Baptism

My small mission has two catechumens who are due to be baptised in August, D.v.

I have not been unaware of the gravity of catechising them and ultimately receiving two new Christians into the Church for the first time.

At the same time, I have been thinking about the practicalities of the baptism itself. At my own baptism, I knelt in the water and was pushed forward beneath the surface by the priest. The place where these baptisms are planned has water too deep for this.

So I have the option of what I have seen most often in Orthodox practice, which is that the person to be baptised stands in the water and stoops at the guidance of the priest's hand on the head or shoulder, or what seems to be popular in many Protestant churches, which is that the person to be baptised bends the knees and is lowered backwards into the water, supported by the hand of the minister, who raises the person up again. I actually like this most and have studied a few videos on YouTube to see how support is given at the front and back, and to stop water from flooding into the nostrils.

How are adults baptised in your church's practice and do you have helpful guidance?

Incidentally, I was shocked by how many of the video examples showed a single immersion only. Is this very common in some places?
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Comments

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited March 30
    Nothing helpful from me I’m afraid. In my tradition (Presbyterian), adults generally kneel at the font and have water poured or sprinkled on their heads. That’s what I’ve seen in Episcopal churches too. Immersion is permissible, but rare.

    And yes, single immersion is the norm in all Baptist (American Southern Baptist) baptisms I’ve witnessed.

    Good luck, and congratulations!

  • In this corner of the C of E, adults have water poured upon their heads, whilst standing at the font. The same is done to children and babies, though they are usually held by one parent, or by the priest. The water is poured upon them 3 times, in line with the invocation *In the name of the Father...* etc.

    However, there are a number of Anglican churches in the town which have full immersion baptistries, so the practice is by no means unknown. IIRC (and I've only been to one or two such baptisms), the immersion was done just once, but my memory may be at fault.
  • Cyprian wrote: »
    How are adults baptised in your church's practice and do you have helpful guidance?

    Like @Nick Tamen says, at our TEC place adults are baptized standing at the font, with water poured on their heads (three times). Just like babies (who the priest holds) or children (who are provided with a step stool).

    So this doesn't help you much.

    I think in terms of practicalities, I'd prefer to bend forward rather than going backwards, which I suppose matches the Orthodox approach you describe - because the person leaning forwards has more control over their balance and footing, whereas the backwards motion places you completely at the mercy of those supporting you. (And I don't place any significance on being "guided" into / out of the water as a metaphor for anything.)

    As to one vs three immersions - you know there's a lot of evidence for three immersions being ancient practice, which I think would be sufficient reason to dunk three times. But I don't think a single dunk is invalid.


  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited March 30
    Thank you, all, for your replies, which have genuinely been eye-openers for me.

    The practice you all describe of baptism by affusion is not the Orthodox norm but it is what we do in cases of emergency or where there is a severe pastoral or practical reason not to immerse the person fully. So it's perfectly legitimate for us, but we see it as a concession out of necessity rather than usual practice.
    Cyprian wrote: »
    How are adults baptised in your church's practice and do you have helpful guidance?
    I think in terms of practicalities, I'd prefer to bend forward rather than going backwards, which I suppose matches the Orthodox approach you describe...

    My fault for not expressing myself properly. I was baptised leaning forward just because of the constraints of the repurposed container in which I was baptised. In a purpose-built font or open body of water, the method I have most commonly seen in Orthodox praxis is a vertical stooping by bending the knees. guided by the hand of the priest, i.e. the person goes down and then up again, rather than backwards or forwards.
    ...because the person leaning forwards has more control over their balance and footing, whereas the backwards motion places you completely at the mercy of those supporting you. (And I don't place any significance on being "guided" into / out of the water as a metaphor for anything.)

    You're right, of course. I had considered the trust element of it, and the absolute need for safety, which has been a large part of my reason for seeing how experienced people do it this way and make it appear so effortless. I suppose another element is that, as we're only a small, new mission and our catechumens have asked for baptism during the very unusual circumstances of us operating online only (services live-streamed on Facebook and church meetings and social evenings on Google Meet). This means they haven't had a chance to get to know many Orthodox people and they have both asked me to be their godfather, so the trust element seems quite apt. However, I might see what they're more comfortable with.
    As to one vs three immersions - you know there's a lot of evidence for three immersions being ancient practice, which I think would be sufficient reason to dunk three times. But I don't think a single dunk is invalid.

