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Author Topic: Personal Questions regarding Baptism, Chrismation, Parish involvement, etc...  (Read 2080 times) Average Rating: 0
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Hurdle
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« on: June 24, 2012, 10:30:32 PM »

Dear all,

I just attended the Sunday service for the second time in the Greek Orthodox parish, where I attended the first Divine Liturgy in my life.

Here are some of my concerns:
I use my iPod to read the English text during Martins/Orthros since I cannot understand Greek (there is Wifi inside of Church building). I am not sure if this is fine, since I don't want to offend any one for using electronics.

I have checked numerous posts on Baptism and Chrismation, but I am still not very sure what to do with my current situation. Although I was baptized as Protestant/Evangelical, I do not have Baptismal certificate. The Father wishes me to find a way to obtain the prove of me being baptized; he will later see whether it is Trinitarian Baptism in order to be recognized by Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, I still kind of favoring Father to give me Orthodox Baptism even if the previous baptism is Trinitarian. Is this fine to tell the Father my request? I don't want to be refused for Communion if I visit Mount Athos, Russia. Old Calendarists, Old believers... I also heard that Oriental Orthodox have problems with Eastern Orthodox who do not have Orthodox baptisms, is this true?

I would be very glad if I can hear any testimonies regarding personal decisions/choices between Baptism and Chrismation.

I have not yet made any friends in the parish. I am still quite nervous because I am the only Asian, any all the other parishioners are Greek). I am thinking maybe I should start talking to parishioners who do ushering service. If possible, I would be very happy if any one can share any personal stories of getting involved in parishes.

Is it fine for me to kiss Gospel Book? I kissed the Gospel book today when the Father was holding it in front of Altar during the Orthros service.  If kissing is fine, how am I supposed to kiss? What is the proper way to cross myself before kissing?

Do converts all have to go through this process: inquirer->Catechumen->Orthodox? Can a person go straight from inquirer to Orthodox?

Thanks everyone and God bless you all.


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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 10:38:27 PM »

Dear all,

I just attended the Sunday service for the second time in the Greek Orthodox parish, where I attended the first Divine Liturgy in my life.

Here are some of my concerns:
I use my iPod to read the English text during Martins/Orthros since I cannot understand Greek (there is Wifi inside of Church building). I am not sure if this is fine, since I don't want to offend any one for using electronics.
It is not bad per se, but might be a distraction if people think you are checking your email.

I have checked numerous posts on Baptism and Chrismation, but I am still not very sure what to do with my current situation. Although I was baptized as Protestant/Evangelical, I do not have Baptismal certificate. The Father wishes me to find a way to obtain the prove of me being baptized; he will later see whether it is Trinitarian Baptism in order to be recognized by Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, I still kind of favoring Father to give me Orthodox Baptism even if the previous baptism is Trinitarian. Is this fine to tell the Father my request? I don't want to be refused for Communion if I visit Mount Athos, Russia. Old Calendarists, Old believers... I also heard that Oriental Orthodox have problems with Eastern Orthodox who do not have Orthodox baptisms, is this true?
Yes, but go with what you priest says.

I would be very glad if I can hear any testimonies regarding personal decisions/choices between Baptism and Chrismation.
I would have gone with Baptism, but was chrismated, which was my thoughts on the matter (and the Metropolitan and Bishops). 

I have not yet made any friends in the parish. I am still quite nervous because I am the only Asian, any all the other parishioners are Greek). I am thinking maybe I should start talking to parishioners who do ushering service. If possible, I would be very happy if any one can share any personal stories of getting involved in parishes.
Do you stick around for coffee hour?

Is it fine for me to kiss Gospel Book? I kissed the Gospel book today when the Father was holding it in front of Altar during the Orthros service.  If kissing is fine, how am I supposed to kiss? What is the proper way to cross myself before kissing?
The Orthodox way.  Yes, kissing the Gospel is quite fine.

Do converts all have to go through this process: inquirer->Catechumen->Orthodox? Can a person go straight from inquirer to Orthodox?
No.  But how long and what you do during the Catecumenate can very.  I was one only a few months.

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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2012, 11:30:44 PM »

I use my iPod to read the English text during Martins/Orthros since I cannot understand Greek (there is Wifi inside of Church building). I am not sure if this is fine, since I don't want to offend any one for using electronics.

I'm not sure the internet can give a lot of guidance on this one. Following along with a translated text when you can't understand the language being used is definitely acceptable, and the fact that you are doing so with a piece of electronics rather than printed text doesn't really change that. On the other hand, is it possible that someone will not realize what you are doing and be offended by your use of an ipod in the service--yes. Best I can suggest that as an inquirer, do what you need to do, and if someone says something about it, show them what you are looking at.

Quote
I have checked numerous posts on Baptism and Chrismation, but I am still not very sure what to do with my current situation. Although I was baptized as Protestant/Evangelical, I do not have Baptismal certificate. The Father wishes me to find a way to obtain the prove of me being baptized; he will later see whether it is Trinitarian Baptism in order to be recognized by Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, I still kind of favoring Father to give me Orthodox Baptism even if the previous baptism is Trinitarian. Is this fine to tell the Father my request? I don't want to be refused for Communion if I visit Mount Athos, Russia. Old Calendarists, Old believers... I also heard that Oriental Orthodox have problems with Eastern Orthodox who do not have Orthodox baptisms, is this true?

I would be very glad if I can hear any testimonies regarding personal decisions/choices between Baptism and Chrismation.

Have you tried just explicitly telling Father that you desire to be received through Orthodox baptism? I was received in the GOA (20 years ago). My previous baptism probably would have fit fairly strict standards for the use of economia (it was full immersion, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but it was in the Campbellite Church of Christ which is not on the generally approved 'list' (see here) used by the GOA for determining who to receive by economia, so it didn't really come up as a question for me. From the start, the priest assumed I would be received by baptism, and since that was my own expectation, there was no issue.

