Baptism, Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood - The Facts and History in the Catholic Catechism, the Bible and Catholic Teaching
Throughout the history of the Church, many have believed in the theories called baptism of desire (also known as BOD) and baptism of blood (also known as BOB): that one’s desire for the Sacrament of Baptism or one’s martyrdom for the faith supplies for the lack of being born again of water and the Holy Ghost. Those who believe in baptism of blood and baptism of desire raise certain objections to the absolute necessity of receiving the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation. This article will respond to some of the major objections made by baptism of desire and blood advocates; and in the process, will give an overview of the history of the errors of baptism of desire and baptism of blood. In doing this it will be demonstrated that neither baptism of blood nor baptism of desire is a teaching of the Catholic Church.
In this article, it will be shown that the Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. It will also be shown that it is only through receiving the Sacrament of Baptism that one is incorporated into the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. It will also be shown that the Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:5 – Amen, amen I say unto thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God – are to be understood literally: as they are written. This is the infallible teaching of the Church and it excludes any possibility of salvation without being born again of water and the Holy Ghost.
THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM AND THE DOGMA OUTSIDE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION
In many ways the dogma outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation is the most important dogma in the Catholic Church. Connected with this is the necessity of receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. But today both of these truths are almost universally denied by those calling themselves Catholic. They assert that the unbaptized can be united to the Church, justified (attain the state of grace) and saved by what is called baptism of desire. A tiny minority of those who believe in baptism of desire (less than 1%) limit it to those who actually desire baptism and believe in the Catholic religion (e.g., unbaptized catechumens). The vast majority of them (more than 99%) extend the possibility of salvation by baptism of desire to pagans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. and people of no religion, who do not actually desire baptism or believe in the Catholic Faith. This majority group also somehow extends the "saving capability" of baptism of desire to Protestants, even though Protestants have already been baptized.
In this article it will be shown that the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that one cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven without being born again of water and the Holy Ghost (i.e., actually receiving the Sacrament of Baptism) and that the majority’s definition of baptism of desire (that baptism of desire saves those who don’t believe in the Catholic Faith or actually desire baptism) is directly contrary to many defined dogmas, was never held by any saint, and is a denial of the Athanasian Creed which defined that whoever wishes to be saved must believe in Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Trinity and the Catholic Faith.
Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood – Not a Sacrament!
First of, even the baptism of desire advocates themselves will agree that baptism of desire is not a sacrament and that it is without water. But the problem with this is that the Council of Trent infallibly defined as a dogma that THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM WITH WATER is necessary for salvation!
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: "If anyone says that baptism [the Sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema."
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: "If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema."
Even though St. Thomas was wrong in teaching baptism of desire and blood, still in teaching the theory of baptism of desire, St. Thomas repeatedly admitted that neither is a sacrament.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Q. 66, Art. 11, Answer to Objection 2: "As stated above, a sacrament is a kind of sign. The other two [baptism of desire and blood], however, are like the Baptism of Water, not, indeed, in the nature of sign, but in the baptismal effect. Consequently they are not sacraments."
In line with St. Thomas Aquinas, the Vatican II Television Network EWTN, in an article on baptism, BAPTISM: Excerpts from various sources., quotes Fr. John Hardon as teaching that baptism of desire is not a sacrament, yet nevertheless confer the baptismal effect.
Fr. John Hardon, The Question And Answer Catechism: "[Question.] IS BAPTISM OF DESIRE A SACRAMENT?" "[Answer.] Baptism of desire is not a sacrament; it does not imprint the baptismal character or enable a person to receive the other sacraments. Nevertheless, it does confer sanctifying grace."
Even the fierce baptism of desire advocate, Fr. Laisney, admits the same in his book, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 9:
Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 9: "Baptism of Desire is not a sacrament; it does not have the exterior sign required in the sacraments. The theologians, following St. Thomas… call it ‘baptism’ only because it produces the grace of baptism… yet it does not produce the sacramental character."
If so, and if baptism of desire and blood are not sacraments (as they readily admit), how then can it confer the baptismal effect (sanctifying grace) without the sacrament or be reconciled with the infallible dogmas already quoted above, and as we will see, below? It can’t! But the BOD/BOB’ers who have no true faith in the Church’s infallible dogmas don’t care about that. Since they obstinately reject God and His infallible teaching, this is manifested in their obstinate choice of adhering to fallible men and the opinions of fallible men rather than God and His defined, infallible doctrines.
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439: "Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. THE MATTER OF THIS SACRAMENT IS REAL AND NATURAL WATER."
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: "But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity – namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost – and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the Church."
Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (# 15), Dec. 11, 1925: "Indeed this kingdom is presented in the Gospels as such, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance; moreover, they cannot enter it except through faith and baptism, which, although [it is] an external rite, yet signifies and effects an interior regeneration."
Pope Benedict XIV, Nuper ad nos, March 16, 1743, Profession of Faith: "Likewise (I profess) that baptism [the sacrament] is necessary for salvation, and hence, if there is imminent danger of death, it should be conferred at once and without delay, and that it is valid if conferred with the right matter and form and intention by anyone, and at any time."
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Baptism made obligatory after Christ’s Resurrection, p. 171: "Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when He gave His Apostles the command to go and teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved."
The eminent Patristic Scholar Fr. William Jurgens, who has literally read thousands of texts from the fathers of the Church, was forced to admit the following (even though he believes in baptism of desire) in his three volume set on the fathers of the Church.
Fr. William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3, pp. 14-15: "If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that Our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of invincible ignorance and physical impossibility. But the tradition in fact is there; and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute revelation."
And based on this truth, declared by Jesus in the Gospel (John 3:5), handed down by the Apostles and taught by the fathers, the Catholic Church has infallibly defined as a dogma (as we have seen already) that no one at all enters heaven without the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Canon 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema."
In addition, here are some very relevant quotes from the Church approved Revelations of St. Bridget that describes the power of a real baptism and how real water must be joined to the sacrament of baptism for baptism to be efficacious:
"The Mother appeared again and said: “My son, you still have need of a horse and saddle. The spiritual signification of the horse is baptism. Just as a horse has its four legs and carries a man on the journey he must accomplish, so too baptism, as signified by the horse, carries a man in the sight of God and has four spiritual effects. The first effect is that the baptized are liberated from the devil and bound to the commandments and service of God. The second effect is that they are cleansed from original sin. The third is that they are made God’s children and coheirs. The fourth is that heaven is opened to them. Yet how many there are today who, having reached the age of reason, pull the reins on the horse of baptism and ride it off on a false path! The baptismal path is true and rightly followed when people are instructed and upheld in good moral habits before reaching the age of reason and when, upon reaching the age of reason and carefully considering what was promised at the baptismal font, they keep their faith and love of God intact. However, they ride away from the right path and rein the horse in when they prefer the world and the flesh to God. The saddle of the horse or of baptism is the effect of the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, which gave baptism its efficacy. What is water if not an element? As soon as God’s blood was poured out, God’s word and the power of God’s outpoured blood entered into the element. Thus, by the word of God, the water of baptism became the means of reconciliation between humankind and God, the gate of mercy, the expulsion of demons, the way to heaven, and the forgiveness of sins. So those who would boast of the power of baptism should first consider how the effect of baptism was instituted through bitter pain. When their mind swells up with pride against God, let them consider how bitter their redemption was, how many times they have broken their baptismal vows, and what they deserve for their relapses into sin." (The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 4, Chapter 74)
As we can read from this splendid teaching by our Holy Mother, the water received the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for our sins, and that is why the water can have such a great efficacy to save people from sin that it can even wash away the original sin when it is used with the invocation of the name of the Holy Trinity.
Here follows another good example on the efficacy of baptism from St. Bridget’s revelations:
Christ describes why a three year old boy is tormented by a demon: "And even though the boy is born by the seed of the father and mother, the devil still has the greatest power over him, for he is not reborn through the true baptism, but is only baptized in the way that women are accustomed to baptize, who do not know about the words of the Holy Trinity [i.e., she did not baptize her child correctly or validly]. That is why the boy may be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; then he will be cured."
All unbaptized infants and adults are held guilty through original sin and are under the dominion of the devil until they receive a valid baptism. This is the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442, ex cathedra: "Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…" (Denz. 712)
The form of valid baptism is: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [pour water on the head, making sure it touches the skin]." or
"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit [pour water on the head, making sure it touches the skin]."
If there is some doubt about the validity of your baptism, the conditional form of baptism is: "If you are baptised, I do not baptize you again, but if you are not yet baptised [pour water on the head, making sure it touches the skin] I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." In lack of Catholic priests, you can have a Catholic friend perform a conditional baptism, and you can administer baptism to your own children.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, "Exultate Deo," 1439: "In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or a deacon, but even a layman or woman, yes even a pagan and a heretic can baptize, so long as he preserves the form of the Church and has the intention of doing what the Church does." (Denz. 696)
Baptism of Desire – On the Witness Stand
1) Does the Catholic Church understand John 3:5 as it is written?
Are the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:5 ("Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.") to be taken as they are written, or not as they are written?
All defenders of the theory of baptism of desire must admit that they believe that John 3:5 is not to be taken literally. They agree that baptism of desire cannot be true if John 3:5 is understood as it is written. So the question is: Does the Catholic Church understand John 3:5 as it is written or not?
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4: "In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT THE LAVER OF REGENERATION OR A DESIRE FOR IT, AS IT IS WRITTEN: UNLESS A MAN BE BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND THE HOLY GHOST, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (JOHN 3:5)."
The reader can see very clearly that the Council of Trent teaches that John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written (Latin: sicut scriptum est), thereby excluding any possibility of baptism of desire. Ironically, the Council defines this in Sess. 6, Chap. 4, the very passage which baptism of desire proponents quote all the time to favor their position. In fact, this passage is brought up by baptism of desire proponents as their single strongest – and perhaps only – argument from the Papal Magisterium. It is their "trump card". Why do they think this?
First off, the baptism of desire people believe that the use of the word "or" (Latin: aut) in the above passage means that justification can take place by the water of baptism or the desire for it. But a careful look at the passage proves this to be false. The passage says that justification cannot take place without the laver of regeneration (water baptism) or the desire for it; in other words, both are necessary for those above the age of reason (as we will see). Suppose I said, "This shower cannot take place without water or the desire to take one." Does this mean that the shower takes place by the desire to take a shower? Absolutely not. It means that both are necessary. In fact, the Latin word aut ("or") is used in the same way in other passages in the Council of Trent. In the introduction to the decree on Justification, the Council strictly forbids anyone to "believe, preach or teach" (credere, praedicare aut docere) other than as it is defined and declared in the decree on Justification.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Introduction: "... the holy ecumenical and general synod of Trent... strictly forbidding that anyone henceforth may presume to believe, preach or teach, otherwise than is defined and declared by this present decree."
Does "or" (aut) in this passage mean that one is only forbidden to preach contrary to the Council’s decree on justification, but one is allowed to teach contrary to it? No, obviously "or" (aut) means that both preaching and teaching are forbidden, just like in chapter 4 above "or" means that justification cannot take place without both water and desire. Another example of the use of aut to mean "and" (or "both") in Trent is found in Sess. 21, Chap. 2, the decree on Communion under both species (Denz. 931).
Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, Sess. 21, Chap. 2: "Therefore holy mother Church... has approved this custom of communicating under either species, and has decreed that it be considered as a law, which may not be repudiated or be changed at will without the authority of the Church."
Does aut in this declaration mean that the Council’s decree may not be repudiated, but it may be changed? No, obviously it means that both a repudiation and a change are forbidden. This is another clear example of how the Latin word aut can be used in contexts which render its meaning "and" or "both". And these examples blow away the claim of baptism of desire supporters: that the meaning of aut in Chapter 4, Session 6 is one which favors baptism of desire to the exclusion of actually receiving water baptism.
Second, the reader should note that this crucial passage from Trent has been horribly mistranslated in the popular English version of Denzinger, the Sources of Catholic Dogma, which is cited above.
The critical phrase, "this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it" has been mistranslated to read: "this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…" This mistranslation of the Latin word "sine" (without) – which is found in the original Latin – to "except through" completely alters the meaning of the passage to favor the error of baptism of desire. This is important to keep in mind because this mistranslation is still being used by baptism of desire apologists (often deliberately), including in recent publications of the SSPX and CMRI.