    I belong to that school of Orthodoxy (at least these days) that says we don't comment on the validity of what happens outside of the Orthodox Church, and focus instead on the sincerity of people's faith, but I'm fairly sure if it reached the point where someone so baptised were to ask to become Orthodox, they would have to be received by baptism. If an Orthodox priest were to baptise in this manner, the canons call for him to be defrocked, although they might not be applied strictly.

    I have to confess that seeing these YouTube videos and reading the responses so far has been a bit of a Poitiers moment* for me. I had read about single-immersion baptisms but only as part of historical discussions from the early centuries of the Church, and how the practice was associated with certain heretical sects. The patristic and conciliar consensus is so firmly against it that it never occurred to me that there might be churches doing this today.

    *I grew up knowing of the existence of St Hilary of Poitiers from seeing him mentioned in the church calendar, and thought of both him and the place as names from deepest history, until a few years ago when I was visiting a monastery in France and realised one of my options was to get the train from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Poitiers. Surely enough, it was a modern city, with a railway station and an airport, and my mind was blown. Now I refer to such events as Poitiers moments.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    I don't know what government or ecclesiastical regulations might be in place this August, but I'd be prepared for any restrictions (as radical as necessary while maintaining validity) on normal practice. I'm no longer in the front line as it were, but I think we are being discouraged if not forbidden from performing baptisms during the Easter vigil this year. If it's in the open air there might not be a problem; you might have to put disinfectant in the water though!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    angloid wrote: »
    I don't know what government or ecclesiastical regulations might be in place this August, but I'd be prepared for any restrictions (as radical as necessary while maintaining validity) on normal practice. I'm no longer in the front line as it were, but I think we are being discouraged if not forbidden from performing baptisms during the Easter vigil this year. If it's in the open air there might not be a problem; you might have to put disinfectant in the water though!

    Thanks for this, @angloid .

    If it's one thing our small community has had to learn to do, it's adapt to the changing circumstances around us. We're making tentative plans on the assumption that the "roadmap" unfolds according to plan but we're ready to alter things if they don't.
  • I've baptised quite a few people by immersion. If the water is waist deep and the baptistery big enough (at least 7 feet long) , you can baptise people from a standing position yourself. They simply have to relax and trust you won't drown them. I usually advise the candidate to hold their breath as I say "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen" I've dropped no one thus far. With hands clasped before them, with one hand you hold theirs and with the other grasp hard on their loose shirt/top. Works every time.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I've baptised quite a few people by immersion. If the water is waist deep and the baptistery big enough (at least 7 feet long) , you can baptise people from a standing position yourself. They simply have to relax and trust you won't drown them. I usually advise the candidate to hold their breath as I say "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen" I've dropped no one thus far. With hands clasped before them, with one hand you hold theirs and with the other grasp hard on their loose shirt/top. Works every time.

    That's really helpful. Thank you for this, @ExclamationMark

    The depth of the water is something I might need to check on. It's been a while since I was at the place but my recollection that is that it's significantly deeper than waist deep.

    The tips on how to get a firm grip are very much welcomed - also the reassurance of your low drop/drown rate. :)
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited March 31
    I'm with @ExclamationMark. Like Paul, I've lost count of the people I've baptised by immersion* and I've lost none beneath the water so far, in everything from a repurposed cider barrel to a repurposed plastic cattle drinking trough via some more respectable baptisteries and (most often) the sea.

    If your praxis allows it, can you enlist the help of a second person? Having one stand either side of the baptisee can help.

    Oh, and Poitiers also has the Futuroscope, and I fully intend to borrow your axiom.

    *One by sprinkling.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I'm with @ExclamationMark. Like Paul, I've lost count of the people I've baptised by immersion* and I've lost none beneath the water so far, in everything from a repurposed cider barrel to a repurposed plastic cattle drinking trough via some more respectable baptisteries and (most often) the sea.

