Originally posted by Doward
virtually all Christian denominations decalre baptism as a necessary rite for salvation. I would like to pose this scenerio for your consideration:
A man, 28 yeras old, grew up in a non-religous home. He was never baptized, nor had much interest in faith. An event in his life triggers a search for "greater truth" leading him to accept Christ as his savior ...[text shortened]... ernal damnation? If yes, then why do we baptize? If no, what significance is there in baptism?
Since the time of the Church Fathers, there has been recognised three types of baptism: baptism of water, baptism of blood and baptism of spirit. The first is sacramental, that is, it has a particular rite, minister and object. It is the one performed in the church by the minister (although this is not requisite). Catholic and Orthodox Christianity deem sacramental baptism a necessary precursor for any other participation in the sacraments.
The other types of baptism are different. Baptism of blood is not sacramental. It has no minister nor rite. Baptism of blood pertains to an individual who is martyred in the name of Christ or Church. Baptism of spirit is similar but pertains to those who desire baptism but, for whatever reason for which they are not culpable, were unable to receive it. In this scenario, the man would be believed to have received baptism of spirit. An interesting point is whether this desire must be explicit or implicit. If explicit, the person must very specifically have wanted baptism before their death; if implicit, the must person need only have desired to live a good life, which, without them knowing, would really constitute a desire to serve Christ. The Catholic Church recognises the possibility of baptism of spirit by implicit desire, although many Pentecostal churches may not.
You may ask why, then, sacramental baptism is important if alternative forms are available. Well, the important distinction here is between necessity and efficacy. While baptism is necessary and all three forms of baptism are sufficient, sacramental baptism is, traditionally, regarded as more efficacious. While all forms of baptism remove original sin, only sacramental baptism configures the soul to receive Communion, confession, confirmation, holy orders, a sacramental marriage and finally extreme unction -- all of which are taught to be efficacious to the soul.