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  #1  
Old Jul 21, '11, 12:35 am
ltwin ltwin is offline
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Default Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

The question I have, as a Pentecostal, is how do Catholics view confirmation? I was always under the impression that it was simply a rite of passage, like when you became a teenager you confirmed your infant baptism.

But when I read the about confirmation in the Catholic Catechism it said:

Quote:
the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. (Catholic Catechism 1302)
This sounds similar (to me at least) to what Pentecostals call "baptism in the Holy Spirit." The exception being that (I think) Catholics believe that confirmation completes baptismal grace. Pentecostals, on the other hand, do not connect Christian conversion with either Spirit baptism or water baptism. And (obviously) confirmation is a rite while Spirit baptism as defined by Pentecostals is a very personal and sometimes dramatic religious experience.

The logic I'm using is that for Catholics, baptism essentially means that you've become a Christian (right?) and this is followed later on by confirmation. For Pentecostals, the conversion experience is when you become a Christian and this is followed later on by Spirit baptism. Anyway does anyone else think my loose parallel of these two concepts makes sense or am I totally off base here?
  #2  
Old Jul 21, '11, 2:10 am
Debra C Debra C is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

Confirmation is a sacrament. While it is viewed by many, as you state, as a rite of passage into adult faith, this is not exactly true to its origins. In the earliest days of the Church, confirmation was usually given immediately (or as soon as possible) after baptism. In the eastern rite churches, it is still administered this way, sometimes along with Holy Communion as well. The administering of these sacraments was originally separated for logistical reasons. A priest or deacon may baptize, but a bishop (or in those earliest days, one of the apostles) is ordinarily required for confirmation. As the Church grew, it became impossible for a bishop to attend every baptism, or even follow up afterwards in a timely manner.

In the Latin rite Church, first Communion and Confirmation were eventually timed to occur after the age of reason has been reached so that a child might understand the sacrament they are receiving. In the US, bishops are allowed to set the customary age for their diocese, so when confirmation occurs varies from place to place. In some dioceses it is somewhere around age 12. Others ask that it wait until high school. Regardless, this is the final sacrament of initiation into the Church where the gift of the Holy Spirit begun in baptism is completed. The bishop lays his hand on each confirmand and says "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."

While there are obvious similarities between the Pentecostal concept of Baptism in the Spirit and the sacrament of Confirmation, they aren't really equivalent. There is no expectation of speaking in tongues or other outwardly obvious mystical gifts as an immediate sign or result of Confirmation. We believe the sacrament accomplishes that which it symbolizes by faith in God, the scriptures, and the teachings of the Church whether or not its effect is immediately obvious. Also, Confirmation is not considered to be a necessity or a proof of a person's salvation. It does, however, offer an outpouring of sacramental grace and open fully to us the gifts of the Spirit, and many priests will insist that Catholics be confirmed before entering into the sacrament of marriage (strongly encouraged, but not absolutely required by the Church) if they are not already confirmed when they present themselves for marriage preparation.

You might be interested in learning about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, which also embraces and celebrates the kinds of gifts of the Spirit you would be accustomed to from a Pentecostal background. They also use the term "baptism of the Spirit" regarding the first outward signs/fruits of those gifts (like praying in tongues). Receiving this gift and practicing a charismatic spirituality, however, does not replace the sacrament of Confirmation, and it is not seen as a requirement for salvation by the Catholic Church, either. Also of interest to you may be the lives of the Saints, particularly the mystics. You will find that gifts of the Spirit take many forms and have been a part of the Catholic Church throughout its history.
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  #3  
Old Jul 21, '11, 2:23 am
Debra C Debra C is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

sorry about the broken up post... but I had a few more thoughts after reviewing what I originally wrote, being familiar with the teachings of both churches.... (I spent a few years in an Assemblies of God church as a teen.)

We do derive the sacrament of confirmation from some of the very same scripture passages that Pentecostal believers have understood as "Baptism of the Spirit." For example, Mark 1:8 "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Also in the Acts of the Apostles, the laying on of hands for the receiving of the Spirit by one of the Apostles was often mentioned as following baptism of new believers. The biggest difference is that we do consider it a sacrament, which is still ordinarily administered by a bishop (the successors of the Apostles), or in some specific situations, a priest.

