We Are Not All Children of God

The Baptism of Christ, 1723 by Francesco Trecisani

This last Sunday, we were treated to the Gospel reading in which Christ is baptized by St. John the Baptist. It’s a compelling passage, especially because it focuses our attention on the purpose and meaning of baptism. The rambling, confused homily that we received on this topic (from an earnest-seeming seminarian whom I don’t know at all) sparked a later debate in the Lu household on a common error in the Church today. Why are Christians constantly stressing their solidarity with the rest of the world by claiming that “we are all children of God”?

I suppose some see this as a Christianized version of the sentiment that “all men are brothers.” Or maybe they just want to emphasize that God loves everyone, and that every life is precious. Which is true. All humans are made in God’s image, and Christ’s grace is available to all. Nevertheless, we aren’t all children of God. It’s actually quite important that people understand why this is.

We become children of God by adoption. This is mentioned in multiple places in the Bible, including Ephesians 1, but it is especially explained in Galatians 4 where it reads:

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God (Gal 4: 4-7).

It’s perfectly clear from this passage that we are not “sons” merely in virtue of being human. At birth we are “under the law,” still waiting for our redemption. We are God’s creatures, and his servants, but explicitly not his children. Only after we are formally received into God’s family can we declare ourselves his children.

What is the process by which we become God’s adoptive children? According to Church doctrine and tradition, it is baptism. Baptism is the door to Christian life, and the means by which we are grafted into God’s family. When we are baptized, we are freed from the sentence (though not the residual effects) of original sin. No longer condemned under the law, we become cross-bearers, and heirs to Christ’s kingdom.

To modern ears, denying some people the label “children of God” seems mean-spirited. It’s as though we want to cast the unbaptized into second-tier humanity, and gloat over our special relationship with God. Obviously, we should not make the distinction in that spirit, but if anyone takes offense, he should be reminded that all are invited to become God’s children. It’s free and (initially) painless. Call your local parish for details.

We really do need to make the distinction, however, because without it we lose sight of the tremendous importance of this sacrament. That’s bad for a number of reasons.

As a first point, consider the number of people who wait months or even years before having their children baptized. Why put off something so vital to your child’s redemption? Now, I understand that it’s challenging to plan a baptism when you’ve just had a baby. I always give myself a break by purchasing a sheet cake (Sam’s Club, $17.50) but I’ve still done my share of pushing heavy grocery carts and racing around town, at ten or twelve days postpartum. It’s tiring. It can seem like too much. I try to baptize my babies within a month, but I can understand why some people wait six or eight weeks.

What I can’t understand are people who wait six months, ten months, or even a couple of years. I’ve known people who delayed a baptism for an entire year so as to baptize a child together with a younger cousin. While I’m sure that that event was charming, we should bear in mind that it’s the sacrament that really matters, not the party. Don’t risk your child’s soul for a photo op.

Next, consider the complacency that can naturally follow when people fail to understand the significance of baptism. Here I can speak from experience, as someone for whom the issue of membership was quite crucial to my own conversion. My case was a bit complicated, because I had been raised in the Mormon church, so I already regarded myself as a Christian. For a time, I was fairly dismissive of the suggestion that I might not be. It seemed particularly absurd to suggest that I might actually be less Christian than the masses of lukewarm Catholics who seemed never to have opened a Bible, and who knew far less even about their own faith than I myself did.

This is a fairly common failing among intellectually oriented persons, which I have seen mirrored in many other almost-Christian friends and acquaintances. We become allies and connoisseurs of the faith, and feel for awhile like this is enough. Often such people come brandishing their lists of niggling little points of doctrine on which they deny assent, as though this somehow makes them principled for refusing to enter, instead of just lazy and wildly overconfident.

I can be harsh here as one who has shared all these follies; I know firsthand how appealing it can be to allow knowledge and general enthusiasm to substitute for actual grace. People like this need to be jolted out of their complacency, though they also deserve some compassion, because there are generally more complicated, personal reasons for preferring the soft involvement of the connoisseur to the hard commitments of the believer. Adult conversion usually comes at a personal price, and sometimes quite a steep one. Quibbles over papal infallibility or transubstantiation can easily mask some deeper (and likely justified) personal fears, which keep the connoisseur lurking at the back of the chapel instead of coming forward to beg for God’s grace.

True compassion, though, should prioritize redemption over this-worldly comfort. And this is where the issue of membership becomes so crucial. It’s entirely possible to bask in the beauty of Catholic philosophy, art, literature and so forth without entering into the Church’s sacramental life. On practically every front, it is a rich and glorious tradition, with ample food for the disciplined mind to savor. None of this can compare, however, with that most fundamental and precious gift that the Church holds out to everyone who will receive it: God’s grace, poured into the soul in baptism. Until he understands this, the connoisseur really understands very little.

I will not here relate the story of how I myself came to confront what was at the time a very hard truth. I will say, however, that the process is not helped by the kind of squishy ecumenism that soft-pedals the validity of baptism, and benevolently dubs the everyone in the history of the world “children of God” regardless of their association (or lack of such) to Christ and his Church. We become children by adoption, not through our physical birth. By allowing this ambiguity to stand, we engender complacency about the souls of others, and also about our own.

Editor’s note: The image above titled “The Baptism of Christ” was painted by Francesco Trecisani in 1723.

Rachel Lu

By

Rachel Lu, a Catholic convert, teaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota where she lives with her husband and four boys. Dr. Lu earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at Cornell University. Follow her on Twitter at rclu.

  • ForChristAlone

    If we are all sons of God, there is no need for baptism. If we are all sons of God, there is no need to evangelize. If we are all sons of God, the Scriptures are irrelevant. If we are all sons of God, the Incarnation is superfluous. If we are all sons of God, then the Father’s sending the Son to die for our sins is the greatest hoax and the most perfect evil ever perpetrated since an innocent man was asked to die for no purpose whatsoever.

    No, we are made sons of God by adoption through the grace of baptism…and only baptism.

    • Anglicanæ

      Now, now, now, you’re just being a Feeney Meanie. What you *want* to say is: “The Church makes it easier to get to heaven.” See? Pelagianism is so much easier to swallow, after all we are all born Pelagians. Who wants to hear he is a poor damned sinner whose only hope is believing on Christ Crucified?

    • bender

      **If we are all sons of God, there is no need for baptism.**

      This non-sequitur is the primary error of the entire piece.

      • Augustus

        Merely asserting it doesn’t make it so. You will have to explain yourself.

      • MarcAlcan

        Exactly how is that a non-sequitur?

    • ForChristAlone

      I will add to my original comment:

      to be a son of God means that we become a sharers in His divine life. We share in God’s divine life through the merits of Jesus Christ mediated through the Church by means of water and Spirit in Baptism. Our sonship in God through Jesus Christ is unmerited on our own part for we deserve only condemnation. But God’s mercy tempers justice and, hence, He sent his son to deliver us from the effects of sin.

      This is why we seek Baptism. This is why we proclaim the Gospel to those who do not know Christ. It REALLY DOES MATTER, you know.

      • Jacob Eagleshield

        That is why so many people are put off by you. Intruding on the privacy of others with your robotic mantra. We are all part of Creation even the animals,Christians try to segregate God from nature to justify its destruction.’Dominion over the earth’ means stewardship,not killing and destroying for fun and profit. THERE IS NO NEED TO EVANGELIZE! Keep your beliefs to yourself,and leave the rest of us alone,unless we TELL you we want to hear it.
        Funny how often you Christians claim to follow Jesus’ teachings yet spend more time quoting Torah than New Testament.
        Funnier still is how you always claim how you ‘converse with God’ about what to do about something,and He tells you exactly what you WANT to hear every single time. How bloody convenient! When holier than thou finger pointers like you come to my door,and refuse to go away,I sic my dogs on them.

    • MarcAlcan

      Extremely well said!

  • JERD2

    The church recognizes the concept of “baptism by desire” as a door into union with God.

    This teaching allows us to hope that those persons without the benefit of baptism and who have not explicitly rejected God’s saving grace may nonetheless be welcomed by Him as His children.

    • Anglicanæ

      Baptism of desire was a category generally applied to catechumens who died before baptism, not the unevangelized.

      Honestly, the missionary impulse is dampened if not destroyed if I thought for a moment the world doesn’t *really* need the Gospel to be saved. All this speculation about the few out there who might get saved apart from the grace of the Gospel preached is just not really our business.

      God has given us a task: proclaim Christ because all men are under judgment, and there is a real wrath to come.

      “Repent and be baptized!” “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.” “[Jesus] is the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by [him].” Makes the devil furious, indeed. “Hath God said…?” is the old serpent’s retort of course. But “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

      • JERD2

        The teaching of the church re: Baptism by Desire is broader than you infer. See CCC: 1260

        • St JD George

          That’s the way we learned and discussed it in RCIA, and thanks for looking up the CCC reference – I was going to look up later when I had time so you saved me the time.

          • Anglicanæ

            The CCC has been the very thing used against me by catechists in the RC church to not share the Gospel with Jews. I was rebuked in South Florida back in 2003 for this dreadful activity.

            My wife is a Jew converted to the Christian faith because I shared Christ with her.

