Validity of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Baptisms

Discussion in 'Baptism' started by Scott1, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox baptisms are not valid

    9 vote(s)
  2. Roman Catholic baptisms are valid, Greek Orthodox baptisms are not

    0 vote(s)
  3. Greek Orthodox baptisms are valid, Roman Catholic baptisms are not

    1 vote(s)
  4. Both Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox baptisms are valid

    15 vote(s)
  5. A person uncomfortable with having either of these baptisms may request and be baptized again

    3 vote(s)
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  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Are the following ordinarily valid Christian baptisms (that is the person would not be re-baptized)?
  2. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If we say nay, how do we avoid charges of neo-donatism? I understand how someone could say no, and the reasons thereto.
  3. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    It'd be interesting to see how those who gave "invalid" answers stack up (ie: credo vs. paedo). Credo folks could heavily weigh things toward the "invalid" side, since they see all pre-profession baptisms as invalid.
  4. Neogillist

    Neogillist Puritan Board Freshman

    I voted that both are valid, since they are both trinitarian (as far as I know). I myself was baptized as a baby in a Reformed Church so that issue does not concern me. However, someone baptized within a non trinitarian cult such as Oneness Pentecostalism would have to be rebaptized since it would not have been a trinitarian baptism as prescribed by Christ in Mat. 28:19. John Calvin taught that God had preserved the sacrament of baptism within the Roman church and it was a 'remnant' or 'vestige' of true historic Christianity while the Lord's Supper had been corrupted. Now baptists will dissagree with Calvin and argue that both sacraments were corrrupted by Rome. We know from church history that infant baptisms were taking place as early as 200 AD. and that none of the church fathers spoke against the practice. As for the Lord's Supper, however, its corruption came a lot later.
  5. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    The Donatists were disputing and quarreling over who was truly ordained or not. They were for the most part doctrinally identical to the catholic church of the day. The issue now is whether or not the sacrament in RC or EO is actually Christian baptism or just a sub-Christian cultic practice resembling Christian baptism. In other words, is it really baptism at all or just an imitation? So it's not an issue of Donatism.
    If we accept it as true baptism, then the Donatist issue comes into play and in the very least we must consider it to be valid though irregular since it was not performed by a minister of the gospel.
  6. Witsius

    Witsius Puritan Board Freshman

    I voted that they are both valid - as I believe that is the position of our denom (well, at least, our pastor :think: ).
    Because of my polemical reading re: papalism and other current heresies, I need to be better informed on this matter in order to defend such a position - as, otherwise, I would lean the other way.
    I guess it has to do with the sign vs the thing signified. Similarly, the argument would be that despite - say - William Branham's obvious heresy, God (likely) saved all the elect who heard any portion of the Word through Branham (assuming at least a few of the thousands who sat under him were elect).

    I guess I'll pull out my copy of Sacramental Sorcery now and get the other side.
  7. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    My understanding is that the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) baptize with a Trinitarian pronouncement (i.e. In the Name...) but that it is not a valid Christian baptism.

    If all that is required is a "Trinitarian" baptism, why would not such an one be valid?
  8. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    The poll is closed.

    A majority of voters (54%) believe that both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Baptisms are valid as Christian baptisms. (32%) believe that neither are valid as Christian baptisms.

    11% said that the person who had had such a baptism who themselves are uncomfortable with its validity, may, on their own initiative, request and then be baptized again, biblically.

    In closing, a few areas can still be commented upon if you would like:

    If the Roman Church today officially does not hold to a biblical Gospel (i.e. justification by faith [in Christ's righteousness] alone) how can one acting on its authority be a minister of "the Gospel"?

    From history, we know the Eastern Orthodox Church broke off from the Roman Church over the issue of the eternality of the Holy Spirit, that is, over the nature of the Trinity. How can a church that officially does not hold the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, perform "Trinitarian" baptism?
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If you redefine the term, you get a different term altogether. The persons in our Trinity are coequal and consubstantial. Their Jesus, for example, is a cosmic sex god who was once just like me...and you. So if by Trinity you mean what the early fathers meant, well and good. If by Trinity they mean sex gods, well it probably is a different term altogether. So while the baptize in the name of the Trinity, they do not mean the same thing we do.
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    So, I hear you saying that "Trinitarian" requires a trinitarian pronouncement with a biblical understanding of the Trinity behind it. This proposition was referring to an earlier question:

  11. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Rae, I think it would be a slam dunk with the majority of credos coming down on the side of invalid. Would that surprise anyone?
  12. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Is there any difference between the RC and EO baptism?

