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Is a baptism outside Orthodox Church by force valid at all?


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#21 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 03:00 AM

If you recognize one Sacrament i.e. Baptism as valid then you must recognize all their sacraments i.e. Eucharist and if you recognize that then there is no division between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox is there? To use logic on the issue. I was taught and will always believe that their is no Sacraments outside of the Holy Orthodox Church, I believe all schismatics and heretics should be brought into the Holy Church by Baptism, just as I was. Personal opinion.


As I was taught, the Orthodox Church recognizes no sacraments outside the church as "valid". However, for pastoral reasons, Bishops may exercise economy in some cases. Regarding baptism, it was presented to me as a sort of statement regarding how far away from proper doctrine a given group had strayed. I was admitted by Chrismation, but I had let my priest know that I was happy to be baptized. Since it was the Bishop's call within that diocese (now Metropolis), I didn't argue with him.

#22 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 03:23 AM

I think the Canons of the Synod of Arles would point us toward the right direction...

#23 Reader Nektarios

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 06:43 AM

"Vaiid" is not a valid Orthodox term. The bishop can deem a baptism in the proper form received outside the Church to be sufficient, without any regard to "validity". That baptism is corrected or fulfilled through Chrismation. But that is the bishop's call. That is why they get to wear the funny hats.

Herman the invalid Pooh


See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid -The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans

#24 Kusanagi

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 10:56 AM

There's an interesting, and probably relevant, story about an atheist who wanted to be baptized into the Orthodox Church "just for kicks", but after he was baptized he immediately understood that God exists, and ended up becoming a pious Christian. Does anyone know that story? I'm sure I'm missing a lot of the details.


The Holy Martyr Porphyrius suffered during the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363). Porphyrius was an actor and on the emperor's birthday he was performing a role at the theater, where he was supposed to mock the mystery of holy Baptism.

During the play Porphyrius was immersed in water and said: "The servant of God, Porphyrius, is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Through divine grace, he emerged from the water and confessed himself a Christian. Julian ordered him to be tortured, and after the torments, to be beheaded. This took place in the city of Ephesus in the year 361.

#25 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 02:37 PM

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid -The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnæans


This is certainly a great example of the issue of translation. We can certainly be assured that "valid" is not the exact word that St. Ignatius used, and it may not accurately reflect the actual meaning of the word that was used.

At any rate, other than being contentious, what exactly is your point?

Text without context is pretext.

Herman the contextual Pooh

#26 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 01:01 AM

I did a little digging and found an alternate translation for the letter. The Hoole translation (1885) goes thus:

But avoid divisions, as being the beginning of evils. Do ye all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ doth the Father; and follow the presbyters as the apostles; and have respect unto the deacons as unto the commandment of God. Let no one, apart from the bishop, do any of the things that appertain unto the church. Let that eucharist alone be considered valid which is celebrated in the presence of the bishop, or of him to whom he shall have entrusted it. Wherever the bishop appear, there let the multitude be; even as wherever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful either to baptize, or to hold a love-feast without the consent of the bishop; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that also is well pleasing unto God, to the end that whatever is done may be safe and sure.


And the Greek is thus:

1. Πάντες τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ ἀκολουθεῖτε, ὡς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς τῷ πατρί, καὶ τῷ πρεσβυτερἰῳ ὡς τοῖς ἀποστόλοις. τοὺς δὲ διακόνους ἐντρέπεσθε ὡς θεοῦ ἐντολήν. μηδεὶς χωρὶς τοῦ ἐπισκόπου τι πρασσέτω τῶν ἀνηκόντων εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν. ἐκείνη βεβαία εὐχαριστία ἡγείσθω, ἡ ὑπὸ ἐπίσοπον οὖσα ἢ ᾧ ἂν αὐτὸς ἐπιτρέψῃ. 2. ὅπου ἂν φανῇ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος, ἐκεῖ τὸ πλῆθος ἤτω, ὥσπερ ὅπου ἂν ῇ Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, ἐκεῖ ἡ καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία. οὐκ ἐξόν ἐστιν χωρὶς τοῦ ἐπισκόπου οὔτε βαπτίζειν οὔτε ἀγάπην ποιεῖν· ἀλλ’ ὃ ἂν ἐκεῖνος δοκιμάσῃ, τοῦτο καὶ τῷ θεῷ εὐάρεστον, ἵνα ἀσφαλὲς ᾖ καὶ βέβαιον πᾶν ὃ πράσσετε.


