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The Fifth Baptism

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  • Athanasios Jayne
    Dear fellow Group members, In my recent reading, I came across the following statement attributed to St. Gregory the Theologian concerning the Baptism of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2005
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      Dear fellow Group members,

      In my recent reading, I came across the following
      statement attributed to St. Gregory the Theologian
      concerning the "Baptism of tears":

      "Let us here treat briefly of the different kinds
      of baptism. Moses baptized, but in water, in the
      cloud and in the sea; but this he did figuratively.
      John also baptized, not indeed in the rite of the
      Jews, not solely in water, but also towards remission
      of sins; yet not in an entirely spiritual manner, for
      he had not added, 'in the Spirit.' Jesus baptized,
      but in the Spirit; and this is perfection. There is
      also a fourth baptism, which is wrought by martyrdom
      and blood... There is yet a fifth, but more laborious,
      by tears."

      [Oration 39, in "Sunday Sermons, Vol. I:74, 75.]

      I would be grateful if others could provide more
      information on this subject, and also discuss how
      it differs from the Roman Catholic doctrine of the
      "Baptism of Desire." Roman Catholicism teaches
      that the Baptism of Desire can be salvific for those
      who die outside the discernible boundaries of the
      Church Militant, and thus (in a sense) equates it
      with the Baptism of Blood.

      Could the same be said of the Baptism of Tears--or,
      on the contrary, should it be regarded as part and
      parcel of the repentance and confession which is
      salvific for those who are already Baptized members of
      the Church? Do the Fathers make this distinction?

      It seems to me that there is a distinction, in that the
      Baptism of Blood is regarded as salvific *only* for those
      who possessed the Faith of the Church, but who were prevented
      through Martyrdom from receiving the Baptism of the Church.
      St. Cyprian of Carthage (for example) clearly teaches
      that even (seeming) martyrdom is of no avail to heretics.

      I don't recall ever having seen the Baptism of Tears
      being understood by the Fathers in a manner similar to
      the martyric Baptism of Blood--that is, that it could be
      salvific for those who die outside of the discernible
      boundaries of the Church. But neither have I seen it
      discussed with this specific context in mind. Nor
      (generally speaking) were the Fathers familiar with
      heretics who were never in conscious opposition to the
      Church and her Faith--a thing unknown to them, but
      commonly experienced by us. Would this make any
      substantial difference?

      It seems to me that if one is to have any hope of salvation
      for those who die outside of the discernible boundaries
      of the Church, such hope must lie in the Baptism of Tears,
      which is a thing known only to God.

      The question is: Do we have any solid Patristic basis
      for entertaining such a hope? Or is the concept an
      innovation that exceeds the legitimate boundaries of
      Orthodoxy? Or should it, perhaps, simply be regarded as
      a pious (but ultimately unknowable) theologoumenon?

      I thank you for your thoughts.

      Sincere regards,

      Athanasios.
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