Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Christian Baptism

St. Justin Martyr on Christian Baptism.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.lxi.html Chapter LXI.—Christian baptism.

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting 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 Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” John iii. 5.
Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Esaias the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isa. i. 16–20. And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed.
Many question why Christ had to be baptized by St. John the Baptist. Christ did not need the water of baptism for himself as he is sinless and of course God incarnate, but rather he himself baptized the waters of baptism so that by doing this opened the way into repentance, forgiveness of sins and opens the gateway to the other sacraments for which it prepares us for.
Those groups who limit access to Baptism to only those who are of "age" are taking away not only the child's entrance into the Christian Church but withholding that which the sacrament grants ie. the forgiveness of original sin. "Do not hinder the children from coming to me ". Why would we take away the child's path before they are able to walk on it. Some would argue the child does not reason and therefore should be of an age where they are able to choose whether or not they want to be baptized. As parents we are bound by the Lord to choose for the children. Should we not choose the greatest good we can obtain for them? Parents will not only be accountable for themselves but also for their children and whether or not we were permissive or if we taught them the truth which is Jesus Christ.

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