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Author Topic: Baptism and Pagans  (Read 6272 times)
Ana
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« Topic Start: May 09, 2007, 11:11:34 pm »


Note About This ThreadIn the "When Others Pray For You" thread, Oaksworn said this:

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This is something that I've been wondering about for a couple of years.  If you are baptised as a baby, as most are, is the oath binding?  The individual so baptised is incapable of voicing their consent or understanding what it means.  Christianity/Catholicism holds that this rite, if I remember correctly, is to wash the sin from the individual and thereby adopt them into their faith and then into their Heaven when the individual dies.  What happens when a baptised individual walks away from Christianity as many pagans have?  Is the oath broken or is there more to it?

I'm splitting this off into a separate discussion because I feel like there's a lot of discussion to be had and either it or the original topic may get lost in the other thread if we try to do both in one place. 

--Star


What happens when a baptised individual walks away from Christianity as many pagans have?  Is the oath broken or is there more to it?

I never made that oath.  My parents took that choice away from me.  But even still, I look at it as being blessed by the element of Water, and me being a pisces, that doesn't bother me.  My parents thought they were doing the right thing, but I don't believe that making an oath to raise someone to be a good whatever religion their parents are.  I have no problem with a blessing: asking whatever deity for protection over their child to be healthy and happy... but I do have a problem with making an oath for an infant to later follow in life. 

In my belief system all gods are the same god and all goddesses are the same goddess, so to me it's not that big a deal even in that I was a confirmed Christian of the Methodist tradition when I was in the 7th grade.  I don't think I knew enough to make that decision then and I was under the pressure of my parents and teachers because that is what all of the rest of the 7th graders did.  It wasn't until I was out of my parents' household that I finally had the freedom to explore my own ideas of spirituality.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2007, 11:19:39 am by Star, Reason: Adding explanation for thread-splitting » Logged

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« Reply #1: May 10, 2007, 08:14:38 am »

I would quite probably have had a word with the officiating priest as well and perhaps have even called in his superiors.  I mean, what priest would perform a baptism without the parents present or at the very least their consent?

Unfortunately, there are plenty of them.  As I understand it, they tend to show up particularly in the more conservative, hellfire-and-damnation Protestant denominations.  I've heard stories of kids being invited to "youth events" put on by the church and mass-baptized (using water sprayed out over the crowd).  Sad

Quote
This is something that I've been wondering about for a couple of years.  If you are baptised as a baby, as most are, is the oath binding?  The individual so baptised is incapable of voicing their consent or understanding what it means.  Christianity/Catholicism holds that this rite, if I remember correctly, is to wash the sin from the individual and thereby adopt them into their faith and then into their Heaven when the individual dies.  What happens when a baptised individual walks away from Christianity as many pagans have?  Is the oath broken or is there more to it?

This might be a good topic to start a new thread on, since there's plenty of discussion to be had on the subject.  For the moment, I'll note that I don't think any oaths are actually made on behalf of the baby, at least in the infant-baptism service the church I grew up in (Lutheran) uses.  The promises required are from parents and godparents to raise the child in the Christian church, provide him/her with scriptures, etc.  (I may be remembering wrong, though, and there is some sort of connection between the child and God being made here--just not "this baby promises to be Yours forever".)  Confirmation, of course, is another story.

Wish Koi were around, again, because she could shed a lot more light on this than I can.  I think I may have some old e-mail correspondence with her on the subject that I could at least dig up and see if she said anything that might be helpful here, although I wouldn't necessarily be able to answer any questions about it, and since she's still busy with offline life she probably wouldn't be able to either.  Sad
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« Reply #2: May 10, 2007, 11:08:11 am »


This might be a good topic to start a new thread on, since there's plenty of discussion to be had on the subject. 

*pokes* then start it

I was baptised when I was a baby but I don't see it as anything I agreed to do just things other people agreed to do with regards to raising me.
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« Reply #3: May 10, 2007, 11:22:07 am »

*pokes* then start it

I'll go you one better and split it off from the original discussion...

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I was baptised when I was a baby but I don't see it as anything I agreed to do just things other people agreed to do with regards to raising me.

*nods*  That's what I was trying to say.  My parents didn't take any choice away from me; if there were no choice, there'd be no need for Confirmation.  They just promised to raise me Christian.  Nothing about what might happen when I was making my own decisions, as far as I remember from the last time I looked at the service.
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« Reply #4: May 10, 2007, 11:44:57 am »

I'll go you one better and split it off from the original discussion...

