My desire was to be received through Baptism

My desire was to be received through Baptism

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”
(Ps. 118:24)

This is a day of rejoicing for all of us, who came to know you and love you. On the very first day I met you, you described yourself as Orthodox at heart. With tears in your eyes you indicated you would have become formally Orthodox, but the time did not come until today, and we give glory to Christ our God for it.

Despite your best intentions and personal conviction, and your desire to belong to the true Church founded by Christ, you did not become her member until this blessed day. It was your dissatisfaction with your former church that convinced you it simply was not part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but an imitation of it, having broken away from the Roman church that had already broken communion with the Church, being first schismatic, then heretical.

Your desire to be received through baptism indicates your conviction that the baptism you had received in your former church was not the true baptism, because it was not administered by an appointed minister of the Church nor was it in the prescribed form used by the Church of triple baptism, i.e. triple immersion, and in a word it was not administered within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.

A baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is the true baptism not because merely the names of our triune God are invoked, as if it were an incantation (it’s like saying anyone who can say this is my body and this is my blood magically transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord), but because the Church convenes in accordance with the instructions of the Lord and the authority given to the ministers of His Church to perform the divine mysteries. This authority rests with the Church, not with the individual minister.

Your baptism was not a rebaptism. If it were we would all violate the Tradition of the Church.

Some of our colleagues, by a curious presumption, are led to suppose that those who have been dipped among the heretics ought not to be baptized when they join us; because, they say, there is “one baptism.” [Eph. 4.5] Yes, but that one baptism is in the Catholic Church. And if there is one Church, there can be no baptism outside of it. There cannot be two baptisms: if heretics really baptize, then baptism belongs to them. And anyone who on his own authority concedes them this privilege admits, by yielding their claim (that the enemy and adversary of Christ should appear to possess the power of washing, purifying, sanctifying a man). Our assertion is that those who come to us from heresy are baptized by us, not re-baptized. They do not receive anything there; there is nothing there for them to receive. They come to us that they may receive here, where there is all grace and truth; for grace and truth are one.

Whose words are these? Not mine, but the Church’s, through the mouth of her spokesman, inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. Cyprian of Carthage (Epistle 70.1, ca. A.D. 255).

“If one accepts a heretical baptism as valid in and of itself, he also accepts the priesthood of the clergyman who administers it, and ultimately the Eucharist that such a clergyman celebrates, too.”
—Fr. George Metallinos

The subject of how the Church receives those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and who have received a baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is one that stirs the Church today and causes considerable friction among clergy and faithful. The confusion that exists concerning the baptism is due to the confusion that exists concerning the Church. Those who see the Church (at least in some form) even among the heretics, also see the baptism among them (in some form). Indeed, as Fr. George Metallinos has stated, “If one accepts a heretical baptism as valid in and of itself, he also accepts the priesthood of the clergyman who administers it, and ultimately the Eucharist that such a clergyman celebrates, too.” (Quoted by Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIX, No. 4)

I want to congratulate you, for being moved by the Holy Spirit you came forth of your own free will asking to be received in the womb of the Holy Orthodox Church and thus become a member of the Body of Christ. You followed the Apostle Paul who emphasized that we need to maintain a strong and cohesive unity, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles” (Eph. 4:14).

We must, however, say that your pious, Christian life outside the Church is neither dismissed and belittled nor called irrelevant. To the contrary. It is because of the exemplary life you have lived, as witnessed by your family and by all of us who had the blessing of knowing you, that we rejoice at your decision. Today you sealed the Christian life you have always lived as a sincere follower of the Lord, and made efficacious your faith and charismata received.

In stepping forward to receive the sacrament of regeneration you confess that you renege the heresies embraced by your former Protestant denomination, i.e. filioque, sola scriptura, sola gratia, ecumenism, created grace, and any other teachings contrary to the faith transmitted to us.

Today is the day of your spiritual birth and regeneration. You enlisted in the army of Christ. With the confirmation you have received, you were also given the weapons to fight the good fight and be victorious over the forces of evil. Not only do you bear the insignia of Christ’s army, you have now received in you the Lord Himself, so that you may be totally incorporated into His life, so that from now on you live His life, or let Christ live in you. The cup of the Lord is the great prize, full—not with blessings—but of the Bestower Himself of all blessings.

