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Baptism of infants

Posted By: theophan

Baptism of infants - 04/25/18 10:56 PM

Christ is Risen!!

Brothers and Sisters:

I have a question to pose concerning the Baptism of infants. In my family--Roman Catholic--it was the custom to take the child to church for Baptism within the first month of life.

Baptism is important to me. It is initiation into Christ--"plunging" into His Passion, Death, and Resurrection; becoming one with Him and Him with His Person (establishing that relationship that begins now and will continue for all eternity because of the covenant that is established); being integrated into the life of Christ/the life of the Church. It is the first step into the life to come for which we hope.

The question that has arisen is what happens to an infant if the parents refuse to have the child baptized and the child subsequently dies. I've been told by clergy that the child would go to Heaven regardless. Now please understand that I don't want to play God or begin some long polemic. I just don't understand people who refuse to be part of the Church--i.e., Christ, His promises, and the life He gives us in the Church--and then when tragedy strikes think that Heaven is some place where everyone goes regardless of what they did or did not do here.

This was sparked by a friend whose son and daughter-in-law refuse to have their second child baptized, though the first one was. She is greatly troubled by this. What does one say to a friend in distress over something like this?

Similarly I have had people tell me that everyone makes it--and I think of the Church's condemnation of Origen and his apocatastasis doctrine. I believe that this error of everyone making it with no regard to what one has done in this life is the major error of the 20th century.

Am I off?

Thoughts?

Bob

P S: I would appreciate any of our clergy members helping me out, even if it would be by p.m.

Thanks to you all.
Posted By: Irish_Ruthenian

Re: Baptism of infants - 04/26/18 12:46 AM

Apocatastasis. Hooooooboy, you are opening a can of worms there.

I have come to appreciate the understanding of Holy Orthodoxy regarding the issue of "Original Sin" and children. The Orthodox Church does not agree with nor teach that any child is guilt of Adam's sin at the moment of their conception. My question to an online Orthodox priest friend was this, "If this is so, then the child is born morally neutral and remains so until it can make a reasoned decision to choose evil over good. This means that an unbaptized infant before the age of reason, being not guilty of sin, goes to be with Christ in heaven."

I was told this is the correct Orthodox view.

As for "everyone making it with no regard to what was done in this life".....that is most certainly NOT apocatastasis. There is most certainly judgment of one's sins and consequences (torments) for our evil choices. The difference between apocatastasis and the teaching of eternal damnation is that hell is corrective and restorative rather than punitive and never-ending. As St. Isaac of Syria taught, the wicked experience God's love as torment. Our God is the fire we meet in the next life. Scripture teaches that God is fire, and many have taught that this fire is His passionate love for all creation. The same sun that blesses healthy eyes hurts eyes that are sick. The same fire that tempers the steel and makes it become what it should be, destroys wood.

It all depends on what we become in this life (theosis). But the idea that in apocatastasis there is no torment, no consequence for our sin, is erroneous.
Posted By: Deacon John Montalvo

Re: Baptism of infants - 04/26/18 02:43 PM

Christ is Risen!

From the CCC:

Quote
1257. The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 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.62 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.


It’s that last statement which is italicized in the original that is most important in dealing with your question.
Posted By: theophan

Re: Baptism of infants - 04/26/18 02:48 PM

Thanks to you both.
Posted By: ajk

Re: Baptism of infants - 04/26/18 03:31 PM

Originally Posted by theophan
Thanks to you both.
But what's the bottom line? If, for instance,
Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian
"... an unbaptized infant before the age of reason, being not guilty of sin, goes to be with Christ in heaven."
does this not, in itself, imply that the Incarnation was only necessary to save adults?
Posted By: Deacon John Montalvo

Re: Baptism of infants - 04/26/18 06:47 PM

Bob,

I thought I had included this from the CCC as well, but I noticed it was not in my post:


Quote
1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them," allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: Baptism of infants - 05/07/18 11:10 AM

Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian
Apocatastasis. Hooooooboy, you are opening a can of worms there.

I have come to appreciate the understanding of Holy Orthodoxy regarding the issue of "Original Sin" and children. The Orthodox Church does not agree with nor teach that any child is guilt of Adam's sin at the moment of their conception. My question to an online Orthodox priest friend was this, "If this is so, then the child is born morally neutral and remains so until it can make a reasoned decision to choose evil over good. This means that an unbaptized infant before the age of reason, being not guilty of sin, goes to be with Christ in heaven."

It's always useful to clarify terms and definitions.

