Orthodoxy and Baptism

It is paradise, not sin, that reveals the true nature of man; it is to paradise and to his true nature, to his primordial vestment of glory, that man returns in Baptism. – Alexander Schmemann

The true nature of man is not that of darkness but that of light. Man and woman were created in the image of God and were through His nature, good. This state of being is what we begin to grow into after we are baptized and confirmed into the faith. Christ, as St. Paul says in Romans, is the new Adam! We begin to take on Christ, as Paul says, through this sacramental act of baptism. We begin the healing process through this “hospital” – the Church, so that we may become more and more the natural man, thus living a natural life – not natural in the strict biological sense, but natural in the original sense, in the sense of God’s image, the image of what Paul calls the heavenly man (1 Cor. 15:49).

We are now ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20, 21). We now live out Christ’s righteousness as Christ himself, the living body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual journey of salvation becomes intertwined with our brethren – be it one or many of them in our life – so that we may become reconciled with Christ, as St. Paul commands us. We become a community of salvation. We are careful not to become “unevenly yoked” (2 Cor. 6:16) with unbelievers so that our reconciliation with Christ can manifest itself completely and consistently. We are in essence, bringing back the Garden of Eden!

The Gospel involves the unification and drawing of God’s people through the redemptive act of sharing the Covenant blessings of a regained paradise (Ezekiel 36:35). In other words, life itself and the pursuit of the Gospel is not just a personal journey, it is a corporate journey. This is why we worship God in an ecclesiastical context on Sunday mornings; to demonstrate to God that we are His people, united in faith (Ephesians 4:5), and built up as a holy temple (Ephesians 2:21) within a Sacramental context: taking actual matter and redeeming it for Christ; doing as the Lord’s Prayer states, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Comments

  1. Hey Michael, a couple of questions for you when you get the chance. Feel free to just link me to a webpage or earlier post that would answer my questions. Thanks in advance for your help for this seeker of Christ’s Church!

    The infant baptism ‘issue’- I say this only because it’s an issue for Protestants like myself- is really throwing me for a loop. Orthodox baptize and chrismate infants therefore cleansing them of sin, although infants have no sin, and impart them with the Holy Spirit, although when the infant grows older he/she may fall away.

    This leads me to wonder if the Spirit is imparted to them after all? And why baptize infants when they have no original sin to be cleansed from?

    My other question is unrelated to baptism but I’ll go ahead and post it here. At first, venerating the blessed Mary was something I thought I could “get over” (for lack of a better term), but the several feasts dedicated to her is confusing me. I thought the purpose of Liturgy is the worship of the Trinity and the Eucharist and not to celebrate Theotokos but there are four Sunday feasts for her?

    My other problem is how Bishop Ware’s “The Orthodox Church” says the Church views Theotokos as “without actual sin.” But Sacred Scripture says “all have sinned.” Thank you for your insight!

    -A wandering Anglican.

  2. Infants do indeed have sin, although it does not come about as the western church thinks it does. Nontheless, they have a growing desire for sin and it must be haulted by the Spirit. Baptism replaces circumcission, as St, Paul says in Galatians 4. This means there is no age, race or gender exclussion. God recognizes our dedication to that child and thus imparts His Spirit to them.

    There are feasts for other saints as well! The theotokos is Christ’s mother, and so she becomes our mother also. She is the carrier (ark) of the Church. She made it all happen. The incarnation is so incredibly important to the faith that we must protect its formation lest it be disolved by heretics and turned into something perverted.

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