[Orthodoxy] Baptism

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Victor 10 years ago.

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  • #1037

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    [quote:ccs8db89]Concerning baptism, the Orthodox teaches TRIPLE IMMERSION, in accordance with the Apostolic Canon 50. Catholics, some of them do IMMERSE, but many more use AFFUSION/INFUSION (water poured over the head), or ASPERSION(sprinkling). The Greek word, baptizo, literally means to IMMERSE. Both Orthodox and Catholics practice infant baptism, and it is not exactly reasonable to suggest that there is not enough water to immerse an infant. The Didache, does say that where, in lack of water, where there is not enough water, aspersion or affusion can be used, or other baptisms where there is no water. However, where there is water available, the baptism should always be triple immersion. This is a difference.[/quote:ccs8db89]

    #4357

    Victor
    Member

    Actually more then just the Didache show this. Here is another example:

    Hippolytus of Rome said, “If water is scarce, whether as a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water is available” (The Apostolic Tradition, 21 [A.D. 215]).

    Also, tile mosaics in ancient churches and paintings in the catacombs depict baptism by pouring.

    [quote:7p7l2m2v]Both Orthodox and Catholics practice infant baptism, and it is not exactly reasonable to suggest that there is not enough water to immerse an infant.[/quote:7p7l2m2v]

    If this is true then why would:
    1. The Didache (written 70 A.D.)
    2. Other early church fathers
    3. Mosaic Paintings
    Why would all these even mention it as an option IF the possiblity of immersion would always be there? Why even give the option?
    As catholics we agree that IMMERSION is the full expression of baptism, but is IMMERSION the center of the sacrament? Or is it the water?

    ~Victor

    #4980

    I actually don’t think this is such a big deal. I’ve heard of Orthodox being baptised by sprinkling – for instance, one small infant who was sprinkled because it was so cold one Romanian winter that they could barely prevent the font from freezing over! It’s just that we still hold to the original norm, whereas Roman Catholicism seems to have changed the economic exception into the norm.

    Ideally everyone should be baptised by triple immersion where possible, but sprinkling would not make a baptism invalid (although we don’t accept any heterodox baptisms as valid in and of themselves). I myself was sprinkled as an infant in an Anglican church but brought up Lutheran (weird Protestant ecclesiology) but was accepted into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation alone, which is only done if the original baptism was [i:hcdcyf0y]valid in form[/i:hcdcyf0y]. It is easy to make too much out of this issue.

    James

    #5008

    Victor
    Member

    Ok my question now is:

    If there is enough water and the right conditions exist, is sprinkling valid?

    It seems that both you and Ted agree that under CERTAIN conditions it is ok and valid. Unless I misunderstood. Let me know.

    ~Victor

    #5017

    [quote:157xb1yf]Ok my question now is:

    If there is enough water and the right conditions exist, is sprinkling valid?

    It seems that both you and Ted agree that under CERTAIN conditions it is ok and valid. Unless I misunderstood. Let me know.

    ~Victor[/quote:157xb1yf]

    I would say that, if that were the case, the baptism would still be valid (i.e. it shouldn’t be repeated) but I’d question the priest’s Orthodoxy (actually his Bishop’s really). Sprinkling is [i:157xb1yf]a[/i:157xb1yf] valid form to be used [i:157xb1yf]only according to economy[/i:157xb1yf] when strict adherence to the full form is impossible. To do anything else would be to fly in the face of the Tradition and canons of the Church. Personally, however, I don’t think this is an issue that would cause problems re. unification. It’s somewhere not far above beardless priests in the issue ranking in my eyes and I could happily accept its continued existence in the See of Rome of a reunified Church – just don’t expect me to go along with it personally.

    James

    #5133

    Augustine
    Member

    There are two different things involved here.

    1) Orthodox Christianity’s position on heterodox sacraments, “baptism” in particular.

    2) The proper form of Baptism.

    The first is a discussion in and of itself. The second which seems to be what is discussed here, is a little more straight forward.

    The normative manner of Baptism, as established by Christ and practiced by the Apostles, is via threefold immersion. Anything less than this, can only be rightly justified by necessity (ex. lack of water, someone was very frail, etc.)

    The Latin Church, even after it’s estrangement from the rest of Christendom, continued to baptize via threefold immersion for a centuries before “baptism by pouring” became common. In the Latin Church, “baptism by immersion” continued up until the sixteenth century in some places.

