Friday, May 1, 2009

Anonymous Challenges :- Salvation

If you are only paying attention to my blog posts, you are missing out on many discussions that happen in the comment section. Recently, one of my commenters, Anonymous, has challenged the Catholic Church's teaching, doctrine and practices in the comment section of Examining Why Martin Luther was Excommunicated. There are at least 9 different challenges presented by Anonymous, as well as biblical evidence that would seem to support their claim against the Catholic position.

What I will attempt to do, is provide a post for each of the claims against the teachings along with my response, as a Catholic, based on Catholic teaching. I welcome and invite everyone to participate in the discussion. Let's please stick with the topic at hand. The first topic is Salvation.

Regarding the topic of Salvation, Anonymous says:

Salvation: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is by baptismal regeneration and is maintained through the Catholic sacraments unless a willful act of sin is committed that breaks the state of sanctifying grace. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace which is received through simple faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that good works are the result of a change of the heart wrought in salvation (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17) and the fruit of that new life in Christ (John 15).

Before we begin, I would like to say that I agree 100% with what Scripture says. As a Christian, I believe that Scripture is part of the Word of God (the written portion), and therefore I submit myself totally to it. Because of this, I do not see any contradiction within the above statement. I can only guess, but I think that the arguments that Anonymous is trying to make is the following:

1. The Bible does not teach Baptismal Regeneration
2. The Bible does not teach Baptism plays a role in salvation
3. The Bible teaches that we are saved through Grace, not through Sacraments

Let's dig into each of these points, shall we?

Does The Bible teach Baptismal Regeneration
In order to determine if the Bible supports or is against something, we should first have a good understanding of what that something is. Since a Catholic belief is currently on trial here, let's first understand what the definition of what Baptismal Regeneration means to a Catholic.

Baptismal Regeneration means "being born again". I do not know many Protestant denominations that do not use the phrase "born again". Also, I do not know many Protestant denominations that believe that you do not need to be "born again" in order to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. The point that Catholics and Protestants differ is not on the subject of regeneration, since we all know the the Bible teaches you must be born again. Where we differ is how.

Catholics believe Scripture when it says:
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]"
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5)


Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus, that you must be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven. When Nicodmeus asks for clarification, Jesus explains to him that being born again means that you must be born of water and the Spirit. This can only mean baptism. Therefore, the Bible does teach Baptismal Regeneration.

Does the Bible teach that baptism plays a role in Salvation.
In order to refute this position, it would be great if we can show, from Scripture, that Baptism plays a role in salvation...

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[a] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,1 Peter 3:21

This one scripture verse says that baptism saves. To deny this is to deny clear teaching of Scripture.

Does the Bible teach that we are saved through Grace, and not through sacraments
The Bible teaches that we are saved through Grace Alone. That is Catholic teaching as well. So once again, we agree on another point.

Sacraments, are the normal way that we are to recieve God's graces. So in effect, if we are saved through Grace Alone and Catholics believe that the normal way we receive God's Grace is through the sacraments, is there really a point of disagreement? We can argue whether or not Sacraments are the way to recieve God's graces, but from a Catholic perspective and a Protestant perspective, we need God's graces to be saved.

So there it is. That is this Roman Catholic's response to Anonymous regarding Salvation and the Catholic Church's view of Salvation from a Scriptural perspective. As you can see, I do not believe that it is contrary to scripture, but instead is in full harmony. I look forward to the conversation that this will hopefully inspire. Depending on how much conversation this post generates, as well as general business of life, I will plan to respond to Anonymous other claims in the weeks to come.

God bless...

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Question: "Does 1 Peter 3:21 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation?"

Answer: As with any single verse or passage, we discern what it teaches by first filtering it through what we know the Bible teaches on the subject at hand. In the case of baptism and salvation, the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by works of any kind, including baptism (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, any interpretation which comes to the conclusion that baptism, or any other act, is necessary for salvation, is a faulty interpretation. For more information, please visit our webpage on "Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?"

Those who believe that baptism is required for salvation are quick to use 1 Peter 3:21 as a “proof text,” because it states “baptism now saves you.” Was Peter really saying that the act of being baptized is what saves us? If he were, he would be contradicting many other passages of Scripture that clearly show people being saved (as evidenced by their receiving the Holy Spirit) prior to being baptized or without being baptized at all (like the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43). A good example of someone who was saved before being baptized is Cornelius and his household in Acts 10. We know that they were saved before being baptized because they had received the Holy Spirit, which is the evidence of salvation (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13; 1 John 3:24). The evidence of their salvation was the reason Peter allowed them to be baptized. Countless passages of Scripture clearly teach that salvation comes when one believes in the gospel, at which time he or she is sealed “in Christ with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

Thankfully, though, we don’t have to guess at what Peter means in this verse because he clarifies that for us with the phrase “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience.” While Peter is connecting baptism with salvation, it is not the act of being baptized that he is referring to (not the removal of dirt from the flesh). Being immersed in water does nothing but wash away dirt. What Peter is referring to is what baptism represents, which is what saves us (an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ). In other words, Peter is simply connecting baptism with belief. It is not the getting-wet part that saves but is the “appeal to God for a clean conscience” which is signified by baptism, that saves us. The appeal to God always comes first. First belief and repentance, then we are baptized to publicly identify ourselves with Christ.

An excellent explanation of this passage is given by Dr. Kenneth Wuest, author of Word Studies in the Greek New Testament. “Water baptism is clearly in the apostle's mind, not the baptism by the Holy Spirit, for he speaks of the waters of the flood as saving the inmates of the ark, and in this verse, of baptism saving believers. But he says that it saves them only as a counterpart. That is, water baptism is the counterpart of the reality, salvation. It can only save as a counterpart, not actually. The Old Testament sacrifices were counterparts of the reality, the Lord Jesus. They did not actually save the believer, only in type. It is not argued here that these sacrifices are analogous to Christian water baptism. The author is merely using them as an illustration of the use of the word 'counterpart.'

"So water baptism only saves the believer in type. The Old Testament Jew was saved before he brought the offering. That offering was only his outward testimony that he was placing faith in the Lamb of God of whom these sacrifices were a type....Water baptism is the outward testimony of the believer's inward faith. The person is saved the moment he places his faith in the Lord Jesus. Water baptism is the visible testimony to his faith and the salvation he was given in answer to that faith. Peter is careful to inform his readers that he is not teaching baptismal regeneration, namely, that a person who submits to baptism is thereby regenerated, for he says, 'not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.' Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh, either in a literal sense as a bath for the body, nor in a metaphorical sense as a cleansing for the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience. But he defines what he means by salvation, in the words 'the answer of a good conscience toward God," and he explains how this is accomplished, namely, 'by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,' in that the believing sinner is identified with Him in that resurrection.”

Part of the confusion on this passage comes from the fact that in many ways the purpose of baptism as a public declaration of one’s faith in Christ and identification with Him has been replaced by “making a decision for Christ” or “praying a sinner’s prayer.” Baptism has been relegated to something that is done later. Yet to Peter or any of the first-century Christians, the idea that a person would confess Christ as his Savior and not be baptized as soon as possible would have been unheard of. Therefore, it is not surprising that Peter would see baptism as almost synonymous with salvation. Yet Peter makes it clear in this verse that it is not the ritual itself that saves, but the fact that we are united with Christ in His resurrection through faith, “the pledge of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).

Therefore, the baptism that Peter says saves us is the one that is preceded by faith in the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ that justifies the unrighteous sinner (Romans 3:25-26; 4:5). Baptism is the outward sign of what God has done “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Question: "Is Baptism absolutely necessary for salvation?"

