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Author Topic: Baptism Question  (Read 6047 times) Average Rating: 0
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Chris H
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« on: March 19, 2006, 04:03:11 AM »

Hello Everyone,

I'm new to the site, although I've been reading posts here for the past month or so. My wife and I are in the process of converting to Orthodoxy from the Episcopal Church (enter jokes). The closest church to us is GOA with the next closest being OCA. We've contacted both priests and have been meeting with the GOA priest for a week or so. My wife and I are fairly familiar with Orthodox teaching, dogmatics, etc, so there or no hurdles there (the study of Orthodoxy is what led us to leave ECUSA), however I want to avoid any pitfalls during our conversion. I asked the GOA priest if we needed to get baptized in his church (I was baptized two years ago in ECUSA and my wife was baptized as an infant in ECUSA). He said we would only need to be chrismated by the Bishop and that it would take place in the next couple months. Until that time we would regularly attend the GOA parish.

My question is: (1) is this standard practice or is baptism (perhaps conditional baptism) usually required, and (2) if we are not baptized but only chrismated will this cause problems if we move to another jurisdiction due to a family move, etc? My gut tells me to follow the instructions of my priest and the decision of the Bishop, but I don't want the unfortunate situation of running into future problems with other clergy and/or laity because we were not "properly" converted to Orthodoxy. I know this is probably a common question, any advice would be greatly appreciated. By the way, my wife and I have no "hang-up" or problem being baptized in the GOA church, I just don't want to demand something that my priest is telling me is not necessary (as if I know more than him).

Chris
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2006, 10:19:25 AM »

As far as I know, your baptism, (if it was in the ECUSA and trinitarian) will probably be accepted.  My guess is that the GOA is a bit more lenient with regard to just chrismating than, say, more conservative Russian parishes/jurisdictions.  I went ahead with baptism myself, just to be sure (I was baptised Episcopal).
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2006, 11:36:42 AM »

Hello!
Maybe you could ask your priest if he would mind baptising you, even if he felt that it wasn't stricly necessary. If it would make you feel more secure in terms of being accepted in all churches. I think in England you get baptised into the Orthodox Church whether or not you were baptised elsewhere, as we generally don't recognise sacraments like communion and baptism of non Orthodox churches.
Hope this helps.
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2006, 11:59:23 AM »

Hello!
Maybe you could ask your priest if he would mind baptising you, even if he felt that it wasn't stricly necessary. If it would make you feel more secure in terms of being accepted in all churches. I think in England you get baptised into the Orthodox Church whether or not you were baptised elsewhere, as we generally don't recognise sacraments like communion and baptism of non Orthodox churches.
Hope this helps.

The GOA prohibits the rebaptism of converts who have already received a trinitarian baptism, so in the GOA, and most likely the Metropolia, rebaptism wouldn't even be an option. However, this shouldn't be a problem, even if you were to eventually go to a jurisdiction that is more strict in their requirements, provided this jurisdiction is in communion with Constantinople...when you start going to the Churches further on the fringes that have broken Communion with Constantinople and most of Orthodoxy all bets are off, it's hard telling how they'll react.

Concerning the practice in England, I cannot speak for any jurisdiction other than the Greeks, but I know that the Greeks will receive by Chrismation Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and I believe certain Lutherans but they rebaptize those who were baptized in the free churches, whether their baptism was trinitarian or not (the acceptance of the baptism is dependent on the validity of the priesthood of the person who preformed it...not the best of standards, but it seems to work).
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2006, 02:31:00 PM »

When you are received into the Church through Chrismation, the shell-form of trinitarian baptism that you already had performed is filled with the Holy Spirit, making it fully Orthodox. God is not bound even by time, and you will have received an Orthodox baptism, Chrismation, and then Communion. No worries!
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2006, 05:49:27 PM »

Congratulations!

My family came in from the Episcopalian Church having had Trinitarian Baptism and were chrismated into the Greek Orthodox Church. Our Chrismation made us canonical Orthodox and we have been made welcome where ever we have gone to take communion after confession and meeting with the priest. We have communed in the Greek Orthodox Church, OCA, ROCOR, Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Antiochian Orthodox Church with nothing more said about our standings in the church.  You should have no problem if you commune within the Orthodox Churches in Communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2006, 03:21:47 AM »

Hello!
Maybe you could ask your priest if he would mind baptising you, even if he felt that it wasn't stricly necessary. If it would make you feel more secure in terms of being accepted in all churches. I think in England you get baptised into the Orthodox Church whether or not you were baptised elsewhere, as we generally don't recognise sacraments like communion and baptism of non Orthodox churches.
Hope this helps.

If it's not 'necessary' then why do it? The Creed says "I believe in one baptism..."
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2006, 03:41:34 AM »

The GOA prohibits the rebaptism of converts who have already received a trinitarian baptism, so in the GOA, and most likely the Metropolia, rebaptism wouldn't even be an option.

Ahem....I have an issue with this statement, and yes, I'm deliberately taking it at face value since that is what you did to Chris H's statement.

Yes, from Chris H's statement, it sounds like he's done his homework, had a meaningful "baptism" in his Episcopal church and would be received by Chrismation.  This "Jurisdiction X prohibits rebaptism..." (which more than one say something to that effect) assumes that this "baptism" from their former church had even close to a valid/traditional form, the person understood and REMEBERS what happened and can relate this to the priest, and probably most important, that this valid "baptism" conforms with the official norms/rules of the former denomination.  There is a lot to "assume" - rather dangerous if you think about it - with just saying no "rebaptism".  Was it really a baptism (any many different ways)?

