Through Baptism We Enter Salvation

In his book Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Fr. Pomazansky speaks of Baptism:

 
It serves as the door leading into the Kingdom of grace, or the Church, and it grants access to participation in the other Mysteries. Even before the establishment of the Mystery of Baptism, the Lord Jesus Christ in His conversation with Nicodemus indicated the absolute necessity of it for salvation: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.” When Nicodemus expressed his perplexity, “How can a man be born when he is old?” the Saviour replied that the new birth would be accomplished by water and the Spirit: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which as born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3-6).
The passage that Pomazansky quotes is vital to Orthodox theology. Many Protestants will contend that Baptism is a mere “sign” and has no spiritual value whatsoever. But, it is very clear here that Christ is issuing Baptism as a means of entering the Covenant itself, a means of becoming born again, and that without it one cannot be saved. Paul the Apostle speaks of Baptism in this same manner when he says, “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…”(1 Peter 3:21). Fr. Pomazansky goes on to say: Baptism is a “new birth,” and it is performed for the salvation of men (Mark 16:16). Moreover, setting forth the grace-given significance of Baptism, the Apostles in their Epistles mdicate that m it we are “sanctified,” “cleansed,” ‘justified”; that m Baptism we “die to sin” so as to walk in renewed life; we are “buried with Christ,” and we arise with Him. “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himselffor at that He might sanctifY and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (that is, Baptism with the utterance of the words instituted to accompany it) (Eph. 5 :25-26). “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6~11). “We are buried with Him by Baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Baptism is called the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3: 5). As for the subjective side – the state of soul of the person being baptized – it is indicated by the Apostle Peter, who calls Baptism the promise of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21). Through Baptism at the same time one is joined to the Church.This has got to be the most concise paragraph on Baptism I have read. He does not try to over-rationalize or persuade through sophisticated apologetics, he simply teaches the Holy Scriptures. How could anyone possibly deny, after being taught these passages, that Baptism is not efficacious to Salvation? Not that Baptism gives salvation in and of itself, but that it, as Pomazansky says, is “the door” to salvation. Through Baptism we enter into the Church, and through the Church we inherit salvation.

 

Comments

  1. …a viper of the Cainite (i.e. gnostics) heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and basilisks themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes, after the example of our ΙΧΘΥΣ Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water; so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water! – Tertullian of Carthage

    Jesus sanctified Baptism by being Himself baptized. If the Son of God was baptized, what godly man is he that despises Baptism? – St. Cyril of Jerusalem

    Rev. Mike, check out how contemporary Protestants even depart from the inventor of sola fide himself:

    Luther’s Large Catechism

    31] Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism…

    35] But if they say, as they are accustomed: Still Baptism is itself a work, and you say works are of no avail for salvation; what, then, becomes of faith? Answer: Yes, our works, indeed, avail nothing for salvation; Baptism, however, is not our work, but God’s (for, as was stated, you must put Christ-baptism far away from a bath-keeper’s baptism). God’s works, however, are saving and necessary for salvation, and do not exclude, but demand, faith; for without faith they could not be apprehended.

    36] For by suffering the water to be poured upon you, you have not yet received Baptism in such a manner that it benefits you anything; but it becomes beneficial to you if you have yourself baptized with the thought that this is according to God’s command and ordinance, and besides in God’s name, in order that you may receive in the water the promised salvation. Now, this the fist cannot do, nor the body; but the heart must believe it.

    37] Thus you see plainly that there is here no work done by us, but a treasure which He gives us, and which faith apprehends; just as the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross is not a work, but a treasure comprehended in the Word, and offered to us and received by faith. Therefore they do us violence by exclaiming against us as though we preach against faith; while we alone insist upon it as being of such necessity that without it nothing can be received nor enjoyed. (The Large Catechism – Holy Baptism)

    He saw Baptism as the obedience of faith. How can it have strayed so far without at least the educated pastors knowing the foundations? Lord help us!!

    One very cool “type” that Peter Leithart brought out was that Noah’s ark rested on the mountain after the Flood. Thus being born again from above by baptism and thereby entering a new world with a new covenant.

  2. Maximus, that break, which amounts to disconnecting baptism and regeneration, really begins with Calvin.

    Regarding the article: “Amen!” Of course, there is the issue, not addressed here by Fr. Michael Pomazansky, but probably done so by him somewhere, concerning the western separation of baptism from chrismation and first communion. The Eastern Churches of all types (Byzantine Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and the Assyrian Church as well as the Eastern Rite jurisdictions in communion with Rome) have retained (or in the case of some of the Roman jurisdictions, reinstated) the ancient practice of adminstering baptism, chrismation, and first communion together, even to infants, and then communing these little children regularly thereafter. The West really needs to reinstate this. I am convinced that a great deal of personal apostacy in the West is a result of its current predominant practice of delaying confirmation and first communion (regardless of which is administered first).

  3. I’ve recently seen some Catholics and Presbyterians speak of the desire to commune infants. The Catholics I can see making a change to their original tradition but there will probably be more schism involved if some Presbyterians start doing that. Does anyone know when and why the West stopped paedocommunion?