Answer: Christians have always interpreted the Bible literally when it declares, "Baptism . . . now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 3:21; cf. Acts 2:38, 22:16, Rom. 6:3–4, Col. 2:11–12).

Thus the early Church Fathers wrote in the Nicene Creed (A.D. 381), "We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins."

And the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . 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 [Mark 16:16]" (CCC 1257).

The Christian belief that baptism is necessary for salvation is so unshakable that even the Protestant Martin Luther affirmed the necessity of baptism. He wrote: "Baptism is no human plaything but is instituted by God himself. Moreover, it is solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we shall not be saved. We are not to regard it as an indifferent matter, then, like putting on a new red coat. It is of the greatest importance that we regard baptism as excellent, glorious, and exalted" (Large Catechism 4:6).

Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through "baptism of blood," martyrdom for Christ, or through "baptism of desire", that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism.

Thus the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized" (CCC 1281; the salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible under this system; cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283).

So in a nutshell, it is the normative way and not the absolute mandatory way. This is the Catholic position. Although the article that you posted, I still find to not be entirely accurate, the stance that you are arguing from, that Catholics believe baptism of water is absolutely necessary and mandatory for salvation, is not the Catholic position at all.

In order to have a better understanding on this topic from a Catholic perspective, so you can know what exactly you want to argue against, please read the following article in it's entirety on the subject.
Necessity of BaptismGod bless...

triednotfried said...

Hi Carlus:

"Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. There are exceptions to water baptism: It is possible to be saved through "baptism of blood," martyrdom for Christ, or through "baptism of desire", that is, an explicit or even implicit desire for baptism."

Whaaatttt? Sorry, but how glorifying is this to God? If a person is saved at the point of baptism, then faith in Christ is not enough for salvation. It means that faith in Christ is part of the requirement for salvation, not the total. If a person's sins are not washed away until they are baptized then you are saying faith + baptism = salvation. So what about Acts 16:31, and Ephesians 2:8-9, and Romans 1:16, and so many more....

Salvation is the work of God, from beginning to end, it is summarized in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 where there is no mention of water baptism.

There is so much to this, I think I'll go write a blog.... =)

Anonymous said...

John 3:5 - Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus also said:

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:18


Both statements are true, or Jesus is a liar. If they are both true, water baptism cannot be absolutely required for salvation, but Holy Spirit Baptism/regeneration is!

I will leave it at that. I would also remind you that any single verse must be interpreted in light of ALL scripture. There are so many references to salvation by grace alone that baptism as necessary for salvation MUST be ruled out.Eph 2:8-9 is a good place to start.

And by the way, I am not agruing against Catholicism but I am appealing to scripture, and the sound interpretation of same.

Tuesday Morning said...

tnf (like the name),

Doing His will is what Glorify's God. Consider some experts on both scripture and this issue...


"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, and instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father... and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Justin Martyr, First Apology 61 [A.D. 151]).

"But you will perhaps say, 'What does the baptism of water contribute toward the worship of God?' In the first place, because that which has pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so . . . you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus has the true prophet [Jesus] testified to us with an oath: "Verily, I say to you, that unless a man is born again of water . . . he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Recognitions of Clement 6:9 [A.D. 221]).

The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine sacraments, knew there is in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit (Origen, Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]).

The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ's blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11-12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism.... "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Ambrose, On Abraham 2:11:79-84 [A.D. 387]).

It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, "Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents" or "by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him," but, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit." The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam (Augustine, Letters 98:2 [A.D. 408]).

The earliest patricians of the Church were very clear on how scripture was to be interpreted with this issue.

triednotfried said...

Hi TM, thank you for the information. Why tho, does Jesus not say "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is baptized and born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (I'm referring to John 3:3-7) IF He had made such a statement, He would have contradicted numerous other Bible passages that make it clear that salvation is by faith. (John 3:16, John 3:36, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5....on and on) Are we to ignore these?

Being born of water is referring to the amniotic fluid surrounds a baby in the womb. Being born of Spirit is, spiritual birth. Jesus in this passage was explaining to Nicodemus' his need to be "born from above", or "born again" You have to keep in mind also that throughout the Old and New Testaments, water is often used figuratively of spiritual cleansing or regeneration brought forth by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God at salvation.

Anonymous said...

I offer this to you. It includes an examination of the favorite scripture for baptismal regeneration.

The Catholic Church teaches that:

1.Baptism is necessary for salvation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1277).

2. Baptism causes regeneration. (In theological jargon, baptism is said to be the instrumental cause of regeneration). Baptism is not only a sign; it actually brings about the new birth. “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213).

As the other sacraments, baptism acts “ex opere operato” - literally, by the very fact of the action being performed. The right application of the outward sign is always followed by the gift of internal grace if the sacrament is received with the right dispositions.

In the case of infants, baptism removes original sin and regenerates even though the infant does not personally believe in Christ. “It may not be doubted that in Baptism infants receive the mysterious gift of faith. Not that they believe with the assent of the mind, but they are established in the faith of their parents” (Catechism of Trent).

In the case of adults, faith is necessary, but it is not sufficient for forgiveness or eternal life. Faith is considered as one of the factors constituting the “right disposition” for baptism. “Besides a wish to be baptized, in order to obtain the grace of the Sacrament, faith is also necessary” (Catechism of Trent). Yet the believer does not receive grace (forgiveness or regeneration) until and unless he is baptized with water.

So teaches the Catholic Church - baptismal regeneration.

What is required to prove baptismal regeneration?

To prove that “baptismal regeneration” is a true biblical doctrine, it is not enough to quote some scriptures that somehow link baptism to forgiveness or the new birth. Baptism must be shown to be the instrumental cause of regeneration.

Faith, repentance, baptism, confessing Christ, holiness and good works are all aspects of the human response to God's grace; all are somehow related to salvation. That does not mean that faith, repentance, confession, works, baptism, etc, are all related to salvation in the same manner. The distinction between the different roles of faith and good works is clearly seen in Ephesians 2:8-10 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

Salvation is "through faith" and "not of works." The apostle Paul is adamant that good works are not the means of salvation. Yet, in the same breath, the apostle is equally insistent that works are the fruit of salvation - "for good works". So then, whoever "believes" and tries to do good works to merit salvation does not understand the Gospel. Nor does the man who "believes" and continues to live in sin, devoid of good works. Only he who believes in Christ, and forfeits any reliance on the merits of personal works, and whose life is overflowing with good works, can be confident that he is truly saved by grace.

So, while it is true that both faith and works are related to salvation, yet it is fatal to attribute to works the role which the Word of God attributes to faith. Faith is the instrumental cause; works are the necessary fruit.

We should also ask about the specific relationships of faith and baptism to salvation. Is faith insufficient to save? Is baptism the actual cause of salvation? Or is faith sufficient and baptism the sign of salvation? Think of Paul's argument in Romans 3 and 4. He uses Abraham as an example of justification by faith. At least for Abraham, faith was sufficient to justify him (Abraham was never baptised, and he was justified by faith before he received the sign of circumcision). Moreover, since Paul uses Abraham as a model for all of us (in New Testament times), it is impossible to deny the saving efficacy of faith even before it is accompanied by good works and rituals. Not, of course, that we disregard the commandments and ordinances of our Lord; for every believer seeks to fulfill them (as Paul argues later on in his letter); nor that circumcision was meaningless, or that baptism is optional (for he later reminds the believers about their baptism and the implications to the Christian life).