Chris H,
In whatever way you may happen to be received (Baptism/Chrismation/etc.), you should have no qualms about how proper it may have been in whatever Orthodox parish and how this relates to some other local Orthodox Jurisdiction.  The Bishop allowed it, the priest did, it is done and you are Orthodox.  Just worry about living an Orthodox life.  Good luck.
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2006, 01:40:56 PM »

montalban,

Quote
If it's not 'necessary' then why do it? The Creed says "I believe in one baptism..."

This refers to the Church's Baptism, which can never be repeated; attempting to do such would be sacreligious.

OTOH., the Orthodox Church does not recognize heterodox/schismatic sacraments "as is".  Even when they are not outright repeated (which they have been, can be, and in some places still are - it's entirely up to the Bishops involved), the understanding is that whatever is lacking in them is healed; whether that be by the second rite (Chrismation) or in certain cases, the third rite (confession/communion.)

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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2006, 05:23:43 PM »

If it's not 'necessary' then why do it? The Creed says "I believe in one baptism..."

a common-sensical response would be because I believe in "ONE Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
At very least, such a response is worth pondering.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2006, 09:34:29 PM »

Something to consider...
I read this story years ago.  I do not remember the source.  It may be from The Spiritual Meadow, the Sayings of the Early Fathers, or a book of that genre.
The story goes...
"A non-Christian father (whether he was pagan, Jewish, or Muslim, I do not remember) had a son who became very ill, to the point of death.  The father remembered healings that had occured during the Christian baptism, so, he took his son to the river and immersed him 3 times saying, 'As the Christians do' and then took his son home.  The son recovered and the father took his whole family and son to be baptised by the bishop.  During the ceremony, when the bishop tried to baptise the son, the water in the font turned to what looked like glass and the bishop could not baptise the son.  The water allowed the rest of the family to enter but not the son.  The bishop asked the father about this and the father told the bishop what he had done.  The bishop took this as a sign from heaven, did not immerse the son, and continued with the ceremony."
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2006, 02:34:43 AM »

Hello!
Maybe you could ask your priest if he would mind baptising you, even if he felt that it wasn't stricly necessary. If it would make you feel more secure in terms of being accepted in all churches. I think in England you get baptised into the Orthodox Church whether or not you were baptised elsewhere, as we generally don't recognise sacraments like communion and baptism of non Orthodox churches.
Hope this helps.

This isn't true. I don't think we're any different here in England to in the US. I know that the Romanian church here receives Anglicans by chrismation (as does the church in Romania). I was received by chrismation in the Greek church (EP) in Reading and re-baptism wasn't even an option and there's a whole parish of converts (Antiochian) near us that are almost all ex-Anglican and recived by chrismation. There are some parishes that receive only by baptism but, as seems to be the case in the US, these tend to be the more traditional Russian parishes. FWIW, I have never encountered any problems with the manner of my reception whether in the UK or Romania, not even in the Russian parishes I visited in the past.

James
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2006, 12:53:20 PM »

Carpatho-Russian,

Quote
I read this story years ago.  I do not remember the source.  It may be from The Spiritual Meadow, the Sayings of the Early Fathers, or a book of that genre.
The story goes...

Taking the veracity of the story for granted (I don't dispute it certainly), it really has little relevence to the question of how and why the Orthodox Church receives people as She does.  While you'll find subjective opinions of either "hope" or "denial" of there in fact being mysteries outside of the Church in this or that denomination (or in miraculous situations like this, none at all!), but that is ultimately where such appraisals begin and end - a subjective sense.  Though you'll find authorities (like St.Nikodemos the Hagiorite, the compiler of "the Rudder") who give the clear opinion that non-Orthodox sacraments are void, I highly doubt they'd put an absolute cap on what God may/can do with regard to saving sincere individuals in extraordinary ways...and just the same, those credible teachers (like St.Philaret of Moscow) who opine a "more positive" appraisal of what may go on within the confines of heterodoxy would not deny the right of the Church to receive those same persons by Holy Baptism if it were pastorally beneficial.

Because it's only Her own Sacraments which the Orthodox Church recognizes in an unqualified way, the decision of how to receive certain types of converts is ultimately at the discretion of the ruling Bishop and his Synod.  This is precisely why I'm aware of situations in Churches which generally Baptize everyone (ex. ROCOR) where receptions via Chrismation have occured for distinct pastoral reasons, and vice versa I'm well aware of Churches which as a rule receive Roman Catholics and most confessional Protestants by Chrismation (ex. OCA) which have received such converts via Baptism - and either case, all was done with the knowledge and blessing of the Bishop in said scenarios.

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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2006, 04:56:49 PM »

Yes, from Chris H's statement, it sounds like he's done his homework, had a meaningful "baptism" in his Episcopal church and would be received by Chrismation.  This "Jurisdiction X prohibits rebaptism..." (which more than one say something to that effect) assumes that this "baptism" from their former church had even close to a valid/traditional form, the person understood and REMEBERS what happened and can relate this to the priest, and probably most important, that this valid "baptism" conforms with the official norms/rules of the former denomination.  There is a lot to "assume" - rather dangerous if you think about it - with just saying no "rebaptism".  Was it really a baptism (any many different ways)?

