Solemnity of All Saints
November 1, 2008
vol 19, no. 306
Fathers Know Best what Desires God Desires
Throughout the history of the Church no true Authority of the Church has ever ruled against what is called the "Baptism of Desire." While it is true those souls dying without the salvific waters of the Sacrament of Holy Baptism would not be members of the Church Militant, they would be members of the Church Suffering, and a few, such as St. Dismas, members of the Church Triumphant. Thus, in this month of the Holy Souls it is necessary to refute those who harm souls by denying what the Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Popes have accepted and never condemned: BOD. In truly studying the quotes attributed to reliable sources such as Saint Ambrose, for example, one can see unreliable sources not only taking these quotes out of context, but applying an entirely different meaning and presuming they themselves know more than God Himself. It's not only the height of scholastic dishonesty, but sheer stupidity, not to mention very dangerous to their own soul and those whom they mislead.
"I think we should by now be able to see that, between the quotes regarding those who lived in ignorance, and the above several writers who also believed in the possibility of those being saved who, through no fault of their own, failed to attain the baptism of water before they died, whether they died as martyrs or not, that the establishment of the Church teachings of Baptism of Blood and Desire were in no way in any doubt by the time Sts. Ambrose and Augustine came on the scene. Of all the ancient fathers it seems to me that St. Augustine has been by far the most criminally misrepresented by heretics of many stripes. For this reason it is regarding St. Augustine most specifically that Pope Alexander VIII condemned the proposition that 'When anyone finds a doctrine clearly established in Augustine, he can absolutely hold it and teach it, disregarding any bull of the pope.' For thus did the Calvinists so misquote Augustine to support their own peculiar doctrine of predestination, and similarly did the Jansenists."
Part 1 of this series discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how quotes from the authoritative sources can be made to sound as if they have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves obviously wouldn't. Parts 2 through 4 of this series introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), an attempt which gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"), and there, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose some significant instances of scholastic dishonesty employed to make it seem as if they did. Parts 5 through 8 began a consideration of the objections raised and acknowledged as such within the scope of the Treatise, showing that these objections do comprise significant reasons to believe in BOB and BOD despite the wretched attempts in the Treatise to minimize their impact or explain them away. With part 9 I began another phase of the consideration of the objections, namely those raised and acknowledged in the Treatise, but in other places outside the two "objections" Sections.
The case for BOB among the Ancient Fathers is such a slam-dunk that it's a wonder that anyone, be it Fr. Feeney himself, or Peter Dimond, or anyone else could possibly have had the temerarious audacity to challenge it. For one thing, BOB was never abused as BOD had been, so why should anyone be motivated to try to get rid of it? For the other, those canonized saints whom the Church specifically believed to have not been baptized in water (even if any of them might have secretly gotten one without the Church's knowledge) provides such a yea verily smoking gun proof that the Church, even from the most ancient times, clearly did believe that those who lose their lives for Christ's sake, though they be not baptized in water (through no fault of their own), would nevertheless find it. Finally there the horrifying and monstrous "doctrine" that God would be so iniquitous as to deny salvation even to those who give their own lives specifically for Him and His cause, who endure all manner of suffering voluntarily, only to be told when it is over, "Sorry, you're not allowed into Heaven since you didn't happen to be baptized in water." An ordinary person, whose death in no way relates to being of the Faith, but merely whatever sort of death could befall anyone, is one thing, but such heroes of the Faith are quite another, and there is nothing more patently iniquitous as to consign such to the fires of Hell. And as mentioned before, not even Peter Abélard ever thought of going against BOB.
Baptism of Desire however has not quite these credentials among the ancient texts. That is not to say that there is not plenty of reason to believe in them even from the writings of the ancients, but this particular category, as such, does not receive anywhere near the degree of discussion, mention, or detail as Baptism of Blood receives, and furthermore there are no canonized BOD saints. Finally, as mentioned at the end of the previous installment, at least a few of the Ancient Fathers appear to have been unaware of BOD, having said such things as "If any man receive not Baptism, he hath not salvation; except only Martyrs, who even without the water receive the kingdom." What are we to make of such comments? Is BOD some later "development of doctrine," unknown to the ancients, possibly discovered legitimately, but also, supposedly, possibly invented outright, by the Church?
There are in fact quite a number of rather practical and obvious reasons why BOD would not receive anywhere near the attention BOB receives from the Ancient Fathers, so in point of fact the somewhat slimmer evidence (and not at all that much slimmer, as shall be seen) is quite certainly what we should expect. Let us now explore those reasons:
1) In those early days during which Christians were routinely persecuted, fed to lions, burned, crushed, torn to pieces, forced to watch loved ones die right in front of them, and so forth, a mere accidental death of a catechumen was very much the rare exception. The far more likely situation was that he would be summarily yanked off the street and put to death without warning or explanation. In the ordinary course of things, without persecution, or evident immediate danger of such things as war, shipwreck, plagues, sickness, or extreme old age, by far most people can reasonably almost count on being able to follow through with something they have committed to do anytime within the next year or more. Furthermore, most of these possible situations also present some warning of their coming. A war is declared, a person is conscripted to serve in an army, a ship encounters a significant storm, a person gets ill, an infant is born obviously too sickly to make it to the Church to be baptized in time, an elderly person goes "around the knee" into that last fading into death. All of these situations provide easy and ample opportunity for an emergency baptism to be properly and legitimately performed. So the miniscule balance of cases in which death comes suddenly, without warning, but not as a persecution, to a person who is proceeding, perhaps as a catechumen, or at least as someone who really is on his way in the Grace of God to becoming a catechumen, is exceedingly quite rare. Given how far more common death through persecution was during those opening centuries of course this would receive far less attention than that.