Therefore it is not enough to show from Scripture that “faith and baptism” or “repentance and baptism” saves. Evangelical Christians also believe that “faith and baptism” saves, without accepting the idea of baptismal regeneration. Evangelicals say that a person is saved by faith (instrumental cause) and baptism (as the sign of salvation). Whereas Catholics say that faith is a predisposition (which is not sufficient to save by itself); cleansing is actually brought about by baptism (instrumental cause).

So to prove baptismal regeneration, it must be shown that:

1. Baptism without personal faith saves (as in the case of infant baptism).

2. Without baptism, faith does not save (as in the case of catechumens who are not yet saved because they are not yet baptised, even though they have repented and believed in Christ).

Let us look at the most important “proof texts” to see whether they actually prove baptismal regeneration or not.

“Proof texts” examined

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

There is evidence that “water” is not primarily referring to baptism (see “Baptism: Born of Water”), but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it is. “Water” and “Spirit” refer to different aspects of the work of regeneration. In Catholicism, the Spirit is the agent; water baptism is the instrument. In biblical Christianity, the Spirit is the agent; baptism is the sign of salvation. Why can’t we understand water as the reality signified by the external rite (namely spiritual cleansing and new life) that is brought about by the Spirit? Is there any compelling reason why “water” must be understood as the instrumental cause?

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Catholics and Evangelicals agree that faith and baptism saves. We disagree on their separate roles. Can we understand baptism as the sign rather than the instrument of salvation? Certainly! Why do we have to see personal faith as a mere “predisposition” or indeed as unnecessary in the case of infants? Jesus emphasizes the primacy and necessity of faith by warning that “he who does not believe will be condemned.” We know, at least, that one can be baptized and still be lost if he does not believe. Matthew 16:16 says nothing about the unusual case of someone who believes and is not yet baptized. Therefore, this verse cannot be used to prove something ("faith is insufficient") that it is not talking about.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter powerfully persuaded the Jews that the man they had crucified as a blasphemer is the Lord and Messiah. They were pierced to the heart and asked what they should do. Peter replied that they must repent, i.e. change their mind about Jesus - they who previously disbelieved Jesus must now believe in Him. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ served as a courageous public testimony of their repentance and faith in Him, knowing full well that it meant persecution from the Jewish leaders and the rest of the Jews.

There is nothing in the text that compels us to see baptism as the instrumental cause. Why not take repentance as the means of receiving forgiveness, and baptism as the sign of true repentance and forgiveness? Indeed, a short time later the apostle Peter promised forgiveness on the basis of repentance without even mentioning baptism (Acts 3:19 – Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out). Faith in the Messiah (implied in genuine repentance), rather than baptism, receives God's gracious pardon.

Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The outward act, “arise and be baptized,” is linked to the heart appeal to Christ, “calling on the name of the Lord.” The result is spiritual cleansing - “wash away your sins.” We see immediately that this verse says nothing about forgiveness apart from personal faith. Nor does it necessarily prove that “calling upon the Lord” is insufficient for cleansing. For baptism can be considered as an external sign (washing the body) of the inner reality (washing the heart from sin) brought about by faith (calling on the Lord). Grammatically, “wash away your sins” is linked to “calling on the name of the Lord” and not to “be baptized.” Elsewhere Scripture is clear that the instrument of salvation is calling upon the name of the Lord by faith. God “is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him whom they have not believed?” (Romans 10:12-14). In other words, their faith (manifest in their call for mercy) results in salvation. Baptism does not repeat what is already achieved through faith (salvation, cleansing); baptism signifies this great truth.

Romans 6:3, 4 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

This passage, especially the phrase “buried with Him through baptism,” seems to support the idea that baptism is the instrumental cause of justification. However, even here baptism could be understood as the sign of justification. It is not unusual in Scripture to call the reality by the name of its sign. Thus, for example, Paul says that all Christians are circumcised (even though one may not be physically circumcised!) - meaning that they possess what circumcision signifies (Philippians 3:3). Using this kind of language, Paul can speak of the great reality of the believers’ spiritual union with Christ, and the benefits which flow from that union, in terms of baptism, its sign.

We are forced to give this interpretation by the context. Before mentioning baptism in chapter 6, Paul had repeatedly emphasized that faith alone is the instrumental cause of justification (Romans 1:16, 17; 3:22, 25, 26, 28, 30; 4:5, 13; 5:1, 2). Righteousness is “imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised up because of our justification” (Romans 4:24,25). Since they received the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection (justification), and that through faith, believers must be spiritually united to Him (delivered and raised up with Him). If baptism is taken as the instrumental cause, then Paul contradicts what he had established before, namely that justification is by faith.

Elsewhere, the apostle Paul clearly teaches that what is signified in baptism (buried and raised with Christ) actually occurs “through faith.” Christians are “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). Justification on account of union in Christ's death, burial and resurrection is brought about “through faith” - and is properly symbolized by dipping the new believer in and out of the water.

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Peter was speaking about Noah and his family who were saved through the floodwater. He makes a comparison between that water and baptism. One corresponds to the other (that’s what antitype means). The flood symbolized baptism. Further, Peter says that baptism now saves us.

Conscious that his statement is liable to be misunderstood, Peter explains himself. Negatively, baptism does not save because water is applied to the body: “not the removal of the filth of the flesh.” Water can only cleanse the flesh outwardly; it does not cleanse the heart from sin. Positively, baptism saves because it follows a personal response to God as indicated by the phrase “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” The Bible usually uses such terms as “believe,” “repent,” and “call upon” to describe this personal response to God. It is that aspect of baptism (what is signified, “the answer of a good conscience toward God”) rather than the external rite (the sign, the application of water) that saves. In this sense, we affirm that baptism saves.

Consider the following conversation:

Q. Are you married?
A. Yes, I am married; see, I’m wearing this ring.
Q. What does the ring signify?
A. It means that I gave my consent to my wife and, therefore, I am united to her.

Strictly speaking, the husband is united to his wife because of the marriage vows rather than the ring. Yet since the latter is the sign of their union, it is natural to speak of the ring to mean the reality it represents. He is married because he wears a marriage ring. Compare this to a similar conversation about salvation:

Q. Are you saved?
A. Yes I am saved, because I am baptized.
Q. What does baptism signify?
A. It signifies that I believe in Christ and, therefore, I am united to Him.

So, when we say that baptism saves us, we do not mean that the sacrament saves us apart from faith in Christ; we mean that baptism signifies our salvation by faith in Christ. Contrast this to the position of the Roman Catholic Church. Infants are said to be saved by baptism even though by reason of his age a baby cannot make such a personal appeal to God, as the Bible requires. 1 Peter 3:21 actually denies baptismal regeneration ex opere operato!

Conclusion

We have seen that there are a few scriptures that relate baptism to salvation. All these scriptures also associate baptism with faith and repentance. Therefore, baptism can be understood as the sign of salvation received by faith in Christ. None of these verses prove that baptism, rather than faith, brings about justification, nor that infant baptism is efficacious since personal faith is absent in infants. Therefore, baptismal regeneration is not a proven biblical doctrine.

What are the practical implications? Be careful not to be deceived, thinking that you are right with God simply because you have been baptized. You could be baptized and still be lost. On the other hand, if you truly believe in Christ - relying on Him alone for salvation, while showing your faith in holiness and love - then baptism is God’s sign to you of your saving union with Christ.

Carlus Henry said...

Wow!!!

A lot of conversations have been going on, and it is going to take me a while in order to respond to them....