    I know RC better, there are no covenant promises attached to Baptism there. Are there covenant promises attached to EO? If there are no Covenant Promises attached to the sacrament, then it is not a valid baptism. It is just an outward act/ritual.
  13. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    The Trinitarian Formula isn't an incantation. The Mormons use the Trinitarian Formula when they baptize, but none of us would for a moment consider their baptisms valid.
    If the Roman Church is a synagogue of satan, and if it is headed by an antichrist, then its ministers acting by that antichrist's "authority" are NOT administering a Christian baptism regardless of what words they employ. They may as well shake chicken bones and say, "ooga booga!"
  14. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I would be less flippant in saying EO isn't a Christian church. Read Robert Letham, an ultra-conservative, ultra-Calvinistic OPC elder, on the EO. Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy A Reformed Perspective: Letham, Robert: Books

    While we rightly want to preserve the purity of the gospel, we don't want to end up saying that most of the church before Luther wasn't a church. Robert Reymond comes very close to this in his systematic theology. I would have a hard time saying men like St Athanasius, St Basil, St Gregory of Nazianzus and St Gregory of Nyssa are in hell. And it won't do to say "oh, they were really actually Reformed inside," since St Athanasius's soteriology (e.g., theosis) is Eastern Orthodox.
  15. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Whoa. Hold your horses. I'm not talking about what folks 1700 years ago may have believed. I'm talking about now. And as a chaplain I have the privilege of knowing EO priests and RC priests... and I get to smoke cigars and discuss doctrine with them. They are not evangelical. They specifcially repudiate sola fide. They believe that our merit contributes to our salvation. If anything, I'd argue that EO theology is mystical to the point of being almost pagan.

    But the reality is that most of us aren't going to encounter too many EOs. Most of us deal with RCs on a regular basis.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

  17. Shane

    Shane Puritan Board Freshman

  18. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    I recognize that this is the historical reality. However, they never really seemed to come to grips with and account for the fact that they were arguing that the Roman Church is apostate, a synagogue of satan, etc... thus her "ordinations" really can't be construed as Christian ordinations. And that means her baptisms are no more valid that those administered by the Mormons.

    Sure, they grant the falsity of Rome when it comes to the Lord's Supper. But if Rome is a true church, and if her ordinations are legitimate, however imperfect, then her administration of the Lord's Supper, however flawed, must be accepted as valid as well as her baptisms.

    No. Rome is a false church. Her ordinations amount to nothing. Baptisms done by her priests are antichristian baptisms.
  19. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    AMEN. Good comparison. The Roman "church" is no more valid than any cult would be. Anyone baptised by Antichrist should not see the baptism as any more acceptable then membership of that church would be. My brothers, we must go back to the eschatology of protestantism and recognize that the Man of Sin is here and now. We must stand against Rome and the lies of the false gospel proclaimed by Antichrist (Vicechrist).
  20. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    Also, the difference between this and the Donatists is that this baptism (Roman or Eastern) isn't being disputed because of the moral failures of those performing the baptism, but their theology. The Donatists wouldn't accept the baptisms performed by elders who had denied elements of their faith during the time of persecution, whereas I am saying we shouldn't accept the baptisms performed by false teachers of a false gospel. The baptism associates the recipiant with THAT false teaching, not with Christ.
  21. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I would agree that a church could have serious errors of doctrine because the efficacy is tied to the thing signified.

    I would even agree the visible church could be widely corrupt, even apostate taken as a whole, and there might be a vestigial remnant sufficient for lawful (biblical) authority to baptise. But doesn't that remnant require the Gospel, which as I understand it, is the object of baptism?

    The Westminster Confession, summarizing Scripture, says that baptism must be "a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto." (Chapter XXVIII 2.)

    If the Church does not officially hold to the Gospel, how can the baptism be valid?

    It seems the object of baptism is Gospel (salvation). If the entity does not hold that, how can one be a minister of something one does not hold?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2008
  22. Witsius

    Witsius Puritan Board Freshman

    Several things:
    1. We're talking about paedobaptism? and,
    2. We're talking about the Visible Church?, and
    3. We're all agreed that the sign is not efficacious (magic) in and of itself?

    For a similar analogy (to EO and Romanism), why not talk about the CRC or the PCUSA?

    Do we agree that all these bodies are part of the Visible Church?
    Membership in the VC is by profession and/or baptism?
    Baptism is the means of grace/sign yet, "The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered."
    I would venture to say that likewise, in credobaptism, a result of adult "salvation" and taking place under any ministry of the visible
    church which may be more or less a synagogue of Satan, many babtees[!] may be truly part of the Invisible Church; and, moreover, be benificiaries of that means of grace despite the fact that,"members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them."
    And, regarding:
    The Westminster Confession, summarizing Scripture, says that baptism must be "a minister of the Gospel, lawfully called thereunto." (Chapter XXVIII 2.)
    I would also venture to say (correct me if I am wrong) that the WCF is outlining the normal/proper/desirable way of doing things; but, not dismissing the vagaries of history wherein both sacraments and preaching were not necessarily accomplished by 'lawfully' ordained elders/pastors.

