We went through the life of the NT Church--issues such as Apollos, who knew about Jesus accurately but only knew the Baptism of John (Acts 18:25), yet who was not re-baptised upon entry into the apostolic community of the Church. And of those in Samaria in Acts 8 whom St. Phillip baptized "simply...into the name of the Lord Jesus." A bit odd, as Christ had clearly commanded baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). Yet these in Samaria were not re-baptized according to the latter formula.
Vladyka also spoke of the patristic history of admission through baptism of those with varying types of baptisms--differences in both form and doctrine--who were admitted though economia, or an allowance. I mean, really, I thought as I drove up to the Cathedral, they allowed Arians--who didn't even think that Christ was GOD, much LESS believe in the Holy Trinity into which they were being baptized--to be received by chrismation. Apparently it's not a hard and fast practice.
That's not to say that, were it up to me, I wouldn't do things differently--I still have somewhat of a preference for seeing form correspond a bit more to method of acceptance--but there were two things Vladyka said that put my mind more at ease.
- He affirmed, in no uncertain terms, that a so-called "sacrament" performed outside the Church is just that: so-called. The Church declares that there are no sacraments outside the bounds of the Orthodox Church. If God wants to do something through a person's Roman Catholic or Southern Baptist baptism, that is up to Him. As far as we in the Church know, this is the place to receive the sacraments of God and we should treat it as such; all other rituals are empty "form[s] of godliness" which are "given the power thereof" at chrismation (2 Tim. 3:5). Would that this message were preached more forcefully in catechism!
- The first point having been put in place by the Church, diverse manners of implementing this doctrine have existed throughout the life of the Church, with certain manners being used in certain situations, others in others, etc. The important thing, ultimately, is to trust the synod of bishops (and, ultimately, the Church at large) who have determined that, in our current situation, with the current heresies at large that we have to deal with, enough of the form of baptism--that done in water in the name of the Holy Trinity--can be seen to justify an energizing by the Spirit. This has been done by a synod of bishops who are recognized by 99.9% of the Orthodox in this world as being genuinely Orthodox, and, while it may be different than what other synods choose to do, the integrity of the Church is still preserved as being the only ark of salvation, the only place for the fullness of the faith.