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  #1  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:05 pm
de Tocqueville de Tocqueville is offline
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Default Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

I am preparing to start RCIA this fall, but am now becoming very distressed and questioning if I'm ready. I feel God has been calling me to the Catholic Church pretty strongly since the period of Lent earlier this year, and with a lesser intensity for a few years now. I grew up and was baptised in a very traditional independent Calvinist Reformed Baptist Church (which I no longer live near and none of my family still attend there), and Catholicism is very different from the faith I was raised in. Over the years, however, the problems with sola scriptura, authority, and other doctrinal issues in Calvinism have become evident to me.

So after attending mass for a month and a half or so now and talking with a priest about RCIA last week, one thing I need to confirm is the details of my baptism. I remember being baptised when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, however, I have no documentation on this (other than a photograph), do not know the date, and do not know if the triune formula was invoked. The pastor that baptised me has long since left the church of my youth, but I called the new pastor who I know only a little bit to ask if the church has any record of my baptism. Because baptism was given so little emphasis in this church, he told me he doesn't know if the church has record of it. My parents are also no help on this as they never considered it important I guess. I also wanted to be straight with him so I told him I think God is calling me to the Catholic Church. I knew his reaction would probably not be positive, but I was pretty taken aback when his first response was, "Well, all I can tell you is that God is not calling you to the Catholic Church......I don't even consider Catholicism Christianity, it's another religion." He went on, "they won't accept your baptism," and basically said he wouldn't support the Catholic Church's accepting my baptism. My heart is in such turmoil now, I don't know what to do and feel like I have no church and my baptism was completely meaningless.

On top of all this, despite a good priest, the seeming lack of conservative orthodoxy in the community of the parish I've been attending, and the absence of any other young people like me, is making me afraid that my RCIA experience and life in this parish community will not be filling. I'm in a very liberal area and am feeling discouraged by the seeming lack of "good" Catholics around me.

Please pray for me and offer any insight.
  #2  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:21 pm
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JHow JHow is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

I also was baptized in a protestant church (age 7) and did not have a record when I went through RCIA. I was able to write the church and request a record, which they sent in the form of a letter from the pastor saying that a baptism was performed and the date, etc. I know you already called the pastor, but if I were you, I would request a record in writing. Regardless of whatever feelings the pastor may have about your participation in RCIA, if he has any integrity at all he will provide what record he has. As to whether your baptism was triune or not, do you recall your baptism at all or where you an infant at the time? If your parents still attend they might be able to tell you what the rite was like? In my case it was very simple: the minister asked if I believed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, I said yes, he said God bless for that confession, and I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that was basically it. Not hard to remember.

P.S. You have my prayers for a resolution of your immediate problem and that you have wisdom and strength for the future.

Last edited by JHow; Sep 5, '10 at 9:26 pm. Reason: Added prayer
  #3  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:24 pm
Todd520 Todd520 is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Why not just get baptised again, in the Catholic church?
It can be a simple affair and very symbolic of your new faith.
  #4  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:28 pm
4Squarebaby 4Squarebaby is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd520 View Post
Why not just get baptised again, in the Catholic church?
It can be a simple affair and very symbolic of your new faith.
As I understand it as a rule the Catholic Church does not baptize someone again. Coming from the Mormons if I'm reading your statement right you would have been considered never baptized.
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  #5  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:33 pm
PaulDupre PaulDupre is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

In which church were you baptized? The Catholic Church accepts nearly all Protestant baptisms.
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  #6  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:35 pm
John Paul Jones's Avatar
John Paul Jones John Paul Jones is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by de Tocqueville View Post
I am preparing to start RCIA this fall, but am now becoming very distressed and questioning if I'm ready. I feel God has been calling me to the Catholic Church pretty strongly since the period of Lent earlier this year, and with a lesser intensity for a few years now. I grew up and was baptised in a very traditional independent Calvinist Reformed Baptist Church (which I no longer live near and none of my family still attend there), and Catholicism is very different from the faith I was raised in. Over the years, however, the problems with sola scriptura, authority, and other doctrinal issues in Calvinism have become evident to me.

The pastor that baptised me has long since left the church of my youth, but I called the new pastor who I know only a little bit to ask if the church has any record of my baptism. Because baptism was given so little emphasis in this church, he told me he doesn't know if the church has record of it. My parents are also no help on this as they never considered it important I guess. I also wanted to be straight with him so I told him I think God is calling me to the Catholic Church. I knew his reaction would probably not be positive, but I was pretty taken aback when his first response was, "Well, all I can tell you is that God is not calling you to the Catholic Church......I don't even consider Catholicism Christianity, it's another religion." He went on, "they won't accept your baptism," and basically said he wouldn't support the Catholic Church's accepting my baptism. My heart is in such turmoil now, I don't know what to do and feel like I have no church and my baptism was completely meaningless.

On top of all this, despite a good priest, the seeming lack of conservative orthodoxy in the community of the parish I've been attending, and the absence of any other young people like me, is making me afraid that my RCIA experience and life in this parish community will not be filling. I'm in a very liberal area and am feeling discouraged by the seeming lack of "good" Catholics around me.

Please pray for me and offer any insight.
I don't know the reason behind why he said ""they won't accept your baptism," ( I won't speculate) but the Catholic Church does recognize (Trinitarian) Baptisms from other denominations. There are certain reason why a baptism may be considered valid or not. You shouldn't feel distraught and if you are not sure one way or the other you can get a "Conditional Baptism." You should ask your priest about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catholic Encyclopedia
Practically, converts in the United States are almost invariably baptized either absolutely or conditionally, not because the baptism administered by heretics is held to be invalid, but because it is generally impossible to discover whether they had ever been properly baptized. ...If it be uncertain whether the convert's baptism was valid or not, then he is to be baptized conditionally. In such cases the ritual is: "If thou art not yet baptized, then I baptize thee in the name", etc.
I hope that helps you.
  #7  
Old Sep 5, '10, 9:37 pm
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JHow JHow is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd520 View Post
Why not just get baptised again, in the Catholic church?
It can be a simple affair and very symbolic of your new faith.
Because chances are very, very good (I don't know the Reformed Baptist Church, per se, but while there are a lot of different Baptists, they share a lot of similarities)) that his baptism is valid.