    We must not tend to the opinion that the efficacy of the sacrament is dependent on the purity of the vessel administering it. Is it enough that that vessel is a member of the visible church?

    And what do we make of WCF XXVIII?

    Would like to hear more on this whole issue.
  23. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Remember that in Reformed theology with infant baptism, adult ("credo") baptisms are also done.

    Infants are baptized to recognize promises (signs and seals) made to the children of believers whereas adults are baptized upon profession of faith. Both. So, the issue of a previous Roman baptism could involve, for example, someone who had a Roman baptism as an adult and then entered a Reformed Church later on.

    In the Reformed understanding of visible/invisible church, yes this is a water baptism done by the (visible) church.
  24. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I also don't believe in accepting the baptisms from liberal denominations either. The baptizer must be a minister of the gospel. As was mentioned before, why not accept the baptisms of the mormons or jehovah's witness' if the doctrine of the group doesn't matter?
  25. Witsius

    Witsius Puritan Board Freshman

    But, many do recognize the RC and EO as part of the 'visible' Church; whereas moroniites and russellites are not recognized as part of the visible Church.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  26. Witsius

    Witsius Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Scott:
    (Sorry, I didn't do the quotes properly on the last post.)

    That's what I am saying.
    So, if someone becomes persuaded/convinced of the reformed position, do we deny that he was 'saved' while in the other (RC, EO, or liberal denom.) section of the visible church? We don't say that he is 'saved' when he becomes a member of a reformed denom (although his Prof. of Faith may be seen as such by some). Ie. esp. when we link baptism with 'salvation', this becomes problematic.
  27. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I guess thats the main issue of the debate then. I do not consider Roman Catholicism, any liberal denom., or any cult a part of the visible Church. They do not preach or believe in the gospel. I certainly wouldn't take communion with any of those groups so why should their Baptisms be accepted?
  28. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I understand and respect your understanding. From Puritan Board, I have come to understand this is the common view among those who hold to "believer's baptism."

    The original post is part of an effort to draw out from those who hold to infant baptism, particularly, because the issue for us is also framed in terms of the signs and seals (promises) to the children of believers and from the standpoint of covenant community (believers and their children in the "visible" church community).

    The issue there is, what does baptism convey and signify and how must it be biblically performed?

    While a "true church" is ideal, the understanding is there is efficacy in the thing signified, in spite of the corruption, errors or even the apostasy of the denomination (or the minister) admitting it. The question for me, at this stage is:

    1) Since the object of baptism is the redemptive work of Christ, how can a Church that officially does not hold to that (and expressly rejects it as heresy [i.e. Council of Trent]) administer it? I know many from a "believer's baptism" point of view would not agree, but I do not think the liberal mainline denominations fall into that category. Maybe I'm wrong in this.

    2) Since the trinitarian pronouncement is expressly required by Scripture (Matthew 28:19), how can a church (e.g. Eastern Orthodox) that does not hold to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity make such as an authoritative pronouncement, let alone not hold to the object of baptism, salvation (by the Gospel)?
  29. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    There is disagreement on Athanasius' view of soteriology. Don't assume the EO churches interpretation of his soteriology is any more valid than the RC view of Augustine. There is good evidence that Athanasius wasn't so off base but that our interpretations of his use of language may be off base. I don't consider Athanasius or Augustine RC or EO.

    I would argue that the Roman Catholic church was never a church but that throughout history you find a small band of dissenting (and mostly persecuted) believers. The Waldensians went back way farther in history then many people realize. They actually existed for centuries before they were named after Peter Waldo. Though the Paulinists were accused of numerous heresies by the EO and RC "churches" there is also some evidence that these were fabrications.
  30. Roldan

    Roldan Puritan Board Junior

    I'm Paedo, and I can't for the life of me understand how any protestant consider RC or EO a valid Christian church. Even our(PCA) position papers considers them a apostate false church. Therefore on the basis that they are a false church then must mean their Bishops are false and therefore not called hence invalid ministers of the TRUE Christian sacraments so how can their baptism be valid? Can't be. This is the position of my local session as well and all of my theology discussion buddies across the nation and locally and who are paedo's so the "oh your a credo, that figures" assertions are weird to me to be quite honest.

    RC not a true church=no true ministers=invalid administrations of sacraments=invalid baptism and invalid communion.
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