Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trine Immersion Is Not Necessary for Baptism

Trine immersion is necessary for valid baptism

Now here is the wicked statement by Nicodemos the Hagiorite (1749-7/14/1809), whom the Eastern Orthodox consider a saint:
The Latins are unbaptized because they do not keep the three immersions while baptizing...let them learn that a baptism is not complete by petitioning the Holy Trinity only, but what is also needed is the likeness (typos) of the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord...for us to be participants in the likeness of the death of Christ and His three-day burial; it is imperative that the three immersions take place otherwise this is impossible...{1}
I prefer baptism by trine immersion but immersion is not necessary for valid baptism and Nikodemos wrongly denied the validity of the Blessed Sacraments which he and his separated peers retained from the Catholic Church.

That immersion is not necessary is clear from Scripture:
"And I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and I will cleanse you from all your idols. And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh" [Ez 36:25-26].
"Let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water" [Heb 10:22].
St. Paul the Apostle himself was baptized while standing up [Acts 9:18; 22:16].

Further, says St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica 3:66:7, there are urgent cases which can necessitate sprinkling or pouring: (1) a multitude of people;{2} (2) small water supply; (3) feebleness of the minister; and (4) feebleness of the candidate (e.g. a smoker with a hole in his neck cannot be immersed safely). Washing is essential to baptism but the manner of washing is accidental to baptism, pace Nikodemos. Though trine immersion most clearly signifies the three-day burial of our Lord, all baptism signifies His burial because it involves the placement of some part of the body under the cleansing water. Moreover stands the authority of Pope St. Gregory I the Great of Rome, Church Doctor, who was not contradicted on this point in his time, "It cannot be in any way reprehensible to baptize an infant with either a trine or a single immersion: since the Trinity can be represented in the three immersions, and the unity of the Godhead in one immersion."{3}

Notes and References
{1} Nicodemus the Hagiorite: The Rudder (Book of the Sacred Canons of the Church), pp. 72-74: footnote from Nicodemus's interpretation of Canon XLVI of the 85 Canons of the Holy Apostles.
{2} The Apostles baptized 3,000 people at St. Peter's first sermon [Acts 2:41].
{3} Pope St. Gregory I the Great of Rome, Epistle to Bishop Leander, cited in the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Church Doctor, 3:66:8 @

More divinely inspired verses on sprinkling & pouring coming soon!


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