    :joy: I mentioned above the "repurposed container" in which I was baptised, delicately trying to avoid mentioning that it was in fact a cattle water trough because I've always thought that related to my old parish alone, where my priest had become adept at adapting things for liturgical use - our censer stand was a repurposed wrought iron bird-feeder, as one of many examples. I had no idea they were used more widely.
    If your praxis allows it, can you enlist the help of a second person? Having one stand either side of the baptisee can help.

    I'd seen that in some of the videos. It isn't usual for us but certainly isn't impossible. If there were a godparent other than me, that would be an ideal role for that person, which might be something to think about. Thank you for this.
    Oh, and Poitiers also has the Futuroscope, and I fully intend to borrow your axiom.

    Please do :smile: and I'll try to fit it into my next visit..
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    If your praxis allows it, can you enlist the help of a second person? Having one stand either side of the baptisee can help.

    I'd seen that in some of the videos. It isn't usual for us but certainly isn't impossible. If there were a godparent other than me, that would be an ideal role for that person, which might be something to think about.
    Indeed, our second person would typically be somebody with some kind of connection of that nature to the person (the first typically being somebody in leadership representing the church as a whole).

    Our cattle trough was a round affair, so the baptiser could be in the water too.

    If you come back this way I'll have to get you connected to the Orthodox community here.

  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    If you come back this way I'll have to get you connected to the Orthodox community here.

    Pre-COVID, I would visit 2 or 3 times a year, and this week would have been one of those occasions under normal circumstances. Hopefully by the end of this year I should be able to resume these visits.

    I usually go either here or here.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    If your praxis allows it, can you enlist the help of a second person? Having one stand either side of the baptisee can help.

    I'd seen that in some of the videos. It isn't usual for us but certainly isn't impossible. If there were a godparent other than me, that would be an ideal role for that person, which might be something to think about.
    Indeed, our second person would typically be somebody with some kind of connection of that nature to the person (the first typically being somebody in leadership representing the church as a whole).

    Our cattle trough was a round affair, so the baptiser could be in the water too.

    If you come back this way I'll have to get you connected to the Orthodox community here.

    I often invite someone to join us and help
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I'm with @ExclamationMark. Like Paul, I've lost count of the people I've baptised by immersion* and I've lost none beneath the water so far, in everything from a repurposed cider barrel to a repurposed plastic cattle drinking trough via some more respectable baptisteries and (most often) the sea.

    :joy: I mentioned above the "repurposed container" in which I was baptised, delicately trying to avoid mentioning that it was in fact a cattle water trough . . . .
    Perhaps you might think in terms of “manger”? :wink:

  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    I'm with @ExclamationMark. Like Paul, I've lost count of the people I've baptised by immersion* and I've lost none beneath the water so far, in everything from a repurposed cider barrel to a repurposed plastic cattle drinking trough via some more respectable baptisteries and (most often) the sea.

    :joy: I mentioned above the "repurposed container" in which I was baptised, delicately trying to avoid mentioning that it was in fact a cattle water trough . . . .
    Perhaps you might think in terms of “manger”? :wink:

    :smiley:

    Have you ever considered a career in Public Relations?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Too deep? Have baptisms been performed at this location before? Can both the baptisands swim?
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Too deep? Have baptisms been performed at this location before? Can both the baptisands swim?

    Can you baptise someone who is wearing a life jacket?
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Too deep? Have baptisms been performed at this location before? Can both the baptisands swim?

    They don't need to be able to swim. It's shallow enough that they can simply stand upright if there are any difficulties.

    My concern about depth was after Exclamation Mark mentioned waist-deep being the ideal depth. I expect that, if the water is significantly deeper, it might be more difficult to lower someone backwards without being completely submerged myself, which might cause problems in trying to lift the person out again. If that turns out to be the case, the other method of vertical lowering can easily be done instead.

    I don't know whether baptisms have been done at this place before, although I expect so. I have been to the place on a number of occasions but the last time was about 7 years ago, and at the time the depth was of no concern to me, so it isn't something of which I took any notice. I have since found some videos of people at this place and I don't believe it's much more than waist deep in a way that would be prohibitive.
    Can you baptise someone who is wearing a life jacket?