Looking at a correct translation, which is found in many books, the reader also should notice that, in this passage, the Council of Trent teaches that John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written (Latin: sicut scriptum est), which excludes any possibility of salvation without being born again of water in the Sacrament of Baptism. There is no way that baptism of desire can be true if John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written, because John 3:5 says that every man must be born again of water and the Spirit to be saved, which is what the theory of baptism of desire denies. The theory of baptism of desire and an interpretation of John 3:5 as it is written are mutually exclusive (they cannot both be true at the same time) – and every baptism of desire proponent will admit this. That is why all of them must – and do – opt for a non-literal interpretation of John 3:5.
But why does Trent define that the desire for Baptism, along with Baptism, is necessary for justification? Because it is referring to both adults and infants receiving baptism. Therefore, in this chapter Trent is dealing exclusively with those Catholics under the age of reason (infants) who have not committed actual sins, and for such infants receiving baptism only is necessary for justification; while for those above the age of reason (adults) who have committed actual sins, the desire for baptism (and godly contrition) in addition to actually receiving baptism is necessary for justification.
The Council of Trent explains this saving sorrow of mind that is necessary for adults "to attain to grace and justice" before receiving baptism.
The Council of Trent, Sess. 14, Chap. 1 on the necessity, and on the institution of the Sacrament of Penance: "Penitence was in deed at all times necessary, in order to attain to grace and justice, for all men who had defiled themselves by any mortal sin, EVEN FOR THOSE WHO BEGGED TO BE WASHED BY THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM; that so, their perverseness renounced and amended, THEY MIGHT, WITH A HATRED OF SIN AND A GODLY SORROW OF MIND, DETEST SO GREAT AN OFFENCE OF GOD."
The Council of Trent, Session 14, Chap. 4 on Contrition: "Contrition, which holds the first place amongst the aforesaid acts of the penitent, is a sorrow of mind, and a detestation for sin committed, with the purpose of not sinning for the future. THIS MOVEMENT OF CONTRITION WAS AT ALL TIMES NECESSARY FOR OBTAINING THE PARDON OF SINS..."
As we just saw infallibly defined by the Council of Trent: "Penitence was in deed at all times necessary, in order to attain to grace and justice, for all men who had defiled themselves by any mortal sin, EVEN FOR THOSE WHO BEGGED TO BE WASHED BY THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM; that so, their perverseness renounced and amended, THEY MIGHT, WITH A HATRED OF SIN AND A GODLY SORROW OF MIND, DETEST SO GREAT AN OFFENCE OF GOD." As we can see, they did not say that an adult can be saved without a godly sorrow of mind (or with imperfect contrition) even when being baptized, but rather said that this godly sorrow of mind (perfect contrition) "was in deed at ALL TIMES NECESSARY, IN ORDER TO ATTAIN TO GRACE AND JUSTICE... that so, their perverseness renounced and amended [their life]..." (Session 14, Chapter 1)
Concerning adults. That is why the chapter defines that justification cannot take place without the water of baptism or the right desire for it. Both are necessary. Not only a godly sorrow for their sins is necessary, but also a right desire to actually receive baptism, is necessary.
Catechism of the Council of Trent, On Baptism - Dispositions for Baptism, Tan Books, p. 180: "INTENTION - ... In the first place they [adults] must desire and intend to receive it…"
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Q. 68, Art. 7: "Those who receive Baptism - Reply to Objection 2: If an adult lack the intention of receiving the sacrament, he must be rebaptized. But if there be doubt about this, the form to be used should be: "If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee."
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Q. 68, Art. 7: "Whether the intention of receiving the sacrament of Baptism is required on the part of the one baptized? - According to the Church’s ritual, those who are to be baptized ask of the Church that they may receive Baptism: and thus they express their intention of receiving the sacrament. I answer that, By Baptism a man dies to the old life of sin, and begins a certain newness of life, according to Romans 6:4: "We are buried together with" Christ "by Baptism into death; that, as Christ is risen from the dead . . . so we also may walk in newness of life." Consequently, just as, according to Augustine (Serm. cccli), he who has the use of free-will, must, in order to die to the old life, "will to repent of his former life"; so must he, of his own will, intend to lead a new life, the beginning of which is precisely the receiving of the sacrament. Therefore on the part of the one baptized, it is necessary for him to have the will or intention of receiving the sacrament."
Concerning infants. The Church has always taught that infants baptized in heretical and schismatic churches are made Catholics, members of the Church and subjects of the Roman Pontiff, even if the people who baptized them are heretics who are outside the Catholic Church. This is because the infant, being below the age of reason, cannot be a heretic or schismatic or have an intention contrary to the validity or effect of baptism. Hence, he cannot have an impediment which would prevent Baptism from making him a member of the Church.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 13 on the Sacrament of Baptism: "If anyone shall say that infants, because they have not actual faith, after having received baptism are not to be numbered among the faithful… let him be anathema."
St. Thomas Aquinas also explains why infants does not need to have a desire for baptism and have contrition (or penance as it is also called) as adults always must desire baptism and have contrition in order to receive the full effect and validity of baptism.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part of the Second Part, Q. 113, Art. 3: "Whether for the justification of the ungodly is required a movement of the free-will? - Reply to Objection 1. Infants are not capable of the movement of their free-will; hence it is by the mere infusion of their souls that God moves them to justice. Now this cannot be brought about without a sacrament; because as original sin, from which they are justified [after receiving baptism], does not come to them from their own will, but by carnal generation [or from simply being born], so also is grace given them [not from their own will but] by Christ through spiritual regeneration [in baptism]. And the same reason holds good with madmen and idiots that have never had the use of their free-will."
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Third Part, Q. 68, Art. 9: "Whether children should be baptized? - I answer that, As the Apostle says (Romans 5:17), "if by one man’s offense death reigned through one," namely Adam, "much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ." Now children contract original sin from the sin of Adam; which is made clear by the fact that they are under the ban of death, which "passed upon all" on account of the sin of the first man, as the Apostle says in the same passage (Romans 5:12). Much more, therefore, can children receive grace through Christ, so as to reign in eternal life. But our Lord Himself said (John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Consequently it became necessary to baptize children, that, as in birth they incurred damnation through Adam [through no will of their own] so in a second birth they might obtain salvation through Christ [also through no will of their own]."
This means that all baptized infants wherever they are, even those baptized in heretical non-Catholic churches by heretical ministers, are made members of the Catholic Church. They are also made subject to the Roman Pontiff (if there is one).
So, far from being in favor of baptism of desire, this chapter of the Council of Trent actually goes against it. It defines that justification of the impious cannot take place without the water of baptism or the desire for it, and as we have seen, receiving water baptism is always necessary for justification for both adults and infants alike. We know this interpretation of this passage is correct, because if what baptism of desire proponents say were correct, we would actually have the Council teaching us in the first part of the sentence that John 3:5 is not to be taken as it is written (desire sometimes suffices), while simultaneously contradicting itself in the second part of the sentence by telling us to take John 3:5 as it is written (sicut scriptumest)! But this passage is infallible and there is no contradiction contained therein. So let every baptism of desire supporter cease preaching that Sess. 6, Chap. 4 teaches that justification "can" be effected by water or desire to the exclusion of actually receiving water baptism, which is certainly not what the Council says. Let them cease preaching that John 3:5 is not to be taken AS IT IS WRITTEN: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Let them cease quoting the horrible mistranslation of this passage as it is found in Denzinger (which many of them continue obstinately to do after it has been pointed out to them). And furthermore, let not these people think that they justify themselves before the all-knowing God by ignoring the above facts and continuing to obstinately assert that Sess. 6, Chap. 4 definitely teaches baptism of desire for salvation to the exclusion of actually receiving water baptism. They cannot be justified asserting this even by quoting famous Church theologians, who were mistaken in good faith; for God did not give the charism of infallibility to theologians, however great, but to St. Peter and his successors (the popes) alone (Lk. 22:31-32).
Some baptism of desire supporters also bring forward Sess. 7, Can. 4 on the Sacraments to somehow try to prove baptism of desire. But it’s obvious that this canon does not teach that either the sacraments or the desire for them is sufficient for justification, as some claim, but that it condemns those who assert that neither the sacraments nor the desire for them is necessary for justification, and that faith alone suffices. It does not affirm that either is sufficient, but condemns those who assert that neither is necessary.
An awkward translation of this canon, as well as the mistaken notion that Trent teaches baptism of desire in another place in Trent (which has already been refuted), has led to this erroneous assertion. In fact, we will see that the truth is just the opposite of what the baptism of desire advocates claim. Let’s take a look at the canon.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 4, On the Sacraments: "If anyone says that the sacraments of the new law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that people obtain the grace of justification from God without them or a desire for them, by faith alone, though all are not necessary for each individual [only baptism is necessary absolutely]: let him be anathema."
When one carefully examines this canon, he sees that it is not declaring that either the sacraments or the desire for them is sufficient for justification; but rather it is condemning those who would say that neither the sacraments nor the desire for them is necessary for justification. I repeat, it is not declaring that either is sufficient; it is condemning those who would say neither is necessary. Precisely, it is condemning those who would say that neither is necessary and that faith alone suffices.
Consider the following canon that I have made up: "If anyone says that the Virgin Mary possesses the Queenship of Heaven without God’s permission or her being worthy of it, but assumes this Queenship by usurpation alone, let him be anathema."
The sentence construction of this imaginary canon is similar to the canon we are discussing. Consider it carefully. After considering it, I ask: does this canon mean that the Blessed Mother possesses her Queenship solely by "her being worthy of it"? No, she must also have God’s permission. The canon does not say that either "her being worthy of it" or "God’s permission" is sufficient for Mary to possess the Queenship. Rather, it condemns those who would say that neither "God’s permission" nor "her being worthy of it" is necessary. In other words, the canon is condemning those who would say that both God’s permission and Mary’s worthiness are useless, since she assumes the Queenship by usurping it.
Likewise, canon 4 above does not say that either the sacraments or the desire for them is sufficient for justification; it condemns those who would say that both the sacraments and the desire are unnecessary in obtaining justification, since faith alone is all one needs. Canon 4 does not in any way teach the possibility of baptism of desire.
It is also quite interesting to consider that whereas the Council of Trent never teaches baptism of desire, it teaches no less than three times (twice in Sess. 6, Chap. 14 and once in Sess. 14, Chap. 4) that the desire for the Sacrament of Penance (if a person has perfect contrition) can suffice for justification before Penance is actually received. This efficacy of the desire for the Sacrament of Penance is mentioned three times, but the supposed efficacy of the desire for baptism (baptism of desire) is not mentioned at all. This should indicate something to those who believe in baptism of desire: God didn’t allow it to be taught in the infallible Council of Trent or any other Council or even in any Papal encyclical in the history of the Church, because it is an erroneous theory. John 3:5 is true exactly as it is written (Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4). If the concept of baptism of desire were a true teaching of the Church, then the Council of Trent definitely would have included it in the canons on Baptism or in the chapters on Justification. But it’s nowhere to be found. It’s also noteworthy that the terms baptism of desire and baptism of blood are not found anywhere even in The Catechism of the Council of Trent - contrary to what many assert.
2) Is there one baptism or are there three?
Is there only one baptism celebrated in water? Or do three baptisms exist: water, blood and desire? Let us quote the teaching of the Church: The Dogmatic Nicene Creed: "We confess one baptism for the remission of sins." Countless Popes have professed the dogma that there is only one baptism. Did baptism of desire proponents ever wonder why countless Popes have professed that there is only one baptism, and not a single one of them bothered to define the so-called "other two" (desire and blood)? Why has not a single Pope ever used the terms "baptism of desire" and "baptism of blood"? Why did two general councils of the Church – Lateran IV and Vienne – define ex cathedra only one baptism which is of water?
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: "But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity – namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost – and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the Church."
If the sacrament of baptism brings salvation to children and adults (de fide), then without it there is no salvation!
Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: "Besides, one baptism which regenerates all who are baptized in Christ must be faithfully confessed by all just as ‘one God and one faith’ [Eph. 4:5], which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we believe to be commonly the perfect remedy for salvation for adults as for children."