While I'd certainly encourage you to pursue being received through the full rite of baptism, I wouldn't do it because of concerns about Athos much less Old Calendrist, Old Believers, or OOs. In the latter cases, they are not in communion with your GOA bishop so, fundamentally, it doesn't matter what they they think about how he chooses to receive you. Whether they approve or disapprove, you and they are still not going to be sharing any sacraments--until and unless they reestablish communion with your bishop, in which case your individual case is still irrelevant. That reasoning actually extends to why you should not care about Athos either. In St. Basil's first canonical epistle (the one that explains the concept behind the Church using different methods to receive different types of Christian but non-Orthodox converts), St. Basil explicitly states that recognizing a bishop means recognizing his applications of economy. So if you encounter some rigorist who refuses you the sacraments because he has taken it on himself to judge your bishop's authority you are better off avoiding him since if not fully schismatic, he certainly has one foot out the door.


Quote
I have not yet made any friends in the parish. I am still quite nervous because I am the only Asian, any all the other parishioners are Greek). I am thinking maybe I should start talking to parishioners who do ushering service. If possible, I would be very happy if any one can share any personal stories of getting involved in parishes.

My wife is Taiwanese and is the only Asian in our parish. I'm white but non-Greek and converted in a parish where everyone (except for two families converting at the same time) was Greek. Let me assure you that any difficulties you encounter will not be because you are Asian, any non-Greek would have the same. That said, there is no 'magic bullet'. If the parish has a coffee-hour or any other kind of get together then pick a seat, introduce yourself, and try to start a conversation. If the person looks at you blankly because they don't understand English at all, then keep trying until you find someone who does speak English (and my experience, actually the most welcoming people were not the 2nd and 3rd generation Greek-Americans with whom there was no language barrier, but it was actually the first-generation immigrants. While the language barrier in some ways made it harder, they were very warm and welcoming and excited about non-Greeks wanting to learn about their faith).

Quote
Is it fine for me to kiss Gospel Book? I kissed the Gospel book today when the Father was holding it in front of Altar during the Orthros service.  If kissing is fine, how am I supposed to kiss? What is the proper way to cross myself before kissing?

Yes. It is fine for you to kiss anything the priest offers you to kiss. As for how, if there is an image of Christ (or other saint) on what you are venerating, just briefly kiss the feet or hand of the image. If there is not an image of a person, then just kiss in the approximate center. Not sure how to explain over the internet how to cross yourself--best advice there is simply to watch what your fellow parishoners do and do the same.

Quote
Do converts all have to go through this process: inquirer->Catechumen->Orthodox? Can a person go straight from inquirer to Orthodox?

This has been discussed elsewhere on the forum. Basically, the step from inquirer to catachumen occurs whenever the priest decides to do the Catachumen prayers over you. Some priests hold off and do them at the start of the baptismal ceremony (so basically yes, you go straight from inquirer to Orthodox), others do so at some other stage. That's really going to be up to the priest.

« Last Edit: June 24, 2012, 11:31:07 PM by witega » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2012, 11:35:03 PM »

Isa has answered your questions rather well, but I do want to pull something out and speak to it:

I don't want to be refused for Communion if I visit Mount Athos, Russia. Old Calendarists, Old believers... I also heard that Oriental Orthodox have problems with Eastern Orthodox who do not have Orthodox baptisms, is this true?

If you're Orthodox, you're Orthodox. If you were to go to Mt. Athos, tell them you're an Orthodox Christian and who your bishop is. That's all they need to know. I respect the monks there, but your bishop's decision is your bishop's decision and is binding. As long as you're a canonical Orthodox Christian, they should not refuse you. Period. The same is true with Russia.

Old Calendarists and Old Believers are schismatic groups. They are NOT communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. No, they wouldn't give you communion anyway, but you shouldn't be receiving from them to begin with.

The situation between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox is...complex. Different jurisdictions handle those relationships differently. For example, Antiochians generally have a lot less problems with intercommunion, whereas my bishops have said we should not yet share the chalice with the Oriental Orthodox.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 12:13:19 AM »

I have checked numerous posts on Baptism and Chrismation, but I am still not very sure what to do with my current situation. Although I was baptized as Protestant/Evangelical, I do not have Baptismal certificate. The Father wishes me to find a way to obtain the prove of me being baptized; he will later see whether it is Trinitarian Baptism in order to be recognized by Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, I still kind of favoring Father to give me Orthodox Baptism even if the previous baptism is Trinitarian. Is this fine to tell the Father my request? I don't want to be refused for Communion if I visit Mount Athos, Russia. Old Calendarists, Old believers... I also heard that Oriental Orthodox have problems with Eastern Orthodox who do not have Orthodox baptisms, is this true?

I would be very glad if I can hear any testimonies regarding personal decisions/choices between Baptism and Chrismation.

Like Witega, I was also baptized in the Campbellite Church of Christ by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but my priest and bishop had reservations because of the historic ambiguity on the Trinity among Stone/Campbellite churches.  I also had trouble tracking down a baptismal certificate, but it seems that in the end I would have been received into the Church by baptism anyways.  The manner of our reception into the Church is up to the bishop, not us.
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 12:37:53 AM »

I have not yet made any friends in the parish. I am still quite nervous because I am the only Asian, any all the other parishioners are Greek). I am thinking maybe I should start talking to parishioners who do ushering service. If possible, I would be very happy if any one can share any personal stories of getting involved in parishes.

I know every usher at my Church and about half the Parish Council.  Just say good morning; state your name; ask how are you and offer your hand for a handshake.   Smiley  Usually, each Orthodox Church has a welcoming committee where a couple of people are responsible for introducing new people to the parish community.  If you start talking with an usher, the usher would know who serves as a welcoming committee at that church.  I'm not sure how transient your community is; my church is a stable community with new people entering due to the presence of schools and hospitals.