At the same time, I am going to create a new rule.....

No more copying and pasting articles. Instead, consider mentioning the major points of a reference and send the link to the source of the article.

If you are going to use references, please give credit where credit is due.

Like I said, I hope to get some responses in shortly.

Thanks and God bless...

Anonymous said...

The bottom line, Carlus, is for a single verse to establish a doctrine it MUST be in agreement with the rest of scripture.

Again, to prove baptismal regeneration, it must be shown that:

1. Baptism without personal faith saves (as in the case of infant baptism).

2. Without baptism, faith does not save (as in the case of catechumens who are not yet saved because they are not yet baptised, even though they have repented and believed in Christ).

When baptism is connected to salvation in scripture, it is always connected also to faith/belief in Christ. You cannot prove # from scriupture.

The scripture passages that tell us that faith alone saves are too numerous to list them all here. You cannot prove #2 above from scripture.

Carlus Henry said...

Hey triednotfried....

Welcome to the conversation. I know that I am a little behind with the comments, but bear with me. Things are really busy....

If a person is saved at the point of baptism, then faith in Christ is not enough for salvation.It means that faith in Christ is part of the requirement for salvation, not the total.
I guess faith in Christ would be enough for salvation if you held to the belief of Sola Fide - which you know that I don't. So no, faith alone in Christ is not enough. It is the beginning, for sure, but once you have faith, then we are asked to do everything that Christ commands of us. I consider baptism to be one of those commandments.

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love(John 15:10)You see, for a Catholic, having faith in Christ means that you believe Him, completely. When He says to do something, you do it. If Jesus said that we must be baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, I am going to do it, because I have faith in Him and I believe what He said.

If a person's sins are not washed away until they are baptized then you are saying faith + baptism = salvation.
I know that you read the quote, but I just want to reiterate that baptism is the normative and not the absolute way.

With that being said, your quote makes it seem as though your sins are washed away when you have faith in Christ. What about repentence? What about asking for forgiveness? Is this no longer necessary since my sins were washed away when I started to have faith?

So what about Acts 16:31, and Ephesians 2:8-9, a
Regarding these scriptural passages, there is nothing in them that says "faith alone". Of course, you have to believe in Christ in order to be saved. But that is not the destination, it is a step on the right path, but that doesn't mean that you have finally arrived. Once you believe in Christ, now you want to know everything that you can about Him. What did He say? How did He say I should live? What things should I do? And since you have faith in Christ, you do them.

Keeping that thought in mind, it is the fulfillment of the scripture passage that many Protestants keep referring to.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.(Eph 2:8-10)God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Both statements are true, or Jesus is a liar. If they are both true, water baptism cannot be absolutely required for salvation, but Holy Spirit Baptism/regeneration is!
Have you ever read something where you anticipated a word, and actually read it like it was there? It would seem that is what you are doing with these passages.

You think that there is some contradiction within these two passages.

Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
The only way that there is a contradiction between these two passages is if you are reading them and injecting the word alone into them.

As you know, the word alone does not appear in any of the passages. Neither does the word or. So the only safe assumption is that Jesus meant and.

If your mother told you, "Anonymous, clean up your room everynight". Then a week or two later, she says, "Anonymous, wash the dishes everynight". Do you think that she is contradicting herself, or do you think that she is expecting you to clean up your room every night, and wash the dishes every night? I think the latter, don't you?

There are so many references to salvation by grace alone that baptism as necessary for salvation MUST be ruled out.Eph 2:8-9 is a good place to start.(There is that favorite Protestant verse without verse 10 again)

Salvation is by grace alone. We definitely agree there. Where we don't agree is how God gives that Grace, I would submit, and 2000 years of Christian history would support me on this one, that grace is transmitted through baptism. Therefore, there is no contradiction. Sacraments are a means of transmitting grace. We are saved by grace alone.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

1. Baptism without personal faith saves (as in the case of infant baptism).I am not sure I understand the position that baptismal regeneration fails the salvation litmus test.

Maybe it would help you to understand that baptism in the new covenant is like circumcision in the old. In order to bring someone into the old covenant, they were circumcised. In order to bring someone into the New Covenant, they are circumcised with water....

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.(Col 2:11-12)Therefore, in that sense, water baptism plays an integral part in your salvation because it is the entry point into the new covenant.

2. Without baptism, faith does not save (as in the case of catechumens who are not yet saved because they are not yet baptised, even though they have repented and believed in Christ).Regarding this point, you still seem not to understand the Catholic position. We do believe that faith does save, without water baptism. As I mentioned earlier, it is only the normative means and not the absolute or "only" means:

"Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized" (CCC 1281; the salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible under this system; cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283).
The scripture passages that tell us that faith alone saves are too numerous to list them all here. You cannot prove #2 above from scripture.There are no passages in scripture that says you are saved by faith alone. Grace alone, yes, but not faith alone.

God bless....

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for shrinking that long article down for me. I will consider your last post the summation of it, and the points that you were trying to get across....

God bless...

triednotfried said...

"So no, faith alone in Christ is not enough." Then this is dead in the water...so to speak...=) It has been shown countless times why it is enough, so I won't go there..

What I will say is, after reading about your seven sacraments and the scriptures generally used to support them, when taken in the context of Scripture as a whole, there is no foundation for the belief that God ever intended these passages to be taken as support for rituals as a means of conveying grace. The entire idea of "sacraments" that convey saving grace to people is unbiblical.

Show me in scripture where you find an example or command for infant baptism. I'll show you plenty of adults. And yes I know about Acts 16:33, but again, when taken in context, when the jailor asked Paul what he must do to be saved, Paul did Not say "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, oh and take communion." Right there, it is easy to see that faith is the ingredient necessary for salvation. It is understood, that ones who believe should be baptized yes, but not for salvation.

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

So I just ruined dinner...and I am about to get cheeseburgers....

I will try, but I don't think that I will have a chance to respond to your latest statement tonight....time will tell...

Also, do you IRC? Just wondering if you, or anyone for that matter, would ever be interested in a live chat session....

God bless...

triednotfried said...

oooooo sorry about dinner...blogging does have it's downfalls... =D

It would definitely just be a time problem...maybe on the weekend...see what anonymous thinks...

Enjoy your burger?

Talk with ya soon...

Carlus Henry said...

Anyone interested....

Since we are inadvertently discussing the Sacraments, I thought that I would share this link to a chart developed by Steve Ray, that describes different aspects of the Sacraments, as well as scripture references in support of them.
Sacrament Chart.

Anonymous said...

Jesus is not talking about physical baptism in John 3:5. There are a ton of problems with even presuming that, not the least of which is the unbaptized state of the thief on the cross.

There are three notable OT references to the new birth as it was to be accomplished and applied under the "New Covenant": Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and most importantly for this discussion, Ezekiel 36:25-27. The reference to water and the Spirit was clear to Nicodemus - any Pharisee would have caught Jesus' reference - he just didn't understand what it meant. Proselyte baptism did not exist when Ezekiel wrote this, so it cannot be a reference to baptism, only to God cleansing our sins from us in the enacting of the New Covenant in Christ about 600 years later.

Lastly, I don't really understand this: "Baptismal Regeneration means "being born again"." To whom? If I call a shoe a glove, and expect you to know what I am talking about, who is wrong? They can only mean the same thing if they actually mean the same thing. But, since Jesus was making an OT reference, not a baptism reference, they do not mean the same thing.

Anonymous said...

"You think that there is some contradiction within these two passages."

