Be baptised and chrismated, or just chrismated?
Posted 17 January 2006 - 02:26 AM
I'm new to the board and I thought this would be a good place to get some answers. I have been on the jouurney for several months now and, assuming that Christ preserves me, I will be chrismated on Great and Holy Saturday. However, in much of my reading, I have read that there is controversy regarding the reception of converts into the fullness of the faith, specifically about whether one's prior baptism in a schismatic church, even if it was Trinitarian, is invalid and the seeker must not only be chrismated but also rebaptized. I have read that the OCA, in general, has generally practiced oikoumeneand considered the seal of chrismation sufficient. If anyone has better insight into the theology surrounding this issue and some good advice as to how I should approach this, I'd much appreciate it.
Posted 17 January 2006 - 03:25 PM
However, in much of my reading, I have read that there is controversy regarding the reception of converts into the fullness of the faith, specifically about whether one's prior baptism in a schismatic church, even if it was Trinitarian, is invalid and the seeker must not only be chrismated but also rebaptized. I have read that the OCA, in general, has generally practiced oikoumeneand considered the seal of chrismation sufficient. If anyone has better insight into the theology surrounding this issue and some good advice as to how I should approach this, I'd much appreciate it.
There are two basic ways in which people are being received into Orthodoxy: through baptism or by chrismation. It is correct that the difference is often jurisdictional. In jurisdictions such as the OCA it is much more common to be received by chrismation if one was previously baptised in the name of the Trinity. In other jurisdictions such as ROCOR it is much more common to be received by baptism. In both jurisdictions however there are exceptions to the rule since in any case the final decision is always a pastoral one based on the situation of the individual.
The story of why there is such a divide is long and complicated but theologically the OCA keeps to the Russian practice of the 17th- 19th centuries in which it was felt that economia should be generally applied to Christians of other denominations. ROCOR in the 1980s changed to the alternative traditional practice of baptism due to the fact that a contemporary Christian is often not like a Christian of the 19th century spiritually and morally so that it is felt the economia of the recent past is more to a person's harm than help.
How such a fundamental division arose within Orthodoxy is part and parcel of the divisions and disputes of the 20th century. The calendar, how non-Orthodox should be received into the Church, how Orthodox Christians should relate to the modern world and many other issues regarding the tradition of the Church came to be a source of great contention throughout the 20th century and this came to divide the Church.
In both cases it is very important to understand that the theology of the Church is that sacraments are found within the Church so that the main question is how one applies economia & not just whether a baptism is 'valid' or not outside of the Church. This is important because if looked at carefully one can see that the two different ways in which people are received really comes down to a question of the best way in which economia should be applied in the present day world.
A very important connected question that needs further consideration is the relationship of sacraments to the spiritual/moral life (praxis). In discussions about 'validity' of sacraments it often seems as if the necessary connection to the spiritual life is left out. This is certainly not a Patristic perspective- eg St Symeon the New Theologian who always ties the two together. Both laity and even priests at times do not recognise how much of this is a pastoral decision that very much hinges on the spiritual life of the person coming to be received into the Church.
Thankfully we now see much more unity than in the past. This is because there is now much more agreement about the basic tradition of the Church. There is however still a basic difference in pastoral practice between the jurisdictions- partly for perfectly acceptable reasons; but also partly because the contentious issues of the past gradually came to be defining characteristics of different jurisdictions that are difficult to detach from. If we can go forward as the One Church of Christ then it could be at least in some measure that the things which in the past divided us could be the very things which complement each of us.
A last word about the above post. Plans already have been made as to when and how you are being received into the Church. In general the safest way is to keep to the 'rule' of the parish in which one is being received. For any questions we may have we should always remember that our life in the Church is an ongoing one in which grace upon grace is added as part of our life in Christ. There was always some sort of deficiency- something missing- in the past (and in the present also!); this does not make our life in the Church 'not valid' since Christ's grace precisely is there to compensate for weakness.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 17 January 2006 - 08:00 PM
Thank you for your helpful response. I suppose that my post sounded like someone who thinks he knows better than his priest or the church for that matter as to have doubts as to whether chrismation was sufficient. But you put it very well in that "...Christ's grace precisely is there to compensate..." It is best to always remember that.