I met 2 new people at 6/24 Divine Liturgy.  If you have a favorite conversation starter, just sit down at a table with some people and start talking.  It can be as simple as "my name is <> and I enjoy attending your community."

Long time ago, I attended Divine Liturgy in another state.  I had met the Priest of that church at 2 other functions and he quickly introduced me to those who went to coffee hour.  Later, some of the parishioners and I went to a diner for lunch.  After lunch, I left town 4 hours later than I had planned because I attended coffee hour.   Shocked
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 08:05:36 AM »

Dear Hurdle,

I think it's fine to make good use of the WiFi in your Church.  I do agree with showing the screen to anyone who is interested, they will probably be surprised and pleased to see what you are looking at.

As far as I know in the parish I attend the prayers for the Catechumen are done at the time of Chrismation/Baptism.  That doesn't mean there is no period of learning - I know of a person received into the Church after less than three months and another who waited over 25 years even though he attended Liturgy weekly. 

Of course you should reverence the Gospel.  It's a part of corporate prayer - so you are joining in with your new family in Christ. 

I would suggest attending any adult education classes at your parish, but realized there may not be anything offered since it's summertime.  Talking to the ushers is a good idea.  And to the Priest, if you aren't shy of doing it. 

love, elephant
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 08:52:58 AM »

Quote from Ben (#3):  Old Calendarists and Old Believers are schismatic groups. They are NOT communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. No, they wouldn't give you communion anyway, but you shouldn't be receiving from them to begin with.

Ben, your statement is problematic. There are whole Orthodox churches that remained old calendar like the Georgian Church, ROCOR etc.  & there are old believer groups that are validly Orthodox. The tendencies within these groups are probably often similar to those within new calendar groups. Probably most of the old believers have similar insular tendencies like the Amish. Yes, there are schismatics which often generate too much publicity in relation to their insigniificant numbers
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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 09:03:53 AM »

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Ben, your statement is problematic. There are whole Orthodox churches that remained old calendar like the Georgian Church, ROCOR etc.  & there are old believer groups that are validly Orthodox. The tendencies within these groups are probably often similar to those within new calendar groups. Probably most of the old believers have similar insular tendencies like the Amish. Yes, there are schismatics which often generate too much publicity in relation to their insigniificant numbers

There is a distinct and obvious difference between Old Calendarist groups and canonical churches which use the old calendar. Distinguishing between the two is not difficult.
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2012, 09:05:31 AM »

Quote from Ben (#3):  Old Calendarists and Old Believers are schismatic groups. They are NOT communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. No, they wouldn't give you communion anyway, but you shouldn't be receiving from them to begin with.

Ben, your statement is problematic. There are whole Orthodox churches that remained old calendar like the Georgian Church, ROCOR etc.  & there are old believer groups that are validly Orthodox. The tendencies within these groups are probably often similar to those within new calendar groups. Probably most of the old believers have similar insular tendencies like the Amish. Yes, there are schismatics which often generate too much publicity in relation to their insigniificant numbers

To add to LBK's, I've seen mention in numerous places between Old Believers (the schismatics) and Old Ritualists (former O.B. who are now in communion with "Nikonian" Orthodoxy).
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2012, 12:16:50 PM »

ialmisry: I usually do not stick around for coffee hour. I am quite shy so I choose to leave after Divine Liturgy.
witega: Your response is very informative. Thank you very much.
Benjamin the Red: Thank you for your response as well.
KBN1: Thank you. Hopefully everything works out the best.
SolEX01: Thank you for your advice. Hopefully I will do better next time.
elephant: Thank you. The parish where I attend is a small parish. I don't think there is a adult education class. Father recommended me to read Introducing the Orthodox Church by Fr Anthony Coniaris and ask him if I have any questions.
recent convert: Thank you for clarification.
LBK: Thank you.
Schultz: Thank you.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 12:31:22 PM by Hurdle » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 02:50:59 PM »

I usually do not stick around for coffee hour. I am quite shy so I choose to leave after Divine Liturgy.

Believe me, I sympathize. But if you want to get involved at your parish, the single biggest thing you need to do is start staying for coffee hour.
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2012, 08:39:55 PM »

I love coffee hour, what's not to love about it? It is the only time a week I have to socialize with young Orthodox females who could be a potential bride someday. I understand being shy and all, but eventually you will make friends. Find one good friend at the Church and hang around him all the time at Church and generally you will meet others. My godfather was that person I hung around all the time at Church and he introduced me to everyone else.
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2012, 09:45:23 PM »

I usually do not stick around for coffee hour. I am quite shy so I choose to leave after Divine Liturgy.

Believe me, I sympathize. But if you want to get involved at your parish, the single biggest thing you need to do is start staying for coffee hour.

I also have a strong social avoidance streak, so I understand where you are coming from, Hurdle.  Lots of folks around here are the same way.  Witega is correct though.  It can be uncomfortable, but it is worth it.  I recommend that you pick an amount of time you can handle being uncomfortable, say 20 minutes, and if at 20 minutes you are ready to leave, politely dismiss yourself.  Then do the same thing every week you are able.
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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2012, 12:02:33 AM »

Witega: Thank you. I guess I would have to push myself hard this time.
JamesR: Thank you for your advice. I am a guy who tries not to think much about ladies at this stage of life, but rather focuses more on my education and future career. Smiley
KBN1: Thank you much for your suggestion. I feel this is a good way for unsocialable people like me to practice.

Another question about baptism vs. Chrismation: if I chose Chrismation or baptism vice versa, will it affect my salvation at the final judgement day? Oh if I choose baptism not Chrismation, and my "first" protestant/Evangelical baptism is valid, will the "second" baptism serves as a "double check," which can be considered as another "safety lock" to the "box"(myself)? Will Father possiblily baptize me if I insist on "re-baptism". the Orthodox Baptism?
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 12:05:46 AM by Hurdle » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2012, 12:23:20 AM »

Another question about baptism vs. Chrismation: if I chose Chrismation or baptism vice versa, will it affect my salvation at the final judgement day? Oh if I choose baptism not Chrismation, and my "first" protestant/Evangelical baptism is valid, will the "second" baptism serves as a "double check," which can be considered as another "safety lock" to the "box"(myself)? Will Father possiblily baptize me if I insist on "re-baptism". the Orthodox Baptism?

