I’ve heard many times that when you are baptized you become a child of God. There was also a post yesterday saying one of the lies the devil wants us to believe is that everyone is a child of God. I’m a bit confused on what this means, does this mean everyone who isn’t baptized isn’t a child of God?
I guess I thought anyone made in the image of God (every human) was by definition a child of God for that reason. Obviously baptism is extremely important since it removes original sin and claims you for God. Is it also that without baptism you aren’t a child of God? And if so what does that mean because wouldn’t you still be made in the image of God?
Any help on this topic is appreciated, I’m wondering if this was a failure in my religious education growing up as to me not understanding this topic. I wasn’t sure what forum section would be best for this question.
I don’t really believe in baptism (not Catholic), so I can’t comment on that.
However, think about what you are suggesting in human terms. Would a loving human parent not consider their offspring to be their own child just because something happened or didn’t happen? Most likely, they would consider their offspring their child, regardless.
It’s a good question, I’ve wondered this myself before. Without quoting scripture or Church teaching, the conclusion I’ve drawn is that only the baptised are children of God, adopted into his family through Christ. All others are his creatures, and loved, but there is a real and distinct difference between them, the unbaptised, and the baptised. Our modern sensitivities are inclined to make us uncomfortable with these things. Discussing the reality of Hell etc., is another example.
The main thing, for the purposes of evangelisation, is that God has created, willed and loves every soul.
That has been taken in two ways.
The first is that, indeed, every one is a son or daughter of God. This actually is an approach taken in some Church documents.
The second approach is Biblical. God makes those someone a son or daughter of God by grace, not by birth. See John 1:12-13: 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
From my great love of the Bible. personally, I prefer the second. But I won’t say not to take the first approach.
460 The Word became flesh to make us " partakers of the divine nature ":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
78 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc . 57, 1-4.
Every human being is a child of God but without baptism we are alienated children of God, children of wrath as St Paul says. We can be called children of God in three ways at least.
(1) God is the creator of us all and in this sense He is our Father. Indeed, the Father of the whole world and of every creature. Thus, in the Creed we say ‘I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.’ And in Isaiah 64:8, we read “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
(2) As you mention, human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and this principally in their immortal spiritual soul with the spiritual powers of intellect and will. In this sense, all human beings are children of God.
(3) Human beings are called children of God in a special way according to supernatural or sanctifying grace as well, i.e, not alienated children of God or children of wrath. We receive sanctifying grace in baptism which is a created participation in the divine nature analogous to the uncreated natural Sonship of the eternal Son of God or Jesus according to his divine nature. Thus, St John says “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (John 3:1). Jesus taught us to call God our Father in the Lord’s Prayer “Our Father who are in heaven” which name ‘Father’ can be applied in all three of the above senses.
Sinning makes us a slave to sin and a child of the devil as St John says “He who commits sin is of the devil” (John 3:8). In this sense also, it can be said that we all are born into the world as children of the devil through original sin or as St Paul says ‘children of wrath’. Born into the world without sanctifying grace which is the death of the soul and subject to bodily death and suffering. Thus, St John says “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (John 3:8). Christ redeemed us and paid the price of our ransom from being alienated from God and slaves to sin and the devil.
The Church teaches that we become sons of God in the new birth of baptism. “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27). Those who are not in Christ are sons of Adam. In fact the Council of Trent defined justification as “a translation from that state wherin man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam Jesus Christ our Saviour”. As for being made to the image of God, this is true of all people, however we are not sons of God by nature but by grace. Those in original sin are in the image but not likeness of God, which supposes a certain equality of nature, which is only caused by sanctifying grace. Since those in original sin are deprived of grace, they do not have the likeness of God.
Everyone is a creature of God. But original sin (Adam and Eve’s sin) was an act of rejection of the familial relationship God created them with. They disowned God, basically. We are born into that state - the we-disowned-God state. Baptism brings us back into the family. Without baptism we aren’t God’s child via Adam and Eves choice to sin. Also because of their sin things like sickness and suffering and death and discord exist. It stinks. But baptism restores us to sonship & gives us a place in the Father’s House (which we can always again reject if we want, through serious sin).
God loves all of His creation; He loves us, with an ineffably huge and unimaginable degree of love. And yet as far as entering His fold and becoming immediate family members who live like His children, rather than distant, unacknowledged long-lost relatives, He leaves that up to us. Adam split us up but God makes the call to reunion. We need to answer.
In one sense, we become adopted children of God by our baptism (since we are incorporated into Christ, the Son of God) and if we remain Christ, His heirs through Christ.
In another sense, all human beings are the offspring of God, as St. Paul said to the pagans in Athens (see Acts 17:22-29). God can be viewed as a common Father in this sense, and all of humanity one family, in view of our common origin.
St Thomas Aquinas touches upon this subject in his Summa Theologiae (Part III, Question 23). There he seems to distinguish between those who are children of God by creation, including all human beings and other rational (angels) and irrational creatures, those who are children of God by adoption/grace, including Christians and other rational creatures (good angels) with charity, and he who is the only son of God by nature, namely, Jesus Christ.
So there are different ways that one can view “being a child of God.” It really depends on what you mean by that phrase. From the standpoint that God is our creator, scripture affirms that we are all “children of God.” However, from the standpoint that “being a child of God” means sharing in the inheritance of salvation and ever-lasting life with God, then not all are children of God. Scripture frequently speaks of our adoption into sonship through Christ when it talks about inheriting the blessings of the Father. So in that sense, the post you read yesterday is quite true. When people use the idea that by creation we are all children of God, yet reject Christ as the means by which we become co-heirs with him of God’s grace, mercy, and eternal life with Him, then they are indeed under the power of Satan and influenced by his lies.
We are all God’s children. We all belong to Him. God loves all His children equally… but as with some all families, especially big ones there are many variety of people with their own hearts, minds and attitudes.
When we are baptized we are telling God we want to be born again to be cleaned of our sinful ways, want to become more like Him and want to be born again with the Holy Spirit to follow His will.
The difference between us with the Holy Spirit and us with out is all about our relationship with God.
We are always His children and we always belong to Him… it’s just some of us know it, accept it and love it. Some of us don’ know it, are blind to it, are stubborn, angry, prideful and/or just dont care. (for now)
Like I said, it’s an and/both situation. Pius XII elaborates on this point in his encyclical on the unity of then family under the Fatherhood of God.
Summi Pontificatus (my bolding):
In fact, the first page of the Scripture, with magnificent simplicity, tells us how God, as a culmination to His creative work, made man to His Own image and likeness (cf. Genesis i. 26, 27); and the same Scripture tells us that He enriched man with supernatural gifts and privileges, and destined him to an eternal and ineffable happiness. It shows us besides how other men took their origin from the first couple, and then goes on, in unsurpassed vividness of language, to recount their division into different groups and their dispersion to various parts of the world. Even when they abandoned their Creator, God did not cease to regard them as His children, who, according to His merciful plan, should one day be reunited once more in His friendship (cf. Genesis xii. 3).
The Apostle of the Gentiles later on makes himself the herald of this truth which associates men as brothers in one great family, when he proclaims to the Greek world that God “hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God” (Acts xvii. 26, 27).
A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human race in the unity of one common origin in God "one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all" (Ephesians iv. 6)…
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