Glory to our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Posted 17 January 2006 - 09:24 PM
I do not wish to judge or invalidate those that have been received into the Church by chrismation, but Baptism is the proper manner to receive Latins and Protestants. It is the practice of the most of the SCOBA jurisdictions to chrismate Protestants and Latins if their "baptism" was done three times, invocing the Trinity, and with water. However, the experience of baptism in the Orthodox Church is different than in other Church, as is the purpose behind it. There are so many different Protestant baptismal theologies but the Latins believe it delivers the soul from the stain of original sin. But for the Orthodox, apart from indicating ones initiation into the Church, it brings the believer into the second stage of the Christian life, illumination. This is why we baptise infants, not because they are inherently evil or sinful, but because they are pure and worthy of illumination.
I would suggest reading, "I Confess One Baptism" by Father George Mellitinos, a Priest in the Church of Greece. Second, try and find a text of the baptismal ceremony of the Orthodox Church. If you read it, you will find yourself asking, do I really want to deny myself this?
While, the SCOBA jurisdictions tend to baptise, I have found that if the catechuman insists on reception by baptism, they will do it. Remember, their "apology" is that they are using economia when chrismating. So demand acrivia or strictness. If you are baptised, you can be 100% sure that your reception into the Church was correct and canonical. If you ever go to Mount Athos, or Father Ephraim's monasteries, or even to some of the Orthodox countries, you may find yourself denied communion based on the fact that you were only chrismated. I know on Mount Athos, they will offer to baptise you even if you have already been chrismated and are participating in Church life.
Finally, if anybody says, 'it's no big deal', then you can always reply, 'if it is no big deal then baptise me!'
Posted 18 January 2006 - 12:13 AM
Posted 18 January 2006 - 03:04 AM
Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:10 AM
There should not be comparison between roman catholics and evangelicals, who like to convert into orthodoxy!
Is not a correct thing to say that because roman catholics look at baptism from the original sin point of view, their baptism is incorrect.
Posted 18 January 2006 - 09:47 AM
Yet, I believe Orthodoxy is the Church of Christ. Protestant and Latin confessions have very certainly changed with the passage of the years.
I was raised in the Anglican (Episcoplian) Church in the 50's. Is it the same confession today?
In the 50's, even the 60's, did the Anglican body have women priests, or now such incredible spectacles of ordaining an openly homosexual priest to the rank of Bishop, while at the same time continuing to commit and live with his partner in sexual union? (Whilst in England recently, there is a very serious movement towards women Bishops.) Is this the Tradition of the Church?
Do we know that if a candidate for Priesthood in the Orthodox Church, chooses to be a married priest, that if his wife dies three seconds after the ordination, he must remain celibate the rest of his life, to maintain his Priesthood? What if the marriage is of a longer duration and children come as a blessing? The married Priest must raise his children alone.
There is only One Church. Accept it or not.
Finally, after many years, though not being a Priest, I would counsel Baptism.
Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:08 AM
Would we have baptized Mother Theresa, if she, for certain reasons, would have joined the orthodox church?
In face of the fact the two patriarchs, that of Constantinople, Athenagoras, and that of Rome, Paul VI, invalidated the anathemas of 1054, are we going to say that Athenagoras dealed with a non-christian person at all, if we consider that pope Paul VI was baptized as a roman catholic, so that Athenagoras action are completely in vain, and that he shouldnt even bother about it?
If he considered Paul the VI as patriarch of west descending from the authority of the pope at the time prior to 1054, then he surely considered him a christian with a valid baptism and sacraments.
Therefore I say, there is no comparison between roman catholics and evangelicals!
Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:18 PM
As I said in my previous post one of my concerns is that resulting from past disputes over these questions jurisdictions have become characterised by how they receive people- some strict, some less so. Probably there is some very good point to all of this but I do pray that one day we may return to what seems the more traditional way- which is that along with general guidelines provided by our Church we are encouraged to employ that freedom which discernment requires rather than having our choice so strongly influenced by jurisdictional 'brand-name'.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
Posted 18 January 2006 - 02:25 PM
Now the Uniates are quite aware of their affiliation, but that was not always the case.
