What will happen if I don't get baptized before I die?

Hi! The protestant church my family attends (I’m 16) doesn’t believe baptist saves you. To them, it is little more than a symbol. But they do baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost. I can’t become Catholic yet because my mom probably won’t let me. (She got up and left the room when I even hinted that I might believe in Purgatory when I was speaking with my dad. She was very upset.) So, my question is this: can I be baptized at my family’s church, and will it be (beyond a doubt) valid in the Catholic church?

Please read the full thing before responding to this post’s title, as the answer would be simple in that case. Also, I put this in a separate thread from the last one I just posted, since I’ve been told I can have only one question per thread.

I’m a teen learning to drive. I try to drive as safely as I can, but I make mistakes. And lots of teens like me die every year from car crashes. I’ve also sinned a lot and recently commited a mortal sin (that can’t be forgiven until I find a way to get baptized and become Catholic?). I intend to be baptized as soon as possible. Because of this, if I die in a car crash before I can be baptized and go to confession, even though I really want to and I’m trying to do it soon, will I go to hell?

First of all, no human being can tell you whether or not you wilL go to hell (or heaven). Only God can judge the soul.

Catholic teaching recognizes what is called “Baptism of Desire”.1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.


That answers my question, then. Thanks so much!

In my opinion,

Yes you can, yes you should, and yes it will be valid.

As long as they use the Trinitairan form (which you have already specified) and use plain water then your Baptism is valid and recognized by the Catholic Church.

Most protestant Baptisms are valid and are recognized as such. I am an Anglican convert, and my wife is a Baptist convert, and there was no problem whatsoever for the Church to accept our Baptisms. Some protestants (mostly pentecostals) baptize in “the name of the Lord Jesus,” following an overly strict interpretation of Acts 10:48 (while completely ignoring Matt 28:29). This is a defect in form, meaning the baptism is not Sacramentally valid. But this is not an issue for the situation you describe.

Oh, and by the way - you CAN become Catholic. When you receive valid Christian Baptism, you become Catholic (even if you or your parents don’t realize it). There is only “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” [Ephesians 4:5]. There is not a Catholic Baptism and a protestant Baptism - ALL Baptisms are Catholic Baptisms, even if the minister is not a Catholic. Hopefully, someday, you can be formally received into the Catholic Church to complete what your Baptism began.

And, according to Catholic doctrine, if you receive valid Christian Baptism and avoid subsequent mortal sin, you are absolutely assured salvation, even if you are never formally received into the Church or never so much as walk into a Catholic Church.

So, please, get yourself Baptized.

I would talk to a Catholic pastor before being baptized in a protestant church. The wisest course might be to study the Catholic faith in anticipation of being baptized in the Church, even if you must do so quietly because of family opposition. In any case, the priest could tell you whether the baptisms in your parents’ church are considered valid by the Catholic Church.

It is certain that according to some facts especially your age (I think), you should be baptized since it is a valid baptism according to the Catholic Faith and teachings, only if you assure yourself of the practice of the above mentioned beyond doubt.

However, a certain part of your original post makes an interesting point.

This puts forth a question as to what they believe baptism to be; what do they really do when they “baptize”? On my opinion, although the service they offer (as I do not know if they call it a Sacrament) can be regarded to be valid by the Catholic church,it is better to understand what they mean. It can be valid but not celebrated at its depth which can result into further doubts of their beliefs and teachings.
In this case then, on my opinion, it is better to study the full extension of the meaning of baptism according to both sides’ teachings. It is out of this knowledge that you can decide (when time comes) which faith should nourish your good creature-Creator relationship with God which was initiated by Christ in a valid Baptism you received.

Seek the guidance on this understanding from a priest and also from a knowledgeable leader of the Protestant church. However, it is not my opinion that you stop any step towards your baptism because of any confusion. Be baptized as early as possible from now.

Good luck and may God guide and bless you.

So, you are attending RCIA, and scheduled to be baptized and received into the Church next Easter?

that is such an interesting and important question.

There are many factors that affect our spiritual life. God is very merciful and loving but we need to be aware that we cannot make a foul of, nor can we decieve HIM.

That being said, if you have reached the conclusion that the Catholic Church IS the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago the you need to act on this knowledge.

If you know that the first step of a follower of Christ is to be Baptized. Now if circumstances preclude the possibility of you entering the Church now (you stated you are a teen) then go get Baptized in the congregation you are attending now.
If the Baptism is done properly (in The name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit and with water either inmersion or sprinkling) the Catholic Church will consider it a valid Baptism. Be aware that some protestant churches have renamed “The Holy Spirit” into Holy Ghost. This is NOT proper, same as others changing the words to “creator redeemer sanctifier”

Jesus instituted the proper formula that we MUST use.

