Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, Session 2, Profession of Faith (#4), ex cathedra: "I profess also that there are seven sacraments of the new law, truly and properly so called, instituted by our lord Jesus Christ and necessary for salvation, though each person need not receive them all."
The necessity of the sacrament of water baptism is taught to be a necessity of means, not only a necessity of precept. This means that without baptism, it is absolutely impossible for a person to attain salvation.
However, there are many opinions flying around about the so-called doctrine of baptism of desire, which attempt to argue that "God is so merciful that a person does not need to receive baptism before death, so long as they truly desired it while living. You know, if they really, really wanted to be baptized but some unforeseen event took their life beforehand. After all, God is merciful and even the Catechism of Trent teaches it."
The problem, however, with using the passage from the Catechism of Trent to 'prove' baptism of desire is threefold:
- The text does not objectively teach baptism of desire; that someone can be saved who dies unbaptized
- It is not held to be infallible, unlike the Councils of Vienne, Florence, Trent, etc.
- The subsequent English translations take gratuitous liberties and wind up contradicting infallible dogma from the very Council they claim to be explaining
COMMON ENGLISH TRANSLATION: "...should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness."
Note the addition of the word "impossible". This is a gratuitous and heretical choice on behalf of the translator, and is not a translation at all, but a paraphrasing which changes the sense of the text. It is heretical because it directly contradicts the two canons below, which are infallible declarations of the Catholic Church, under the guidance of God the Holy Ghost:
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 7, 1547, On Baptism, Canon II, ex cathedra:"If any one saith, that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism, and, on that account, wrests, to some sort of metaphor, those words of our Lord Jesus Christ; Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost; let him be anathema."
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 7, 1547, On Baptism, Canon V, ex cathedra: "If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema."
This means that if it is impossible for the person to be washed in the salutary waters, then it is impossible to be translated to the state of grace and thus merit salvation.
Another argument used by baptism of desire heretics is that Trent taught it in the infallible decrees of the Council. The following is THE ONE AND ONLY infallible decree that baptism of desire and baptism of blood adherents are ever going to bring forward, and as we will see, this decree actually teaches CONTRARY to their heresy.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, 1547, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV, ex cathedra: "And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. (St. John 3:5)"
The first and most obvious reason this does not teach baptism of desire is that the Council Fathers, had they meant to teach contrary to the absolute necessity of water baptism, would certainly not have used St. John 3:5 as their passage of choice from the Bible, since they would seem to be contradicting it, but rather it is much more likely that they would have chosen St. John 3:8.
St. John 3:8: "The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
But they did not. Anyone who tries to use this passage to prove baptism of desire, quite simply is guilty of private interpretation of the Scriptures, contrary to the dogmas of Holy Mother Church.
The remaining problem here for baptism of desire and baptism of blood is twofold. First in order to believe in baptism of desire one has to falsely understand this decree in a manner, which necessarily involves denying the Canons on baptism, when the correct understanding does not necessitate this: The translation (to the state of grace) cannot take place without the laver of regeneration (water baptism) or the desire thereof, in the same sense as a man cannot sail a boat without a body of water upon which to sail, or the will to do so. Absence of either one renders the desired result impossible, until the absence is remedied. In this interpretation, no dogmas are denied, thus it is the correct interpretation.
This is further attested to by understanding the rules of logic, specifically De Morgan's Law, when dealing with statements worded in this manner. This is the important section of the decree to pay attention to: "...cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof..."
We are dealing with the negation of a compound statement. We are talking about something that CANNOT take place without this or that. In other words we are stating the circumstances , which are necessary to exist for this event to be incapable of taking place: the absence of only one of the two above elements, the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof. Only one has to be missing. Things would be entirely different if the disjunction were changed to a conjunction, that is if the word "or" was switched to the word "and", OR if the "cannot be effected, without" were switched to "can be effected with". Either one of these changes would completely alter the meaning of the phrase, whereas if both changes took place, there would be no change in the meaning whatsoever.
Here is a further breakdown of the rules of logic involved:
Negating a Conjunction (and) and a Disjunction (or):
If we were dealing with a conjunction:
"This translation to the state of justification cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration and the desire thereof."
The above statement would mean that BOTH must be missing for the translation the the state of justification to be impossible. Since BOTH have to be missing, this means that the presence of only one is sufficient to effect justification. Baptism of desire adherents would like it if the decree used a conjunction, but this is not the way it was decreed. The council used not a conjunction, but a disjunction:
"This translation to the state of justification cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration OR the desire thereof."
If the translation to the state of justification cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration or the desire thereof, then it cannot be effected if EITHER one is missing. So it can be said that "This translation to the state of justification cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration" and "This translation to the state of justification cannot be effected without the desire thereof."
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Chapter V, On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds, AD 1547, ex cathedra: "The Synod furthermore declares, that IN ADULTS, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ..."
