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Posts Tagged ‘Bible support’

“Jesus answered and said to him: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again? Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5 ) 

Although the Scripture does not make any explicitly command for infant baptism, it does make various references to it through a number of passages. The most notorious ones are those that state that new converts would be baptized with their entire household (Acts 16:15, 33; Acts 10:47-48) as a means of receiving God’s Grace. Because in Biblical times most households would include not only adults, but also children and even slaves, Catholics accept these passages as evidence for infant baptism. 

The Ritual of Baptism

Furthermore, because the Scriptures do say that baptism ‘washes our sins’ (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Heb. 10:22-23 & others),  Catholic children and infants are baptized so that they can be washed clean of the stain of original sin. After the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden, all people are now born with original sin due to our fallen human nature. Through the gift of grace in Baptism, God washes away this stain of original sin and makes us a part of His family and offer us eternal life. 

Psalm 51:5 – we are conceived in the iniquity of sin.  Job 14:1-4 – man that is born of woman is full of trouble and unclean.

However, Catholics believe that our loving Father would not wish to withhold His love and grace from anyone, including children. Baptism simply requires openness. Jesus said about children: 

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mtt 19:14, Mark 10:14 or Matt. 18:2-5) 

The Greek text of the scriptural passage in Acts 2:38, says: “Metanoesate kai bapistheto hekastos hymon.” The translation of this is: 

“If you repent, then each one who is a part of you and yours must each be baptized”. 

In stating ‘each one who is part of you’, this passage is actually saying that children, who are part of their parents, must be baptized as well as their parents. 

This teaching is echoed by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:39. 

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your *children (*teknon in Greek – which means infants, as the same word is used to describe eight-day old infants in Acts 21:21) and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

St Paul makes reference to baptism as the ‘new circumcision’ of believers in Christ: 

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12) 

Can a Child make an act of faith?

It is frequently asked by non-catholics how an infant is capable of making an act of faith in order to receive baptism. The response of the Catholic Church is to follow the Biblical example of Christ. Jesus accepted the faith of others as an occasion of salvation, forgiveness and healing of another. The Church has always done likewise. In infant baptism, the faith of parents and sponsors is required.

Mk 2:1-5 When Jesus returned to Capernaum … They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Mt 8:5-13 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” … When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” … And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour (his) servant was healed.

When we put all these pieces together it becomes clear that infant baptism is not a non-biblical ‘tradition’ Catholics adopted, but a teaching  accepted by the apostles of Jesus Christ themselves. The Scriptural evidence for the Catholic understanding is perfectly confirmed in the writings of the early Christians, for instance in this text by Origen: 

“The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of given baptism even to infants. For the apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which are washed away through water and the Spirit.” (Origen, 248 AD – Commentaries on Romans 5:9)

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And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:(Ephesians 4:11-12)

Pope Benedict XVI leads a consistory to canonize five new saints

 Most non-Catholics  wonder why the Catholic Church is structured the way it is, as they question the clergy’s authority or whether priests and bishops are necessary at all.  Obviously, this is not the view of the majority of traditional Catholics, but it would be foolish to assume that all Catholics understand what are the basis for how the Church is organized. Some people are not sure about the diferences between the structural model adopted by most Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church.     

The Catholic Church has preserved what is called the Fidei Depositum, or the ‘Deposit of Faith’ ( 1 Timothy 2:5-7 and 2 Tim 1:14, NAB) that Jesus passed on orally to his Apostles – as was his command to perpetuate the liturgical ritual brought about this supernatural wonder. Along with his instructions, Jesus imparte to the Twelve his own authority to teach and preach:    

“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:18-19).   

Therefore, Apostolic bishops such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna were all successors of the chosen Twelve through the laying of hands (1 Tim 4:14). They inherited this same authority to proclaim the Gospel and guard the authentic repository of doctrine after the Apostles had died and which has been passed on to the present days.    

 11Command and teach these things. 12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you (1 Tim 4:10-14).   

Below are some additional Scriptural references that might shed some light onto these questions, and help us understand why the Catholic Church  keeps the tradition of  the Apostolic Succession:     

20“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, ” ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’[b] and,” ‘May another take his place of leadership.[c] 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”     

 23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:20-26)     

The above is a reference to the appointment a new apostle to  succeed Judas, who, as we know,  died after he had betrayed Jesus. Then we also have references as to the role of the apostles as careers of the Christian community:     

6We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. (1Thessalonians 2:6-7)     

Or     

28Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.[a] Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. ( Acts 20:28)     

 1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. 8Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. (1 Timothy 3:1-8)     

10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.  (Ephesians 4:10-12)     

[a] The word overseers is a translation of the lexic Episcopos, the Greek root for Bishops.

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