I am reading “Let the Fire Fall” by Father Michael Scanlon. I am confused by his being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Don’t we receive the Holy Spirit during “normal” baptism and again when we are Confirmed? Also, doesn’t this go against “and we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins…”?
In my opinion, your confusion is well justified.
First of all, although not my cup of tea, I know some very good people involved with the Catholic Charismatic movement, and it is made a good impact on their lives. They are very devout Catholics. There are many paths of spirituality in the Church, and this is one of them. So I am not meaning to bash Catholic Charismatics.
Having said that, the their terminology of “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” is bad IMO. You are correct, we are baptized once and we receive the Holy Spirit then. They should not use the term baptism for this, as it is very misleeading. And their members will tend to place a greater ephasis on thie “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” than on their actual Baptism. Our past pastor actually had the charismatic group at our parish quit using the terminology, as he felt it was leading to many misunderstandings among their leaders. And he was very supportive of their group, he was not anti charismatic.
I do not understand all of the theology behind the “baptism of the holy spirit”; I am sure it is a significant and real event in their lives, but it cannot be baptism in any way, shape, or form.
I think you’re being a little too upright.
After all, it’s common language to speak of soldier’s “baptism by fire”, aka their first real combat experience. Baptism by fire is also a common term used to denote any kind of first ordeal. Investipedia even lists it as a term. I’ve never heard anyone complain about the use of that term.
Similarly, Baptism in the Holy Spirit is your first real conscience experience of the Holy Spirit working through you and in you. Nobody’s ever claimed it as a replacement for or a supplement to your first baptism in water.
I think the use of the phrase baptism is more used in these 2 cases because it takes the idea from sacramental baptism that your life is really changed after (your life before and your life after are almost like 2 different books). A soldier is forever changed after their first real experience in combat, and so is a person after baptism in the Holy Spirit. That’s all it’s really referring to.
Using the word baptism in a “profane” sense is one thing, but using “baptism by the Holy Spirit,” and keeping the phrase within the sacred sphere can be (and has been) misleading.
Charismatic Renewal: not my cup of tea, correct, however even skeptical me cannot deny the fruits the Renewal provides. Catholic Charismatics should find a new phrase to describe such an event, because “baptism by the Holy Spirit” sounds too Pentecostal. We actually consider Baptism as a sacrament when most Pentecostals do not. That phrase works for them within their circles, but it’s problematic for us.
I agree with AlexPetrosPio that there is a big difference between using it in a profane sense and using it in a sacred sense.
I notice you used the word “first”, why? There is only one, there can be only one baptism; so even using that adjective shows how misleading and confusing the terminology can be.
As to nobody claiming it as a replacement or a supplement to your first baptism in water; well I disagree. Also, you say nobody claims it as a supplement, I will give you this quote
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap
SUMMARY: The Baptism in the Spirit is not a sacrament, but it is related to several sacraments. The Baptism in the Spirit makes real and in a way renews Christian initiation. At the beginning of the Church, Baptism was administered to adults who converted from paganism and who, made on the occasion of Baptism, an act of faith and a free and mature choice. Today it is substituted instead by intermediary parents or godparents. In this situation, rarely, or never, does the baptized person ever reach the stage of proclaiming in the Holy Spirit “Jesus is Lord”. And until one reaches this point, everything else in the Christian life remains out of focus and immature. Miracles no longer happen and we experience what Jesus did in Nazareth: “Jesus could not perform many miracles because of their lack of faith” (Mt.13.58). The Baptism in the Spirit’s effectiveness in reactivating baptism consists in this: finally man contributes his part – namely, he makes a choice of faith, prepared in repentance, that allows the that allows the work of God to set itself free and to emanate all its strength. It is as if the plug is pulled and the light is switched on. The gift of God is finally “untied” and the Spirit is allowed to flow like a ftragrance in the Christian life.
Now, how can one read this and not think that it not only suppliments, but it somehow completes sacramental Baptism (ie “The gift of God is finally “untied” and the Spirit is allowed to flow like a ftragrance in the Christian life”)? And that terminiology now seems be contradictory with the sacrament of Confirmation.
And there are many times in our normal liturgical lives where we are called upon to renew our baptismal promises. So this sentence “In this situation, rarely, or never, does the baptized person ever reach the stage of proclaiming in the Holy Spirit “Jesus is Lord”. And until one reaches this point, everything else in the Christian life remains out of focus and immature” seems problematic also.
I am not being too uptight. There are great results from the Charismatic movement, but I question some of their terminology and explanations.
I may be even more confused now!
In the book, after Fr. Scanlon receives the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit he receives many gifts, including the gift of healing. He talks about prayer changing to “the Spirit praying in me”. Also a lot of other wonderful changes this event brought about. Why wouldn’t we all want to have this “baptism” in the Holy Spirit? I feel as if I am missing out on something huge, that I am incomplete.