Thursday, April 13, 2006

Baptism

In David Smith's latest posting on his site gerondaephraim.tripod.com, he states that "[o]ne of the topics that both Joyful Light and Orthodox Patristic Wisdom fail to mention is the issue of re-baptism." And in his original post he says: "I was taught that the re-Baptism of Catholics, rather than Chrismation, was necessary because you would be blind in heaven without it." It is also important to note that the book which David refers to, "I Confess One Baptism" is written by Fr. George Metallinos, the professor on liturgics and dogmatics as well as the Dean of the Theology school at the University of Athens.

In the Apostolic Canons, Canon 46 says this: "We order any Bishop, or Presbyter, that has accepted any heretics' Baptism, or sacrifice, to be deposed; for "what consonancy hath Christ with Beliar? or what part hath the believer with an infidel?"

Canon 47: "If a Bishop or Presbyter baptize anew anyone that has had a true baptism, or fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and death of the Lord and failing to distinguish priests from pseudopriests."

The interpretation here says "For how can those who acquiesce in their religious ceremonies and rites criticize them with the view of persuading them to give up their cacodoxical and erroneous heresy?" The footnote here, by St. Nicodemos states very clearly and verbatim: "Those who have been baptized or ordained by heretics cannot be - which is the same as saying that it is impossible for them to be - either Christians or clerics, following, I say, these Canons, they laid down a Canon whereby they reject the baptism of heretics and of schismatics as well. They prove this by many Scriptural assertions and especially by that of St. Paul the Apostle saying: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4: 5). For, they say, if the Catholic Church is one and the true Baptism is one, how can the baptism of heretics and scismatics be a true Baptism at a time when they are not included in the Catholic Church, but have been cut off from it as a result of heresy? But if the baptism of heretics and scismatics is a true Baptism, and that of the Orthodox, Catholic Church is also a true Baptism, then there is not one Baptism, as St. Paul shouts, but two, which is quite absurd...St. Basil the Great in his first Canon with the intention of saying which baptisms are acceptable, and which are unacceptable, he divides them into two classes, by saying: "For it appeared to the ancients to be a reasonable rule that any baptism should be utterly disregarded that has been performed by heretics, or, in other words, by those who have been utterly separated from the Church and who differ from the Orthodox in respect of faith itself, and whose difference is directly dependent on faith in God." In Saint Basil's twentieth Canon he says decisively that the Church does not accept heretics unless she baptizes them. The same opinion is held by Athanasius the Great, too, who says "For it is not he that says merely 'O Lord' that gives a correct baptism, but he that utters the invocation of the name and at the same time possesses a correct faith...[i]t is for this reason, indeed, that many other heresies, true enough, do say only the names of the Holy Trinity, but inasmuch as they do not believe these correctly and they have not a sound faith either, the baptism given by them is of no benefit to them, owing to its lacking piety." St. Chrysostom too (in his sermon on the proposition "In the beginning there already was the Logos) says: "Let not the systems of the heretics fool you, my dear listener: for they have a baptism, but no illumination; accordingly, they are baptized, it is true, with respect to the body, but as respects the soul they are not illumined." St. Mark of Ephesus in Florence, who spoke frankly as follows: "We have split ourselves off from the Latins for no other reason than the fact that they are not only schismatics but also heretics." " And St. Nicodemos continues on in the footnote: "Wherefore we must not even think of uniting with them. So, it being admitted that the Latins are heretics of long standing, it is evident in the very first place from this fact that they are unbaptized, in accordance with the assertions of St. Basil the Great above cited, and of the saints preceding him named Cyprian and Firmilian...they no longer have with them the grace of the Holy Spirit with which the Orthodox priests perform the mysteries. This is one argument which is as strong and indisputable as the Canons of St. Basil the Great are strong and indisputable."

It would be wise to note here a little bit about the Holy St. Mark of Ephesus. He was a righteous and God-fearing and immovable pillar of the Orthodox Church. From a very young age he never tired of studying the divine Scriptures and enriching himself with their understanding (which is made clear through his writings.) St. Mark was a priest-monk who was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan, which the emperor bestowed on the holy Mark due to his "purity and incorruptible love for the truth and ability to develop sound ideas." (Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church.) It was as Metropolitan that the emperor chose him to defend the Orthodox Church in defense of the possible and proposed union with the Latins. St. Mark proved to be absolutely immovable on the teachings of the Orthodox Faith, especially regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit. St. Mark says this: "In matters of the Faith, there must be no concessions and no wavering...There exists no little or worthless word in matters of the Faith; and that which appears insignificant contains the most important meaning." It is because of the Latins' refusal to accept the teaching of the Orthodox Church regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit that St. Mark refused to sign the union between the Churches. St. Mark utilized the Holy teachings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and even St. Epiphanios, whom the Latins tried to use to confirm their addition of the "Filioque" to the Creed, as well as the Seven Ecumenical Synods which ratified the teaching of the Creed and specifically the Third Ecumenical Synod which made the statement: "...The holy synod decrees that no one should be permitted to offer any different belief or faith, or in any case or write or compose any other, than the one defined by the holy fathers who convened in the city of Nicaea, with the Holy Spirit. As for those who dare either to compose a different belief or faith, or to present one, or to offer one to those who wish to return to recognition of the truth, whether they be Greeks or Jews, or they be members of any heresy whatever, they, if bishops or clergymen, shall be deprived as bishops of their episcopate, and as clergyman of their clericate; but if they are laymen, they shall be anathematized." It is therefore clear why St. Mark concluded as he did that the Latins are heretics and that his statements are utilized in the interpretation of the Canon as to why Catholic baptism is not the baptism of the Orthodox Church.

Here I would like to add a statement made by the holy St. Mark of Ephesus when he was being made to sign the decree made by the Latins. He did not sign and this is what he said:

"The synods condemn those who will not obey the Church and maintain opinions contrary to what she teaches. I neither preach to my own glory, nor have I said anything new or unknown to the Church. I keep intact the pure and unadulterated teachings with the Church has received and preserved, and continues to preserve, from Christ our Savior...Therefore, if I remain steadfast in this teaching and do not desire to deviate from it, how is it possible to judge me as a heretic? First, one must judge the teaching which I believe, and then judge me. If, however, the confession is holy and Orthodox, how can I justifiably be judged?"