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Thread: Why wait?

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    Why wait?

    A casual acquaintance of mine recently decided to become an Orthodox Christian, coming from an extremely liberal background (possibly atheism). However, she has refused to describe herself as a Christian, only as somebody in the process of conversion, even as she proceeds to go through the motions.

    I am vaguely aware that at least for awhile, the early Christians required a two year period to become a Christian.

    To me, this seems at odds with the account in Acts where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized immediately upon hearing the gospel. Also, if Jesus could come at any time, why would one want to put off being baptized or calling oneself a Christian? (This seems especially incongruous given how widespread the belief was in the early church that baptism was an absolute requirement for salvation, but I'm thinking in terms of today.)
    Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions. - Ecclesiastes 7:10

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    tWebber Darth Executor's Avatar
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    i'd assume it was to vet the person and make sure it was safe to let them into the community.
    "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

    There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    A casual acquaintance of mine recently decided to become an Orthodox Christian, coming from an extremely liberal background (possibly atheism). However, she has refused to describe herself as a Christian, only as somebody in the process of conversion, even as she proceeds to go through the motions.

    I am vaguely aware that at least for awhile, the early Christians required a two year period to become a Christian.

    To me, this seems at odds with the account in Acts where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized immediately upon hearing the gospel. Also, if Jesus could come at any time, why would one want to put off being baptized or calling oneself a Christian? (This seems especially incongruous given how widespread the belief was in the early church that baptism was an absolute requirement for salvation, but I'm thinking in terms of today.)
    Lots of stuff to go through here. Why the waiting period? It's to ensure that the convert understands just what he/she is converting to, because Orthodox Christians are united in practice and belief. The earliest Christians were converted Jews and proselytes, and thus didn't need so much instruction. As the church began to be persecuted, people were more cautious about sharing their faith and welcoming others in. Catechumens who were killed for their nascent faith were considered to have received baptism by blood and were honored as Christians. There was actually a period around the 4th century where people tended to wait until they thought they were dying to receive baptism because they were afraid that major sin would make their baptism null, and it couldn't be repeated.

    There are some Orthodox Christians who do not consider those outside the Church as Christian, and that could play a factor as she doesn't consider herself fully in the Church yet. However, those who die as catechumens are given Christian burial by the church.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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    Professor KingsGambit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    There was actually a period around the 4th century where people tended to wait until they thought they were dying to receive baptism because they were afraid that major sin would make their baptism null, and it couldn't be repeated.
    Was this based upon the Shepherd of Hermas teaching that there was only one repentance?
    Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions. - Ecclesiastes 7:10

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    Was this based upon the Shepherd of Hermas teaching that there was only one repentance?
    I'm sure that was part of it. The Shepherd of Hermas was apparently quite popular in the early church. IIRC Tertullian also had a similar belief, and the Novatian schism was more or less predicated on that.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    At what point are these initiates saved? Upon becoming initiates or only after. If they die before completion, are they saved?

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    tWebber tabibito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
    A casual acquaintance of mine recently decided to become an Orthodox Christian, coming from an extremely liberal background (possibly atheism). However, she has refused to describe herself as a Christian, only as somebody in the process of conversion, even as she proceeds to go through the motions.

    I am vaguely aware that at least for awhile, the early Christians required a two year period to become a Christian.

    To me, this seems at odds with the account in Acts where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized immediately upon hearing the gospel. Also, if Jesus could come at any time, why would one want to put off being baptized or calling oneself a Christian? (This seems especially incongruous given how widespread the belief was in the early church that baptism was an absolute requirement for salvation, but I'm thinking in terms of today.)
    Early (but not as early as foundational) Christianity did require that people be properly catechised before baptism. [nutshell] It was insurance against the (possible) incorrect proclamation of the gospel playing a part in the new church member's faith [/nutshell] OBP explains this a lot better.

    As to the refusal to self-identify as Christian - this may be because a person can't be deemed Christian prior to baptism - Perhaps according to the church's beliefs, or even perhaps according to the petitioner's beliefs.
    Last edited by tabibito; 01-09-2018 at 01:14 PM.
    και εκζητησατε με και ευρησετε με οτι ζητησετε με εν ολη καρδία υμων

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    At what point are these initiates saved? Upon becoming initiates or only after. If they die before completion, are they saved?
    In Orthodox belief, salvation is not a point but a process. I'd consider enrollment in the catechumenate more or less the start of that process, which isn't complete for anyone until the Final Judgment.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio

    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    In Orthodox belief, salvation is not a point but a process. I'd consider enrollment in the catechumenate more or less the start of that process, which isn't complete for anyone until the Final Judgment.
    So if you die you don't know if you are saved or not?

  10. #10
    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    So if you die you don't know if you are saved or not?
    As long as I don't fall away, I'm still being saved.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio

    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

  11. Amen tabibito amen'd this post.

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