Here Pope Clement V defines as a dogma that ONE BAPTISM must be faithfully confessed by all, which is celebrated in water. This means that all Catholics must profess one baptism of water, not three baptisms: of water, blood and desire. To confess "three baptisms", and not one, is to reject Catholic dogma.
Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (# 15), Dec. 11, 1925: "Indeed this kingdom is presented in the Gospels as such, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance; moreover, they cannot enter it except through faith and baptism, which, although an external rite, yet signifies and effects an interior regeneration."
3) Are those who have not received the Sacrament of Baptism part of the faithful?
Who are the faithful? Can one who has not been baptized be considered part of the faithful? The following facts explain why the answer to this question is definitely a no.
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: "THERE IS INDEED ONE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF THE FAITHFUL, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice."
As many of you know, the Catholic Mass is divided into two parts: the Mass of the catechumens (those training to be baptized) and the Mass of the faithful (those baptized). Need one say more? In the early Church, the unsacramentally baptized (i.e., those who had not been baptized with water) had to leave after the Mass of the catechumens, when the faithful professed the Creed. The unbaptized were not allowed to stay for the Mass of the faithful, because it is only by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism that one becomes one of the faithful. This is the teaching of Tradition. This teaching of Tradition is why in the Traditional Rite of Baptism, the unbaptized catechumen is asked what he desires from holy Church, and he answers "Faith." The unbaptized catechumen does not have "the Faith", so he begs the Church for it in the "Sacrament of Faith" (Baptism), which alone makes him one of "the faithful."
St. John Chrysostom (Hom. in Jn. 25, 3), Bishop and Doctor of the Church: "For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful… One [the baptized] has Christ for his King; the other [the unbaptized] sin and the devil; the food of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes… Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion?… Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city above… for if it should come to pass (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated [unbaptized], though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be none other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble."
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 7 on Justification, ex cathedra: "… the instrumental cause [of Justification] is THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM, WHICH IS ‘THE SACRAMENT OF FAITH,’ without faith no one is ever justified… THIS FAITH, IN ACCORDANCE WITH APOSTOLIC TRADITION, CATECHUMENS BEG OF THE CHURCH BEFORE THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM, when they ask for ‘faith which bestows life eternal,’ (Rit. Rom., Ordo Baptismi) which without hope and charity faith cannot bestow."
And with these facts in mind (that a catechumen "begs" for the faith because he isn’t part of the faithful), remember the definition of Pope Innocent III at the Fourth Lateran Council: "There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved…" The original Latin reads: "Una vero est fidelium universalis ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur…" The Latin words nullus omnino mean "absolutely nobody." Absolutely nobody outside the one Church of the faithful is saved. Since the one Church of the faithful only includes those who have received the Sacrament of Baptism – as apostolic tradition, liturgical tradition and Church dogma show – this means that absolutely nobody is saved without the Sacrament of Baptism.
The unchanging dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation and the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism for Salvation, was defined as a truth by our first pope St. Peter himself:
"… the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ… Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name, under heaven, given to men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
There is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ, and the Catholic Church is His Mystical Body. Since there is no entering into the Catholic Church of Christ without the Sacrament of Baptism, this means that only baptized Catholics who die in the state of grace (and those who become baptized Catholics and die in the state of grace) can hope to be saved.
"If anyone abideth not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth." (John 15:6)
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (# 22), June 29, 1943: "Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration [water baptism] and profess the true faith."
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (# 27), June 29, 1943: "He (Christ) also determined that through Baptism (cf. Jn. 3:5) those who should believe would be incorporated in the Body of the Church."
4) Is Our Lord’s command to be baptized impossible for some to fulfill?
Catechism of the Council of Trent, On Baptism, Tan Books, p. 171: "Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when He gave to His Apostles the command to go and teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved."
As proven above, God commanded all men to be baptized. However, some supporters of the theory of baptism of desire argue that for some people the command to be baptized is impossible to fulfill.
Fr. Francis Spirago and Fr. Richard Clarke, The Catechism Explained, 1899, Baptism: "… for adults the simple desire is sufficient, if actual baptism is impossible."
God does not command impossibilities (de fide). Thus, it is not impossible for any man to get baptized.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 11 on Justification, ex cathedra: "... no one should make use of that rash statement forbidden under anathema by the Fathers, that the commandments of God are impossible to observe for a man who is justified. ‘FOR GOD DOES NOT COMMAND IMPOSSIBILITIES, but by commanding admonishes you both to do what you can do, and to pray for what you cannot do…"
Water Is Readily Available and Anyone Can Baptize
One proof that the reception of the sacrament of water baptism is necessary for sanctification and salvation is that God made it very easy for anyone to receive the sacrament of baptism no matter where he may be. First of, water, the matter of the sacrament, is readily available. Wherever men live there is water. Second, God allows anyone to administer the sacrament of baptism, even pagans and other unbelievers, when no Catholics are available.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, "Exultate Deo," 1439: "In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or a deacon, but even a layman or woman, yes even a pagan and a heretic can baptize, so long as he preserves the form of the Church and has the intention of doing what the Church does." (Denz. 696)
Hence there is no need for baptism of blood or desire because God has made the sacrament of baptism readily available under all circumstances. This is not true with the sacrament of penance, which God has made more difficult to receive because only a Catholic priest can administer the sacrament of penance. There have been many times in the history of the Catholic Church when Catholic priests were not available to Catholics (Anglican England; French Revolution; Arian crisis etc.) and thus God allows penance by desire for these stranded Catholics.
God is all knowing and all powerful and keeps His promises
Because God is all knowing, all powerful, and keeps all His promises, He will never let any ultimately good-willed person die without getting baptized by water and entering the Catholic Church. If you believe this is impossible for God, then you are a heretic for believing that God is not all powerful and all knowing: "With God all things are possible." (Mt. 19:26)
Jesus said that all men must be baptized by water to be saved; and He meant it literally. Jesus also promised that other good sheep (that is, good-willed unbelievers) would hear His voice and enter the Catholic Church before they die: "And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (Jn. 10:16) Because God keeps His promises, He sees to it that all these other good sheep will hear His voice, believe in Him, and receive the sacrament of baptism and enter the Catholic Church sometime before they die.
St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1: Objection: "It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith." St. Thomas replies: "It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…"
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4: "If a man born among barbarian nations, does what he can, God Himself will show him what is necessary for salvation, either by inspiration or sending a teacher to him."
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solute. 2: "If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is."
All the people who die in cultures which have never been penetrated by the Gospel go to Hell for sins against the natural law and the other grave sins which they commit – which bad will and failure to cooperate with God’s grace is the reason He does not reveal the Gospel to them. St. Augustine explains this well in reference to persons who died ignorant of the Faith and without baptism.
St. Augustine (+428): "… God foreknew that if they had lived and the gospel had been preached to them, they would have heard it without belief." (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 1997)
Because God is all knowing, He knew all of the good and bad sheep, the elect and the damned, even before the earth was created: "For all things were known to the Lord God, before they were created." (Eccus. 23:29) And because God is all powerful, He creates the elect as well as the damned and gives them both ample opportunities and occasions in a time or times and place or places in which they can cooperate with His grace and get baptized by water and enter the Catholic Church sometime before they die, even if by a miracle, provided on their own part there is no hindrance: "The works of God are done in judgment from the beginning, and from the making of them he distinguished their parts, and their beginnings in their generations." (Eccus. 16:26) "[God] hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation." (Acts 17:26) And because God is all powerful, He clears all obstacles that would prevent His elect of good-will from being baptized by water and entering the Catholic Church: "No word shall be impossible with God." (Lk. 1:37)
"Behold I am the Lord the God of all flesh: shall any thing be hard for me?… Alas, alas, alas, O Lord God, behold thou hast made heaven and earth by thy great power, and thy stretched out arm: no word shall be hard to thee… O most mighty, great, and powerful, the Lord of hosts is thy name. Great in counsel and incomprehensible in thought: whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the children of Adam, to render unto every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his devices." (Jer. 32:27, 17-19)
Jesus said, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you." (Mt. 17:19) St. Gregory the Wonder Worker, also known as Thaumaturgus, proved he had this faith in God. Thus God moved a great stone for him.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Nov. 17: "Gregory explained to him [an idolatrous priest] the principles of the Christian faith, and finding the priest shocked at the doctrine of the incarnation, told him that great truth was not to be enforced by words or human reasoning, but by the wonders of the divine power. The priest hereupon pointing to a great stone, desired the saint to command that it should change its place to another, which he named. St. Gregory did so, and the stone obeyed, by the power of him who promised his disciples that by faith they should be able to remove mountains. The priest was converted by this miracle, and, forsaking his house, friends, and relations, resigned himself up to the instructions of divine wisdom." (v. 4, p. 222, c. 1)
Since God moves great stones and even mountains because of a man’s faith, then God certainly gets baptismal water to a man because of his faith. Without God’s help, no one can be saved. Jesus said: "No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him." (Jn. 6:44) The Father draws men to Jesus by giving them His grace, then by drawing them to His gospel, then by their believing, and then by drawing them to the baptismal waters: "But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved." (Acts 15:11) "Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ." (Rom. 10:17) "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." (Mk. 16:16) Good-willed men have nothing to fear because God is all merciful, all just, all knowing, all powerful, and all honest and hence keeps His promise to draw all the good sheep to Jesus: "All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out." (Jn. 6:37) Therefore, the Father draws all the good sheep to Jesus by sending them the gospel, a preacher, giving them the grace to believe, getting them baptized by water, even if by miracle, and hence drawing them into His Catholic Church.
There would be no need for God to save anyone by baptism of blood (or "baptism of desire"), since He can keep any sincere souls alive until they are baptized. St. Martin of Tours brought back to life a catechumen who had died so that he could baptize him (Life of St. Martin, 7, 1-7). St. Joan of Arc brought back to life a dead infant so that she could baptize him (Raised From The Dead, p. 93.). There were many similar miracles. One striking example is said to have occurred in the life of St. Peter himself. While he was chained to a pillar in the Mamertine prison in Rome, he baptized two of his guards, Processus and Martinian, with water which miraculously sprang up from the ground within hands distance from St. Peter. These guards were also jailed with St. Peter and were to undergo execution the next day because they were converts. Their desire for baptism (baptism of desire) and their martyrdom for the faith (baptism of blood) weren’t going to be enough. They needed to be baptized with "water and the Holy Ghost" (Jn. 3:5). And God saw that they truly desired the Sacrament, so He provided it miraculously.
What follows is just a few examples (of innumerable) of people miraculously receiving water baptism before their death.
St. Joan of Arc, 15th century
Fr. Albert J. Herbert, Raised from the Dead, 1986: "One of the most unique saints of all time was Joan of Arc (1412-1431)… In early March, 1430, St. Joan arrived at the village of Lagny-sur-Marn, in the direction of Paris. Here she learned of a woman who was greatly distressed because she had given birth to a stillborn son. Some villagers approached Joan and asked for her intercession. The mother prayed only that the child might be brought to life long enough to be baptized and so gain Heaven. Joan went to the church where the dead child had been laid at the feet of the statue of the Blessed Mother. Young girls of the village were praying by the small corpse. Joan then added her own prayers. The baby came to life and yawned three times. Baptism was hurriedly administered. The baby boy died again, and his beautiful spotless baptized soul went straight to Heaven."
St. Patrick, 5th century
History also records that St. Patrick – who himself raised over 40 people from the dead – raised a number of people from the dead specifically in order to baptize them, something which was totally unnecessary if one can be saved without baptism.
Michael Malone, The Only-Begotten, p. 384: "In all, St. Patrick brought to life some forty infidels in Ireland, one of whom was King Echu… On raising him from the dead, St. Patrick instructed and baptized him, asking what he had seen of the other world. King Echu told how he had actually beheld the throne prepared for him in Heaven because of his life of being open to the grace of Almighty God, but that he was not allowed to enter precisely because he was as yet unbaptized. After receiving the sacraments… (he) died instantly and went to his reward."