Negative, my friend. They are Jesus' words and both are true and without contradiction.

Jesus saying that believing or not believing (faith) determines one's eternal desstiny, without the mention of baptism simply means that his earlier reference to being born of water cannot be teaching that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

Is it clear yet?

Anonymous said...

"Lastly, I don't really understand this: "Baptismal Regeneration means "being born again"."

Isn't that what you have been telling me, that scripture nowhere teaches? Didn't you begin this thing by saying that water baptism saves?

And again, please, I am not arguing for Protestantism or against Catholicism, per se, but for Scripture. That the Catholic church has read into and/or twisted scripture to supprt non-scriptural traditions of men is actually a side issue. that the Protestant Reformation desired to return to Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura is also a side issue.

Were there no Catholic or Protestant churches, scripture still stands.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Jesus is not talking about physical baptism in John 3:5.
This is where we disagree. What does John say that Jesus does immediately after his conversation with Nicodemus?

After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.(John 3:22)There are a ton of problems with even presuming that, not the least of which is the unbaptized state of the thief on the cross.
Okay. One more time...Baptism is the normal way and not the absolute and only way. I have mentioned this before. In your own words, Is it clear yet?

so it cannot be a reference to baptism, only to God cleansing our sins from us in the enacting of the New Covenant in Christ about 600 years later.
Cleansing our sins through the use of water.

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'(Acts 22:16)Here is a quote from Crossing the Tiber, by Stephen Ray:

There is no attempt to pit baptism against faith...Faith and baptism are two sides of the same coin. Are we saved by faith, or by baptism? Are we saved by believing or by the Spirit? These are false dichotimies that have no place in our thinking
He goes on to mention scripture passages that support not only having faith, but also repentence, baptism and grace among others.

Lastly, I don't really understand this: "Baptismal Regeneration means "being born again".
Specifically, regeneration means being born again. Baptismal Regeneration means being born again through the form of baptism.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Negative, my friend. They are Jesus' words and both are true and without contradiction.
Amen.

Jesus saying that believing or not believing (faith) determines one's eternal desstiny, without the mention of baptism simply means that his earlier reference to being born of water cannot be teaching that water baptism is necessary for salvation.
So let's put it back to the analogy that I made regarding your mother telling you to clean up your bedroom everynight. And then later, she tells you to wash the dishes every night. Since in the later command, she didn't say that you have to clean up your bedroom everynight, you are somehow absolved for cleaning up your bedroom? Don't you think that she expects you to do both?

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Isn't that what you have been telling me, that scripture nowhere teaches? Didn't you begin this thing by saying that water baptism saves?Besides 1 Peter 3:21, here is another scripture passage:

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,(Titus 3:5)
So, yes, scripture does teach baptism is a part of salvation.

Were there no Catholic or Protestant churches, scripture still stands.
Were there no Catholic Church, scripture would not exist.

God bless..

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Were there no Catholic or Protestant churches, scripture still stands.
Were there no Catholic Church, scripture would not exist.
But as you said, that is a side issue.

triednotfried said...

Morning Carlus:

You completely ignored the part where in reference to John 3:5 that Proselyte baptism had not yet been instituted. Jesus in John 3:5 could not have been referring to Christian baptism because such did not exist yet. The Lord was not talking about physical water, but spiritual cleansing.

I'll try again...When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must "be born of water and the Spirit" he was describing different aspects of the same spiritual birth...not literal water. Look at these scriptures, Psalm 51:2,7, Ezekiel 36:25....and John 13:10, 15:3, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 10:22....water is often used figuratively of spiritual cleansing or regeneration that is brought about by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.

Water is the SYMBOL of cleansing. Compare John 3:5 with Titus 3:5...it is the inward purification and renewal produced by the Holy Spirit that brings the spiritual life to a dead sinner. It's reinforced in John 3:7.

Jesus rebuked Nicodemus because he failed to recall and understand one of the key OT passages Jeremiah 31:33. Why would Jesus have rebuked him for not understanding baptism considering that baptism is nowhere mentioned in the OT?

triednotfried said...

"Were there no Catholic Church, scripture would not exist."

Ummmm really? So the Catholic Church IS God? Wow, that my friend is heresy...you really do have God in a Catholic box....

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

I rejected your last comment. If you have to resort to personal insults to prove your point, you will get nowhere with me fast.

Stick to the subject.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

"Were there no Catholic Church, scripture would not exist."

Ummmm really? So the Catholic Church IS God?

Clearly, you don't really believe this is what I meant. I am sure you are just trying to prove a point.

Let me explain further what I mean. Where did Luther get his copy of the Bible from? Where did that person get their copy of the Bible? Who was responsible for maintaining the Scriptures 1500 years prior to Martin Luther? How can you even know that you are holding God's Word without it being tampered with? The only answer to this question is the Catholic Church protected the scriptures since day one. Therefore, without the Catholic Church, Scriptures would not be available, period. It is just a historical fact.

God bless...

triednotfried said...

Carlus: Yes, I am making a point. For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire, and Christians were horribly persecuted. I apologize that this is off topic, but sometimes we have to go back to go forward. Constantine "legalized" Christianity at the Edict of Milan in 313. He envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire but the results were not positive. He refused to fully embrace the Christian faith and continued alot of his pagan beliefs and practices which resulted in a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism. He saw that with the Roman Empire being so huge and diverse, that not everyone would forsake their religious beliefs and take on Christianity, so he allowed pagan beliefs.

Are you familiar with the Cult of Isis? Mithraism? Henotheists?

The supremacy of the Roman bishop was created with the support of the Roman emperors.

I know you deny the pagan origin of your beliefs and practices. There is alot of complicated theology that disguises it...it is masked to me, under "church tradition"

To me, the origin of the Catholic Church is the compromise of Christianity and pagan religions that surrounded it.

Again I apologize that this is so off topic...but I do think it is necessary to get to the root...

Debs

triednotfried said...

and as to my previous statement...what you are saying in that one statement, is that God can not work through anyone but the Catholic church...that is very wrong to me....God will use, whom He chooses, when He chooses...regardless of who they are. No one has the right to make such a claim...

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

what you are saying in that one statement, is that God can not work through anyone but the Catholic church
That is not what I am saying at all. That is how you took it. I do believe that God can work through people outside of the Catholic Church.

I was just showing that God used the Catholic Church in order to compile and protect the scriptures for 1500 years prior to Luther. So in a sense, all Christian denominations that base their belief system on the Holy Scriptures, are in essence on some level indebted to the Catholic Church for preserving those Scriptures during that time. That is just a historical fact.

And you are right...now we are starting to get way off topic, but I think that it is important for our conversation that you do not misunderstand what I said.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire,
You are making a great point here. So, in other words, wouldn't it be great to understand our Christian Fathers prior to the legalization of Christianity? Wouldn't it be great to have a good understanding of the practices and beliefs that were held by the early christians prior to Constantine? That is what we call the Fathers of the Church. Their writings are readily available. From them, you can tell whether or not they were Protestant or Catholic in their theology. I would submit that they were Catholic.

The supremacy of the Roman bishop was created with the support of the Roman emperors.
This is just bad information. Have you ever heard of Clement of Rome? Now tell me, how can a man who was said to be born around 96A.D., possibly baptized by Peter himself, and excercised authority over the Christian Church as the Pope, be the invention of emperor's conspiracy to influence the Church 300 years later?

Just read this
Clement of Rome Letter to the CorinthiansNow....let's get back on topic of salvation....God bless...

triednotfried said...