2) As a result of not happening very much, and correspondingly less written of, perhaps it was also less often asked about, so answers and challenges and responses regarding it would be similarly rare or virtually nonexistent. It was not something that came into the common experience of the typical Christian or prospective convert. There is no denying that this other "exception" to water baptism was far less known to the ordinary rank and file, though the leadership of the Church must have known of it, but simply had little occasion to mention it. This might also account for the funeral speech given by St. Ambrose in which he needed to teach of this particular nook or cranny of Catholic doctrine since to those who had known Emperor Valentinian this question would have been of actual concern. So he takes this occasion to expound to the common public this particular doctrine known to himself and the other leaders of the Church, but before this only most rarely explained to the rank and file, and then only to much smaller and more limited groups. Unlike the usual case where this happens and only one's immediate circle of friends and family would need to be consoled with this information, Emperor Valentinian was a prominent and well-loved figure mourned by very many, so this particular instance was heard, not merely by some small group of immediate friends and family, but by a large group of people, and was therefore deemed worth recording so we have it to this day.
3) There was also a legitimate reason not to be discussing this concept more than absolutely necessary since (as would arise with the case of the Protestants who went on to construe such "exceptions" to being an excuse to blow off even bothering to get baptized at all). The danger that an individual catechumen might, upon learning of this possible exception, presume upon his salvation even if he is too lazy to get baptized, was simply too great to encourage by wide and loud dissemination of this particular teaching. One must also deal with the fact that at such early times, it may not have been clearly understood that though such a catechumen might ultimately be saved, he would (in virtually all cases) have at least some degree of Purgatory to endure, for that cleansing of all punishment for past sins afforded by water baptism or martyrdom would not apply to him. It is not even clear whether any fasts or other mortifications would be of such benefit to the catechumen. So if one learns of this then why not wait until the last possible moment to be baptized? It is said that Emperor Constantine did exactly that, and (luckily for him) was able to go through with being baptized in his very last days upon this earth. Well, he might have been "Constantine the Great" in this world due to his great and worthwhile accomplishments as a mere "catechumen," but with his late baptism not only all his sins but also all his accomplishments up to that same point count for nothing in the Kingdom of God and he is no more "the Great" in Heaven than is any baby who is baptized and who dies before reaching the age of reason. With the clear threat of persecution, to say nothing of the pleasures and distractions of the world, many of which are unjust and would have to be abandoned upon one's baptism, there did nevertheless arise a whole "class" of "lingering catechumens." They became those who were "ever learning, and never attaining to the knowledge of truth" spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:7, contenting themselves to remain mere catechumens well past the time and not to become of the baptized Faithful. For such neglect of the Sacrament they would not be saved if they died thus, as St. John Chrysostom spoke of when he said "if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated, though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell." So quite understandably the fact that some few catechumens could be saved if they died thus, providing they were in no way despising or putting off the Sacrament, would not be often commented upon or written of. That we have anything of it at all is rather amazing, but no doubt Providential.
4) Only the martyrs were honored. As mentioned above, there are no BOD saints canonized since there was nothing heroic regarding their deaths, and in life they had never become members of the Church. So whatever accomplishments they might have had that were favorable to the Church and as such worth some sort of Divine commendation (as in the case of Emperor Valentinian, or even in the above example of Emperor Constantine whose significant accomplishments were not as a baptized Christian), nevertheless do not of themselves count towards any sainthood, but only cause for Grace to be admitted to their lives, either the opportunity of being among those lingering catechumens fortunate enough to actually have their water baptism before going out of this world, or else of being the first widely known and clear-cut example of BOD (Valentinian). Every time some unbaptized martyr came up on the liturgical calendar, the matter of BOB had to become known, at least through the bare fact of it, if not through any additional explanation given right then in the homily or elsewhere to account for the saint's being commemorated despite not being baptized in water. Without any BOD saints this question would never come up regarding BOD at any point in the whole liturgical calendar.
5) Finally, it is even possible that those who spoke of martyrdom as the only exception to water baptism may have regarded BOD as a kind of martyrdom of sorts. There is sometimes a "dry martyrdom" which is spoken of. First of all, there is to all of what it is to be any real and practicing Christian/Catholic, a kind of martyrdom in which one puts to death all the desires of the flesh and all fleshly compensation in life, seeking an interior devotion to God, and being seen by God who sees fully into the hearts of all, to be made of that same stuff as that of any actual blood-baptized martyr. Second of all, the suffering to be endured, though not willed or given consent to specifically as in the case of a blood-baptized martyr, is only all the greater for taking place in Purgatory. So the lone exception of martyrdom as mentioned in some few of the Ancient Fathers could nevertheless be with this implicit inclusion of BOD in the category of martyrs.