The same scholar further notes:
Michael Malone, The Only-Begotten, p. 385: "Many such saints have been recorded as resurrecting grown-ups specifically and exclusively for the Sacrament of Baptism, including St. Peter Claver, St. Winifred of Wales, St. Julian of Mans, St. Eleutherius, and others. But even more have raised up little infants for the sacrament of salvation: St. Gregory Nazianz… St. Hilary… St. Elizabeth… St. Colette… St. Frances of Rome… St. Joan of Arc… St. Philip Neri… St. Francis Xavier… St. Gildas… St. Gerard Majella… to name a few."
St. Peter Claver, 17th century
One of the more interesting cases is the story of Augustina, the slave girl, which is related in the life of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary in 17th century Colombia.
The Only-Begotten, Michael Malone, p. 386: "When Father Claver arrived at her deathbed, Augustina lay cold to the touch, her body already being prepared for burial. He prayed at her bedside for one hour, when suddenly the woman sat up, vomited a pool of blood, and declared upon being questioned by those in attendance: ‘I have come from journeying along a long road. After I had gone a long way down it, I met a white man of great beauty who stood before me and said: Stop! You can go no further.’… On hearing this, Father Claver cleared the room and prepared to hear her Confession, thinking she was in need of absolution for some sin she may have forgotten. But in the course of the ritual, St. Peter Claver was inspired to realize that she had never been baptized. He cut short her confession and declined to give her absolution, calling instead for water with which to baptize her. Augustina’s master insisted that she could not possibly need baptism since she had been in his employ for twenty years and had never failed to go to Mass, Confession, and Communion all that time. Nevertheless, Father Claver insisted on baptizing her, after which Augustina died again joyfully and peacefully in the presence of the whole family."
Fr. Pierre De Smet, 19th century
The great "Apostle of the Rocky Mountains," Fr. Pierre De Smet, who was the extraordinary missionary to the American Indians in the 19th century, was also a witness – as were his fellow Jesuit missionaries – of many people coming to baptism under miraculous circumstances.
Fr. De Smet, Dec. 18, 1839: "I have often remarked that many of the children seem to await baptism before winging their flight to heaven, for they die almost immediately after receiving the sacrament."
Fr. De Smet, Dec. 9, 1845: "… over a hundred children and eleven old people were baptized. Many of the latter [the old people], who were carried on buffalo hides, seemed only to await this grace before going to rest in the bosom of God."
St. Columbanus, 6th century
In the life of the extraordinary Irish missionary St. Columbanus (A.D. 543-615), we read of a similar story of God’s providence getting all good willed souls to baptism.
Rev. Canon Howe, The Catechist: "[St. Columbanus said]: ‘My sons, today you will see an ancient Pictish chief, who has faithfully kept the precepts of the Natural Law all his life, arrive on this island; he comes to be baptized and to die.’ Immediately, a boat was seen to approach with a feeble old man seated in the prow who was recognized as chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two of his companions brought him before the missionary, to whose words he listened attentively. The old man asked to be baptized, and immediately thereafter breathed out his last breath and was buried on the very spot."
There are many other historical accounts of miraculous baptisms. These few accounts are sufficient proof that God is telling us that baptism of water, the reception of the sacrament of baptism, is not only possible to receive, even if by a miracle, for good willed soul, but is also the only way men can be sanctified and saved.
John 3:5 vs. John 6:54
Some writers have tried to refute a literal interpretation of John 3:5 by appealing to the words of Our Lord in John 6:54: "Amen, amen I say to you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." They argue that the language in this verse is the same as in John 3:5, and yet the Church doesn’t take Jn. 6:54 literally – for infants don’t need to receive the Eucharist to be saved. But the argument falters because the proponents of this argument have missed a crucial difference in the wording of these two verses.
John 6:54: "Amen, amen I say to you: EXCEPT YOU EAT the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you."
John 3:5: "Amen, amen I say to thee, UNLESS A MAN be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Our Lord Jesus Christ, when speaking on the necessity of receiving the Eucharist in John 6:54, does not say: "unless a man eat the flesh of the Son of man…" He says: "Except you…" His words, therefore, are clearly intended for the people to whom He was speaking, not every man. Since the people to whom He was speaking could receive the Eucharist, they had to in order to be saved. This applies to all who can receive the Eucharist, which is what the Church teaches. But in John 3:5 Our Lord unequivocally speaks of every man, and speaks universally. This is why the Catholic Church’s magisterial teaching, in every single instance it has dealt with John 3:5, has taken it as it is written (see Council of Carthage, Denz 102; Florence, Denz. 696; Trent, Sess. 5, no. 4, Denz. 791; Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4; Trent, Can. 2 and 5 on Baptism, Denz. 858 and 861.). Also, one should note that Trent’s Canons on Baptism are Canons on the Sacrament (Canones de sacramento baptismi).
The difference in the wording of these two verses actually shows the supernatural inspiration of the Bible and the absolute necessity of water baptism for every man.
This means that Can. 5 (see below) condemns anyone who says that the Sacrament of Baptism (i.e., water baptism) is not necessary for salvation. It also takes John 3:5 literally once again, as the Church always does.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Canons on the Sacrament of Baptism, Can. 5: "IF ANYONE SHALL SAY THAT BAPTISM [THE SACRAMENT] IS OPTIONAL, THAT IS, NOT NECESSARY FOR SALVATION (cf. John 3:5): let him be anathema."
John 3:5-7: "Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God… WONDER NOT, that I said to thee, YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN."
THE BIBLE TEACHES BAPTISMAL REGENERATION AND THAT BAPTISM IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION
Most Protestants today do not believe that baptism regenerates. This includes Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, most Evangelicals, and many others. They do not believe that baptism removes sin from the soul and places man in a state of justification. Their position is that water baptism should be performed, but that it’s just a sign of initiation, a sign of a conversion, or a spiritual rebirth that has already happened.
The Catholic position is that baptism is necessary for salvation. The Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for every man because baptism is the cause of spiritual rebirth. Baptism regenerates.
So what does the Bible teach on the matter?
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT BAPTISM IS FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS
Acts 2:38 “But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
That’s quite clear. The Bible says that baptism is for the remission of sins. It takes away sins.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT BAPTISM WASHES AWAY SINS
Acts 22:12-16 “And one Ananias… Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked upon him. And he said… arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
This clearly indicates that St. Paul’s sins would be washed away in baptism.
JESUS TEACHES THAT ALL MEN MUST BE BAPTIZED TO HAVE THE FAITH AND BE SAVED
Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
In the very last INSTRUCTION THAT JESUS CHRIST GIVES THE APOSTLES BEFORE LEAVING THIS WORLD – He gives His Apostles two commands: to teach all nations and to baptize. This should tell everyone something about the importance and the necessity of baptism. Baptism is bound up, by Jesus Himself, with the very command to teach all nations the Christian faith. That’s because no one can be saved without it, as we see in St. Mark’s Gospel.
Mark 16:15-16 “And he (Jesus) said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Jesus says that those who believe and are baptized will be saved, which indicates that the unbaptized will not be saved. But some ask: why didn’t Jesus say, “he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned,” after saying he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved? The answer is that those who don’t believe are not going to get baptized, so it’s not necessary to mention baptism again.
ROMANS AND EPHESIANS TEACH THAT ONE COMES OUT OF SIN THROUGH BAPTISM
In Romans 5 and 6, St. Paul explains that Christ reconciles some men to God, removes their Original Sin, and makes them members of the Church of God. He explains that this happens by baptism.
Romans 6:3-4 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death…”
The reference to being “buried into death” by baptism refers to the spiritual rebirth which baptism gives. It puts to death the old man who lived in original sin, and gives birth to a new life in Christ.
In the Book of Ephesians, the Bible teaches that the souls of the Church are cleansed in water baptism.
Ephesians 5:25-26 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the word of life.”
The Church is sanctified and cleansed by the laver (or washing) of water in the word of life. What’s this washing of water? It obviously refers to water baptism. The “word of life” refers to the words which were given by Jesus for the baptismal form (Matthew 28:19). Even John Calvin, the famous Protestant who denied baptismal regeneration, admitted that this passage (Ephesians 5:26) refers to water baptism. (Calvin, Institutes, “of Baptism,” Book, 4.15.1)
1 CORINTHIANS 12 TEACHES THAT BAPTISM MAKES ONE A MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free…”
The Bible says that one comes into the Body of Christ and receives the Holy Spirit through baptism.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT ALL TRUE BELIEVERS HAVE RECEIVED THE ONE BAPTISM
Ephesians 4:3-6 “Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit; as you are called in the hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all…”
In Ephesians 4, St. Paul is describing the unity in the Church of Jesus Christ. Consider the list that he gives: One Lord, One Faith, One God, One Father. Prominently placed with “Lord” and “Faith” and “God” and “Father” is baptism. This is because it is through this baptism that a man becomes united to God and incorporated into the unity of the Church. To believe that people in the Church do not have this one baptism is equivalent to believing that they don’t have the one Lord and the one Faith. That’s how necessary baptism is.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT FAITH IS RECEIVED THROUGH BAPTISM
In Galatians 3, we see the link between receiving the faith and receiving baptism. We see that one first receives faith through baptism.
In Galatians 3:23, St. Paul says: “But before faith came…”
In verse 24, he says: “that we may be justified by faith…”
In verse 25, he says: “But after that faith is come…”
In verse 26, he says: “For ye are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus.”
St. Paul explains exactly what he means by “faith in Christ Jesus” in the very next verse (verse 27).
Galatians 3:27 “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This very interesting chapter of Scripture should give a message to everyone. It’s clearly teaching what the Catholic Church has held for 2,000 years: that it is by means of the Sacrament of Baptism that one receives faith. That’s why baptism has been called, since apostolic times, “the Sacrament of faith.” Without baptism, one does not have the faith and cannot be saved.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT WATER BAPTISM SAVES
Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
The Bible says that men are saved by the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” This refers to the spiritual regeneration given in the baptismal waters. The outward pouring of water effects the interior cleansing and renewal of the Holy Spirit. This sacramental action justifies the soul, and applies the merit of the Blood of Jesus Christ while the baptism is occurring.
Protestants have tried to explain this passage away. They argue that the “washing” doesn’t refer to the water of baptism, but to the cleansing of the Spirit without baptism. This is refuted by comparing this passage to 1 Peter 3:20-21. They both teach that baptism “saves.” 1 Peter 3:20-21 is clearly referring to water baptism, not just a spiritual washing. This demonstrates that Titus 3:5 is also referring to regeneration through the water of baptism.
1 Peter 3:20-21 “… when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also…”
1 Peter 3:20-21 is one of the strongest passages in the Bible on the necessity of baptism. Notice the force of St. Peter’s assertion here. Baptism now saves you. He is talking about water baptism (the Sacrament), of course, because he draws an analogy between the baptismal waters and the Flood waters. Peter compares receiving the Sacrament of (Water) Baptism to being on the ark of Noe. Just as no one escaped physical death outside the ark of Noe during the time of the Flood (only eight souls survived the Flood by being firmly planted on the ark), likewise no one avoids spiritual death or is saved from original sin without baptism! Baptism saves you. How clear does it have to be that the Bible teaches that water baptism is necessary for salvation?
THE CROSSING OF THE RED SEA WAS A TYPE OF WATER BAPTISM
This brings me to another point. That is typology. As mentioned in the section on the Virgin Mary, a biblical type is a real event or a real person or a real thing in the Old Testament which foreshadows and points forward to something in the New Testament. There are types of water baptism. One type of water baptism and its necessity is found in the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and the Israelites.
Just as no one escaped physical death at the hands of the Egyptians without crossing through the waters of the Red Sea, no one escapes eternal death without receiving the baptismal waters. St. Paul makes the connection in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2:
1 Corinthians 10:1-2 “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea…”
OTHER OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF WATER BAPTISM
In the very beginning God created heaven and earth; and the first thing mentioned in the Bible is the waters. Look at the very first two verses in the first book of the Bible.
Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
This tells us that water has been of major – and even unique – significance to God’s creation from the very beginning. It has been integral to His plan. He has used it to cleanse, to generate new life. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that the element He would choose, in bringing the new life of Jesus Christ to souls by dispensing the merit of His passion and the cleansing of the Holy Spirit, is that primordial element over which His Spirit moved at the beginning of creation.