I think he covers the assumptions in his phrase "who have already received a trinitarian baptism."
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2006, 06:17:11 PM »

I think he covers the assumptions in his phrase "who have already received a trinitarian baptism."

Better, but still a little presumptuous with the phrase "rebaptism".  No one, even the Super-Duper "Traditionalists" would call baptizing a convert "rebaptism" (see past points about non-Orthodox "baptisms" not being baptisms in and of themselvs).
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2006, 12:49:26 AM »

Oh, very true... I mean, even a great Trinitarian non-Orthodox "baptism" only really becomes "baptism" in our eyes when it is perfected by Chrismation, so there really is no such thing as "rebaptism" - for rebaptism is condemned by the Ecumenical Synods... Great point that I didn't pick up on!
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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2006, 12:39:45 PM »

Quote
I've never yet seen a baptism done by sprinkling or pouring in Romania. Is this really normal in your area? I have heard of it being done by economy in very cold winters but that is all. Admittedly the vast majority of my experience has been in Bucovina, which is the opposite side of the country from you, but our parish priest (here in the UK) is from somewhere close to Timisoara (I forget the name of the place) and he certainly baptised my daughter with three complete immersions.

James
James,
I have never seen a baptism done by immersion in our region, yet. Transylvania and Banat differ, in this respect ,from Wallachia and Moldova where, as I've heard, baptism is usually done by immersion, because of their separate ecclesiastical history. I"ve heard that it is the same in Serbia.
My grandmother was godmother to, at least, seven children.And she witnessed only a single baptism done by immersion,and that wasn't done by a local priest, but by a priest from Moldova. She told me that she hadn't even had a clue that baptism could be done that way .
And even today, although there are baptismal fonts (cristelnitse) in our churches, they are not used. Instead a little bowl is filled with water and the priest pours it thrice on the baby's forehead . And I have seen quite a few baptisms, although I am still young.
It might be that some the younger priests baptize now by immersion, in some cases, but this is still not the norm. But it the parents asked for this, their request would be probably granted.
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« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2006, 02:26:02 AM »

James,
I have never seen a baptism done by immersion in our region, yet. Transylvania and Banat differ, in this respect ,from Wallachia and Moldova where, as I've heard, baptism is usually done by immersion, because of their separate ecclesiastical history. I"ve heard that it is the same in Serbia.
My grandmother was godmother to, at least, seven children.And she witnessed only a single baptism done by immersion,and that wasn't done by a local priest, but by a priest from Moldova. She told me that she hadn't even had a clue that baptism could be done that way .
And even today, although there are baptismal fonts (cristelnitse) in our churches, they are not used. Instead a little bowl is filled with water and the priest pours it thrice on the baby's forehead . And I have seen quite a few baptisms, although I am still young.
It might be that some the younger priests baptize now by immersion, in some cases, but this is still not the norm. But it the parents asked for this, their request would be probably granted.

I must say that I am surprised. Perhaps it's due to some Roman Catholic influence in the west of Romania? As I said, though, our parish priest is from the Banat and even without our specifically asking he baptised our daughter by complete immersion. Of course, we expected that he would but we didn't say anything to him. Now, he is quite young, which might (assuming you are right about that) explain things and the majority of our parish are Moldovan (an awfully large percentage come from Iasi, Suceava and Botosani counties), so perhaps he has adapted to the customs of the majority of our parish. I'll have to ask him whether or not this is the case.

James
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« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2006, 02:47:15 AM »

Yes, it could be due to some Roman/Greek-Catholic influence. In fact, many of the Orthodox parishes of today, were once, officially, at least, Uniate.
With the new generation of priests (with some of them, at least) there is a move to a kind of liturgical uniformisation (personally I don't like the trend, but that is it), as they start adopting customs from "beyond the mountains", instead of preserving the local traditions  which simple folks are quite fond of (for instance, simple faithful don't like Psaltic chant, as it sounds strange to them and very different to what they are accustomed to).
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« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2006, 03:31:21 AM »

Yes, it could be due to some Roman/Greek-Catholic influence. In fact, many of the Orthodox parishes of today, were once, officially, at least, Uniate.
With the new generation of priests (with some of them, at least) there is a move to a kind of liturgical uniformisation (personally I don't like the trend, but that is it), as they start adopting customs from "beyond the mountains", instead of preserving the local traditions  which simple folks are quite fond of (for instance, simple faithful don't like Psaltic chant, as it sounds strange to them and very different to what they are accustomed to).

With traditions like the style of chant and the like, I agree with you. There is no need for uniformity and I don't believe it's good to force it. I have a hard time believing that there will ever be such uniformity in Romania, though. The local customs are just often so different from one region to another. You can see this clearly in our parish where some kneel at certain points in the Liturgy and others do not - it's obvious that there is no uniform practice. On the matter of baptism, though, I think that those who pour or sprinkle should revert to immersion as this is Tradition and not just tradition. The fact that pouring may be allowed in certain circumstances by economy should not be allowed to turn into the normal practice. Thatdoesn't mean that I think your baptisms are invalid (mine wasn't even Orthodox, so how could I talk?), but I don't think they are ideal.

James
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2006, 06:50:38 AM »

What ever happened to the creed?