Interestingly however, even the topic of invincible ignorance was of considerable concern in those early days. How easy it is to dismiss such a consideration as though it were something introduced for the first time by Pope Pius IX, when various liberals, rationalists, and so forth were pressing for every excuse under the sun for not following the Gospel. Ignorance however is not a unique consideration to our times, but in our times the consideration resulted from the discovery more than 500 years ago of whole continents upon which dwelt many great tribes who had gone fully 1,450 years since the birth of the Church without ever having heard the faintest wisp of any report of the Gospel, being physically separated from the Eurasian continents and altogether unknown to them or to any and all missionaries and Apostles. In the earliest days, such ignorance was also a concern as many nations were allowed to wallow in ignorance, the truth being confined to the nation of Israel.
This was a most serious consideration in those early days of the Gospel. Why had the Savior of Mankind come so incredibly late in the overall history of humanity? Even now, with 2,000 years after His coming there remains far more years of recorded human history prior to His coming than after, plus who knows how many more years of unrecorded human history. The question was most directly germane to those newly evangelized nations in that ancient period: "If Jesus Christ is so essential to our salvation, then what is to be said by the Church regarding all our fathers and ancestors before us died before His coming?"
Of course we know there was the Jewish nation in the world, and that nation spoke for God in the world. The fact remains of course that many regions in the Far East and the Americas knew nothing of this tiny nation, let alone how the God of this one tiny nation was different from all the other gods of all the nations. Among the Jews it was quite simple and cut and dried. If you kept the Law, and made all the appropriate sacrifices for when you didn't, you would be quite safe in the Limbo of the Fathers, awaiting deliverance by the Messiah when He arrives. If you didn't then things didn't go so well for you.
Among the nations, there were many who learned of the Jewish nation and either joined it (think of Ruth, of the Biblical book of same name), or those who were edified by it though they returned to their home countries, such as all those such as the Queen of Sheba and others who had come a long way to visit and see the wisdom of Solomon. No doubt even among these there could well have been many who went to the Limbo of the Fathers instead of a worse fate. But overall they obviously would not number anywhere near so much (percentage-wise) as they would among the Jews. What is to be said of the rest?
Even Sacred Scripture itself had to address this pressing question, when it was written therein, "And Peter opening his mouth, said: In very deed I perceive, that God is not a respecter of persons. But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh justice, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35). He said this regarding Cornelius who had been "a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and always praying to God." (Acts 10:2-3) In this case, the scenario followed exactly that posited by St. Thomas Aquinas in that Cornelius "saw in a vision manifestly, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in unto him, and saying to him: Cornelius. And he, beholding him, being seized with fear, said: What is it, Lord? And he said to him: Thy prayers and thy alms are ascended for a memorial in the sight of God. And now send men to Joppa, and call hither one Simon, who is surnamed Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side. He will tell thee what thou must do." (Acts 10:3-6) So one has to accept that there were those few among the Gentile nations who had been of sufficient merit in seeking to be pleasing to God can and did actually do so. For this reason he (and others like him in the years to come) was gathered into the Kingdom wherein his good will would not only spare him Purgatorial punishments but also achieve much for the cause of Christ. And again, Scripture also discusses what God has written upon the hearts of all, and of what is to be said of those who abide by it, and of those who do not: "For there is no respect of persons with God. For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law; and whosoever have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law. For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another, In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Romans 2:11-16)
So what is to be said of yet others, scattered throughout all ages and times, and who, though of like disposition to Cornelius, were unable to be reached by a preacher? Different experts, speculating on this difficult question have debated over whether or how much of the basics of the Gospel the person must encounter to meet some arbitrary "bare minimum" necessary for salvation, or where exactly that "bare minimum" line is to be drawn. But wherever that may be (if indeed anywhere), I believe that God in His justice and in His desire that all would be saved, or at least all who will to be saved, provides to each such person who seeks Him, though in the worst of ignorance, whatever degree of Grace that He shall expect in return from them in faith and good works. For "unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more" (Luke 12:48). Would not the converse of this also be true, namely that of him to whom little is given, correspondingly little is required?
Specifically of the pagan ancients who lived before the age of the Gospel and knew little or nothing of the Jews and of their Law, quite a number of the ancient Fathers weighed in, regarding their invincible ignorance, and how God allowed for some from among them all to be saved. This in many ways anticipates what Popes Pius IX and XII would much later on write about those burdened with invincible ignorance, which (within the age of the Gospel, the age of the Law of Baptism) would amount to an implicit Baptism of Desire. In the ages previous, I suppose it could be equally proper to speak of such as being with a "Circumcision of Desire." For before there was the Law of Baptism there was the Law of Circumcision, which in addition to admitting all exceptions to Circumcision as the Law of Baptism excuses from the Sacrament of Baptism, also excused all females who, having nothing to "circumcise," simply proved their adherence to the Law of Circumcision by their faith and by their keeping of the Law as appropriate to their roles as wife and mother in Jewish society. So let us see what the Ancient Fathers had to say about the pagan ancients, and especially what few of them were of like disposition as Cornelius:
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (45): Since each person would be saved by his own virtue, I also stated that those who obeyed the Mosaic Law would likewise be saved. They who are obliged to obey the Law of Moses will find in it not only precepts which were occasioned by the hardness of your people's hearts, but also those which in themselves are good, holy, and just. Since they who did those things which are universally, naturally, and eternally good are pleasing to God, they shall be saved in the resurrection, together with their righteous forefathers, Noe, Henoch, Jacob, and others, together with those who believe in Christ, the Son of God.
