You probably have a thread on this topic, but I couldn't find it. I wanted to post some reflections on baptism here, especially re: the meaning of infant baptism and how it is so often misperceived by those who feel repentance is the sole province of the adult mind.
I've spoken to 3 and 4 year old children about their memories of God before being born, along with their memories of being in the womb, and it is startling and poignant how much they do seem to recall, especially in terms of feeling awareness. I think for those who argue against infant baptism, there is simply a lack of understanding of this subtle psychospiritual awareness among children, along with a tendency to misunderstand the grace-based nature of the sacraments, or what a sacrament is in the first place, or whether such a gift exists.
And so my assumption is that children are born into the world partially remembering the heavenly realms and longing to find God again in human relationships. While there is much room for disappointment here, in a healthy "good-enough" parent-child attachment relationship, there is the potential for generating the "I-Thou" presence such that children can re-configure their primary, pre-reflective spiritual awareness into a functional psycho-social orientation.
The early church was quite deliberate in presenting the stories of Jesus and children as central to its emerging creed by making them one of the most common themes throughout the synopic gospels, and seems alluded to in John 12:35-36.
My sense is that Jesus related with children as the model of receptivity to the Holy Spirit, and wouldn't have approached them so intimately as a model for the disciples only to exclude them as merely an analogy to that born-again life. The child's delight in Jesus, as must have been the case during His life on earth, is that essential condition of openness for sacramental participation in the Church who is His living body. As such, infants and children are uniquely qualified to receive the sacrament that embodies what they most long to find within the community of human relationships.
And I would say that the child's relatively unencumbered longing for the giving and receiving of love is "repentance" itself, since receiving God openly is to turn back, or re-connect, which I believe is the primary meaning of the word.
Interesting summary of the scholarly debate re: infant baptism:
A bibliography covering various issues, including the sacraments of baptism and confirmation:
Those are great reflections and links, w.c. Thanks.
Part of the controversy pertains to how one views baptism. In Roman Catholicism, it's considered the Sacrament of initiation into the Christian community/Body of Christ. So Baptism is really a way to saying the children belong to the community . . . are a vital part of it even before they can make an explicit faith commitment. Protestants, otoh, tend to require such a profession of faith as a pre-requisite to Baptism, their view being that only those who have such faith are members of the Body. My leaning is with Catholicism, of course, and also for the reason that Baptism does confer grace, protecting one from the power of evil in many ways, I'm convinced.
In Catholicism, we use the Sacrament of Confirmation for a purpose similar to Protestant Baptism. With Confirmation, a young adult is "confirmed" in his/her Baptism and is opened in a new way to the gifts of the Holy Spirit to live out their faith.
The Book of Acts really does seem to leave room for a variety of arrangements re: baptism and confirmation/laying on-of-hands. It's easy to see how the early church, emerging out of an ancient, Jewish communal sensibility, would be much looser, or inclusive, with notions of belonging than what fundamentalist Protestants require. I'm about 65%-35% in my ratio of being persuaded re: the two arguments presented by Jeremias and Aland.
Hope I'm posting this in the right place. The following is from the Compodeum of the Catholic Church concerning Baptism. This seems to me to describe "eternal security", as referred to by some non-catholics... ???
263. What are the effects of Baptism?
Baptism takes away original sin, all personal sins and all punishment due to sin. It makes the baptized person a participant in the divine life of the Trinity through sanctifying grace, the grace of justification which incorporates one into Christ and into his Church. It gives one a share in the priesthood of Christ and provides the basis for communion with all Christians. It bestows the theological virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A baptized person belongs forever to Christ. He is marked with the indelible seal of Christ (character).
Baptism is really cool, isn't it.
It's not the same idea as "once saved, always saved," however. Baptism claims a soul for Christ, but one can lose all these benefits through serious sin.
Is that what you were wondering about?
According to catholic theology, if you do lose all these benefits through serious sin, can you get them back again through repentance? (Also, how does the catholic church view the "unforgivable sin" of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and why is is blasphemy against the Father and Jesus not viewed as harshly?)
You said: "Protestants, otoh, tend to require such a profession of faith as a pre-requisite to Baptism, their view being that only those who have such faith are members of the Body."
Please note that some Protestants belief that a profession of faith is a pre-requisite...but not by any means all. Most Protestant denominations (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Methodist, etc.) are in agreement with the Roman Catholic understanding of Baptism. The requirement of a profession of faith, ie. being born again, is found most often in the Baptist and Evangelical side of the Protestant community.
Thanks for the clarification, Wanda. Well said. (Welcome back)
Jacques, you never lose the "rights" effected through Baptism, but you can lose the "privileges" through sin. Maybe that's a good way to put it? You can indeed restore right relationship with God through repentance.
Re. blasphemy against the Spirit, let's take that up on another thread, if you don't mind starting one. It would be a good topic.
Phil, I do know that Catholics do not believe in "eternal security", or once saved, always saved. But what does Catholic baptism mean then? I know the rote answer of course from going to Catholic schools,(pre-vatican 11) but the definition from the Compodeum seems like it means something else. Forgive me, I have a hard time getting my thoughts across.
So what benefits do we lose?
I have a very hard time believing that "mortal" sin is the same as being totally lost and losing one's salvation. I think sin is something we DO that weakens (for lack of a better word)us, but our salvation (salvation from what, by the way) is our relationship with God, our inner motives, our fundamental belief and desire to love God, self and neighbor.
Mortal sin implies an act that destroys one's relationship with God, which would forfeit one's salvation. Just how common this is, no one really knows.
I'm not sure what document you're referring to, Katy. The new catechism? I'm guessing that's what you mean from a reference above.
- see http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c1a1.htm which you may have already examined.
And here's the section on sin, including mortal sin:
Do you have the book? It would be good if you did.
I do have the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and have been reading it. The reference I gave is from the newer compendium, which is more for lay people, and more understandable.
Is the second edition of the C.C.C. much diffeent from the 1st edition, the one I have?
There's been only one new edition during the past five centuries. Check out the secion on sin cited above. I think it might answer some of your questions about mortal sin.
What I have is "Catechism of the Catholic Church", paperback, published April, 1995. I thought maybe there was a revised version since then, and hopefully using gender inclusive language.
The Compendium is something different.. a different book. I don't have it, but it is on the web site that I posted above.
|Powered by Social Strata|