Validity of Baptism,Baptismal Theology differences between EO and RC churches

Hello everybody!

This matter has been bothering me since ** a Greek Orthodox priest told me my Protestant baptism is invalid according to Greek Orthodox rites** :confused:

I was baptised in the name of the Triune God (Trinitarian Formula) by immersion in the ocean (non-denominational church;Vineyard church)

However, since then, in my studies of the Sacraments I have come to doubt the validity of my original Baptism. Regardless, I want to resolve this because I feel that it is something very important.

They Baptized me, "Upon your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, in the Name of the Son, and in the Name of the Holy Spirit.’’

**As far as i know,for a baptism to be valid,there are 3 necessary elements:

1)The proper form (Trinitarian formula)

2)The proper element

3)The intention**

I was immersed in the water only ONCE (not thrice), and not when “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” was said. The matter and form were seperated.

The Church I went to does not believe in the necessity of Baptism, nor do they believe that Baptism cleanses original sin or gives the life of the Holy Spirit. They do not believe it was mandated by Christ for salvation. It is just a public profession of personal faith in their view. Therefore, I doubt the minister intended to do what the Church does by Baptism.They dont see it as a sacrament but rather an ‘‘ordinance’’.

Should i get re-baptized by a priest in the Apostolic Succession?

Does the baptismal theology differ between Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox church?

I heard the reception of converts is not uniform in Orthodoxy (Church of Greece) and it depends on the local bishop to decide whether by Baptism or Chrismation.Is that true?

And regarding the Roman Catholic Church teachings,what is the official standing of Vatican on this issue?

So many questions i know but it would make me happy to hear your comments to enlighten me

Pax Christi


Different branches of the Orthodox Church treat this practically in different ways. Some insist on re-baptism, others do not.

As for why. (If I am off maybe some Orthodox posters can correct me.) The OC has a different understanding of the nature of the Church and how sacraments relate to that than the Western Church and its off-shoots do. The OC understands itself to be the True Church. All others, including the Catholic Church, have left the true Church and are outside of it.

But according to their understanding, sacraments are accomplished through the Church, and outside of it there is no access to the Sacraments.

So, for example, in a Roman Catholic setting, a priest who left the RC Church would still perform Masses and all the other sacramental functions of a priest, even outside of the Church. Also, those outside can perform a valid baptism as long as the form and matter are correct. (The words, water, also intent.)

But according to the Orthodox understanding, neither of these things is possible. If the priest has separated himself from the Church, he cannot perform a sacrament, which is the work of the Church and the grace of the Church. Similarly for baptism.

So then the question arises why is it sometimes allowed to accept Protestants into the OC without rebaptizing, or converted priests without re-ordaining. In these cases, it is considered that at the time of reception into the OC, the Holy Ghost makes up whatever deficiencies were there previously. This I think is part of what is called economia? I think you could compare it to the Catholic idea of an unbaptized couple with a valid natural marriage getting baptized, and their natural marriage then “automatically” becomes a sacramental marriage.

*Thank you Bluegoat! Yes,i know it (reception of the converts) varies from one jurisdiction to another which is very confusing :confused: Whilst the Antioachians (Orthodox) receive Roman Catholics & Protestants via Chrismation without re-baptism,you would definitely be baptized in Mount Athos or ROCOR …Although rebaptizing RC converts is less common, (Thanks to Ecumenical relations in recent years) it is not unheard of…

**So can we say that Roman Catholic Church is more accepting when it comes to ‘heterodox’ baptism issue? **Or at least it is uniform… *

If you told this to a Catholic priest, I think you would be conditionally baptized before being confirmed. It does sound like the form and intention may have been lacking.

However, you ask if you should be re-baptized by ‘a priest in the apostolic succession’. My answer is that you should become a Catholic and be conditionally baptized by a Catholic priest.

A Catholic priest would not baptize you, even conditionally, unless you were entering into the church and I’m pretty sure no Orthodox priest would either. Baptism can’t be separated from membership in the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ.

*Dear Claire,
Of course i do know…I just wonder whether do i need a Conditional baptism or not? It was a non-denominational church,Trinitarian and ***‘Sola Scriptura’ ***i would say…Typical evangelical…One of those ‘‘Christian Fellowship’’ churches…They have a very Baptist-like understanding of baptism,they do practice Credobaptism/Believer’s Baptism and they see it an ‘‘ordinance’’,profession of faith rather than a sacrament.

They immerse once after the reciting Trinitarian formula (in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit)

What is the official standing of Roman Catholic Church regarding the recognition of Nondenominational/Interdenominational baptism? Calvary Chapel,Vineyard Church and Charismatic churches etc. *

With some of those I think they take it on an individual basis. If you can remember being baptized or a parent or sponsor can remember, just tell the priest. If it appears it may not have been valid the priest will privately baptize you conditionally and note it in the parish record.

The problem with being baptized in a non-denominational church is precisely that it belongs to no denomination which sets liturgical rubrics so it is done however the pastor wishes.

//Catholics & Protestants via Chrismation without re-baptism,you would definitely be baptized in Mount Athos or ROCOR //

Actually, ROCOR officially has said that converts from the West were to be received by Chrismation, though individual priests (especially convert priests) would too frequently do their own thing in this regard by administering canonical Orthodox baptism.

ROCOR is now part of the Moscow Patriarchate (for the last 2 years) and the MP usually Chrismates.

About 10 years ago, an entire Vineyard congregation embraced Orthodoxy. They were received by Christmation, the unbaptized little ones were baptized and Chrismated, and the pastor, of course, received Orthodox ordination.

*Oh i didnt know that :rolleyes:And does the Roman Catholic Church recognize ‘‘non-denominational’’ (Trinitarian) baptisms valid as well? Because nondenominational churches are not mentioned on the list Are they considered under the ‘‘Evangelical Churches’’ category? *

There is no Roman Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church recognizes all baptisms with correct formula, intention, and matter. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1271 Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church."81 “Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn.”

I have made a special study of this subject and helped write the rules of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America concerning the reception of converts into the Orthodox Church. I also serve as a consultant on this issue to the Pastoral Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central America and am also as a consultant to the Ecumenical Committee of the Assembly. There are two difference approaches to this issue within Eastern Orthodoxy. One is strictness. The other is economy. Most Orthodox in the United States use economy and would receive a person Baptized in a Church with an orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity, “In the Name of the Father and of the Holy Spirit” through Chrismation. However, because of the Oneness Pentecostals, who Baptize in the “Name of Jesus” and the more liberal Protestant Churches that use so-called inclusive language for God, such as “Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier,” we must verify that a person was Baptized using the proper Trinitarian formula. Orthodox do not have conditional Baptism. A person from a denomination such as the Mormons who do not have an orthodox Trinitarian theology would have to be Baptized to become and Orthodox Christian.Strictness would require the re-Baptism of all converts. There is a different theology involved with receiving a Roman Catholic than when receiving a Protestant. In the case of a Roman Catholic the Chrismation is used to reconcile someone to the Orthodox Church, not to perfect their Baptism. In the case of a Protestant Chrismation is used to perfect whatever was lacking in their Protestant Baptism. The decision on whether to use strictness or economy is not made by the Priest, but made by the local Bishop in conformity with the policies set by the Primate and Holy Synod under which he serves.

Archpriest John W. Morris

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