Monday, July 4, 2011

Rites of Baptism (Laodicea - Canon 45, 46, 47, 48)

[Candidates] for baptism are not to be received after the second week in Lent.

They who are to be baptized must learn the faith [creed] by heart, and recite it to the bishop, or to the presbyters, on the fifth day of the week.

They who are baptized in sickness and afterwards recover, must learn the Creed by heart and know that the Divine gifts have been vouchsafed them.

They who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.

By this time, baptisms were performed on Resurrection Sunday. In order to ensure proper preparation for those desiring to be baptized, a cutoff date was enforced.

One baptismal requirement was knowledge of "the creed"—most likely of Nicaea since it was the most complete available and reflected the theology handed down from the apostles to the current day.  As has been noted in a past posting, there were those baptized because of serious illness and the threat of death.  Should the baptized person recover, he or she was to memorize the creed and fulfill that requirement.

An addition brought into baptismal practice was the chrism or anointing with oil, usually by making a sign of the cross on the forehead.  Most likely the idea was to bring together the anointing given by the Holy Spirit with an outward sign.  At that point the baptized were considered in full fellowship.  This extra-biblical practice demonstrates the encroachment of outward manifestations to build pseudo-spiritual practices prevalent to today that give the appearance of godliness but do nothing to further true righteousness.


Stephen Pohl said...

Steve, The form and matter of baptism being the water and trinitarian formula are the essence of the sacrament. The annointing with oil signifies and proclaims the one baptized is annointed with the Holy Spirit, put that portion of the rite, not essential to the sacrament, also proclaims that the one baptized is in Christ and as such is annointed Priest, Prophet and King in Him. It is not necessary to the sacrament, but adds depth of understanding to what it means to be baptized. The prayer before the annointing is this; "God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now annoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was annointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live as members of his body, sharing everlasting life."

Steve Bricker said...

So the anointing is taught as going a bit further than the symbol of the H.S. When I first read you comment about taking part in Christ's three-fold office, I was skeptical at first, but thinking about it, Christians are called kings and priest with a prophetic work, though not as in His unique station above all things.

And I can certainly see how the chrism and prayer as you have described it would give the recipient better understanding. From my Evangelical perspective, the prayer does a good job explaining (though I might disagree with "new birth by water").