Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Does Baptism Do


What does baptism do?  We know through Scripture that baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ.   For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)



Baptism brings us in communion with each other by becoming members of the One Body of Christ.



For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

(Gal 3:27)



We are brought into the Body of Christ, the Church.



And he is the head of the body, the church (Col 1:18)



and,



And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph 1:22-23)



Since we are baptized into the one body of Christ and we now know that Christ’s Body is the Church means that baptism brings us into the Church.  And this is why there is no salvation outside the Church because there is no salvation outside of Christ.



Baptism is the New Covenant fulfillment of the Old Covenant symbol of circumcision.  As the Hebrews circumcised those for entrance into God’s Covenant with Israel, so too does the New Covenant fulfillment of circumcision bring entrance into the New Covenant of God to His Church through baptism.



In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God. (Col 2:11-12)



If eight-day old children could enter the Old Covenant through circumcision via the faith of their parents how much more so can infants become adopted children of God through the New Covenant circumcision, baptism?  The New Covenant is much more inclusive than the Old seeing as the New can include the gentiles as opposed to those of the line of Abraham.



We have seen that baptism fulfills the Old Covenant practice of circumcision (Col 2:11-12).  Baptism was prophesied by Ezekiel to bring graces through the sprinkling of water (Ez 36:25-27) and washes away sins (Ez 36:26; Acts 2:38). 



What else is baptism for?  Well, is baptism necessary for salvation?  The answer, very plainly is YES.  …eight in all, were saved through water.  This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” (1 Pet 3:20-21).  Pretty simple.  As plain as it can get.  Jesus taught this also in the Gospel of John



Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." Nicodemus doesn’t understand and so Jesus repeats himself, He says "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.





One is born again through baptism, and that through baptism one can enter the kingdom of God, the Church…



And so we see that baptism brings Graces from God (Acts 2:38), washes away sins (Acts 2:38), we enter into a covenant with God through baptism (Col 2:11-12), we become Christians through baptism (1 Cor 12:13) by becoming members of the Church as through a door (Eph 4:4).  And baptism is instituted by Jesus Christ when He sent out the disciples to “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:19)



Please take the time to read what the Early Church believed about baptism and you’ll find a unanimous consensus on baptismal regeneration and the acceptance of infant baptism. 



God Bless
Nathan

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Slogan Salvation

All to often we hear statements from our challengers which are more like slogans. Slogans are fine to get one to think about the deeper message of the slogan - but all too often we find in apologetics, especially among Protestants, they seem to embrace the slogan itself and not go any further.  Let's examine The Five Solas, which are embraced by nearly all of Protestantism.  Not only embraced, but these are foundational to most Protestants, some saying that if fault can be found in even one of these - that they should return to Catholicism.  Hmmm.  Consider as well, these terms are in Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church (yes, it still is) yet these terms are virtually, if not wholly, unheard of in the first 1500 years of Christendom!  One would THINK if they are so foundational that the Church Fathers, especially the Latin Church Fathers, would have not only spoken of these terms, they would have spoken IN those terms - and they simply do not.

Slogan 1:  Sola Fide
The anti-scriptural concept of Faith Alone.  Whoa!  What am I talking about?  Protestants will argue that St. Paul teaches this throughout his epistles, but what they don't realize is that in virtually every case, St. Paul is contrasting faith with "works of the law" and clarifying that works of the law cannot save you but it is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ which saves.  What they tend not to look into - or ignore if they've encountered Catholic apologists - is the fact that St. Paul is not preaching Faith Alone for as St. James teaches "faith without works is dead."  Can a dead faith save anyone?  No!  Faith, if it is saving faith, is never alone!  Another interesting point here, again ignored by most Protestants, is that the ONLY place the words "faith" and "alone" are used together in Scripture is in flat out denial of the 16th century invention of sola fide.  All "Bible believing Christians" ought to flee from any group or leader who professes the lie of sola fide.

One of my criticisms in this article is that most Protestants don't go beyond the slogan to see what it really means however, not all do that.  Some do examine these to seek out deeper meaning.  Ironically, especially with sola fide, we find the rationalizations end up in double-speak (rendering the argument contradictory and useless).  For example, while greatly respected in most Protestant circles, Dr. R.C. Sproul examines sola fide and comes to the conclusion that "we are saved by faith alone, but not a faith which is alone."  So which is it, Dr. Sproul?  Is it alone or is it not alone?  The term sola fide states it is alone, so to contradict that, regardless of the rationalizations, makes sola fide invalid if it is "a faith which is not alone."

