Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saints and Church Fathers on the absolute necessity of water baptism

Please read also:

St. Prosper of Aquitaine, The Call of All Nations 1, 17; 2, 24: “For in this respect they are in the same condition as the greatest sinners; regenerated in baptism they are alike in sanctity; take away baptism, and they perish all together.  It is a fact then, that grace seeks its adopted sons even among the worse sinners in their very last moments, and that many who looked less wicked are denied this gift.  But who could say that these facts escape God’s ruling or that He decrees them without a profound justice? …It is obvious that all who die without baptism are lost.”

Anyone who argues that the Church Fathers were unanimous in teaching baptism of blood, or baptism of desire, or who say that those who did never retracted or taught contrary to it, are simply one of two things: They are liars, or they are parrots, and they ignore the fact that once the Solemn Magisterium makes a declaration, the matter is infallibly and irreformably settled. It is clear, by the words of the Fathers themselves, that baptism of desire and baptism of blood were in fact NOT settled issues, until the Church made dogmatic decrees concerning the matter. Furthermore, the Council of Trent, which decreed it unlawful to interpret Scripture in a manner contrary the unanimous consent of the Fathers, had no problem in also decreeing that baptism is necessary for salvation and that water is necessary for baptism, the logical conclusion being that (who would have guessed!) WATER BAPTISM is necessary for salvation!

Before we delve into the quotations, remember that the Patristic era ended well before the Council of Vienne, which first dogmatically defined that there was no salvation without the sacrament of Baptism, therefore any Fathers who thought contrary were not heretics, but merely erroneous. This principle was authoritatively put forth by Sixtus IV:

Pope Sixtus IV, Grave Nimis, 1483 (Denz. 735): "Although the Holy Roman Church solemnly celebrates the public feast of the conception of the immaculate Mary ever Virgin, and has ordained a special and proper office for this feast, some preachers of different orders, as we have heard, in their sermons to the people in public throughout different cities and lands have not been ashamed to affirm up to this time, and daily cease not to affirm, that all those who hold orassert that the same glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin, sin mortally, or that they are heretical' who celebrate the office of this same immaculate conception, and that those who listen to the sermons of those who affirm that she was conceived without this sin, sin grievously...

"We reprove and condemn assertions of this kind as false and erroneous and far removed from the truth, and also by apostolic authority and the tenor of these present [letters] we condemn and disapprove on this point published books which contain it . . . [but these also we reprehend] who have dared to assert that those holding the contrary opinion, namely, that the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin are guilty of the crime of heresy and of mortal sin, since up to this time there has been no decision made by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See."

Interesting, no?

Here are some teachings from the Church Fathers on the necessity of baptism:

St. Augustine († AD 430), A Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed: "In three ways then are sins remitted in the Church; by Baptism, by prayer, by the greater humility of penance; yet God does not remit sins but to the baptized. The very sins which He remits first, He remits not but to the baptized. When? When they are baptized. The sins which are after remitted upon prayer, upon penance, to whom He remits, it is to the baptized that He remits. For how can they say, Our Father, who are not yet born sons? The Catechumens, so long as they be such, have upon them all their sins. If Catechumens, how much more Pagans? How much more heretics? But to heretics we do not change their baptism. Why? Because they have baptism in the same way as a deserter has the soldier's mark: just so these also have Baptism; they have it, but to be condemned thereby, not crowned. And yet if the deserter himself, being amended, begin to doduty as a soldier, does any man dare to change his mark?"

St. Aphraates, Treatises, 6:14:4, AD 340: "From baptism we receive the Spirit of rist. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and he descends and rests upon the waters, and those who are baptized are clothed in him. The Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of rebirth, and then they receive the Holy Spirit. . . . [I]n the second birth, that through baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit"

This next passage is to show an example of how the Fathers were NOT unanimous in their teachings concerning baptism.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, AD 350, Catechetical Lectures 3:10, 12, AD 350: "If any man does not receive baptism, he does not have salvation. The only exception is the martyrs, who, even without water, will receive baptism, for the Savior calls martyrdom a baptism [Mark 10:38]... Bearing your sins, you go down into the water; but the calling down of grace seals your soul and does not permit that you afterwards be swallowed up by the fearsome dragon. You go down dead in your sins, and you come up made alive in righteousness"

So St. Cyril of Jerusalem, while allowing for the possibility of baptism of blood, makes no mention of baptism of desire, and even condemns the notion by stating "If any man does not receive baptism, he does not have salvation."

