How long should I forgo baptism?

I’ve been attending Mass for a few years now and have been studying Catholicism at every turn. About two years ago I came to a point where I realized I believe all the basics of “Apostolic Christianity”, some examples including:

*]episcopal polity
*]the necessity of Apostolic Succession of said Bishops
*]the divine institution of the Sacraments
*]the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
*]the communion (and intercession) of Saints, and
*]the special position of the Blessed Virgin as God-bearer.

Thing is, it seems I’ve sort of reached a road-block. If these beliefs were held uniquely by the Catholic Church, then I would’ve been baptized two years ago, but She isn’t the only church that professes these beliefs. Furthermore, the Catholic Church admits that valid Sacraments exist in other churches. I’ve read countless pieces by both Orthodox and Catholic apologists and I honestly cannot reason out which side is correct. It’s not that I don’t believe in the supreme jurisdiction of the Papacy, rather I don’t know what I should believe about it. Both sides make compelling arguments.

Once I get past the issues around the Papacy, the other controversies don’t even seem serious enough for consideration to me (honestly, isn’t the Filioque controversy a huge tempest in a teapot!?). I believe that the souls of the saved undergo purification before the Beatific Vision, but whether this is done through Purgatory or through Toll Houses is inconsequential to me. I believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is in Heaven, body and soul, but I quite frankly don’t care whether she physically died and then was assumed or if she was assumed without tasting death. I do believe Jesus is substantively present in the Eucharist, but I don’t give two hoots about how he does it or that it needs to have the theological definition of “transubstantiation” to explain it. To be perfectly honest, I read the writings of the Church Fathers and when I compare them to both the Catholic and Orthodox churches, I see their teachings in both, but further clouded by two thousand years of superfluous theological window dressing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have this worked out, so what can I do about my Salvation? I’m still unbaptized, and neither church will baptize me until I can honestly and firmly assert that I fully believe everything that said church teaches. Is there some point at which one should just give in and randomly pick one church to baptize him without yet any real firm resolve to join that church? Should I just split the difference and have a Protestant baptize me so that I can at least be baptized, then continue fleshing out the differences between the Catholic and Orthodox churches?

I would say no to having a Protestant baptize you out of convenience. You want to be saved; that is clear and is very good. However, I and the Catholics here believe that the evidence is on our side as to papal primacy. I would suggest doing a keyword search for the terms “Papal supremacy” and “Papal primacy” at the home page of this forum:

They will give you the best details as to the truth of the position of Peter and his successors.

Though, if you end up being baptized into Holy Orthodoxy, I will still call you my brother in Christ!

Consider this: after the Council of Chalcedon the Catholic Church, including the parts that would later be EO, continued to hold oecumenical councils. We didn’t stop because the oriental orthodox broke away. After the great schism the EO have no unity and have held no eocumenical councils. They even attended the council at Florence and the whole mess was almost put to rest, but, due to the rebelliousness of their flocks back home, the council was rejected in opposition to their own bishops who participated in it.

The Church of Christ is: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. The EO can only lay claim to the last three.

This may sound either stupid, naive, or facetious - but not intended to be any those …

Why not simple ask God where he wants you? Then follow where the Spirit leads without over-thinking it too much. He’s obviously lead you this far … maybe time to just take the plunge? :slight_smile:

I say this because when I was away from the Church, gentle promptings (which grew into more adamant promptings) of the Spirit convinced me to return to God. But I had issues with some things dealing with the Roman Catholic Church - however, no matter how much I kept arguing with the Spirit, I basically was told I needed to go back to the Roman Catholic Church. Finally gave up arguing and returned (but trust me it was a several year long argument between me and the Spirit).

Anyway - just speaking from my experience - once you get to a certain point, you just have to trust that it’s going to work out and follow where you’re being led. I’d suggest praying for guidance and then consulting a priest. See how you feel after that :shrug: worked for me - especially since the priest helped me see new views of my belief situation I hadn’t even considered before.

God bless!

I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’ve been where you are and even though after 5 years of asking the same questions and trying to choose between the CC and EO I was finally received into the Catholic church I still struggle with it. Both sides make very compelling arguments to me. Both sides can’t be right, IMO. The theology is not the same IMO. But I hit a point where I had to make a choice so I did. Honestly I could have spent the rest of my life reading, learning and trying to work out which was right and I’m not sure I’d ever have the answer fully settled in my heart. I just couldn’t live outside the Church anymore.

What eased my mind was someone explained that I was experiencing involuntary doubt. I was not freely rejecting any church teaching by choice, I just was struggling to understand. They said it much better than I just did. But basically it gave me relief to understand that understanding theology is a lifelong process where we hopefully gain a deeper understanding over time and that there was nothing wrong with me having involuntary doubt. That it was not an impediment to being received into the church.

Sooner or later, you will have to make a decision. Have you looked at the Eatern rite Catholics who are in communion with Rome as an option? You should consider this too.

Here are some articles to aid you:

Fr. Ryland studied both before he coverted…this is his story…

Let God lead you and reflect on this passage:

1 Samuel 15:22-23
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

Speaking only for myself, as someone who struggled like the OP is, this just wasn’t going to give me a clear answer. I’d ask God, but I didn’t trust myself to know when it was God answering or my own wishful thinking. How do I know the inner voice or whatever is God and not just me? I still can’t do it. Well I know when what I’m asking myself is consistent with Church teaching, but other things I can’t. Maybe I’m just not spiritually mature enough for that yet? :shrug:

Step aside from the arguments, and look at what each party is actually doing about their belief in the Papacy (regardless of what it may be).

