Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is There Wiggle Room for Head Coverings and Baptism?



I recently spent 10 days with a group of evangelical missionaries on my medical mission to Haiti. One day, the topic of baptism came up. There was at least 6 differing opinions regarding the significance and meaning of baptism from the different folks who contributed to the conversation. Even more interesting, yet sad, was that these folks were from the same church and yet did not hold to the the same uniform doctrine regarding baptism.

At one point I asked if anyone thought that baptism was necessary for salvation? Interesting that now they were all in agreement that baptism had nothing to do with salvation! So despite the disparate views of baptism, an act of obedience, a sign of an inward work, etc, all agreed that it had no bearing on salvation. The discussion then lead to comments about Catholics baptizing dead babies and weird rituals that someone's Catholic grandma had told them about. I declined to put my two cents in at this point seeing the "cath bash" commence.

Christ promised to send us the Holy Spirit to lead us in all truth. Did He really grant that we could/should develop our own disparate views of important Christian doctrines? Particularly something as important as baptism? Did Jesus really truly think it would be acceptable to hold complete opposite views regarding key theological constructs? The first 1500 years of Christianity held essentially one view of the meaning and purpose of baptism. Not until the casting off of sacramental theology did we see baptism become symbolic. Or, did the early Church fathers get this doctrine wrong as it was passed on from the apostles? It then took over 1500 years for the Holy Spirit to finally crack the hard heart of man to be open to God's truth and return us to the correct interpretation?

I once asked a pastor how I should decide what to believe regarding essential doctrines. He instructed me to get 3 or 4 good Scripture commentaries and prayerfully pick one that I agree with the most. I am sorry, but I can't see that as being what Christ intended as a method of finding Truth regarding an essential doctrine. What if Christ really intended us to be born again through the waters of baptism but we insisted that it was just a symbolic act of obedience? Wouldn't that be an awfully big mistake to make? What if when Peter said "the waters of baptism doth save you," he really meant it literally and not just symbolically?

This is not a non-essential concept that we can just pray about and choose what we believe! We are talking about salvation here and I don't think there should be a particularly large amount of wiggle room, as if we were discussing whether women should wear head coverings in Church.(no offense ladies) If the Bible was intended to be our "go to" book to solve all doctrinal disagreements, why doesn't it seem to work out that way in practice?

Jesus, By your Holy Spirit, lead us in All Truth.

7 Comments:

Blogger Dan Schaertel said...

I assume your question is a rhetorical one. Because, of course, nowhere does anything ever say in any official way that the Bible is the "go to book". John said that these things are written so that you might believe, but there is a lot that is not written. Paul says we are obligated to the written words as well as the spoken word and tradition. Jesus chose 12 men to build his church on, not a book.

March 22, 2007 8:30 AM  
Blogger TheGodFearinFiddler said...

Interesting conversation! You have to seize those opportunities when they come because they dont seem to come often (not for me anyway).

It is interesting that the one thing they agree on is that the early Church and the Scriptures got it wrong - baptism isnt necessary!

Thats very typical on not just baptism but on many other things. The only thing they agree on any particular issue is that the first 1500 years of Christianity got it wrong!

March 22, 2007 8:52 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Yes Dan, I suppose it was rhetorical.
It was a real life lesson in the application and reliance on a personal magesterium.
The incongruity of Jesus coming to show us the way so that we would be one, and yet there being no agreement regarding His words and commands. I used to think it was ok to agree with the essentials but have liberty with the non essentials as one of the Church Father's said, but a concept as important as salvation. That's non-negotiable, either you get it right or .....

March 22, 2007 3:30 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

GFF said:
"The only thing they agree on any particular issue is that the first 1500 years of Christianity got it wrong!"

True Gff but , Fortunately there are some of our separated brethren that are starting to take a look at the creeds and doctrines of the early church.

The "emerging church" movement is interesting because they are starting to look back at the historical church (the one before 1517) and consider the writings of the Church fathers. I can only hope it will make them view Catholicism differently than just "bad popes, crusades and inquistions."

March 22, 2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Amazing isn't it? It's so clear to me now and when I try to explain it to others, I simply don't understand how they cannot see it.

For a "Bible only" group of people, it is amazing how much of the Bible they ignore or twist to fit their ideas of things. I was guilty of this myself and I am love that I can now see Scripture as a whole... no more explaining things away to fit a bad interpretation.

March 23, 2007 12:00 PM  
Blogger Under the Poetree said...

A lot of "literary interpretive gyrating" has to take place for "bible only" Christians to parse the word "is." As in John chapter 6. "...This is my body" - those 4 words had 200 interpretations only 60 years after Luther hung his 95 Thesis on that door/wall! INCREDIBLE! (At least that is what I heard on Catholic Answers and by Father Mitch Pacwa. Patrick Madrid, and Marcus Grodi, all of whom I trust on their research.)

Seems it wasn't only our Impeached President, Bill Clinton, who parsed to death that particular word "is." Too many in Christendom have done so...and with far worse results than that which Bill Clinton has had to deal with, that's for sure!

susie

March 27, 2007 1:30 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

What's even more strange Susie is the gyrations and contortions that one must go through to believe that the early Church up until 1500 thought it was a symbolic meal only.
When I have posted the number of references to the Church fathers where they used the term "sacrifice of the altar" and the flesh and blood of Christ, the non-sacramentalists who have visited my blog have not made a comment. Their silence speaks volumes.

March 27, 2007 2:31 PM  

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