"I confess one baptism for the remission of sins."
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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2006, 11:25:40 AM »

Wolf,

Well that's exactly the question they are arguing about. If there really is only one baptism, then you can't just say "accept anyone, it doesn't matter," but instead a baptism either is valid or it isn't (ie. it should be a black and white issue). There's not supposed to be 3 or 5 baptisms, but 1, so either the Catholics and Orthodox (for two examples) have the same baptism, or they don't. Some Orthodox say that the Catholic baptism is valid, others say that it isn't. Then the waters are muddied further by people who say that Catholic baptisms will be accepted by economia (a dispensation), but then this camp is divided into two factions: those who think that we accept the Catholic baptism and add whatever is lacking, and on the other hand those who think that the Catholic baptism has absolutely nothing to it (ie. no sacramental grace) except the outward form.
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« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2006, 12:06:53 PM »

So what are the chances of the Christian Churches sitting around and hammering this out so that we all know exactly where we stand.
I.e. Orthodox, Catholics, etc recognising each other’s sacraments and working toward a best practise policy?
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« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2006, 12:26:27 PM »

So what are the chances of the Christian Churches sitting around and hammering this out so that we all know exactly where we stand.
I.e. Orthodox, Catholics, etc recognising each other’s sacraments and working toward a best practise policy?


The Orthodox Church will never accept the validity of Roman Catholic sacraments because to do so would mean that it believes sacraments are magic.  Sacraments only exist in the Body of Christ, the Church, in which is of the right-believing and right-worshipping people of God.  If we believed that people who have a different faith from us and are not in communion with us for 1000 years have valid sacraments, then that means we posit that sacraments are in and of themselves, apart from an Orthodox confession of faith, "valid."  This makes a mockery of our confession of faith.

Because of differing historical circumstances, Roman Catholics were received in different ways into Orthodoxy.  But that doesn't mean that their sacraments were accepted per se, but rather they were regularized upon conversion.  Now, some Orthodox under the influence of Eastern Catholics coming in do seem to have the idea that RC sacraments are valid, but that is a minority opinion.  Also, to complicate the issue, there is no Augustinian distinction between validity and licitness, but there is a distinction that we make between form and efficaciousness.  So sometimes you will see older statements, especially from the Russian Church, stating that RC sacraments are "valid." But if you read them in context you see what they mean is valid form, in other words in the name of the Trinity and with water.  This is important when it comes to receiving a RC by economy if the case warrants.  If they were baptized by sprinkling (which I undersatnd is not official RC practice but which has happened) they can NOT be received by economy becuase even the form is defective.

None of this means that we are meanspirited or antiCatholic (after all, Catholics do not accept Anglican ordinations or confirmations) but that we are being consistent in our approach to sacraments outside the Church.

We do believe that God's grace acts outside the Church, but only in a charismatic sense, and not sacramentally.

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« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2006, 12:45:55 PM »

The Orthodox Church will never accept the validity of Roman Catholic sacraments because to do so would mean that it believes sacraments are magic.  Sacraments only exist in the Body of Christ, the Church, in which is of the right-believing and right-worshipping people of God.  If we believed that people who have a different faith from us and are not in communion with us for 1000 years have valid sacraments, then that means we posit that sacraments are in and of themselves, apart from an Orthodox confession of faith, "valid."  This makes a mockery of our confession of faith.

Because of differing historical circumstances, Roman Catholics were received in different ways into Orthodoxy.  But that doesn't mean that their sacraments were accepted per se, but rather they were regularized upon conversion.  Now, some Orthodox under the influence of Eastern Catholics coming in do seem to have the idea that RC sacraments are valid, but that is a minority opinion.  Also, to complicate the issue, there is no Augustinian distinction between validity and licitness, but there is a distinction that we make between form and efficaciousness.  So sometimes you will see older statements, especially from the Russian Church, stating that RC sacraments are "valid." But if you read them in context you see what they mean is valid form, in other words in the name of the Trinity and with water.  This is important when it comes to receiving a RC by economy if the case warrants.  If they were baptized by sprinkling (which I undersatnd is not official RC practice but which has happened) they can NOT be received by economy becuase even the form is defective.

None of this means that we are meanspirited or antiCatholic (after all, Catholics do not accept Anglican ordinations or confirmations) but that we are being consistent in our approach to sacraments outside the Church.

We do believe that God's grace acts outside the Church, but only in a charismatic sense, and not sacramentally.

Anastasios

So is the Catholic Church incorrect to accept Orthodox sacraments as valid?
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« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2006, 12:51:01 PM »

The CC uses a different theological basis--Augustinian--so it's logical from their POV to accept sacraments outside the Church.  We don't share that presupposition.  It's interesting to note that some Catholics did in fact baptize Orthodox converts (Prince Jagello I believe being one of them) at some times, and many Protestant converts and even some Orthodox were conditionally baptized by Catholics "just in case" until V2.

While we think it's nice that Catholics want to recognize our sacraments, it's really not something we can reciprocate.  We'd rather work together on social issues and promote the culture of life with you.  That can be done without recognizing sacraments, etc.

Anastasios
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« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2006, 01:33:28 PM »

 
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If they were baptized by sprinkling (which I undersatnd is not official RC practice but which has happened) they can NOT be received by economy becuase even the form is defective.
What about the Orthodox baptised by sprinkling? And there are millions, I, being one of them, as far as I know.
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« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2006, 01:37:06 PM »

When I say sprinkling, I mean by flicking water on the baby.  I know of Orthodox who have been baptized by pouring (even a little) which while not a canonical way to baptize, is at least accepted.  I have never heard of an Orthodox baptized by flicking water at the face and head.  Which of the two do you mean?

