There is no “valid” baptism outside the Church — Part 2 of 2

The first half of this post is an excerpt from The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy where we discuss the subject of baptism in our brief commentary on the Creed. The second half of this post is a collection of canons from The Rudder that pertain to Baptism.

The “one baptism” we confess is the one granted in and by the Church. According to St. Nektarios († 1920), “Those who are not reborn by the divine grace in the only ONE HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, do not belong to any church, either visible or invisible.”1 There are no Mysteries (Sacraments) outside the Church.2 The Church is the great Mystery (see Eph. 5:32) in which all the Mysteries of God are realized. The position of the Church concerning heretical baptism was stated once for all by St. Cyprian of Carthage. Here are two passages from his writings:

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’. Yes, but that one baptism is in the Catholic Church. And if there is one Church, there can be no baptism outside 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 rebaptized. 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.3

The second quote:

The Church is one and indivisible: therefore there cannot be a Church among the heretics. The Holy Spirit is one, and cannot dwell with those outside the community; therefore the Holy Spirit has no place among heretics. It follows that there can be no baptism among heretics; for baptism is based on this same unity and cannot be separated either from the Church or from the Holy Spirit. It is ridiculous to assert that spiritual birth—that second birth of ours in Christ through the bath of regeneration—can take place among the heretics where, it is admitted, the Spirit has no place. Water cannot of itself purify and sanctify, unless it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit”.4

We repeat the important distinction that we made in our previous post, which should clarify things.

(Acceptance does not mean recognition)

Acceptance addresses the issue how does the Church receive converts.
Recognition addresses the “validity” of baptism.

The Church recognizes no baptism as “valid” that is performed outside of her. However, in the exercise of oikonomia (dispensation), at times and places and special circumstances, at the discretion of a bishop or synod of bishops, she accepts a baptism that resembles to a greater or lesser extent her baptism, of someone who is being received in the Orthodox Church from heresy or schism. Acceptance is not concerned with “validity” or recognition of baptisms performed outside of her, concepts which are foreign to her terminology and practice.

The fact that the Orthodox Church receives certain converts by oikonomia through Chrismation does not mean that the Orthodox Church recognizes a baptism performed outside her pleroma nor does she admit by such action that there is grace among the heterodox.

How the heterodox should be received has become not an issue of whether to exercise akriveia (strictness) or oikonomia (dispensation, exception), but an imposition by the ecumenists of their erroneous belief, namely that there is one baptism and that this one baptism is administered validly by anyone (even by non-Christians!), as long as the name of the Holy Trinity is invoked and water is used in any form.

Because for the prevailing ecumenism, it has almost become an article of faith that any baptism performed, whether inside or outside the Orthodox Church, is a valid baptism (so long as it is performed by invoking the name of the Holy Trinity). For this reason the Ecumenical Patriarchate does no longer allow under any circumstances to receive heterodox through baptism, because it is viewed as a repetition of the one true baptism. They will no longer allow the strictness to be applied even by oikonomia!!

Ecumenists are not willing to accept the patristic and synodal witness, that when the Church allows baptism by oikonomia she does so without addressing at all its “validity” outside the Church–which the ecumenists do because of their ecumenistic and synchretistic considerations.

The holy canons of the Church listed below support fully the above statements.

46th Apostolic Canon

“We ordain that a bishop, or presbyter who has admitted the baptism or sacrifice of heretics, be deposed. For what concord hath Christ with Beliar, or what part hath a believer with an infidel?”

47th Apostolic Canon

“Let a bishop or presbyter who shall baptize again one who has rightly received Baptism, or who shall not baptize one who has been polluted by the ungodly, be deposed, as despising the Cross and death of the Lord, and not making a distinction between the true priests and the false.”

50th Apostolic Canon

“If any bishop or presbyter does not perform the three immersions of the one initiation, but one immersion, given into the death of the Lord, let him be deposed. For the Lord did not say, “Baptize into my death,” but, “Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

68th Apostolic Canon

“If any bishop, presbyter, or deacon shall receive from anyone a second ordination, let both the ordained and the ordainer be deposed, unless indeed it be proved that he had his ordination from heretics; for those who have been baptized or ordained by such persons cannot be either of the faithful or of the clergy.”

Canon 1 of the Regional Council of Carthage

“[...] No one can be baptized outside of the catholic Church, there being but one baptism, and this being existent only in the catholic Church. [...] Among heretics ... there is no Church... [...] There being but one baptism, and there being but one Holy Spirit, there is also but one Church... and for this reason whatever they [i.e. the heretics] do is false and empty and vain, everything be counterfeit and unauthorized. For nothing that they do can be acceptable and desirable with God. In fact, the Lord calls them His foes and adversaries in the Gospels: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Mt. 12:30). [...]”