Thank you for wanting to follow the akriveia of the canons and not the oeconomia of those who are weak, uncertain and confused in faith. Shame to our ecumenical (read ecumenistic) patriarch, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and all its hierarchs who have capitulated to the heresy of ecumenism. Kudos to the Serbian Church that faithfully adheres to the sacred canons of the Church, to the hierarch heading this diocese… and the priest of this church… for making your dream come true on this blessed day.

Axios!

7 thoughts on “My desire was to be received through Baptism”

  1. Την ευχή σας, Πάτηρ. Thank you for this post. I was born in a Buddhist/ Shintoist family in Japan, heard the Gospel when I was studying in Korea from devout Protestant Christians, got baptized in the Presbyterian church (sprinkle) in 2000. Since that time, I had struggled much about the form and nature of this sprinkle baptism. I realized that eventually, it was the matter of ecclesiology. And I could not define what the church was. This inquiry has brought me to many different denominations within Evangelicalism, traditional Catholicism, Byzantine Catholicism and finally to Orthodoxy. 6 month ago, I was received into the Orthodox Church in Greece through the Sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation. It was the most profound and life-changing experience which I have ever had in my life. It was worthy to have struggled with this one theme –Baptism–for nearly 20 years.

    If I truly accept the truth of Baptismal Regeneration and the tangiable, visible nature of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, then it follows that the Baptism is directly related the salvation of our souls. To me it was a matter of life and death. I am so grateful that He opened the gate for me to enter into the Church with ακρίβεια. Δόξα τω θεώ.

    • Thank you, dear Mary, for your moving and strong witness you offered us, which we hope will inspire others like you to receive the true baptism received only in the true Church. Thanks be to God who led you to this realization.

  2. Dear fr.Emmanuel,
    Thank you so much for your kind words. I want to encourage our dear fellow Evangelical seekers into Orthodoxy who are struggling with Orthodox doctrines such as veneration of Panagia, Saints, Icons and relics etc.. to go through the Sacrament of Baptism as a therapeutic gate to understand these dogmas from inside out.

    I had given intellectual assent to the above doctrines but had been assaulted by protestantic suspicion from time to time even on the eve of my Baptism. But my confessor encouraged me and said that the Sacrament of Baptism will heal my “theological schizophrenia” and illuminate my nous. How much I was encouraged by his words! And it did happen indeed!

    After Baptism, Chrismation and Holy Communion, my soul started singing paraklisis to Panagia suddenly. My seeker friend who had shared the suspicion about Panagia dogma was astonished by my immediate change and started believing the power of Orthodox Baptism. Because it really changed me from inside out! I cannot deny this fact.

    Some months after the Baptism, while I was participating in the Divine Liturgy and gazing upon the icon of St. Basil the Great at the iconostasis, I had a wonderful experience. (for a few second just). At that moment, it seemed that the whole sanctuary was filled with holy baptismal water up until the ceiling. We were all completely immersed in the transparent holy waters. I realized that St. Basil was fully immersed in the water, too. I saw him in the same water. We were united mysteriously in Christ over time and space. From that time on, I have felt a special connection to St. Basil. I started reading his Epistles joyously as if reading my own brother’s letters. For cradle Orthodox believers, these might be natural, basic things but for those who come from non-sacramental low church background like me, this was the tremendous thing. My suspicions’ gone. It was God’s mercy. I realized that the Mystery of Baptism has been transforming me continuously. It has an eternal effect on my soul.

    “Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” (Ps. 145:1-2). I am so grateful for His mercy to grant me the gift of the Holy Sacraments and I wish that my fellow seekers will taste this heavenly sweetness, too.

    Fr. Emmanuel, thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling us the truth of Orthodox Sacraments.