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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2006, 01:45:10 PM »

Pouring a bit of water, thrice, on the head/forehhead; that's how baptisms are traditionally done where I come from.
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2006, 04:46:59 PM »

That is acceptable but is an unfortunate abuse.  I've heard of it occuring in Romania and Ukraine, and sometimes even in Greece.  It seems to rear its head every couple of centuries.  There's really no reason not to baptize by immersion.  But I wouldn't worry about it, I mean it wasn't your fault the priest didn't immerse you Smiley

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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2006, 11:07:58 PM »

didn't the practise originate to save water? I know baptism is important, but if it means saving buckets and buckets of water for the survival of people, I think God would prefer that than a baby getting baptised fully with water and then people not having enough to drink.
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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2006, 11:44:40 PM »

The CC uses a different theological basis--Augustinian--so it's logical from their POV to accept sacraments outside the Church.

I could be wrong, but I think the RC position actually dates back to more than a century before Augustine to Pope St. Stephen.  The Orthodox tradition that Anastasios quotes follows the practice encouraged by Bishop St. Cyprian of Carthage.  St. Stephen argued against St. Cyprian, however, that the most ancient practice followed in Rome of that day (c. 250) was to recognize the intrinsic validity of any Trinitarian baptism.  Maybe St. Augustine was merely expounding on a tradition that was already well developed (and might actually be older by far than the Orthodox baptism tradition).

Click here to read in more detail what I've already posted on this debate.

Of course, I'm talking only about the validity of non-Orthodox baptisms.  The validity or lack of in other non-Orthodox sacraments is game for other posts.
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« Reply #32 on: April 10, 2006, 01:04:41 AM »

I will only add that my baptism was accepted after thorough review by my priest of my baptismal certificate, then i was crismated. I assume that since i was baptised in the hospital before an operation, that I was sprinkled. But it was Trinitarian.  My oldest was sprinkled, but she was baptised Episcopalian. My two boys, hen I convertied to orthodoxy, young enough to fit, were baptised by immersion in the font.  My two girls had a plastic tub with the water poured over them from a pitcher drawn from the font, so immersion in a sense.  I think it all depends on circumstances and custom.  Kinda interesting in a way though to see the differences in custom.  
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« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2006, 09:00:53 AM »

didn't the practise originate to save water? I know baptism is important, but if it means saving buckets and buckets of water for the survival of people, I think God would prefer that than a baby getting baptised fully with water and then people not having enough to drink.

Interesting that you mention this, Timos.  I have wondered along those lines. I grew up in Montana, which is not the wettest place on Earth  Wink  There have been times of drought and it can be a long way to a river, depending on where you are.  If full immersion was insisted on, what would happen to the water afterwards? Could it be used to give the stock a drink?  

I'm not trying to cause trouble here.  Just that not every place on the planet has abundant water.

Ebor
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« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2006, 09:04:53 AM »

didn't the practise originate to save water? I know baptism is important, but if it means saving buckets and buckets of water for the survival of people, I think God would prefer that than a baby getting baptised fully with water and then people not having enough to drink.

I have never heard of that before.  However, if there are extinuating circumstances, God is merciful.  I am refering to the wholesale abandonment of immersion baptism in some regions over extended periods of time.

Anastasios
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« Reply #35 on: April 11, 2006, 09:23:29 AM »

PetertheAleut,

Yes, certainly the seeds of Augustine were in St Stephen.  It's been awhile since I read the source documents on that controversy but it seems to me that St Cyprian was arguing that one could not accept a heretic by the laying on of hands (chrismation) but only by baptism.  St Stephen was arguing that they could.  This position would be firmly compatible with the Orthodox teaching that a heretical baptism is not saving (i.e. no grace) but is perfected upon conversion and the laying on of hands.  Augustine took it a step further and speculated on its validity per se, as opposed to in reference to a subsequent conversion to Orthodoxy.  In the same vein, Cyprian's teachings were a kernal for future Orthodox teaching which rejected heretical baptisms but his teaching as a whole was not accepted by the Council in Trullo which decreed chrismation for certain classes of heretics and even profession of faith for the most recent and newly separated ones.

So yes, you are right that the Roman tradition (and I mean Roman in the narrow sense, the diocese of Rome, since Carthage was also Latin and not Eastern) existed before Augustine but it was really he who gave it a further force and coherency, which is why I refer to it as Augustinian (as do most other scholars I have read).  Cyprian's teachings are kernals that were also later expounded upon by the East at the Council of Trullo.

In Christ,

Anastasios
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« Reply #36 on: April 11, 2006, 04:25:00 PM »

My husband and I were both baptised by immersion in the baptist church many a year ago.  As very young children.  When we converted two years ago, we had to find our baptism certificates (which I have since lost again, no worries though) to prove that we had a trinitarian baptism.  Sure it was a shell act, but God in his infinite wisdom knew where we would at last end up.  So when we were chrismated we were not baptized again. It was an "economia" (so I don't know the Greek spelling exactly, I'm Irish!) afforded to us because of this.  Not only did we have to be chrismated, but before our children could be chrismated we had to be married in the church.  Mind you, we never had a real wedding since my dh swooped in and rescued me from a lousy father.  So I had thought we would eventually do one. The preacher that married us was just out of the psych ward for a nervous breakdown.  Oh, the memories...   Here I am just outside of the first trimester, still with lingering morning sickness, and dh wants me to put on a weddin dress!  And put it all together in 4 weeks cuz our kids were a waitin.  Sounds and looked like a shotgun wedding, and I was not thrilled about it.  But at least my marriage is recognized in the church.
 Then we had 5 of our kids baptized and Chrismated, effectively taking the entire parish for our children's Godparents. And all of this was done in a GOA parish with a very traditional older priest.
So all that to say, baptism is the least of your concerns.  Grin