Second part of the question first: Your priest is going to do what his bishop and his synod have directed him to do. He may be asking questions to determine how your situation best fits into those instructions, but that is what he will and should follow. There are very few things within Orthodoxy where insisting that it be done your own way is either a) going to have any effect, or b) be spiritually healthy, and this is definitely not one of them. Do share with your priest what you prefer and the reason for those preferences--but be prepared to accept his decision as an ordained minister of the Church as one of your first acts of obedience, whether it fits your preference or not.

Secondly, no it will not affect your salvation at the final judgment day.  Your bishop has been ordained by the Church as a successor to the Apostles, with the authority to 'bind and to loose' and to administer the Church of God. If he makes a bad decision, he will have to answer for it at the judgment day, but he is the one who has the authority to make this decision, and you will only be judged by your obedience. Furthermore, the Sacraments are not 'magical rituals' which if not performed according to a perfectly prescribed formula will not 'work'. The Sacraments are the actual activity of the Holy Spirit fulfilling God's promises to the Church (which include those to the Apostles and their successors about their authority). The same Spirit is at work in Holy Baptism, in Holy Chrismation, and in the Holy Eucharist. If you are received through Chrismation, the Holy Spirit is actively present in the blessed Chrism, effecting salvation upon you and filling any lack in what has gone before.
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2012, 12:49:11 AM »

Excellent post, Witega.

Hurdle, I fear that you are looking at it as baptism vs. chrismation and that is not at all the case.  We are all received into the Church by baptism AND chrismation.  It is just that some people have a long break between their baptism and their chrismation.  Re-baptism is done when the validity of the first baptism is in question.  Only God ultimately knows if the second baptism is indeed a baptism or if it is just a dip in the water.
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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2012, 09:31:46 AM »

Witega: Thank you. I guess I would have to push myself hard this time.
JamesR: Thank you for your advice. I am a guy who tries not to think much about ladies at this stage of life, but rather focuses more on my education and future career. Smiley
KBN1: Thank you much for your suggestion. I feel this is a good way for unsocialable people like me to practice.

Another question about baptism vs. Chrismation: if I chose Chrismation or baptism vice versa, will it affect my salvation at the final judgement day? Oh if I choose baptism not Chrismation, and my "first" protestant/Evangelical baptism is valid, will the "second" baptism serves as a "double check," which can be considered as another "safety lock" to the "box"(myself)? Will Father possiblily baptize me if I insist on "re-baptism". the Orthodox Baptism?


One thing to consider is that there are a lot of shy people out there. So rather than focussing on yourself, why not reach out to other folks who could be shy also?

Secondly, you don't get to choose whether you will be baptized or received into the Church by chrismation. Your priest will make that decision, with the guidance of your Bishop. The Bishop decides, so don't even worry about it - it's not up to you.
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« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2012, 12:08:47 AM »

Thank you witega, KBN1, and katherineofdixie.

The reason why I worry a lot about Baptism and Chrismation, because the earliest Orthodox spiritual reading I read were written mainly by traditional and very conservative Orthodox writers, those insisting Old Calendar, opposing Western elements in Iconography, and against receiving other Trinitarian Christians through mere Chrismation... They also call non-Orthodox as "heretics," rather "heterodox"...

If I may boldly ask, if I still don't feel comfortable about the issue of Baptism and Chrismation, should I tell Father my true feeling?

If I may boldly ask again, If Father still feels it is better to receive me through Chrismation at the end, Is it fine for me to find another Jurisdiction that receive Heterodox through Baptism, like ROCCOR or Serbia?

Are there any saints who were been received into Orthodoxy by Chrismation? Any suggesting reading regarding the issue of baptism and Chrismation?

I was baptized in a small protestant/Evangelical Church, that is not in the mainline of Protestant Churches... It is just one of the million independent Protestant, Evangelical churches in the world. I think it definitely affirms Trinity, but I am not sure whether I was baptized in "the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit"...

Again, thanks everyone for advice and suggestion.

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« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2012, 06:36:55 AM »

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Are there any saints who were been received into Orthodoxy by Chrismation?

Two who immediately come to mind are New-martyr Alexandra the Passion-bearer, and her sister New-martyr Elizabeth the Grand Duchess. Both were granddaughters of Queen Victoria, of the royal house of Hesse-Darmstadt. They were baptized Lutheran, but converted to Orthodoxy, both being received by chrismation, prior to marrying into the Romanov imperial family of Russia - Alexandra married the then-Crown Prince, later Tsar Nicholas II; Elizabeth married Drand-Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, an uncle of Nicholas.

Here's a good summary of St Elizabeth's life:

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elizabeth_the_New_Martyr
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« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2012, 09:34:51 AM »

If I may boldly ask, if I still don't feel comfortable about the issue of Baptism and Chrismation, should I tell Father my true feeling?
Absolutely! He will do a much better job of explaining it to you!
Quote
If I may boldly ask again, If Father still feels it is better to receive me through Chrismation at the end, Is it fine for me to find another Jurisdiction that receive Heterodox through Baptism, like ROCCOR or Serbia?
Just my own personal opinion, others mileage may vary, but I don't much like the idea of "shopping around" to find a jurisdiction that agrees with my own pet theories and opinions. Honestly, I don't trust myself enough to think that I have all the right answers, and humility doesn't come easily to me!

Quote
I was baptized in a small protestant/Evangelical Church, that is not in the mainline of Protestant Churches... It is just one of the million independent Protestant, Evangelical churches in the world. I think it definitely affirms Trinity, but I am not sure whether I was baptized in "the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit"...
The general idea is that Chrismation supplies anything that was "lacking" in your baptism.

