Baptist analogy about works and love

I’m in a discussion with a Baptist about baptism. But he keeps brining it over to works/faith. He gave this analogy of working for someone’s love or works because of love that I’m not sure how to respond to. Please help

“Who says it’s a symbol of something that already took place? Baptism symbolizes someone’s love and commitment to Christ. Let me clarify what I said when I said “So works are not necessary for salvation.” What I meant was they are not what causes us to be saved. They are a result of our love and obedience to God. Think of it this way. Do you do good things for your wife to earn her love? Or do you do good things as a result of your love for her? That love should already be earned. You should be doing good things for her as a result of your love for her but that’s not what caused her to love you. The same way that good works are not what saved you. This is not the same as saying they are not important. Just that they alone are not what saves. We are to be submissive to God. We’re supposed to do things to glorify him and make him the center of everything that we do. These are a result of our love and faith in him. The works are important, but not what saves. If you truly love someone, it matters not what they do. What they do can have an effect on you, yes. But deep down you still love them.”

I was stating that Baptists believe baptism symbolizes something that already happened (the Christian accepting Jesus as lord and savior)

I don’t know what that has to do with his discussion about works. And everything he said about works is correct.

Is he trying to argue that the act of receiving Baptism is itself a “work?” That’s not what “work” means. Accepting a gift is not a “work”

Well he’s been sort of trying to change it into a works/faith discussion.

Look at it this way: Jesus opened the door to Salvation. But you still have to walk through the door–it’s up to you. But the door’s open.

Read some more St. Paul, esp. 1 Corinthians. He preached to the Corinthians about Jesus saving mankind, etc. etc. and then the Corinthians figured, “Hey, we’re saved because we believe! How cool is that! Now we can do what we want! Party time!” and Paul had to come back and say, “Whoa, that’s not what I meant! You have to behave yourselves, saved or not saved.”

Clearly you cannot save yourself by good works (Pelagius). Nor can you be saved by belief alone (if you continue to commit serious sins).

Baptists come in lots of different flavors, but from the tone of what he writes, it seems that his understanding of baptism could be summarized as:

1- Baptism is a work, and in itself cannot cause someone to be saved
2- Baptism is an act of the will by an adult, not a child or infant
3- Baptism is a ‘badge’ that allows the person saved to be known as a Christian
4- Baptism must be by full immersion and anything else is not scriptural.
5- Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but is an outward sign that one has accepted Christ
6- Baptism of children is dangerous since it gives people a false assurance of their salvation
7- Salvation is given to certain people only by God, and those people chose to be Baptized out of love for God.

Those might be some key points to understand from his perspective. I know a lot of Baptists. Good people. Great music.

You might have to take them point by point to understand how the Catholic position differs on each one.

Please allow me to give the same list, in the same order from the Catholic perspective:

1- Baptism is a sacrament and bestows upon the recipient grace from God that removes the effects of original sin. The power to perform this miracle was given to us by Jesus.
2- The will of the person does not cause the grace of God to be bestowed. God wants to give his grace to all, including and especially children to free them from the effects of original sin.
3- Baptism has no outward sign, but it does change the soul and marks it.
4- Baptism is intentionally simple so that it can be easily applied. Water is required, and baptism must be made in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be valid.
5- Baptism does not cause salvation. It removes the effects of original sin.
6- Baptism of children is the norm since the original Christians.
7- See 5.

Catholics do not believe that we are ordinarily saved by (personal) faith OR works. We believe we are saved by the Grace of Christian Baptism, and by nothing else. Most Catholics are Baptized as infants, when they are incapable of personal faith or works.

This guy probably says he “accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savoir.” If he considers Baptism a “work” then he has no basis to exclude such acceptance as a “work.”

I recognize that this is your personal crusade, but you’re getting it wrong again. :wink:

From the Catechism (#2007-2010):

With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

Look at the sentence I’ve highlighted in bold: “we can merit for ourselves… the graces needed for our sanctification… and for the attainment of eternal life.”

Although you’ve correctly identified that the justification attained in baptism is pure grace, you’re making the error of confusing ‘justification’ with ‘sanctification’ and ‘salvation’. :wink:

[quote=Frankenfurter]3- Baptism has no outward sign, but it does change the soul and marks it.
[/quote]

Except for the above statement, your post was helpful in understanding the Baptist position. However, WATER is the outward sign of the inward grace of cleansing, which is what makes Baptism a Sacrament (an outward sign of a spiritual grace or reality)

5- Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but is an outward sign that one has accepted Christ

The Baptist position above is ironically like the Catholic Sacrament, except with them you have an outward sign with NO inward grace or effect. :frowning:

This is what makes the Baptist baptism dubious.

Furthermore, from the Catechism:

161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42

42 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16; ⇒ Jn 3:36; ⇒ 6:40 et al.

183 Faith is necessary for salvation. the Lord himself affirms: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (⇒ Mk 16:16).

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21: PL 3, 1169; De unit.: PL 4, 509-536.
336 LG 14; cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16; ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].

980 It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church:

Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers “a laborious kind of baptism.” This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.523

523 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1672; Cf. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 39,17: PG 36,356.

