Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Penny Drops

One of the most difficult thing for me to understand is the idea that Baptism is something that God does rather than something that we do. When I was an RC kid, I never been reminded of my baptism, perhaps I was just ignorant but maybe the RCC really do, but not by my impression. In fact I asked my RC friend and he told me the same. That is something in the past. Then when I became a pentecostal, that was the same too, it is put away in the shelve and never recalled, but that is not true in the Lutheran understanding of baptism. Each start of the service, you start it off by recalling it - In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Then I kept on going back to the Gospel and the doctrine of justification and once we see that justification is a gift, then it is no longer hard to see that Baptism and the Lord's Supper is not a thing we do but gifts that God gives which are connected to the gift of forgiveness of sins in Christ, at the Cross. It is the same Gospel of 2000 years ago. The Baptist certainly would find this weird. I know I did. It sounds weird because they look at Baptism as an ordinance, a command, rather than a gift. No point discussing the mode, or candidates for baptism, you gotta discuss first the nature of the Gospel ie justification. Now that is also weird - to some.

No wonder it was difficult for me to get it because somewhere in my growth, I was made to focus on the Gospel as a demand rather than a declaration. So I go to church to receive God's gifts, what a nice deal.


Steve said...

As a "former" Baptist (Southern at that) and now a Lutheran (Missouri Synod), I find the discussion about baptism very interesting, as well as Holy Communion. I wrote a blog on the fact that baptism saves as well as the true presence in the bread and wing ( Take a look and let me know what you think.

L P Cruz said...


Mucho excelente! I am interested to know about your journey too. Note that I was the LPC who dropped a comment.

Hope you can email me separately and let me know how you came to be where you are now.

Peace be with you bro,


Steve said...

The Lutheran theology is based on the bible. Lutherans accepts what Christ teaches about baptism (making diciples) and Holy Communion (forgiveness of sins). The Baptist position "dances" around the words of Christ. Also, Baptist (at least in the US) are ahistoric in nature and they don't look back at the early church to gain insights and understanding on how the early church understood the teachings in the New Testment.

Also, it helped that my wife is Lutheran :-).

L P Cruz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
L P Cruz said...

I am sure you arrived at your position now through independent Bible study ;-).

Very true Steve, they are very ahistoric and acreedal too, they believe they can reconstruct the church from scratch. I pointed to them that they are not even catholic (small c) since they can not affirm the Nicene Creed. Eventually one is at a lost because it has disconnected it self with the Church at large and so one eventually wanders around looking for a confession, I was like that for many years.

It also misses the Gospel to some extent, because once one understands the nature of the gift of justification and faith being a gift, you would baptize household and babies too.

I was "discipled" by a lovely Baptist minister who took time to follow me up, I appreciate their love for Jesus, but one would be robbing oneself of the blessing of the sacraments if they are not believed to confer what they convey.

Steve said...

Another aspect of Baptist theology I always had a problem with is the "age of accountability". Since Baptist reject baptismal regeneration and also infant baptism, they had to create the doctrine of age of accountability to handle the issue of what happens to a child who dies prior to "accepting" Jesus.

L P Cruz said...

They detest our teaching on baptism because they more often than not do not connect baptism with the justification won by Christ at the cross

Steve said...

There is an assumption that man has the ability to respond to God's "offer" of salvation. They view grace as provisional since salvation is dependent on man's acceptance of the gift.

While many reject Pelagianism in theory, they believe it is practice to a degree. In my view, the doctrine of "free will" is semi-Pelagianism at worse, Arminian at best. It is a rejection of the doctrines of election and the total depravity of man.

Another thing I have noticed is that many trust their own emotions and experiences over the words of Christ.

Good discussion.

Venerable Aussie said...

Haven't checked by for a while. Good to see you're still going strong.

I find it very curious that you say that Catholics don't remind themselves of their Baptism. In fact, they do it every time they enter and leave Mass! (Obviously there are people who attend who are not properly catechised as to the true meaning - much like the poor understanding as a kid to which you have confessed).

(you can find out all about sacramentals here: )

I'm not sure how seriously your parents took their duty to pass on the faith, but when I reverted to the Catholic Church a few years ago I installed a little font at home, filled it with holy water, and now even my 5 year old can tell everyone that we sign ourselves in the morning and at night in the name of the Trinity to remind us always of our Baptism.

L P Cruz said...


I asked Jeff about this and he did not think that was at the fore front of the RC faith, it seems to be obscured by the other sacraments. We take it differently slightly, because baptism is also a uniting of us to Christ and that is the focus of our lives, thus justification which is a free gift is linked to baptism. It is a different thing if justification is not a free gift. This could be where we differ.