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« Reply #37 on: April 11, 2006, 05:11:55 PM »

Hello Everyone,

My question is: (1) is this standard practice or is baptism (perhaps conditional baptism) usually required, and (2) if we are not baptized but only chrismated will this cause problems if we move to another jurisdiction due to a family move, etc? My gut tells me to follow the instructions of my priest and the decision of the Bishop, but I don't want the unfortunate situation of running into future problems with other clergy and/or laity because we were not "properly" converted to Orthodoxy. I know this is probably a common question, any advice would be greatly appreciated. By the way, my wife and I have no "hang-up" or problem being baptized in the GOA church, I just don't want to demand something that my priest is telling me is not necessary (as if I know more than him).

The Orthodox Church has, throughout her history, received converts to the faith in various ways. When the Church receives converts via Chrismation (or, in some instances, by a mere confession of faith) this is not - I repeat NOT - equivalent to the Church accepting the "validity" of some other confession's sacraments. On the contrary, it is the Church expressing her love for heterodox Christians via oikonomia; in other words, we trust in the Holy Spirit to fulfill whatever was lacking in the initial baptism and unite the individual Christian to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

So if your priest says that you are to be received via Chrismation, do not worry about it in the least. This is a very common practice concerning Trinitarian heterodox Christians. Do not worry about your manner of reception -- focus on living a genuinely Orthodox life.

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« Reply #38 on: April 11, 2006, 05:59:37 PM »

One problem that must be addressed these days is what is meant by "trinitarian baptism".  Some Protestant churches, including some Episcopalians, now "baptize" in the name of the "Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier".  Such "inclusive language" with reference to God calls into question whether this is a baptism at all.  It smacks of modalism.
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« Reply #39 on: April 12, 2006, 02:59:36 AM »

That is exactly why the Pastor and the Bishop talk about catechumen if there are any issues as to the trinitarian aspect of the baptism, after all the Mornons Baptize in the "Name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost" however it is not the same Trinity as the Orthodox use---it is a father God named Elohim,  a Son God called Jehovah. and a Holy Ghost who at various times was identified at Adam or Michael the Archangel (the Mormon Trinity is 3 separate Gods). In this case, the Bishops chose not to apply economia and those who were baptized in this manner were truly baptized for the first time.

I have enough belief and confidence in my priest and my bishop, to know that they will catch these things, that is --- after all one of the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit that they have been given and I have not been given. When we as laity try to second guess our God-Inspired Clergy in areas they are ultimately responsible to God the we enter the sin of judgement and probably are in the wrong Church.

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« Reply #40 on: April 12, 2006, 02:50:32 PM »

Asteriktos,

Quote
Some Orthodox say that the Catholic baptism is valid, others say that it isn't. Then the waters are muddied further by people who say that Catholic baptisms will be accepted by economia (a dispensation), but then this camp is divided into two factions: those who think that we accept the Catholic baptism and add whatever is lacking, and on the other hand those who think that the Catholic baptism has absolutely nothing to it (ie. no sacramental grace) except the outward form.

Discerning this issue on the basis of early Patristic texts is difficult, because ostensibly what one finds is a series of contradictory practices.

St.Cyprian actually has quite a bit to say about this topic which is quite perceptive and well argued.  While some accuse St.Cyprian of "introducing a new practice" (insisting on the Baptism of all converts, including those coming from sects and heresies), this is based upon a misreading of him and a rather superficial "taking for granted" of what his contemporary critics said on the topic (namely, their portrayal of their practices and the interpretation they were giving them as being "universal".)  It's quite clear when one actually reads St.Cyprian's epistles on this subject, that he was simply arguing for a practice which was normal in Carthage and in much of Christendom (it's important to note also that St.Cyprian is not an "Eastern" Father, anymore than St.Augustine is.)

Part of the confusion amongst early Christians on this topic had much to do with the rather superficial reasoning which those in Rome and some other parts of the West.  For example, St.Cyprian was confronted by Pope Stephen (and those in agreement with him) with the reasoning that their own practice (of never "re"-Baptizing converts from heresies) was "ancient."  St.Cyprian wrote on this matter in the middle of the third century - the Church of the New Testament was not even three centuries old, so "ancient" in context did not have the significance we would now apply to the term. St.Cyprian rightly pointed out, that the origins of "economic reception" were not in the reception of converts who had been taught and baptized by sectarians, but of those who had begun as Orthodox laymen and clergy but who departed from the unity of the Church at some later point, only to eventually be reconciled.  In such circumstances, people obviously were not Baptized again, but were simply received as penitents, and were Chrismated to "re-energize" that which had become muted by their defection from the Body of Christ.  St.Cyprian had no issues with this, and would have called doing otherwise an obvious sacrelige.

However the matter became more complicated in the case of those who were never members of the Bride of Christ to begin with, but rather were baptized and ordained by those who had departed from the Church, or even more remotely, by bishops and presybters who were themselves successors to those who had abandoned Orthodoxy.

