January 22, 2008,
C.V. asks from San Diego, CA on August 28, 2006
Born Again VS. Greek Orthodox
Im not wanting to get anyone upset, or do i want a "mine is better than yours" situation.
This is my problem and i want to be repectful in both areas. My hubby's parents and family are Greek Orthodox, and my side of the family are born again christians. My mother-in law has been asking, when am i gna baptize the baby who is now 7 months old. My two oldest were "dedicated" in California where i attended church. I currently do not attend church for a number of reasons, im nervous to take hubby bc he has his preassumtions about Born-Agains, im not sure where to look, and im not sure if i believe everything born-agains believe in.Again, i want to say that im not wanting to be disrespectful, but im really stuck. My mother in law, cried and said that my father in law thought their religion "meant more then that" and i took it as, that hubby shud put me in my place and make me baptize the baby. Fortuntley, hubby hasnt said anything , unfortuntley, hubby hasnt said anything, so what im asking is...If you can tell me the difference between Dedicating and Baptizing, maybe ill have an answer for my MIL when she comes into town in a few weeks.
C.J. answers from Tampa on August 28, 2006
Wow, what a loaded question! First off, let me just say that I've been there, done that within my own marriage, but instead of my in-laws being the problem, it was my own Catholic parents. Added to the fray was the fact that after I had been raised as a Catholic, albeit not a practicing one for a very long time, I had re-dedicated myself to the Lord and was thus baptized as an adult. Of course, my parents received my decision with bitterness and resentment because they believed that this second baptism was a move to convert myself from Catholicism to Protestantism - a very BIG "no-no" as far as they were concerned. Nevermind that I was attending a non-denominational Christian church, because it wasn't Catholic, it was WRONG.
Like the Greek Orthodox church, Catholics, especially Filipino-reared Catholics such as my mother and over-zealous converts, such as my father, are very much caught up in the tradition and nationality of being Catholic. Jesus trascends all nationality and tradition, and if you read the New Testament, especially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you will discover that faith in Jesus as the Savior and acting upon that faith through love transcends ALL religious laws and traditions. Personally, when Jesus comes again, I want to be known as part of His church, not one so proudly based on cultural heritage and man-made traditions.
The first thing I would do before ever engaging in a spiritual discussion with others who aren't exactly on the same page as you is to PRAY. Pray for spiritual wisdom and discernment, and above all, pray for a loving and compassionate delivery of this wisdom.
Second, you need to decide what it is you really believe in. Whether you're a "born again," Orthodox, or Catholic, water baptism is the most important sacrament in Christianity because it SYMBOLIZES one's full, conscious, and PUBLIC acceptance that Jesus is the one and only Savior. Because Jesus himself was baptized as an adult in his 30s, many "born agains" take the lead from the Bible and feel called to be water baptized when they're adults...it doesn't have to be at a specific age, but the person must make a full and conscious decision to accept Christ as his/her Savior.
Growing up as a Catholic, I know that it was indoctrinated in parishioners' minds that baby baptism was somehow a one-way ticket to Heaven should a child ever die before adulthood. Catholic baby baptisms were also necessary to put the stamp of "Catholic" ownership on children's spiritual rearing...from that point on, my parents were always able to proudly say that I was baptized Catholic, however, not necessarily Christian. To Catholics and other Orthodox religions that are founded on man-made, doctrine-based laws and beliefs, this distinction is very, very important.
Dedication for "born agains" differ from baptism in the sense that it is not a sacrament. It certainly does not take the place of baptism because again, your child will need to make a conscious, adult, and public decision to accept Christ as his/her savior once he/she is ready. In Matthew 28:19-20, Christ himself gave his disciples all the authority in heaven through The Great Commission, which very clearly states to go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything He commanded.
