Hogwash: Catholic priest resigns after using wrong word when performing baptisms

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I can’t believe people are so upset about this situation to the point of forcing a priest to resign and questioning their eternal salvation.

According to an article published Feb. 14 in USA Today, a priest in Arizona resigned after he incorrectly performed baptisms for decades, possibly derailing the rite for thousands of people.

Former Father Andres Arango used the words “we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of the correct phrase “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” in English and Spanish, the paper reported.

Using the wrong personal pronoun during baptism apparently affects the salvation and eternal destination of thousands of people, according to the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix.

“Therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” the diocese said. “If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized.”

The diocese went so far as to suggest the invalid baptisms affects sacred practices for Catholics such as confirmation, communion and more. In fact, it claimed the confusion could also affect marriages.

What a bunch of undiluted hogwash!

The Catholic church is well known for its willingness to develop an entire theology around the traditions of man rather than the Word of God. The church often claims that without baptism, people’s sins aren’t forgiven and they can’t enter heaven.

Catholics hang their theology on two lines appearing in the Bible. The first is Acts 2:38, which states, “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The second is 1 Peter 3:21, which states, “…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

Now you know why Paul so boldly confronted Peter on a different matter of heresy, as outlined in Galatians 2:11: “But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.

As a result of the previous passages, the Catholic church elevates the public declaration of faith in Jesus through baptism into a rock solid requirement for salvation. Without baptism, they claim, a person is not justified before God and will, therefore, face eternal damnation as punishment for their own sins.

Tell that to the thief who hung on a cross next to Jesus. Because the thief simply believed in Jesus — and did nothing else — Jesus told him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

The man was not baptized, nor did he attend a formal catechism class or undergo an official rite of confirmation. Yet, Jesus promised the sinner he would join the man later that day in heaven.

Catholics have even been known to tell the parents of stillborn babies and infants or children who died that their souls were sent to hell because the kids were not baptized. I can’t think of anything more cruel to tell to grieving parents.

The Catholics ignore multiple Bible passages that promise eternal life to anyone who simply believes in God; believes they are sinners deserving punishment; and that Jesus, as the son of God, died to pay the penalty for those sins. Consider these passages:

John 3:16-18 — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Titus 3:5 — “…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…”

Ephesians 2:8-9 — “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Acts 16:30-31 — “He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.'”

Romans 10:9-10 — “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Acts 2:21 — “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In fact, Jesus himself confirmed the simple requirement for salvation in Mark 16:16 when he said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Jesus did not say “…whoever does not believe and is not baptized will be condemned.”

Think about it, would a loving God truly send these people to hell simply because they were not baptized:

  • A soldier on the battlefield who gave his life to Jesus moments before being killed?
  • A woman who confessed her faith in Jesus hours before dying on an operating table?
  • A teenager who accepted Christ’s promise of eternal life at a youth group meeting before dying in a car accident on the way home?
  • A toddler incapable of talking who fell down the stairs, broke his neck and died before professing belief in God?
  • A man who called out to God, confessed his belief and accepted Jesus’ saving grace after being hit by a car and succumbing to his wounds?

Here’s the bottom line: Jesus + NOTHING ELSE = salvation. And it is heresy to suggest anything else.

It is not Jesus + baptism, nor Jesus + circumcision, nor Jesus + works, nor Jesus + church attendance, nor Jesus + living a completely sinless life.

It is certainly not sprinkling water over a unconscious infant and reciting specific words — even when using the correct personal pronouns.

In fact, it is so ironic that the Catholic church is hung up over a priest’s use of the personal pronoun “we” when baptizing someone. After all, in Matthew 18:20, Jesus was recorded as promising, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Two or three + Jesus = we.

So, the now-former priest was correct. I pray that God protects Andres Arango’s heart so that Satan does not fill his mind with anxiety or dread over his unintentional action.

And for the thousands of infants and children who were baptized by former Father Arango, I pray they profess their faith in God soon instead of believing parents had the power to profess it on their behalf.

It would be silly to think that parents could take a baby to the rotunda of the state capital, sprinkle it’s head with water and declare the child to be a Republican before he or she was even capable of understanding what it meant.

If salvation were that simple, then why don’t we break into people’s homes, sprinkle water on their heads while sleeping, and declare them to be saved from God’s wrath?

Because it doesn’t work that way. All that matters is that someone personally profess their belief in God.

You’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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