Thanks for visiting and engaging.


Schütz said...

Hi, just found your site, and so have just read this discussion. Venerable Aussie is right, baptism is fundamental to the Catholic faith. Just read the Pope's homily for the Feast of the Baptism of Christ last Sunday (

In fact, I would go so far as to say that everything that is good about the Lutheran doctrine of Baptism is also fundamentally Catholic. I heard a great sermon on baptism at my wife's Lutheran Church in Box Hill last Sunday too, and found myself thinking "Why don't I hear more sermons on Baptism in the Catholic Church?" I think it is fair to say that (in the LCA at least) Baptism occupies a higher place than the Eucharist in the lived doctrine of the Lutheran Church, whereas the Eucharist is the "fount and summit" of the Catholic Faith. Furthermore, because Lutherans do not have a sacramental understanding of Confirmation, Baptism comes to serve double duty in this sense. Also, Catholic priests are not good preachers generally on anything, let alone specifically on baptism. Nevertheless, baptism is so essential that in the Catholic Faith you cannot be considered a Christian if you are not baptised.

L P Cruz said...

Hi Shutz or is it Shultz?

I understand you were a former Lutheran pastor and I a former Roman Catholic kid - I was catechized, confirmed and I practiced RC piety - I did novenas to St Jude, do you do novenas and pray the Rosary?

I was never taught what my baptism meant in the RC, perhaps you might say that was a quirk in quality control process. But I am not at all surprized that there are many that were like me. Primarily because baptism washes away my orginal sin up until my baptismm, but my sins after that,... well that has to be handled by the other sacraments.

You can afford to be a mild in your practice of RC piety here, I came froma Latin Asian country and our RC practice is a bit more hard core, so you probably do not see any difference with your switch.

No doubt Lutherans doctrine is catholic (small c), in fact Luther was excommunicated by the pope because he was too darn catholic.


L P Cruz said...

By the way on your question, why you do not here preaching on baptism in your church, well doctrine and practice collude if baptism only washes away your sins up until that point, and sins after that are not taken cared of by that baptism, should you hear it again? It functions nothing. In fact the RCs and evangelicals are actually the same, which Luther saw a long time ago. In Evangelicalism you do not hear it again.

Schütz said...

Dear Lito,

Re devotionals, I pray the Rosary, but I don't do novenas. I think there's a difference in the level of official sanction given to these two devotions. The first is, I think, essential to being Catholic (JPII wrote an encyclical on it, after all), the second is very optional.

It is a bit shallow to reduce Catholic baptismal theology to "removing sin up until the time of baptism". Baptism in Catholic theology, as in Lutheran, is the creation of a whole new person. It is rebirth, integration into Christ, the whole basis of Christian identity etc. etc. It most certainly is not an event "in the past". The Catechism has a huge section on baptism, which makes it clear that it is far more than the removal of pre-baptismal sin.

I am not "mild" in my practice of the Catholic faith (I would take any such suggestion as an insult!). I strictly adhere (give or take a sinful failure here or there) to the magisterial direction of the Church. Many of the Latin/Aisan practices and devotions are more cultural than essential to the faith.

There are plenty of differences in "my switch" from Lutheranism to Catholicism, even though, as you know, if you are an Australian Lutheran, the LCA is very "catholic" compared to many OS Lutherans. I'm not quite sure what you mean by Luther being excommunicated because he was "too catholic".

L P Cruz said...

I mean no insult, just a frank evaluation of what I have observed and practice.

I do not consider the practices of Roman Catholicism in Latin-Asian countries a matter of culture but a matter of what the Bible teaches. The fact that the Magisterium do not disuade the practitioners from venerating the statues in my home country means that they approve or tolerate them which clearly are superstitous in nature. Do you not see the need for it to reform? They are distractions from the finished work of Christ.

Also I notice that in RC theology, there seems to be a play of words a type of equivocation occurs here and there. For example, when they allow the devotees to bow down, kiss the statue, pray to it, decorate it with silver and gold. They do not call this worship, they do not call it idolatry. But the thing quacks like a duck and walks like a duck.

I wonder if you have also some reations to the things I said about the conversion of Father Neuhaus. It is found in my blog if you search for his name.



L P Cruz said...

Oh I mean, that Luther was more catholic because the early catholics did not believe in purgatory neither did they have a pope. The EO do not believe in purgatory neither do they need a pope and they have as much claim to catolicity as RC.