Phoenix priest botched baptisms for decades

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Invictus, Feb 8, 2022.

  1. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,195
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    It is not a matter of being dependent upon a priest or the priest’s perfection. Technically, anyone can baptize. We cannot baptize ourselves; someone else must do it for us. (A sort of sacramentally reinforced anti-Pelagianism, I suppose.) If we were baptized in an improper manner, we are not in the Church, and must be rebaptized. That is the apostolic practice, as recorded in the Book of Acts.
     
  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,514
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    The issue at hand highlights the question: how critical is baptism to salvation? I do not think that baptism is absolutely essential for a person to be redeemed, for we are saved by grace through faith, not by baptism.

    I'm trying to picture the following scenario in heaven, at the judgment.

    Man: "Lord Jesus, I trusted in you alone for my redemption."
    Jesus: "Yes, you did. Unfortunately for you, the priest botched your baptism. Too bad! Now, depart from Me!"

    :no:
     
  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,514
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    I would agree, with one caveat regarding the part I've underlined above. I believe the improperly baptized person who is trusting only in Christ as his Redeemer is in and is a part of God's Church (the family of God, the company of believing Christians) but is not properly in (is not a member in good standing of) the structural, humanly-organized church in which the baptism was incorrectly performed. Which one of those is more important? :)

    I think the passage in Acts to which you refer is not applicable; those people were baptized into "John's baptism" of repentance from sins, but they did not know of Christ's redemptive work. They were then baptized into Christ. Whereas in the present circumstances the people all were being (ostensibly) baptized into Christ to begin with. (In Acts we are not told whether the baptizing person recited a precise formula during the baptism; the fact that we are not told might be an indicator that a precise formula was not considered crucial, otherwise it seems downright negligent of Luke to not tell us that we must 'say the following words: "I baptize..."'
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2022
  4. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    2,710
    Likes Received:
    2,506
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Historically there is some backup for what you're saying, namely that the Church Fathers teach of two other kinds of baptism (in addition to "water baptism"): the baptism of martyrdom (those who died for the church prior to becoming baptized), and the baptism of desire (eg. the thief on the cross).

    That's why I couched my reply in a cautious way, that we can't just lean on the correct formula as the only way to analyze the situation. I am fully sympathetic to the fact that God could provisionally provide baptism to a person who did not receive the visible Sacrament.

    However, we need to be very careful with allowing these other kinds of baptism (and the church fathers were). In today's age of t-shirts and flip-flops, and bellies, people will very quickly slide into the fat mindset of making visible ceremonies optional. That's what happened with that Roman priest: he came to conclude that the precise ceremony was optional.

    How do we restrain those other kinds of baptism, and restore water baptism to its central place? Well, the baptism of martyrdom (or baptism of fire as it was also known), was only recognized as valid after the person had perished. If they went in to their death but did not die, then they were not baptized by fire.

    Similarly with baptism by desire: this was applied to the catechumens who were training to enter the Church but died before being able to do so. In other words, they demonstrated a manifest and stable submission to God's will; and they died before they could receive the proper water baptism.

    In both cases, death was the common theme; namely the person could no longer correct the defect by receiving water baptism.

    So with all the thousands of people the RC priest baptized, we can allow that those who have died since that time, they were baptized by desire and God reckons them as baptized. But those who are still alive are not impeded in correcting their defect in any way. They can go and receive a conditional baptism tomorrow. Then that is what they should do.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2022
    Rexlion and Invictus like this.
  5. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,644
    Likes Received:
    918
    Religion:
    ACNA
    I think the problem is that there is a misunderstanding of the place and role of the church. It is really a radical protestant idea that the church has no role and it is really only the majority position in the US.
     
    Invictus likes this.
  6. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,195
    Likes Received:
    1,131
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Episcopalian
    I think this is exactly right. Thank you for bringing up baptism by blood and baptism by desire. That absolutely plays a role here. What the latter two means of baptism amount to is that there are people who are in the Church in heaven who were not (fully) members of the Church on earth, but their membership in the Church in heaven is directly related to actions they took before they died.
     
    Stalwart, Rexlion and bwallac2335 like this.
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,514
    Likes Received:
    1,797
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Yes, those are good points. I, too, do not like to see the 'sloppy agape' attitudes of 'take-in-or-leave-it obedience' to things like baptism. It is God's will for the Christian to be baptized as well as to eschew sin; knowing this and cavalierly doing otherwise is displeasing to God, and Christians should be serious about not displeasing Him.

    It's good that you mention the value of not leaning on a "correct formula". When it comes to baptism, I don't see an exact formula specified in the Bible, but I do recognize the authority of the church to say, "After lengthy deliberation and discussion we conclude that the right way is XYZ and from now on all of our people are bound to do it that way." Priests and deacons need to be obedient to that authoritative guidance. Yet God is merciful and is likely to extend grace to those who unknowingly fell victim to the disobedience of such a minister as the one in the posted article.

    If we were to be rigidly dogmatic about sticking to a baptism formula and saying that the person who was baptized with one wrong word is still hell-bound in original sin, then I would have had to point out that there is a failure in the RCC to be rigidly dogmatic to the physical aspect of the baptismal formula which is established in the Bible: namely, that Jesus and all other baptismal candidates went down into the water and then came up out of the water, Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:38. We have plenty of corroboration from archaeology and rabbinic writings concerning the mikvehs (ritual baths) in use at the time. There is not even a hint in history that anyone back then practiced a sprinkle baptism. But God is merciful.