Author Topic: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?  (Read 894 times)

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« on: February 28, 2022, 08:47:32 AM »
The article says thousands of persons are being baptized because of invalid wording from their priest, who said, "We baptize" instead of "I baptize."

https://religionnews.com/2022/02/26/priests-new-assignment-helping-those-he-invalidly-baptized/

If a "We baptize" person comes to your congregation, do you recognize the Baptism?
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peter_speckhard

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2022, 09:08:35 AM »
The article says thousands of persons are being baptized because of invalid wording from their priest, who said, "We baptize" instead of "I baptize."

https://religionnews.com/2022/02/26/priests-new-assignment-helping-those-he-invalidly-baptized/

If a "We baptize" person comes to your congregation, do you recognize the Baptism?
I doubt we would even know it, but if anyone doubts whether they were validly baptized the first time because of a problem with the actual rite (which is different from problems with the faith of the baptizer or lack of "personal decision" in the baptizee) then I see no real problem with baptizing them again, probably in a private ceremony.

D. Engebretson

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2022, 09:17:56 AM »
I agree.  In all my years of ministry I don't remember anyone bringing up the words used at their baptism. Given the probability that many, if not most, of them were baptized as infants, it's improbable that they could even know if a different formula was used.  But like Pr. Speckhard I would simply offer a private baptism to relieve a troubled conscience if there was doubt that the first was legitimate. 
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MaddogLutheran

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2022, 09:21:04 AM »
I'm certainly not an authority on this, but I don't see a problem with "we" versus "I", as that's not central to our understanding of what words are important: using the Triune Names.  We even consider the passive voice acceptable: *individual named* is baptized in the Name of etc like the Eastern traditional phrasing (as I understand it).

Alas I first heard about this from an atheist friend recently radicalized in his politics (because of the hateful Trump supporters) who was outraged at the hypocrisy over pronouns from the Catholic Church versus recent transgender advocacy.  I admit it's frustrating when people who know nothing about something opine as if they do.  As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the pronoun used does matter because of their understanding of the validity of sacraments when there are deviations from approved language, period.  Although I admit to being a bit perplexed by this canonical ruling, because Catholics do recognize baptisms not performed by priests.  It's not like using the faulty alternate language of Creator/Redeemer/Sanctifier which does violate dominical command.

Was it this case that also tainted the service of a Catholic priest baptized this way?  I believe he had to be re-ordained and it called into question the sacraments (masses anyway) that he celebrated.  Heckova way to run things, seems like erring on the side of grace might be better in this case for such a slight deviation.

By coincidence I witnessed a baptism yesterday performed by a guest pastor (grandfather of the infant) who used "in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, in the name of the Holy Spirit".  Not gonna say that's wrong, but splitting up the names like that is less than ideal, possibly implying more distinction between the Persons than we confess.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2022, 09:40:42 AM by MaddogLutheran »
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Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2022, 09:24:12 AM »
apart from theological arguments and historical, ecclesial precedents... there is the English of it....

I BAPTIZE YOU... can sound a bit egocentric... if a Roman Catholic priest says, I can make Jesus, about the Eucharist it fits their verbiage but if a Lutheran says it, it sounds like we have a power only God has...

N. IS BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF...  an alternate suggestion in the LBW gave me positive pause over the years but folks found it a change that sounded like a change, therefore to be avoided and it is a bit of awkward grammar ...

WE BAPTIZE, may mean the church is baptizing and/or God is drawing the church together to him as he is doing this act... it can also be the ROYAL WE, , not used very often but then again the church has not fully given up Latin or Old English... and fits the meanings of Church as Body of Christ, or God and Church OR for that matter, the Trinity, maybe?

Other languages may not have the we/I distinction with clarity.

If the priest meant to demean or lessen or challenge the Trinity, that would be an intentional problem and we have the whole argument being held on another topic with the Eucharist.  Does God surmount our sinful attempts to subvert or plow over his power? 
« Last Edit: February 28, 2022, 09:55:50 AM by Harvey_Mozolak »
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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2022, 09:30:38 AM »
and responding to the dividing up of the Triune names, I mentioned elsewhere that many, many baptisms divide up the names because of the use of three shells or handfuls of water... does taking a breath between indicate commas, periods, bad priestly lungs or what?  Does one dunk do for Baptists or does it demand three?  Going down for the third time, is that an expression or theology?  Could we argue about the use of pronouns, like IN for instance?  Don't Greek pronouns allow a certain variance in our English translation (my Greek is terrible, so someone else can comment with more authority) but as a poet pronouns have an interesting, exciting and strange place in the process of what they mean and also their use when repetition of them can become boring or lack creativity. 
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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2022, 09:51:03 AM »
   I remember back during discussions of communion that the words "for you" were considered the most important part of the distribution.  For that reason, when I did my one and only emergency baptism during CPE, I said "N.N.  YOU are baptized....."


