What if an atheist gets baptised?


#1

If an atheist gets baptised for the fun of it, and has no belief whatsoever in what it represents, does it still remit him of all previous sins and make him a member of the body of Christ?


#2

No.


#3

As will all things regarding the sacraments, one must be “properly disposed”, or “have intent” for the sacrament to be valid.

If someone was of the age of reason, and did not have the true intent in their hearts for the baptism, it would be invalid.

In the same way, if a priest were to pray the formula of absolution over a Catholic, and the priest did not have the intent to absolve the person’s sins, the absolution would be invalid.


#4

even if it did it would do him no good unless he died shortly after. The first mortal sin he commits would most likely go unrepented and therefore send him to hell.


#5

No, it just makes him wet. :wink:


#6

I agree, No. They would have to lie to their profession of Faith to do so.


#7

I find this line of reasoning dangerous. Plenty of people converted with lukewarm faith who now have very strong faith. You sow seeds of doubt in them that their sacraments are not valid and that they will go to Hell based on technicalities. It's the same problem I have with liberally granting annulments to the party who destroyed the marriage. It leaves the other person in a state of uncertainty and fear about their present and future choices, even though they possess good intentions and faith.

This exercise of determining whether millions of peoples' sacraments are valid seems to me a terribly dangerous endeavor.


#8

[quote="Rete, post:7, topic:327589"]
I find this line of reasoning dangerous. Plenty of people converted with lukewarm faith who now have very strong faith. You sow seeds of doubt in them that their sacraments are not valid and that they will go to Hell based on technicalities. It's the same problem I have with liberally granting annulments to the party who destroyed the marriage. It leaves the other person in a state of uncertainty and fear about their present and future choices, even though they possess good intentions and faith.

This exercise of determining whether millions of peoples' sacraments are valid seems to me a terribly dangerous endeavor.

[/quote]

I object to your line of reasoning here.
Lukewarm faith does not equal atheist.
And I don't think anyone here would try to tell someone who was baptized in a "lukewarm" state that they should doubt the validity of the sacrament.


#9

But you have created a spectrum where, on one end, you have invalid baptisms based upon the spiritual state of the recipient, and then on the other end you have people whose spiritual states somehow validated the baptism.

By doing that, you necessarily create doubt because somewhere between those two points is a demarcation. Even if you failed to define it, you just acknowledged it by creating an exception for people with lukewarm faith.


#10

[quote="Rete, post:9, topic:327589"]
But you have created a spectrum where, on one end, you have invalid baptisms based upon the spiritual state of the recipient, and then on the other end you have people whose spiritual states somehow validated the baptism.

[/quote]

You have misunderstood.

The question asked was about an atheist who did not intend baptism. One over the age of reason must have intent in order to be validly baptized.

Can.* 865 §1. For an adult to be baptized, the person must have manifested the intention to receive baptism, have been instructed sufficiently about the truths of the faith and Christian obligations, and have been tested in the Christian life through the catechumenate. The adult is also to be urged to have sorrow for personal sins.

See also Summa Theologica:

newadvent.org/summa/4068.htm#article7

[quote="Rete, post:9, topic:327589"]

By doing that, you necessarily create doubt because somewhere between those two points is a demarcation. Even if you failed to define it, you just acknowledged it by creating an exception for people with lukewarm faith.

[/quote]

Not at all.


#11

That's still not the same thing. An atheist who goes through the RCIA program still had an intention to be baptized. He may even have done so under what is for him an honest intention. After all, a Christian receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit through baptism and he may have some weird notion of "testing" it for himself in order to decide whether to believe in God. I am not saying it is right for him to do that, but he did fulfill the requirements set forth by St. Thomas.


#12

If the athiest has even a small part of his mind that thinks, “I don’t believe it, but I might be wrong, so it couldn’t hurt” then the Baptism is valid. If he is only 99% athiest, the Baptism will be valid.

We don’t need to have complete assent. Just a little is enough. Just a tiny bit of faith - the size of a mustard seed. Even just a small doubt about his own belief could be enough.

Atheists pride themselves on having an open mind. Well, one can’t truly have an open mind if he is completely unwilling to consider even the possibility of something else.

So there is reason for hope. It’s difficult to imagine why an atheist would undergo Baptism if he had absolutely no faith whatsoever. It’s not exactly a good way to have “fun.” But, as others have pointed out, if he had absolutely zero faith, then the Baptism is not valid.


#13

I wasn't baptized until I was in my mid-twenties. I really do not think I possessed the ability to cultivate faith before that. For people who were baptized as infants, I think you take for granted that you have these gifts, but unbaptized adults are at a disadvantage. They must rely upon circumstances or reason to lead them to the Catholic Church.

I did begin to change after the baptism, but really, it wasn't ten years later that I truly experienced something that forever transformed me. But without the Holy Spirit's guidance, I don't think it would have happened. If it were not for that experience, and reading opinions of people speculating about how lots of folks were not validly baptized, I can well imagine myself dreading the thought of having invalid sacraments.

This is especially so because I received incredibly inadequate catechesis. I spent a few years intensely studying Catholic doctrine dogma, theology, prayer life, etc. This led me to a much closer life to God than I had ever dreamed I could find myself (which still amazes me because I really don't deserve this).

But between that baptism and my returning to the Church, I was divorced. When I became a disabled veteran, my wife (for whom I entered the Catholic Church) left, taking my child (whom I have not seen in several years now). Dragging me through courts for six years left me homeless. I lost my home. I lost my savings and retirement. I lost most of what I owned. But worse, I lost my little boy. Then the Catholic Church stepped in to decide that my marriage was not a valid sacrament, leaving me in an incredible state of doubt about EVERYTHING. I can think of no other way to describe the feeling other than spiritual rape. That's what it felt like and it took me a long time to return to the Church. I returned because God called me. I assume this happened through my baptism.