From the Latin perspective there are two definitions of "guilt". Joe steals a loaf of bread. He alone is guilty of that crime. That guilt is not passed to his wife and children. But Joe's crime has consequences - Joe is caught, tried and sent to jail. Because Joe is in prison he cannot work to support his family, and his wife and children lose their home, their income, and suffer want. It is in this way that Joe's wife and children inherit the "guilt" of his crime.

In Latin, the term "guilt" includes not only "doing the crime" but also "doing the time". We inherit not the "guilt" for Adam's sinful deed, but the "guilt" of the consequences (which include the propensity towards sin). As English speakers we don't use the term "guilt" for the second definition. Hence, the common confusion.

If you're interested in this topic I'd recommend studying the Eastern and Western definitions of original sin.
Posted By: ajk

Re: Baptism of infants - 05/07/18 12:54 PM

Originally Posted by Irish_Ruthenian
The Orthodox Church does not agree with nor teach that any child is guilt of Adam's sin at the moment of their conception.
What is the classic text -- Catholic Church teaching -- about this "guilt," with which the Orthodox Church is in disagreement?

According to the CCC, for instance:
Quote
404 How did the sin of Adam become the sin of all his descendants? The whole human race is in Adam "as one body of one man".293 By this "unity of the human race" all men are implicated in Adam's sin, as all are implicated in Christ's justice. Still, the transmission of original sin is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. But we do know by Revelation that Adam had received original holiness and justice not for himself alone, but for all human nature. By yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state.294 It is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice. And that is why original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed" - a state and not an act.

No mention of guilt.
Posted By: Administrator

Re: Baptism of infants - 05/08/18 12:24 PM

The "classic" text is usually Trent. IIRC they use "guilt" the way I defined it above. However, those who would conclude that the Catholic Church teaches that we inherit guilt for Adam's sin (rather than the effects of that sin) are misreading it (and everything else).

I've long had the thought that Father John Meyendorff, in his book "Byzantine Theology", kept that misunderstanding going in the English-speaking West since he presented a summary of the Western Teaching there that was not wholly accurate.
Posted By: ajk

Re: Baptism of infants - 05/08/18 05:26 PM

I thought I recalled an old post of mine on the Trent text but it seems I wrote something but didn't post it. The word I recall from then and in question is reatum and is usually rendered guilt but has the meaning of "a charge" or "accusation." Thus,THE COUNCIL OF TRENT Session V:
Quote
5. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the reatum of original sin is remitted [reatum originalis peccati], or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema.

For in those who are born again God hates nothing, because there is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism unto death,...

And this must also be read in the context of the total decree, and of the times, that is against Protestant theologies, of which there were several. Here is an interpreter who quotes the text in question but does not find the sense of guilt in the Catholic doctrine:
Quote
Observations.

If original sin is supposed to be only a defect, or an evil that has come upon mankind, the inheriting of such an evil is sufficiently explained by pointing to the fact that Adam was the original progenitor of the race. But if an original guilt is imported into the doctrine,—a guilt that, since the transgression of Adam, has clung to all human individuals,—there arises a more important question, that is, how far anything inherited may involve guilt. The Romish symbols say nothing on this subject ; but the theologians (including in the notion of sin the free consent of the individual ; cf. Bellarm. De amiss. gr. i. 1) adopt the idea of an imputation, the foundation of which is laid by the derivation of all from Adam. Bellarm. Amiss. Gr. v. 17; Mohler, Symb. 5 (cf. Conf. orthod. 53). ..
This thought is not absent from the Protestant symbols, at least they do not exclude an imputatio peccati Adamitici (Apol. p. 51 ; F. C. 642), though rejecting this as the sole foundation for original sin ... But, in fact, the Reformers did not reduce the original guilt of the natural man to mere imputation : they saw in the inborn corruption itself something offensive to the all-holy God, and therefore condemnable in His sight ; whence it appears that they held a definition of sin which does not necessarily require the free consent of the individual ... Original sin, as defined by the Protestants, is not effaced by baptism ; the imputation of it is removed. Its total abolition must, as it has seized human nature in its inmost recesses, be awaited in the resurrection alone. The Romish Church, on the other hand, hold original sin to be removed by baptism, which restores the righteousness acceptable to God ; for the prava concupiscentia, which remains even in the baptized as the fomes peccati, or fuel of sin, is not in itself of the nature of sin.
[emphasis added] pp 106-108. A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE DOCTRINES AND CONFESSIONS OF THE VARIOUS COMMUNITIES OF CHRISTENDOM.

Father John Meyendorff, in "Byzantine Theology" does seem to take the west on the typical "guilt trip" without distinguishing, as for example in the above quote, the crucial differences.
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