I'm only guessing, and have to look through references to even make that guess, but the word translated as "valid"/"sure" is "βέβαιον", which, according to my references, means "of/in force", "steadfast", "sure", "stable", "trusty". The word translated as "secure"/"safe" is "ἀσφαλὲς", which, according to my references, means "firm", "reliable", "certain", "true", "safe". Now, one could squeeze "valid" in if one wished, but there are many other English words that could fit, too.

#27 Isaac David

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:50 PM

I've heard a story about a group of actors who were mocking Christians and staged a mock 'Baptism' as part of one of their plays. The actor who was Baptized in the play emerged from the waters confessing his belief in Christ. The Holy Spirit works where he will.

The actor in question is the Holy Martyr Porphyrios, whose memory we celebrate on September 15th. According to St Nikolai Velimirović's Prologue from Ochrid:

Porphyrius was born in Mimosa. At first, he made jests about Christians for the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Thus, on one occasion, while parodying the Christian Mystery of Baptism, he immersed himself in water, pronouncing the words: ``In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!'' When he emerged from the water he cried out: ``Now I am a Christian!'' Everyone thought that this was just another jest, but he remained steadfast, ceased to mock Christianity, and finally suffered for Christ. Porphyrius was beheaded in the year 361, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ.



#28 Christophoros

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 05:20 PM

From an interview with Mentropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, posted on the official Moscow Patriarchate website ( http://www.mospat.ru...0/06/news27421/ ):

- Did you discuss the recognition of ‘sacraments’ administered by schismatics? What is your attitude to this issue?

- This issue has been repeatedly discussed both in private talks of the Commission members and at the meeting. The Church does not recognize and cannot recognize as grace-giving and salvific any ‘sacraments’ including Baptism administered in a schism. This is a common point of view confirmed by many testimonies of the church Tradition. ‘Recognition of schismatics’ sacraments’ is an altogether improper expression which can be only misleading. The point here is not a diplomatic manifestation of politeness but attempts to impose on the Orthodox the recognition of a real presence of saving grace outside the Church. For the Church, the authenticity of Sacraments is a matter of salvation. It is impossible and senseless to speak of ‘recognition of sacraments’ administered by schismatics who stay outside the Church and have no communion with her.

However, as His Beatitude Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, has stressed, ‘the schismatics’ return to the saving fold of the Church can put life into their graceless actions’. When schismatics come back to the Church, it is a normal practice to embrace holy Baptism. But if the Church deems it necessary and if it is helpful for healing a schism, she can in some cases provide a different procedure, as was the case on repeated occasions in history.

The Church will never recognize schismatics’ ordinations, and all the clergy who come back from a schism should be ordained, though it is not at all necessary to make it in public. As far as the Sacrament of Baptism is concerned, it is impossible to administer it to all the laity coming back from a schism. Indeed, some of them do not even remember in which church they were baptized, canonical or schismatic.

Besides, there are situation where, for instance, a schismatic priest comes back to the Church together with his parishioners. The subsequent ‘re-baptism’ of the parishioners he had baptized earlier cannot be stipulated for his return, just as a ‘re-marriage’ of those whom he had married earlier or ‘re-funeral’ of all the dead over whom the burial service had been said before. It is impossible to force a priest who was now ordained in a canonical Church to return to their parishioners and say to them: ‘Everything I have done here for ten (or twenty) years was a deception, and only now I will begin doing everything in the real way’. People will not understand it and will not believe him. For all I know, they can think he decided to get the money for the second time for the sacraments he had already administered.

It is about such situations that it is stated that the Church can breathe a grace-giving power into the graceless actions of the schismatics and to inform with grace what had been only an empty and graceless form. In other words, the question of recognizing schistatics’ sacraments is not posed at all out of context of their return from the schism. But the question of a procedure of acceptance form a schism can and must be posed. And here, depending on the situation, various approaches can be applied.




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