Another clear type of, or reference to, the sanctifying effects of water baptism is found in Ezechiel 36.
Ezechiel 36:24-26 “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”
This clearly refers to the cleansing power of water baptism, which will transmit the new life of Jesus Christ, and will be dispensed to God’s people gathered from all over the Earth. The reference to “clean water” in Ezechiel 36 proves that it’s referring to justification in the New Testament; for the very same language is found in Hebrews 10:22, to describe the interior change effectuated by justification in Christ. In Hebrews 10:22, that change is described as a heart being sprinkled from an evil conscience. Ezechiel 36 specifically indicates that this cleanness of heart is effectuated by the sprinkling with clean water (in baptism).
Some people object at this point. They bring up the Good Thief on the Cross as an example against the necessity of baptism. But this example fails. First, the law of baptism, which Jesus made binding on every man, became an obligation after Jesus’ Resurrection, when Jesus gave the command to preach the Gospel and to baptize all nations in Matthew 28:19. The Good Thief died under the Old Law, before the Law of Baptism became binding on everyone. Second, the Good Thief did not go to Heaven on the day that Jesus was crucified. We know this because no one went to Heaven until after Jesus did. Jesus had the primacy in all things, as St. Paul says in Colossians 1:18.
Jesus didn’t ascend into Heaven until after His Resurrection, as John 20:17 proves. So the Good Thief is not an example against the necessity of baptism for salvation. That’s why the Apostles’ Creed, which Catholics recite, correctly states that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into Hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead and then ascended into Heaven. He didn’t ascend to Heaven until after His Resurrection, and He descended into Hell on the day of His death. What was this Hell? It was Abraham’s bosom, the waiting place of the just of the Old Testament. That’s where the Good Thief went with Jesus on the day of His Crucifixion; Jesus called it paradise because He would be there.
JESUS SUBMITTED TO BAPTISM TO SHOW ALL MEN THAT IT’S NECESSARY TO BE BAPTIZED
Baptism is so necessary that even Jesus submitted Himself to it. He was baptized by St. John the Baptist to show that every single man – and Jesus was both true God and true man – must be baptized for salvation. It should be pointed out that in Catholic theology, the baptism given by John the Baptist was not the same as the baptism which Jesus instituted: the true Sacrament of Baptism. It did not have the same force or power.
The baptism instituted by Jesus takes away original and actual sins, as well as all punishment due to sin; the baptism of John was a baptism which stirred people to repentance and was a prefigurement of the baptism which Jesus instituted. That’s why those who had only received the baptism of John were baptized again (Acts 19:4-5). But Jesus’ reception of baptism at the hands of John is considered to be the transition between John’s prefigured baptism and the real baptism of Christ. The baptism of Jesus sanctified the waters so that they could be efficacious in taking away sin, even though the baptism which Jesus would institute would not become binding on all until after the Resurrection.
Luke 3:21-22 “… it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
The descent of the Holy Ghost signifies the regenerative powers of baptism. The opening of Heaven signifies that Heaven is open to a man once he has properly received baptism. It makes him an adopted son of God, instead of an excluded child of Adam.
BLOOD AND WATER CAME FROM JESUS’ SIDE BECAUSE HIS BLOOD IS POURED OUT IN THE WATER OF BAPTISM
The Bible makes a clear connection between the Blood of Jesus and the water of baptism. In John 19, we see that blood and water came forth from Jesus’ side after His death on the Cross. This real event had a symbolic significance as well.
John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”
This signified that His Blood (and the merit of His passion) would be poured out with water in baptism. That’s why we also read in 1 John 5 that there is a connection between the spirit, the water and the blood.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT THE BLOOD OF JESUS, THE SPIRITUAL RENEWAL, AND THE WATER OF BAPTISM COME AS ONE
1 John 5:8 “And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one.”
This refers to the three witnesses in justification: the new life or spirit brought by justification, the water of baptism, and the blood of Jesus. These three must be present for a person to be justified. The first and the third come together – are poured out – in the water of baptism. That’s why Jesus speaks of being born again of water and the spirit (John 3:5). He could have also truly spoken of being born again of water, blood and the spirit.
JESUS SAYS NO ONE ENTERS HEAVEN WITHOUT REBIRTH OF WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT
John 3:3-5 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Deeply consider that when Jesus teaches this profound truth, He prefaces His statement by saying: “verily, verily” or “truly truly” or “amen, amen,” depending upon the translation you are reading.
This double-affirmation is an act of oath-taking. In a Jewish court of law, no one could be put to death without the testimony of two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Both of them had to raise their right hand and say: Amen. (See Nehemiah 8:6 or 2 Esdras 8:6 as an example of the solemnity of this formula.) Therefore, this solemn language indicates that what Jesus has to say here is extremely serious. Jesus is affirming in a solemn oath that no one enters Heaven without being born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus then specifically asks Him how that happens; how is one born again? Jesus answers, in John 3:5, by declaring that unless a man is born OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT HE CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD. So, being born again means being born of water and the Holy Ghost. This clearly refers to water baptism.
It’s true that non-Catholics have tried to explain away the clear meaning of these words, but to no avail. Many of them say that the water refers to natural birth, and the Spirit refers to the born again process by accepting the faith. That’s impossible because the passage is about the rebirth. Jesus says that the rebirth is of water and the Spirit. Moreover, the phrase “of water and the Spirit” in Greek (ek hudatos kai pneumatos) is a single linguistical unit, as Greek scholars point out. It describes being “born of water and the Spirit,” not “born of water” on the one hand, and “born of the Spirit” on the other.
In addition, the extended context of the passage confirms that it’s referring to water baptism. In the very next chapter, we read that Jesus’ Apostles went out and baptized. Look at John 4:1. So, after the Bible presents the absolute necessity of water baptism, it mentions that the Apostles practiced what Jesus preached.
It’s crucial for people to understand that John 3:5 refers to water baptism; for millions have a false and unbiblical concept of what it means to be born again. They think it means coming to a true commitment that Jesus is the Savior. That is incorrect, and was not believed in the ancient Church. It is certainly necessary for a person above the age of reason to accept Jesus Christ, to believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation, and to accept all of His teachings. But the Bible clearly teaches that being born again refers to the spiritual regeneration which water baptism gives. The overwhelming evidence which we’ve considered from other passages in the New Testament also proves it.
The Sacrament of Baptism removes all original and actual sins for those who properly receive it. It should be noted, however, that receiving that sacramental is not a guarantee of salvation. One can lose the grace of baptism through mortal sins and by denying the true faith of Jesus Christ.
THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH ALL TAUGHT BAPTISMAL REGENERATION AND THAT BAPTISM IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION
From the very beginning of the Christian Church, the fathers of the Church unanimously believed in the necessity of water baptism and baptismal regeneration. They based that belief on the teaching of the New Testament, John 3:5 and Apostolic Tradition. Here are just four passages. One could quote dozens of others.
In the Letter of Barnabas, dated as early as 70 A.D., we read:
“… we descend into the water full of sins and foulness, and we come up bearing fruit in our heart…” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1:34.)
In the Shepherd of Hermas, dated 140 A.D., Hermas quotes Jesus in John 3:5 and writes:
“They had need to come up through the water, so that they might be made alive; for they could not otherwise enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1:92.)
In 155 A.D., in First Apology, 61, St. Justin the Martyr writes:
“… they are led by us to a place where there is water; and there they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn… in the name of God… they receive the washing of water. For Christ said, ‘Unless you be reborn, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ The reason for doing this we have learned from the apostles.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1:126.)
St. Aphraates, the oldest of the Syrian fathers, writes in his Treatises, 336 A.D.:
“For from baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ… For the Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of re-birth.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1:681.)
Many Protestants do not believe that infants should be baptized. They think baptism should only be given to those who have reached the age of reason and have chosen to receive it. They consider the baptisms of infants to be invalid and unscriptural. This position is false for many reasons.
It should be pointed out, first of all, that most Protestants agree with Catholics on this point. Most of them practice infant baptism. Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and others practice infant baptism. This is obviously not to suggest that infant baptism is proven true by the fact that these groups practice it; but merely to note that Protestants who reject infant baptism are in the minority, even among Protestants.
Second, the Bible teaches that whole households were baptized:
1 Cor. 1:16 “And I [Paul] baptized also the household of Stephanas…”
Acts 16:15 “And when she [Lydia] was baptized, and her household…”
Acts 16:33 “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”
Entire households were baptized. Think about these verses. The Bible refers to a woman and “her household.” It refers to a man and his “household.” Why didn’t the passage just generally include children. Scripture connects the two:
Gen. 18:19 “… he will command his children and his household after him…”
Gen. 36:6 “And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house.”
Since households generally include children – and the Bible repeatedly mentions that whole households were baptized – these passages by themselves make the case against infant baptism extremely unlikely. In fact, if a Protestant who rejects infant baptism believes in Scripture alone, he would have to find an explicit teaching in the Bible that infants should not be baptized. But there is nothing like that.
Third, Jesus clearly taught that every man must be baptized to be saved. We saw this in John 3:5. He does not make any distinctions or exceptions. This is very significant because in John 6:53 – a passage on the necessity to eat Jesus’ flesh, which uses language that is similar to John 3:5 – we do see a distinction. In John 6:53, Jesus says:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”
But in John 3:5, he says:
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
In John 6:53 (John 6:54 in Catholic versions), Jesus says unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man. But in John 3:5, the statement is universally applicable: unless A MAN is born again of water and the Spirit.
The wording is slightly different because receiving the Eucharist is necessary for all who hear the command and can fulfill it, such as those above the age of reason. Jesus said unless you, to those to whom He was speaking and to others who hear the command. But the necessity to receive water baptism is universal. Hence, Jesus says unless a man is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Every man necessarily includes infants. It logically follows from the teaching of Jesus in John 3:5 that infants should be baptized.
THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT BAPTISM IS THE NEW CIRCUMCISION –
INFANTS WERE CIRCUMCISED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Moving to the next point, which is extremely important, we must consider circumcision. Circumcision was the Old Testament counterpart to Baptism. Circumcision was the way that males in the Old Testament entered a covenant relationship with God. If you were not circumcised, you were not in God’s covenant. It was a type of baptism.
Like other types, not every aspect of circumcision corresponded to what baptism would be. For instance, only males could be circumcised in the Old Testament, but males and females are baptized in the New. But there is no doubt that circumcision was the Old Testament counterpart to baptism. Colossians 2 teaches that baptism is the New Testament circumcision.
Colossians 2:11-12 “In [Jesus] also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith…”
This passage identifies baptism as the new and greater circumcision. It also says that one rises to new supernatural life in Christ by baptism. Infants were circumcised in the Old Testament. If baptism is the new circumcision, it follows that infants are to be baptized in the New. If not, then God would have been more generous, more universal, more inclusive in the inferior Old Covenant than He is in the New. But this is not the case.
The salvation which is made available in Jesus is open to all peoples: to Jews and Gentiles. It’s unthinkable that Jesus would not establish a means to incorporate children into His spiritual Kingdom and to give them His blessings and salvation.
In fact, notice what Peter says in his famous sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2:
Acts 2:38-39 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. For the promise is unto you, and to your children…”
This passage is speaking of baptism, and the blessings and forgiveness given through it. It says that the promise is also for the children. They receive the forgiveness through water baptism.
Matthew 19:13-15 “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”
THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH BELIEVED IN INFANT BAPTISM
The fathers of the Christian Church also believed in infant baptism, having received this tradition from Jesus and the Apostles. Here are just three passages; others could be quoted.
Origen, Homilies on Leviticus 8:3, 244-248 A.D. “In the Church, baptism is given for the remission of sins, and, according to the usage of the Church, baptism is given even to infants. If there were nothing in infants which required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of baptism would seem superfluous.”
Pope St. Innocent, 414 A.D. “But that which Your Fraternity asserts the Pelagians preach, that even without the grace of Baptism infants are able to be endowed with the rewards of eternal life, is quite idiotic.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3:2016.)
St. Augustine, Letter to Jerome, 415 A.D. “Anyone who should say that even infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3:1439.)