So, yes there are cases for reception by chrismation. Unfortunately, this economia has become the standard practice in North America. But Orthodoxy is about fullness not minimalism. We cannot escape the reality that the Orthodox experience of baptism is different than that of the Latins or Protestants. One only needs to read the service books to see that clearly. It is not just the baptism itself but the prayers read, the exorcisms, the renunciation of Satan, the anointing with oil, then the actually baptism (triple immersion not just pouring or sprinking or single immersion), and after that chrismation. There is the experience of wearing the baptismal garment for the first week of Church services and experiencing illumination. There are great blessings that come with an Orthodox baptism. That does not deny that those who are just chrismated are Orthodox or in the Church or are capable of sanctity. The New Martyrs Alexandra and Elizabeth came into the Church from Lutheranism by chrismation as did Father Seraphim Rose.
But that does not negate the importance of reception by baptism. God can work around human error even at the hands of Church hierarchs and priests.
Posted 18 January 2006 - 03:18 PM
Baptism of Roman Catholics and Protestants (amongst whom are Evangelicals) is a large topic (and a very hot discussion in many places, for example Mount Athos). In many ways I do not want to wander into it.
That is why I underlined Olga's and Fr. Raphael's responses as excellent answers.
As for your examples: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and the Ecumenical Patriarch meeting Pope Paul V1, are you truly seeing the complete picture?
I do not want, at this moment, due to my illness, to invoke the extreme division this meeting and 'lifting' of anathemas caused in the Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Philaret's 'Sorrowful Epistles' should certainly be read concerning this matter.
Mother Teresa is universally loved, but so is the Dalai Lama.
As for the Uniate Church, both you and I (yourself in Albania, and I for two years in Romania) what can I say Klod?
The entire wilting ecumenical dialoque between Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic Church is blocked by the very existence of the Uniate Church.
Seeking Saint Silouan's advice is the best solution for me. That is, love for enemies, and seeking the humility of Christ.
But I can say without hesitation, for Saint Silouan the Athonite the only Church is the Orthodox Church.
How each person is received into Orthodoxy I leave in the hands of the Bishops and Parish Priests.
Posted 18 January 2006 - 05:59 PM
My simple concern is supposedly that if God has accepted someone's baptism outside the orthodox church, e.g in latin church, when that person wants to join the orthodoxy, the eagerness to re-baptise him wouldnt that be a great offence for Christ, knowing that baptism cannot be neither repeated, nor ridiculed!
Fr. Seraphim greetings from me! (so do the others as well)
Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:40 AM
"There are great blessings that come with an Orthodox baptism. That does not deny that those who are just chrismated are Orthodox or in the Church or are capable of sanctity. The New Martyrs Alexandra and Elizabeth came into the Church from Lutheranism by chrismation as did Father Seraphim Rose."
True and true. But the examples you cite cut the ground right from beneath your feet. If people received by chrismation only can join the ranks of the glorified, it should be obvious that reception by chrismation only is grace-bearing.
"First of all, Patriarch Athenagoras had no authority lifting the anathemas and his actions are not recognized by the whole Church.":
A patriarch of Constantinople certainly has the authority to lift an anathema pronounced by a patriarch of Constantinople. To deny this is to deny the integrity of the Church of Constantinople as a church of Christ. It is effectively a denial of koinonia. That the revocation of the anathema is not "recognized by the whole Church" is irrelevant. Constantinople can loose what Constantinople bound.
Alec Lowly, sinner
Guest_Douglas R Gwinn
Posted 19 January 2006 - 06:32 AM
> have been following this thread with great interest! My Dad who had =20=
> a PhD in New Testament and spent most of his life as a college =20 > professor, and was a remarkable Christian, was also a Presbyterian =20 > pastor and baptized me as an infant (Presbyterian sprinkling). In =20 > medical school, in a house church, I decided I wanted to be re-=20 > baptized by immersion as a believer and asked him to do it. His =20 > greatness is illustrated by the fact that although he thought it =20 > unnecessary, and that I did not understand John Knox's covenant =20 > theology of baptism, there was also nothing in Presbyterian polity =20 > that said he couldn't and therefore if it was important to me he =20 > would be happy to do it. Fast forward to now. I was dunked thrice, =20 > and therefore in our jurisdiction I probably don't need to be =20 > baptized again. My priest, however, is conservative and thinks it =20 > would be better to be baptized again. My sponsor, a friend who is a =20=
> former Protestant pastor and now Orthodox priest and who bears most =20=
> of the responsibility for my being in this predicament, did NOT get =20=
> re-baptized and regrets it. If I will now, through baptism really =20 > be joined to Christ, and be illumined, and get whatever other =20 > blessing coming that I do not yet understand, why would I NOT want =20 > to be baptized a third time? My wife is in the same "fix" and we =20 > are both going for the whole enchilada! The only reason not to =20 > would be pride (that makes a lot of sense), and potentially =20 > offending my parents, which will not now happen since they are =20 > reposed and hopefully have it all figured out. Doug
Posted 19 January 2006 - 10:12 AM
That is the way the logic makes us think, if we see the western latins as an invalid movement under the name of a christian church.