Justin Martyr, First Apology (1:46, 2:10): If some should accuse us as if we held that people born before the time of Christ were not accountable to God for their actions, we shall anticipate and answer such a difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason (logos) were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and other like them... So also, those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason. Whereas those who lived then, or who live now, according to reason are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid. ... Christ... was and is the Logos who is in everyone and foretold through the prophets the things that were to come, and taught these things in person after becoming like to us in feeling.
Irenaeus, Against the Heresies (4:22,2; 4:28,2): Christ did not come only for those who lived at the time of the Emperor Tiberius, nor does the Father exercise his providence only for those who are living now. Rather, he has provided for all those who from the beginning have lived virtuously in their own generation and feared and loved God, and treated their neighbors with justice and kindness, and have longed to see Christ and to hear his voice. ... There is one and the same God the Father and his Logos, always assisting the human race, with varied arrangements, to be sure, and doing many things, and saving from the beginning those who are saved, for they are those who love and, according to their generation follow his Logos."
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata (7:2): God has care of all, since he is the Lord of all. And he is the Savior of all; it cannot be said that he is the Savior of these, and not of others. As each one was disposed to receive it, God distributed his blessings, both to Greeks and to barbarians; and in their own time those were called who were predestined to be among the faithful elect.
Origen, Against Celsus (4:7): Celsus asks: "How is it that after so many centuries it is only now that God has thought to bring men to live in righteously, and that previously he had had no concern about that?" I reply that there was never a time when God did not want men to be just; he was always concerned about that. Indeed, he always provided beings endowed with reason with the occasions for practicing virtue and doing what is right. In every generation the Wisdom of God descended into those souls which he found holy, and made them to be prophets and friends of God.
John Chrysostom, Homily on John (8): When the pagans accuse us, saying: "What was Christ doing during all that former time, when he was not yet concerned for the human race? And why has he come at the last minute to provide for our salvation, after neglecting us for so long a time?" we will reply that even before his coming he was already in the world; he was already taking thought of the work he was to accomplish, and he was known to all who proved themselves worthy of such knowledge. You cannot say that at that time he was unknown, because he was not known by all, but only by the upright and virtuous, any more than you can say that today he is not being adored by men, on the grounds that even now not all have come to adore him.
Hegemonius, Acts of Archelaus with Manes, 28: From the creation of the world He has always been with just men... Were they not made just from the fact that they kept the law, 'Each one of them showing the work of the law on their hearts... ?' For when someone who does not have the law does by nature the things of the law, this one, not having the law, is a law for himself... . For if we judge that a man is made just without the works of the law... how much more will they attain justice who fulfilled the law containing those things which are expedient for men?"
Arnobius, Against the Nations 2.63: "But, they say :If Christ was sent by God for this purpose, to deliver unhappy souls from the destruction of ruin - what did former ages deserve which before His coming were consumed in the condition of mortality? ... Put aside thee cares, and leave the questions you do not understand; for royal mercy was imparted to them, and the divine benefits ran equally through all. They were conserved, they were liberated, and they put aside the sort and condition of mortality."
St. Augustine, City of God 18.47: "Nor do I think the Jews would dare to argue that no one pertained to God except the Israelites, from the time that Israel came to be... they cannot deny that there were certain men even in other nations who pertained to the true Israelites, the citizens of the fatherland above, not by earthly but by heavenly association."
There is something else worth noting here: The other pagan religions provided no special access to God or to the Logos or to forgiveness or to grace. "But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils. You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of devils: you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils" (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). In this vein Origen wrote "Since God wants grace to abound, He sees fit to be present... He is present not to the sacrifices of pagans, but to the one who comes to meet Him, and there He gives His word." (Homily on Numbers 16:1) The approach to Christ by ignorant pagans therefore was in all ages at best independent of whatever "religion" their pagan cultures held. For again, "Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man. And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men, that all should everywhere do penance" (Acts 17:29-30). In the possibility of some ignorant pagans to have found salvation there is no merit whatsoever (indeed much cause for blame) in pointing said pagans to their pagan ministers, or of joining in "ecumenical" prayer with these pagan ministers.
The downside to all this is that such extraordinary graces could only have applied to the smallest minority of persons. Picture some ancient American Indian (whom I shall call "Takawathu"), of like disposition as Cornelius, but with no one to bring him the Gospel, might have attained salvation for himself (but still facing Purgatory upon his death, and furthermore having accomplished nothing for the Kingdom of God in this world), but if he gets to Heaven he gets there all alone. Unless there be among those he knew any such similarly noble personage, everyone he ever knew, his parents, his spouse, his children, his friends, his neighbors - none of them will be with him in Heaven. For in such an alien and hostile culture to the Gospel his worthy example counts for nothing, for the culture provides no basis for preferring righteousness to wrongdoing. If Takawathu decides to seek his Creator, to abide in all things with the Law written upon his heart, even at the expense of his own people's culture and customs, and suffers much for this, such that God ultimately admits him to Heaven, what is there in their society to hold up his example as something to be followed? If his fellow hunter (whom I shall call "Kahichiha") prefers instead to be guided by the tribal medicine men who teach him to violate the Law written on all hearts, what is there to show that Takawathu has done right and Kahichiha has done wrong? What is there in their culture to explain why one went to Heaven and the other did not? And though Takawathu has the grace to be forgiven his sins and even to see God, those good works he does that merit this grace he does in only his own strength, not God's, so it is only he and not Christ who has labored, and again nothing has been accomplished for the Kingdom of God.
