I have concluded recently that the Traditionalist Catholics are correct in their interpretation of the sacrament of baptism and what marks a baptism as being valid. Of course, the implications would exclude the vast majority of Protestant baptisms as being valid. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia reads that “a lack of the requisite intention on the part of minister or recipient, and then the sacrament would be simply null” and the Catholic website Tradition in Action states that “reasonable doubt of validity will generally remain, on account of either the intention of the administrator or the mode of administration”. So there must be a proper intent in order for a baptism to be considered valid. If there is no proper intent, the baptism must be considered invalid.
Baptism must therefore possess the proper intent. The baptiser must have the intent to perform the following on the one being baptised: He must intend for the person to be born anew (1 Pet. 1:23, John 3:3-5), he must possess the intention of binding the baptised to the resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:1-4), he must have the intention to properly wash the person with the water of rebirth (Tit. 3:5), an intent to administer the Holy Spirit to the baptised and the intention to properly remit the sins of the one being baptised (Acts 2:38). If he fails in one of these intentions, he has not validly baptised the newly baptised and such a baptism is null. This fact incidentally invalidates the vast majority of Protestant baptisms including Presbyterian, Baptist, Evangelical, some Methodist, and even some Anglican and Episcopalian but it is what is necessary in order for a baptism to be valid. Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran baptisms would still be definitely valid but there’s more considerations.
Immersion or Affusion?
Some Protestants and Eastern Orthodox obsess that in order for a baptism to be valid, it must be done by immersion only. Pouring (affusion) is an improper way to administer a baptism. Does it really matter whether one pours or immerses? I’ve wondered this question. The arguments of the immersionists assert that baptism can only be valid if done by immersion because immersion better represents the resurrection (Rom. 6:1-4). However, that is not the only thing baptism does. Baptism also gives one the Holy Spirit save in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48) which was God showing that the Gentiles were also fit to receive the sacraments and should not be taken as establishing that baptism does not give one the Spirit. In addition the Greek text of Luke 11:38 uses the word ἐβαπτίσθη a form of the word for baptised to which the Pharisees washed their hands. Obviously not immersion. Baptism is the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the newly baptised (Acts 2:17-18, 33) and therefore pouring is perfectly legitimate. In addition, pouring can also symbolise the death of Christ on the cross as blood and water poured out from the side of Jesus (John 19:34). This is all baptism needs to signify which means that both immersion and pouring are perfectly valid forms of baptism. One need not worry about this. Perhaps sprinkling can provide an effective symbolisation as well?
To be a valid baptism, it must be done in Trinitarian form. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Some Protestant ministers have started doing it in the name of Jesus only. This undermines faith in the Trinity as the Oneness Pentecostals will only administer it in the name of Jesus only. Jesus is not the only member of the Trinity. God is three yet one at the same time. He is not only one who is Jesus. He is three and one at the same time. To baptise in the name of Jesus only would be an invalid baptism and it would be as good as if the person had never been baptised in the first place. It is no baptism. The apostles might have baptised in the name of Jesus but they did this because baptising in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit baptises one into the name of Jesus.
Some “Christians” have started to prefer a feminist baptism as well. These Christians baptise in the name of the Creator, and the of Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier. This is an invalid baptism as well. These feminist baptists argue that when Christians say “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” what they really mean is “Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier” any way so we have every right to disobey our Lord’s command to baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-20). This undermines faith in the Trinity though as well for it reduces God to three roles of Creator, Sanctifier, and Redeemer. God the Father fits all three of these roles. The Father is known in relation to His Son, the Son and the Father share a relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is a relational being. It is not a one-person only being. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not three roles that these beings have but rather, these persons relate to one another in tri-personal relationship. Baptisms in the name of the Creator, and the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier reduce God to a monad and are therefore invalid.
Was My Anglican Catholic Baptism Valid?
In this modern period of time we are unfortunately having more and more people born under a denomination claiming for itself the name “Christian” that baptises invalidly. I was privileged to be a fully conscious adult at my baptism being baptised at the age of 22 as an Anglican Catholic. The priest who baptised followed the criteria that fit all of the marks of a valid baptism. So I have utmost confidence that my Anglican Catholic baptism was in fact valid and that it implanted in me the newfound Christian character traits of faith, hope, and love–the greatest of these is love. Of course, this would also sadly mark me as the only one in my family as validly baptised. Perhaps I can hope they will be saved by at least an implicit baptism of desire and that hope can be strong as I have now been filled with hope. But on the other hand, I’m glad I waited to be baptised and did not baptise myself, thus listening to Fr. Kimel.