Regarding when we become Christians.... most Catholics are baptized as babies. We believe the sacraments, again, accomplish spiritually what they symbolize and impart an outpouring of sacramental grace, which strengthens us to live a more Christian life. Therefore, we do not withhold baptism until the age of reason as many protestant churches do. It sets us apart, even from infancy, as belonging to the Lord and being a part of His mystical body, the Church. So yes, baptism is when we officially beging our walk with Christ as a Chirstian. However, this does not mean you can't in some way be Christian before baptism. For those of us who are not baptized as infants and come to the Church after the age of reason, entering into baptism requires a measure of faith. An adult wouldn't ask for baptism, after all, if he didn't already believe it to be of value. So the Church teaches that if one is seeking baptism, but has not yet received it, were to die, that person may be saved because of his desire to be baptized. In other words, he is already joined in faith to the Church even though he hasn't yet received the sacrament.

As to conversion.... well we Catholics believe this to be a life long pursuit. Many were raised in the faith. Some have never parted form it, growing slowly but surely stronger in faith and love of the Lord. Others are raised in the faith, but wander at some point in their lives and return. Some are baptized but not taught the faith and struggle as adults to overcome that lack. Others, like myself, have very dramatic "conversion" stories to tell that started us on our journey into the Catholic faith. That life changing dramatic moment in my life, however, was only the beginning of that journey. It continues to be a daily struggle to live my life more and more as the Lord has calls me. And salvation, attaining heaven, is our end goal, not something that happens up front. In other words, we do not teach that salvation is guaranteed at any point, but that we must continue to strive for perfection, all the while depending on His grace to bridge the gap.
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Last edited by Debra C; Jul 21, '11 at 2:38 am.
  #4  
Old Jul 21, '11, 4:34 am
ltwin ltwin is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

Thanks for your response. I was a little confused when it came to the relationship between baptism and salvation in Catholicism. As an outsider you can get a sense that Catholics believe that anyone who was baptize as an infant is assured salvation no matter what he does or believes later on in life. I know that isn't true but that perception is there. From your comment though I think our understandings of salvation are not so different with the exception of the sacramental role of baptism and confirmation.

Spirit baptism for Pentecostals is not a requirement for salvation. All that is required is that one be born again which for us usually happens as a conversion experience, but I've known Pentecostals who grew up in the church who do not recall ever having a conversion experience though this is not typical. The new birth is evidenced by a deepening relationship with Christ. This is called "sanctification" and is a lifelong process obtained by resisting sin and drawing close to God and learning to yield oneself to the Holy Spirit. It is in this context that one matures in the faith and bears spiritual fruit.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit comes after conversion. This experience empowers us for ministry and service to God and the church. It is this experience which initiates us in the charismata.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 6:19 am
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Spencerian Spencerian is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by ltwin View Post
Thanks for your response. I was a little confused when it came to the relationship between baptism and salvation in Catholicism. As an outsider you can get a sense that Catholics believe that anyone who was baptize as an infant is assured salvation no matter what he does or believes later on in life. I know that isn't true but that perception is there. From your comment though I think our understandings of salvation are not so different with the exception of the sacramental role of baptism and confirmation.

Spirit baptism for Pentecostals is not a requirement for salvation. All that is required is that one be born again which for us usually happens as a conversion experience, but I've known Pentecostals who grew up in the church who do not recall ever having a conversion experience though this is not typical. The new birth is evidenced by a deepening relationship with Christ. This is called "sanctification" and is a lifelong process obtained by resisting sin and drawing close to God and learning to yield oneself to the Holy Spirit. It is in this context that one matures in the faith and bears spiritual fruit.

The baptism in the Holy Spirit comes after conversion. This experience empowers us for ministry and service to God and the church. It is this experience which initiates us in the charismata.
Hi.

I can understand your confusion a little bit but it's refreshing that you have good insight.

As you pointed out, the purpose of the Sacrament of Baptism is the remission of all sin, including original sin, and initiating a person in the Church. This is a true change on the soul and is permanent. "Spirit baptism" in Pentecostal circles seems to have, however, only 1/2 of the formula. Christ said that "water and the spirit" were the formula that comprised baptism, and this was illustrated in his own baptism. Food for thought.

Confirmation, as noted commonly in the Western rite, formalizes the person's actions as a Christian by calling on the Holy Spirit as an active guide with the person's reason, which as noted earlier, is why it's often done for older children in the Western church.

In the matter of what you define as "sanctification," your faith practice as you described and Catholics are very similar. As with you, Catholics also see salvation and sanctification as a continuous process through life. We practice our faith through our actions in life, for (once baptized) merely saying alone "I accept Christ," does nothing (as some Protestants believe, in terms of a "guaranteed spot"), nor does any amount of charitable acts alone can be sufficient for salvation and sanctification (as Protestants mistakenly presume Catholics are doing). Accepting the faith and showing your faith through example, together, is the way that Christ illustrated for us.
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  #6  
Old Jul 21, '11, 6:19 am
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AntalKalnoky AntalKalnoky is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

The Apostles began Baptism and Confimation as seperate Sacraments (Our Lord Began) Baptism John 3:5; Acts 8:14ff Spirit brings one Into Christ's family; Confirmation is for 'adults', First specifically described in the Bible, by St Paul, to strengthen them in Christ by bringing the Holy Spirit on each; Confirmation is by the Bishop, unless unavaible, then his designee: a Priest.