Some non-Catholics believe baptism must be received by immersion. This is not taught in the Bible. Consider the fact that on Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2, when thousands were baptized, there wasn’t a sufficient water supply to baptize them all by immersion. Baptism by effusion (pouring) or sprinkling must have been used.
In addition, baptism by immersion would be very difficult or impossible in extremely cold environments such as the Arctic, and in extremely hot environments such as deserts. In other situations – such as an apostolate to prisoners (e.g., Acts 16) – where freedom of movement is limited, baptizing by immersion wouldn’t be practicable. Jesus never would have made it so difficult or impossible to administer baptism in these situations when He was the one who declared that every man must have it.
Some people also say that the word baptism in Greek exclusively means immersion. This is not true. The word is used to signify immersion, but it is also used to signify washings which are not immersions. Examples where baptism means washing, but not immersion, are found in Luke 11:38 and Hebrews 9:10. Baptism is valid if performed either by immersion, effusion (i.e., pouring) or sprinkling, but the water must be moving as it strikes the skin and the proper words (“I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” or their equivalent) must be said.
Another point is that in baptism, the Holy Spirit is poured out. That means that even though baptism by immersion is certainly valid if done properly, one could say that baptism by effusion (i.e., pouring) more precisely signifies the action of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. There is also the fact that paintings in the catacombs, which were made by the earliest Christians, depict baptisms by pouring. This shows that these baptisms by pouring were considered acceptable from the beginning.
The Didache was written around A.D. 70. It’s a famous document from the early Church. It’s a strong witness to the beliefs and practices of the ancient Christians. In chapter 7, The Didache approves of baptism by immersion in a river, but also baptism by effusion or pouring.
The Didache, 70 A.D. “And concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have not living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot in cold, in warm. But if you have not neither, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.”
This was written while some of the Apostles might have been living or in the first generation after them. All of this shows that the Catholic Church’s teaching on baptism is the true teaching of the Bible. This is because the Catholic Church is the one true Church.
Please also see: Catholic Dogma teaches that Baptism is Necessary for Salvation
THE KEYS OF ST. PETER AND HIS UNFAILING FAITH
It is a fact of history, scripture and tradition that Our Lord Jesus Christ founded His universal Church (the Catholic Church) upon St. Peter.
Matthew 16:18-19-“And I say to thee: That thou art Peter: and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”
Our Lord made St. Peter the first pope, entrusted to him His entire flock, and gave him supreme authority in the universal Church of Christ.
John 21:15-17-“Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him a third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.”
And with the supreme authority that Our Lord Jesus Christ conferred upon St. Peter (and his successors, the popes) comes what is called Papal Infallibility. Papal Infallibility is inseparable from Papal Supremacy – there was no point for Christ to make St. Peter the head of His Church (as Christ clearly did) if St. Peter or his successors, the popes, could err when exercising that supreme authority to teach on a point of Faith. The supreme authority must be unfailing on binding matters of Faith and morals or else it is no true authority from Christ at all.
Papal Infallibility does not mean that a pope cannot err at all and it does not mean that a pope cannot lose his soul and be damned in Hell for grave sin. It means that the successors of St. Peter (the popes of the Catholic Church) cannot err when authoritatively teaching on a point of Faith or morals to be held by the entire Church of Christ. We find the promise of the unfailing faith for St. Peter and his successors referred to by Christ in Luke 22.
Luke 22:31-32- “And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have all of you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.”
Satan desired to sift all the Apostles (plural) like wheat, but Jesus prayed for Simon Peter (singular), that his faith fail not. Jesus is saying that St. Peter and his successors (the popes of the Catholic Church) have an unfailing faith when authoritatively teaching a point of faith or morals to be held by the entire Church of Christ.
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra:“SO, THIS GIFT OF TRUTH AND A NEVER FAILING FAITH WAS DIVINELY CONFERRED UPON PETER AND HIS SUCCESSORS IN THIS CHAIR…”Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, ex cathedra:“… the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: ‘I have prayed for thee [Peter], that thy faith fail not ...’”
And this truth has been held since the earliest times in the Catholic Church.
Pope St. Gelasius I, epistle 42, or Decretal de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris, 495: “Accordingly, the see of Peter the Apostle of the Church of Rome is first, having neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor anything of this kind (Eph. 5:27).”
The word “infallible” actually means “cannot fail” or “unfailing.” Therefore, the very term Papal Infallibility comes directly from Christ’s promise to St. Peter (and his successors) in Luke 22, that Peter has an unfailing Faith. Though this truth was believed since the beginning of the Church, it was specifically defined as a dogma at the First Vatican Council in 1870.
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, Session 4, Chap. 4: the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra [from the Chair of Peter], that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians in accord with his supreme apostolic authority he explains a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church... operates with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished that His Church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff from himself, but not from the consensus of the Church, are unalterable.”
But how does one know when a pope is exercising his unfailing Faith to infallibly teach from the Chair of St. Peter? The answer is that we know from the language that the pope uses or the manner in which the pope teaches. Vatican I defined two requirements which must be fulfilled: 1) when the pope is carrying out his duty as pastor and teacher of all Christians in accord with his supreme apostolic authority; 2) when he explains a doctrine on faith or morals to be held by the entire Church of Christ. A pope can fulfill both of these requirements in just one line, by anathematizing a false opinion (such as many dogmatic councils) or by saying “By our apostolic authority we declare…” or by saying “We believe, profess, and teach” or by using words of similar importance and meaning, which indicate that the pope is teaching the whole Church on Faith in a definitive and binding fashion.
So, when a pope teaches from the Chair of Peter in the manner stipulated above he cannot be wrong. If he could be wrong, then the Church of Christ could be officially led into error, and Christ’s promise to St. Peter and His Church would fail (which is impossible). That which is taught from the Chair of Peter by the popes of the Catholic Church is the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself. To reject that which is taught by the popes from the Chair of Peter is simply to despise Jesus Christ Himself.
Luke 10:16- “He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you despiseth me…”
Matthew 18:17 -“And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.”
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 1896: “…Christ instituted a living, authoritative and permanent Magisterium… If it could in any way be false, an evident contradiction follows; for then God Himself would be the author of error in man.”
The following statements on Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation are from the highest teaching authority of the Catholic Church. They are ex cathedra Papal decrees (decrees from the Chair of St. Peter). Therefore, they constitute the teaching given to the Catholic Church by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Such teachings are unchangeable and are classified as part of the solemn magisterium (the extraordinary teaching authority of the Catholic Church).
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra ( infallible statement from the chair of Peter): “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
As we can see from this infallible statement from the chair of Peter, no one at all can be saved unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives.. Yet, many people today who call themselves Catholic or Christian, boldly and obstinately assert the direct opposite of this statement and claim that protestants, heretics, Jews, schismatics and even Pagans can attain eternal life.
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio (# 2), May 27, 1832: “Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life.”
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, The Athanasian Creed, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.” (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, pp. 550-553; Denzinger 39-40.)
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra: “With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by absolute necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Those who refuse to believe in the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation until they understand how there is justice in it are simply withholding their Faith in Christ’s revelation. Those with the true Faith in Christ (and His Church) accept His teaching first and understand the truth in it (i.e., why it is true) second. A Catholic does not withhold his belief in Christ’s revelation until he can understand it. That is the mentality of a faithless heretic who possesses insufferable pride. St. Anselm sums up the true Catholic outlook on this point.
St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church, Prosologion, Chap. 1: “For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand.”
The Catholic Church has always taught that anyone (including a layman or a non-Catholic) can validly baptize if he adheres to proper matter and form and if he has the intention of doing what the Church does.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” 1439: “In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or a deacon, but even a layman or woman, yes even a pagan and a heretic can baptize, so long as he preserves the form of the Church and has the intention of doing what the Church does.” (Denzinger 696)
The Church has always taught that infants baptized in heretical and schismatic churches are made Catholics, members of the Church and subjects of the Roman Pontiff, even if the people who baptized them are heretics who are outside the Catholic Church. This is because the infant, being below the age of reason, cannot be a heretic or schismatic. He cannot have an impediment which would prevent Baptism from making him a member of the Church.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 13 on the Sacrament of Baptism: If anyone shall say that infants, because they have not actual faith, after having received baptism are not to be numbered among the faithful… let him be anathema.”
This means that all baptized infants wherever they are, even those baptized in heretical non-Catholic churches by heretical ministers, are made members of the Catholic Church. They are also made subject to the Roman Pontiff (if there is one). So, at what one point does this baptized Catholic infant become a non-Catholic – severing his membership in the Church and subjection to the Roman Pontiff? After the baptized infant reaches the age of reason, he or she becomes a heretic or a schismatic and severs his membership in the Church and severs subjection to the Roman Pontiff when he or she obstinately rejects any teaching of the Catholic Church or loses Faith in the essential mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation.
Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: “…We ask: In the first place whether you and the Church of the Armenians which is obedient to you, believe that all those who in baptism have received the same Catholic faith, and afterwards have withdrawn and will withdraw in the future from the communion of this same Roman Church, which one alone is Catholic, are schismatic and heretical, if they remain obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church. In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.”
So, one must be clear on these points: 1) The unbaptized (Jews, Muslims, pagans, etc.) must all join the Catholic Church by receiving Baptism and the Catholic Faith or they will all be lost. 2) Among those who are baptized as infants, they are made Catholics, members of the Church and subjects of the Roman Pontiff by Baptism. They only sever that membership (which they already possess) when they obstinately reject any Catholic dogma or believe something contrary to the essential mysteries of the Trinity and Incarnation. In the teaching of Pope Clement VI above, we see this second point clearly taught: all who receive the Catholic Faith in Baptism lose that Faith and become schismatic and heretical if they become “obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church.”
The fact is that all Protestants who reject the Catholic Church or its dogmas on the sacraments, the Papacy, etc. have obstinately separated from the Faith of the Roman Church and have therefore severed their membership in the Church of Christ. The same is true with the “Eastern Orthodox” who obstinately reject dogmas on the Papacy and Papal Infallibility. They need to be converted to the Catholic Faith for salvation.
The children or people that are baptized in heretical communities cannot become heretics until they reach the age of reason or until they adopt any heretical views that are opposed to the Catholic Church. This means that some of those baptized persons who are now going to a heretical or schismatic “Church” might not yet be heretics even if everyone else in the same Church are heretics. However, when these children reach the age of reason, many of them might fall into an error called “material heresy.”
The term “material heresy” is used to describe persons who believe in a heresy without knowing that they are contradicting the Catholic Church’s official and infallible teaching. There’s no such thing as a material heretic in the dogmatic teaching of the Church. There are heretics; there are schismatics; and there are Catholics. Material heretic is simply a name for a Catholic who is erring in good faith about a dogma. In other words, it’s another name for a mistaken Catholic. It’s a person who is holding a false position – one that is strictly incompatible with Catholic dogma. However, that person is not obstinate against that dogma. He would change his position immediately upon being informed of the true position. The “material heretic” is a Catholic. This is very important to understand. Many Catholic saints have been material heretics. St. Thomas, for example, did not believe that Mary was conceived immaculately (Summa Theologica, Part. III, Q. 14, Art. 3, Reply to Obj. 1) even though it is now a defined dogma that Mary was conceived immaculately, and no wonder that even Saints have erred in their teaching, for it is very hard to imagine that a human can know every Church teaching that exists.
The natural law is written on the heart of all men, so that all men know that certain things are against God’s law and that certain things are in accordance with the natural law of charity, etc.
As the Haydock Bible and Commentary correctly explains about Romans 2:14-16,
“these men are a law to themselves, and have it written in their hearts, as to the existence of a God, and their reason tells them, that many sins are unlawful: they may also do some actions that are morally good, as by giving alms to relieve the poor, honoring their parents, etc. not that these actions, morally good, will suffice for their justification of themselves, or make them deserve a supernatural reward in the kingdom of heaven; but God, out of His infinite mercy, will give them some supernatural graces” which if they continue to cooperate with they will get more graces and eventually be exposed to the Catholic Faith, which they must have to be saved.”
