On Baptism

Wednesday, 14 April 2010 09:02 pm
cjbanning: (Symposium)
[personal profile] cjbanning
For baptised Christians, our baptism is the Sacrament through which our salvation is mediated. I believe, as a high-church Anglican, that this mediation is inherent in the Sacrament itself, and does not require any action on the part of the baptisand; this is why infant baptisms are efficacious. I also believe, however, that baptismal regeneration is non-exclusive. As the RCC Catechism states, "God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but [God] is not bound by [God's] sacraments." Anyone who "seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with [their] understanding of it" (a process which does not in itself require theism) can be said to have undergone (be undergoing?) an implicit baptism of desire which "brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament." 
The RCC limits this to those who are explicitly "ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of [Christ's] Church." I assume they mean the Gospel and Church of Christ generally, and not right teaching in particular, but I draw upon this to make a distinction between those who avoid Baptism out of (what, from a Christian perspective, may be seen as) incomplete knowledge, and those who do so deliberately and knowingly in order to oppose God's will. Only to the latter, I believe, will the fruits of the sacrament be denied.
Seeking the truth and doing the will of God in accordance with one's understanding of it can, of course, only be done through the grace of God; to assert otherwise would be semi-Pelagianism. But Christ's atonement* is universal, and God's grace prevenient (cf. Ch. 5 of the 6th session of the Council of Trent).

*I'm using "atonement" in the loosest sense, without any particular theology of redemption in mind.
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"This is my prayer: that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best."
-- St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians 1:9-10

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