You can see, therefore, that baptism is not merely a religious ceremony, but a pronouncement and acknowledgement of the ultimate truth: that Jesus is the Savior. Dedication is simply a testament that parents make to the body of the church about their INTENTIONS to raise their child in the spirit of Christianity according to the Word of the Lord. The hope is that the fruits of their labors will yield a child that grows up to know and love the Lord and then freely choose to be baptized in the presence of the church when called by the Spirit to do so. I'm not sure how long dedication ceremonies have been around in "born again" churches, but it seems to satisfy many of the orthodox religions' needs to have some sort of ceremony accompany the arrival of a new child.
Lest your in-laws get you caught up in a discussion/debate about the importance of following their religious laws, remind them that in Matthew 22:37-40, after silencing the Sadducees and Pharisees regarding the adherence of religious laws and tradition, Jesus' pronounced that the greatest commandments were to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Before you can ever hope to impress upon your in-laws why you feel it's important to wait for child's baptism, you must first understand your own faith. I recommend picking up the Bible study "Foundations - A Purpose-Driven Discipleship Resource" by Tom Holladay and Kay Warren. It focuses on the eleven core truths of Christianity: God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, The Church, The Second Coming, Creation, The Afterlife, Sanctification, Good and Evil, the Bible, and Salvation. Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" is also a fantastic study...I'm in fact doing it for the second time with a good friend, and it's even more relevant to me today. If you feel up to it, maybe you can do the Rick Warren study with your husband and your in-laws...it can easily be done through e-mail by reading a chapter a day and answering the very short, but reflective questions at the end of each chapter. The book can be found in any bookstore because it is the best-selling non-fiction hardback book in history. Nothing, of course, beats the Bible. That should be your first and primary resource with regards to seeking out spiritual guidance on anything and everything.
Christians should never shy away from learning and maturing spiritually, no matter how old they are or how much they think they know about their faith. If your in-laws are citing religious respect over Godly duty as a reason to baptize your child now, then they clearly need to re-think the meaning and focus of their faith.
To give you some good news, once my parents were able to see how God transformed my life, they started to back off on their demands to have my children baptized as Catholics. I remained faithful and prayed, and they ultimately came to realize and accept that the most important thing to consider was that my husband and I were raising our children to know, obey, and love the Lord - a very hard thing to do in today's liberal society. I never thought my parents would come around from their staunch, religious beliefs, but they did and it wasn't through me...it was through the grace of God. I assure you that getting through this tough time with your in-laws is possible, but it starts with you and your husband first. God bless you and your family...I will definitely pray for you all.
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T.S. answers from Orlando on August 28, 2006
I am a born again and we had our daughter dedicated when she was 2 months old. In my faith (Baptist), we dedicate our children by choice and not out of ritual or tradition. It means we, as parents, have acknowledged that God has blessed us with a gift and we are putting our faith in Him to raise our child. We are dedicating her life to Him and allowing Him to have His way with her future, what ever direction He would have her to go. The responsibility is put on the parents to allow Gods will.
As for baptism, Baptists do not baptize until you have been born again. It signifies the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ into your life. As a baby/child, you can't make that personal decision, and therefore, we don't baptize babies. I interpret other religions practice of baptizing children to mean if they were to die they would automatically go to heaven and be "saved" without knowing Christ personally. However, just because Baptists do not baptize children does not mean that children do not go to heaven. We believe that children who pass on before they are old enough to understand what being born again means personally, will go to heaven.
I hope this helps you make your decision in what to do with your child. It must be difficult trying to work between different beliefs. We will be praying for you.
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N.P. answers from Port St. Lucie on August 28, 2006
To be honest I am niether or but I strongly believe this desicion is between you and hubby and no one else!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sometime MIL like to give there opinions and that is how you should take it as an opinion. Let them know that you and your hubby will discuss at a later time. This is your child. For me I believe in letting my child choose when he or she get older and understand what they are getting into. I was forced into religion when I was younger. I now disagree with them.