Interesting enough, I have never witnessed in history an occasion when the conservative party would treat in this way an effort for unification.
The fact that there have been councils of union means that even the conservative party, by accepting in holding a meeting with the, what would be in their eyes, heretics, treated them (the heretics) as an existing church, otherwise the meeting would have been pointless, or would have been the same as if holding a council with atheists to unite in one faith!!!
The way for a non-christian to join the church is only through baptism, and if the western church would be considered as completely fallen way, i.e a non-christian human organization, then, not a council, but only the invitation to get rebaptized in the orthodox church, may be discussed!
At the same time, had the western latins, at one point, e.g at Lyon or Florence, accepted the orthodox point of view, I do not think that the final step of finalizing the union would have been rebaptism of the west, since the generation of that time in west were born in Scism with the orthodox church.
No, if the west would have agreed with orthodoxy, the finalization of the union would have been done by an act of common proclamation of faith.
As I said, that is not the case with evangelicals, since they have gone too far, denying almost each basic of faith, from holy communion down to the communion of saints, church structure etc.
Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:10 PM
It looks like we are in for another long thread!
May I be permitted to take the issue of the method of reception out of the hands of Bishops, qualified theologians and monastics for the moment. I will return to monastics and others of ordained Church status within the Orthodox Church at a later date.
For Klod the continuing point is his insistence on seeing the Latins/Roman Catholics/Uniates as being a different entity than the various Protestant denominations and Evangelicals. Therefore, he urges us (with very good intention) to separate the Latin from the Protestant world and as a consequence the way of entry into the Orthodox Church.
Briefly mentioning the opening paragraphs of (then Timothy Ware) and now Bishop Kallistos Ware's excellent book 'The Orthodox Church', does he not state that it may come as a surprise to learn that for the Orthodox the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches are two sides of the same coin?
I have permitted myself this minor movement of emphasis as Bishop Kallistos was a layman when he wrote this book.
Let us remember that in the Orthodox Church, lay people are not inferior to our Bishops and Priests, but constitute the Royal Priesthood.
This is what I would like to first concentrate on, that is, the understanding of Faith and defence of it by the laity, the Royal Priesthood.
I am not an expert in Church History, but the Council of Florence and the very high degree of sanctity seen in St. Mark of Ephesus, and the laitys' response to the outcome of this particular Council leads to what I want to point out.
Having lived by God's unfathomable Providence in every country from India, through Central Asia, modern day Turkey, and onwards through ancient Orthodox countries to England's green land, I have this impression.
The predominant view of Orthodox laity, be they the Oriental Orthodox in India, to the few Chalcedon Orthodox left in Turkey, and the majorities in Greece and the Balkans, is precisely that expressed by Bishop Kallistos in the 'Orthodox Church.'
I was raised in Canada, and raised by my parents in the Anglican Church. Until the age of nineteen I lived in this increasingly multi-cultural milieu.
Was I not surprised to hear what I heard amongst the Oriental Orthodox in India and then the Orthodox laity in Turkey, Greece and the Balkans and further northwards in Romania - I most certainly was surprised! Initially, even quite shocked.
In my experience, the opinion of the Orthodox laity is this: the Roman Catholic Church fell into schism, finally declared in 1054. Since that time, and to speak of the present day, since I was not travelling in the 8th century or the Middle Ages, it is the absolute opinion of the vast majority of the Royal Priesthood that the Roman Catholic Church is an entirely different world.
It's theology affected it's cultural expressions, and for the Orthodox laity they see very clearly a very different world in the Latin West.
The views of the Royal Priesthood range all the way from the absolute invalidity of the Latin Church and their Bishops, Priests and Sacraments to some forms of moderation.
In areas effected by the Austro-Hungarian empire the feelings run very deep. No less so in the lower regions of the Balkans and Greece, deeply effected by the Ottoman occupation. Should we even mention Turkey?