            If Vatican 2 means that people aren’t generally in need of the Gospel because they are damned without it, I am seriously considering the wrong communion.

            But Rachel Lu affirms what Christians have always believed.

            • St JD George

              A lot of good discussion on this topic today. I will have to re-read and ponder some more on it.

            • JohnS

              “If Vatican 2 means that people aren’t generally in need of the Gospel because they are damned without it, I am seriously considering the wrong communion.”

              The theology of Vatican 2 is correct.

              The understanding and implications of V2 by non-theologians are, sadly, often times misunderstood, or even flat out wrong.

              While I applaud V2, there are times when I consider the down side of trying to expose the laity to such complicated and complex theological arguments, especially in light of the opportunity to use that complexity to live, preach or teach incorrectly.

              • Anglicanæ

                Last week I was invited to a birthday dinner composed of 8 Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, a few of them theologically trained or very astute. I was the only non-Roman Catholic there, and we got onto this very topic.

                Predictably, the conversation got a little passionate, but by the end of the discussion it became clear we agreed with the principle idea behind V2 and the CCC, but it became a question of pastoral application. I said at the outset, “You’ll find we agree on this,” one gentleman said to me as we got to the climax of our discussion, “I don’t think we do.” But as emotions settled and we went over the things we all affirmed, the same gentleman said, “it seems to be more a pastoral emphasis than anything.”

                Now I’m convinced there’s an pernicious theology that broaches religious relativism and universalism — a sloppy inclusivism that makes too little of the claims of Christ. I’ve run into that innumerable times; but it doesn’t have to be so. We can (and must!) have the strong stuff of centuries past while affirming the true and most catholic meaning of Vatican 2.

                Now, if Vatican III comes out and denounces my narrower view of this, I’m certain I’d be excommunicated if I were in communion. The Scriptures and testimony of the Church for 1900 years are strong enough for me on this.

            • TerryC

              As I understand it this very thing has been discussed by Benedict XVI. His opinion was that conversion of Jews as a people is in the hands of God. His providence has already decided when Israel, as a people will be converted. This is a separate situation to the conversion of individual Jews.
              So we do not, as in institutional Church Evangelize to Jews as we would to pagans. They already have a covnantual relationship with God, which though different from the New Covenant instituted by Christ, is a valid covenant. I’ve heard it said that Jesus’ teaching was radical when he called God “Father”, but anyone with a decent knowledge of the Old Testament knows that God is often portrayed as the Father of Israel and the Israelites as his children. Does he not say to David, “You will be as a son to me..”?
              All that being said I would not think to try to determine whether any particular person is damned or not. Should a Jew wish to know about the Gospel I would surely share it with them. Nor would I shrink from discussion of the New Testament, or Old Testament for that matter, as an doctrinal discussion.

              • Anglicanæ

                “So we do not, as in institutional Church Evangelize to Jews as we would to pagans” —
                Paul the Apostle said all are concluded under sin and all need the Gospel equally, the Jew *first* then the Gentile.

                “Should a Jew wish to know about the Gospel I would surely share it with them.”

                Paul the Apostle went to the Jews first in any town he visited, because he knew this was the priority Christ established.

                Go back and read Romans 9-11; the whole book of Romans for that matter. There’s no indicator that the old covenant is in effect. You especially don’t get this from the book of Hebrews.

                Sorry, this is a non-negotiable. It’s too pronounced in the NT and the early Church: the Gospel has its cross hairs on the Jews first and then the Gentiles. Jews have every advantage, as Paul said, because of their oracles and prophets, which point to Christ. But that does not put them in a default “better” situation than the pagan, as if their righteousness was better than the pagans’.

        • Anglicanæ

          All we like sheep have gone astray. No one seeks after God. There is none righteous, no not one.

          That’s the state of men apart from the grace of the Gospel.

          V2 is putting forth a scenario of what God will do for any who respond to the light they have been given. Scripture says man is generally doomed apart from the preaching of the cross.

          V2 must be interpreted in its most catholic sense, not its most liberal.

          • JohnS

            “All we like sheep have gone astray. No one seeks after God. There is none righteous, no not one.

            That’s the state of men apart from the grace of the Gospel.”

            Correct. But there is a difference between knowing the moral laws, and having the grace to conform your life to them.

            Any person of good will can determine the basic moral laws from studying the creation. To live according to that law requires God’s grace, which can be acquired through the “Baptism of Intent.”

            “V2 must be interpreted in its most catholic sense, not its most liberal.”

            Correct, even to the capitalization of “catholic.”

        • BillinJax

          “….and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. ”
          Just how does ….”a man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and his Church” come to understand the will of God?
          Be careful in your response as you may involve the “Spirit” which comes to us in the water of Baptism.

          There is a difference in having a desire and a valid belief. Our emotions can’t be a substitute for outright commitments.

          • JohnS

            “Just how does ….”a man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and his Church” come to understand the will of God?”

            By right reason (see: Natural Law).

            To see the hand of God in his creation, is to set oneself on the path to see God. In seeing God, one can desire him, and this desire gives us the opportunity to be “Baptized by Intent”, thus receiving the Spirit, thus receiving grace.

            This is an important bit of theology, far more so than it might first appear, precisely because it answers two of the more difficult challenges of “Original Atheism” (there are three general classes of atheism): 1) Christian exclusiveness 2) The relationship between the moral teachings of the Church, and the natural law.

            Natural law allows us to be fairly confident when we say that the teachings of the Church are “catholic” (IOW: universal), precisely because they are to the universe much as the natural laws are to the universe: non-arbitrary, inherent, built-in properties that, to a certain extent, can be deduced.

            In other words, for someone to say to a Catholic that “well, that’s what YOUR Church teaches!” (implying that your beliefs are arbitrary, and rest solely on the desire of some set of evil men to exert control over others for nefarious purposes) would be valid, if not for the fact that Church teaching is a real and universal as the law of gravity is.

        • russell snow

          This is correct and is stated somewhere by Pius IX and at Vatican II, the document of which, I believe, references his teaching

        • TerryC

          But one cannot mention the term “ignorance” in this sense without talking about the concepts of vincible and invincible ignorance. Someone who lives on a desert island, unvisited by either evangelist or teacher can claim invincible ignorance and may experience a Baptism of Desire. Most people who live in the modern western world have heard of the Bible, the Church and God. Some have sought out Him, desiring to know and understand Truth. That person may still indeed claim invincible ignorance, because they never go around to picking out Christianity as the true way. Many more people have some idea of what Christianity believes and requires of them. Of what God has revealed to the Church, and they have rejected it. They may not know the Gospels. They may not know the Bible, but they have determined that they have no interest in seeking or finding about Him. They reject the truths that have been publicly espoused by the Church. Their ignorance is vincible, it is the result of their own actions and decisions and they cannot claim ignorance.

        • anna lisa

          Thank you!

          It never ceases to amaze me when Catholics don’t want to hold on to hope “that all men be saved”.

          Also, if Catholics (including the author) *actually* believed that God would shun their baby for all eternity if the poor little thing died of SIDS the day after birth–They would baptize him or her on the same day. They’d line it up so the priest was waiting in the hallway next to the delivery room.

          I find these articles exceedingly cruel to people who have lost unbaptized babies.

          Would they tell a mother whose infant was dying within her to hurry up and be cut open so the baby could be baptized?

          Legalism!

          • ForChristAlone

            Nothing of what you premise is true of Church teaching

            • anna lisa
            • anna lisa

              I was that woman pregnant with that dying baby. I knew he was dying, and I trusted that God would receive him without a formal baptism.

              • ForChristAlone

                and that’s baptism of desire – your will for him as his parent. God bless.

                • anna lisa

                  This just came to me as I was loading the dishwasher:
                  I have a baptism of desire for ALL children, not just bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.
                  I am not a better parent than GOD.

        • Elizabethe

          This was an important point in my own conversion so I’m glad you mention it.

  • fredx2

    “This is a fairly common failing among intellectually oriented persons, which I have seen mirrored in many other almost-Christian friends and acquaintances. We become allies and connoisseurs of the faith, and feel for awhile like this is enough. Often such people come brandishing their lists of niggling little points of doctrine on which they deny assent, as though this somehow makes them principled for refusing to enter, instead of just lazy and wildly overconfident.”

    • St JD George

      Pride, what a peculiar word. At the root of so many divisions where man places himself and his mind before God’s will.
      I’ll share an interesting personal story. My Mom was raised Unitarian and my Dad was basically agnostic, and pretty strongly opinionated about it. We attended church somewhat regularly but it always felt obligatory and I wouldn’t say that religion was at the heart of our life. Since my baptism I’ve prayed for their conversion and just this new year they have started attending church again and said they enjoyed it, after maybe 40 years. I do cringe of course because the Unitarian church can’t even really be called Christian, but for now at least I accept that it is a start in the right direction (I know many would argue) to reflect on God’s grace. Maybe from here that will lead them to deeper reflection on God’s love for them, and something that we can discuss. Time will tell.

    • MarcAlcan

      Well you see, she is quite right. Why should she join a Church who has a Pope when she already is pope. There can only be one Pope in a Church and since she already is one, there is no need for another. The beauty of it is she can declare doctrines herself. Makes for a carefree life 🙂

  • Adrian J Reimers

    Not quite. Many points here are well taken, but: “God, who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” (Gaudium et Spes, §24) The Council goes on to cite Acts 17:26 and then the call to love of neighbor. We are, therefore, all children of God, even if we are not all brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • Guest

      Exactly! And thank you ….