Hi Carlus:

"I was just showing that God used the Catholic Church in order to compile and protect the scriptures for 1500 years prior to Luther."

No,,, HE did not. He used and uses every tongue tribe and nation....

This is just not my area, although I know enough to not acknowledge that your interpretation is correct, I will not argue the point. My brothers who are borderline expertise in this area have more than shown why this is so illogical in incorrect...so I agree, let's go back to this. You have not addressed my former statement...

"I'll try again...When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must "be born of water and the Spirit" he was describing different aspects of the same spiritual birth...not literal water. Look at these scriptures, Psalm 51:2,7, Ezekiel 36:25....and John 13:10, 15:3, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 10:22....water is often used figuratively of spiritual cleansing or regeneration that is brought about by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God.

Water is the SYMBOL of cleansing. Compare John 3:5 with Titus 3:5...it is the inward purification and renewal produced by the Holy Spirit that brings the spiritual life to a dead sinner. It's reinforced in John 3:7.

Jesus rebuked Nicodemus because he failed to recall and understand one of the key OT passages Jeremiah 31:33. Why would Jesus have rebuked him for not understanding baptism considering that baptism is nowhere mentioned in the OT?"

Anonymous said...

Did you miss that I specifically stated that i was not making a personal accusation? That I stated that the issue was in the words spoken and not. I figured you might have been speaking about the 'canon' of scripture and not scripture itself, but you words did not make that distinction. If you are refering to my including the 'rest' of the scripture around the verses you quoted as proving something they do not, there may have been a personal aspect to my comments. After all you did say certain verses 'prove' things they did not, using the same interpreatative skills applied to anything written.

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Did you miss that I specifically stated that i was not making a personal accusation?Hmmm....here are two quotes from the post that I blocked....

Did you flunk basic English in school?
There is absolutely NO way that an intelligent human being can make the claim you did.
Sounds like you are suggesting that I failed basic English (of course this can't be true, since I am authoring a blog, and I am fully capable of reading and writing). Then you are calling me less than intelligent.

Now, which spirit do you think would have provoked these comments? One of Christ? When defending and explaining the faith, are these comments anti-biblical....

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,(1 Peter 3:15)Don't worry...even if you did not ask for forgiveness...I still forgive you....

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

triednotfried,

"I was just showing that God used the Catholic Church in order to compile and protect the scriptures for 1500 years prior to Luther."

No,,, HE did not. He used and uses every tongue tribe and nation....

When was the first official canon of scripture identified? Who was it that made the official stance on which books were going to be included in Scripture and which ones were not? Why isn't the Didache, Clement's Letter to the Corinthians (which almost made it into the Bible), part of Scripture? Why is the book of Hebrews in the Bible, when to this day, we don't know who authored it? These are just things to ponder, and like you said, this is getting a little off topic.

Water is the SYMBOL of cleansing. Compare John 3:5 with Titus 3:5...it is the inward purification and renewal produced by the Holy Spirit that brings the spiritual life to a dead sinner. It's reinforced in John 3:7.
Before going further, I think that it is important that you understand my position better. Do you think that I believe that mere water can wash away sins, and cause an inward transformation? I don't. I believe that the water was blessed when Jesus himself was baptized. From that point on, it is used as a physical means, to give God's grace to his people which causes the inward spiritual transformation. Some of the comments you are making, make it seem as though I may believe that the water, in and of itself, has magical powers. This is not the case. Instead, I believe that the power is all God's, and He chooses to extend His grace through the waters of baptism.

Jesus rebuked Nicodemus because he failed to recall and understand one of the key OT passages Jeremiah 31:33. Why would Jesus have rebuked him for not understanding baptism considering that baptism is nowhere mentioned in the OT?"
Why do you think that Jesus rebuked Nicodemus based on Jeremiah 31:33? There is nothing in John 3, that can bring you to that conclusion. The more appropriate conclusion is based on the words spoken of our Lord. He rebuked Nicodemus because he did not know that there must be a change brought forth through the use of water and spirit.

As a teacher, Nicodemus should have known that whenever God wanted to create something new, he used both Water and Spirit. When God formed the world in Genesis, He used water and spirit. When He saved Moses and his people, baptism was forshadowed in the parting of the Red Sea, once again water and spirit. Isaiah 44:3, Ez 36:25-27, where is it suggested that water is only a symbol in these passages? God gets to decide what He wants to use in order to start the redemptive change in us all. If He wants to use water and spirit, why should we argue?

Also, you raised the concern that there are many practices within the Catholic Church that was born out of the legalization of Christianity by Constantine, who also poured into the faith many pagan traditions. If Constantine did in fact influence the Chrisitan faith and forced the adoption of pagan rituals and practices, this would not be one of them. Here is one of our fathers of the faith (ours, as in yours and mine), who helps us to better understand what Jesus means. I am more inclined to trust this man's word, since he was most likely only two or three degrees of separation from the Apostles.

" 'And dipped himself,' says [the Scripture], 'seven times in Jordan.' It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but it served as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'" Irenaeus, Fragment, 34 (A.D. 190). God bless...

Willison said...

Let's not go crazy here. This is NOT about one verse. (Interesting how this is the opposite argument anonymous used about prayer, however.) God said we need to be baptised. It's the method he chose. Jesus told the apostles to make disciples of all nations. How? By baptising them. But he's not limited by it. God is almighty. He is not a zero tolerance God. In His mercy he can save the unbaptized if he chooses. Neither I, nor the Catholic Church, will substitute our judgment for His. We are talking about what he has set up and ordained, not any exceptions to the rule His unexpressed Mercy may allow for. God will never be up in Heaevn saying, "I really wanted to save that one, but since he wasn't baptised, I just can't." Can God save a bushman in the jungle somewhere, who has never read the Bible or heard any of the stories in it? Of course he can. But we're not talking about that.
We're talking about people who claim to "teach" God's word telling people God's way is optional or just for show.
Can that be justified? No. Hypothetical questions about do all people in all places and all times have to be baptised to be saved is really just a logic trick. If you know about baptism to the point that you are discussing it in a blog, and choose to not get it, I have no idea how you would explain that decision and still expect his mercy. We don't get to define God. We don't get to tell him how he's going to save us.

Anonymous said...

"We don't get to define God. We don't get to tell him how he's going to save us."

yes, but, I think you need to tell your catechumen, for that is what he is asserting.

Catholics believe Scripture when it says:
In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]"
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5)

Then Carlus wrote -

Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus, that you must be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven. When Nicodmeus asks for clarification, Jesus explains to him that being born again means that you must be born of water and the Spirit. This can only mean baptism. Therefore, the Bible does teach Baptismal Regeneration.

The passage he quotes is exclusionary, not broadly inclusionary, and Carlus applies it only in physical baptism.

Direct your irritation towards Carlus - the house prooftexter -, Willison. Carlus built his entire defense of baptismal regeneration on one acontextual citation. If it's not about one verse, then tell Carlus to use more than one acontextual citation as the entire foundation for baptismal regeneration.

Sean

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous (Sean),

I don't know if you are new, or if you have been with us for the whole conversation, but in either case, welcome.

Carlus built his entire defense of baptismal regeneration on one acontextual citation. If it's not about one verse, then tell Carlus to use more than one acontextual citation as the entire foundation for baptismal regeneration.
Are you saying that I have only used one source of biblical evidence in order to support Baptismal Regeneration? This makes me think that you have not read the entire conversation.

the house prooftexter
Tempting....so tempting...but nahhh. Stay on topic please.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous (Sean),

yes, but, I think you need to tell your catechumen, for that is what he is asserting.