*nods*  That's what I was trying to say.  My parents didn't take any choice away from me; if there were no choice, there'd be no need for Confirmation.  They just promised to raise me Christian.  Nothing about what might happen when I was making my own decisions, as far as I remember from the last time I looked at the service.

Thanks Star Smiley

That's the way I look at it too, as something they were promising to do on my behalf, not something I was bound to do when I was old enough to do things for myself.
It's not something that I'll do to our son, or did to his older siblings, but even if 9hypothetically) he were baptised I don't see that it would put any onus on him to hold to anything once he was old enough to make his own decisions.
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« Reply #5: May 10, 2007, 11:49:10 am »

I was baptised when I was a baby but I don't see it as anything I agreed to do just things other people agreed to do with regards to raising me.

That's how I always viewed it.  To me it's like in Catholocism, you are Christianed when you are a baby to be raised a Catholic, then you confirm your commitment when you get older.  Only in most Protestant/Baptist/Methodist etc. churches they tend to take the attitude of "your parents gave you to us so now you belong to us whether you confirm it or not!" Grin
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« Reply #6: May 10, 2007, 11:49:29 am »

Wish Koi were around, again, because she could shed a lot more light on this than I can.  I think I may have some old e-mail correspondence with her on the subject that I could at least dig up and see if she said anything that might be helpful here, although I wouldn't necessarily be able to answer any questions about it, and since she's still busy with offline life she probably wouldn't be able to either.  Sad

I found the e-mail I was thinking of.  I don't have her permission to copy and paste here, so I'll summarize the relevant bits...  She's been away for a while, so for those who haven't met her, Koi is a long-time Cauldron member and senior staff member (Assistant Message Board Coordinator, specifically) who not only is Catholic but also is a degreed theologian.

A while back, I was wondering about these same sorts of questions, what it meant to be baptized and yet walk away from the church, and since Koi is a good friend and knows more about Christian theology than anyone else I have close contact with, I asked her.  There's a LOT of other stuff in here about exactly what Baptism is, so I'm way summarizing here and probably oversimplifying.

What's particularly relevant here, though, is that Koi tells me that Baptism is a "sacrament of beginning".  That it's often treated as a promise of faith, it's not actually.  It's not a mature commitment, it can't be, because it's just kind of the introduction into the Christian community.  On the question of what baptism means for converts...  Christians believe it leaves an indelible mark on you, she says, but if you don't believe in their God anymore, does their belief about that mark actually have any effect on you?  What she winds up with here is that it's not a question she can answer for me, it's something that I have to look at through the lens of my own beliefs and figure out what I think of it.

I think that's all from an infant-baptizing perspective, so I don't know if the same applies to adult baptism or not.  And as far as I can tell, Confirmation is a little more of a promise kind of thing, so I don't know how that plays in either.  And of course, not being Koi, I can only speculate and guess at the answers to any questions anyone has about this, and I know she's been really busy with offline life so she probably won't be around to answer them herself either...  But for what it's worth, there it is.
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« Reply #7: May 10, 2007, 12:09:11 pm »

Thanks for spinning this thread off, folks...

What's particularly relevant here, though, is that Koi tells me that Baptism is a "sacrament of beginning".  That it's often treated as a promise of faith, it's not actually.  It's not a mature commitment, it can't be, because it's just kind of the introduction into the Christian community.  On the question of what baptism means for converts...  Christians believe it leaves an indelible mark on you, she says, but if you don't believe in their God anymore, does their belief about that mark actually have any effect on you?  What she winds up with here is that it's not a question she can answer for me, it's something that I have to look at through the lens of my own beliefs and figure out what I think of it.

Thanks for all that, Star.  I did a little research online and found the following (long) article on Baptism: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm.  There are multpile sections but what I think is relevant to my original question can be found in the section titled: The Negative Document: "De Baptismo" under AUTHORITATIVE STATEMENT OF DOCTRINE.

Quote
Infants, not being able to make an act of faith, are not to be reckoned among the faithful after their baptism, and therefore when they come to the age of discretion they are to be rebaptized; or it is better to omit their baptism entirely than to baptize them as believing on the sole faith of the Church, when they themselves can not make a proper act of faith.