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« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2012, 09:50:50 AM »

If I may boldly ask again, If Father still feels it is better to receive me through Chrismation at the end, Is it fine for me to find another Jurisdiction that receive Heterodox through Baptism, like ROCCOR or Serbia?

The practice of receiving converts by Chrismation alone does not imply that their former baptism was valid, but that the orthodox form of their previous baptism can be sanctified and completed by an act of economia (i.e. if there is a pastoral need). Consequently, were you to be received by baptism, this would not constitute a re-baptism, but would be your first and only true baptism.

Many churches baptise "in the name of Jesus" rather than the established Trinitarian formula. The Fathers also maintain that an incorrect Triadology renders the formula meaningless, so if your church taught a form of modalism, as is common, the form would be rejected even if the wording was correct. So if there is any doubt at all as to the nature of your heterodox baptism, there would be absolutely nothing wrong in finding a canonical church that would baptise you.

If you wish to be received under the EP, the monks on Mount Athos would always baptise you. I believe Elder Ephraim's monasteries in America, also under the EP, would also baptise you were you to approach them. This is also common practice in the Church of Greece, which is one of the most anti-ecumenical of the canonical churches.
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« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2012, 12:07:35 PM »

Thank you witega, KBN1, and katherineofdixie.

The reason why I worry a lot about Baptism and Chrismation, because the earliest Orthodox spiritual reading I read were written mainly by traditional and very conservative Orthodox writers, those insisting Old Calendar, opposing Western elements in Iconography, and against receiving other Trinitarian Christians through mere Chrismation... They also call non-Orthodox as "heretics," rather "heterodox"...

If I may boldly ask, if I still don't feel comfortable about the issue of Baptism and Chrismation, should I tell Father my true feeling?

If I may boldly ask again, If Father still feels it is better to receive me through Chrismation at the end, Is it fine for me to find another Jurisdiction that receive Heterodox through Baptism, like ROCCOR or Serbia?

Are there any saints who were been received into Orthodoxy by Chrismation? Any suggesting reading regarding the issue of baptism and Chrismation?

I was baptized in a small protestant/Evangelical Church, that is not in the mainline of Protestant Churches... It is just one of the million independent Protestant, Evangelical churches in the world. I think it definitely affirms Trinity, but I am not sure whether I was baptized in "the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit"...

Again, thanks everyone for advice and suggestion.

The section in bold in the above quote seems very problematic to me.  Hurdle, what do you think baptism is?  What do you think chrismation is?  Do you believe that the Orthodox Church is the true church?  Because, if I may be so bold, it seems that you are looking for something beyond entering into the true, life-giving Church that Christ instituted.  And if that isn't enough, what is?
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« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2012, 12:33:49 PM »

The section in bold in the above quote seems very problematic to me.  Hurdle, what do you think baptism is?  What do you think chrismation is?  Do you believe that the Orthodox Church is the true church?  Because, if I may be so bold, it seems that you are looking for something beyond entering into the true, life-giving Church that Christ instituted.  And if that isn't enough, what is?

Surely a desire to be baptised with an Orthodox baptism is a clear affirmation that s/he believes that the Orthodox Church alone is the true Church. Baptism is not merely a rite of initiation, but the process through which a person receives remission of their sins and regeneration into a new life in Christ. To say that baptism and chrismation are both legitimate forms of entry, therefore it doesn't matter, is to me a reduction of these holy mysteries. Of course, a person received by economia is no less Orthodox than one received through baptism, but if someone has a choice between the two, why should they be discouraged from their desire for Orthodox baptism?
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« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2012, 12:35:49 PM »

Of course, a person received by economia is no less Orthodox than one received through baptism, but if someone has a choice between the two, why should they be discouraged from their desire for Orthodox baptism?

Newbies shouldn't undermine ancient customs of the Church they'd like to join.
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« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2012, 12:40:23 PM »

Newbies shouldn't undermine ancient customs of the Church they'd like to join.

It is by no means a universal custom, and for a person who is unsure as to the manner in which they were baptised, it is not an ancient custom at all.
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« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2012, 01:57:05 PM »

There is certainly nothing wrong with desiring an Orthodox baptism, especially when the circumstances of the Protestant baptism are unclear. The problem arises, ISTM, when the priest and/or bishop have discussed the situation with the person, and have decided on chrismation, based upon their ecclesiastical and sacramental knowledge, as well as knowledge and understanding of the person's individual circumstances and spiritual needs  - and then the convert decides, based upon his own desires or opinions, that his priest and bishop are wrong. And he then goes "shopping" until he finds a jurisdiction or group that agrees with him.
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« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2012, 02:22:19 PM »

There is certainly nothing wrong with desiring an Orthodox baptism, especially when the circumstances of the Protestant baptism are unclear. The problem arises, ISTM, when the priest and/or bishop have discussed the situation with the person, and have decided on chrismation, based upon their ecclesiastical and sacramental knowledge, as well as knowledge and understanding of the person's individual circumstances and spiritual needs  - and then the convert decides, based upon his own desires or opinions, that his priest and bishop are wrong. And he then goes "shopping" until he finds a jurisdiction or group that agrees with him.

Exactly.
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« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2012, 02:24:16 PM »

The section in bold in the above quote seems very problematic to me.  Hurdle, what do you think baptism is?  What do you think chrismation is?  Do you believe that the Orthodox Church is the true church?  Because, if I may be so bold, it seems that you are looking for something beyond entering into the true, life-giving Church that Christ instituted.  And if that isn't enough, what is?

Surely a desire to be baptised with an Orthodox baptism is a clear affirmation that s/he believes that the Orthodox Church alone is the true Church. Baptism is not merely a rite of initiation, but the process through which a person receives remission of their sins and regeneration into a new life in Christ. To say that baptism and chrismation are both legitimate forms of entry, therefore it doesn't matter, is to me a reduction of these holy mysteries. Of course, a person received by economia is no less Orthodox than one received through baptism, but if someone has a choice between the two, why should they be discouraged from their desire for Orthodox baptism?