The Popes and the Latins were basically arguing that the sacramental form is itself sacred and ecclessiastical, no matter who is administering it.  As such, it shouldn't be "repeated."  Many of the other arguments put in favour of this though, were extremely poor - including what amounted to "well, certain heretics don't re-baptize Orthodox who go over to them, so we shouldn't either."  Or conversly, "the Novations practice re-baptism, so we shouldn't."  This is curious "reasoning" if one even wants to call it that - St.Cyprian put it quite aptly when he said (paraphrase) "monkeys imitate men, but that doesn't make them human, nor does it mean we should in turn stop acting human!"

It's important to understand that Rome's position was quite liberal at one point, and the language they used was not at all precise or cautious about making the necessary distinctions.  Phrases like heretical baptism having the "grace of baptism" would be said on one hand, while the Romans themselves were still using liturgical texts which plainly stated (in the baptismal rite) that one approached the Church with the request of receiving the remission of sins - which was it?  This is an especially good question, when one considers that the Romans were nonetheless quite keen on saying that heretics were not part of the Church.  Many patrologists have observed that in the period when this controversy raged, Rome couldn't exactly be said to have been known for it's erudation.  To their credit, the Roman Church tended to be quite conservative at that time in it's practices and in maintaining the pre-Nicene symbolic formulas it had inherited - but this attachment to forms was often reflexive and unthinking, even in the face of changing circumstances.

OTOH. when the Ecumenical Councils started rolling out canons regarding the treatment of converts from heresy, we notice they're quite a bit more restrictive than the Roman polemic of the third century.  Additionally, it is quite difficult to pin down a consistant "dogmatic criterion" for whose baptisms the Church was willing to accept and whose they were not.  While the more grotesque heresies were always excluded (especially those which mangled the baptismal rite itself), nothing like the modern RC criteria could be projected upon them, because they were primarily pastoral and operated under different assumptions.  For example, the RC teaching on "validity" would be unable to account for why the Great Councils allowed for Arians to be received by economy - they were not even Trinitarians!  It's precisely on that basis that modern Catholicism will not accept Mormon baptisms, even though the ceremony itself is extrensically pretty "normal" and does mention "the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."  In 1992, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger issued a response on behalf of the CDF on this subject, explaining that despite the fact that the Mormons use a ceremony and wording which looks amicable to Catholicism, their doctrinal understanding is such that it makes the acceptance of their baptisms as "valid" impossible.  Yet, Rome signed onto doing something much like "accepting Mormon baptism" back in the fourth century, along with the rest of Orthodox Christendom.

It is interesting to note that with time, the Roman language on this subject became a little more precise.  St.Leo the Great was pretty clear in stating that the "mysteries have withdrawn themselves" from heretics, and that in the case of their baptisms at least (when they follow the Orthodox form) they are "bare form."  Yet, because he believed the form of the rite itself is sacred and ecclessiastical, it ought not to be repeated, especially since he believed such would create impediments in many to convert away from heresy due to "timidity".  OTOH. the view of St.Basil the Great took hold elsewhere, which while citing the authority of St.Cyprian on this matter, also recognized the utility of admitting some heretically administered baptisms.  The logic in such a view seems to be that while it is true only those departing from the Church themselves have with them genuine baptisms and ordinations, the sects they form and adhere to as a whole do still have some kind of relationship to the Church...it's a broken one, but there is something there, even if it is simply key articles of faith and praxis.  Thus, just as the Church restores those who in their own lifetimes left the Church, She can also restore members of communities which had in the past left the Church - She "energizes" what was imposed only as a vessel.

Where the greater part of the Church would have disagreed with Rome and those who were coming under her influence in Western Europe (a process which actually wasn't completed until the 11th century, when the English stormed into Ireland with a Papal blessing and suppressed the last strongholds of Celtic Christianity), is over the idea that it is impossibe to receive converts from heterodoxy via Holy Baptism were economy is possible, let alone going so far as to call this "sacreligious" (as it would be in the case of trying to re-baptize someone who had already received a canonical Baptism at the hands of an Orthodox Priest.)  Unfortunately, this issue was never fully resolved between Rome (and it's increasing western "holdings") and the rest of Christendom before more obvious disagreements and breakdowns in relations began to occur in the latter part of the first millenia A.D.

A further complication is that Rome would eventually receive as dogmatic fact the speculative theology of St.Augustine of Hippo on this topic, as others in this thread have mentioned.  It is St.Augustine who introduces a sharp distinction between "sacramental character" and "grace", insisting that the former is present wherever certain conditions are met, but the latter only within the Church.  He further reasoned that what stopped this distinct "grace" from being effective in those "received" by heretics was fundamentally a moral impediment in such a "neophyte."  To his credit, St.Augustine submitted all such speculative writings to the judgement of the "Church Universal" - and it seems quite apparent, that this is one matter where She has shown Herself to be in disagreement with him.