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51

51 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1604.

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.60 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.61 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

59 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
60 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:19-20; cf. Council of Trent (1547) DS 1618; LG 14; AG 5.
61 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:16.

1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord’s will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.

1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."82 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."83

82 LG 42; cf. DH 14.
83 ⇒ Mt 10:32-33.

2036 The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation.

So… from the Catechism, we see that all of the following are necessary for salvation:

Baptism
The Church
Faith/Belief in Jesus Christ and the Father
The Sacrament of Penance
The Sacraments of the New Covenant
Service of and Witness to the Faith
The Observance of the Precepts of the Natural Law

Another tactic you can take is relating baptism to marriage.

For some time before the wedding, you have accepted this person as the person you love, you have expressed that love for them repeatedly. You have declared your love to the world. But until you ACTUALLY say the vows, and get married, are you a family? Are you a husband and wife?

No amount of feelings, no amount of emotions, no amount of talk or expressions of love change you from a single person into a married person. None of that makes a woman and man become husband and wife. It’s only through the ACTION of publicly stating the marriage vows that they become husband and wife and become family to one another.

So the same with baptism. All the prayers, even Sinner’s Prayer, and expressions of love are incomplete. Until you have the water poured and the Trinitarian formula said are you actually made a part of the family of God.

Our justice consists of love, love for God and neighbor as the greatest commandments reveal. As St Paul says in 1 Cor 13, '…if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing", or St. Augustine, “Without love faith may indeed exist, but avails nothing”.

Works such as those outlined in Matt 25:31-46 attest to that love, which is why Jesus explains that we’ll be judged on such works. Faith, as a response to grace, is the gateway to achieving this justice, this love, because it’s the gateway to-it is-the knowledge of and restored communion with God, apart from Whom we can do nothing, and Who then indwells and does a work in us-of justification. This knowledge and relationship had previously been destroyed at the Fall for all humanity. The formal act of faith that Jesus gave us to profess our faith before man is Baptism, sometimes referred to as the “sacrament of faith”.

From there, depending on time, grace, and opportunities given, we’re expected to continue to grow, to not only maintain (by not falling into serious (mortal) sin or repenting if we do) but also to increase the grace/justice given us at Baptism. Justification is a one-time event and a process in Catholicism. Reference the Parable of the Talents and also Luke 12:48 for principles regarding this. In the end, God judges how we’ve done with what we’ve been given; over-confidence or presumption about our eternal destiny is thus precluded. St John of the Cross: “At the evening of life we shall be judged on our love”.

I don’t see where he is making sense at all. He just implied he contradicted himself. If he previously had love and commitment to Christ, and it is, as he says, a symbol, then its a symbol of something that took place, ie, that he received the grace of love and commitment (faith). Now if you are implying that baptism accompanies the gift of faith and love, then he should oppose that notion. But doing baptism to symbolize love and faith, is obviously something done in obedience, and so it is a symbol, to God at least, that he does have love and faith.

So therefore, some lines of reasoning may bring him to that conclusion, but what he says in the following statements do not support his reasoning regarding baptism. They are form a non-sequitor, and furthermore are an incorrect argument in and of themselves.

To wit:

Let me clarify what I said when I said “So works are not necessary for salvation.” What I meant was they are not what causes us to be saved.

This is insufficient. We must remain saved as well.

They are a result of our love and obedience to God. Think of it this way. Do you do good things for your wife to earn her love? Or do you do good things as a result of your love for her? That love should already be earned.

Maybe, but how about your own love for her.? Perhaps exercising your love for her keeps your love for her alive in you. And your love for her is what ultimately counts, if you want to stay with her.

Look at John 6, where Jesus says the work of God is this, to have Faith in the one whom the Father has sent. Indeed, Jesus does not deny that it is a work we must do. Thus having faith is a work, or rather, maintaining faith is a work. It is a work given to us as a grace of God (it is a “work of God”) but it is still something we need to do.

You should be doing good things for her as a result of your love for her but that’s not what caused her to love you.

Again, what caused you to love her is not the question here. It is the need to maintain that love. Faith enables us to maintain that love. How? By works of Love.

The same way that good works are not what saved you. This is not the same as saying they are not important. Just that they alone are not what saves. We are to be submissive to God.

Which is an expression of love.

We’re supposed to do things to glorify him and make him the center of everything that we do. These are a result of our love and faith in him.

True but those works also maintain faith. Jesus wouldn’t mention that God requires it if it weren’t important.

The works are important, but not what saves. If you truly love someone, it matters not what they do. What they do can have an effect on you, yes. But deep down you still love them."

It seems this person believes in the incorrect notion of “once saved always saved”. This must be attacked first. It must be shown that faith must be maintained and that this maintenance is a work.

I was stating that Baptists believe baptism symbolizes something that already happened (the Christian accepting Jesus as lord and savior)

I don’t see why he would disagree with this. Baptism is a pledge, thus a symbol of intention.

peace
steve

the BIG problem at the heart of the Baptist belief in “believers baptism” is that they do NOT believe in its property of regeneration. It is THIS water (and spirit) which causes us to be born again. They believe it is the personal affirmation of Faith.