Epitome of Canon 19 of the First Ecumenical Council

“Paulianists must be rebaptized.”

Interpretation by St. Nikodemos: “For how can anyone that has not been baptized in accordance with the Orthodox faith receive a visitation of the Holy Spirit, and grace, in ordination?”

Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council

[Summary:] Certain heretics and schismatics who are baptized the same way Orthodox are baptized are received through recantation of their errors and then through holy Chrism. But those who are baptized with a single immersion and... (those belonging to) any other heresies... we are willing to accept as Greeks [i.e. through baptism].

Summary of Canon 7 of Laodicaea

“Certain heretics are accepted after being catechized and chrismated”, [Interpretation by St. Nikodemos]: “seeing that they used to baptize themselves in identically the same way as are Orthodox Christians, and on this account and for this reason alone they do not need to be baptized a second time.”

Canon 8 of Laodicaea

“As concerning those returning from the heresy of the so-called Phrygians, even though they happen to be in the class which with them is supposed to be the clergy... such persons are to be catechized ... and ... baptized...”

Epitome of Canon 1 of St. Basil

“The ancients... ordered (that) those that were baptized by [heretics and schismatics], and came over to the Church, to be purged by the true baptism, as those that are baptized by laymen. But let none be received without unction.”

Epitome of Canon 47 of St. Basil

“We re-baptize them all.”

Summary/Interpretation of Canon 66 of Carthage

“If persons baptized by the Donatists in their infancy learn the truth of Orthodoxy after coming of age and attaining to discretion, and come to hate the cacodoxy, whether they, I say, seeing that they have been baptized in the baptism which is performed in accordance with tradition, to wit, that performed by the Orthodox... ought not to be baptized” (Interpretation by St. Nikodemos).

Canon 84 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council

“Following the canonical institutions of the Fathers, we order that whoever does not know nor can prove by documents that he has been baptized, he must without any hesitation be baptized.”

Canon 95th of the Sixth Ecumenical Council

Same as Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council.

We end with another quote from our study on the Divine Liturgy, The Heavenly Banquet, taken from our commentary on “The Catechumens” (p. 153).

“The [Greek Orthodox] Church in America does not baptize the converts any longer, admitting them through Chrismation, as they are allegedly already baptized. But if they were baptized they would be members of the Church. What would they be joining then when they became Orthodox? The Church Canons should be strictly adhered to, in administering the true baptism by triple immersion, practiced only in the Orthodox Church, to those who have not received it.”

  1. Note 651 in The Heavenly Banquet. Saint Nektarios, Two Studies, 1. On the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church 2. On Sacred Tradition (in Greek), Bookstore Nektarios Panagopoulos, Athens 1987, p. 28.
  2. Beginning of Note 652 in The Heavenly Banquet. Read the small treatise, I Confess One Baptism... by Protopresbyter Dr. George D. Metallinos, St. Paul’s Monastery, Holy Mountain 1994.
  3. (Epistle LXXI. 1, in Henry Bettenson, The Early Fathers, A Selection from the writings of the Fathers from St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius, Edited and translated by Henry Bettenson, Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York-Toronto 1969, p. 271)
  4. (ibid., LXXIV 4-5)

5 thoughts on “There is no “valid” baptism outside the Church — Part 2 of 2”

  1. Bless Father,

    I cannot find the Canon 1 of Carthage anywhere else online. I’ve tried searching for it through various Christian text databases and nothing came up. Could you tell me what page it is in The Rudder? I am writing a paper for school (I attend the seminary) on this issue and want to cite this canon.

    In Christ,


  2. Could you comment, please, a case when converts are baptized in Orthodox Church a few years after they had been admitted to Orthodox Church through Chrismation?

  3. // –Could you comment, please, a case when converts are baptized in Orthodox Church a few years after they had been admitted to Orthodox Church through Chrismation?
    –Baptism should not be denied from anyone who has not received a baptism.//
    Could you, please, help substantiate this position by the Holy Fathers and Councils? You have mentioned the Canon 19 of the First Ecumenical Council in the article, that Paulianists must be rebaptised. Does 19th canon require to baptize those Paulianists, who before were admitted to Orthodoxy without baptism? Saint Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea (28th of Oct), considered it necessary to baptize those who had previously been admitted into the Orthodox Church without baptism (Ep. to Cyprian Carth.).
    But is there any more evidence? This question arises because some believe that after Chrismation, new converts are considered baptized, and respectively, it is forbidden to baptize them.

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