As for your mortal sin you are correct. Baptism will wash away all your Original and personal sins. However since we are fallen creatures and tend to fall again and again Jesus instituted the “Sacrament of Reconciliation” (Confession) that take care of the sins we commit after Baptism, most importantly perhaps if that we need to make the strongest effort to be converted to Jesus and STOP sinning. That is what is all about.

I wish you the best on your faith journey, may the Lord guide your steps and give you abbundant grace.

Hi ahsokanerd,

Have a look at this link (PDF file); it lists baptisms that the Church considers valid/invalid.

You’re in my prayers.

Thanks everyone! It seems like my baptism would be valid, so that’s a relief.

Just for clarification, here’s a quote taken directly from the church’s website (somewhat risky for me, but I’ll take the risk):

Throughout the history of the church, Baptism is one of the two ceremonies believers are commanded to observe, the other being the Lord’s Supper or Communion. Baptism is the ceremony that portrays the beginning of a person’s spiritual life in Jesus Christ; as such it is an outward, visible sign of a person’s inner commitment to Jesus Christ.

Being baptized does not save you. It is an act of obedience to demonstrate that you have been saved. Jesus himself was baptized and instructed his disciples to baptize others. When we follow Jesus in baptism, we first are making a public declaration that we belong to Christ and second, we now have new life in Christ.

It sounds silly, but part of the reason I wasn’t baptized earlier (when I believed all that they taught) was due to the lack of importance they placed on it. It seems so empty and pointless to me. I wonder if they realize how placing little value on something so important actually undermines their message, but I digress.

Thanks again, and God bless.

The Church recognizes baptisms as valid even if the administers of the sacrament don’t believe all that the church teaches. They think they are doing what God commanded and are sincere in their desire to serve God. You will receive all the graces of baptism and be sealed by the Holy Spirit a Christian.

I am a paramedic and even my textbook taught us how to baptize someone should we be the only one around at the moment of death. We could baptize someone at their request and it would be fully valid even if we didn’t believe in baptism or were not a Christian ourselves.

I think “Holy Ghost” would be acceptable. It was the name (used for the third Person of the Trinity) in Catholic baptism - and other rites and prayers - up until the last few decades. For example, the Catholic Douay Rheims translation of Mt. 28:19:
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Words such as “creator, redeemer, sanctifier” are not proper because they are not “names”. They speak of activities/actions/roles of the Person.
(“I baptize you in the “name” of the Father, and…”)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To read the** *CCC ***online: usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm
This is from the CCC :


1213 Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),4 and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word."5


1214 This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to “plunge” or “immerse”; the “plunge” into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature."6

1215 This sacrament is also called “the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one "can enter the kingdom of God."7

1216 "This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ."8 Having received in Baptism the Word, “the true light that enlightens every man,” the person baptized has been “enlightened,” he becomes a “son of light,” indeed, he becomes “light” himself:9

Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called *gift *because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; *grace *since it is given even to the guilty; *Baptism *because sin is buried in the water; *anointing *for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; *enlightenment *because it radiates light; *clothing *since it veils our shame; *bath *because it washes; and *seal *as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship.10

Read more at:

There is far more to the sacraments besides the mere consideration of validity. For one thing, there is also the profession of faith you are making by your actions. Baptism is a sacrament bound up with the unity of the Church, so that St. Paul says, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The sacrament is also spoke of as a door to the Church, as it says in the Second Vatican Council. So think about what kind of profession you are making by receiving baptism in a Protestant church. You are saying by your actions that you believe in their teachings and that you are entering into their church. Of course, there is only one Church and one faith, but that is not what your action would be saying.

To give another example, there is the patristic teaching that it was mortally sinful to celebrate the ceremonies of the Old Covenant after the coming of the New. The reasoning was that participation in these ceremonies implied a denial of that Christ had come. Another example, perhaps, is St. Paul’s teaching about idol food. He teaches that the meat is clean to eat, yet he warns Christians not to participate in the pagan rites and even that Christians should not eat idol meats, if it is known that it is idol meat, to avoid scandal. He says further that those who eat of sacrifices are partakers of the altar. Now, of course I am not saying that Protestants worship demons, but the operating principle is that our outward actions are a profession of faith.

I am saying this in your case because you sound like you believe the Catholic faith. For Protestants who believe in Protestantism, they couldn’t be faulted for receiving baptism from a Protestant minister. But since you believe in Catholicism, why would you knowingly deny the faith before others. The need for baptism is never so pressing that we should sin in obtaining it. I strongly advise you to either wait to receive baptism or to seek it elsewhere.

Okay, I don’t know very much yet, but I think that if I believe that I am being baptized in order to accept Christ’s gift of salvation, and I’m NOT doing it as a way to enter the fold of this particular church’s theology, I should be okay. This something this church itself will recognize.

My original question had to due with the Catholic Church’s view on whether or not it would be considered valid—what you are addressing I have already come to a conclusion on myself. (Hopefully I’m making sense.)

Edit: Your whole Protestants = pagans thing is kind of silly. :wink:

These are inaccurate ideas that don’t address the issue at hand.

