Wednesday, June 25, 2008

John 4: Sanctifying grace and infant baptism

Most of the fourth chapter of St. John's gospel deals with the Samaritan woman.

In verse 10, Jesus begins speaking to the Samaritan woman about the living water. Candy interprets the water of life to be the Holy Spirit:

The living water is the Holy Spirit, which enters into each person, when they become a true believer, and this gives them eternal life after their resurrection

The notes in my Navarre Bible, which represent the Catholic view, indicate that the living water is sanctifying grace:

"Everyone knows from experience that water is absolutely necessary for human life; similarly, the grace of Christ is absolutely necessary for supernatural life. The water which can truly quench man's thirst does not come from this or any other well: it is Christ's grace, the "living water" which provides eternal life. . ."
The Catholic Catechism defines sanctifying grace in paragraph #2023:
Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.

This goes to show, once again, that Catholics do not believe we are saved by works, but by God's grace, His sanctifying grace.

For verses 13-14, Candy writes:
Once the living water is received, there is nothing more the person must do. There are no works to add to salvation. There are no rites or initiations, or ceremonies to perform. Once one receives this living water, their salvation is complete. They are saved, not "being saved," as some religions falsely teach.

There are several points to be made in this paragraph. First, is the point that I have made several times before. Candy feels that Catholicism teaches you must "earn" your salvation through "works." But she says that in order to be saved a person must accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Acceptance is an action. Catholics believe we are saved through God's sanctifying grace, not through our actions.

Secondly, Candy says that after you are saved, there are no more works which you must do. Yet, Candy lists in this article quite a long list of actions that a person will perform once they have been saved. She often says that you will know you are saved because you will have a radical change of life, and begin studying the Bible. If you have not performed these works, then you are probably not saved.

Finally, she feels that "are being saved" is a false teaching. The King James Version translates 2 Cor 2:15 and 1 Cor 1:18 as "are saved" while other translations, including Young's Literal Translation uses "are being saved."

It seems we must discount those verses from the KJV point of view, but I can still point you to another verse which point to salvation as a process.

Phil 2:12: "
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

You can find lots more on the Scripture Catholic website.

On verses 25-26, Candy writes:
There is a heretical teaching going around, by even recognized evangelists, purporting that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. That is a false wind of doctrine. Right here in these verses, Jesus plainly affirms that he is indeed the Messiah. Messias is the Greek form of Messiah.

Fortunately, that heretical belief is not compatible with Catholicism. The Catechism states (look carefully, and you'll see Scripture citations!):

The title "Christ" means "Anointed One" (Messiah). Jesus is the Christ, for "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38). He was the one "who is to come" (Lk 7:19), the object of "the hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20).

For verse 34, Candy writes:
God has a job for all Christians to fulfill, and part of that job is doing the Great Commission. The Bible tells us that the Christian's meat is the Bible - the Word of God. See 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12-15 How do we know the will of the Lord? By partaking of the meat of His Word (reading the Bible daily), by prayer, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit, which indwells every saved Christian.

This is remarkably similar to the notes in my Bible:
Every genuine conversion is necessarily projected towards others, in a desire to have them share in thh joy of encountering Jesus.

"The Apostles, when they were called, left their nets; this woman leaves her water jar and proclaims teh Gospel, calling not just one person but influencing the whole city" (St. John Chrysostom, Hom. on St. John, 33).

Candy does not comment on verse 53, which concerns the curing of a royal official's son:
So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

This is one of the verses which points us to infant baptism. We have already discussed in John 3, that the Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation. This chapter is a nice chance to give some Scriptural support for infant baptism.

Acts 16:15:
And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Acts 18:8: And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 16:33: And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Children are members of a household, therefore they would have been baptized, too. Some contend that this was a later innovation by the Catholic Church, but there are plenty of records showing that infant baptism was the practice of the early church.

"And they shall baptise the little children first. And if they can answer for themselves, let them answer. But if they cannot, let their parents answer or someone from their family." Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition, 21 (c. A.D. 215).

"[T]herefore children are also baptized." Origen, Homily on Luke, XIV (A.D. 233).

"For this reason, moreover, the Church received from the apostles the tradition of baptizing infants too." Origen, Homily on Romans, V:9 (A.D. 244).

"Baptism is given for the remission of sins; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous." Origen, Homily on Leviticus, 8:3 (post A.D. 244).

Additional resources on infant baptism:
Scripture Catholic
Catholic Answers
Can infants be "born again"?

Infant baptism is not unique to the Catholic Church.
Why We Baptize Babies (Lutheran site)
Presbyterian 101: Infant Baptism

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Tracy said...

Fantastic job Kelly, thank you so much for covering this!!!

Nancy Parode said...

Kelly, I think this post is one of your best yet. We were privileged to sing (husband) and play (me) at a baptism this Sunday...I always, always cry at baptisms, because it's so wonderful to know that these precious babies are truly God's children, and that their parents faithfully promise to raise them as brothers and sisters of Christ.

Lynn said...

Hello there!
I am not a Catholic, & I do not have any particular understanding of the Catholic faith, so i found this post interesting reading.
Please could you explain to me the Catholic teaching on salvation as a process? I cannot get my head around this!

Diana said...

I'm so glad you have put up a post about infant baptising. I was starting to get really confused with this. I was baptised as a baby, as were all my children. Something that i have always felt very proud of, but as you start to listen to objections you start to slighty question things, (which from now on i know not to do!)
Thankyou for putting my mind at rest.

Perplexity said...

This was really clear and concise. Thank you, Kelly. I've often wondered about the differences between infant and adult baptism and why it is such an issue to so many. My family has always baptized infants, whether strongly religious or not. Baptism of new babies in our family is almost as much a given as the bazillion gifts those babies will receive upon their first Christmas.

Kelly said...

Hi Lynn, thanks for visiting!

Salvation is a pretty big topic. I'll give you a short answer, and then you can let me know if that helps, or if there is a particular aspect of salvation that you are wondering about.

Catholics believe that we are saved by God's grace, through our faith, as is manifest by our works. We read in the book of James that faith without works is dead, and so we see faith and works as intertwined together, inseparable. There are also many verses in Scripture which indicate that we will be judged by our works, as a way of testing our faith.

So, we do not believe that it is our works that save us, but that if we are lacking works, it is probably an indication that we do not truly have faith. I think this is very similar to what Candy says about how if you are really saved, you'll see it in the change in your life.

We do not believe in "assurance of salvation." We believe salvation is a lifelong "race" as St. Paul writes, which requires us to "persevere to the end."

You will probably find the Scripture Catholic website that I reference in the article helpful. I also have labels at the bottom of the article. You can read through what I have previously written on "salvation" or "faith and works."