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Author Topic: A question about baptism and catechesis from my Protestant friend!  (Read 395 times) Average Rating: 0
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chrisiacovetti
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« on: August 13, 2013, 07:41:41 PM »

Why does a person have to go through a catechesis process of at least a year or so to be baptized by the Orthodox Church? How can this be justified in light of various biblical passages in which converts are baptized pretty much immediately (e.g. the Eunuch in Acts)?

I want to give my friend the best answer possible, so I figured I'd get a consensus from everyone on here who was willing to help.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2013, 07:58:05 PM »

To be honest I don't recall answering this type of question before, not exactly as phrased in this way anyway, so I'm sort of shooting from the hip here. One thing that came to mind when I thought about the point about how things were done in Acts and such, is that the situation was somewhat different. In those cases we generally had Apostles or something close to them, the Christian community was small, and sometimes persecuted, miracles were taking place much more often, and so it generally was a different situation. As time went on and things changed, they sort of cooled, so to speak. Now the clergy might be less venerable or inspiring, persecution ended, miracles still took place but perhaps not in the same way or with the same frequency, Christianity became more popular and accepted, and so forth.

Eventually being a Christian stopped requiring a major life commitment, and all sorts of people with all sorts of levels of commitment were joining. [that is, being a Christian should be a major commitment, but more and more people might not have seen it that way] Some might not even have wanted to join, but perhaps did so for political advantages, or some other such reason. And so it continues till today. Thus it was thought best to "test" people a bit more to make sure they were joining for the right reasons. After all, in the early Church they didn't even tell you about a lot of the faith until your baptism or entrance into the Church--it was considered serious business. And still should be.

Admittedly this is overgeneralizing terribly.

In the early Church the catechumenate lasted a minimum of 3 years, if I recall correctly. Actually some put it off much longer, but that's another topic. The 6-12 months that someone might wait today doesn't seem so bad in comparison, especially considering that today the catechumens usually aren't dismissed, and have access to a ton of information. In some ways Orthodoxy loosened the restrictions outlined in the Bible, for example the passages in which Jesus talks about divorce. In other areas things became more strict, like the length of the process of being received. The bishops were given the power to bind and loose, and direct the church, after all. Anyway, that is what comes to mind right off.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 08:01:52 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2013, 08:19:19 PM »

This is just personal opinion and nothing to be taken as official at all.

Obviously the time frame varies.

It varies, yet the oft heard 6-12 months has a purpose.  In these times, and again a generalization, the catechumens are Christians of another tradition, and you simply need that time to unlearn what you thought you knew, and relearn it all in light of Orthodoxy.

Sure, as protestants, we can tell you the Biblical basis for some things, yet we need to learn the -differences- and know what the 'right belief' and 'right practice' are.

And while sure, you can book-learn the facts in a shorter time, you can't unlearn a lifetime of habits and practice and down deep thinking in a short time.

For me, that year is time to start putting all the book learning in practice, and take it in bite size chunks rather than 'here take a test and voila!' and then you fall apart when it comes do living the daily life.

Simply agreeing that Orthodoxy is right doctrinally is not enough, you have to put it all into practice and that takes time.
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« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 08:19:42 PM »

I think (notice the "I") that the reason stems from the fact that the Orthodox Church, in many places, particularly here in the USA, receives converts from other Christian confessions so they're not starting from square 1.  I've often been told by my priest that the Church does not have the monopoly on truth, but it does possess the fulness of the truth, i.e. Protestants and Catholics do have a  lot of the truth of the faith that was handed down once and for all to the saints.  So, they're starting out with some of the "spark" already in them so the catechumenate period seems to be reduced for that reason.  When you contrast the modern situation with what is going on in Biblical times when other religions were so different from Christianity and the young church was doing everything it could to survive and didn't employ a standard reception.  Many people, particularly Protestants, have to get away from the idea that just because an event like the baptism of the eunuch happened like it did in the Bible means it was THE norm.  

To that end, the Orthodox Church has always employed oikonomia for different situations.  

Again, just my opinion on it.
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« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2013, 08:44:31 PM »

Why does a person have to go through a catechesis process of at least a year or so to be baptized by the Orthodox Church? How can this be justified in light of various biblical passages in which converts are baptized pretty much immediately (e.g. the Eunuch in Acts)?

I want to give my friend the best answer possible, so I figured I'd get a consensus from everyone on here who was willing to help.

Catechesis has always been done before and after baptism. Exceptions in Scripture do not nullify the rule of tradition. Insufficient catechesis has led to many problems where converts are not fully established in the faith. From this, many have gone off into heresy.

Scripture only documents a fraction of what the Lord and the Church did. Remember when St. John wrote, "If everything Jesus did were to be written, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" at the end of his gospel?
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 10:18:36 AM »

Even the Twelve Apostles had a lot to learn after spending three years with Christ Himself.
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2013, 03:04:33 PM »

Well it's good to be catechesied  to learn the difference and throw away fully old believes.
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