Slogan 2: Sola Gratia
OK, well this one is not anti-scriptural as sola fide is, but what does it mean?  Sola gratia means "by grace alone," and in concept - that is a true statement for Catholics as well.  It IS by His Grace that we are saved, and none can be saved outside His Grace.  Does this mean we do not DO anything in the economy of salvation?  Well, unless you're an adherent to an extremist interpretation of predestination (typically among Calvinists) which is represented by the "U" in TULIP (Unconditional grace or election), you would reject the view of having to do nothing.  Even the ACT of ACCEPTING the grace is an ACT of DOING something. Therein lies the chief separation between most of Christendom and the Calvinists. While Catholics would accept that the grace is limited in who would receive it, the grace is not limited as to who COULD receive it.  "For God so loved the world..." not just part of the world, but the whole world... "He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall be saved." (John 3:16). Note, the CHOICE to believe is left to man.  The passage does not say, "that whosoever God has chosen to believe in Him..." it states "whosoever," so that this GIFT is freely given to any and ALL who may accept it, or reject it.  Back to the point here though, Catholics do not reject a proper understanding of sola gratia.

Slogan 3: Sola Christus
This is a statement that we are saved by (Jesus) Christ alone.  Again, this is not a statement or slogan which Catholics disagree with!  It is purely or solely through Jesus Christ's death on the Cross, and more importantly His Resurrection on the Third Day, by which all of mankind was redeemed.  Jesus Christ paid the price in full, our redemption is made!  All we must DO is ACCEPT the FREE GIFT which He has given to the world. Those who reject this GIFT are rejecting their salvation.

Slogan 4: Sola Deo Gloria
Translation, "Glory to God alone."  In Catholicism the honor we reserve to God alone is called "latria." It is wrong to give latria to anyone besides God Himself. Now does this mean we are not to give honor (glory) to anyone else?  Do we not "honor" those whom we consider "heroes" who have given their life for others, or risked their life to save another?  The use of titles, like "doctor" or "teacher" or "professor" or "rabbi" are forms of glory/honor we freely give to others.  This slogan is hypocritically used by ignorant Protestants who do not consider other forms of honor/glory which even they give to others stemming from a lack of understanding of the Catholic differentiation between latria and dulia (which is honor given to those who are not God).  So, while Catholics would not wholly reject sola deo gloria, if we're going to use Latin, the more accurate slogan would be "sola deo latria."

Slogan 5: Sola Scriptura
And we come to the fifth of the Five Solas, and another anti-scriptural slogan.  Whether you accept the broader "If it's not in Scripture, we don't have to believe it" position or the more precise, "Scripture alone is the sole infallible word of God," the fact is neither can be found in Scripture!  So if the former, since it is not found in Scripture, you don't have to believe it! If the latter, since it is not found in Scripture - THIS slogan is not infallible.  The root of this teaching stems from those who left the authority laid down by Jesus Christ who selected The Twelve and further commanded that they go out and do as He did.  The Twelve, our first bishops, did as He commanded and went out and selected others to serve and guide His Church.  Then comes the revolt of the 16th century and these new leaders, having rejected the authority Jesus Christ established, created a "different gospel," to fill the void they created. And, to make it clear that they would not yield to Christ's authority, they invent this slogan that only Scripture is infallible.

Now, if this were simply not found in Scripture that would not make it "anti-scriptural," as I have earlier labelled it, so what makes this slogan anti-scriptural?  If Scripture is truly the sole infallible source for the Church - then Scripture should not be telling us of ANOTHER infallible source - yet it does! I am reminded of my discussions/debates with Dr. (oh, that intolerable use of glory, honor, title again) James White who made the challenge for us to show him "the other pen."  Well, having done this many times before, let us do so again.  That "other pen" is revealed no less than two times in Scripture wherein a single man, Peter is given this infallible authority and later the whole council of the Apostles are given this same infallible authority.  Of course I speak of Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18.  Unless you are conceding that error (something fallible) can be bound in Heaven, then you must concede that these men were given infallible authority AND said authority is recorded IN Scripture - thus "Scripture alone" is not the "sole infallible source of authority for His Church."  Therefore sola scriptura is a lie and is anti-scriptural, for Scripture itself opposes it!


In Conclusion
As I originally stated, the use of slogans is not necessarily a bad thing - but limiting ones apologetic to "slogan salvation" is.  What do those slogans actually entail?  Is faith ever REALLY alone if it is a "saving faith?"  What do we MEAN by Grace Alone?  Can we really rationalize our way around a lie like sola scriptura?  If you're going to use slogans, can you REALLY defend your use of them, or do you just fall back on the slogan, over and over again?  I believe a fuller examination of any of these slogans will bring you to the truth of the Catholic Faith, if not right away - someday, if you're being honest with yourself.

AMDG,
Scott Windsor<<<

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Infant Baptism

Is Baptism Something for Infants?
It is indeed fitting that this article follows the previous one posted on January 1st, the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord.  Why?  Because baptism has replaced circumcision in the New Covenant!  St. Paul makes it clear that baptism is the "circumcision of Christ."  
"In whom also you are circumcised with circumcision not made by hand, in despoiling of the body of the flesh, but in the circumcision of Christ:  Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him up from the dead." Col. 2:11-12
According to Jewish Law (Genesis 17:10-14 and Leviticus 12:3) states that circumcision is to take place on the eighth day after the male child is born.  This was a sign of the keeping of God's Covenant with His People. No one would argue that a child of 8 days old is not an infant - thus this "sign" was made upon an infant who made no choice in the matter - it was a decision by his parents.  Likewise, baptism, being "the circumcision of Christ" is a decision made by Christian parents for their children (and no longer just a sign among male children, baptism is for male and female alike).