The issue is not the desire to be baptized, but the desire to have it how I want it.
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« Reply #29 on: June 27, 2012, 02:38:36 PM »

If I may boldly ask, if I still don't feel comfortable about the issue of Baptism and Chrismation, should I tell Father my true feeling?

Definitely. You may find that if you sit down with your priest and explain in full both your desire to be received by the full rite of baptism and your concerns about the form of your previous Protestant baptism, that all the debate here and your personal worries have been irrelevant, and that once he has the full picture your priest will happily baptize you.

Quote
The reason why I worry a lot about Baptism and Chrismation, because the earliest Orthodox spiritual reading I read were written mainly by traditional and very conservative Orthodox writers, those insisting Old Calendar, opposing Western elements in Iconography, and against receiving other Trinitarian Christians through mere Chrismation... They also call non-Orthodox as "heretics," rather "heterodox"...

Believe me I sympathize. And if we were having a theoretical discussion, you would find me decidedly on the traditionalist side. I do think it's a good idea that everyone (with the possible exception of Old Calendrists, Old Believers, and OO) be received through the full rite of baptism. I would quibble with KBN1's characterization of 'validity' and would agree with what Orthodox11 has been saying that when you are received by chrismation you receive the Grace of Baptism through the action of the Holy Spirit to make up what was lacking in the empty form you received previously

But we are not discussing a theoretical, but rather your specific situation at a GOA parish operating under the standards established by the synod of EP bishops. And something that a lot of the 'traditionalist' arguments miss, is that the most traditional position is not 'baptize them all'--the most traditional position is 'it's the bishop's decision.' I've already noted what St. Basil said in his ecumenically received 'First Canonical Letter'--that recognizing a bishop means recognizing his practices of economy, even when you disagree with the bishop's decision. But one can also see this with St. Cyprian who was as strict on the matter as any Father before or since. When St. Cyprian was disputing with Rome about whether certain types of schismatics or heretics could be received without baptism, he held a synod of all the bishops of North Africa and they formally declared that, in their territory, all converts would always be received by baptism. But in the very act of making this canon, St. Cyprian declared that they were not 'depriving anyone of communion'. Since the whole reason they were gathered in synod was because Rome at that time had converts who had been received without baptism, St. Cyprian's statement is telling. He thought the only proper way to receive converts was via baptism--but despite that, he accepted that those Rome had received were still full communing members of the Church.


Quote
If I may boldly ask again, If Father still feels it is better to receive me through Chrismation at the end, Is it fine for me to find another Jurisdiction that receive Heterodox through Baptism, like ROCCOR or Serbia?

This is a bit more complicated. Right now, you are an inquirer. You could switch parishes at any time and basically no one would think twice about it--indeed, I believe you've previously mentioned that your current priest has even encouraged you to try out some other parishes with more English in the services. So you certainly can do so. But as some others have suggested, I'm not sure it's a good idea to start jurisdiction shopping before you are even received because you want to find a bishop who does things more to your liking. That said, I'm not sure how much difference there is between switching parishes because the new parish uses more English and switching parishes because the new parish performs more baptisms.

I'd suggest setting aside time to have a heart-to-heart with your current priest as above--and if, at the end, he still seems to be leaning towards the position that under the guidelines of his bishop he should receive you by chrismation, then ask him what he thinks of you going to a different parish that would receive you through baptism. Priests aren't perfect, but I suspect he can give you a better answer about what is actually best for you than a bunch of strangers on the internet who only know you via what you've put into a half-dozen posts.
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« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2012, 02:46:16 PM »

The problem arises, ISTM, when the priest and/or bishop have discussed the situation with the person, and have decided on chrismation, based upon their ecclesiastical and sacramental knowledge, as well as knowledge and understanding of the person's individual circumstances and spiritual needs  - and then the convert decides, based upon his own desires or opinions, that his priest and bishop are wrong. And he then goes "shopping" until he finds a jurisdiction or group that agrees with him.

But very often it is not a matter of ecclesiastical and sacramental knowledge, but on ecclesiastical politics, often shaped by historical circumstances that might well be of little relevance to the particular circumstances of the convert. Furthermore most jurisdictions have blanket policies on the matter, and the pastoral needs of the individual in question are not considered. In many cases, both the priest and the local bishop in question might prefer baptism to chrismation, on the basis that it is both theologically sound and in the best interest of the person, but are unable to act on this because they would be chastised by those higher up. I don't think your above quote represents the reality of the situation.
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« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2012, 03:51:19 PM »

However, it's still the bishop's decision, and what his motives are is a matter of speculation. Are we to decide that we know better, simply because we have theorized that he would baptize everyone if only his superiors would let him?
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« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2012, 04:00:57 PM »

However, it's still the bishop's decision, and what his motives are is a matter of speculation.

It isn't a matter of speculation in jurisdictions that have clear and uniform policies on the matter.

Quote
Are we to decide that we know better, simply because we have theorized that he would baptize everyone if only his superiors would let him?

It's not a question of knowing better. Different practices developed at different times and places for different reasons, and in most places are rigidly applied. To say that a person bound to conform to the local practice of the particular parish they first happened to visit seems quite excessive to say the least. It is not "shopping around" to try to understand the historical, political and theological reasons behind different local practices by consulting with more than one priest at one parish.
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« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2012, 04:08:54 PM »

However, it's still the bishop's decision, and what his motives are is a matter of speculation.

It isn't a matter of speculation in jurisdictions that have clear and uniform policies on the matter.

Quote
Are we to decide that we know better, simply because we have theorized that he would baptize everyone if only his superiors would let him?