    Baptism by pouring is an allowance, within the Church, in cases of emergency. While many speak of it becoming normative here and there, and try to provide evidences for this (yet I’ve yet to see specific examples of this; I’m not saying these people are lying, but I’d like to see the examples), what they fail to keep in mind is that this still doesn’t make this a legitimate practice. You will find evidence of uncanonical and anti-traditional things becoming “semi normal” here and there within the various Orthodox Churches – that is not an argument for anything, save that they are atypical. It doesn’t make them “right” or “correct”. They’re abbherations, and are not to be looked to as role models.

    There is no good argument for the practice of “baptism by pouring” – and even though it’s not the strongest endorsement that is deserved, even the “New Catechism” of the RCC is pretty clear, that only “Baptism by Immersion” gives the “full” symbolism of the sacrament. On that basis alone, I fail to see why the practice of pouring is being employed. How hard is it to do it the right way? To my mind, this represents precisely the bad sort of hyper-minimalism that helped alienate Latin Christianity from Orthodoxy to begin with. It’s the same kind of minimalist hair-splitting over Holy Communion which resulted in the dreadful practice of “communion under one kind” (which fortunately has been [i:31kogkjq]somewhat[/i:31kogkjq] corrected now.)

    #5135

    Victor
    Member

    I think I made it clear above that Immersion is the “full” expression. But neither of you have answered my question that I posed above.

    [quote:37ty1ebz]As catholics we agree that IMMERSION is the full expression of baptism, but is IMMERSION the center of the sacrament? Or is it the water?[/quote:37ty1ebz]

    Thanks.

    ~Victor

    #5137

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    here’s my question – is it really that smart to dunk babies fully under water? I see nothing wrong with pouring, especially in cases of infants.

    #5139

    Augustine
    Member

    Jon,

    [quote:154gqks3]here’s my question – is it really that smart to dunk babies fully under water?[/quote:154gqks3]

    The Holy Apostles did it. A few hundred million Orthodox still do it… I’ve heard this argument before. It’s really, really reaching.

    Not to mention the fact that infants [b:154gqks3]instinctively know how to hold their breath[/b:154gqks3]. This is why you’ll see mothers able to take their infant swimming – the little tyke can’t walk, but knows to hold his breath if he goes under. In fact, it seems they only [i:154gqks3]forget this[/i:154gqks3] as they get older.

    Besides, have you ever seen an infant Baptized properly? He won’t be under any more than a few seconds.

    #5141

    Victor
    Member

    You forget me Augustine? <img src=:” title=”Question” />

    I asked you a question above.

    ~Victor

    #5181

    Augustine
    Member

    Victor,

    [quote:bzgyba23]As catholics we agree that IMMERSION is the full expression of baptism, but is IMMERSION the center of the sacrament? Or is it the water?[/quote:bzgyba23]

    The Holy Mystery of Baptism involves three immersions – “pouring” is not an immersion. Thus in the strictest sense, it’s not a Baptism properly speaking.

    [i:bzgyba23]However[/i:bzgyba23], in desperate circumstances, where it’s either do it this way, or not at all, it can be accepted by [i:bzgyba23]economia[/i:bzgyba23] – the condescension of the Church, reflecting God’s leniency upon struggling sinners. This leniency has always existed in this matter, and so it continues.

    This though, is a different matter than what the Roman Catholics do, for no good reason whatsoever save perhaps some form of thrift/minimalism. Also, there is the other question of “heretical baptism” – the difference between the liberality of discipline as experienced [i:bzgyba23]within the Church[/i:bzgyba23], and how such liberalities are regarded when excercised beyond Her boundaries.

    Strictly speaking, all non-Orthodox Baptisms that are “accepted” are so taken “by economy”, not only their own merits as “equivelents” to Orthodox Mysteries. But in the case of western Christians who use “pouring”, you’ll find that there are basically two disciplines on this topic in Orthodoxy – one which says “forget it, we’ll only receive you by canonical Baptism” (typically Greek, at least outside of North America) and “we can accept this too, economically” (typically “Russian”, with some notable exceptions.) In the end that’s not a dogmatic question though, but a matter of where a local Church (or Churches) pastorally decides to “draw a line in the sand” as to how far they’ll bend so as to avoid scandalizing potential converts (who historically are not always savvy to the subtleties of these matters.)