The Baptist believes that Baptism is an “ordinance” that is obligatory on those who are ALREADY born again through their Faith, but they do not lose their salvation if they never get baptized. Maybe its like the ordinances of the Muslims. They are supposed to make a pilgrimage to Mecca sometime in their life, but if they never do, it’s not a deal breaker for them.

That is why they deny infants baptism. They don’t have the ability to believe, and therefore cannot be baptized. However, Baptist baptism may not be a true baptism, and therefore Baptist converts should be conditionally baptized.

The true evil of this belief is that the children of Baptists, (and their Evangelical offshoots,) are never baptized. When they grow older, becoming teens and young adults, they generally drift away from their parents church, and go on to have children of their own that are never baptized. They and their children become more and more secular and agnostic. I’ve seen this scenario play out over and over in my own originally all Catholic family. :frowning:

If there is ANYTHING MORE ANTI-CHRISTIAN than being the cause of de-Christianizing society, by preventing the infants of Christians from being baptized (as infants) I would like to know what that is. :eek:

It’s called a strawman argument.

He’s been taught that Catholics believe in salvation by works–so he’s seeking to build the strawman (i.e.–paint you as championing salvation by works) that he may slay the strawman, rather than having to deal with what actually is–i.e.–that Catholicism does not champion salvation by works.

Attempting to characterize baptism as ‘works’, is his attempt to shoe-horn your beliefs, to fit his narrative, so that he can get on with the joyful business of slaying his strawman.

Call him out on it.

:thumbsup:

Put a sticky on that one!

You still don’t understand. Without Baptism, none of that other stuff would matter.

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

Without Baptism, the Church cannot help us (except to offer Baptism). Faith and belief won’t help us. We can’t receive the Sacraments (other than Baptism). Service and witness won’t help us. Observing the precepts won’t help us.

If we fall into mortal sin, none of that other stuff would matter except the Sacrament of Penance. The Church cannot help us (except to offer Confession). Faith and belief won’t help us. We can’t receive the Sacraments (other than Confession). Service and witness won’t help us. Observing the precepts won’t help us.

There are no quotas.

I do understand all of that, David, quite perfectly. I understand all of that, exactly. My point is simply that your insistence that Baptism is the only thing necessary for salvation is just false. That’s it.

The Sanctifying Grace of Baptism, intact at the time of our death, is the ONLY thing that is ordinarily necessary for salvation (and the only absolute guarantee of salvation).

The ONLY way this Grace can be imparted is through Christian Baptism (either imparted directly or imparted indirectly through desire or martyrdom). The Church has a rather liberal definition of indirect Baptism by desire which could encompass even people who have no knowledge of Jesus or the Catholic Faith. This is the Church’s doctrine of invincible ignorance. But this is not ANOTHER different means of salvation. It is the imparting of the Grace of Christian Baptism without the actual form or substance (water).

Should we willingly and knowingly forfeit our Baptismal Grace through mortal sin, the Church is somewhat less liberal in our remedy. We cannot restore our saving Grace through faith or works or beliefs or any other thing. The Church is quite liberal in the matter of Christian Baptism, even recognizing that ANYBODY can be a valid minister of the Sacrament, and even allowing that there could be extraordinary exceptions (besides minister) to both matter and form.

But, when it comes to mortal sin, the Church has only ONE remedy: the Grace of Sacramental Confession.

Yes, act of perfect contrition in distress and no Confessor, yada yada yada. But it is still, in this case, an extraordinary application of the Grace of Sacramental Confession.

And it would not apply to non-Catholics who have no ordinary recourse to Sacramental Confession in the first place. (please - no Orthodox arguments in this regard.)

But, David, your qualifying phrase “intact at the time of our death” is what makes your claim of exclusivity suspect. To phrase it another way, we might say, “the sanctifying grace of baptism is the FIRST thing that is ordinarily necessary for salvation, since when we lose it through sin, we need reconciliation, and when we have the opportunity to cooperate with that grace through our own works, we must do so.” :wink:

David, I know all that. You’re preaching to the choir man.

Here’s the part where I would argue against you:

The Sanctifying Grace of Baptism, intact at the time of our death, is the ONLY thing that is ordinarily necessary for salvation (and the only absolute guarantee of salvation).

Sanctifying Grace is the only thing necessary for salvation. This grace is introduced to us at Baptism, and is introduced to us in no other way. But that doesn’t make Baptism the only thing necessary for salvation. It’s the grace that’s imparted through Baptism that is necessary. And that makes Baptism necessary, for sure. And it’s also the first necessary act in the economy of salvation.

But Baptism isn’t the only thing necessary. Sanctifying Grace is, which is why all those other things are necessary. And that’s where the proviso that you put in enters the scene: “intact at the time of our death.” In order to ensure this happens, all those other things that the Church says are necessary, are indeed necessary, so that we can ensure that the Sanctifying Grace, which we first received in Baptism, yes, remains intact when we die.

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