It's not a question of knowing better. Different practices developed at different times and places for different reasons, and in most places are rigidly applied. To say that a person bound to conform to the local practice of the particular parish they first happened to visit seems quite excessive to say the least. It is not "shopping around" to try to understand the historical, political and theological reasons behind different local practices by consulting with more than one priest at one parish.

This is where I'm struggling with what is the best advice to Hurdle. I think a lot of us feel concerned about the thought pattern 'the bishop's not doing it the way I like so I'll go find another bishop'.
But at the same time, if Hurdle had come on and said, "I've started attending an Orthodox parish. It's great, it's wonderful. Except everything's in Greek. So I'm thinking of switching to the ROCOR/OCA/Antiochian/Serbian/etc Church on the other side of town that is all in English", would anyone be objecting that he shouldn't be exercising his own choice in terms of picking a parish--not because doing it in Greek is wrong, but for some people having it in their own native language is pastorally preferable, and so if they can accomadate what is personally most effective for them simply by switching parishes--without condemning their old parish, then there's no problem right?
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« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2012, 04:24:08 PM »

However, it's still the bishop's decision, and what his motives are is a matter of speculation.

It isn't a matter of speculation in jurisdictions that have clear and uniform policies on the matter.

Quote
Are we to decide that we know better, simply because we have theorized that he would baptize everyone if only his superiors would let him?

It's not a question of knowing better. Different practices developed at different times and places for different reasons, and in most places are rigidly applied. To say that a person bound to conform to the local practice of the particular parish they first happened to visit seems quite excessive to say the least. It is not "shopping around" to try to understand the historical, political and theological reasons behind different local practices by consulting with more than one priest at one parish.

This is where I'm struggling with what is the best advice to Hurdle. I think a lot of us feel concerned about the thought pattern 'the bishop's not doing it the way I like so I'll go find another bishop'.
But at the same time, if Hurdle had come on and said, "I've started attending an Orthodox parish. It's great, it's wonderful. Except everything's in Greek. So I'm thinking of switching to the ROCOR/OCA/Antiochian/Serbian/etc Church on the other side of town that is all in English", would anyone be objecting that he shouldn't be exercising his own choice in terms of picking a parish--not because doing it in Greek is wrong, but for some people having it in their own native language is pastorally preferable, and so if they can accomadate what is personally most effective for them simply by switching parishes--without condemning their old parish, then there's no problem right?

IIRC, the priest has already suggested that. I'm talking about a situation where the priest and bishop decide that a convert should be received by chrismation, and the convert decides that they are wrong and he needs to be baptized. And then seeks out a jurisidiction or group that agrees with him.

Also, as an aside, does the bishop decide the language that the parish uses?
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« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2012, 04:27:13 PM »

if they can accomadate what is personally most effective for them simply by switching parishes--without condemning their old parish, then there's no problem right?

Exactly. We are not talking about defiance or disobedience of episcopal authority here, but about an inquirer whose pastoral needs might be better met elsewhere. The simple fact is that in most jurisdictions, this is simply not a matter that is dealt with pastorally. Either everyone from group X are baptised, or they're all chrismated, end of story. Individual circumstances or the motive of the bishop doesn't come into it at all. For a person who is uncertain as to the nature of their original baptism, I simply see no reason why they shouldn't seek out another church when such an action constitutes neither disobedience to ecclesiastical authority, nor any breach of the canons.
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« Reply #36 on: June 27, 2012, 04:29:12 PM »

Does the bishop decide the language that the parish uses?

Yes. Unless he has given the local priest the authority to make that decision himself.
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« Reply #37 on: June 27, 2012, 04:33:24 PM »

Does the bishop decide the language that the parish uses?

Yes. Unless he has given the local priest the authority to make that decision himself.

Then my experience is different from yours. The one bishop that I know has given all his priests the authority to make that decision, as a pastoral matter. He doesn't even want to be involved in the matter.
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« Reply #38 on: June 27, 2012, 04:35:37 PM »

The one bishop that I know has given all his priests the authority to make that decision, as a pastoral matter. He doesn't even want to be involved in the matter.

The decision is still his, and if he wanted every parish to serve the Liturgy in Swahili tomorrow, he could.
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« Reply #39 on: June 27, 2012, 04:44:39 PM »

some excellent answers here.
 Smiley
hurdle, if u don't want to go to coffee hour, you could hang about in the church for 20 or 30 minutes or so. then you might bump into a similarly shy person as you are leaving, maybe someone who has been praying and is just leaving.
remember to say 'hello' first, as the other person may be too shy!
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« Reply #40 on: June 27, 2012, 05:00:09 PM »

IMO, it is not wrong at all to have the positions/questions that hurdle has because he is still an inquirer. Once he decides to join a particular Orthodox Church and becomes a catechumen, it would be a different story. And, after he is received into the Church, yet another story. We all have the freedom to decide (and to make errors). Indeed, for folks like me who learn from errors, it may be a disservice to be overly directive and restrictive. Also, some folks are more independent minded (or less likely to take obedience well), so in their case it may be best not to throw them in the deep water and expect them to learn how to swim, so to speak.
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« Reply #41 on: June 27, 2012, 05:01:26 PM »

Does the bishop decide the language that the parish uses?

Yes. Unless he has given the local priest the authority to make that decision himself.

Then my experience is different from yours. The one bishop that I know has given all his priests the authority to make that decision, as a pastoral matter. He doesn't even want to be involved in the matter.

Given the realities of multi-ethnic parishes, generational language gaps, and a very mobile society, few (if any) American bishops choose to micro-manage the language issue and instead leave it up to the individual priests to figure out what works best in their individual parish. But as Orthodox11 says, this is a choice on the part of the bishop, and he retains the authority to remove this discretion and direct that all services in his diocese be conducted in English, Greek, Old Slavonic or whatever, or to direct an individual priest that "from now on you will use at least 75% Greek in the service".
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« Reply #42 on: June 27, 2012, 07:56:50 PM »

Believe me I sympathize. And if we were having a theoretical discussion, you would find me decidedly on the traditionalist side. I do think it's a good idea that everyone (with the possible exception of Old Calendrists, Old Believers, and OO) be received through the full rite of baptism. I would quibble with KBN1's characterization of 'validity' and would agree with what Orthodox11 has been saying that when you are received by chrismation you receive the Grace of Baptism through the action of the Holy Spirit to make up what was lacking in the empty form you received previously

Can someone please say more about this? I have heard it so many times and, for the life of me, cannot understand how we are so confident this is the case.