    :smiley: I imagine this might pose some difficulties.
  • No issues with it being that depth. Waist high is a minimum to avoid dropping bad backs etc. I've done people that deep in the sea
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The Didache is quite illuminating when it comes to the practice of baptism. Its instruction is as follows:
    (1) Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” in running water.

    (2) If you do not have running water, baptize [baptizon] in other water. If you are not able in cold, then in warm.

    (3) If you do not have either, pour out [ekcheo] water three times on the head “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    (4) Before the baptism [baptizomenos] the one baptizing [baptizon] and the one being baptized [baptizomenos] are to fast, and any others who are able. Command the one being baptized [baptizomenon] to fast beforehand a day or two.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited April 9
    No issues with it being that depth. Waist high is a minimum to avoid dropping bad backs etc. I've done people that deep in the sea

    Excellent. Thank you.
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    The Didache is quite illuminating when it comes to the practice of baptism. Its instruction is as follows:
    (1) Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, “baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” in running water.

    (2) If you do not have running water, baptize [baptizon] in other water. If you are not able in cold, then in warm.

    (3) If you do not have either, pour out [ekcheo] water three times on the head “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

    (4) Before the baptism [baptizomenos] the one baptizing [baptizon] and the one being baptized [baptizomenos] are to fast, and any others who are able. Command the one being baptized [baptizomenon] to fast beforehand a day or two.

    Thank you for sharing this, @Gramps49

    As it happens, this is still standard practice in Orthodox custom.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    (4) Before the baptism [baptizomenos] the one baptizing [baptizon] and the one being baptized [baptizomenos] are to fast, and any others who are able. Command the one being baptized [baptizomenon] to fast beforehand a day or two.
    [/quote]

    That may be possible with an older candidate for baptism, but usual practice here is baptism within the first few months after birth. Pretty hard to command such a candidate to do anything.
  • questioningquestioning Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    (4) Before the baptism [baptizomenos] the one baptizing [baptizon] and the one being baptized [baptizomenos] are to fast, and any others who are able. Command the one being baptized [baptizomenon] to fast beforehand a day or two.

    That may be possible with an older candidate for baptism, but usual practice here is baptism within the first few months after birth. Pretty hard to command such a candidate to do anything.

    Oh, you can command, and even force, fasting, for sure! But you (and even more - any nursing mother) will be the one(s) who suffer!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited April 10
    I think we can perhaps make allowances for a translation of a single word from a likely 2nd-century document, and how the term would have been perceived in its original language and culture.

    Besides, I have never come across a Christian culture where expectant and nursing mothers, as well as infants and those who are sick, are not automatically exempt from observing the usual custom of fasting and abstinence. This is so readily understood that it is simply taken for granted.
  • PendragonPendragon Shipmate
    From experience, having now baptised all three children as young babies, if you time feeding right the only thing that will make them grouchy is having water poured onto them, and that normally doesn't last long. We baptised Dragonlet 3 last weekend as part of the Easter Sunday mass, the water in the font having been left, covered, in there overnight after it was blessed at the Easter Vigil.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.
  • Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?
  • SojournerSojourner Shipmate
    Could have been the sponsor uf such folk exist in whatever tradition the baptism took place
  • I attend a New Frontiers church where we regularly have adult baptism. We have a purpose built pool and water is waist height. Two people usually support the person being baptised, one a minister, another usually a friend. They go backwards once into the pool. We baptised someone a couple of months ago and and only one person was allowed to accompany them into the pool that time (the minister); the C of E covid guidelines for immersion also say one accompanying person I believe.
    I was baptised as an adult in a conservative Anglican Church and had water poured over my head (I would have had full immersion but the IRA had just blown up our church building).
  • I have seen plenty of baptisms by immersion in my lifetime (having always been in Baptist or Open Brethren fellowships, who baptise in this way) and have never seen someone immersed more than once. The usual form of words used is 'Upon your profession of faith, I baptise you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit' followed by the big splash. As the candidate emerges from the pool, going up the steps to meet their 'helper' holding a towel, all the congregation would often sing a verse of a hymn used specifically for this purpose. In my old Baptist church the sung words were was 'Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life'.