    • Dear Mary, Thank you for sharing your experience with us and with everyone who goes to this post. Your experiences should be made known to everyone, so people would glorify the Lord and join His Holy Church with the true laver of regeneration, even if they have been received in the Orthodox Church with Holy Chrismation. They can correct a mistake made not so much by them but by the Catechist who accepted them. You received a special gift, which led you to St. Basil, called Great with good reason. He is a guide that will not lead you astray, especially with the confusion that exists today, which resembles his time. The study of his letters should help you tremendously. We pray the Lord will guide your steps to the fullness of the truth. In His love, Fr. E.

  3. Την ευχή σας, π. Εμμανουήλ. Thank you so much for your encouragement. Looking back, I realized that the greatest good which Orthodox Christians could bring to the life of the truth-seeking Protestant believers is to show them with love and precision that why protestant “church” is not church in the proper sense. If we cannot understand this point, it is hard to understand why we need Orthodox Baptism and Chrismation, nor to understand why Protestant ecclesiology is inherently gnostic and nestorian. I discovered this solemn truth via Vatican official document two years ago. (“Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.” )

    “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities [born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century] do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.” http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html

    If one devout Protestant faces this horrifying (+ liberating) truth that we are without church, then, his/her soul shall never be in rest until his/her soul will locate the Church and be received into Her bosom through valid Sacrament. It is due to His great mercy and love that Protestant seekers would come to the point to find himself/herself OUTSIDE of His Church, which necessarily brings existential angst to his/her soul. It is a good thing.

    Likewise, I believe that the greatest evil which the Orthodox priests/theologians could bring to the life of Protestant seekers is to delude them to believe they are somehow already INSIDE the Orthodox Church. (they are not.) I say with tears that it is a crime to lock out the seeking souls from His Church and the source of salvation by giving us a false sense of security and delusion. They are killing the souls by “embracing” them indiscriminately. I humbly plead Orthodox priests to tell us the Truth and let the seeking souls come to taste the greatest treasure–the Holy Sacraments within the Orthodox Church–. Please don’t become a stumbling block for us. Please don’t deprive the most precious life-giving opportunity from seekers. Please don’t prevent us from going through the full Sacrament.

    Now that I experienced the Holy Baptism, it makes perfect sense why Orthodox Baptism(+those who defend it) are under severe attack. Because it is true. And it guides neophyte to the mystery of Closed Communion (“monogamous communion”) and to see the faulty foundation of WCC and Ecumenism clearly. Frankly speaking, I had been afraid to be associated with so called sacramental “rigorist” group because I wanted people think of me as someone who is “moderate” and not “extremist/fundamentalist”. However, I must admit that it was they who eventually brought me to Orthodoxy. They took the risk of being fooled and ridiculed by the majority and proclaimed the truth straightforwardly. So, I felt a moral obligation to publicly thank them for their effort. May God reward your sacrificial work and strengthen you.

    • Dear Mary,

      Thank you for your valuable comments. Personally, I would go with the unity of the Church. Christ founded one Church, not two, let alone a myriad; One Church united in true faith and true love. A Church that is visible, as we see it at Her foundation day in the Upper Room. Everything else flows from there: sacraments (that is, mysteries), scripture (and its interpretation), truth, the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, sanctification-which is salvation. It is not the priesthood that makes the Church; it is the Church Herself, the Body of Christ, which is the source of every sacrament (mystery).

      A letter by St. Theophan the Recluse is a startling wake up call for Protestants. If you don’t have the booklet we’ll mail it to you (our compliments), if you send us your address – a very useful tool for your evangelism efforts. (Preaching Another Christ: An Orthodox View of Evangelicalism (Orthodox Witness, 2011).

      We, the clergy, but by extension all Christians, are responsible for the lack of missionary effort, which is a necessary element of a true Church that is alive. If the local church is true it cannot remain indifferent to the people that surround us: “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35) “Woe to me if I don’t evangelize.” (1 Cor. 9:16)

      Unfortunately, ecumenism, conformism, laxity, worldly spirit, have infiltrated and overwhelmed many of our clergy, which have rendered them unsuitable teachers and wrong guides for the true seekers, who are scandalized, disappointed and turned off by their behavior. There are not too many places to turn to, and this is a big problem of our times, particularly here in America.

