Author Topic: Question about timing of baptism  (Read 478 times)

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Offline Timon

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Question about timing of baptism
« on: July 11, 2012, 10:24:06 PM »
This is the latest question that came up when discussing orthodoxy with some friends. I mentioned how converts have to be catechumens before they are baptized.  They pointed out in Acts how converts we're immediately baptized.  Is this a proper understanding/interpretation? If so, why do we make converts wait? I understand it's to teach them about the faith, but why didn't they do that in Acts?
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Question about timing of baptism
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 10:59:19 AM »
I'm no expert, but I'll take a guess.  Because converts were immediately baptized does not mean that they were also immediately recognized as full members of the Body of Christ who could partake of the Holy Mysteries.  I'm sure a catechumenate period followed.

Historically, I would think that the persecutions created the modern catechumenate which would test those who wished to become Christians to ensure that a) they were not working for the persecutors b) they were serious about converting.  I think it was done to ensure survival for the Church as the problems it was facing during the later Roman Empire were much more dire than that of Acts and the church was more widespread in the later Roman Empire than it was in Acts.  The Church keeps a lot of traditions in its practice due to historical circumstances (e.g. the Great Entrance, the exclamation of the Deacon "the doors, the doors").

Again, just a guess.
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Offline Timon

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Re: Question about timing of baptism
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2012, 12:09:19 PM »
Thanks for the response! If it were for those reasons, it would seem that they wouldn't be necessary today, at least not in most places in the world, since there isn't such persecutions.

I would love more input from people. Are there any priests out there who may have an answer for this?
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Offline yeshuaisiam

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Re: Question about timing of baptism
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2012, 06:20:13 PM »
The Orthodox/Catholic St. Constantine was baptized on his "death bed".
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Offline Timon

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Re: Question about timing of baptism
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2012, 09:51:31 PM »
That's very interesting information, but, in the least rude tone possible, it doesn't answer the question.

Is there really not a good answer for this from an orthodox perspective? Or has this question already been beat to death?

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Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Question about timing of baptism
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2012, 09:58:15 PM »
My understanding is that, since Christ grows out of the Jewish faith, the only thing those in Acts needed were Christ. They understood sin, priesthood, liturgy, etc. All of those baptized immediately in Acts are either Jews or Jewish converts. For example:

-Cornelius (a Roman proselyte)
-Paul (a Pharisee)
-The Ethiopian eunuch (proselyte)

They knew the Jewish faith, they just needed Christ. Their Jewish faith WAS their catechism. However, today, the vast differences of understanding between various sects it is necessary for a period of catechesis. I would argue that pagans in the first century would've experienced the same thing. Keep in mind that in Acts it's recorded that St. Paul would sometimes stay several years with a new mission parish. I would argue that he spent these years catechizing them, and only baptized and ordained priests/bishops soon before he left, after catechesis was complete.

As for St. Constantine, though, it was fairly common practice for people to receive baptism near their deaths so as to avoid sinning too much prior to death, and therefore not horribly soil their baptism. This was practiced for awhile, but eventually an earlier baptism (including the baptism of infants) became the norm again.
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