If one side is saying “the Pope is first among equals” but wouldn’t offer him Holy Communion in their parish church, then what do they actually believe about the Pope?

I think you can guess where I stand, even without looking at my affiliation. :smiley:

Read Mark 16:15,16 and Rom 10:9
Acts Acts 2:38

The Ethiopian ask Philip, Acts 8:36
As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”

Both churches are considered Christian which are similar and yet different. Instead of thinking about which church you agree with the most, I think you should begin to ask God which church does God want you to attend? Begin to pray about it and allow the Holy Spirit lead you towards the right direction. We don’t have to agree with everything the church teaches but we need to understand and respect it.

Pray about it and see where God is leading. It gets to a point where we need to put aside our intellectual mind and let God guide us with the rest.

Baptism is so important get it done tomorrow.

I met a fellow who was going to have his child baptized later that day at Church. The priest came around to the house beforehand…the father of the child also had his father present…while they all were at the house…the grandfather died. The priest immediately requested permission to begin the Baptism…and did so. Before the ambulance showed up.

That’s how important Baptism is. Don’t wait for your pride to get all things lined up just so. Let nothing get in the way of the sanctifying graces of Baptism. No more intellectual “mis fit” issues.

Get it done. Please.

I think it’s a struggle where each of us may have to find a totally different path to a solution - I pray for all us on our different journeys. Peace.

Really? Wanting to make sure you make the right decision in choosing a faith practice is pride now? What about wanting to be sure you following Gods will and making the right decision?

Baptism is certainly important, since it is our entrance into the Kingdom of God - indeed, it is so important that for adults, a discernment period in RCIA of at least 2 years is recommended by the Church.

There is no way that an adult can show up at a Church and demand to be baptized without formally completing the steps and periods of RCIA.

Thanks everyone for your posts. I would like to make it clear that I’ve been hashing this out with a Catholic priest. I’ve gone through RCIA once already, and ultimately decided not to receive the Sacraments of initiation on Easter Vigil (which this same priest lauded me for!)

He even said it himself, that when I get confirmed I’ll have to pledge to give my assent of faith to ALL of the teachings of the Catholic Church. How can I do this honestly if I still don’t know what I believe about the papacy (and thus Orthodoxy as an indirect result)?

Maybe a bit of disclosure is in order: I’m a Mormon. I was raised one, and am still, technically, a practicing one (due to cultural issues that I’d rather not get into here). I slowly became disillusioned with my faith and went in pursuit of a more “authentic” Christianity. I’d first learn that the Catholics and Orthodox believe that Jesus is literally present in the Eucharist. How absurd! I began studying the teachings of ancient Christianity, and lo and behold the Early Church Fathers taught the same thing. I would then read some tracts on the metaphysics of the Real Presence, and very shortly I found myself believing it myself. This same pattern would recur for all other doctrines. First I’d scoff at it, then I’d research it, followed by prayer, and ultimately I came to believe it.

This pattern has seemingly come to a stand still with regards to issues concerning the Schism. I’ve been mulling this over for years now and I feel like I’ve made very little progress. Intuitively I know I have to make a leap of faith, but I can’t even decide which way to leap!

The only thing I know is that I need to get baptized. The same priest I’ve been talking to has been trying to assure me that I could take as long a time as needed to work this out and should I die before firmly coming into faith I would be covered by Invincible Ignorance. I fear that this priest is wrong. As I understand the doctrine of Invincible Ignorance, those who through no fault of their own are unaware of Christ’s Gospel may be saved should they die before being given the chance to both hear and accept the Gospel. I know his Gospel, and I know baptism is essential. My problem arises in not knowing which church to be baptized in!!! (Oh to have been born two millennia ago.)

Quite frankly, posts imploring me to run to the waters of baptism tomorrow are not at all helpful. I know damn well that my soul is in peril right now, and the fact that I’ve posted this thread should be evidence of my understanding the severity of it all. I WANT TO BE BAPTIZED, but as of yet the only churches willing to do so with me in the state of belief that I’m currently in are Protestant ones. Are you telling me I should run to the nearest Lutheran church and be baptized?

I can understand your frustration and wish I had an easy answer that would help you find a decision that would lead you to peace - but I don’t :frowning: The only thought I have is that if the priest you’ve been speaking with isn’t helping you move forward - perhaps you could try getting a second opinion? I know sometimes it has required input from several different individuals before I finally hear that one thing that helps it “click” and allow me to move forward. Although I can’t offer any answers, I can and will do is pray for you.

If you were asked what is the main issue stopping you making a final choice and you can only give one answer what would your answer be?

Well, look at it this way. Under the rules of the Orthodox, you would be required to join the community of your ethnicity.

if you’re Mormon, your ancestors were most likely either European or African, which means that your ethnicity is Western, and pre-Schism, that would have meant Rome.

Since under Orthodox rules, you would be required to join the Roman Church (except for the fact that they have excommunicated the Roman Church, leaving only Eastern churches) that makes the choice relatively simple, does it not?


Are you just being tongue in cheek? Because none of that is factually true. The OP could be received into whichever Orthodox communion he wanted to. Be it the OCA, GOA, ROCOR, Antiochian, Serbian, Romanian, heck even the Orthodox Church of Finland if there is one near him. No DNA test required.

Today, yes - because obviously they have no Western Rite, being as they excommunicated it - if we go by their version of history.

Pre-schism, if we assume that the Orthodox were in charge of the Church (which is debatable, but let’s assume it for the sake of argument) they would have required Westerners to join the Western Rite - Rome.

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