      I do hope you stay clear of Old Calendarists. They are not the Church. They are splintered into so many groups – how can you call them a Church? They may have the faith, but they don’t have the love. The two go together, which means they are faulty in their faith as well. They don’t accept the great Saints God revealed in our times, like St. Paisios, St. Porphyrios, St. Justin Popović and so many others.

      Why have none of the autocephalous Churches recognized them, especially since most of them follow the Old Calendar? And if the reason they are not united with the “official” churches is no longer the Calendar but ecumenism, why aren’t they in communion with anti-ecumenist churches, like those of Georgia and Bulgaria, and ROCOR, here in America? Because they are in communion, they say, with the ecumenists, which renders them tainted of the sickness. So they, and only they, are the true Church. Cutting themselves from the trunk of the Church makes them schismatic, if they will continue to persist in their isolation.

      Looking forward to your reply. God bless you. In Christ’s love, Fr. E. 

  4. Dear fr. Emmanuel,

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt reply. Yes, I’d like to read the booklet (Preaching Another Christ: An Orthodox View of Evangelicalism)! Your testimony that you had become a Roman Catholic in Italy was encouraging in many senses. I felt that you understand why some people seriously consider becoming Catholic. It is also comforting to know that you have passed through the conversion, re-conversion experience. Also, you mentioned about the lively evangelistic activities among Catholics in Italy. I witnessed these phenomena among evangelical missionaries in many parts of the world, too and I owe to their effort to reach me when I was completely foreign to Christianity. So, I echo your passion for Orthodox evangelism! Two months ago, I proofread the Divine Liturgy text in Persian under the supervision and blessings from Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia and from my confessor (Ἀδελφότης Θεολόγων «Ὁ Σωτήρ»), as we see more and more Shia Muslim refugees coming to Christ worldwide.

    Thank you for sharing the topic regarding the the Greek Old Calendar people. Yes, once I did consider their claims seriously as I saw the possibility of the full communion between Rome and Constantinople. (while I was a catechumen in Byzantine Catholic Church). Though it might not be identical, nonetheless the nature and existence of the Greek Old Calendarist groups and various Sedevacantist groups looked a bit similar to me. I observed that;

    1) Their criticism concerning the ecumenism within both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy is correct.
    2) They are trying their best to preserve Holy Tradition. (=their intention is praiseworthy).
    2) They are not united among themselves,,,at all.

    My Protestant experiences have taught me that when names such as “True” Orthodox or “Genuine” Orthodox etc appear, we are already entering into a dangerous realm of subjectivism. As a former Protestant, I must have asked, “Well, who decided its ‘true-ness or ‘genuine-ness’ of Orthodoxy? What is the source of authority which backs up their definition of truthiness/falseness, genuineness/in-genuineness?” If one “genuine” Orthodox group A excommunicates the other “genuine” Orthodox group B because (the Group A thinks) that the Group B’s “genuine-ness” is not “genuine” enough, what can we do?

    This kind of authority issue had always bothered me as one Independent Baptist group C excommunicates the other Independent Baptist group D because (the Group C thinks) the Group D is no longer “true” Independent Baptists and so forth. Likewise, I saw that Sedevacantist groups were not united as to who was the last “valid” Pope. We get lost in the maze. So, though, my traditionalist spirit seemed to be more in line with GOC or Sedevacantist or SSPX or whatever the groups than with the ecumenist sectors (both in Orthodoxy and in Catholicism), I determined to seek canonicity. (I was received into the Church of Greece).

    “And if the reason they are not united with the “official” churches is no longer the Calendar but ecumenism, why aren’t they in communion with anti-ecumenist churches, like those of Georgia and Bulgaria, and ROCOR, here in America? Because they are in communion, they say, with the ecumenists, which renders them tainted of the sickness. So they, and only they, are the true Church. Cutting themselves from the trunk of the Church makes them schismatic, if they will continue to persist in their isolation.” Yes, that’s so true.

    p.s. Your transfer to ROCOR is amazing, too! This action symbolizes (to me) the universal and catholic nature of Orthodoxy which is above national, ethnic line. Very inspiring. May God bless you abundantly, fr. Emmanuel.

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