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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2022, 10:00:05 AM »
Ray, since English is ambiguous in the second person, did you mean YOU singular or plural?  You all, and even Pittsburgese Younse, will be no help, either, neither.  It may depend on whether there were others nearby and whether the water splashed.  Scholasticism at its best!  But your point is valid in spite of my attempt at humor.
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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2022, 10:04:20 AM »
I continue to be unconvinced of the crucial difference between "I baptize" and "We baptize" especially since neither is explicitly prescribed in Mt. 28. I agree that if a person has a concern rebaptism is acceptable. It's rarely come up but I've strongly resisted suggestions that some who was "baptized Catholic" be rebaptized Lutheran. I did rebaptize one woman who had been baptize in one of these small off beat churches that did not use the Trinitarian name for baptism  and was not clearly Trinitarian in theology. She wanted to be rebaptized.
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RayToy

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2022, 10:37:07 AM »
Ray, since English is ambiguous in the second person, did you mean YOU singular or plural?  You all, and even Pittsburgese Younse, will be no help, either, neither.  It may depend on whether there were others nearby and whether the water splashed.  Scholasticism at its best!  But your point is valid in spite of my attempt at humor.

   I assumed I was addressing the infant.  And there was no outside splash because I used a tube of saline inside a neonatal crib.

Ray
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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2022, 11:55:12 AM »
The article says thousands of persons are being baptized because of invalid wording from their priest, who said, "We baptize" instead of "I baptize."

https://religionnews.com/2022/02/26/priests-new-assignment-helping-those-he-invalidly-baptized/

If a "We baptize" person comes to your congregation, do you recognize the Baptism?
I doubt we would even know it, but if anyone doubts whether they were validly baptized the first time because of a problem with the actual rite (which is different from problems with the faith of the baptizer or lack of "personal decision" in the baptizee) then I see no real problem with baptizing them again, probably in a private ceremony.
The RCC has an rite of "conditional Baptism," which seems like a reasonable attempt to recognize both the importance of Baptism and the need to avoid rebaptism:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_baptism#:~:text=It%20is%20an%20issue%20where,the%20baptism%20is%20in%20question.

However, in the recent ruling on the invalidity of "We baptize...", the CDF directed that those who had undergone putative Baptism with that formula need to be baptized "in forma absoluta" rather than conditionally.  In my understanding, this means that the previous "Baptism" is not merely considered doubtful, but definitely invalid.

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Jon

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2022, 12:46:07 PM »
It is interesting to hear LCMS folks speaking of using conditional baptism...  In the olden days (my training at Concordia Springfield) I think I recall profs saying that one should not use such a thing but if there was any doubt or obviously if it was not done properly... one only baptizes and that words of condition are not good use.  Is my memory correct and is there now new pastoral care teaching?
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David Garner

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2022, 04:06:37 PM »
When I first read this, my first thought was "go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

Granted, those who flout the Baptismal formula create doubt in the minds of all.  But this strikes me as way more of a slip up or unintentional error than a flouting.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2022, 06:19:01 PM »
I wondered whether the "we" was some congregational, priesthood of all believers idea that was out of step with Vatican teaching about priestly authority. Or is it simply a matter of altering the verba.
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Richard Johnson

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Re: The Wording of Baptism: How Flexible?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2022, 06:50:40 PM »
I continue to be unconvinced of the crucial difference between "I baptize" and "We baptize" especially since neither is explicitly prescribed in Mt. 28. I agree that if a person has a concern rebaptism is acceptable. It's rarely come up but I've strongly resisted suggestions that some who was "baptized Catholic" be rebaptized Lutheran. I did rebaptize one woman who had been baptize in one of these small off beat churches that did not use the Trinitarian name for baptism  and was not clearly Trinitarian in theology. She wanted to be rebaptized.

I think we should banish the term "rebaptized." The only reason for "repeating" a baptism is if there is some concern about the validity of the first rite, in which case it wasn't actually Holy Baptism. So administering Christian baptism is not "re-baptizing" but simply "baptizing."
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