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S.M. answers from Miami on August 28, 2006
now i don't know all the particulars but please know i know how you are feeling. as i am christian and my husband's family is roman catholic.
a baptism to a christian is something you make a conscious decision to believe in God and announce Jesus as your savior.
a christening is a baptism of a baby. now they can't conscously decide to follow christ... i am not sure of greek orthodox but roman catholics they then learn through catachism classes and take communion when they decide to follow christ.
a baptism of a child is not allowed in other christian faiths , that is why we do dedications, to dedicate our child to God and announce our plans to raise the child in a christian home.
you may want to contact your local greek orthodox church and / or christian church and ask them for information of baptism.... explain your positioning and let them know that you and your husband are of different faiths and you want to explore the religious aspects.
now adays churches seem more lenient then prior days. as a christian i can be married in a catholic church with a priest and pastor present.
maybe they do something similar with baptisms/dedications????
the best thing you can do is educate yourself and make a heartfelt decision with your husband. also pray on it and see where God leads you.
both religions believe in God ... so where tradition, teachings may differ.... they are both churches of God. a place to worship him.
good luck! ( i am in the process of educating myself and making these hard decisions)
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A.F. answers from Tampa on August 28, 2006
Let me start by saying, I can not and will not stand in judgement of any Christian religion. It is not my place to judge. It is my place to try to bring about an atmosphere of Christian love and family. I believe with all my heart that as long as we all believe in God, The Father, The Creator, Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, and The Holy Spirit, then we are saved. We may worship The Blessed Trinity differently but we are all family in the catholic (old Latin word meaning UNIVERSAL) church.
I was raised as a Born-Again Christian (Baptist). I converted to the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago for personal and theological reasons.
I understand your question and all it's quirks. The best way to explain the difference between "Dedicating" and "Baptizing" is:
"Dedicating" means that standing in front of the church body, you are promising to raise this child in the "Born-Again" Christian teachings.
"Baptism" means just what it says. You are having the child truly baptized in the Name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. You are conciously making the decision for this child to claim this child's soul for The Kingdom of Christ and to raise the child in accordance with the Greek Orthodox Church's teachings. Only the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, and Lutherans, and possibly Episcopals (I'm not sure on their teachings) believe that parents have this right and this obligation to have the baby baptized.
Once you baptize the baby, he will not have to go through that sacarament again. He will continue on with the other sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Church (First Communion, First Reconcilliation, Confirmation, Marriage or Holy Orders - should he choose religious life).
In the Born - Again (anything other than Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Episcopal), you can only have the child Dedicated (you are making the promise to raise him the Born - Again Christian Faith; but only the child at the age of reaso - around the age of 7 or so - can choose to be baptized.)
Because I was raised as Baptist and I raised my daughter in the Baptist Church, my daughter chose baptism at about 7 or 8. I left the Baptist Church shortly after my daughter was baptized. I, personally, could no longer agree with the theological teachings of the denomination - this was entirely my personal choice and one I made for my son since he was an infant.
I went looking for answers in churches - trying to find my new home for me and my children. I thought I had found that home in the Presbyterian Church and so I had my son baptized in the Presbyterian Church when he was 3.
I later decided that Presbyterian was not right for us either. I went to the Roman Catholic Church.
Understand that the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church were once the same church. They had a really big disagreement and split about (I think) 1500 years ago. Today, the Vatican and the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church are working toward better relations so that the sacraments I have received in the Roman Catholic Church will be accepted by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox sacraments will be accepted in the Roman Catholic Church.
Hopefully understanding these differences between Born-Again and Orthodox will help. I can tell you, from my personal prespecitive, that if I had it to do over again, I would have gone to the Catholic Church a lot sooner and I would have had both my daughter and my son baptized in the Roman Catholic Church.
One more thing you need to know: If you have your child baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church and he chooses later to go to the Born Again Churches, they will not accept his baptism. To my knowledge, they only accept baptism at the age of reason and by complete submersion (being dunked). For your older children, they will have to choose baptism for themselves if they are beyond the age of reason.
Should you choose to have him dedicated in the Born Again church, and he reaches the age of majority, he will have to choose baptism for himself at a later date.
Once you have the child baptized in the Greek Orothodox Church, you and your husband are accepting full responsibility for his religious training. You, your husband, and the god - parents are fully and completely responsible for the baby's Christian training until he reaches the age of reason by Church standards. You will have the entire congregation and the whole Greek Orthodox Church to rely on for help in his training. It is our obligation as baptized Christians to help in the upbringing and training of the children of our congregation.