How valuable therefore is the missionary, the Apostle to his tribe, who baptizes such a "Takawathu," now freeing him from all Purgatorial sentence for his past sins, but also placing him at the service of the Kingdom of God that his works may be founded upon God, and thereby empowering him to save others with his fine example and by bringing them to be baptized by the missionary, so that many, perhaps even a whole village or even his whole Tribe might attain salvation, or at least all from among them who do not positively refuse the offer of Life now extended to them!
Given the above quotes, one cannot deny the probability of there having been any number of such "Takawathu's" on the American continents from the dawn of humanity's entrance into the Americas clear until the Birth of the Church at Pentecost. But what of afterwards? Are we to believe that the Law of Baptism revokes the possibility of there being any further such "Takawathu's" for fully 1,450 years? Are we to believe that the God of the New Testament is cruel where the God of the Old was kind? Never can such a monstrous doctrine be rightly taught!
Now, did these ancients (and Bible writers for that matter) who wrote the above quotes really and specifically understand that what they were talking about was an implicit Baptism (or Circumcision) of Desire? I admit there is room to doubt it. This does not mean that they knew of, or believed in, some other additional category of salvation besides that of being baptized into the Church, but only that they trusted in the goodness and mercy of God to be all the perfections He says He is. As I mentioned above, Baptism of Desire may not have been well-known among the rank and file, but among the leaders it was known at least that God would treat any victim of such a misfortune with equity, justice, and mercy, whatever that treatment should actually consist of. The connection between the clear cut and explicit BOD of the catechumen whose life is accidently cut off before his legitimate chance at being baptized on the one hand, and of the more problematical implicit BOD of someone of like disposition as Cornelius, but whose life is similarly cut off before any legitimate chance to enter, or even hear from, the Church, may be at most only vaguely hinted at if at all, but it certainly was never repudiated by anyone.
Even explicit BOD received much more mention than the Treatise gives credit for. In the Treatise, only Ambrose and Augustine are cited as having even said anything that could even be construed as being favorable to BOD. Even these ancient Fathers (and Doctors) of the Church are rather ill-used within the pages of the Treatise. Starting with Ambrose:
St. Ambrose, Funeral Oration of Valentinian, 4th century: But I hear that you grieve because he did not receive the sacrament of baptism. Tell me: What else is in your power other than the desire, the request? But he even had this desire for a long time, that, when he should come into Italy, he would be initiated, and recently he signified a desire to be baptized by me, and for this reason above all others he thought that I ought to be summoned. Has he not, then, the grace which he desired; has he not the grace which he requested? And because he asked, he received, and therefore is it said: "By whatsoever death the just man shall be overtaken, his soul shall be at rest." (Wisdom 4:7)
Grant, therefore, O holy Father, to thy servant the gift which Moses received, because he saw in spirit; the gift which David merited, because he knew from revelation. Grant, I pray, to Thy servant Valentinian the gift which he longed for, the gift which he requested while in health, vigor, and security. If, stricken with sickness, he had deferred it, he would not be entirely without Thy mercy who has been cheated by the swiftness of time, not by his own wish. Grant, therefore, to Thy servant the gift of Thy grace which he never rejected, who on the day before his death refused to restore the privileges of the temples although he was pressed by those whom he could well have feared. A crowd of pagans was present, the Senate entreated, but he was not afraid to displease men so long as he pleased Thee alone in Christ. He who had Thy Spirit, how has he not received Thy grace? Or if the fact disturbs you that the mysteries have not been solemnly celebrated, then you should realize that not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens, for they are not crowned if they are not initiated. But if they are washed in their own blood, his piety and his desire have washed him, also.
Although the Treatise deals with St. Ambrose after dealing with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose actually preceded St. Augustine, and furthermore was the one who baptized him. This (or rather some small parts of this) is the oldest quote the Treatise admits to being favorable to BOD, but even here the treatment is dishonest. It actually misquotes a small portion near the end of that quote to read, "then you should realize that not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens, for they are not crowned if they are not initiated." So, as the Treatise would put words into the mouth of St. Ambrose, "not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens." Was St. Ambrose actually here denying Baptism of Blood? That is what Peter Dimond (and others like him) would actually have you believe! What else could they have meant when the Treatise states:
Furthermore, St. Ambrose's funeral speech for Valentinian is extremely ambiguous, as is obvious to anyone who reads the above. In the speech, St. Ambrose clearly says that "martyrs are not crowned [that is, not saved] if they are catechumens," a statement which directly denies the idea of baptism of blood and is perfectly consistent with other statements on the issue, which will be quoted. Ambrose then emphasizes the same point, by stating again that catechumens 'are not crowned if they are uninitiated.'"