    • Rock St. Elvis

      That text actually says we are all brothers, not sons of God.

    • kentgeordie

      To say that God wills us to be one family is not to say that we are one family.

    • Mktingguy

      Galatians 3:23 — Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian* for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ. have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

      Seems pretty clear to me. Being children from God is not the same as being children of God, in Jesus Christ. I shudder to think of Islamic terrorists as being children OF God.

    • Anglicanæ

      Jesus takes interpretive priority, he being greater than any pope. Ready to get really offended? Hold on to your socks:

      42Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

    • Adrian J Reimers

      The Scriptures shed deeper light on this question. We are all indisputably sons and daughters of Adam, and Luke’s gospel (in his genealogy of Jesus) calls Adam “son of God”, just as Seth is “son of Adam” (Lk 3:38). Acts confirms this when St Paul cites the Greek poet’s saying “we are all his children” and continues in his own words, “Since we are the children of God…” (Acts 17:28). This is from the same passage the the Council cited in GS 24. I cannot see how this can be gainsaid. In a fundamental sense, we are all children of God.

      The Council goes on to argue that in virtue of this we have a common goal, “God himself”. (GS 19 also maintains that all men are destined to communion with God.)

      The “holding onto your socks” passage does not disprove this. In that very text Jesus charges his interlocutors with being sons of the devil. Of course this does not mean that they are such in the same sense that we are sons of God. These interlocutors are on one level truly the sons of Abraham, even if on another they show themselves not to be (Jn 8:29-44).

      THe passage from Galatians affirms that “through faith you are all children of God IN CHRIST JESUS”. This has to be understood in the context of what the same St Paul had said in Acts 17.

      What is at stake here is how we regard our brothers and sisters who do not know Christ—to include even murderous Muslim terrorists. Why must we love them? THe Council’s point is that all human beings share in the dignity of being children of God. This dignity is the rot of their human rights, but more important it is rooted in their destiny. THis destiny of all to communion with God is why we are obliges to evangelize them.

      • Anglicanæ

        “In a fundamental sense, we are all children of God.” — the context for Rachel Lu’s article isn’t what men are by nature. Being an offspring of God by nature gets you no closer to salvation than the devil, since clearly men made in the image of God will be in the Lake of Fire at the Last Judgment.

        Something new must be done with fallen Adam and his progeny in him. There must be a new Creation, a New Adam — that’s the thing that God is establishing. That’s what mankind is urged to enter into. Romans 5 is crystal clear on this matter: all who remain in Adam are dead.

        So you lightly dismiss Christ’s words as if that only applies to Pharisees. But John will be a constant thorn in your side because he re-iterates this in other places, namely his epistles. Hearing and believing the Word of God is what God cares about, since (as St. John the Baptist said), he can raise up sons of Abraham from stones.

        The Galatians passage only asserts that all who have believed are Children of God, since being IN CHRIST (the New Adam) is where His Children of Adoption are, who were born not of flesh and blood, or the will of man, but of God (John 1).

        “What is at stake here is how we regard our brothers and sisters who do not know Christ.”

        I could not agree more. On the hippie-dippy theology that’s been promulgated by the Baby Boomer generation, you’re left with a lot less than charity. It’s the kind of love that, by analogy, sees a burning house of sleeping neighbors, and assumes, “You know, they might have fire sprinklers there. I can’t imagine how anyone could perish — they’d surely use a fire extinguisher if they had one.”

        The real love and regard for your neighbor is, upon seeing smoke rising from his home while he sleeps, you start pounding on the door, urging him to get out to save his life. That’s the love I want someone to have towards me. I don’t want anyone to regard my “feelings” if my life is in danger. The remedy is only as critical as the diagnosis.

        On what I’ve been hearing by many, the bad news isn’t all that bad, so the good news isn’t really that good either.

        • Adrian J Reimers

          Except for the part about my lightly dismissing Jesus’s words–may God grant that I never do–I agree with you.

          • Anglicanæ

            Amen, then. I recant the words “dismissing lightly” as well.

  • Guest

    In my 50 years of priestly ministry this is one of the saddest texts I’ve ever read. It is very wrong and very very disturbing . Cui bono? And the practical day-to-day CONSEQUENCES of such thinking?

    • Rock St. Elvis

      “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

      Not all are peacemakers. Therefore, not all are sons of God as that term is meant in this passage.

      I don’t think it is wrong to say we are all God’s children in the broader sense that He created us all in his image and likeness, but we are not all God’s children in every sense of that term. And it’s worthwhile to point that out, for a refined understanding.

      • JohnS

        Good point!

        Words have multiple meanings, and the phrase “children of God” has different meanings in different contexts.

    • Anglicanæ

      Well, for starters it is Biblical. Hence the language of adoption in Sacred Scripture is also an apt picture of our salvation.

      I know, liberal theology offers all the comforts of a prostitute, but at what cost?

      Here’s the real rub: the world hates entertaining the probability that the devil is their father because it *exposes* the real and present danger they are in.

      The light of God’s justice shines on us and we, by nature being “children of wrath,” will be indignant. Thankfully the Spirit of God turns hearts to accept that the Cross is where we really ought to be, but the Son is there offering Himself on our behalf!

      • Martha

        “…liberal theology offers all the comforts of a prostitute…”

        Ha!

    • Kevin Aldrich

      You have not said what is sad, wrong, or disturbing about this OP.

      • JERD2

        It tragically limits the mercy of God. See quote from CCC 1260 above.

        • Anglicanæ

          Does it? The Gospel going around the world is a tragedy to you? It is the wideness of God’s mercy that missionaries have been sent to bring the life-giving name of Jesus.

        • GG

          How is it limited? 1260 does not change or refute the essay. Water baptism is the ordinary means. Baptism of desire does not mean we neglect water baptism or presume on God’s mercy.

          What do you make of all the martyrs through out history and other men and women who left comfort to spread the Gospel and lead others to baptism? Should they have stayed home?

          • Anglicanæ

            Thank you! By the way some talk, you’d think the World is better off not hearing the Gospel since it only aggravates culpability.

            • GG

              Have you read Conscience and Truth by Cardinal Ratzinger? In that talk he discusses the concept you mention here where some actually think not hearing the faith is an advantage to salvation.

              • Anglicanæ

                No, but sounds like a good read.

              • St JD George

                I have not. I find that interesting and would like to understand better the full context under which he made that statement.
                In some ways I get it because so much division arises in man in arguing over the interpretation of the Bible, whether to take literal or impression, etc. I sometimes read and think that we often miss the most fundamental message of Christ (2nd most), to go forth and love one another as we do ourself, with the innocence of faith like a child. I for one find that pretty hard to do I freely admit, though I reflect on it often.

                • Anglicanæ

                  The various interpretations of Vatican 2 scare me a bit more.

                  The life of grace is not the Gospel. The Gospel is not what God is doing in me. The Gospel is what Jesus has accomplished for sinners.

                  If the Gospel is a list of moral imperatives, most Pagans wouldn’t need the Church.

                  • St JD George

                    I think there are divergent paths in this conversation about being children of God, between how we are born into this world in his image and likeness (with original sin), and … the next steps we take in life that lead us to him (or not) once we’re delivered. Jesus did tell us after all “I am the way and the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the father except through me.”

                • GG

                  Well, he was arguing against that reasoning.

                  it can be found here:
                  http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/RATZCONS.HTM
                  CONSCIENCE AND TRUTH
                  Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

                  “I first became aware of the question with all its urgency in the
                  beginning of my academic teaching. In the course of a dispute, a senior
                  colleague, who was keenly aware of the plight to being Christian in our times,
                  expressed the opinion that one should actually be grateful to God that He allows
                  there to be so many unbelievers in good conscience. For if their eyes were
                  opened and they became believers, they would not be capable, in this world of
                  ours, of bearing the burden of faith with all its moral obligations. But as it
                  is, since they can go another way in good conscience, they can reach salvation.
                  What shocked me about this assertion was not in the first place the idea of an
                  erroneous conscience given by God Himself in order to save men by means of such
                  artfulness—the idea, so to speak, of a blindness sent by God for the salvation
                  of those in question. What disturbed me was the notion that it harbored, that
                  faith is a burden which can hardly be borne and which no doubt was intended only
                  for stronger natures—faith almost as a kind of punishment, in any case, an
                  imposition not easily coped with…”

                  • St JD George

                    I walked away from your first comment with a totally different impression, thanks for sharing. Now even more motivation to go read. Those words resonate as I often contemplate whether my burdens are worthy of God’s grace. Truthfully, I feel blessed but that my sacrifices are not worthy, particularly when I contrast with the saints and those who laid down their lives. It’s funny because we normally think of martyr’s in the modern context of jihads, but there are a great many Christian martyr’s in the world today who are laying down their lives by not denying their faith in Christ in the face of evil. In the west there is a different form of martyrdom being faced defending the faith from those who would destroy his church in the form of loss of livelihood or imprisonment for lack of conformity with the increasingly hostile state. I’m not suggesting in any way that martyrdom is the way to salvation, just reflecting that the world we live in today demands it more and more. If that is the standard of burden then indeed many are called and few will be chosen.