But please be cautious about pontificating about whose sacraments are valid or invalid. It can cause immense turmoil in people that you might not understand as a cradle Catholic.


#14

[quote="L_Marshall, post:3, topic:327589"]
As will all things regarding the sacraments, one must be "properly disposed", or "have intent" for the sacrament to be valid.

If someone was of the age of reason, and did not have the true intent in their hearts for the baptism, it would be invalid.

In the same way, if a priest were to pray the formula of absolution over a Catholic, and the priest did not have the intent to absolve the person's sins, the absolution would be invalid.

[/quote]

Wait a second. So if I go to confession, and the priest says I'm absolved, but doesn't really want to me to be, my sins aren't forgiven? That doesn't seem right at all. :confused:


#15

[quote="pollynova, post:14, topic:327589"]
Wait a second. So if I go to confession, and the priest says I'm absolved, but doesn't really want to me to be, my sins aren't forgiven? That doesn't seem right at all. :confused:

[/quote]

It is not right. See CCC, paragraphs 1422-1498. Christ gives us absolution through the vocal chords of the priest. I also suggest Scott Hahn's "Lord Have Mercy: the Healing Power of Confession." Good stuff.


#16

The priest (or Bishop), as minister of the Sacrament, must possess a minimal intent to “do what the Church does.” He does not need to fully understand what the Church does. This is true for ALL seven Sacraments. All require proper intent on the part of the minister.

So how do Catholics know that a priest has valid intent? We cannot know for sure. But we can be pretty darned sure because he vests himself and sets apart time to celebrate the Sacraments. Only an overtly evil man would thus inconvenience himself to engage in such subterfuge with the direct intention to deceive the Faithful regarding the validity of the Sacraments they have “received.”

When I say “overtly evil,” I do not categorically include overtly evil men such as the priests who have sexually victimized people. Even those priests could have offered valid Mass and absolution. I do not mean to include sinful priests who, nevertheless, intend to “do what the Church does” in Her Sacraments, despite their own personal faults. I mean only priests who have utterly rejected their own priestly Office, and make a mockery of the Sacraments by going through the motions with absolutely no intent. Such priests are exceedingly rare.


#17

[quote="L_Marshall, post:3, topic:327589"]
As will all things regarding the sacraments, one must be "properly disposed", or "have intent" for the sacrament to be valid.

If someone was of the age of reason, and did not have the true intent in their hearts for the baptism, it would be invalid.

In the same way,** if a priest were to pray the formula of absolution over a Catholic, and the priest did not have the intent to absolve the person's sins, the absolution would be invalid**.

[/quote]

In that case there is no Point of going to confession anymore because i can never be sure of a persons intent.


#18

[quote="DavidFilmer, post:16, topic:327589"]
The priest (or Bishop), as minister of the Sacrament, must possess a minimal intent to "do what the Church does." He does not need to fully understand what the Church does. This is true for ALL seven Sacraments. All require proper intent on the part of the minister.

So how do Catholics know that a priest has valid intent? We cannot know for sure. But we can be pretty darned sure because he vests himself and sets apart time to celebrate the Sacraments. Only an overtly evil man would thus inconvenience himself to engage in such subterfuge with the direct intention to deceive the Faithful regarding the validity of the Sacraments they have "received."

When I say "overtly evil," I do not categorically include overtly evil men such as the priests who have sexually victimized people. Even those priests could have offered valid Mass and absolution. I do not mean to include sinful priests who, nevertheless, intend to "do what the Church does" in Her Sacraments, despite their own personal faults. I mean only priests who have utterly rejected their own priestly Office, and make a mockery of the Sacraments by going through the motions with absolutely no intent. Such priests are exceedingly rare.

[/quote]

As i said in the above post, no Point of going to confession because i dont know if he has even the minimum intent, so i might just as well give up confession and just pray to the Lord for forgiveness.
Why should i expose my sins to a person who "maybe" doesnt have the intent?


#19

[quote="anjoh66, post:18, topic:327589"]
As i said in the above post, no Point of going to confession because i dont know if he has even the minimum intent, so i might just as well give up confession and just pray to the Lord for forgiveness.
Why should i expose my sins to a person who "maybe" doesnt have the intent?

[/quote]

The chances of you encountering a priest who lacks the proper intent (or at least some vague intent - which is sufficient, for it is the merits and holiness of Christ and His Church, not of the individual priest, that render the graces of the sacrament present) are extremely, extremely slim. It is like saying "what's the point of me ever crossing the street when I could get hit by a car?". It is necessary to cross the street to get to the other side. It is necessary to confess our sins through the sacrament in order to receive the Lord's mercy and forgiveness (under normal circumstances). God will not fault you if, by some extremely unlikely unhappy accident, the priest lacks proper intent - you have done your part as an act of obedience. We are called to trust in Christ and in His Church. God will take care of the rest.


#20

[quote="anjoh66, post:18, topic:327589"]
As i said in the above post, no Point of going to confession because i dont know if he has even the minimum intent, so i might just as well give up

[/quote]

Yep. And there's no point in going to the market, because you don't know if you're really being sold what you're being marketed. And there's no point in going to work, because you don't know that they intend to pay you. Etc, etc, etc...

If you go to confession, though, and if (by some exceedingly rare chance) you happen to get a priest who's only in ministry in order to 'fool' well-intentioned Catholics (do you really think this happens with any frequency? :rolleyes:) then your sins might not be forgiven by virtue of the sacrament... yet, forgiveness would come from God, who sees the injustice in the situation. (On the other hand, if you decide "there's no point", then how would you conclude that God would forgive you?)


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