  4. Maximus, I’m pretty sure it had to do with reserving confirmation to the bishop, which meant that confirmation was delayed. After the Reformation, both RC and Protestants began tying the reception of confirmation to having completed a catechumenal process. A century or so ago, one of the Popes allowed for first communion (after first confession) at age seven, prior to confirmation. This complicated things even more for the RCC.

  5. Here’s something from Wiki on the Roman Catholic practice:

    “The same holy council teaches that little children who have not attained the use of reason are not by any necessity bound to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist; for having been regenerated by the laver of baptism and thereby incorporated with Christ, they cannot at that age lose the grace of the sons of God already acquired. Antiquity is not therefore to be condemned, however, if in some places it at one time observed that custom. For just as those most holy Fathers had acceptable ground for what they did under the circumstances, so it is certainly to be accepted without controversy that they regarded it as not necessary to salvation.” (Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, Chapter iv)

    Thus, the Council declared:

    “If anyone says that communion of the Eucharist is necessary for little children before they have attained the years of discretion,let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, can. iv)

    There is also an excellent article written on the history of paedocommunion by a Presbyterian in favor of the practice. It’s very well documented. http://www.reformed.org/sacramentology/tl_paedo.html

    Rev. Mike, thanks for this article. Fr. Greg, thank you for your illuminating comments as well.

  6. You’re welcome, Maximus, and thank you for the great quotes you keep bringing to the table. And thank you as well, Rev. Mike, for these articles which create the forum for our discussions.

    The Council of Trent, of course, was an RC response to the Reformation. I’m not sure how far back from there the idea goes that receiving communion is tied to the “use of reason” when it comes to “being necessary for salvation”.

    My response: Well, the “older practice” (which Trent refuses to condemn, thank God), may not be necessary for salvation in general, but it sure can’t hurt, and I suspect that it is, indeed, “necessary for salvation” in many individual cases.

  7. Tommy Lee, a Presbyterian author believes that one of the main factors for the discontinuation of paedocommunion in the West was the doctrine of concomitance. If the laity were only receiving the bread then infants couldn’t partake. Makes sense…

    What’s also really suprising is that the Hussites “zealously fought to restore infants and children to the table by way of petitions, tracts, and sermons, often denouncing those ‘who have allowed their own will to triumph, rather than the authority of Scripture, in the matter of infant communion.’ ”

    excerpted from THE HISTORY OF PAEDOCOMMUNION: FROM THE EARLY CHURCH UNTIL 1500

    When the laity denied themselves the cup, they continued to believe that they were still receiving both the body and the blood of Christ while only eating the bread because of the doctrine of concomitance (The doctrine that explains why the whole Christ is present under each Eucharistic species). In fact, “although … [concomitance] is a logical extension of the theory of transubstantiation, the practical pressure for this doctrine of concomitance was provided by the withdrawal of the cup from the laity within the Roman Church.”

    Now that the laity was only communicating in one kind (the bread), the infants of the church were ipso facto excommunicated from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

    “When the chalice was finally withheld from the laity, it meant that infants no longer could receive communion at all, since the church had become accustomed to communing infants only under the form of wine. The conclusion was simple: no wine, no, communion for infants. Infant communion, at least as a common practice, disappeared in the Western church during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.”

  8. Maximus, where do you find all these things? I was not at all aware that Hus favored communing infants!

  9. Rev. Mike and Fr. Greg,
    This paedocommunion issue has really tied some loose ends I had left by the wayside. I’ve seen a couple of articles in the past stating that Hus wanted to move toward Orthodoxy and not some form of proto-Protestantism. He desired married clergy, the liturgy in the Czech tongue, and the reception of communion under both kinds for the laity. Throw in paedocommunion and you certainly don’t have any form of Protestantism. Check this stuff out:

    “A most interesting aspect of Utraquist (i.e. Hussite) liturgical life, that has been the focus of the academic work of the Rev. Professor Holeton especially, was its veneration of “Saint Jan Hus” with formal services and propers for the Mass of the day and the Office (Horologion). Icons of Hus, of Jerome of Prague, Michal Polak, the Martyrs of Kutna Hora and other Hussite martyrs were painted with their memory liturgically celebrated as any other Saint in the calendar would be.”

    “They venerated icons (one observer noted that their “images” in their churches were “pictures painted on wood”)…”

    “In fact, Hussite leaders are on record as having visited Constantinople more than once to ask for bishops and priests for their community (which petition was granted in the person of Bishop Constantine Anglikos for Bohemia). And Jerome of Prague, Hus’ associate who was burned at the stake a year after Hus became an Orthodox Christian in Latvia and the Czech Orthodox Church now has his Orthodox baptismal certificate – a fact that has made Jerome an actual candidate for Orthodox glorification as a saint!”

    Hussite Communion Hymns:

    “You gave us his body to eat,
    His holy blood to drink
    What more could he have done for us?

    “Let us not deny it to little children
    Nor forbid them
    When they eat Jesus’ body.

    “Of such is the kingdom of heaven
    As Christ himself told us,
    And holy David says also:

    “From the mouths of small children
    And of all innocent babes
    Has come forth God’s praise
    That the adversary may be cast down.

