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Friday, August 20, 2010

Baptism - so WHAT?

I have been in an interesting conversation (of sorts) with a Baptist over at The Hive. I qualify what has been in our exchanges as a 'kind of a conversation' because he is very difficult to talk with; he uses the tactics described vividly by John Martignoni at BibleChristianSociety.com.

He will start with one topic, jump to another, stab at you with stupid 'this is what Catholics believe' statements that are patently false and then cry 'FOUL' if you point out the fallacy of his logic or statements.

The latest - and he has done this before - is to attack the Catholic position on Baptism.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

(1257 ) The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.


Now, I cannot think how this could be any clearer. However, The Church goes on and teaches:

(1272) Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation. Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated.


But here is what the nice (but angry) Baptist Man has stated:

Catholics believe in more than one baptism
Catholics do not believe in immersion
Catholics do not realize that Jesus joined the church founded by St John the Baptist when He allowed St John to baptise HIM.

I trudge along, one issue at a time, and have struggled to find a balance between firmness and wanting to smack the guy in the head with an incense burner (there, take that, you big doofus).

Because we understand there is a difference between the form the administration of a Sacrament may take and the Sacrament itself, we do not need to explain to anyone younger than the age of 7 (usually) that as long as one uses water and the formula (I baptise you in the Name of the Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit) it is a valid baptism. While immersion is the preferred choice, one does not always have the kind of large water supply at hand that would allow for immersion. One may be on the run from Jihadists, Roman Soldiers, Pagan SideShow Participants (what? oh never mind) and cannot find a large pond, a river, a lake or someones really cool back yard spa.

We also know that sometimes, we have no WATER available...that someone may give up their life in defense of a Faith they have just embraced, that they really, really really want to be Baptised but died before it was possible to have that done.

And so, ultimately, we recognize that God is the one who instituted the Sacraments but HE is not BOUND by them...we are...and to understand that anything and everything is possible through God.

The more and more I learn about my faith, and see others rant and rave about their own religious traditions, I appreciate the wonderful marriage between Faith and Reason that is Catholicism.

There is a genius behind it, when properly applied, that has to be Divine in origin because I have never EVER met a human being that could come up with this on their own.

I have, however, seen a lot of stuff we DO come up with on our own and it is lacking in either faith or reason or both.

Anyway, it has been a long week and I look forward to going home and seeing Mom, Duffy, Elizabeth and Peanut.

Pray for my friend Patty.

And my soldier, who comes home on leave Sept 2.

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