The argument from historical precedent is persuasive, but not entirely so.
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« Reply #43 on: June 27, 2012, 08:45:20 PM »

Believe me I sympathize. And if we were having a theoretical discussion, you would find me decidedly on the traditionalist side. I do think it's a good idea that everyone (with the possible exception of Old Calendrists, Old Believers, and OO) be received through the full rite of baptism. I would quibble with KBN1's characterization of 'validity' and would agree with what Orthodox11 has been saying that when you are received by chrismation you receive the Grace of Baptism through the action of the Holy Spirit to make up what was lacking in the empty form you received previously

Can someone please say more about this? I have heard it so many times and, for the life of me, cannot understand how we are so confident this is the case.

The argument from historical precedent is persuasive, but not entirely so.

Well, first let me say that I think there is plenty of room for Orthodox to disagree on this. The praxis is well-established but the Church has never really put it's imprimatur on a clear exposition of the doctrine underlying that praxis, so while I think one can draw some clear conclusions from the oldest authorities, I don't claim it's the only possible Orthodox interpretation.

Some clear principles:
Baptism (being born of water and the Spirit) is necessary. (John 3)
We "believe in One Baptism", not a rite that can be repeated multiple times--placed in the Creed.
--concomitant to that, the Apostolic canons state that priest who rebaptizes someone is to be deposed; and likewise a priest who fails to baptize someone who needs to be baptized is also to be deposed.

St. Cyprian's canon, affirmed by Ecumenical Council, says it is proper to baptize *everybody* coming to the Church, no matter what heretical or schismatic group they are coming from or what form of baptism they received there.
Other Ecumenical canons, on the other, give lists of schismatic and heretics groups which are to be received by chrismation or confession alone.

Given St. Cyprian's canon, it seems that however we define the 'baptism' which occurs outside the boundaries of the Church, we cannot call it the same thing as the One Baptism of the Creed--otherwise St. Cyprian could not have affirmed, and an Ecumenical Council backed him up, that all such can be received by baptism.

At the same time, because we know it is possible to receive individuals who have the 'form of baptism' (a term which comes up in St. Basil's letter) but not (per the last point) the One Baptism of the Church, and we know that everyone *must* be baptized, then that leads to the conclusion I gave--that the One Baptism exists only within the Church, but the Grace of that baptism can be conveyed, at a later date through the vehicle of the 'subsequent' Mysteries (i.e., those that normally come after baptism--Chrismation, Confession, Communion) because the One who provides the Grace of Baptism is the same One who provides the Grace in the subsequent Mysteries.

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For it were better to suffer everything, rather than divide the Church of God. Even martyrdom for the sake of preventing division would not be less glorious than for refusing to worship idols. - St. Dionysius the Great
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« Reply #44 on: June 27, 2012, 08:47:54 PM »

Believe me I sympathize. And if we were having a theoretical discussion, you would find me decidedly on the traditionalist side. I do think it's a good idea that everyone (with the possible exception of Old Calendrists, Old Believers, and OO) be received through the full rite of baptism. I would quibble with KBN1's characterization of 'validity' and would agree with what Orthodox11 has been saying that when you are received by chrismation you receive the Grace of Baptism through the action of the Holy Spirit to make up what was lacking in the empty form you received previously

Can someone please say more about this? I have heard it so many times and, for the life of me, cannot understand how we are so confident this is the case.

The argument from historical precedent is persuasive, but not entirely so.

Well, first let me say that I think there is plenty of room for Orthodox to disagree on this. The praxis is well-established but the Church has never really put it's imprimatur on a clear exposition of the doctrine underlying that praxis, so while I think one can draw some clear conclusions from the oldest authorities, I don't claim it's the only possible Orthodox interpretation.

Some clear principles:
Baptism (being born of water and the Spirit) is necessary. (John 3)
We "believe in One Baptism", not a rite that can be repeated multiple times--placed in the Creed.
--concomitant to that, the Apostolic canons state that priest who rebaptizes someone is to be deposed; and likewise a priest who fails to baptize someone who needs to be baptized is also to be deposed.

St. Cyprian's canon, affirmed by Ecumenical Council, says it is proper to baptize *everybody* coming to the Church, no matter what heretical or schismatic group they are coming from or what form of baptism they received there.
Other Ecumenical canons, on the other, give lists of schismatic and heretics groups which are to be received by chrismation or confession alone.

Given St. Cyprian's canon, it seems that however we define the 'baptism' which occurs outside the boundaries of the Church, we cannot call it the same thing as the One Baptism of the Creed--otherwise St. Cyprian could not have affirmed, and an Ecumenical Council backed him up, that all such can be received by baptism.

At the same time, because we know it is possible to receive individuals who have the 'form of baptism' (a term which comes up in St. Basil's letter) but not (per the last point) the One Baptism of the Church, and we know that everyone *must* be baptized, then that leads to the conclusion I gave--that the One Baptism exists only within the Church, but the Grace of that baptism can be conveyed, at a later date through the vehicle of the 'subsequent' Mysteries (i.e., those that normally come after baptism--Chrismation, Confession, Communion) because the One who provides the Grace of Baptism is the same One who provides the Grace in the subsequent Mysteries.

Thanks, witega, I'd knew you'd be able to say something intelligent and persuasive. However, I still worry about this issue.
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The Episcopallian road is easy and wide, for many go through it to find destruction. lol sorry channeling Isa.
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