Rachel, how is "salvific baptism" unbiblical?
I gave the example of Cornelius. He was clearly saved BEFORE he was baptised. The crucified thief was not baptised at all! but was clearly saved.
Allow me to ask this: A man repents of his sin and accepts the free gift of salvation, taking Jesus as Saviour and Lord. He is never baptised. Upon his death, does he go to Hell?
Rachel, this topic really ought to be separated into its own thread. I don't know how to make that happen. Perhaps a moderator can do that.
To say that Cornelius "was clearly saved" works only with your definition of "saved". A better word might be "encountered Christ"; not unlike St Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus. Please understand that we Orthodox do not limit save/salvation/etc to the conversion experience. For your use of the word "saved", you are probably quite right that baptism is not necessary.
However, in the Orthodox use of the word save/salvation/etc baptism is a necessary part of that process.
Let me attempt to illustrate with an analogy - and with the reminder that no analogy is without its flaws and weaknesses
(I'm assuming that you are a US citizen from birth and a resident of that country.) I am a Canadian citizen. The US authorities allow me to enter the US so long as I behave myself, have a valid reason for entering, etc. It would even be possible for me to become a US resident. In that case, I could live a life identical to my American neighbours. I might even begin to sound and spell like them
. I could take full advantage of the many benefits afforded to US citizens - access to schools and hospitals, police protection, property ownership, etc. I might even begin to cheer for the US hockey team. About my only limitations would be an inability to vote and hold certain offices, but for the most part, I would be indistinguishable from any ordinary American citizen. But would I have the right to call myself an American? No - I would need first to swear allegiance to the US in a properly appointed citizenship ceremony.
In the same way, I can live a Christian life - even follow and serve Christ in many ways, but my baptism is the "citizenship ceremony" that completes the entry process.
Does this analogy work with paedobaptism? Yes, I believe so. By your parents' actions, you became a US citizen with no say in the matter. As you matured, you gradually accepted the privileges of that citizenship, and took on its responsibilities. You may decide to never vote in an election or get involved politically or never get a passport, etc. You could even at any point choose to reject all of that, renounce your citizenship and move to some other country. It's the same when we baptize infants. Parents do what they believe to be best with the hope that their children will grow up accepting what was begun on their behalf. Notice that even here, it is clearly recognized that salvation is a process, but baptism is part of that process.
Do we believe that God sends the unbaptized to Hell? First of all, we don't usually focus much on that topic. We prefer to emphasize the positive aspects of becoming saved
. Catechumens (i.e. not yet baptized) are allowed to have an Orthodox funeral. For us, the question is Are you being saved?
. That can't be emphasized enough. We do what we need to do, and we let God do what He needs to do.
Once you understand some of these differences in terminology, I think you'll find that communication will improve. I hope you'll take the time to do that. You seem like a thoughtful person.
(You might also want to work a bit on how to use the quote tags when you post