This is beside the fact that the Augustinian theory (which was put forward mainly as a reaction to the practice of the Donatist and other Puritan sects, of "baptizing" Orthodox Christians who defected to them) is itself problematic in it's application.  While modern Vatican "ecumenical sensitivity" has in the last 40 years pretty much made this a moot point (mainly by simply avoiding the issue), the fact of the matter is that even while cherishing the old Augustinian/Scholastic qualifications of "form, matter, and intent" as being the substance of a valid sacrament, rigorous Roman Catholic theologians had good reasons (within that paradigm) to doubt the validity of the baptisms of those they often received into the fold.  This is why so many confessional Protestants were simply "conditionally baptized" - a practice where by the priest says "if you are not baptized, I baptize you in the name...".  Of course such a rite is not at all apostolic in nature, and really only obfuscates an obvious problem with the Augustinian formula; for when scrutinized, it becomes pretty clear that the heterodox (real or subjective to the Roman Catholic p.o.v.) do not have the same "intentions" as a Roman Catholic priest would.  They don't even necessarily believe baptism gives the remission of sins; and when they desire to integrate people into "the Church", just what "church" are they talking about?  If you asked them, they'd be very clear they didn't believe it was one "headed by the Pope", etc.  It would also seem the Roman Catholic take on "validity" has long ago come to reject the essentially priestly nature of Baptism - an idea which is very plainly accepted by all of the Fathers.  The last time I checked, the RCC doesn't believe the Lutherans, Anglicans, etc. even have "priests".

Of course nothing I've said here is meant to imply that we can know "as a matter of faith" that there is no mysteriological grace outside of the visible boundaries of the Church under any circumstances.  "God is God" and can obviously do whatever He wishes.  One may even have strong "suspicions" on this matter.  But just as presumption is erroneous (and even sinful!) when we commit to it with regard to ourselves (ex. continuing in sin, with the expectation of "repenting" and trying to ammend one's life at a later date), it is also erroneous in the case of those who are by all sensible indicators outside of the Church.  Strictly speaking, if the situation were otherwise, we would have no reason whatsoever to insist that the heterodox correct their ways and return to the fold.  The Church is not a society for know-it-alls or the "correctest of Christians", but is the sole Ark of Salvation - it is the only place where we know men can work out their salvation.  She has received the great promises of Christ - all that is outside of this, is quite literally "in God's hands."
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« Reply #41 on: April 12, 2006, 04:49:07 PM »

My husband and I were both baptised by immersion in the baptist church many a year ago. ÂÂ As very young children. ÂÂ When we converted two years ago, we had to find our baptism certificates (which I have since lost again, no worries though) to prove that we had a trinitarian baptism. ÂÂ Sure it was a shell act, but God in his infinite wisdom knew where we would at last end up. ÂÂ So when we were chrismated we were not baptized again. It was an "economia" (so I don't know the Greek spelling exactly, I'm Irish!) afforded to us because of this. ÂÂ Not only did we have to be chrismated, but before our children could be chrismated we had to be married in the church. ÂÂ Mind you, we never had a real wedding since my dh swooped in and rescued me from a lousy father. ÂÂ So I had thought we would eventually do one. The preacher that married us was just out of the psych ward for a nervous breakdown. ÂÂ Oh, the memories... ÂÂ  Here I am just outside of the first trimester, still with lingering morning sickness, and dh wants me to put on a weddin dress! ÂÂ And put it all together in 4 weeks cuz our kids were a waitin. ÂÂ Sounds and looked like a shotgun wedding, and I was not thrilled about it. ÂÂ But at least my marriage is recognized in the church.
 Then we had 5 of our kids baptized and Chrismated, effectively taking the entire parish for our children's Godparents. And all of this was done in a GOA parish with a very traditional older priest.
So all that to say, baptism is the least of your concerns.  Grin



Newbie delurking here:  This post brings up the question of whether or not I will have to produce a certificate of baptism.  Is it common for priests to ask for such?  My husband and I don't have them even though we were both baptized.  I'm not overly concerned as it doesn't matter to me if I'll eventually be baptized or simply chrismated, although I am curious.
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Lord, have mercy on the Christians in Mosul!


« Reply #42 on: April 12, 2006, 05:22:35 PM »

Newbie delurking here:  This post brings up the question of whether or not I will have to produce a certificate of baptism.  Is it common for priests to ask for such?  My husband and I don't have them even though we were both baptized.  I'm not overly concerned as it doesn't matter to me if I'll eventually be baptized or simply chrismated, although I am curious.

My priest asked for a baptismal certificate.  I imagine that this is common practice.
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Thomas
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« Reply #43 on: April 13, 2006, 09:17:29 AM »

Miy priest asked for a baptismal certificate or a letter from a witness to my Baptism (in my case my mother and god father provided this) or a letter from the pastor of the church I was leaving (also provided by my former Episopalian priest). We only had to have one, we provided two and the priest  then contacted the Bishop and was granted economia for our family to enter the church thru Chrismation.  The important thing here was that the priest contacted the Bishop for authorization. Remember it is the Bishop who allows economia not the priest.

In Christ,
Thomas
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Your brother in Christ ,
Thomas
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Lord, have mercy on the Christians in Mosul!


« Reply #44 on: April 13, 2006, 12:25:38 PM »

Miy priest asked for a baptismal certificate or a letter from a witness to my Baptism (in my case my mother and god father provided this) or a letter from the pastor of the church I was leaving (also provided by my former Episopalian priest). We only had to have one, we provided two and the priest  then contacted the Bishop and was granted economia for our family to enter the church thru Chrismation.  The important thing here was that the priest contacted the Bishop for authorization. Remember it is the Bishop who allows economia not the priest.

In Christ,
Thomas

In my case, however, my priest had carte blanche permission to receive me via Chrismation based on the OCA's national church policy, but even that comes from the authority of a synod of bishops.
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