Now, for the truth about infant baptism. According to the Church, we are all stained by Original Sin (Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden - willful disobedience to God's commande not to eat of the tree of knowledge) and baptism washes this sin away for the baby. But other than to wash away Original Sin, infant baptism really is not necessary since a baby can not knowing commit a sin. The custom of Infant Baptism began during the Middle Ages when there was a very high infant mortality rate and it gave the parents peace of mind to know their child was baptized and so he/she would go to heaven should the child pass before he/she could choose baptism and the custom has continued.
The calming part for me as a Roman Catholic parent is knowing for absolute certain that my child's soul is permanently marked as God's Property and should he pass before he reaches the age of reason, he has that promise of eternal life to look forward to.
If you like, you go to the Orthodox Churches website: http://www.goarch.org/
There is plenty of information there about what the Church teaches.
Accoding the Roman Catholic Church, we, as Roman Catholics, are allowed to marry outside the church (someone who is not Roman Catholic), but when we do, we (husband and wife) have to promise that we will raise the children in the Church and in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teachings.
The spouse who is not Catholic knows this requirement because, by Church requirements, we are required to go through marriage prepreration classes - which take about 6 months to complete - to prepare us for the reality and full weight of the sacrament of marriage, and this teaching is discussed in detail. If the priest is not fully satisfied that he can perform the sacrament in good faith, then he can and will refuse to marry the couple. They can still marry outside the Church, but the Church will not recognize the marriage as legitimate until the marriage has been blessed by the Church.
I believe that your mother-in-law's frustration is aimed directly at her son. He knows the Greek Orthodox Church's teachings and according to the way he was raised, this should have been handled months ago.
I also understand your confusion and frustration. Another option, talk to the priest at the local Orthodox Church and talk with a minister at the local Baptist Church.
I know this is long and possibly confusing, but I hope it helps. I would strongly recommend that you speak with your husband about this topic and see how he feels. He may be afraid to talk to you about it so it sits there like the elephant in the corner that everyone is walking around and pretending is not there.
If you would like, we can talk about this further through email. My email is ____@____.com
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I. answers from Miami on August 28, 2006
I have no idea what the difference between those religions are, but we had a similar situation in our family.
In an effort to please my granddaughterís predominantly Catholic and Christian family, and her Great grandmother who is a member of Eckankar, my daughter and son in law had the baby baptized in a Lutheran church and Consecrated at the Eck Temple two days later. It worked out extremely well and everyone was happy. Maybe your family could try something similar? It canít hurt to keep the peace.
V. answers from Boca Raton on August 28, 2006
i don't understand the born again. but i know greek families are devoted to their religion and nationality.
if this was something i was dealing with i'd want my kids to be of the same religion as their dad.
E.P. answers from Jacksonville on August 28, 2006
This is tough. I am Catholic (Roman) and my husband is agnostic (doesn't confirm or deny). My daughter was baptized Catholic, as our son will be, and I promised my husband that at the time of confirmation (the time you reaffirm the baptismal promises that your parents answered for you as a young adult - 13 or 14- the equivalent of other denominations' accepting Christ thing) they can choose on their own.
I am a firm believer that you may be the best gospel anyone reads (a quote from a fellow Christian- non denominational. BTW), meaning I will from my actions lead my children, but when they can make the decision, I will allow them to make it.
Unfortunately, with really traditional RC and Greek Orthodox families, tradition is everything. My family is no exception. There wasn't a question if Jackie would be baptized- it was when. Raised a LOT of eyebrows when I delayed it while deciding with my husband what we wanted to do.
My best advise is talk it over with your husband... when it comes to it, you and he (with the godparent[s]) will have to make the promises on behalf of your child... not the grandparents. If you compromise, which is always better in my opinion, work it out so it's the best for everyone... if that means two ceremonies, then that's what it's gonna be... your in laws will have to understand that this is a mutally agreed upon decision with you and your hubby, and they must respect that.