I have never meet a Greek who refers to Constantinople as Istanbul (afterall, the word Istanbul is simply another way of saying 'to the City.) I have met many Greek Orthodox laity who out of (perhaps a misplaced respect) refuse to journey to Istanbul.
Though the feelings can be at times quite virulent, they do express an underlying theological understanding in the Royal Priesthood.
To answer Klod's point in particular, this theological understanding of the Orthodox laity has been historically the salvation and preservation of the Orthodox Church. It is their present day understanding which is no less different.
I could go into the Greek Orthodox reaction to entry into the European Union, to the Romanians' shame at being the first Orthodox country to permit the Pope to set foot on their soil, and their present fears of possible entry into the European Union in 2007.
I think that is enough for now.
Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:47 PM
In my opinion, this issue is so simple, but it frequently is made complex by people because they feel so passionately about it. Baptism is the way that anyone is received into the Church. Plain and simple. Roman Catholic, Protestant, Arian, Nestorian, atheist, whatever you may have been, baptism is the way you are received into the Church. With that said, the Orthodox Church is a pastoral church. There are reasons to accept Arians by chrismation only at certain points in history. There are reasons to accept Uniates by confession of faith only at certain times or places in history. But, as St. Nicodemus says in the Rudder, what is done by exception or by economia does not become the new rule. This is a simple concept and should remain as such. What the Church decided to do with Arians or Uniates hundreds of years ago has not become a rule; a guidepost perhaps, but not a rule.
Scamandrius, I recommend discussing this with your priest and asking him to discuss it with your bishop. There are some bishops that, upon learning of your desire for Orthodox baptism, are happy to accept you in such a manner.
Posted 19 January 2006 - 04:49 PM
catholics and protestants, true, are in many aspects two sides of the same coin, as do the catholics, at the same time, consitute a completely different issue, when orthodox basic doctrine is faced with the doctrines of denominations outside orthodox church.
Somewhen in middle and late 16 century, if I remember exactly, patriarch of Jeremia II after having his correnspodence with the Luterans (I have read the book that most of you might have seen in english), was congratulated for his responses to the lutherans from the pope of Rome.
An average roman catholic and greek orthodox believer, what you call royal priests, are characterised both by the believe in Trinity, Christ as Son of God, Crucified Saviour, devotional prayers to the Mother of God (something none of protestants share) to the saints (most or many of whom are the same); fear before Holy Communion; pilgrimage to Holy places, obedience to the church hierarchy; confession and sacraments.
these things are particularly in common among orthodox and catholics, and are not shared by none of the protestants, not even lutherans and anglicans!
All these, and many other things, are the same among them, and they cannot make an distinction and it doesnt mean anything to them the deep difference lying under the meaning of deep theological and philosophical "filioque" etc.
Other aspects of what you call royal priesthood, are many times characterised by simple ignorance, misunderstandings and even political hate, or nevertheless a humanly hate of fallen nature, something which has nothing to do with the Love of the Gospels, inspired along sides of national or empirial feelings. This is a common feeling in the Balkans, especially among greeks and serbs.
Many times, when I am confronted with evangelical criticism toward roman catholics, I feel like they are attacking orthodoxy; so is the belief in real presence of Christ in Communion; veneration of Icons; sacraments; church structure, tradition, saints and asking their prayers etc etc. Even when they talk about the infamous inquisition, when I look at history the church of east has had more or less the same attitude of persecuting someone when s/he didnt conform to the faith of the church-state.
Posted 19 January 2006 - 11:05 PM
A fascinating discussion that is a microcosm of exactly what one hears through the whole Church.
I do feel confident that if you read through this thread you will see that while the Church is not arbitrary in how it receives people into the Church this also largely comes down to a matter of discernment. And this is so even if your jurisdiction has a general 'rule'.
So while at times these discussions can become a pointless argument- on the deeper & more positive level they reflect the effort the whole Church puts into discerning what is the most suitable way of receiving people into the Church.
I think this relates to Seraphim's point about the uniqueness of Orthodoxy and how this is expressed by the common effort of the Body of Christ to chart its course through the world.
Discernment and the common effort to discern is something which is part and parcel of life in the Church. If we can recognise this then we will not interpret the effort this takes in the negative way we often do.
Discernment is the most basic aspect of the fact that Christ shares His life with us and this represents a call to each of us to share in this with a measure of freedom & a sense of responsibility.
In Christ- Fr Raphael
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