Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Defending Baptism of Desire

Denzinger 796: In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the "adoption of the sons" [Rom. 8:15] of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration [can. 5 de bapt.], or a desire for it, as it is written: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" [John 3:5].
How do we know that baptism of desire is true and not up for debate? That is, how can we be certain that an adult can make an act of Catholic faith and hope and perfect contrition with the desire for the sacrament of baptism and be prevented by sudden death from receiving the sacrament, yet still be saved? How do we know that it is wrong to say, as Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J. did, that no adult who is not baptized with water (even if he is justified by the desire thereof, informed by perfect contrition, and suddenly dies) can go to Heaven.{1}

{1} For example, it is hard to interpret these quotes from Bread of Life in any other way:
  • It is now: Baptism of Water, or damnation! If you do not desire that Water, you cannot be justified. And if you do not get it, you cannot be saved.
  • If you do not receive Baptism of Water, you cannot be saved, whether you were guilty or not guilty for not having received it. If it was not your fault that you did not receive it, then you just do not go to Heaven. You are lacking something required for Heaven. You did not add your own positive rejection of the requirement so as to give you a positive deficiency. Yours is a permanent lack of something required for eternal salvation.
  • He will then say, "Well, cannot you be justified in the New Testament without Baptism?" The answer to this is, "Suppose you can?" He will then say, "If you die in the state of justification, without yet being baptized, are you not saved?" You must answer him, "No, you are not. That is your reasoning in the matter. That is not Christ’s statement." And if he persists in saying, "Well, where does one go who dies in the state of justification which has been achieved without Baptism?" — insist that he does not go to Heaven. And if he goes on to yell at you angrily, "Where are you going to send him — to Hell?", say: "No, I am not going to send him to Hell because I am not the judge of the living and the dead. I am going to say what Christ said, ‘He cannot go into Heaven unless he is baptized by water.’"

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