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722Re: Baptism.

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  • drthomas_joseph
    May 15, 2002
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      Shlomo Rajesh:

      You are entitled to your opinions and interpretation of scripture,
      but I would like you to consider the following:

      1. St. Paul rebukes the early Christians, not the early Fathers of
      the Church. That is not to say that the early fathers were
      infallible. But by the same token, the apostles and disciples of
      Christ some of whom authored the books of the New Testament were not
      either. We find St. Peter betraying Christ (Matt 26:69), St. James
      and John seeking positions of pre-eminence (Mark 10:37), St. Thomas
      expressing unbelief at the ressurection (John 20:25), St. Paul
      anticipating an imminent second coming (I Cor 15:51), St. Matthew in
      his zeal to proclaim Christ as the fulfiller of prophecies, seating
      Christ both on a donkey and a colt on his Entry into Jerusalem (Matt
      21:7, as fulfilment of Zach 9:9), other inconsistencies between the
      Gospel accounts, etc. We cannot accept the New Testament as scripture
      and completely disregard the teachings and traditions of the Holy
      Fathers of the Church, which elaborate and interpret the word of
      truth with authority.

      2. The evolution of New Testament as scripture from a large body of
      writings happened much after the era of the Apostles and the
      Disciples. The early Fathers of the Church in the second century
      accepted some of the writings as authentic part of the scripture,
      rejecting many, and considering others as apocryphal. In fact, this
      resulted in variant canons of the scripture varied among different
      Churches. To this day, for instance, the Syriac Orthodox Church as
      well other Oriental churches consider the Book of Revelation as
      apocryphal and not part of the accepted canon of the New Testament.
      The authenticity of Acts authored by St. Luke was of course never in
      doubt. However, the point is that the very fathers you appear to
      minimize were responsible for the selection of the writings that
      today form what we know as the New Testament. You may argue that the
      writings that made it into the canon were divinely pre-ordained to be
      so, yet you cannot minimize the role of the early Fathers in shaping
      what we regard as scripture today. I would caution against the rather
      naive Protestant-influenced attitude of regarding scripture as the
      literal word of God, interpreting verses of scripture narrowly taking
      them out of the social, cultural, linguistic and historical context
      in which they were authored, ignoring Patristic traditions and
      reaching conclusions that were far from the intent of the authors.

      3. As St. Paul says in his epistle to the Hebrews (1:1-2), "In the
      past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times
      and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by
      his Son,..." Throughout the salvation history of mankind, God has
      spoken to man. He continues to speak to us to this day; unfortunately
      many of us do not strive to listen. While we pride in our
      intellectual faculties and knowledge, most of us are too engrossed in
      the ways of the world to hear and imbibe the Word of God with wisdom.
      It is thus very meaningful that we pray in the divine liturgy to
      raise Fathers of the Church who teach and interpret the word of truth
      correctly. Our attitude should be one of humility and submission to
      the Word of God and to the authority of the Church and its Fathers so
      that we can truly hear Him as He speaks to us.

      Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
      Web Master, SOR (http://sor.cua.edu)
      Technical Editor, Hugoye (http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye)

      --- In SOCM-FORUM@y..., "Rajesh Philipos" wrote:
      > Dear all,
      > Thank you for replying to my message. I am heartened to see that we
      all care
      > for each other, especially our spiritual needs and so you took time
      out to
      > answer my question.
      > It might be true that infant baptism started from the 3rd century.
      > I am not of the opinion that everything that the early church
      fathers did
      > were right......
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