be Jewish is a good one.  And i think it works, because the Jewish faith is essentially where our faith is rooted.  There are plenty of parallels, including circumcision/baptism.

Even is this "age of reason" theology like i was brought up in, I would argue that I was still "given" my faith.  I was raised in it, and had no choice but to attend Church on Sunday.  This I assume is no different than young Orthodox children.  I believed everything I was taught, because I didnt know better.  This is also true of Orthodox children.  When I was about 10 years old I made the "decision" but I really didnt decide on anything.  I just knew I had to be baptized.  What if at 10 years old I decided the opposite that I didnt want to continue on my faith?  I still would have been forced to go to church...

At some point, I did come to understand it better, but it was about 10 years after my baptism when that happened! Ha.  Its ironic because the criticism of infant baptism is that infants dont understand.  Well, neither do the 10 year olds.  And really, none of us can ever understand these mysteries regardless of age.  I was still given my faith, I was still baptized before I really understood anything (just like the infants).  I just think that my baptism was delayed 10 years.  But since, in my tradition, baptism is merely a
symbol, it doesnt matter when you do it.

At the end of the day, the "age of reason" doesnt hold its ground.  It isnt traditional, and it isnt Biblical.  But the western church always needs an explanation, so i guess this kinda helps them explain the process and how it works.
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

— Chrysostom

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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #43 on: October 04, 2011, 05:44:33 PM »

When I was about 10 years old I made the "decision" but I really didnt decide on anything.

Exactly. I keep trying to explain this to my wife to no avail! It's not as if every child receives an extensive overview of all of the additional religious and philosophical options beforehand. When something is the ONLY option on the table (do this or you won't be with us in Heaven), how the **** is it a choice?!?! This is maddening to me!
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« Reply #44 on: October 04, 2011, 05:54:59 PM »

John the Baptist recognized his savior while still in the womb. Did he achieve the age of reason? Christ said to bring the little ones to him. The apostles tried to turn away the people who were bringing babies to Christ for blessings, yet Christ rebuked them and said bring them to me while using them as a model for the Christian faith.
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