    ***

    “Praise God, you children You tiny babes, For he will not drive you away, But feed you on his holy body.”

  10. Fascinating, Maximus. Fascinating! What are the sources on this?

  11. Yeah, that is awsome Maximus. Where did you get that? If there is enough info on that and it becomes public enough, it could really change a lot of thinking within many churches.

  12. The Hussite communion hymns are from the Reformed paper I provided the link to above. The other info is from an article here: http://www.ukrainian-orthodoxy.org/articles/2009/bohemian.php

    There was another article I’d read in reference to this same issue but I can’t locate it. The Rev. Professor Holeton seems to be an oft-quoted source do to some original research in this area:

    ‘ Facing a possible military attack, the Hussites eventually agreed to Four Articles which would serve as “the basis of Bohemian resistance.” The Four Articles are best known for their defense of the restoration of the cup to the laity and their argument for frequent communion. “Less well known, perhaps, is that the Hussites also pleaded for the restoration of infant participation in the Lord’s Supper.” ‘

    David R. Holeton, “The Communion of Infants and Hussitism,” Communio Viatorum, 27:4 (1984), 224.
    64David R. Holeton, “The Communion of Infants: The Basel Years,” Communio Viatorum, 29:1 (1986), 38.

    Jaroslav Pelikan has something very illuminating in regards to this as well:

    “A common opposition to what they regarded as papal pretensions led the Protestant Reformers to make use of Eastern Christianity for propaganda and polemics. At the Leipzig debate in 1519, Martin Luther, pressed to defend his view that the authority of the pope was not normative for Christian doctrine and life, cited the example of ‘the Greek Christians during the past thousand years … who had not been under the authority of the Roman Pontiff.’ The following year he declared that ‘Muscovites, White Russians, Greeks, Bohemians, and many other great lands in the world … believe as we do, baptize as we do, preach as we do, live as we do.'” – Jaroslav Pelikan, The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700)

    Please notice that Luther mentions the Bohemians along with Muscovites, Greeks, etc. He thought very early in the Reformation (1519) that he was restoring the church eastern catholicity without a supreme Roman Pontiff.

    This discussion we’ve had was providential. This info could definitely open some eyes.

  13. It seems the baptism of infants in the West was abandoned initially by three Bohemians who took Luther’s sola scriptura to mean anyone could interpret the text of scripture, which was an emerging, idea at the time, 1521.

    On page 366 of The Reformation by Will and Ariel Durant, the authors state, “Thomas Munzer, pastor of the weavers’ church of St. Catherine, became the mouthpiece of their aspirations, and at the same time an enthusiastic supporter of the Reformation. Realizing that Luther’s exaltation of the Bible as the sole rule of faith opened the question who should interpret the text, Munzer and two associates — Nicholas Storch the weaver and Marcus Stubner the scholar — announced that they were singularly qualified as interpreters, for they felt themselves directly inspired by the Holy Ghost. This divine spirit, they declared, bade them defer baptism till maturity, for the sacrament could have effect only through faith, which was not to be expected of babies.” This occurred on or about December 1521, only two months after Luther’s challenge to Roman Catholic hierarchical authority. The footnote sources Ranke, Leopold (P), History of the Reformation in Germany, London, 1905, page 254.

    The abandonment of baptism of infants was not deliberated by a Council of the one, Holy, catholic (kath o’lon) Church, as had other controversies of faith and practice up to that point. A Council would have examined what had always been believed by the Body of Christ, Patristic writings, deliberated with fasting and prayer until they were of one accord; and would have expected the life of the Holy Spirit in the congregations to accept or reject this decision. Instead, a pastor and members of a Bohemian weavers’ guild: Munzer, Storch and Stubner unilaterally ‘threw the baby out with the bath water.’ Shortly afterward, Munzer, Storch and Stubner were banished, but their novel idea to abandon infant baptism, and their novel humanist idea that initiation into the Body of Christ requires mature reasoning continue to be practiced by Western Christianity.

    The rest of the paragraph, which begins on page 365, details how liturgical vestments were discarded, the loss of the ‘real presence’ in the Eucharist, European iconoclasm, and the destruction of altars began. The paragraphs following this one tells how even the Holy Cross and religous music were banned from Churches.

  14. Awesome Margaret!! I never thought of that…not even a protestant council (much less a council by any church traced to apostolic times) deliberated infant baptism must less rejected it. This is nothing but the fruit of heretical charismatics “directly inspired by the Holy Ghost”:

    “The early history of the Anabaptists exhibits a strange chaos of peaceful reforms and violent revolutions, separatism, mysticism, millenarianism, spiritualism, contempt of history, ascetic rigor, fanaticism, communism, and some novel speculations concerning the body of Christ as being directly created by God and different from the flesh and blood of other men.’…They were Protestant radicals, who rejected infant baptism as an invention of the Roman Antichrist, and aimed at a thorough reconstruction of the Church. They spread mostly among the laboring classes. Some of their preachers had no regular education, despised human learning, and relied on direct inspiration; but others were learned and eloquent men…” (Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom 104.The Anabaptists and Mennonites)

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