Just to be clear, I am not a catechumen any longer. I am now a Neophyte ;)

God bless...

Anonymous said...

Hi Carlus,

Yes, I have been here the whole time, just posting one other time other than the last one.

Nearly your entire case is built upon John 3:5 and 1 Peter 3:21, to this point. John 3:5, again, is a reference to Ezekiel's explanation of the New Covenant, brought to us in Christ. This is an Occam’s Razor moment - to begin to presumptively add any phrase with "baptizw" and superimpose your asserted meaning of John 3:5 over it ignores that there is no way that Ezekiel is talking about water baptism. There was no such thing as proselyte baptism when Ezekiel wrote that. Jesus’ reference to salvation is most easily and yet totally explained by looking to the Ezekiel reference to the New Covenant. But even more problematic is that this passage is completely exclusionary. While your sponsor, Mr. Williston, is certainly right to say that God does not need us to reach a soteriological ecumenical consensus in order for him to save someone, what Mr. Williston – and you – ignore is that in this passage God himself draws a salvific line in the sand, saying that no one who is not born of water and of the Spirit will enter the Kingdom of God. God is saying no one.

So follows this moment of unreflective revisionism, Yet Christians have also always realized that the necessity of water baptism is a normative rather than an absolute necessity. OK. First, if you are going to use John 3:5 as a dogmatic reference to sacramental water baptism, you absolutely cannot relativise in this way. “No one who is not born of water and of the Spirit will see the kingdom of God.” No one means no one. That is absolutist language. So either you make it about water baptism, and say that they thief on the cross was not in Christ or, for another instance, Paul on and even after his transformative experience on the Damascus road. Again, if you are going to use the passage you are going to have to figure out how to make “οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν” not able to enter un-absolute. There are passages that are notably less clear, as with 1 Peter 3:21 – I’ll get to that – but the exclusionary clarity of Jesus’ words excludes totally this passage from being a water baptism reference.

So then you say, “In order to have a better understanding on this topic from a Catholic perspective, so you can know what exactly you want to argue against.” This is just weird. Aren’t you the one making the assertions? Isn’t it enough to argue against your own words? If I can use your own words and ideas against you, in a way which demonstrates your own ideas to be incongruent and messy, is it necessary to read an article? I’ll tell you what, when you have really bad ideas I’ll show you. If you cite something else, but can’t explain it in a way that is logical or biblically cohesive, then I’ll presume that you don’t yet know what you are talking about. If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.

Secondly, you need to know that, though the Church Fathers are certainly helpful in understanding the early church, they have no explanatory nor any inherent didactic primal authority. If you were to say that they have authority because they were given that authority via Apostolic Succession, the only obvious conclusion is that the deaconate and elders in Corinth, Lystra, Iconium, et. al. also had that same authority, because they were given it directly by Paul, Timothy, Titus, etc. But these groups were in error, grave error at times. How does that error not bear the same authority? You cannot help but find yourself in damage control mode over the Colossian heresy, explaining why their teaching did not have authority, and yet why Clement does. You cannot have it both ways. You will need to return to Scripture in order to defend this idea, even though canon had not been ecumenically defined yet.

So explain your authoritative citation of Clement and explain away the lack of authority of the false teachers in Thessalonica, and do it without Scripture...since - as you say - it had yet to form.

Lastly, 1 Peter 3:21. To absolutize this passage into teaching regenerative water baptism is a considerable overstep. There are a great deal of problems in using this passage in the absolute regenerative manner you are. Firstly, what is the analogous “saving”? Noah was baptised? How does it correspond? Noah did not have a good conscience? Noah was saved through the flood but we are saved by baptism by the death of Jesus? The analogous “correspondence” needs to be established before you can assert that this passage teaches regenerative baptism. This entire pericope is notoriously unclear, and it is irresponsible to say that it is clear as you have said. I don’t believe that you can reconcile the syntactical confusion in the passage. And as much as this passage is unclear, John 3:5 is painfully, awfully clear in its absoluteness, and yet that you choose to make that “normative” but not “absolute”. That is an unfortunate duplicity in your hermeneutics.

Now, if you were to actually use the 1 Peter 3:21 passage as normative, there would be no problem. No right-thinking Protestant would depricate the importance of the sacrament of Baptism in the life of a Christian. But you have used these two passages in an absolute fashion (one completely stripped of its clear Hebraic references and the other being one of the most disputed pericopes in all of the New Testament) when you needed to establish a dogmatic foundation, and then you have attempted to revise and relativise your dogma when clear interpretive problems arise. You lack hermeneutical conviction in the application of these passages – and that is not a bad thing! To engage in hermeneutical retractions indicates that you still understand the considerable problems with the Roman teaching on baptismal regeneration, which is a wonderful thing.

This is not about one passage, Mr. Williston, you are correct. So why does Catholic teaching make it so?

I am now a Neophyte ;)You said it. Just Kidding!

Sean

Carlus Henry said...

Everyone,

Since this conversation seems to be focused on the subject of Sacraments and specifically the Sacrament of Baptism, I would like to continue it on the latest post which is specific to that subject. You will find it here Sacraments: The Sacrament of BaptismThanks and God bless....

triednotfried said...

Ummmmm......then I think you should start out by copying and pasting Sean's last post and addressing what he said...

Carlus Henry said...

Anonymous,

Nearly your entire case is built upon John 3:5 and 1 Peter 3:21, to this point. My entire case is that Baptism is normative necessary for salvation. You can see this further explained here.

So either you make it about water baptism, and say that they thief on the cross was not in Christ or, for another instance, Paul on and even after his transformative experience on the Damascus road. Again, if you are going to use the passage you are going to have to figure out how to make “οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν” not able to enter un-absolute. God is God, I am not. I do not dictate how He extends His mercy towards us, He does. If you want to learn more, then you can learn more here.

So explain your authoritative citation of Clement and explain away the lack of authority of the false teachers in Thessalonica, and do it without Scripture...since - as you say - it had yet to form.
We are not discussing Apostolic Sucession. Of course, if we were, this would not pose a problem since being in the line of succession or being ordained does not diminish one's capacity for sin. But let's stay on topic.

Now, if you were to actually use the 1 Peter 3:21 passage as normative, there would be no problem.
I am understanding you to say that baptism is the normative means. This is what I have been saying as well. Unless I am misunderstanding your point, I agree with you. It is the normative means as an instrument of a part of salvation.

This is not about one passage, Mr. Williston, you are correct. So why does Catholic teaching make it so?
I don't think that the position stated is about one passage. For further information, please refer to the follow up post here.

Thanks and God Bless...

Carlus Henry said...

Sean,

My apologies if you were offended by the comments that Willison made.

God bless...

Anonymous said...

Carlus,

First, thanks for the apology on behalf of your sponsor. I appreciate it. I will move on to your new post, but I don’t think that your answers measure up to the stark, didactic assertions you made early in the post. Let me explain -

My entire case is that Baptism is normative necessary for salvation…which does not in any way authoritatively follow from the passages you have cited, as I believe I have shown. In your next post you have - again - well overstepped your “normative” revision in saying that without the mark of the Covenant one cannot be in the covenant. You are going to – again – need to correct yourself. Excluding deathbed conversions? The thief on the cross? This is just a request – not a demand – but if you would, please go to your next post and “normalize” the language so I don’t have to argue the same point over and over.

