- Aug 5, 2004
- Reaction score
- Overland Park, KS
I think you meant reception of some heterodox through chrismation, yes? Regarding the orthodoxinfo site, I've made my feelings known already. It's highly polemical and uncharitable to the extreme in its characterization of Christians within the normal )) Orthodox Church, and sometimes mischaracterizes what's written by others who disagree. For example, in the article A Letter to a Priest Concerning Corrective Baptism linked above, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna (member of the schismatic Holy Synod in Resistance and who provides much of the material on the site in question) uses such language as "poorly educated" to describe members of the OCA or calling our bishops "errant", or "unenlightened and inarticulate OCA source", or the theologians of contemporary Orthodoxy (i.e. outside the Matthewite or Florinite or Stalagmite Churches) are "mediocre of mind and contentious of spirit." Anywho, this site is far from being an objective source, especially considering its owner belongs to a schismatic organization. And being in schism is worse, in the view of many of our bishops, than being heretical.(Pagodin), Archimandrite Ambrosius. “On the reception into the Orthodox Church”<http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/reception_church_a_pagodin.htm>
—This is a very good article which is considered by many to be the “panacea” to those advocating reception by baptism.
I won't dwell on the reception of heterodox Christians too much because Archimandrite Ambrosius does a superb job of soberly explaining the historical circumstances, the temporary anomalies, in the Greek jurisdictions that prompted them in the 18th century to adopt a policy of re-baptising Catholics, a temporary policy (accepted by no one outside those Greek Churches) that's long since been dumped by the EP, Antiochian, and Alexanderian Churches. (Whether the JP is officially promoting it is something for which I've been unable to get a response from a high-level representative. I'm aware there are ROCOR-turned-JP parishes in the US doing it, but I don't know if this is sanctioned from the top.) For this reason, one needs to be clear when referring to "Greek" history on the reception of heterodox converts when the councils invoked as the rationale for baptising all heterodox, regardless of the nature of their previous heterodox baptisms, are located in these 18th century local councils. In addition, the Greek churches today have a list of heterodox baptisms for which they receive the convert through chrismation, a list which includes most of the mainline Protestant denominations and the RCC. The entire SCOBA maintains a similar policy. One can summarily dismiss their rulings and opinions as modernist or other name-calling without dealing with their arguments (as is frequently done on the orthodoxinfo site), but for a priest in these jurisdictions to go against the standards set by one's synod and bishop on this matter again becomes a serious matter of disobedience.
A couple of observations on the pro-rebaptism material I've read over the last year and a half...
1) They overlook the reasons historically that prompted rebaptism for some heterodox converts (not a blanket requirement for all!). These reasons were rooted in incorrect form and/or the flawed Trinitarian belief of the heterodox, not the simple fact that the convert was heterodox. The proper form has traditionally been by triple immersion; however, the Church has not condemned baptisms by pouring water. It has always recognized such baptisms in time of need, and you can see this form of baptism recorded as far back as the Didache. And this was without requiring a so-called "corrective" baptism afterwards.
2) The sources completely ignore what the modern, vagabond groups with the "Genuine" or "True" prefix are doing - rebaptising Orthodox who've already been received into the Church through chrismation.
Whether or not one believes the heterodox baptism should be "corrected" by another baptism goes by the wayside once the Orthodox Church has exercised its sacramental power through chrismation to make that heterodox baptism whole, complete, or fixed if you will. To take those Orthodox Christians and perform another baptism is indeed a rebaptism, and makes a mockery of the One Baptism clause in the Nicene Creed, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit's Grace which imparted itself through the convert's reception during chrismation. By rebaptising Orthodox Christians, they are essentially saying the individual's previous jurisdiction was not filled with Grace, which in reality it is the schismatic organization that has put itself outside of the Grace of the Church. There's no precedent, no norm for this practice. There couldn't have been, as these "Genuine" O groups, usually built around a central personality, didn't exist before the 20th century. And like the Donatians and other supposedly more pure Christian breakaway sects, they'll disappear as a trivial footnote in Church history. That's why I wrote earlier, it's best to stick with the Church's practice on the matter, accept that one's chrismation has made the previous heterodox baptism full, and remain obedient to one's bishop.
Father Averky from the Jordanville monastery wrote (http://www.monachos.net/mb/messages/4225/11224.html?1053660275):
Again, not wanting to offend, and having to keep with my own adjuration, if your priest or bishop has decided to grant the economy of reception by Chrismation rather than full trtiple immersion, then there simply is no question. The bishop, who has the fullness of grace, has the right to make such a decison as to the reception of converts. Further, if it has become general policy of a particular church, then there also is no question. There might be those of us who wish to keep more to the classical Tradition of the Church, but in the situation of the decision by a bishop or a synod bishops of another local Church, we have no right to judge one way or another. And, when converts who have been received by chrismation by another church wish to join our church, there is no question - they are members of the Orthodox Church. It is only extreme fanatics who will also deny that there is even grace in new calendar churches who will raise the question of the validity of reception. What is important, is that once we are in the Orthodox Church, that we adhere to her teachings, and strive to gain salvation. Don't let the issue bother you - any of you. Strive to say your souls, and with all your hearts love God and your neighbor as yourself.
One quick note - the economia of allowing chrismation from the Tradition of the Orthodox Church does not say that the sacraments of the heterodox are 'valid,' but that the chrismation as an economy makes up for that which is lacking. Here is where there is an important difference in the understanding of economy. By strict teaching of the Orthodox church, the Holy Spirit resides only in Holy Ortrhodoxy, but God is not limited either in His love or in His mercy.