    I was once at a Southern Baptist church (First Baptist Church Kissimmee, when visiting Disneyworld!) for a baptism where the baptistry was built into the back wall of the church, affording the congregation a much better view of the baptism, including underwater view ... Imagine a glass fish tank flush with the wall. I just found them on Facebook and you can watch a baptism here at the beginning of this video https://fb.watch/4OMnBho7b4/
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited April 11
    I was once at a Southern Baptist church (First Baptist Church Kissimmee, when visiting Disneyworld!) for a baptism where the baptistry was built into the back wall of the church, affording the congregation a much better view of the baptism, including underwater view ... Imagine a glass fish tank flush with the wall.
    That placement of the baptistry is pretty much the norm, or is at least very common, in Baptist churches in these parts, though not necessarily with the underwater view.

  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

  • Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

    That does seem to be the norm, in this country at least. I've not experienced it myself, but I should imagine once is enough!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I know about the ancient controversy but where does the modern practice of single immersion come from?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited April 11
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I know about the ancient controversy but where does the modern practice of single immersion come from?
    I could be very wrong, but my suspicion is that these groups probably don’t consider whether there are triple immersions or a single immersion to be of any consequence. American Baptists, at least, would reject any sacramental understanding of baptism, instead seeing it as symbolic of the believer’s commitment. With that understanding, it is the testimony of the one being baptized, immersion (whether once or three times), and “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost/Spirit” that matters, I think.

    In other words, it very well may not be anything more than “we’ve always done it this way,” with no significance intended or attached.

  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

    That does seem to be the norm, in this country at least. I've not experienced it myself, but I should imagine once is enough!
    I never knew that some did it more than once



  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited April 11
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

    That does seem to be the norm, in this country at least. I've not experienced it myself, but I should imagine once is enough!
    I never knew that some did it more than once



    Not heard of Anabaptists, then? ;)
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

    That does seem to be the norm, in this country at least. I've not experienced it myself, but I should imagine once is enough!
    I never knew that some did it more than once



    Not heard of Anabaptists, then? ;)

    No I haven't. The gospels hint that when Jesus was baptised he was only submerged once
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I know about the ancient controversy but where does the modern practice of single immersion come from?
    I could be very wrong, but my suspicion is that these groups probably don’t consider whether there are triple immersions or a single immersion to be of any consequence. American Baptists, at least, would reject any sacramental understanding of baptism, instead seeing it as symbolic of the believer’s commitment. With that understanding, it is the testimony of the one being baptized, immersion (whether once or three times), and “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost/Spirit” that matters, I think.

    In other words, it very well may not be anything more than “we’ve always done it this way,” with no significance intended or attached.

    Thank you for this, @Nick Tamen

    It does seem to be quite widespread in certain circles, from what I've seen here and been able to find elsewhere. It's just completely new to me.

    It will mean having to reassess our own practice in receiving people, sadly, but I'll have to look into this more and be prepared to handle it sensitively should the situation present itself.
    Telford wrote: »
    The gospels hint that when Jesus was baptised he was only submerged once

    I shouldn't imagine that it would would have been anything other than once, but the baptism that St John the Forerunner administered was not the trinitarian baptism that Christ left us in the New Covenant.
  • Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    Telford wrote: »
    I was standing waist deep in the pool with two others who I knew very well. One of whom did all the talking. They assisted me to totally submerge and then I stood up.

    The one who did the talking was presumably your minister/pastor. Did they immerse/submerge you just the once, or three times?

    Just the once.

    That does seem to be the norm, in this country at least. I've not experienced it myself, but I should imagine once is enough!
    I never knew that some did it more than once



    Not heard of Anabaptists, then? ;)

    No I haven't. The gospels hint that when Jesus was baptised he was only submerged once