The biggest being, this person is a minor and his parents forbid his exploration of Catholicism.

Baptism should never be delayed.

Baptists don’t view baptism as having anything to do with joining their church or declaring you believe all that they do. That is catholic ideas not found in baptist churches.

The OP should be baptized however he can be…he can come into full communion with the church when he is older and able.

Re: the quote from your church website, & Jesus being baptized

Look over the following article

John 1:31-34: Jesus was baptized. If you compare the parallel passage in St. Matthew’s gospel (3:16), you find that when Jesus was baptized, “the heavens were opened” and the Spirit descended upon him. Obviously, this was not because Jesus [FONT=Arial]needed to be baptized. In fact, St. John the Baptist noted that he needed to be baptized by Jesus (see Matthew 3:14)! Jesus was baptized in order “fulfill all righteousness” and “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,” according to Scripture (cf. Matt. 3:15; Luke 1:77). In other words, Jesus demonstrably showed us the way the heavens would be opened to us so that the Holy Spirit would descend upon us… through baptism.[/FONT]
From [/FONT]http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/born-again-the-bible-way

the comment section at the end of the article covers some interesting back and forth responses

Yes, presumably such a baptism would be valid. Though not unconditionally. The basic requirements for validity are summarized in three aspects: intent, matter and form. As long as these are present, the sacrament is valid, regardless of the worthiness of the minister, and so the Council of Trent anathematizes anyone who denies that heretics can validly administer baptism. The necessary intent is only “to intend to do what the Church does.” This does not mean that the understanding of the sacrament has to be correct, only that they intend to do that thing that Christ instituted and commanded the Church to do. The proper matter, in this case water, is also presumably present.

Form is a more difficult aspect to maintain. The valid form is, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” or something very similar." I once was at a Baptist service where they were performing baptisms. Most of these were rather unremarkable: a testimony about their conversion, the words of baptism from the minister, and immersion in the pool up in the baptistry balcony (which I’ve always found an interesting architectural choice). However, there was one girl who was baptized by her father, and he did not use the usual form, but rather, “I baptize you in Jesus’ name. Amen.” According to the teaching of the Church, this would not be invalid, an when I asked my companion about it, she told me that it was unusual and she could see a few people bristle at it. Nevertheless, because of their different beliefs, the girl’s baptism will probably never be redone. So you have a girl who, although she believes baptism is only a symbol, from our perspective thinks she has been baptized, but in reality has not.

That’s just an example to answer your question about validity, but like I said earlier, there is more to a sacrament than just validity. There is a distinction between the validity and liceity of a sacrament. It can be the case that a valid baptism is administered, but that the baptism is illicit (meaning not allowed). In the case of baptism, the ordinary ministers are bishops and priests. Laymen are only allowed to administer baptism in cases of grave necessity. In your case, there is no such necessity. Since you are baptized, you are not bound by canon law, but you are bound by the principles that inform it, part of which I touched on above.

It might also be worth mentioning another aspect of baptism, and that is the distinction between grace and character. Character is the mark of the sacrament that conforms us to Christ and disposes us to the graces of the divine life. This character is “indelible” (think "delete), meaning that it is permanent and cannot be taken away. Character may be called a grace because it is a freely-given gift of God. However, when we speak of grace unqualified, typically we mean what is commonly called sanctifying grace, the grace that cleanses us of sin and makes us pleasing in God’s sight. This is not equivalent with the character nor does one always imply the other.

First is the case of the grace being present without the character. This would be the case in the saints of the Old Testament who, though they lacked the character of the sacrament of baptism not having been instituted yet, still had the grace of God in them. This is also true of the catechumens today who, though they have not received the sacrament of baptism, nevertheless are sanctified by God’s grace through their ardent desire for the sacrament. Baptism of desire does not do away with the need for baptism, nor is it equivalent in effect to the sacrament, but if someone does have baptism by desire, then they will be saved.

On the other hand, it is possible to have the character of baptism and not have the grace. When baptism is administered validly, it always confers the baptismal character. Yet it does not always confer the grace. Think of someone who receives baptism without faith. They might be baptized validly, but without faith it is impossible to please God, as St. Paul says. Someone cannot be in God’s grace and be displeasing to him at the same time. Such a person, though validly baptized, possessing the indelible character of baptism and never to be re-baptized, would nonetheless be in a state of mortal sin. It is possible to have been validly baptized and never be in God’s grace for even an instant of your life.

Regarding these two cases, I know I would rather be in the first case than the second one. In your circumstances, it sounds like you know enough that there is the possibility of grave sin in receiving baptism in the way you are planning to. I can imagine that the most prominent aspect of the Church’s teaching on baptism is its real conferral of grace, and if that were the only thing considered, it would be easy to overlook the other factors. I hope these considerations will be helpful to you to evaluate your situation more clearly.

Let me know if I can elaborate further on anything.

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