All baptized infants are Catholics, even if they are baptized in a Methodist church-building, etc. This is de fide. These baptized Catholics, when they reach the age of reason in a Protestant building, if they hold the Trinity and the Incarnation (which are the two essential mysteries of the Catholic Faith) hold the absolutely essential mysteries of the Catholic Faith.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Athanasian Creed, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.– But the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity... But it is necessary for eternal salvation that he faithfully believe also in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ...the Son of God is God and man... This is the Catholic faith; unless each one believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
If they don’t know about any other Catholic dogmas (other than the Trinity and Incarnation) then they are not heretics but Catholics [Christians], unless they hold a position that is incompatible with Faith in the Trinity and Incarnation or deny a truth that all know about God and the natural law or deny something that they know to be clearly taught in Scripture. For instance, if the baptized person described above claims to believe in the Trinity and Incarnation but holds that all religions are more or less good, then he is a heretic and does not have the Catholic Faith (even before he knows that such a position is condemned by the Church) because his belief is incompatible with true Faith in the Trinity as the one true God, which belief he must have to be said to have the Catholic Faith in its simplest components.
Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 2), Jan. 6, 1928: “…that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy... Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it...”
Another example would be if the baptized person who believes in the Trinity and the Incarnation (which are the simplest components of the Catholic Faith) and has never heard of other Catholic dogmas holds that man does not have free will (which some Protestants teach). This person would also become a heretic even before he has seen his position condemned by the Church and before he has heard of other Catholic dogmas (other than the Trinity and Incarnation) because he is rejecting a truth which all know to be true from the natural law, namely, that man has a free will. Thus, he is denying a truth all know about man from the natural law and he is a heretic.
Another example would be if the baptized person who believes in the Trinity and Incarnation (the Catholic Faith in its simplest components) and has never heard of other Catholic dogmas refuses to believe that God is a rewarder and a punisher. This person is a heretic, even though he has never seen that his position is condemned by the Church and has never heard of other Catholic dogmas, because he rejects a truth he knows to be true from the natural law, that God is a rewarder and a punisher of our actions (see Heb. 11:6).
A large majority of Protestants today believe in the doctrines of “faith alone” and “eternal security.” These doctrines contradict both the natural law and reason which says that every man shall be rewarded or punished for his deeds. It also contradicts, word for word, the teaching of James 2 in scripture, which teach that faith without works is dead, and that man is not saved by faith alone. This person who believes in faith alone or eternal security is a heretic, even though he has never seen that his position is condemned by the Church and has never heard of other Catholic dogmas, because he rejects a truth he knows to be true from the natural law, that God is a rewarder and a punisher of our actions, and that faith alone does not justify a man only, but our deeds also.
Other common heresies against the natural law is to hold that birth control or natural family planning, also called nfp, which many “Catholics” practise to avoid conception, (which makes them guilty of the mortal sin of contraception) is acceptable, or if a person is to hold that abortion is acceptable, or if a person is to hold that the consuming of mind altering drugs to the point where the conscience is impeded is acceptable. These examples would all fall under the category of deadly sin, because he is rejecting a truth which all know to be true from the natural law, namely, 1) that abortion is murder, 2) that contraception or nfp deliberately frustrates the natural power to generate life, 3) and that mind altering drugs such as smoking marijuana is a mortal sin just like getting drunk is.
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 23), June 29, 1943: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”
We can see that it’s the teaching of the Catholic Church that a man is severed from the Church and Salvation by heresy, schism or apostasy.
The baptized children who reach the age of reason in Protestant, Eastern Schismatic, etc. church buildings and believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation (the essential components of the Catholic Faith) and who don’t reject any Catholic dogma because they don’t know of any other than the Trinity and Incarnation, and who don’t embrace any of the positions like those described above, which are directly incompatible with Faith in God, Jesus Christ, the Trinity, the Natural Law or what they know to be clearly taught in Scripture, would be Catholics in a heretical church building.
THERE IS NO SALVATION FOR MEMBERS OF ISLAM, JUDAISM OR OTHER HERETICAL OR SCHISMATIC NON-CATHOLIC SECTS
So far we’ve seen that it’s an infallibly defined dogma that all who die as non-Catholics, including all Jews, pagans, heretics, schismatics, etc. cannot be saved. They need to be converted to have salvation. Now we must take a brief look at more of what the Church specifically says about some of the prominent non-Catholic religions, such as Judaism, Islam, and the Protestant and Eastern schismatic sects. This will illustrate, once again, that those who hold that members of non-Catholic religions can be saved are not only going against the solemn declarations that have already been quoted, but also the specific teachings quoted below.
Jews practice the Old Law and reject the Divinity of Christ and the Trinity. The Jews reject Our Lord Jesus Christ and call him a deceiver, yet many “Christians” say that they are good? This is mind-blowing! The Church teaches the following about the cessation of the Old Law and about all who continue to observe it:
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments… after our Lord’s coming… ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began, and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally. All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath (not to be mistaken with the Christian Sabbath) and the other requirements of the law, the holy Roman Church declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation.”
Many people, who call themselves Catholic, do also boldly assert in contradiction of this infallible statement by Pope Eugene IV in the Council of Florence, that Jews who either reject Christ or who have not found or accepted Christ as their Messiah, can be saved. They also contradict our Lord’s words in the gospel.
John 3:36 “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting; but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. I-II, Q. 103, A. 4: “In like manner the ceremonies of the Old Law betokened Christ as having yet to be born and to suffer: whereas our sacraments signify Him as already born and having suffered. Consequently, just as it would be a mortal sin now for anyone, in making a profession of faith, to say that Christ is yet to be born, which the fathers of old said devoutly and truthfully; so too it would be a mortal sin now to observe those ceremonies which the fathers of old fulfilled with devotion and fidelity.”
Pope Benedict XIV, Ex Quo Primum (# 61), March 1, 1756: “The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel.”
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (#’s 29-30), June 29, 1943: “And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished… on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees [Eph. 2:15]… establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. ‘To such an extent, then,’ says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, ‘was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.’ On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death…”
Thus, those who obstinately defends that faithless Jews who reject Christ can be saved and willfully contradict these infallible teachings of the Church, is a heretic, and will receive the full force of the automatic condemnation.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives...”
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Basel, Session 19, Sept. 7, 1434: “… there is hope that very many from the abominable sect of Mahomet will be converted to the Catholic faith.”
Pope Callixtus III, 1455: “I vow to… exalt the true Faith, and to extirpate the diabolical sect of the reprobate and faithless Mahomet [Islam] in the East.”
The Catholic Church considers Islam an “abominable” and “diabolical” sect. [Note: the Council of Basel is only considered ecumenical/approved in the first 25 sessions, as The Catholic Encyclopedia points out in Vol. 4, “Councils,” pp. 425-426.] An “abomination” is something that is abhorrent in God’s sight; it’s something that He has no esteem for and no respect for. Something “diabolical” is something of the Devil. Islam rejects, among many other dogmas, the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity. Its followers are outside the pale of salvation so long as they remain Muslims.
Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312: “It is an insult to the holy name and a disgrace to the Christian faith that in certain parts of the world subject to Christian princes where Saracens [i.e., the followers of Islam, also called Muslims] live, sometimes apart, sometimes intermingled with Christians, the Saracen priests, commonly called Zabazala, in their temples or mosques, in which the Saracens meet to adore the infidel Mahomet, loudly invoke and extol his name each day at certain hours from a high place… There is a place, moreover, where once was buried a certain Saracen whom other Saracens venerate as a saint. This brings disrepute on our faith and gives great scandal to the faithful. These practices cannot be tolerated without displeasing the divine majesty. We therefore, with the sacred council’s approval, strictly forbid such practices henceforth in Christian lands. We enjoin on Catholic princes, one and all… They are to remove this offense together from their territories and take care that their subjects remove it, so that they may thereby attain the reward of eternal happiness. They are to forbid expressly the public invocation of the sacrilegious name of Mahomet… Those who presume to act otherwise are to be so chastised by the princes for their irreverence, that others may be deterred from such boldness.”
While the Church teaches that all who die as non-Catholics are lost, it also teaches that no one should be forced to embrace baptism, since belief is a free act of the will.
Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei (#36), Nov. 1, 1885: “And, in fact, the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, ‘Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own will.’”
The teaching of the Council of Vienne that Christian princes should enforce their civil authority to forbid the public expression of the false religion of Islam shows again that Islam is a false religion which leads souls to Hell (not Heaven) and displeases God.
The Catholic Church also teaches that those baptized persons who embrace heretical or schismatic sects will lose their souls. Jesus founded His Church upon St. Peter, as we saw already, and declared that whoever does not hear the Church be considered as the heathen and publican (Matthew 18:17). He also commanded His followers to observe “all things whatsoever” He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). The Eastern schismatic sects (such as the “Orthodox”) and the Protestant sects are breakoff movements that have separated from the Catholic Church. By separating themselves from the one Church of Christ, they leave the path of salvation and enter the path of perdition.
These sects obstinately and pertinaciously reject one or more of the truths that Christ clearly instituted, such as the Papacy (Matthew 16; John 21; etc.), Confession (John 20:23), the Eucharist (John 6:54), and other dogmas of the Catholic Faith. In order to be saved one must assent to all the things which the Catholic Church, based on Scripture and Tradition, has infallibly defined as dogmas of the Faith.
Below are just a few of the infallible dogmas of the Catholic Faith which are rejected by Protestants and (in the case of the Papacy) by the Eastern “Orthodox.” The Church “anathematizes” (a severe form of excommunication) all who obstinately assert the contrary to its dogmatic definitions.
"To understand the word anathema…we should first go back to the real meaning of herem of which it is the equivalent. Herem comes from the word haram, to cut off, to separate, to curse, and indicates that which is cursed and condemned to be cut off or exterminated, whether a person or a thing, and in consequence, that which man is forbidden to make use of. This is the sense of anathema in the following passage from Deut., vii, 26: ‘Neither shalt thou bring anything of the idol into thy house, lest thou become an anathema like it. Thou shalt detest it as dung, and shalt utterly abhor it as uncleanness and filth, because it is an anathema.’”
Thus, a Protestant or an “Eastern Orthodox” who obstinately rejects these dogmatic teachings is anathematized and severed from the Church, outside of which there is no salvation. It’s quite interesting that, in issuing these dogmatic canons, the Church says: “If anyone shall say…. let him be anathema [anathema sit]” as opposed to “If anyone shall say… he is anathema [anathema est].” This qualification of “let him be” allows room for those Catholics who may be unaware of a particular dogma and would conform to the teaching of the canon as soon as it were presented to him. The person who is obstinate, however, and willfully contradicts the dogmatic teaching of the Church receives the full force of the automatic condemnation.
The point here is that if one is able to reject these dogmas and still be saved, then these infallible definitions and their accompanying anathemas have no meaning, value or force. But they do have meaning, value and force – they are infallible teachings protected by Jesus Christ. Thus, all who reject these dogmas are anathematized and on the road to damnation.
Pope Pius XI, Rerum omnium perturbationem (#4), Jan. 26, 1923: “The saint was no less a person that Francis de Sales… he seemed to have been sent especially by God to contend against the heresies begotten by the [Protestant] Reformation. It is in these heresies that we discover the beginnings of that apostasy of mankind from the Church, the sad and disastrous effects of which are deplored, even to the present hour, by every fair mind.”
Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, Session 13, Can. 1 on the Eucharist, ex cathedra:"If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist there are truly, really, and substantially contained the Body and Blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, but shall say that He is in it as by sign or figure, or force, let him be anathema."
Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, Session 14, Canon 3 on the Sacrament of Penance: “If anyone says that the words of the Lord Savior: ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained’ [John 20:22 f.], are not to be understood of the power remitting and retaining sins in the sacrament of penance… let him be anathema.”
Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, Session 14, on Extreme Unction and Penance: “These are the things which this sacred ecumenical synod professes and teaches concerning the sacraments of penance and extreme unction, and it sets them forth to be believed and held by all the faithful of Christ. Moreover, the following canons, it says, must be inviolately observed, and it condemns and anathematizes forever those who assert the contrary.”
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 16, ex cathedra:"After this Catholic doctrine of justification - which, unless he faithfully and firmly accepts, no one can be justified - it seemed good to the holy Synod to add these canons, so that all may know, not only what they must hold and follow, but also what they ought to shun and avoid."