    Sorry, I was being facetious. Anabaptists ("re-baptisers") were so called by their opponents because they baptised as adults those who had already been baptised as infants. I was taking advantage of the slight ambiguity of your post about doing "it" more than once.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    It will mean having to reassess our own practice in receiving people, sadly, but I'll have to look into this more and be prepared to handle it sensitively should the situation present itself.
    @Cyprian, can you clarify this a little for me? Upthread you said, regarding baptism by affusion:
    Cyprian wrote: »
    The practice you all describe of baptism by affusion is not the Orthodox norm but it is what we do in cases of emergency or where there is a severe pastoral or practical reason not to immerse the person fully. So it's perfectly legitimate for us, but we see it as a concession out of necessity rather than usual practice.
    Later in that same post, you say, regarding single vs. triple immersion:
    I belong to that school of Orthodoxy (at least these days) that says we don't comment on the validity of what happens outside of the Orthodox Church, and focus instead on the sincerity of people's faith, but I'm fairly sure if it reached the point where someone so baptised were to ask to become Orthodox, they would have to be received by baptism.
    Am I parsing this correctly that in your church baptism by affusion rather than immersion would be seen as less than ideal (irregular perhaps?) but not invalid, whereas a baptism that did not involve a triple “application” of water—whether triple immersion or triple pouring—would be invalid? Or if not “invalid,” insufficient for reception into the Orthodox Church?

    Not asking critically, just wanting to be sure I’m understanding correctly.

  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    It will mean having to reassess our own practice in receiving people, sadly, but I'll have to look into this more and be prepared to handle it sensitively should the situation present itself.
    @Cyprian, can you clarify this a little for me? Upthread you said, regarding baptism by affusion:
    Cyprian wrote: »
    The practice you all describe of baptism by affusion is not the Orthodox norm but it is what we do in cases of emergency or where there is a severe pastoral or practical reason not to immerse the person fully. So it's perfectly legitimate for us, but we see it as a concession out of necessity rather than usual practice.
    Later in that same post, you say, regarding single vs. triple immersion:
    I belong to that school of Orthodoxy (at least these days) that says we don't comment on the validity of what happens outside of the Orthodox Church, and focus instead on the sincerity of people's faith, but I'm fairly sure if it reached the point where someone so baptised were to ask to become Orthodox, they would have to be received by baptism.
    Am I parsing this correctly that in your church baptism by affusion rather than immersion would be seen as less than ideal (irregular perhaps?) but not invalid, whereas a baptism that did not involve a triple “application” of water—whether triple immersion or triple pouring—would be invalid? Or if not “invalid,” insufficient for reception into the Orthodox Church?

    Not asking critically, just wanting to be sure I’m understanding correctly.

    It's ok. I understand. These can be intensely personal matters, and in my attempts to tread carefully to avoid causing offence, I've perhaps been less than clear.

    In essence, you've read me correctly.

    Baptism by affusion is what we do in cases of practical or pastoral necessity. It isn't ideal but if, for instance, a bedbound person were in imminent danger of death, and this is the best that could be done in the circumstances, then this it is what we would do. There are other examples of when this would be done (some less extreme).

    We might question the custom of using this "last resort" form as standard practice but I don't think you'd find even the most conservative of Orthodox denying the legitimacy of this form of baptism. It is apostolic and given as an option in case of necessity as far back as the Didache.

    If somebody were to be baptised in this way outside of the Orthodox Church and later were to ask to be received as an Orthodox Christian, they could potentially be received by confession of the Orthodox faith and Chrismation, without needing to undergo an Orthodox baptism. This would be seen as completing the perfectly legitimate outward form of baptism performed in the person's previous church home. We refer to this as receiving people by economy. Most (but not all) Orthodox churches try to extend this method whenever possible in parts of the world where the majority of Christians are not Orthodox. It's considered to be pastorally sensitive (particularly if reception by baptism might cause difficulties for the convert's family), and prudent from an ecumenical perspective.

    Single immersion is a different matter. Somebody baptised in this way outside of the Orthodox Church, if they later wished to become Orthodox, would almost certainly need to be received by baptism. Even if single immersion were done in an Orthodox church by an Orthodox priest, it would still not be accepted, and the priest would likely end up in the ecclesiastical doghouse, (although how strictly this would be applied would depend on the bishop).

    So the revelation that single immersion baptisms are once again practised as standard in some churches after all these centuries does mean that I'll have to be more guarded than I would otherwise like to be about receiving people by chrismation alone. Until I learnt this, my main concern was the "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier/Sustainer" baptisms that we sometimes hear about, but which I'm given to believe are a rarity.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Thank you @Cyprian!
  • As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.
    Likewise for those Protestants who practice affusion but pour once rather than three times, or that simply have no requirement one way or t’other.