Your case for regenerative baptism hinges necessitously on passages which cannot with any certainty be said to dogmatically teach that. And again, I am not interested in reading more on the matter. Your case is not substantial enough to uphold your assertion of baptismal regeneration, much less clarifying it by making it “normative”. Presumably neither is the case of the attached article, otherwise I think you would be making it.

God is God, I am not.I’m not sure why you suddenly foray into postmodern meaninglessness. This avoids completely all that you have erroneously asserted about these passages. You constructed a clear proposition about the meaning and consequential praxis of what is being taught here, you were shown to be wrong, and then you say, I do not dictate how He extends His mercy towards us. This is not about you or what you say or have said, this is about what God has said, what you have said He means, and what the passage actually means. There are words which have meaning in this passage, and they draw a starkly exclusionary line in the sand. You don’t have to speak for God, he already did, and it is not at all softly “normative”. It is awfully absolute. And, please, stop giving me reading lists – just make the case yourself as you say you are doing.

this would not pose a problem since being in the line of succession or being ordained does not diminish one's capacity for sin.Again, you are ignoring your own use of these sources. You use them as supporting material for regenerative baptism, even though you have to this point failed in making a Scriptural case for it. These were great men, but as you say, one’s capacity for sin is not diminished. So why cite them if your case lacks any Scriptural foundation? How do you assert that they are not partaking in some heresy by teaching baptismal regeneration? And we are on topic because you yourself have chosen to use them as a source of authority, or at least an informatively authoritatively source, in the matter. It is a significant facet of the topic because you brought them up. Demonstrating that your sources are suspect, in addition to demonstrating that you presuppositions are false, is part of the process of demonstrating your position on the topic to be false.

I wrote Now, if you were to actually use the 1 Peter 3:21 passage as normative, there would be no problem. -

to which you replied I am understanding you to say that baptism is the normative means. This is what I have been saying as well. Unless I am misunderstanding your point, I agree with you. It is the normative means as an instrument of a part of salvation.I did not use my words well. What I should have said is that “If you assert that 1 Peter 3:21 teaches that, normatively, baptism is regenerative..,” because you are using that passage as part of the ground-floor foundation that baptism is regenerative. And I am saying that to make a passage that has been found to be incredibly confusing (try diagramming it – it’s almost impossible to figure out what is predicative and what is the main action.) as part of your propositional first salvo is to say that something says something when it cannot be asserted that it does. Peter is saying something, and it is about baptism…of some sort, but then he pointedly excludes actual water in the comparison, metaphysically speaking. How can that be said to be foundational in a case for baptismal regeneration? Only later did you make revise your position making “normative” part of the plan.

But your injection of normative presupposes that you have made the case for baptismal regeneration using these two passages as presumptive launching pad for the rest of your points. But I have shown this to be either incorrect or a massive syntactial and conceptual overstep.

So, going on and making your case for sacraments ignores that your case for regenerative baptism lies in tatters at this point. You are moving on long before you have made a successful case for this central Roman Catholic teaching.

I’ll move on, but you gotta know, your next post follow this unsuccessful attempt at making the case for baptismal regeneration.

Thanks for engaging,

Sean

Carlus Henry said...

Sean,

As you may have noticed, I have closed the comments on this specific blog post, because we are talking about baptism and I would like to move all of the baptism conversation to the latest blog entry. However, I do believe that your comment deserves a response.

In your next post you have - again - well overstepped your “normative” revision in saying that without the mark of the Covenant one cannot be in the covenant. You are going to – again – need to correct yourself. Excluding deathbed conversions? The thief on the cross?I stand by what I said. It is the normative means of entering the covenant. I never said that without the mark of the covenant you can not be in the covenant. That is the distinction that I have been trying to make all along. That is the difference between normal vs. absolute means. For the theif on the cross, I think that we can both agree that those were not normal circumstances. However, it is evident in scripture that it was normal for the Apostles to baptize new people in the faith.

Your case for regenerative baptism hinges necessitously on passages which cannot with any certainty be said to dogmatically teach that.
There are words which have meaning in this passage, and they draw a starkly exclusionary line in the sand. You don’t have to speak for God, he already did, and it is not at all softly “normative”. It is awfully absolute.
You stand in a very opportunistic position. You have the chance to look over all of the discussion that has happened thus far and pick and choose different things that I have said regarding Baptismal Regeneration in response to someone else's comment. You can then construct any argument you feel based off of responses that I have made to others in a completely different context.

You are correct, God was absolute when He spoke. He was also showed absolute mercy to the thief on the Cross as well. I am assuming that He was not baptized, but He made exception to his inclusion into the covenant due to the current circumstances that the theif found himself in. In other words, Jesus did not take the theif off of the cross, go and baptize him, and then put him back on the cross. Instead, he showed an act of mercy to the state that the theif was currently in. Now, if Jesus and the theif had met in different circumstances, I think that the "normal" thing that would have occurred, just like Jesus charged in the Great Commission, was to make the theif a disciple and baptize him.

Again, you are ignoring your own use of these sources. You use them as supporting material for regenerative baptism, even though you have to this point failed in making a Scriptural case for it. How do you assert that they are not partaking in some heresy by teaching baptismal regeneration?This is another aside and has nothing to do with the conversation. But if they were partaking in some heresy, who would have had the authority to define it as a heresy? Which Christian organization was there to show a practice or belief to be heretical? The Church.

And we are on topic because you yourself have chosen to use them as a source of authority, or at least an informatively authoritatively source, in the matter...It is a significant facet of the topic because you brought them up.
Once again, you are pulling one of my comments that was a response to another commenter. This had nothing to do with the conversation of baptismal regeneration and was instead a response to the accusation that the Catholic Church and Constantine got together and brough pagan practices in order to appease Roman Emperors. So no, I did not bring it up. And no, this is not on topic.

Peter is saying something, and it is about baptism…of some sort, but then he pointedly excludes actual water in the comparison, metaphysically speaking. How can that be said to be foundational in a case for baptismal regeneration?
You are absolutely right. Peter does say something. Let's look at it again:

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge[a] of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Points to be made:
1.) Water of the flood symbolizes baptism
2.) that now saves you also...what now saves the flood? What is the 'that' that Peter is referring to....logically it is baptism.
3.) He then goes on to say that it is not the removal of dirt from the body....it is not a bath...
4.) but the pledge of good conscience toward God. What pledge....baptism
5.) It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.....what is 'It'....baptism

The only thing that makes this passage complicated and difficult and requires diagraming, would be a refusal to just accept what it says.

Only later did you make revise your position making “normative” part of the plan.

Only later did I further expand what I was meaning. If I did not do an adequate job of explaining myself, and I try again, it doesn't mean that I am changing my position. It just means that I am more fully explaining it.

So, going on and making your case for sacraments ignores that your case for regenerative baptism lies in tatters at this point.I am not even sure if you even read the post. We are still discussing baptism on the other post. You are more than welcome to join, so long as you stay on topic, and be respectful.

I’ll move on, but you gotta know, your next post follow this unsuccessful attempt at making the case for baptismal regeneration.

Please, no more unfounded accusations. Please support your claims with evidence appropriate to the topic at hand on the next post.

God bless...

Carlus Henry said...

A couple of typos...it is late, and I am tired....but this is the only time that I have had to respond to this....

1.) Baptism is salvific not in and of itself. It is not just a ritual. It is salvific only because of what Jesus Christ did for us.

2.) I never said that without the mark of the covenant you can not be in the covenant.. Whoops. I mean that without the mark of baptism..... Without the mark of baptism you can still be in the covenant. This is just under extreme or non normal circumstances....

God bless and Good night...