Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Protestant's wrong undestanding of Catholicism and Baptism

On Paltalk last night several people attempted to "refute" the Catholic Church based on the little knowledge they had of it.

One person was named "hello dolly," she acts as if the fact her friends were Catholic qualifies her as someone who is competent in Catholic theology, however, the wording of her questions suggest she is incompentent in this area.

She asked me if baptism makes someone born again, "how was the thief on the cross born again"?
There are a few problems with this example.

 1) We don't know if the thief was not a Christians before and was baptized, it was possible he was since John 4:1 tells us Jesus had more people baptized and made disciples than John the Baptist, which must have been a HUGE number since the Gospels tell us concerning the number following John the Baptist:

And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.--Mark 1:5

So logically, Jesus had a huge number of followers in Israel at one time, only to have many of them apostacize in John 6.  So is it unreasonable at all to say that the thief may have already been a follower of Christ (at least at one time) and was baptized? 

2)Baptism in water is not the only means by which a person is made "born again" in Catholic theology.  In Catholicism there are 3 recognized means by which a person can be "baptized" they are: water (traditional baptism), blood (someone who dies for the faith though was not water baptized), and desire (someone who if they had the chance to be baptized would have been, these people usually are catechumen who meet an early death). Here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the matter:

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

Many of the Fathers justified calling martyrdom for the Faith a "baptism" because Christ called His own death on the Cross a "baptism," so those dying for the Faith are said to likewise be "baptized" "in their own blood."

There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!--Luke 12:50

Baptism of desire's older name was "desire of baptism" and this was justified by Fathers as being salvific because of Scriptures like this:

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.--Acts 2:21

Conclusion: Ultimately in Catholic theology whether or not the Good Thief was baptized in water is not relevant, since water is not the only way to become born again.

1 comment:

  1. Your comments reflect a major misconception that evangelicals have of orthodox Christians. Lutherans do not believe that baptism is necessary (mandatory) for salvation. Not even the Roman Catholic Church believes this. All the saints of the Old Testament, the thief on the cross, and thousand of martyrs down through the centuries have been saved without Baptism. Baptism is not the "how" of salvation!

    Lutherans believe that baptism is one of several "when"s of salvation, it is not the "how" of salvation. The "how" of salvation is and always has been the power of God's Word/God's declaration of righteousness.

    A sinner can be saved by the power of God's Word when he hears the Word preached in a church, preached on TV or radio, reading a Gideon's Bible in a hotel room, or reading a Gospel tract that contains the Word. Salvation is by God's grace alone, through the power of his Word alone, received in faith alone. In each of these situations, the sinner is saved the instant he or she believes. Baptism is NOT mandatory for salvation to occur.

    However, the Bible in multiple passages, also states that God uses his Word to save at the time of Baptism.

    It is the work of the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, that works salvation in the sinner's spiritually dead soul, according to the second chapters of Ephesians and Colossians, and the third chapter of Romans. Your "decision for Christ" does not save you, neither does your decision to be baptized.

    God saves those whom he has elected, at the time and place of his choosing. Sometimes God saves them while hearing a sermon in church, sometimes at home reading the Word, and sometimes by the power of his Word spoken during Baptism.

    God does 100% of the saving. The sinner is a passive participant in his salvation. There is no passage in the New Testament that asks sinners to make a decision for Christ. The Bible states that God quickens sinners, gives them faith, and they believe and repent.

    The sinner does not decide to be saved. God decides to save the sinner!

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals