[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.