Last edited by AntalKalnoky; Jul 21, '11 at 6:35 am.
  #7  
Old Jul 21, '11, 6:33 am
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FabiusMaximus FabiusMaximus is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by AntalKalnoky View Post
The Apostles began Baptism and Confimation as seperate Sacraments (Our Lord Began) Baptism

Spirit brings one Into Christ's family; Confirmation is for 'adults', First specifically described in the Bible, by St Paul, to strengthen them in Christ by bringing the Holy Spirit on each; Confirmation is by the Bishop, unless unavaible, then his designee: a Priest.

I think the early Church from the very beginning gave all three beginning sacraments at infancy.

The growth of the Church led to the delaying of Confirmation into the age of reason.
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  #8  
Old Jul 21, '11, 6:37 am
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AntalKalnoky AntalKalnoky is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

John 8:6 ; Acts 8:14 ff
  #9  
Old Jul 21, '11, 6:48 am
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AntalKalnoky AntalKalnoky is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by FabiusMaximus View Post
I think the early Church from the very beginning gave all three beginning sacraments at infancy.

The growth of the Church led to the delaying of Confirmation into the age of reason.
Didn't the Apostles only First Sacraments Adults/Converts only, normally? I'm not aware of Confirmation and Eucharist of infants at Baptism, as our Orthodox brothers do.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 6:56 am
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FabiusMaximus FabiusMaximus is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by AntalKalnoky View Post
Didn't the Apostles only First Sacraments Adults/Converts only, normally? I'm not aware of Confirmation and Eucharist of infants at Baptism, as our Orthodox brothers do.
If I recall correctly, and anyone is free to criticize and correct me, but the original Church practice was that all three sacraments would be done on the infant. Baptism immediately followed by confirmation (or chrismation for the Orthodox), immediately followed by Holy Communion. Originally, confirmation was practiced by the bishop. But as the Church expanded, it became impractical. So the Orthodox delegated chrismation to priests, while the West retained it for the bishops, but, as a result, was forced to delay it.
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  #11  
Old Jul 21, '11, 7:00 am
ltwin ltwin is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by Spencerian View Post
As you pointed out, the purpose of the Sacrament of Baptism is the remission of all sin, including original sin, and initiating a person in the Church. This is a true change on the soul and is permanent. "Spirit baptism" in Pentecostal circles seems to have, however, only 1/2 of the formula. Christ said that "water and the spirit" were the formula that comprised baptism, and this was illustrated in his own baptism. Food for thought..
Oh don't be confused. Pentecostals practice water baptism. It is one of our two ordinances which we believe Christ commanded the church to do until he returned (the other being the Lord's Supper). However, we do not think that they are the same thing. We recognize a definite biblical pattern: repentance, regeneration, water baptism, and then the baptism with the Holy Ghost. Obviously water and Spirit baptism are intimately connected, and many Pentecostals rise up out of the waters of baptism speaking in tongues for the very first time. So in many cases, the reception the Spirit's fullness is received simultaneously with water baptism.

You must be saved before you are Spirit baptized. Pentecostals believe that all Christians have the Spirit dwelling in them, but this doesn't mean that they are Spirit filled. Neither does receiving the Spirit baptism mean that you are forever filled with the Spirit. The experience is in many ways like a sacrament; God imparts grace through it, but a Spirit filled life is not a one time experience. It is living in the Spirit, it is walking in the Spirit. There is more than just an experience.

In my case, I was born in a Pentecostal family. When I was still an infant, I was dedicated to God before the entire church while my parents promised to raise me up in the fear of the Lord and the congregation promised to help my parents to do that. There was water involved and prayer over my life. When I was about 10, I responded to an altar call and made my first commitment to live for Jesus. When I was about 14, I responded to an altar call and prayed to be filled with the Spirit. That was when I spoke in tongues for the first time. When I was about 19 or 20, I was baptized. It was full bodily immersion in a nasty green lake, but it was an important moment in my life. There is something incredibly powerful and transformative in being immersed into water. It helped me understand what had happened to me when I was Spirit baptized. I was literally immersed or plunged into the Holy Spirit.