Those baptized as infants are to be asked when they have grown up, whether they wish to ratify what their sponsors had promised for them at their baptism, and if they reply that they do not wish to do so, they are to be left to their own will in the matter and not to be forced by penalties to lead a Christian life, except to be deprived of the reception of the Eucharist and of the other sacraments, until they reform.

So it would seem that, at least from a Roman Catholic viewpoint, baptism of an infant does not automatically leave an 'indelible mark' upon the soul of the individual so annointed.  The information Star dug up from Koi seems to support this sentiment.  What this means for other sects of Christianity I couldn't say.  I actually went online and looked up the history of the church where I was baptised to nail down exactly what version of Catholicism it adhered to and then tracked down the appropriate rite.  I'd still like to know exactly what wording was used but have accepted that the best I could find would be the official ritual.

I guess in the end, Koi is right.  What matters is how you, the individual, feels about having been baptised and whether or not you feel it holds any meaning for you currently. 
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« Reply #8: May 10, 2007, 12:27:42 pm »

unless you have someone like my grandmother who not only prays for me but decides to baptize my children while she was babysitting without my consent of course.

Had that been done to my children - oh, man, the Wild Hunt couldn't have held me back.  In fact I think I would have been leading the Hunt.

Off topic but this reminds me of the Simpson's episode where the Flanders', who had temporary custody of the Simpson kids, were about to Baptize the kids without Homer and Marge's permission.  The two got to the river just in time for Homer to push Bart out of the way, getting splashed with the baptismal water himself.  "Wow, Homer.  You took a baptism for me!" Cheesy
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« Reply #9: May 10, 2007, 02:16:17 pm »

  The two got to the river just in time for Homer to push Bart out of the way, getting splashed with the baptismal water himself.  "Wow, Homer.  You took a baptism for me!" Cheesy

Heh, I saw that one earlier this week. It got a laugh out of me.
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« Reply #10: May 10, 2007, 06:46:54 pm »

The two got to the river just in time for Homer to push Bart out of the way, getting splashed with the baptismal water himself.  "Wow, Homer.  You took a baptism for me!" Cheesy

::chuckle:: that is hilarious!  I've never watched an episode of that show but I'd watch that one just for that scene.
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« Reply #11: May 10, 2007, 08:31:23 pm »

What's particularly relevant here, though, is that Koi tells me that Baptism is a "sacrament of beginning".  That it's often treated as a promise of faith, it's not actually.  It's not a mature commitment, it can't be, because it's just kind of the introduction into the Christian community.

But is that what John the Baptist was doing?
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« Reply #12: May 10, 2007, 09:27:47 pm »

But is that what John the Baptist was doing?

My understanding of Christian theology and history is at something like novice-level, so I'm not sure.  However, on a purely speculative level, I would not be surprised to find that in the two millenia since that time, the practice and the theology behind it have changed significantly.  I somehow doubt that Christianity itself is now exactly what it was then.  (Or what it was beginning to be, as the case may be; I'm not even 100% sure when it could really start to be called "Christianity".)
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« Reply #13: May 10, 2007, 10:11:15 pm »

My understanding of Christian theology and history is at something like novice-level, so I'm not sure.  However, on a purely speculative level, I would not be surprised to find that in the two millenia since that time, the practice and the theology behind it have changed significantly.  I somehow doubt that Christianity itself is now exactly what it was then.  (Or what it was beginning to be, as the case may be; I'm not even 100% sure when it could really start to be called "Christianity".)

Being brought up in the Christian church, what we were told is that baptism is "an outward and visible sign of the commitment to Jesus Christ."  Children are baptized so that they are made "clean" in the eyes of the lord and are promised to god.  Parents, godparents, and the church all make the commitment for the child to raise the child in the church.  "With God's help, we will so order our lives, after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, shall be established in the faith and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to the life eternal."  I'm pretty sure that's word for word.  I said it enough times growing up that it's still ingrained in there.
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« Reply #14: May 10, 2007, 11:17:19 pm »

I somehow doubt that Christianity itself is now exactly what it was then.  (Or what it was beginning to be, as the case may be; I'm not even 100% sure when it could really start to be called "Christianity".)

You have gone several layers deeper than I was hoping for. Smiley  What the Christ was teaching - a modified and (relatively) peaceful version of Judaism, is far from what the modern Church generally teaches.

I was baptized and confirmed Methodist, and now have little use for the Church, but hold the (local) community in great esteem.
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