In some quarters the below paper would be labeled "fundamentalist," but I think it to be part of a healthy discussion on a very real issue. The reality is that every year brings new wrinkles to many denominations' self-identification as traditional or progressive bodies and adjustment to longstanding practices. Stretching out all the undulations of these changes to see what is actually happening inside these communities makes vouching for the "validity" of their baptisms nearly impossible. Is it really incumbent on the parish priest to look through annual committee reports, prayer books, and God-help-us YouTube videos to determine if the baptism was Trinitarian or even involved water at all?
There will be a time not far in the future when we will simply raise our hands in a stopping motion and say, "No. This cannot continue. All must be baptized." Even if you disagree with the premise that recognition of heterodox baptisms is an end-run aimed at Vatican II ecclesiology, there is much to recommend the below paper. It's long (as it should be considering the topic), but worth your time.
(Pravoslavie.ru) - With the push for a pan-Orthodox acceptance of the Pre-Synodical text, “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World,” a century long process of distortion of Orthodox ecclesiology is coming to fruition. Insomuch as the Pan-Orthodox Council accepts the erroneous teaching that heretical ministrations are mysteries of the One Church, so much so will it acquiesce to the adoption of a new ecclesiology.Complete article here.
In this lecture, in the brief time allotted me, my intention is to succinctly present the origins of this erroneous teaching, two of the pillars of the new Vatican II ecclesiology which largely rest on this teaching, the adoption of this error by Orthodox ecumenists and the attempt to secure pan-Orthodox reception of it via the pre-Synodical text on the heterodox.
THE RECOGNITION OF THE BAPTISM OF THE
HETERODOX AS THE BASIS FOR A NEW
ECCLESIOLOGY (IN STEP WITH VATICAN II)
A paper delivered at the Theological-Academic Conference
"The Great and Holy Council: Great Preparation without Expectations,"
March 23, 2016 in Piraeus, Greece
1. The Post-Schism, Western Origins of the Acceptance of Heretical Baptism Per Se
The historical origins and development of the idea that the Church shares the “one baptism” with heretics, and that, indeed, this is the basis for recognition of the “ecclesial nature” of heresy, lie exclusively in the West, and indeed in the post-schism West. Although it cannot be denied that the peculiar Latin sacramental theology owes much to Blessed Augustine, the decisive break with the patristic consensus on heretical baptism came with the views of Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas Aquinas, in developing the medieval doctrine of Baptismal character cites Blessed Augustine as his main source. Aquinas’ use of the term "character" is, however, quite different than Augustine’s. For Aquinas, "character" is an indelible mark on the soul, which can never be removed. For Augustine it is an external sign. He is “referring quite literally to a mark on the body, and using it as an analogy to explain the validity of the sacred sign of Baptism.” His theory is based upon the idea that the external sign of Baptism can be possessed by someone who is actually internally alien to the body of the Church and so bereft of the sacrament’s effectiveness. This difference has grave implications for the meaning of sacramental efficacy.
For Aquinas the Baptismal character produces spiritual effects and is sealed on the soul of all who are validly baptized. The sign, therefore, simply on account of being externally valid brings about an enduring effect on the soul. This is exactly what does not happen in Augustine’s theory: valid sacraments can be and many times are totally without spiritual efficacy. In this teaching of Aquinas we may have the first step toward the full, conciliar acceptance at Vatican II of the presence and workings of the Holy Spirit in the mysteries of the schismatics and heretics...