And what "other quotes" are presented in a vain attempt to attribute a denial of such basic Catholic doctrines as BOB and BOD to the sainted Father and Doctor of the Church, Ambrose? Let us look again at the three quotes given in the Treatise, but I give them here as fully presented in the Fr. Jurgens text, with those parts underlined which the Treatise did not include:
St. Ambrose, De Mysteriis, 390-391 A.D.: You have read, therefore, that the three witnesses in Baptism are one: water, blood, and the Spirit: and if you withdraw any one of these, the Sacrament of Baptism is not valid. For what is water without the cross of Christ? A common element with no sacramental effect. Nor on the other hand is there any mystery of regeneration without water: for "unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Even a catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord Jesus, by which also he is signed; but unless he be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive the remission of sins nor be recipient of the gift of spiritual grace.
St. Ambrose, De Abraham Libri Duo, 387 A.D. (but wrongly attributed to "The Duties of Clergy, 391 A.D." in the Treatise): The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ's blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins so that he can be saved; ... for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the Sacrament of Baptism.
St. Ambrose, De Abraham Libri Duo, 387 A.D. (again wrongly attributed to "The Duties of Clergy, 391 A.D." in the Treatise): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." No one is excepted: not the infant, not the one prevented by some necessity. They may, however, have an undisclosed exemption from punishments; but I do not know whether they can have the honor of the kingdom.
As we saw before with these quotes, the first of these admits that the catechumen is "signed," which speaks of baptism, though while yet a catechumen the "baptism" can only be one of Desire or Blood, should he die such. The other two quotes come close together in the same work, and that last sentence which, though present in the Fr. Jurgens volume, goes unquoted in the Treatise shows that Ambrose was here only giving the general case and not (as yet, in the year 387) addressing what possibilities there would be for certain rare exceptions there would be to those general principles he was discussing in his books on Abraham. The footnote in Jurgens to that last sentence reads, "The present sentence makes it clear that when St. Ambrose says in the preceding "no one is excepted," he means that the Scriptural utterance expresses no exception; he does not know whether or not some logical exception, e. g., state of infancy or actual impossibility or non-culpable ignorance, may have been presumed and left unexpressed." And again, as had been explained before, the reference to a "necessity" here is not the circumstance of a sudden and unexpected death, but that the person has put other things as more important, that he sees as more important "necessities" than the kingdom of God. And these little useless misquotes represent the sum total of all that the pro-Feeney position apologists have ever been able to put forward from the writings of St. Ambrose to "support" their unholy cause.
Which brings us back to what Ambrose was talking about here when discussing the particular case of Emperor Valentinian, and explaining his situation to a crowd many of whom may have never faced this situation, and may not have been instructed in this particular nook or cranny of the Faith. Looking at the quote in full, and overall, it should be obvious what is going on. He is plainly putting forth a hypothetical position to show the absurd conclusions one would reach. When he says, "Or if the fact disturbs you that the mysteries have not been solemnly celebrated [such that Valentinian might be damned], then you should realize that not even martyrs are crowned if they are catechumens, for they are not crowned if they are not initiated," it is plainly like this: "If you have trouble believing that Valentinian has attained eternal life despite his not being baptized in water, then you might as well claim that the martyrs who were not baptized, but only catechumens, wouldn't be saved, though of course as we all know they in fact are saved." Or it would be like saying "if you could change the Mass then you could also have priestesses." St. Ambrose's statement is no more a condemnation of BOB than the previous sentence stating that priestesses are OK. One is not actually contending that the second claim is true, only that the first must be false since the first false one being "true" would imply that the second false and patently absurd one would also be "true." His audience was not sure what to make of the situation of the man who sacrificed much for God and was plainly seeking to be baptized into the Church, and whom death had indeed overtaken prematurely, and his response is that if Valentinian were to be damned, then so would the holy (but unbaptized) martyrs, which his audience knew to be absurd.
If the unbaptized martyrs are saved by their baptism of blood (which they already knew to be true), then so Valentinian's piety has similarly washed him as well (explicit baptism of desire). Even the context itself readily gives away the truth of this short passage, which starts with "if," as in "if you feel that Valentinian must be doomed for not having been baptized in water," only "then would you have to believe that martyrs are also doomed if they happen to be unbaptized catechumens." He is not denying BOB, let alone BOD, but instead basing his explanation of BOD to the crowd on the basis of BOB. For the existence of one implies the existence of the other. If there is BOB, then there must also be BOD, and conversely, if (per impossible) there were to be no BOD, then neither could there be BOB. His true position is that with which he sums up: "But if they are washed in their own blood, his piety and his desire have washed him, also."
Of this true position, the Treatise can only say the following:
He then proceeds to say that if they are washed in their own blood, his (Valentinian's) piety and desire have washed him also, which seems to directly contradict what he just said and seems to teach baptism of desire and blood, although it is not clear, since he did not say that Valentinian was saved without baptism. But if that is what St. Ambrose means, then his funeral speech is nonsensical, since he just clearly denied two times that martyrs can be crowned if they are catechumens. And this is the oldest "text" quoted in favor of the idea of baptism of desire! It is, first of all, contradictory; secondly, it is ambiguous; and thirdly, if interpreted to mean that a catechumen is saved without water baptism, is opposed to every other statement St. Ambrose made on the issue.