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, Sess. 4, Chap. 3, ex cathedra: "… all the faithful of Christ must believe that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church... Furthermore We teach and declare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others… This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation."
To further show that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation, I will quote numerous infallible statements from the Chair of St. Peter.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism [the Sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
This infallible dogmatic definition from the Chair of St. Peter condemns anyone who says that the Sacrament of Baptism is not necessary for salvation. The Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for all for salvation, first of all, because, as the Council of Trent defines, all men (except the Blessed Virgin Mary) were conceived in a state of original sin as a result of the sin of Adam, the first man. The Sacrament of Baptism is also necessary for all for salvation because it is the means by which one is marked as a member of Jesus Christ and incorporated into His Mystical Body. And in defining the truth that all men were conceived in the state of Original Sin, the Council of Trent specifically declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was an exception to its decree on Original Sin. But in defining the truth that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation, the Council of Trent made no exceptions at all.
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439: “Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.”
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity – namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost – and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the Church.”
Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (# 15), Dec. 11, 1925 : “Indeed this kingdom is presented in the Gospels as such, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance; moreover, they cannot enter it except through faith and baptism, which, although an external rite, yet signifies and effects an interior regeneration.”
We see here that one cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven without faith and the external rite of baptism (i.e., the Sacrament of Baptism). Ignorant people nowadays contradict this fact and claim that people can reach heaven without a real and actual water baptism. One could easily understand if a person were ignorant of these facts and believed that a person or infant could be Saved without the sacrament of baptism since many have been wrong on this issue, even Saints. But when one has seen these infallible dogmatic declarations from the Popes, and still obstinately hold to the position that people or infants can be saved without real and actual water baptism, he is a heretic. A heretic is a person who obstinately, willfully and knowingly hold an opinion which he knows to be in opposition with what the Church teach.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, ex cathedra: “If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.”
Pope Benedict XIV, Nuper ad nos, March 16, 1743, Profession of Faith: “Likewise (I profess) that baptism is necessary for salvation, and hence, if there is imminent danger of death, it should be conferred at once and without delay, and that it is valid if conferred with the right matter and form and intention by anyone, and at any time.”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Baptism made obligatory after Christ’s Resurrection, p. 171: “Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when He gave His Apostles the command to go and teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved.”
For a person to assert that salvation can be attained invincibly or ignorantly by Jews, pagans, heretics or schismatics without baptism or the Catholic Faith, is truly the most evil of doctrine since it renders Faith in Jesus Christ and the true Catholic Faith meaningless. According to this erroneous world view, anyone who is “good” can attain eternal life.
Many people like to object against these truths as “bitter” or “uncharitable.”But this is not true. The “foundation of charity is faith pure and undefiled” (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, #9). Some will also say that they cannot understand the justice behind these infallible declarations by God through the Popes. But it is not our job to question God’s laws and decrees. Our job is to believe first and understand second. Yet, if one looks at this situation clearly, one can understand the justice behind it. Adam and Eve brought death and original sin on every human being through their sin of eating the forbidden fruit. Did they fall for just desiring the fruit? NO! They fell after eating a real physical fruit. If you cannot accept that all of humanity must be baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, how can you accept that all of humanity fell into sin because of Adam and Eve ate a physical fruit?
Here are some very relevant quotes from the Revelations of St. Bridget that describes the power of a real baptism and how real water must be joined to the sacrament of baptism for baptism to be efficacious:
“The Mother appeared again and said: “My son, you still have need of a horse and saddle. The spiritual signification of the horse is baptism. Just as a horse has its four legs and carries a man on the journey he must accomplish, so too baptism, as signified by the horse, carries a man in the sight of God and has four spiritual effects. The first effect is that the baptized are liberated from the devil and bound to the commandments and service of God. The second effect is that they are cleansed from original sin. The third is that they are made God's children and coheirs. The fourth is that heaven is opened to them. Yet how many there are today who, having reached the age of reason, pull the reins on the horse of baptism and ride it off on a false path! The baptismal path is true and rightly followed when people are instructed and upheld in good moral habits before reaching the age of reason and when, upon reaching the age of reason and carefully considering what was promised at the baptismal font, they keep their faith and love of God intact. However, they ride away from the right path and rein the horse in when they prefer the world and the flesh to God. The saddle of the horse or of baptism is the effect of the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, which gave baptism its efficacy. What is water if not an element? As soon as God's blood was poured out, God's word and the power of God's outpoured blood entered into the element. Thus, by the word of God, the water of baptism became the means of reconciliation between humankind and God, the gate of mercy, the expulsion of demons, the way to heaven, and the forgiveness of sins. So those who would boast of the power of baptism should first consider how the effect of baptism was instituted through bitter pain. When their mind swells up with pride against God, let them consider how bitter their redemption was, how many times they have broken their baptismal vows, and what they deserve for their relapses into sin.” The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 4, Chapter 74
As we can read from this splendid teaching by our Holy Mother, the water received the blood of our Lord when he died for our sins, and that is why the water can have such a great efficacy that it can even wash away original sin when it is used with the invocation of the name of the Holy Trinity. Here comes another good example from St. Bridget's revelations about the efficacy of baptism:
Christ describes why a three year old boy is tormented by a demon: “And even though the boy is born by the seed of the father and mother, the devil still has the greatest power over him, for he is not reborn through the true baptism, but is only baptized in the way that women are accustomed to baptize, who do not know about the words of the Holy Trinity. That is why the boy may be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; then he will be cured.”
There is only one way to believe dogma: as holy mother Church has once declared.
Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra: “Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”
One of the main problems with most traditional “Catholic” groups and the heretical Second Vatican Council - the Vatican II “Church” - is the constant and obstinate deviation from the true literal meaning as the dogmas once was infallibly declared. As we learn above, there can never be a recession from the true meaning of the dogmas as they were once declared under the specious name of deeper understanding. Thus we are forced to accept the dogmas as they are written under pain of mortal sin.
This definition of the First Vatican Council is critically important for dogmatic purity, because the primary way the Devil attempts to corrupt Christ’s doctrines is by getting men to recede (move away) from the Church’s dogmas as they were once declared. There is no meaning of a dogma other than what the words themselves state and declare, so the Devil tries to get men to “understand” and “interpret” these words in a way that is different from how holy mother Church has declared them.
Many of us have dealt with people who have attempted to explain away the clear meaning of the definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation by saying, “you must understand them.” What they really mean is that you must understand them in a way different from what the words themselves state and declare. And this is precisely what the First Vatican Council condemns. It condemns their moving away from the understanding of a dogma which holy mother Church has once declared to a different meaning, under the specious (false) name of a “deeper understanding.”
Besides those who argue that we must “understand” dogmas in a different way than what the words themselves state and declare, there are those who, when presented with the dogmatic definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation, say, “that is your interpretation.” They belittle the words of a dogmatic formula to nothing other than one’s private interpretation. And this also is heresy. For its not our own interpretation which defines the dogmas, the dogmas define themselves, as have been shown. A person claiming otherwise will make himself guilty of bearing false witness. And this also is mortal sin.
As I have proven above, there is no possible way for children to be freed from original sin other than through the Sacrament of Baptism. This, of course, proves that there is no way for infants to be saved other than through the Sacrament of Baptism. So the following definitions merely affirm what has already been established: no child can possibly enter the kingdom of Heaven without receiving water baptism, but will rather descend into Hell.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.”
Pope Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794: “26. The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk” – Condemned as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.
Here Pope Pius VI condemns the idea of some theologians that infants who die in original sin suffer the fires of Hell. At the same time, he confirms that these infants do go to a part of the lower regions (i.e., Hell) called the limbo of the children. They do not go to Heaven, but to a place in Hell where there is no fire. This is perfectly in accord with all of the other solemn definitions of the Church, which teach that infants who die without water baptism descend into Hell, but suffer a punishment different from those who die in mortal sin. Their punishment is eternal separation from God.
Pope Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge (# 25), March 14, 1937: “‘Original sin’ is the hereditary but impersonal fault of Adam’s descendants, who have sinned in him (Rom. v. 12). It is the loss of grace, and therefore eternal life, together with a propensity to evil, which everybody must, with the assistance of grace, penance, resistance and moral effort, repress and conquer.”
The Catholic Church teaches that aborted children and infants who die without baptism descend immediately into Hell, but that they do not suffer the fires of Hell. They go to a place in Hell called the limbo of the children. The most specific definition of the Church proving that there is no possible way for an infant to be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism is the following one from Pope Eugene IV.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442, ex cathedra: “Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…” (Denz. 712)
Pope Eugene IV here defined from the Chair of Peter that there is no other remedy for infants to be snatched away from the dominion of the devil (i.e., original sin) other than the Sacrament of Baptism. This means that anyone who obstinately teaches that infants can be saved without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is a heretic, for he is teaching that there is another remedy for original sin in children other than the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415 - Condemning the articles of John Wyclif - Proposition 6: “Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this.” - Condemned
The arch-heretic John Wyclif was proposing that those (such as ourselves) are stupid for teaching that infants who die without water (i.e., sacramental) baptism cannot possibly be saved. He was anathematized for this assertion, among many others. And here is what the Council of Constance had to say about John Wyclif’s anathematized propositions, such as #6 above.
Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415: “The books and pamphlets of John Wyclif, of cursed memory, were carefully examined by the doctors and masters of Oxford University… This holy synod, therefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, repudiates and condemns, by this perpetual decree, the aforesaid articles and each of them in particular; and it forbids each and every Catholic henceforth, under pain of anathema, to preach, teach, or hold the said articles or any one of them.”
So those who criticize Catholics for affirming the dogma that no infant can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism are actually proposing the anathematized heresy of John Wyclif. Here are some other dogmatic definitions on the topic:
Pope St. Zosimus, The Council of Carthage, Canon on Sin and Grace, 417 A.D.- “It has been decided likewise that if anyone says that for this reason the Lord said: ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions’ [John 14:2]: that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where the blessed infants live who departed from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is life eternal, let him be anathema.” (Denz. 102, authentic addition to canon 2.)
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: let him be anathema.” (Denz. 791)
This means that anyone who asserts that infants don’t need the “laver of rebirth” (water baptism) to attain eternal life is teaching heresy. St. Augustine was perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the apostolic truth that infants who die without Baptism are excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven (since they have original sin).
St. Augustine, A.D. 415: “Anyone who would say that infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 2016.)
The Revelations of St. Bridget also corroborates this infallible dogmatic truth revealed by God in Book 5, Interrogation 6:
First question. Again he appeared on his ladder as before, saying: "O Judge, I ask you: Why does one infant emerge alive from the mother's womb and obtain baptism, while another, having received a soul, dies in the mother's belly?"
Answer to the first question. The Judge answered: "You ask why one infant dies in the mother's belly while another emerges alive. There is a reason. All the strength of the child's body comes, of course, from the seed of its father and mother; however, if it is conceived without due strength, because of some weakness of its father or mother, it dies quickly. As a result of the negligence or carelessness of the parents as well as of my divine justice, many times it happens that what was joined together comes apart quickly.
Yet a soul is not brought to the harshest punishment for this reason, however little time it had for giving life to the body, but, rather, it comes to the mercy that is known to me. Just as the sun shining into a house is not seen as it is in its beauty - only those who look into the sky see its rays - so too the souls of such children, though they do not see my face for lack of baptism, are nevertheless closer to my mercy than to punishment, but not in the same way as my elect." - The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 5, Interrogation 6, Question 1
“But consider my goodness and mercy! For, as the teacher says, I give virtue to those who do not have any virtue. By reason of my great love I give the kingdom of heaven to all of the baptized who die before reaching the age of discretion. As it is written: It has pleased my Father to give the kingdom of heaven to such as these. By reason of my tender love, I even show mercy to the infants of pagans. If any of them die before reaching the age of discretion, given that they cannot come to know me face to face, they go instead to a place that it is not permitted for you to know but where they will live without suffering.” - The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 2, Chapter 1
These fascinating sentences clearly affirm infallible Catholic dogma by teaching that no one can see God's face without water baptism. Yet, they also give us explicit confirmation that these children are in a state of light and mercy, though not in the same way as those in Heaven.