Note as well, is the act of faith an operation of the person being baptized, or is it "the operation of God?"  St. Paul makes it clear, the operation is that of God!  With that in mind, does it matter if the person being baptized decided to be baptized or not? Is God less empowered to act/operate if the person being baptized is an infant?  Certainly not!

Believers Baptism?
Some will try to argue that the only baptism spoken of in Scripture is that of a "believers baptism," that is - one has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and THEN are baptized. Other wording may include that baptism is only for the regenerated (born again).  Certainly there are examples of this in Scripture but along with the above evidence that baptism replaces circumcision as the covenant sign of the New Covenant, we also have at least three examples of "entire households" being baptized.  (Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33 and 1 Cor. 1:16).  In none of these examples are the children or infants excluded. We could challenge those who accept only this "believers baptism" of the "regenerated" with a question of how many in their church/community are unregenerated?  What happens to children who have not been baptized and die before receiving baptism?  If only the regenerated can receive baptism - are all those children lost and damned to hell forever?

All Were Baptized in Moses
St. Paul tells us clearly that ALL the People of Israel were baptized in the cloud and in the sea.  The reference clearly being the crossing of the Red Sea wherein the whole people, from the aged to the infant, were, in St. Paul's wording "baptized."  (1 Corinthians 10:1-2).

Can Parents/Sponsors Speak For Children?
Scripture teaches us that a believing wife sanctifies (makes holy) her unbelieving husband, and likewise a believing husband sanctifies an unbelieving wife.  Not only that, through this the children are also made holy! 
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband: otherwise your children should be unclean; but now they are holy. 1 Corinthians 7:14 DRB
If even an unbelieving spouse can be made holy AND thereby the children are made holy by the believing spouse - then certainly the parents can represent their children at baptism - just as they did under the Old Covenant in circumcision.

St. Cyprian (c. 250 AD), in answer to those who were opposing infant baptism even at this early date writes:
But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. (Epistle 58.2)
In fact, this whole letter is written in favor of infant baptism.  Read it here:   http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050658.htm

In Conclusion
The relationship between circumcision and baptism is made clear in Scripture.  Baptism is the circumcision of Christ.  The Law of the Old Covenant was that circumcision was to be performed on infants who were 8 days old.  There is nothing indicating that this practice should change in the New Covenant with baptism.  Baptism makes clean the recipient, not cleansed from dirt - but cleansed from the stain of the sin of Adam - which we are all born into. (1 Peter 3:21).  It is not the water which cleanses, that's just the sign, rather it is God who does the work - or "operates" in baptism.  Clearly also in Matthew 19:14 we are not to suffer the little children from coming to Him, and forbid them not.  Those who would argue against infant baptism are forbidding the little ones from coming to Him.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Circumcision of Our Lord

Today, in Catholic tradition, the celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord is celebrated.  Circumcision is not just the initiation into the Old Covenant - it was submission to the Law.  Our Lord, through His parents, submitted Himself to the Law. From many who do not understand Judaism and/or Catholicism we find them complaining about too many rules - which in itself should be a sign that they are looking for the "easy path" which is NOT the path to Heaven! [Matt 7:13]. What we, as True Christians, should be doing is LOVING the Law, embracing it!  Obedience to God is loving God!  Is it a sign of love to whine and complain about someone?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul. with all your strength, with all your mind.  Luke 10:27 
God gave us the Decalogue, or as more commonly known, The Ten Commandments.  Ten great commandments to follow and adhere to. Before this though, He commanded that each male child be circumcised in order to be part of the Covenant (Old Covenant) with Him. Moses records this for us in the story of Abraham (Genesis 17:11) along with the other Laws of Moses, the Mitzvot, which contains 613 laws every Jew is expected to adhere to. Jesus confirms that all these can be summed up in just two laws: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself." (Again, Luke 10:27 ff). So really, these two encompass all other laws - does that mean we ignore all the other laws?  By no means!  Where would the love be in that?!  When God says to keep holy the Sabbath Day, and that command is not specifically mentioned in Luke 10:27 - does that mean we don't have to keep a day holy for the Lord?  No!  We still MUST keep that one day set aside as holy for the Lord.  For Christians, that day was moved from Saturday to Sunday, as a celebration of the Resurrection (every Sunday is like a "little Easter"). This authority to move that day was granted by our Lord in Matthew 18:18 (as well as in Matthew 16:18-19) in that "whatsoever you shall bind on earth is also bound in heaven" gives this authority to His Church. Therefore, the "Sunday obligation" is not something we should ignore or scoff at - it is "the law" and if we truly love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and all our mind - we cannot turn our back on this obligation - and if we're in the right frame of mind, we should actually LOVE to keep the Sunday obligation and the whole day as holy for the Lord!

Jesus Himself Yields to The Law
As God, Jesus did not have to yield to the Mosaic Law, but He willingly does.  Why? Because He demonstrates what True Love is all about in ALL He did.  True Love includes obedience to valid authority.