However, none of that means that I have all of God and need no longer care. As I said above, sanctification is a process that only begins when you choose to follow Christ and never ends in this life. Likewise Spirit baptism is not the end, but the beginning of living a Spirit filled life.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 7:07 am
ltwin ltwin is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

I'm not sure that infant baptism was intended by the leaders of the church from the beginning. I can't recall where I learned this from, but it is my understanding that many Christian converts within the Roman Empire actually waited to be baptized only late in life so as to avoid actually having to be bound by the church's discipline. I could be wrong though.
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Old Jul 21, '11, 7:31 am
Debra C Debra C is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by Spencerian View Post
Hi.

I can understand your confusion a little bit but it's refreshing that you have good insight.

As you pointed out, the purpose of the Sacrament of Baptism is the remission of all sin, including original sin, and initiating a person in the Church. This is a true change on the soul and is permanent. "Spirit baptism" in Pentecostal circles seems to have, however, only 1/2 of the formula. Christ said that "water and the spirit" were the formula that comprised baptism, and this was illustrated in his own baptism. Food for thought.

Confirmation, as noted commonly in the Western rite, formalizes the person's actions as a Christian by calling on the Holy Spirit as an active guide with the person's reason, which as noted earlier, is why it's often done for older children in the Western church.

In the matter of what you define as "sanctification," your faith practice as you described and Catholics are very similar. As with you, Catholics also see salvation and sanctification as a continuous process through life. We practice our faith through our actions in life, for (once baptized) merely saying alone "I accept Christ," does nothing (as some Protestants believe, in terms of a "guaranteed spot"), nor does any amount of charitable acts alone can be sufficient for salvation and sanctification (as Protestants mistakenly presume Catholics are doing). Accepting the faith and showing your faith through example, together, is the way that Christ illustrated for us.
Most Pentecostal Christians do get baptized, though. However, I (the OP can correct me if I am wrong here) they don't baptize children.... they require a post age of reason statement of faith. So there is normally a conversion experience, which would be followed by baptism at a later date, much like we initiate unbaptized adults.
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  #14  
Old Jul 21, '11, 7:40 am
Debra C Debra C is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by ltwin View Post
I'm not sure that infant baptism was intended by the leaders of the church from the beginning. I can't recall where I learned this from, but it is my understanding that many Christian converts within the Roman Empire actually waited to be baptized only late in life so as to avoid actually having to be bound by the church's discipline. I could be wrong though.
There were a number of people through history who did this. But the Church fathers held that this was an error. For one, how would you ever know when death was going to take you? And would you want to stand before God and explain that you delayed on following His commandment to be baptized so that you wouldn't be bound to His law?

Reasoning for baptism of infants is three fold (there may be others, too--I am still relatively new as a Catholic).

First comes from the stories in Acts where whole families were initiated into the Church by baptism with water and the laying on of hands to receive the Spirit. It is inferred that whole families at some point must have included children. Additionally we fall back on the traditional teachings as handed down by the Apostles, but not necessarily written in scripture.

Second there is the Catholic concept of sacramental grace--that we receive and infusion of His grace by following through with His command to baptize and be baptized for the remission of sins. We believe this sacramental grace helps us and strengthens us in trying live a Christian life. Why would we withhold such grace from our children?

Lastly, there is the basic idea that baptism is the fruition--the completion, if you will, of the archetype of circumcision. It is the initiation of a new Christian into the new covenant, just as circumcision was seen as an initiation into the Jewish covenant of the Old Testament. Faithful Jews still circumcise male children, binding them to the covenant, on the 8th day after birth. It was not a matter of personal choice, but a matter of a responsibility of the parents to raise their children in the covenant and teach them the faith.

[edit...] And I now am recalling yet a fourth reason, related to the first... We do also believe in the stain of original sin passed down from our first parents, Adam and Eve. It is this first fall that has corrupted man's nature, causing us to have a tendency to commit sin and necessitating a measure of God's grace to receive salvation, as none of us are perfect enough to enter heaven on our own. Baptism not only washes away personal sins (which a baby is obviously incapable of committing) that we have committed prior to receiving the sacrament, but this stain of original sin as well.
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  #15  
Old Jul 21, '11, 7:47 am
Debra C Debra C is offline
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Default Re: Confirmation versus baptism in the Holy Spirit

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Originally Posted by AntalKalnoky View Post
Didn't the Apostles only First Sacraments Adults/Converts only, normally? I'm not aware of Confirmation and Eucharist of infants at Baptism, as our Orthodox brothers do.
No-- The Acts of the Apostles indicated that whole families were baptized into the Church. It is assumed this would have included children, too.
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