    When push comes to shove, the Orthodox Church [i:bzgyba23]can[/i:bzgyba23] (and in certain circumstances [i:bzgyba23]has[/i:bzgyba23]) receive any and all converts (regardless of background) via Holy Baptism, since this Baptism is the only one She recognizes as lawful and hence undoubtedly grace filled. This isn’t the Roman Catholic position, but that is irrelevent to what Orthodox Christians do and think.

    #5182

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    So, basically you agree that our baptism is just as valid as yours, but it’s not the preferred/recommended way to do it. True?

    #5183

    Victor
    Member

    Augustine, I can’t see where you answered my question. Did I miss something? <img src=” title=”Confused” />

    ~Victor

    #5184

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    [quote:wp3xlwdn]Augustine, I can’t see where you answered my question. Did I miss something? <img src=” title=”Confused” />

    ~Victor[/quote:wp3xlwdn]
    I can’t speak for him, but I think he means that since by etymology baptism means immerse then that is what is most important.

    #5186

    Victor
    Member

    [quote:3qi95ijq]I can’t speak for him, but I think he means that since by etymology baptism means immerse then that is what is most important.[/quote:3qi95ijq]

    Is this what you meant Augustine?

    ~Victor

    #5197

    Augustine
    Member

    Jon,

    [quote:dq2edk7k]So, basically you agree that our baptism is just as valid as yours, but it’s not the preferred/recommended way to do it. True?[/quote:dq2edk7k]

    Actually, quite the opposite. The Orthodox Church does not recognize what those outside of Her “do” in and of itself. While this is sometimes more or less strongly stated, the principle involved is uniform – one cannot be said to have received union with the “theandric body of Christ”, outside of what is known to be the “theandric body of Christ” (aka. Orthodox Church.)

    In Orthodoxy, all of the Sacraments are something [u:dq2edk7k]the Church[/u:dq2edk7k] [i:dq2edk7k]does[/i:dq2edk7k] – they have no autonomy. Context is key.

    However, if the form of baptism exists (and it is one the Bishop recognizes), it’s believed whatever is lacking in terms of ecclessial grace is communicated at the rite of reception (which can take various forms, but in the west usually involves Chrismation).

    OTOH, what you’d call “licity” in Catholicism, Orthodoxy basically understands to be a condition of “validity”. This is why, as far as we’re concerned, if a Priest is defrocked, he [i:dq2edk7k]cannot[/i:dq2edk7k] act as a Priest – that means, if he tries to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we regard it as the act of a layman. This is why in some respects (though the paradigm is in many respects different) the Orthodox Church’s relationship to Catholicism is understood the way you’d guys would look at Anglicanism.

    #5198

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    While we can save the entirety of this topic for another thread does this mean that you do not view our Eucharist as valid?

    #5199

    Victor
    Member

    Augustine, I can’t seem to get you to clearly answer my question. I don’t really see that we disagree in Baptism. So why inflame something we agree on? Here is an article that may clarify things-
    An Agreed Statement of The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation[/url:lq52kmpf]

    The last paragraph reads:

    [quote:lq52kmpf]The Orthodox and Catholic members of our Consultation acknowledge, in both of our traditions, a common teaching and a common faith in one baptism, despite some variations in practice which, we believe, do not affect the substance of the mystery. We are therefore moved to declare that we also recognize each other’s baptism as one and the same. This recognition has obvious ecclesiological consequences. The Church is itself both the milieu and the effect of baptism, and is not of our making. This recognition requires each side of our dialogue to acknowledge an ecclesial reality in the other, however much we may regard their way of living the Church’s reality as flawed or incomplete. In our common reality of baptism, we discover the foundation of our dialogue, as well as the force and urgency of the Lord Jesus prayer “that all may be one.” Here, finally, is the certain basis for the modern use of the phrase, “sister churches.” At the same time, since some are unwilling to accept this mutual recognition of baptism with all its consequences, the following investigation and explanation seems necessary.[/quote:lq52kmpf]

    Do you recognize this?

    ~Victor

    #5214

    Augustine
    Member

    Victor,

    [quote:3ocwxuwn]Augustine, I can’t seem to get you to clearly answer my question. I don’t really see that we disagree in Baptism.[/quote:3ocwxuwn]

    I think what’s happening is that I’m talking past you. That’s not to say you’re a dummy – rather, I’m not taking care to explain fully a way of thinking alien to that common to both Roman Catholics and Protestants.