Second, if the Council had purposed to teach baptism of desire, which would have been an exception to the dogmatic canons stating that water baptism is necessary, it certainly would have done so explicitly in the Canons on baptism, as would be fitting, rather than in the Decree on Justification. In fact, this Council did exactly that with regard to making an explicit exception in the decree on original sin, when it stated the following at the end of the same decree:
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session V, Decree Concerning Original Sin, 1546, ex cathedra: "This same holy Synod doth nevertheless declare, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where original sin is treated of, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV., of happy memory, are to be observed, under the pains contained in the said constitutions, which it renews."
And besides, if it was meant to be understood to teach baptism of desire, then it certainly would have been rejected as heretical for denying two previously defined infallible and irreformable decrees on the subject.
Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: "To this one Baptism which baptizes all people who in Christ are regenerated, as one God and one Faith, all the faithful must confess, which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, we believe to be, in common for adults and infants, a perfect remedy unto salvation."
There is one baptism and it regenerates ALL those who are baptized in Christ. This baptism is celebrated in water, not in desire or in blood.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 8, 1439, ex cathedra: "Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the kingdom of heaven. The matter of this sacrament is true and natural water,"
Through baptism we become members of the Church and we CANNOT, as the Truth says enter the kingdom of heaven, unless we are born again of WATER and the Spirit. No ifs, conjunctions, disjunctions or buts.
Now one might ask "How could this be allowed to be written in the English translation of the Catechism if it is heretical?" This is a fair question with a simple answer right out of Scripture.
St. Matthew 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."
1 Corinthians 11:19: "For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you."
The apostle says there must be heresies, which God permits, that they who are approved, may be made manifest, that is, that on such occasions, the just may show their fidelity and constancy in their faith in and duty to God. A Catechism, while it may be reliable, is not an infallible document of the Church.
Since we know that to contradict or deny a dogma is heresy and separates us from the body of Christ, then we know that baptism of desire, which does NOT involve water, and necessarily distorts the words of our Lord into a metaphor, is heretical.
Here is where people tend to show their bad will and lack of faith. They argue for example that God is merciful, and therefore He will allow salvation to come to people who desire baptism. Some even say that a person who has never even heard of Jesus Christ can be saved by an 'implicit desire for baptism'. These arguments are offensive to the justice, omniscience, mercy and omnipotence of God. Here is how they offend each:
They offend God's justice, failing to accept that punishment for sin extends down through genealogies.
Exodus 20:5: "...I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me"
And that he fulfills all justice.
St. Matthew 3:13-15: "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him."
They offend God's omniscience by failing to account for God's infallible foreknowledge of all things, including who will ultimately respond to His grace unto salvation and who will not.
Isaias 46:10: "Who shew from the beginning the things that shall be at last, and from ancient times the things that as yet are not done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and all my will shall be done."
They offend God's mercy by which He may preserve from greater condemnation, those whom He foresees as receiving the true faith only to later forsake it.
St. Matthew 11:21-22: "Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida: for if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the miracles that have been wrought in you, they had long ago done penance in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you."
By denying certain souls baptism, He may limit their inevitable just punishment to merely that of original sin, not of original sin and infidelity or betrayal of the faith. In the case of infants who die without baptism, He may limit the punishment even further to exclude any sins the person would have committed, if only they had attained the use of reason. His mercy is great indeed.
Finally they offend His omnipotence in failing to recognize that He can indeed exact swift and immediate justice on souls conceived in original sin, whom he foreknows to reject obedience to Him.
Deuteronomy 7:9-10: "And thou shalt know that the Lord thy God, he is a strong and faithful God, keeping his covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments, unto a thousand generations: And repaying forthwith them that hate him, so as to destroy them, without further delay immediately rendering to them what they deserve."
God has the power to get His sacrament and salvation to all those whom He deems worthy. Remember that the only way a person can believe in baptism of desire, is by denying the infallible dogmas listed above as well as the following infallible dogmas:
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, Session 4, Chapter 4, #9, 1870, ex cathedra: "Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable."
Finally, those who believe in baptism of desire, as we have seen in this article, are trying to say that one infallible decree can contradict another.
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, Session 3, Chapter 4, (#6, 7), ex cathedra: "God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth. The appearance of this kind of specious contradiction is chiefly due to the fact that either the dogmas of faith are not understood and explained in accordance with the mind of the Church, or unsound views are mistaken for the conclusions of reason. Therefore we define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false."
There may be, of course still many questions left, but it must be said that while we may not always understand or know the full reason behind why a certain truth exists, we must always believe that truth, or we forfeit our faith and number ourselves among the reprobate. I choose to believe God the Holy Ghost, and His words, which He uttered through the mouths of men, rather than to judge His law, even if I don't fully understand it.
Isaias 55:9: "For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts."
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