Monday, July 13, 2020

Validity of evangelical Baptisms

This article will surely make the rounds on social media. 

Some minutiae of orthodox theology for just a moment, please. While a Baptism celebrated by two separate ministers, during which one administers the water while another simultaneously utters the sacramental formula, is definitely invalid, the mode of Baptism generally employed by Baptists and other evangelical Christians is valid. The separation of matter and form by mere seconds, as the minister first pronounces the sacramental form and then immediately applies the matter by full immersion, is not enough of a separation to vitiate the sacrament. There is in that case a moral unity of the rite, a single act in two phases in immediate succession. The integrity of the sacrament is preserved, as matter and form are joined in the singular sacramental action. Additionally, the evangelical candidate already submerged in water has a copious amount of water, the matter, applied to the most of the body during the actual invocation of the sacramental form. That in itself would suffice for validity. Just say no to scrupulosity! 'In Baptism, Confirmation, Extreme Unction, and Order, theoretically speaking, a moral union suffices for validity, which exists when the matter is applied immediately before the form is pronounced, or immediately after... yet there can be no doubt about the power of the sacrament if the form is begun before the application of the matter is completed, or vice versa.' Saint Thomas Aquinas, quoted in Tanquerey, Synopsis of Dogmatic Theology.

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