    If I said “baptism by pouring isn’t a proper baptism”, the RC-Protestant way of looking at things would be to understand this in such a way as to make the reception of persons coming Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, etc. into Orthodoxy without an Orthodox Baptism seem utterly incomprehensible. This is why I’ve taken pains to explain things as I have, and not offer the pat answer you’ve asked for – obviously I still wasn’t clear enough.

    It’s an example of a particularly extreme form of [i:3ocwxuwn]ekonomia[/i:3ocwxuwn] (“economy”), when the Orthodox Church receives persosn from heterodox without canonical Baptism, who had been “baptized” in a manner which does not involve three immersions. While some manner of economy was common in receiving converts from schisms and heresies where at least the basic, proper form of baptism was observed (such as is common still amongst the anti-Chalcedonians, or as far as I’m aware, the Nestorians), it’s a particularly extreme leniency with most western converts because a “baptism by pouring” isn’t really a baptism (the word “baptizo” meaning to coat or dip, like what happens when someone is overwhelmed with water or when one plunges fabric into a vat of dye.)

    This is why it’s only in North America (for missionary reasons) that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (which is under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch) practices extreme economy – where as if you were to go to Greece (which while autonomous, and under the Archbishop of Athens, shares the same heritage as the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and was once under it’s presidency and synodal adminstration), or to the Holy Mountain (Mt.Athos – which is still very much under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarch), such western converts would be almost always Baptized. This is precisely what happened (relatively) recently when a group of (I believe they were French) Benedictines were received into Orthodoxy under the EP.

    As for the “Agreed Statement”, the Orthodox participation in this is not authoritative, but academic and this is precisely why they are a “consultation.” Suffice it to say, the way the document was phrased (and it’s incredibly innaccurate and dismissive approach to Fathers, ancient and new, who disagree with it’s essentially Roman Catholic sacramental theology) was received very badly by many Orthodox clergy and hierarchs who became aware of it, in particular those outside of North America.

    “Baptismal Theology”[/url:3ocwxuwn] by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (whose credentials as a scholar, spiritual author, and pastor of souls are well known by Orthodox Chrsitians throughout the world) is a response specifically to this document. The entire way it (the “Agreed Statement”) envisions sacramental “validity” is alien to the relevent canons on this topic, and to the spiritual authorities who spoke in any depth on the matter (St.Cyprian, St.Basil the Great, St.Firmillian, St.Nikodemos the Hagiorite, etc., etc.)

    Either through deception or simple ignorance, the authors of the “Orthodox side” of this agreed statement simply misrepresent the Church’s teaching on this topic, and many of the so called inconsistancies they think they’re working around are in fact the evidence in and of themself that their view is not normative to Orthodoxy, but has the smell of something gone sour. Part of the problem is that the document eminated from St.Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in New York, which is something of a mixed bag in terms of where it’s coming from (basically, theological modernism “Orthodox style”, which probably for most westerners looks downright “conservative.”)

    #5218

    Victor
    Member

    [quote:2feepvkv]If I said “baptism by pouring isn’t a proper baptism”, the RC-Protestant way of looking at things would be to understand this in such a way as to make the reception of persons coming Catholicism, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, etc. into Orthodoxy without an Orthodox Baptism seem utterly incomprehensible. This is why I’ve taken pains to explain things as I have, and not offer the pat answer you’ve asked for – obviously I still wasn’t clear enough.[/quote:2feepvkv]

    Actually this was my other question in which I asked if it was valid, not “proper.” I got the answer to this long ago. This wasn’t the question I was asking. Perhaps you skipped over my question and may be the reason why you may think I’m a dummy. My question was:

    In Orthodox teaching what is the center of the baptismal sacrament, the immersion or the water?
    If immersion is the center, then wouldn’t it be reasonable to see the Scriptures nail this down?
    If it’s the water then immersion is simply a symbol. The water is what conveys grace not the immersion.

    [quote:2feepvkv](the word “baptizo” meaning to coat or dip, like what happens when someone is overwhelmed with water or when one plunges fabric into a vat of dye.)[/quote:2feepvkv]

    [i:2feepvkv]Baptizo[/i:2feepvkv] can mean cleansing or ritual washing as well as immersion.

    ~Victor

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