                    • GG

                      I have read it many times and still love it. The man has a way of relating the faith that is very clear and very deep. He is a real treasure.

                    • Anglicanæ

                      I’ll second that. I read everything I can from BXVI.

        • russell snow

          I do not see how it limits the mercy of God, the God who is Love, who permits the most heinous behavior imaginable. It does not negate the reality of Who has revealed Himself to be in Jesus Christ. He creates all human beings made in His image and likeness with the law of love written on every human. In this sense were are bothers and sisters, but only those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and live according to his teachings have the awesome privilege of calling God, Our Father. All human beings have the capacity to believe or to reject Jesus given the opportunity. We are saved by the Grace of God in Christ, and as Saint Augustine has said: “God bestows His Grace upon whom He will.” It is a great mystery which we cannot fathom. We do know that at the judgment of nations the criteria of judgment is compassion and love and I assume that crowd includes many who are not Christians,

          • JERD2

            Maybe we are all talking semantics, but the issue raised by this article seems to be this: Is the sacrament of Baptism an absolute precondition to being saved? The author seems to say yes. I say no, and I site CCC 1260, i.e baptism by desire.

            I don’t see, in light of the clear teaching of the Catholic Church, there can be any other conclusion but mine.

            • Anglicanæ

              “Absolute”? Did anyone here say “absolute”?

              You’re imagining things.

              To use my Anglican formulary, Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar “are generally necessary for salvation.”

              The whole baptism of desire business is not new to anyone. Vatican 2 unfortunately has been seized upon to espouse a grave error, however.

              The normative means of salvation comes the preaching of the Gospel. To say otherwise makes a liar out of Jesus, the Apostles, the Martyrs, and pretty much the whole Church … until the magical age of rainbows and lollipops we call the 60’s. The 20th century has been one big train wreck.

              • somebigguy

                “…until the magical age of rainbows and lollipops we call the 60’s.”

                HA! Good one!

        • TerryC

          It is not possible to limit the mercy of God. On the other hand it is not prudent nor in line with revealed truth to hold that Baptism is unnecessary for salvation.
          I like to explain CCC1260 by way of a parable:
          In certain areas of America young men of a particular cultural heritage often spend inordinate amounts of time practicing basketball in the hope that they will be able to one day be successful by becoming the next Michael Jordan. They spend so much time in this task that they have no time or inclination to study their lessons and get good grades. They hope to enter collage as scholarship athletes, or better yet be picked up by the pros directly from high school and skip the odious university academic work entirely.
          In real life the chance of any of them equaling or even approaching the accomplishments of Mr. Jordan are vanishingly rare. They would be much better off and have a much greater chance of success by working hard in their studies.
          So while someone might manage to be the next pagan or agnostic Mother Tereasa and make it into heaven, their best chance to get to salvation is to follow the route Our Lord gave us and be Baptized and follow the teachings of the Catholic Church.

          • JERD2

            Thanks for this input. I think the key sentence from 1260 is this: “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved.”

            One must “seek” the truth, and do the will of God “in accord with his understanding” if one may hope to gain heaven without the benefit of the sacrament of Baptism.

            The lazy agnostic and the person who knows of the Gospel and rejects it, are not “seekers” or “doers of the will of God.”

            The mercy of God will extend to the unbaptized who seek God and try to do his will as they, though in a limited way, understand his will.

            • Maria

              But doing the will of God, even for the uncatechized, includes conformity to natural law. Now, what are the chances that the average non-Christian is living according to the natural law? Have you seen Hindu statuary? Buddhist non-violence that somehow does NOT extend to abortion? Unnatural vice propagated by our secular countrymen? The Gospel seems to be the most sure and charitable route to salvation.

    • russell snow

      What specifically did Rachel Lu say that was not true? It is very disturbing, as are many of the plain words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. One which seems to have been ignored for the past 50 years is: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” In Dei Verbum, 19ff the council clearly states that we have the actual words and deeds of Jesus and many of these are very disturbing, but they are the Word of God.

    • GG

      What is wrong with it?

    • Nel

      I should think the practical day-to-day consequences are that we take responsibility for getting our children baptized and for spreading the Gospel to all who have not heard it and have not been baptized yet. That we evangelize the world so that all can receive the Holy Spirit and be set free from the Original Sin that separates us from God.

      I should think that the practical day-to-day consequences of such thinking would be that every Catholic who thinks this way is on fire to ‘go out to all the world, and tell the good news.’ I should think that every priest who thinks this way would consider his vocation to be summed up in the command of Christ to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded you.’

      In other words, if people thought in this way, the practical day-to-day consequences would be doing God’s will by evangelizing the whole world, baptizing the whole world, and teaching the whole world to observe ALL that Christ commanded.

      And you are disturbed and think this is wrong?

      Very glad I’m not in your parish.

      Very sorry for you and the accounting you must one day make to God for finding his command ‘wrong’ and ‘disturbing.’

    • Morrie Chamberlain

      Where are you priest? If you truly believe what you say then you will not be shy in letting us know.

  • Anglicanæ

    Amen. Truly refreshing to hear Catholics be unashamedly Catholic. St Cyprian, pray for the Church!

  • St JD George

    Seems like you are walking a fine line here Rachel. As JERD2 mentions, the church is pretty clear on the possibility of salvation for those who have never heard the word of God, the gentiles of our day if you will. The mission we’re given is to spread the good news to the corners of the world. While he told his that many are called and few are chosen, I believe God’s judgement will be most harsh for those who conscientiously reject him. He told us we are all created in his likeness and image, and that he knew us all before we were formed in the womb. What comes after as the act of our free will defines the path that we take that will lead us home to him, or not.

    • Anglicanæ

      Nah, if V2 is treated as an emotional safety net to cauterize our consciences for lazily ignoring the unique and exclusive claims of Christ, then we need to shelve V2 until we get the primary message of Scripture down.

      Vatican II asserts the possibility, but never ought we to conclude with a collective sigh that our mission isn’t *as* serious, as if the Kerygma is doing its own thing apart from the Church.

      Whatever God is doing apart from our mission is not our business, neither should it make us feel all is well for the unevangelized. All is not well, so we bring them their only hope: Christ.

  • Vinny

    This is a good homily. I’ll save it for my daughter (fallen away) and son-in-law. One other comment – “We become children by adoption, not through our” conception.

  • “to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

    Dr. Lu is right on point. The importance of Baptism is undermined in two ways, first by secular/pluralism that promotes fellowship over union with God, and secondly, too many Christians undermine the importance of Baptism by requiring a personal assent (accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior) that may or may not be followed up by a Baptism of water in the Trinitarian formula. The Gospel of John clearly tells us that merely to be born human (natural generation) does not make us children of God, nor by a personal assent (human choice or a man’s decision.) The Word made flesh gives us the power to become children of God, and that power is instituted by Christ in the sacrament of Baptism.

    • Ron Conte

      The Council of Trent infallibly taught that not only the Sacrament of Baptism but also “the desire thereof” (baptism of desire) makes us adoptive sons of God [Sixth Session, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV]. So by limiting the phrase “children of God” to those only who have received the sacrament of Baptism, Dr. Lu and Deacon Trahan above are openly rejecting the teaching of an Ecumenical Council.

      • ForChristAlone

        My guess is that they, as I, assume “baptism” to include “baptism of desire.”

      • MarcAlcan

        The Council of Trent infallibly taught that not only the Sacrament of Baptism but also “the desire thereof” (baptism of desire) makes us adoptive sons of God [Sixth Session, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV]. So by limiting the phrase “children of God” to those only who have received the sacrament of Baptism, Dr. Lu and Deacon Trahan above are openly rejecting the teaching of an Ecumenical Council.

        What of the babies who were baptised who couldn’t desire?

  • Donna Ruth

    Thank you for that column, Rachel. It is interesting that I had just finished reading a recent column by Cardinal Dolan and had been taken aback by a sentence he had included: “I invite us to see who we are: At the core of our being, each one of us has the identity of being a child of God, made in his image and likeness, redeemed by the precious blood of his Son, Jesus, and destined to enjoy eternity with him in heaven.” Ummm … we are “destined” to enjoy eternity with Jesus in heaven?? That would be nice, but I would suggest the greater accuracy is that we “hold a hope”

    Granted, this column was published in a Catholic newspaper which is read by Catholics, but columns like these are also an online presence read by many who are not Catholic. And even if it were solely intended for Catholic eyes, we are still not “destined,” a verb which dictionaries translate as “certain to meet a particular fate”; rather, we as baptized children of God can hope for heaven–but it is never a certainty. It is troubling to me that this tone of universalism is becoming more prevalent–from the pulpit, and in mainstream Catholic writing.

    • John O’Neill

      Benedict XVI, a great pope, made a great step towards the realization that salvation is not an automatic for all mankind when he had the canon of the mass changed in the part of the consecration where the priest declares this to be the chalice of my blood which is shed for the salvation to pro multis (original Latin) meaning for many as opposed to the Vatican II gang that stuck in the translation of pro multis to be “for all”. Also at Christmas time the greeting of the angels to the shepherds which is rendered both in the Latin and Greek text “peace on earth to men of good will”; this has been rendered by modern Americanized Christians to be “peace on earth, good will to men” so that it fits in with their Secular religion of all men are equal. The gift of salvation is clearly offered to all men and those who say “fiat” or yes will enter his kingdom but a whole lot of them are going to say “NO”.