    And to be honest, I wonder how many—particularly among some of the Protestant practitioners of single full immersion, at least among those I’m familiar with—would consider it an issue even after learning of it. I can imagine more than a few who’d shrug and say “well, if they have a problem with it, that’s their problem, not ours.”

  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.

    I, too, have learnt new things here. I suppose it highlights the benefits of having these sorts of conversations. 20 years on the Ship and it's still fresh.
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.
    Likewise for those Protestants who practice affusion but pour once rather than three times, or that simply have no requirement one way or t’other.

    And to be honest, I wonder how many—particularly among some of the Protestant practitioners of single full immersion, at least among those I’m familiar with—would consider it an issue even after learning of it. I can imagine more than a few who’d shrug and say “well, if they have a problem with it, that’s their problem, not ours.”

    I suspect you may well be right, and I wouldn't expect a church whose doctrinal foundation is essentially Protestant to base their baptismal practice on Orthodox sensibilities.

    My interest (and disappointment) was largely about what it means for what my response to this situation must now be, rather than any desire to tell other people what they should or shouldn't be doing in their own churches.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.

    I, too, have learnt new things here. I suppose it highlights the benefits of having these sorts of conversations. 20 years on the Ship and it's still fresh.
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    As so often before this view from Orthodoxy has been an eye-opener for me. I suspect that most Protestant practitioners of single full immersion baptism have simply never considered that it might be an issue whether there were three immersions or one.
    Likewise for those Protestants who practice affusion but pour once rather than three times, or that simply have no requirement one way or t’other.

    And to be honest, I wonder how many—particularly among some of the Protestant practitioners of single full immersion, at least among those I’m familiar with—would consider it an issue even after learning of it. I can imagine more than a few who’d shrug and say “well, if they have a problem with it, that’s their problem, not ours.”

    I suspect you may well be right, and I wouldn't expect a church whose doctrinal foundation is essentially Protestant to base their baptismal practice on Orthodox sensibilities.
    Base their practice on Orthodox sensibilities, no. But some Protestants do have more concern for ecumenical considerations and implications on things like this than other Protestants might, and that’s what I was getting at.
    My interest (and disappointment) was largely about what it means for what my response to this situation must now be, rather than any desire to tell other people what they should or shouldn't be doing in their own churches.
    Understood.

  • This conversation is fascinating for reasons of ecumenical relations. I'm pondering - probably not interested in arguing! - what ecumenical graciousness might call for on both sides here. I wonder whether there is merit in those who care about ecumenicity being willing to baptize with three dippings, pourings, or affusions; and others who care about ecumenicity being willing to accept those who have been dunked, poured or affused only once. I think that if I were still in a position where I actively baptized, I would make a point of the 3-fold-water. (However, I guess I always did 3-fold-water.)

    Just for fun, I had a look at Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, AKA the Lima Document from the World Council of Churches.

    It says the following on p 4-5:
    13. Baptism is an unrepeatable act. Any practice which might be interpreted as “rebaptism” must be avoided.
    COMMENTARY (13)
    Churches which have insisted on a particular form of baptism or which have had serious questions about the authenticity of other churches’ sacraments and ministries have at times required persons coming from other church traditions to be baptized before being received into full communicant membership. As the churches come to fuller mutual understanding and acceptance of one another and enter into closer relationships in witness and service, they will want to refrain from any practice which might call into question the sacramental integrity of other churches or which might diminish the unrepeatability of the sacrament of baptism.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Maybe Cyprian can answer this more. It is my understanding in the early church when a person was baptized they would strip off their old clothes, then enter the water for baptism and as they were coming out of the water would be given a white robe to wear. I know in most adult immersions I have seen, the person being baptized will already have a white robe on, but I have seen some orthodox videos where the person being baptized does enter the water naked. Is this correct?
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Maybe Cyprian can answer this more. It is my understanding in the early church when a person was baptized they would strip off their old clothes, then enter the water for baptism and as they were coming out of the water would be given a white robe to wear. I know in most adult immersions I have seen, the person being baptized will already have a white robe on, but I have seen some orthodox videos where the person being baptized does enter the water naked. Is this correct?

    I don't know about others but I wore normal clothes
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