So now we are supposed to suppose that poor St. Ambrose could not make up his own mind as to what he believed or taught, or could not express himself clearly. Like he were unsteady of mind, or talking out of both sides of his mouth, and this is one the Church considers both Father and Doctor! Other such writers who deny BOD have actually accused of St. Ambrose of pandering to the crowd by inventing a new doctrine on the spot just to give them a false consolation. But of course St. Ambrose is not changing his mind mid-speech, he is not halting on two different opinions, and neither is he inventing some new doctrine just to please a crowd. In fact he is expressing himself quite clearly and succinctly, and in full accord with already established doctrine. He contradicts nothing but the pet error/heresy of those who deny BOB and/or BOD, is in no way ambiguous, and finally there is no such "other statement" of his opposed to BOB and BOD.
The only other thing done in the Treatise is to focus on a bit at the beginning of the quote in which St. Ambrose states that Valentinian "did not receive the sacrament of baptism," and in particular how this particular passage is quoted by Fr. Laisney. I gave the quote above in full exactly as given in Fr. Rulleau's book on pages 30-31, but as given by Fr. Laisney in his book "Is Feeneyism Catholic?" page 61 it says "had not received the sacraments of Baptism." Obviously, if the plural was used, all it meant was that neither Baptism itself, nor any other sacrament, was received by Valentinian, who therefore not only did not swim in the waters of regeneration, but also did not eat of the Flesh of Christ nor drink His Blood, and neither was he sacramentally absolved by a priest nor did he receive the Last Rites. The plural here changes nothing. But in the Treatise it is suggested that perhaps only some other sacraments are referred to, or even to how "solemnly" they had been administered. The Treatise then cites Peter Abélard as accusing St. Ambrose, that he "contradicts tradition in this matter," not clarifying that Abélard was the one contradicting tradition, as St. Bernard demonstrated, and there is no evidence that the Church ever followed Abélard in this; instead Abélard's position was roundly criticized by the Church from the get-go.
And that is all to be said for Saint Ambrose. But is this quote of Ambrose's really the first to support Baptism of Desire? That is what the Treatise would have one believe, but in fact there are older quotes (not even counting those that pertain to an implicit Baptism of Desire as given above). In one of the quotes from Tertullian in the previous installment, he was discussing the question of whether the original 12 Apostles had been baptized. He believed that they had been baptized at some undocumented point of time, given such Scriptural hints as "He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly" (John 13:10) and others similar (but less obvious). However, even in the unlikely case that they had not been baptized in water, he still believed their faith alone would nevertheless have saved them:
Tertullian, On Baptism, Chapter XII - Of the Necessity of Baptism to Salvation (126-135): Now, whether they [the Apostles] were baptized in any manner whatever, or whether they continued unbathed to the end - so that even that saying of the Lord touching the "one bath" does, under the person of Peter, merely regard us - still, to determine concerning the salvation of the apostles is audacious enough, because on them the prerogative even of first choice, and thereafter of undivided intimacy, might be able to confer the compendious grace of baptism, seeing they (I think) followed Him who was wont to promise salvation to every believer. "Thy faith," He would say, "hath saved thee;" and, "Thy sins shall be remitted thee," on thy believing, of course, albeit thou be not yet baptized. If that was wanting to the apostles, I know not in the faith of what things it was, that, roused by one word of the Lord, one left the toll-booth behind for ever; another deserted father and ship, and the craft by which he gained his living; a third, who disdained his father's obsequies, fulfilled, before he heard it, that highest precept of the Lord, "He who prefers father or mother to me, is not worthy of me."
A much clearer reference to Baptism of Desire occurs in St. Cyprian's writing to Jubaianus. Much is made, merely to discredit St. Cyprian who says certain inconvenient things, of the fact that St. Cyprian did not believe that the baptisms performed by heretics in the name of their rival religions could be valid. Given how significantly different the heretics of his day interpreted such basic and central concepts of the Faith as the Father (Whom some regarded as the "Evil Creator" of crude matter that the Serpent, the purely spiritual "good guy" in their diabology, had come to overthrow), the Son (Whom others regarded as some lesser god, or angel or even as only a man, or else to be the "demiurge") and the Holy Ghost (Who went often ignored or else similarly misrepresented among the heretics), a great many of their baptisms were indeed not valid. For similar reasons, Mormon baptisms, though similarly using water and the correct Scriptural formula, have also never been recognized by the Church as being valid, since their "baptism" is in the names (as they see it, and as they mean in reciting the formula) of three out of however many gods in a Polytheistic universe. And of course yet other heretical groups did not even use the correct formula anyway, or else didn't use water, and so forth. And yet still others didn't even bother with the fiction of a "baptism" at all.
St. Cyprian therefore saw those with heretical baptisms as being no more baptized than Mormons, and yet viewing things this way he wrote:
Cyprian, To Jubaianus, Concerning the Baptism of Heretics (23): But some one says, "What, then, shall become of those who in past times, coming from heresy to the Church, were received without baptism? "The Lord is able by His mercy to give indulgence, and not to separate from the gifts of His Church those who by simplicity were admitted into the Church, and in the Church have fallen asleep. Nevertheless it does not follow that, because there was error at one time, there must always be error; since it is more fitting for wise and God-fearing men, gladly and without delay to obey the truth when laid open and perceived, than pertinaciously and obstinately to struggle against brethren and fellow-priests on behalf of heretics.