    • Elijah

      And Donna Ruth points out this kind of discourse does not have any validity in the eyes of Catholic Church. Thus, despite the fact that the author hold Phd, this kind of formulation do not hold what the Church teaches. I am just upset with the way this article attempted to formulate rather an old age argument of us vs them. I believe being born as a child of God and being saved are two different things. And beyond that to shut the door on those who never heart Christ or have not baptized in His name is something we leave for God alone.

      So, what can we say to, “We are not all children of God.” What kind of non-sense is this? Just because we some of us are Christians either born to it or convert to it, does it make make us children of God out-rightly? Being born into the faith and
      having ‘certain’ salvation are two different things. And others just because they are not or are not ‘baptized’, as we all know, it does not mean they are excluded from being Children of God. And the author, with her Phd, knows this far better than many, there is a big difference in becoming and being. So let’s leave at that.

      But for now, let St.Paul reminds her that, “They show that the requirements of the law
      are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and sometimes defending them” (Rom 2:15) So unless they are children of God prior to baptism (those who are not heard Christ or born in the faith) where does this judging conscience comes from? Has she not heard that people are children God by the invisible grace let alone that all human beings are born in the image and likeness of God? And at the end of the day those who did not
      accept Christ or heard Him will be judged by the invisible Logos that is in their mind and heart?
      Anyway, unless the author wants to include in her argument about the debatable matter of poly-genesis or mono-genesis, the case is closed because “since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.” This refers to all. More to this, as I say above, the author is a convert. And if she a convert from some sort of Calvinism, I am not surprised at all because this kind of arrogant article of faith that led to all kind of annihilation of other civilization. Where these other civilizations or cultures sought as the children of the devil and the new comers are the anointed ones. As Catholics let us do what Jesus did i,e, make a case for God rather than condemning others.And that is not our job but God’s.

      Once again, in using such strong ‘copula’ in her argument, in the name of the Church, we hold you to retract or persuade us by cushing on the pillars of the Church– the tradition, magisterium and the scripture. If not, it is clear that you are attempting to be beyond not only the Church Fathers but also what the Church teaching. Come to your senses and perhaps a little bit humility would help…

      • MarcAlcan

        So unless they are children of God prior to baptism (those who are not heard Christ or born in the faith) where does this judging conscience comes from?

        From the capacity to know right and wrong having been creatures of God.
        The status of being children of God is much more than the ability to discern right from wrong.

        • Eljah

          “From the capacity to know right and wrong having been creatures of God.The status of being children of God is much more than the ability to discern right from wrong.”
          Hey MarcAlcan, can you be a bit specific or elaborate what you mean by saying that the ability to discern right from wrong is different (in your word ‘much more’) or does not amount to the ‘status of being children of God’?
          Thanks a lot.

          • MarcAlcan

            can you be a bit specific or elaborate what you mean by saying that the ability to discern right from wrong is different (in your word ‘much more’) or does not amount to the ‘status of being children of God’?

            The fall of man has dimmed our intellect and weakened our will. While our intellect may have been dimmed and our wills weakened, it does not mean that capacity to know right and wrong and the ability to do good has been obliterated. We are still able to know it in the natural sphere.
            Becoming children of God is on a completely different level. It is sharing in the divine Sonship of Christ. Through the grace we receive at baptism we are able to exceed what we are able to do on a natural level because of this share in the divine life.
            Through baptism we move from creatures to His sons and daughters.

  • When I was born in 1945, Catholic practice was to baptize the baby ASAP, but at the latest, two weeks after birth. It was a grave responsibility of the parents. Everyone accepted the teaching of Christ that unless ye be born again of water and the Spirit, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Of course the Church also taught the baptism of desire, but babies can’t desire baptism. It’s the parent’s responsibility to see that the child receives the sacrament. There is far too much emphasis today on the party and not enough on the preparing the soul to meet God whenever He calls. I can’t agree that waiting a month or more is acceptable. It takes only one car accident or death by SIDS to block the baby from adoption. Why take the chance.

    • Maria

      Yes, but just TRY to find a parish who will schedule a baptism within two weeks! All of my children have been baptized 4-6 weeks after birth because of the parish schedule. It’s really disheartening.

      • Joseph

        One of the Catholic priests at a hospital I worked at always visited the maternity ward every time he came to the hospital. Not infrequently, some parents would request Baptism for their newborn, and he obliged. Not sure if this is the best practice, but it feels very right to me.

      • Elizabethe

        In my experience it’s been the issue of finding and having the church accept Godparents, and in making sure the parents are properly educated in the meaning of Baptism. its a lot of paperwork ruled over by a petty church beaureacrat that holds up the process. Churches could help by simply urging people in announcements and on a regular basis to make sure everything is in order well before the baby is born.

        • Elizabethe

          Or in being less stringent with baptismal requirements and just baptizing people who want it, regardless of whether they’ve had a class or attend church regularly or what have you.

  • Aliquantillus

    The belief that we become the children of G’d through baptism is a root error of traditional Christianity. The NT clearly teaches that we become children of G’d through concious faith. We see this in the NT when the Holy Spirit was outpoured on groups of disciples even before they were baptized. Baptism has to follow the acceptance of faith in Jesus the Messiah, not the other way round. Baptism in the NT is the public declaration that you are a follower of Jesus and it is the public incorporation in the Assembly of Messiah (i.e. the believing remnant of Israel to which also Gentile believers are added).

    To reverse this order of faith and baptism is actually the main cause of the historical corruption of the Church. While Israel was and is a national election, the Church is not. It is the congregation of the faithful, of only those out of Israel as well as the Gentiles who have committed themselves to Jesus Christ. The Church is not an ethnic or cultural community. Everyone who wants to join it can do so only on the basis of personal faith. That is what is taught in the Epistles mentioned or quoted by the author (i.e. Ephesians and Galatians).

    • Anglicanæ

      The Anabaptist heresy you’re advocating has never been part of the deposit of faith.
      Tell me, since when are infants excluded from the covenant of grace simply because they are infants?

  • Martha

    Beautiful! Also educational, for me. I’ve truly never thought of it that way, but you’re spot on. Thank you, Rachel.

  • somebigguy

    Some of the dissent and confusion concerning Baptism comes from the pervasive misunderstanding, common among both protestants and less-than-adequately catechized Catholics, that the sacrament is something we do for God. Quite the opposite: Baptism is something God does for us.

    Much of the beauty of the sacrament becomes clear only when its true nature is understood (e.g., that we, as followers of Christ, participate in the very salvation of the world).

  • Susan

    Why then did Jesus send out His disciples to baptize? Why then have courageous missionaries gone to all corners of the world to preach and baptize, many losing their lives for Christ?
    Why then the life of St. Francis Xavier and the many Jesuits who spread the Word and baptized everywhere they went?
    If Baptism were not central to becoming a Christian, and therefore a disciple of Christ, why baptize?

  • Kenneth

    While it’s true that we become adopted children of God by baptism, there seems, from Scripture, to be warrant for the claim that all human persons are children of God; see e.g. St. Paul’s sermon in Acts 17:28-29. The phrase ‘children of God’ seems to be used in analogous senses in Acts and in Gal 4: 4-7/John 1:12-13. This is not to deny anything that Dr. Lu said about the importance of baptism and becoming children of God in the full, adopted sense, but rather to claim that calling all people children of God is not entirely misleading or unscriptural.

    • Anglicanæ

      I’m not interested in diminishing the dignity we all have by creation. The infinite dignity of the Incarnation and the Cross correlates to the value we have, and the depths of sin we’re plunged into, as natural men. The thing that finally counts, though, is the new birth, the new creation, the adoption that creation groans for until the day of redemption.

      So, in a profound sense the good news isn’t that we are all children of God by creation — that even a pagan in the darkest of darkness already knows. The only thing that matters is being reconstituted in the new humanity, the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. And this is the message His Church must bring to the lost: they do not know the way of salvation otherwise.

  • Ruth Rocker

    It was pride that cast Lucifer out of Heaven and his lies have been infecting the world ever since. I, too, weary of hearing all the kumbaya garbage currently being spewed from too many Catholic pulpits. I think this concept of we’re all children of God really got a foothold when the Church stopped preaching no salvation outside of the Church. If that’s not true, then the Catholic Church is not the only holder of the truth and the legacy of Christ so any old church/religion will get you to the same place.

    I don’t know where my eventual destination will be (I hope in heaven) but I know a whole bunch of people who are doing their very best to go somewhere warm for eternity

    • Anglicanæ

      Assurance of God’s grace doesn’t require infallible knowledge — if you are in Christ you have all the riches of heaven now. You are called to be a saint this very day.

      That doesn’t mean we can’t apostatize — anybody theoretically can still miss heaven. This is why Peter calls us to “make our calling and election sure.”