I'm sure some of the experts will weigh in as well.
  #8  
Old Sep 5, '10, 10:23 pm
CaptainPicard CaptainPicard is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

In all likelihood it was valid, but it's not looking like you'll be able to know for sure considering it's an independent church and the pastor who baptized you is long gone.
But don't fret, you can be conditionally baptized (if your priest decides that) and that should be pretty painless.

As far as the lack of orthodox Catholics your age, that's definitely a common problem. I'm in my mid twenties. I look around my parish and there seems to be a void in the 20-30 age range. The only time that wasn't the case was back in college at the campus chapel. The only advice I can give is to keep truckin'. Hopefully once you start pokin' around at parish activities you'll be pleasantly surprised and find some good Christian companionship.
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  #9  
Old Sep 6, '10, 12:03 am
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Annabelle Marie Annabelle Marie is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Go to RCIA...the first weeks are inquiry...it can help sift out how you are feeling. It's not a committment just to start it.

And you'll be in good company..my husband and I start in about a week and 1/2.

Quite often if your parents can provide some details then they will accept it. It's pretty certain that you were baptized in the trinity formula. The Church does not believe in re-baptizing.

And don't worry...a few of my Protestant friends think I'm going to hell for coming back to the Catholic Church. Not all of them.

I'll be praying for you!
  #10  
Old Sep 6, '10, 4:20 am
DaveBj DaveBj is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHow View Post
I also was baptized in a protestant church (age 7) and did not have a record when I went through RCIA. I was able to write the church and request a record, which they sent in the form of a letter from the pastor saying that a baptism was performed and the date, etc....
My experience is similar. A letter from a witness who saw it happen may well be good enough.

DaveBj
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  #11  
Old Sep 6, '10, 5:04 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd520 View Post
Why not just get baptised again, in the Catholic church?
It can be a simple affair and very symbolic of your new faith.
because as Paul reminds us there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism and it is a sacrament that cannot be repeated. That is why persons baptized into another Christian denomination are not and may not be baptized again. If the individual is unable to obtain a written record from the church where he was baptized he can attest to the facts himself if he was old enough to remember and have that signed by witnesses, or have witnesses such as parents, godparents or family members attest to the facts in writing. Only if there is doubt on whether the Trinitarian formula and water were used would a conditional baptism be performed. He would then make a profession of faith and be confirmed and receive first communion (preceded by sacramental confession) to be received into the Catholic Church.

This of course is after a period of preparation where he has a chance to ask all these questions about sacraments, Catholic belief and living. That process is loosely called RCIA as a shorthand in most parishes, because all adults preparing for initiation sacraments, whether baptized or not, are usually in class together because they all are learning the same things. It is up to the pastor to make sure the unique needs of each member of the class are understood and met.

OP, welcome home,
Please do have another conversation with your Catholic priest the difficulties are less than they appear at first. Of course your former pastor is going to discourage you from changing your faith, that is his job, but your work of the next few months is asking questions and getting answers so you can compare what he is telling you to the fullness of truth contained in the Catholic Church. How long will this take? as long as it takes. everyone is different. meanwhile the apologetics forums here are a great place to research and ask specific questions you have. And before being too critical of the Catholic parish where you will be received, take time to learn what is or is not orthodox practice, and admit in humility you don't have all those answers yet, either.
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  #12  
Old Sep 6, '10, 6:14 am
Cat Cat is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

My family came from Reformed Churches in Germany. My uncle was a Reformed pastor. My daughter graduated from Calvin College. We attended a Reformed Church (Reformed Church in America) for two years.

The Reformed denoms baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

There are only a few Protestant denoms that baptize in the Name of Jesus only. There are probably non-denominational sects that use a non-Trinitarian formula.

But most Protestant denominations, especially the older denoms like Reformed (the oldest Protestant denom in the United States, BTW), use the Trinitarian formula.

I would think that the picture you have would be acceptable as evidence that you were baptized, and if you check with the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church, you will see that they do indeed use the Trinitarian Formula. Don't tell them that you're converting to Catholicism. There's no need for them to know that to answer your question about how they baptize.
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  #13  
Old Sep 6, '10, 9:34 am
1ke 1ke is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

If the denomination that baptized you cannot provide written proof (this is VERY common) then you can submit an affidavit of baptism to your priest. If you were old enough to remember being baptized, you can sign it and/or your parents or other witnesses can sign it.

The priest will take it from there.

It is unlikely a conditional baptism will be necessary. As others have mentioned, the Reformed church and the Baptist church, from which your particular denomination takes its roots-- along with other older mainline protestant denominations-- are solidly trinitarian.
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  #14  
Old Sep 6, '10, 3:54 pm
de Tocqueville de Tocqueville is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

Thank you all!
  #15  
Old Sep 6, '10, 6:32 pm
Oldtimer_7 Oldtimer_7 is offline
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Default Re: Was My Protestant Baptism Valid?

A friend who converted went through this very same thing with a Baptist church in Florida. When they found out that she wanted the information to join the Catholic Church, the temperature of the phone conversation dropped to below freezing. They refused to give her any help. Not to worry, the priest worked right around it with conditional baptism. I suggested a sponsor to her and the woman stood behind her and wept tears of joy throughout the entire baptism. It was beautiful.
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