Tertullian, AD 203: "We have indeed, likewise, a second font, (itself withal one with the former,) of blood, to wit; concerning which the Lord said, "I have to be baptized with a baptism," just as John has written; that he might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood; to make us, in like manner, called by water, chosen by blood."

Tertullian (acknowledged by some as a Father, though he fell away and died outside of the Catholic Church) in fact reiterates that baptism of blood is a second font, and that though we are called by water baptism, it is the baptism of blood, whereby we are truly chosen. This makes perfect sense, considering that a true baptism of blood does indeed remit all sins that a person has committed, since the day they received BAPTISM IN WATER. And they are never able to sin again, hence, those baptized persons who are blessed by God to receive the second baptism (of blood), truly are chosen.

St. Cyprian of Carthage († 258), Treatise 12 (Against the Jews), #24: That by this alone the Jews can receive pardon of their sins, if they wash away the blood of Christ slain, in His baptism, and, passing over into His Church, obey His precepts.  "And when you stretch forth your hands, I will turn away my eyes from you: and when you multiply prayer, I will not hear: for your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil of your devices from my eyes"

St. John Damascene echoes the understanding of baptism of blood as a second baptism after true sacramental baptism and brings it out more clearly and explicitly:

St. John Damascene († AD 749): "These things were well understood by our holy and inspired fathers; and mindful of the Apostle's word that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, they strove, after holy baptism, to keep their garment of immortality spotless and undefiled. Whence some of them also thought fit to receive yet another baptism; I mean that which is by blood and martyrdom. For this too is called baptism, the most honourable, and reverend of all, inasmuch as its waters are not polluted by fresh sin; which also our Lord underwent for our sakes, and rightly called it baptism."

St. Gregory obviously rejected the notion of baptism of desire.

St. Gregory Nanzianzus, Oration 40, 381: "But then, you say, is not God merciful, and since He knows our thoughts and searches out our desires, will He not take the desire of Baptism instead of Baptism? You are speaking in riddles... And I look upon it as well from another point of view. If you judge the murderously disposed man by his will alone, apart from the act of murder, then you may reckon as baptized him who desired baptism apart from the reception of baptism. But if you cannot do the one how can you do the other? I cannot see it. Or, if you like, we will put it thus:— If desire in your opinion has equal power with actual baptism, then judge in the same way in regard to glory, and you may be content with longing for it, as if that were itself glory. And what harm is done you by your not attaining the actual glory, as long as you have the desire for it?"

St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Philippians, 392: "Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ in nowise from them, those who depart hence without the illumination, without the seal! They indeed deserve our wailing, they deserve our groans; they are outside the Palace, with the culprits, with the condemned: for, Verily I say unto you, Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven."

Pope St. Leo the Great († AD 461), Epistle 15, #10: "And because through the transgression of the first man the whole stock of the human race was tainted, no one can be set free from the state of the old Adam save through Christ's sacrament of baptism"

Pope St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies 6, AD 590: “Forgiveness of sin is bestowed on us only by the baptism of Christ.”

The Church Fathers, while many of them have taught the opinion that baptism may be had by the unbaptized either through desire, or by shedding one's blood, were clearly not unanimous in this teaching, and anyone who asserts that they were unanimous are leading souls into a very deadly heresy.  After the dogmatic decrees which eliminate lawful belief in baptism of desire, it cannot be believed without believing heresy.

In fact, people, who believe that the Fathers were unanimous in teaching baptism of desire or baptism of blood, necessarily find themselves succumbing to Modernism, in that they refuse to believe the dogmatic decrees of Holy Mother Church as Holy Mother Church has infallibly declared them.

It is quite fitting to assert that baptism of desire and baptism of blood are the mother of modern heresies against the salvation dogma.  It is this heresy, which paved the way for the belief that those invincibly ignorant of Jesus Christ and His true religion may be saved. It is this heresy, which paved the way for religious indifferentism and false ecumenism, and the widespread rejection of that most holy and salutary dogma, No salvation outside the Catholic Church.

Renounce baptism of desire. Renounce baptism of blood. Abjure this heresy and enter the Catholic Church, or you cannot be saved.

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