  • hombre111

    Mmm, “Image and Likeness” has a strong sense of family resemblance, and that is what Genesis had to say. Do you say we lost that likeness when Adam sinned? I say that, whenever God looks at any one of us, God sees something that reminds him of himself. But you are right about “child” when you think of it in terms of heir, which is what the Jewish culture meant when Paul called baptized people “sons.”

    And then we have the whole conundrum for the anal retentive presented by Lumen Gentium, 14-16. There, we discover that Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, and even atheists, “who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will—these too may attain eternal banquet.” In other words, be part of the heavenly feast where the sons and daughters of God will rejoice together forever.

    Rather than say unbaptized persons are not children of God, I would say they are not part of the Body of Christ.

  • J. DePrisco

    But Pope Francis said in May, 2013: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class”
    Was this just sloppy language or does the Pope really believe this?

    • Anglicanæ

      “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”

      St. Paul, 2nd Corinthians 2:14ff

    • JohnS

      Sloppy language.

      Yes, Christ died for everyone, so his statement is strictly true, when properly translated and interpreted.

      Not everybody, however, excepts that gift, or makes use of it.

      • somebigguy

        “…accepts that gift.” Sloppy language. : )

  • Michelle

    Having heard the SAME homily from not a seminarian but our own pastor, I truly needed to read this to put my mind at ease…I am not alone. Thank you so much, Dr. Lu, for sharing!

  • Is it true that when one commits a mortal sin one ceases to be a child of God and reverts to being a mere creature (while one is in that mortal sin)?

    • No. Just as the Prodigal Son didn’t stop being a son, so those who depart from their Father by seriously sinning do not cease to be His children. Those who persist unrepentant in a state of serious sin would not receive the inheritance of eternal life. But this is not because they are no longer children of God. It is because they have rejected their Father. And those who are reconciled to the Father through Penance are also not reborn as they were in baptism. Instead they are forgiven and welcomed by the Father who is always waiting for His Prodigal Children with open arms.

  • Jojo

    Great article. The Council of Trent said in session VII in the canons on baptism “If
    anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be
    anathema.” It’s really important to know what the Catholic Church teaches on baptism otherwise it could be delayed too long.

    • Jojo

      Anathema means excommunicated.

    • BM

      Don’t forget the Council of Florence: “With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest….”

  • A distinction could likely be made between two kinds of children of God, those who are created by Him (everyone), and those who are recreated by Him (the Baptized). The Catechism says God is Father in these two principle ways:

    “By calling God ‘Father’, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children” (CCC no. 239).

    In some sense all are children of God, insofar as everyone has their origin in Him.

    In another sense, not everyone is an “adopted” child of God and a partaker not just of human nature, but the Divine Nature, insofar as not everyone has been reborn through the Holy Mystery of Baptism.

  • h2oplyer7

    It because there is more than one meaning to the statement. All humans are the children of God. To be a son or daughter of the Church is another meaning.

  • Tamsin

    This seems to get to the heart of the matter, from the entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “…baptism can be bestowed upon infants immediately after they are born, and in case of necessity even in their mother’s womb. Finally it must be borne in mind that unbaptized infants are not unjustly deprived of heaven. The vision of God is not something to which human beings have a natural claim. It is a free gift of the Creator who can make what conditions He chooses for imparting it or withholding it. No injustice is involved when an undue privilege is not conferred upon a person. Original sin deprived the human race of an unearned right to heaven. Through the Divine mercy this bar to the enjoyment of God is removed by baptism; but if baptism be not conferred, original sin remains, and the unregenerated soul, having no claim on heaven, is not unjustly excluded from it.”

    It’s on us, then: the most charitable thing to do is “go and teach all nations, baptizing them” early and often.

    • ForChristAlone

      Thank you, Tasmin.

  • kag1982

    Good to know that non-Catholics weren’t created in the image of God…

    • Fortitudinous

      I don’t think you read the article.

  • kag1982

    Isn’t Crisis Magazine always whining about the evil liberals distorting the faith.. Well this little article distorts the faith quite a bit. Of course, every person on Earth was created in the image of God and is therefore a child of God.

    • Rob B.

      *sigh* We are all created in the image of God, but we become
      “children of God” through baptism. This is Catholic Belief 101; only someone desperate to attack orthodoxy would read this otherwise…

      • kag1982

        Well… Whine to Pope Francis who declined to bless a room that contained Catholic and non-Catholic journalists after his election but called all of them Children of God.

        • Rob B.

          I think I’ll leave the whining to professionals. The fact remains that you are deliberately reading the worst into this article because it was (*gasp*) written by someone with a concern about orthodox theology.

          • kag1982

            I got this link from David Gibson’s Twitter feed. It is quite bad even by Crisis Magazine standards.

            • Rob B.

              And the fact that it’s written by a woman with an eye towards orthodoxy? That doesn’t stick in your craw just a little bit?

              • kag1982

                I don’t care about the gender.

              • Anglicanæ

                Would up-vote that 100 times if I could. When women and minorities don’t toe the leftist narrative, the libs fall all over themselves.

                • Rob B.

                  Just one will do. In the words of Frank Bartles, “Thank you for your support.” 🙂

      • ForChristAlone

        Well said Rob B. Of course, what you write is the orthodox teaching of the faith.

        • Rob B.

          Thank you.

  • haggis95

    I think you are mixing up “sons” (i.e., heirs) with children.

    We are all made in the image and likeness of God. We are all redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

    But we become heirs or “sons” (members of the Body of Christ) through baptism.

    So, yes, we are all children of God.

  • bender

    It’s rather tiresome when someone comes along and purports to correct the Church — especially when it is on the one hand a matter of semantics, but then the “correction” ends up causing a world of confusion.
    The issue, chosen by the author herself, is that of who are “children of God.” That is a wholly separate and different question from the matters of baptism, the possibility or nonpossibility of salvation outside the Church, etc. Instead, the “children of God” question considers only two things – who is God and who are human beings?
    God is the creator of all, commonly called “Father,” as Jesus invited us to call Him. Meanwhile, every human being who ever lived is a creature, created by Him, created by the one who is by His nature Father. Ergo, every human being, being created by the Father, is his “child.” If there is a human being out there anywhere who is not a child of God, who or what is he a child of? Where else might he have taken his origin? To say that he is not a child of God is to deny that God is the Father and creator of all.
    Now, one perhaps could quibble and say that while everyone is God’s child, not everyone is a child OF God. Maybe they are a child FROM God, but not one OF Him. One might say that one is a child OF God only by accepting God as Father, that we might still and always be God’s children, but if we do not reciprocate and accept Him as Father, then we are in a sense not OF God. Then again, ultimately it is to quibble over a matter of semantics and more is lost by the distinction than is really gained.
    The fact is that God the Creator is Father of all his creation, including every human being. All that other stuff about baptism, salvation, etc. may be true, but it is also irrelevant to the question at hand and these other matters should not be conflated with the child of God question.
    Most everyone already understands that there is a distinction between (1) everyone being a brother and sister in one — and only one — human family, with a common origin and a common Father, such that we are then all children of God, and (2) only a certain subset of that universal childhood in God also being his children in a special way through baptism. Most everyone already understands that implicitly, but apparently some people need to stir up controversies where there are none.

    • bender

      Moreover, to accept the misguided conclusion offered here, beyond being a bit heretical by denying God’s universal Fatherhood, is to cause grievous harm. To say that someone is not a child of God is to say that he or she is not our brother or sister.
      In fact, the person we encounter on the street is our brother or sister whether he or she is Catholic or non-Catholic, Christian or non-Christian, believer or atheist, and as they too are children of God, children whom the Father also loves, we have an obligation to treat them accordingly. To give something to eat to the hungry atheist or to give something to drink to the thirsty Muslim or to welcome a Jew or treat a sick Unitarian is to do these things for the Son of God himself (Matthew 25:40). To not do these things, perhaps under some misguided idea that they are not also children of God is to not do it for He who is The Son of God.
      To be a Christian, Jesus tells quite clearly, means to see in everyone we meet the face of Christ. We are to see in every human being the Son of God, we are to see them as children of God.
      So please stop with this silly exercise in semantics. It is misguided and the implications of it are, for the Christian who accepts it, disastrous.

      • Anglicanæ

        Nothing Rachel Lu wrote was heretical, in tone or substance.

        Her thesis is not about the Fatherhood of God as creator, it’s His Fatherhood as Redeemer of the Church. If basic New Testament categories like “born of God” (which all are not) and “born again” (which all are not) and “spirit of adoption” (which all do not have) and “sonship” (which belongs to some not all) elude you, then the problem lies in your understanding.

        Furthermore, she’s not correcting the Church, she’s correcting a far too much neglected theme of the Catholic Church that has been neatly swept under the rug by many irresponsible theologians, clergy, and catechists.

        Vatican 2 occasioned (note, I do not say necessitated) a host of modernists that ran roughshod over orthodoxy in the name of heretical ideologies which were en vogue at the time. I say people like Rachel Lu is just what the RC communion needs to reassert with bold lines where the Church has stood.

        • ForChristAlone

          You’re more Catholic than you think. You’re an example of what I have suggested for a long time now – that it is those who come into the Catholic Church who will renew the Church.

          • Anglicanæ

            Thank you for the encouragement. I get a feeling I won’t be too warmly welcomed by the progressive watchmen in your ranks.

            • Neihan

              Ahaha, as someone who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism (despite having had the exact same difficulty you’ve expressed) I assure you, strongly assure you, that your feeling on this matter is entirely accurate. They would (I hope will) utterly despise you, because you will be to them a sign of contradiction.

              Though, let us be perfectly honest here, they are no more in “our” ranks than the stereotypical Episcopalian is in yours. I suspect that theological liberals of all stripes are in the ranks of a wholly different master, regardless of what they identify as.

              Either way, please know that you and your family are often in my prayers. I do not think I am alone on these forums in that, either.

              • Anglicanæ

                Beautiful, thank you so much! There are so many wonderful Catholics here. I am blessed, truly, to “know” some of you.

                I would add one caveat: I’m not part of the Episcopal Church in America. The shattering of the PECUSA back in the 70s occurred with the rise of woman’s ordination. A big contingent of bishops left the apostasy and continued without the heretical bishops. So we continuing Anglicans have our problems too, so by joining Rome I’d be trading one set of problems for another.

                That said, my consideration of Rome has nothing to do with the idiots at the helm, it has to do with whether this is the communion Christ founded. I have no compelling reason to deny it, I just have to make sure I can intellectually assent honestly to the later developments of Papal Infallibility.

                • Toadspittle

                  You will be plus Catholique than the pope, Anglicanæ. Though which particular pope, must be your decision. We have a couple right now, one and a spare.

            • Objectivetruth

              But you’ll be more than welcome by the rest of us….!

            • ForChristAlone

              Well, you’ll be in good company – the company of those who profess the faith in its entirely – those of us who acknowledge that the faith makes certain truth claims. And we know (those given to use their reason, that is) that something cannot be true and not true at the same time.

        • bender

          **Her thesis is not about the Fatherhood of God as creator, it’s His Fatherhood as Redeemer of the Church.**

          If this is her thesis, then she should not have brought up the whole issue of who are “children of God,” and she should have not have categorically denied that we are all children of God.

          And, by the way, it is not the Father who is Redeemer, but the Son. And He is not redeemer of only the Church, but He is the Redeemer of all mankind. That only a portion of that mankind might accept the grace of redemption, such that only that portion are actually redeemed, is a whole other question, suffice to say that everyone who is born is a child of God and also it is necessary for one to be reborn, this time in the Spirit, in baptism, which conforms us to God’s Son, raising up that child status.

          It is not either/or, but both/and.

          • Anglicanæ

            Christ, it is true, is the Redeemer because He offered Himself on out behalf for our liberation; but let us not forget it was the Father who gave His Son in order to redeem us. The Father offered His Son for our sin even as the Son offered Himself as the victim. So my original point is unscathed by a unifird link between the Father’s act and the Son’s act.

            “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God [the Father] put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

            And then Deuteronomy 32:6: “Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?”

            Clearly the Father redeems us by the Son. No matter how you slice it, the Father is the architect of our redemption in Christ.

      • Objectivetruth

        So the discussion goes full circle: why baptism? Please frame your response to Church teaching, not your opinion.

  • ForChristAlone

    To be a child of God is to share in God’s divine life by adoption. Nothing too difficult to understand by this.

  • ForChristAlone

    Man is either in need of redemption or he is not. Which is it? I know what the world says, what do ye say?

  • Matt

    I think there are two “senses” to the term “children of God,” one referring to the baptized and one referring to all human beings, who are God’s creation and therefore can be seen as having been “fathered” by God. In Matthew 6, the apostles are taught to call God “Father,” even though there is no scriptural record of them being baptized (this is not to say that they weren’t — we just don’t know from scripture). Also, in light of your view, how do you explain Psalm 2:7, where God explicitly claims David as his son, long before baptism is instituted?

    I think it’s still useful to refer to all human beings as “children of God,” because it prompts us to love them, as we are called to do by God. And, naturally, if we love them, we will want them to be baptized if they are not baptized already.

  • M.J.

    Being baptized unto The Lord , seems that imparts the responsibility and privilege m to take on the role , what St.Peter would elaborate as the ‘royal priesthood, , holy nation ‘ . there to intercede for the rest , who have not been given that role yet …
    Baptism is also the call, to destroy the works of the enemy , a main reason, for the coming of The Lord Himself …and the working of the enemy would include the lie or rather deception , from idolatry of worshipping creatures, projection of one’s own , even demonic desires , to project unto God ..thus, in system that operates for world dominion and power in the here and now, lust can be projected unto what God promises , how killing others would give one the right to have the privilege of many women …? the warnings in The lord’s words., of being like worms !
    Baptism .,thus to give one grace to discern and live in the truth of The Love of
    The Father , a pure , holy love and be protected from enemy lies, unless one
    has wasted same or not used same even abused same ..and one wonders, if those who are given the role , if abuses same, the enemy claims and power might even be worse !
    The Holy Spirit , given in Baptism , gives the grace , to keep in the mind and heart , the truth of His love and power, thus the grace to unite , in spirit , even with those who are cause of pain, thus , to help bring deliverance , to both … to help them too , to be more like His children , by calling on Abba from the heart , free them from staying in denial of who the Father is !
    A Lord, who walks into the waters of Jordan , between the almost pagan nation of Galilee and the Dead Sea … taking upon Himself, the debt of all that His children have and would do , from the darkness of living under the enemy lies and power !
    Blessed are You Lord, who reveal to us The Father and bless us with Your Spirit !

  • Jdonnell

    We need baptism, but it may come in more than one way, as the Church has long recognized. The best thing on this subject is Gerald O’Collins’s “Salvation for All: God’s Other Peoples.” Not every child of God has been fortunate enough to be one in connection with Jesus, but all can still be considered God’s children. Narrow-minded exclusionism is not an approach that any child of God should take.

  • BillinJax

    The English dictionary might be of help to this discussion
    Isn’t there a big difference between identifying a “person” and grouping or classifying “people”.
    When I go to Mass these days I see what appears as a United Nations assembly as far a “persons” but only one “people”,

  • ForChristAlone

    I think that those who promote this “all inclusive” child of God thinking struggle with the very reality of original sin, its effects and all that’s implied therein. Secondly, they also seem to lack an adequate theological anthropology. The antidote for these deficiencies in catechesis lies, I believe, in the writings of John Paul II delivered during his multi-year weekly exegesis that formed the basis of what was later referred to as the Theology of the Body. For those needing a refresher course on original sin, I’d recommend this study.

  • Mollie Osborne

    Another great article, Rachel!

  • Fortitudinous

    The law of God is written on the human heart. (See Romans 2:13)
    Is the parable of the Good Samaritan a real event or only a parable?
    Was the good thief baptized?
    Did Jesus baptize St Joseph before His public ministry began?
    When Jesus descended to the dead did he baptize all those who had already died?
    John the Baptist says Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire!
    The Church teaches the baptism of desire.

    I believe Baptism is bigger than our puny intellects comprehend. I think adoption as sons and heirs is more glorious than we know.
    Do not worry about semantic issues. You will know a tree by it’s fruit.

    • GG

      Talk about reductionism.

      • ForChristAlone

        It sums up the theology of the Catholic Church in just one word: WHATEVER!

        • Anglicanæ

          Grinning from ear to ear.

        • Fortitudinous

          How so?

      • Fortitudinous

        Thank you!

  • J DePrisco

    “Jesus therefore said to them: If God were your Father, you
    would indeed love me. For from God I proceeded, and came; for I came not of
    myself, but he sent me: Why do you not know my speech? Because you cannot hear
    my word. You are of your father the
    devil, and the desires of your father you will do (John 8:42-44).”

  • Fargo106

    “Next, consider the complacency that can naturally follow when people fail to understand the significance of baptism.”
    I think this statement of yours actually answers the question you asked in the paragraph above about why people wait 6 months or more to baptize.

  • Jenny Tomsic Bioche

    Oh gosh I love it when someone finally calls out the elephant in the room, points to the emperor and dares to say he is without clothes. We are all part of the problem if we water down, no pun intended, the salvation offered to us via baptism. Thank you Dr Lu and as usual, thank you Crisis!

  • douglas kraeger

    God wills to share Himself completely, and infinitely, with every soul He creates. That is why we are created in the first place. That some of us are graced to know this and to have the beginnings of this in this world is just an example of God’s infinite goodness. If we get to heaven, we will fully know how infinitely little of the gift of being Sons and Daughters of God we were aware of in this life compared to the total picture when God is all to all and everything to everyone (1 Cor. 15:28). We can not know how many people are not now sons and daughters by baptism because so many “Christians” did so far less than they should have for so many years (2000). An infinitely good God will not withhold heaven from someone because of the sins of commission and omission of others. For those of us for whom much has been given, much more will be demanded from. Those whose parents (and community, environment) set very bad example may not have to have all that we will be required to have because we were baptized and we fed on the Body of Christ. If they are not that culpable for what they lack; Are you saying God can not be infinitely merciful and call them His children and reveal the faith they would have had if only others would have done what was right and just?

  • CMR

    Why don’t we baptize immediately after birth and have a party later? I have lost two children at birth, so this is a situation that still can happen. I don’t understand how waiting one month is seen as reasonable, but 3 months is too long. Since Baptism is imperative, why wait at all?

    • vito

      I completely agree. How is one month substantially more “responsible” than several months or even a year, I do not see. If baptism was seen as something that really matters, there would be priests and godparents waiting at maternity hospital and baptizing children immediately. (That is, if the sacrament is really more important than the party). In emergencies, it has been shown that baptism can be arranged within hours, so why not do it every time? After all, the first hours and days are critical for a baby’s survival, and babies of such age usually die very unexpectedly and very suddenly. Funerals are much more complex ceremonies and procedures than baptism, and even they are arranged within 48 hours or so.

      Remember, when a baby is born it has already lived roughly 9 months without baptism (in the womb), i.e. without the possibility of salvation, according to the author.

      • ForChristAlone

        Any staff member at a hospital (doesn’t have to be a Catholic) may, in an emergency, baptize a baby. Same goes for a parent whose child is in danger of death. In extraordinary circumstances, anyone may baptize.

      • GG

        Because we are not scrupulous or Jansenist. If a person commits a mortal sin does he or she immediately go get a priest to confess no matter the hour or circumstance?

  • vito

    so what happens to babies who die unbaptized?

    • ForChristAlone

      Baptism of desire.

  • Elijah

    I am just upset with the way this article attempted to formulate
    rather an old age argument of us vs them. Those who are saved and those
    who do not. The argument is simple those who have accepted Christ or
    born into the faith are ‘children of God’ and those who do not ‘are
    not’. But who are we to judge?

    The stage is given to a convert
    and she is most likely, though I am not sure, a convert from some sort
    of protestant sect. And Donna Ruth points out this kind of discourse
    does not have any validity in the eyes of Catholic Church. Thus, despite
    the fact that the author hold Phd, this kind of formulation do not hold
    what the Church teaches.

    So, what can we say to, “We are not
    all children of God.” What kind of non-sense is this? Just because we
    some of us are Christians either born to it or convert to it, does it
    make make us children of God out-rightly? Being born int the faith and
    having ‘certain’ salvation are two different things. And others just
    because they are not or are not ‘baptized’, as we all know, it does not
    mean they are excluded from being Children of God. And the author, with
    her Phd, knows this far better than many, there is a big difference in
    becoming and being. So let’s leave at that.

    But for now, let
    St.Paul reminds her that, “They show that the requirements of the law
    are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and
    their thoughts sometimes accusing them and sometimes defending them”
    (Rom 2:15) So unless they are children of God prior to baptism (those
    who are not heard Christ or born in the faith) where does this judging
    conscience comes from? Has she not heard that people are children God by
    the invisible grace let alone that all human beings are born in the
    image and likeness of God? And at the end of the day those who did not
    accept Christ or heard Him will be judged by the invisible Logos that is
    in their mind and heart?

    Anyway, unless the author wants to
    include in her argument about the debatable matter of poly-genesis or
    mono-genesis, the case is closed because “since death came through a
    man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.” This refers
    to all. More to this, as I say above, the author is a convert. And if
    she a convert from some sort of Calvinism, I am not surprised at all
    because this kind of arrogant article of faith that led to all kind of
    annihilation of other civilization. Where these other civilizations or
    cultures sought as the children of the devil and the new comers are the
    anointed ones. As Catholics let us do what Jesus did i,e, make a case
    for God rather than condemning others.And that is not our job but God’s.

    Once again, in using such strong ‘copula’ in her argument, in
    the name of the Church, we hold you to retract or persuade us by cushing
    on the pillars of the Church– the tradition, magisterium and the
    scripture. If not, it is clear that you are attempting to be beyond not
    only the Church Fathers but also what the Church teaching. Come to your
    senses and perhaps a little bit humility would help…

  • Elijah

    I am just upset with the way this article attempted to formulate
    rather an old age argument of us vs them. Those who are saved and those
    who do not. The argument is simple those who have accepted Christ or
    born into the faith are ‘children of God’ and those who do not ‘are
    not’. But who are we to judge?

    The stage is given to a convert
    and she is most likely, though I am not sure, a convert from some sort
    of protestant sect. And Donna Ruth points out this kind of discourse
    does not have any validity in the eyes of Catholic Church. Thus, despite
    the fact that the author hold Phd, this kind of formulation do not hold
    what the Church teaches.

    So, what can we say to, “We are not
    all children of God.” What kind of non-sense is this? Just because we
    some of us are Christians either born to it or convert to it, does it
    make make us children of God out-rightly? Being born int the faith and
    having ‘certain’ salvation are two different things. And others just
    because they are not or are not ‘baptized’, as we all know, it does not
    mean they are excluded from being Children of God. And the author, with
    her Phd, knows this far better than many, there is a big difference in
    becoming and being. So let’s leave at that.

    But for now, let
    St.Paul reminds her that, “They show that the requirements of the law
    are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and
    their thoughts sometimes accusing them and sometimes defending them”
    (Rom 2:15) So unless they are children of God prior to baptism (those
    who are not heard Christ or born in the faith) where does this judging
    conscience comes from? Has she not heard that people are children God by
    the invisible grace let alone that all human beings are born in the
    image and likeness of God? And at the end of the day those who did not
    accept Christ or heard Him will be judged by the invisible Logos that is
    in their mind and heart?

    Anyway, unless the author wants to
    include in her argument about the debatable matter of poly-genesis or
    mono-genesis, the case is closed because “since death came through a
    man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.” This refers
    to all. More to this, as I say above, the author is a convert. And if
    she a convert from some sort of Calvinism, I am not surprised at all
    because this kind of arrogant article of faith that led to all kind of
    annihilation of other civilization. Where these other civilizations or
    cultures sought as the children of the devil and the new comers are the
    anointed ones. As Catholics let us do what Jesus did i,e, make a case
    for God rather than condemning others.And that is not our job but God’s.

    Once again, in using such strong ‘copula’ in her argument, in
    the name of the Church, we hold you to retract or persuade us by cushing
    on the pillars of the Church– the tradition, magisterium and the
    scripture. If not, it is clear that you are attempting to be beyond not
    only the Church Fathers but also what the Church teaching. Come to your
    senses and perhaps a little bit humility would help…

    • Objectivetruth

      Then why baptism? Is it, or is not necessary for salvation?

      • DeaconEdPeitler

        Objective, it will be a cold day in hell before you get an answer to your question. Let’s also pose another question: why even bother with Christ if all are children of God.

  • Elizabethe

    Everyone I know who has waited a long time to baptize, myself included, has done so bc of church paperwork and overzealous gate keeping by church office workers and schedules that limit baptisms. I think churches should send the priest to the hospital, frankly. If people are meant to hurry their children’s baptism, the individual parishes must instill a culture that supports a family in finding and educating Godparents quickly, in making sure scheduling and planning happen before the baby is born and in not throwing up beureaucratic roadblocks to regular parishioners trying to get their sacraments.

    • pv

      Keep in mind that in an emergency anyone can Baptize, even a pagan, as long as they use the proper matter (water), form (I baptize thee,etc), and Intention (to do what the Church intends).

      [Canon 2 of the Canons on Baptism, 7th Session, Sacrament of Baptism]
      If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism and thus twists into some metaphor the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,” let him be anathema.

      • Elizabethe

        Right, but we’re not talking about emergencies here. We’re talking about a regular sacrament. Frankly, as a convert with a healthy appreciation for the efficacy of baptism by desire the whole unbaptized baby phenomenon doesn’t really freak me out. But if Baptisms are to be thought of as urgent, as the author of the piece advocates, then they need to be treated as such, not just by parents, who are coming in for all of the blame, but by the individual parishes, priests and lay church beaureacrats who serve as de facto sacramental gate keepers and who – in my experience as a mother of four with many friends and relatives who have multiple children – are the people who typically hold up the process. The author of this article needs to point the finger of blame at the right place and everyone who agrees with her should talk to their individual priest about the practices in their specific parish.

  • Craig Roberts

    “I will not here relate the story of how I myself came to confront what was at the time a very hard truth. ”
    I am looking forward to hearing more of your personal testimony Dr. Lu. If you have already published it elsewhere please let me know where I can find it.

  • Craig Roberts

    The reason that Catholics are so lukewarm about such matters is that they cannot imagine a loving God that would damn a baby to eternal torment just because they had the misfortune to die before being baptized. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • veritasetgratia

    from Fr John Hardon’s writings : “Children of God – A biblical term for all who believe in Christ and strive to do God’s will: “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are” (I John 3:1).” However, Rachael I understand the point you are making. The difficulty is that there are indeed people of good will who through no fault of their own, have not been visibly brought into the Catholic Church, but recognise God as the good God who forgives and answers our prayers and these people strive to do good and avoid evil, and these too are God’s children. We also have people who are PREVENTED from being visible members of the Church, because of where they are born – their country – their culture; and on the other side of things – we have plenty of unfortunate people who claim to be Catholic by virtue of
    the rituals of the Sacraments but in their hearts dont believe in the supernatural graces accruing but believe the rituals make them members of the community.

  • ELAnderson

    Great article Mrs. Lu! I do hope that at some point you write about your conversion!

  • Mike17

    “They have dealt corruptly with him, they are no longer his children because of their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deut 32:5)

    It is interesting how many other posts there are on this topic on the internet. Just put the title of this post in the search engine and see how many come up.

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