Cyprian therefore saw those coming from the ranks of the heretics, whether baptized (?) by them or not, as being unbaptized. And here he had to recognize that the Church had been accepting certain ones who had been baptized by heretics into the Church without rebaptizing them. In this he was recognizing his position to be out of step with the then (and now) prevailing practice of the Church. This only shows one more reason as to how we can know that St. Cyprian cannot be quoted as a basis to go rebaptizing those who were already baptized by some schismatic or heretical sect, providing of course their baptism correctly followed the rules of form, matter, intent, and minister. Nevertheless this does not make him a heretic, nor does it remove him from the Fathers, and least of all does it discredit him as a reliable historical source as to what the Church believed and practiced in his day. For though he had his own distinctive position on something, he nevertheless acknowledged the Church's position as well. He saw those coming from having been baptized only in some heretical sect as being exactly as the Church would see anyone coming from a background of having been baptized only into the Mormon church. And if, out of laxity or whatever, some such Mormon were to be admitted to the Church without being rebaptized (and who would therefore really not be baptized at all, having no mark of the Sacrament on his soul), he is here stating the commonly accepted position that such a one, not being baptized through no fault of his own, would still be a recipient of the mercy of God. For when he speaks of the Lord's mercy, he alludes to several Scriptural passages: "Go then and learn what this meaneth, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice.' For I am not come to call the just, but sinners" (Matthew 9:13); "And if you knew what this meaneth: 'I will have mercy, and not sacrifice' you would never have condemned the innocent" (Matthew 12:7) and "For judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. And mercy exalteth itself above judgment" (James 2:13).
So what of this error of St. Cyprian's which those who wish to discredit him attempt to use? Let us look briefly at his own description of why he thought what he did, and then also how it was commented on later:
Cyprian, To Jubaianus, Concerning the Baptism of Heretics (25): And now by certain of us the baptism of heretics is asserted to occupy the (like) ground, and, as if by a certain dislike of re-baptizing, it is counted unlawful to baptize after God's enemies. And this, although we find that they were baptized whom John had baptized: John, esteemed the greatest among the prophets; John, filled with divine grace even in his mother's womb; who was sustained with the spirit and power of Elias; who was not an adversary of the Lord, but His precursor and announcer; who not only foretold our Lord in words, but even showed Him to the eyes; who baptized Christ Himself by whom others are baptized. But if on that account a heretic could obtain the right of baptism, because he first baptized, then baptism will not belong to the person that has it, but to the person that seizes it. And since baptism and the Church can by no means be separated from one another, and divided, he who has first been able to lay hold on baptism has equally also laid hold on the Church; and you begin to appear to him as a heretic, when you being anticipated, have begun to be last, and by yielding and giving way have relinquished the right which you had received. But how dangerous it is in divine matters, that any one should depart from his right and power, Holy Scripture declares when, in Genesis, Esau thence lost his birthright, nor was able afterwards to regain that which he had once given up.
So, in his eyes, if even those with John the Baptist's baptism had to be rebaptized, how much more those with only some baptism of some heretic! One has to bear in mind that this was in no way a settled issue at his time. The only guiding principle St. Cyprian had to go by was the wide precedent of the actual practice of the Church, which he was bound to recognize, even as he recommended the abolition of the practice. In addition, he consulted some 80 fellow bishops of the Church in this matter and obtained their universal consent and agreement. In that he differed from the Donatists who claimed to base their false idea on his writings, but where his mistake was an honest one, theirs was dishonest, heretical, and even schismatic. St. Augustine writes of this episode:
St. Augustine, On Baptism, Book 1, Chapter 18, 28: There are great proofs of this existing on the part of the blessed martyr Cyprian, in his letters, - to come at last to him of whose authority they carnally flatter themselves they are possessed, whilst by his love they are spiritually overthrown. For at that time, before the consent of the whole Church had declared authoritatively, by the decree of a plenary Council, what practice should be followed in this matter, it seemed to him, in common with about eighty of his fellow bishops of the African churches, that every man who had been baptized outside the communion of the Catholic Church should, on joining the Church, be baptized anew. And I take it, that the reason why the Lord did not reveal the error in this to a man of such eminence, was, that his pious humility and charity in guarding the peace and health of the Church might be made manifest, and might be noticed, so as to serve as an example of healing power, so to speak, not only to Christians of that age, but also to those who should come after. For when a bishop of so important a Church, himself a man of so great merit and virtue, endowed with such excellence of heart and power of eloquence, entertained an opinion about baptism different from that which was to be confirmed by a more diligent searching into the truth; though many of his colleagues held what was not yet made manifest by authority, but was sanctioned by the past custom of the Church, and afterwards embraced by the whole Catholic world; yet under these circumstances he did not sever himself, by refusal of communion, from the others who thought differently, and indeed never ceased to urge on the others that they should "forbear one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." For so, while the framework of the body remained whole, if any infirmity occurred in certain of its members, it might rather regain its health from their general soundness, than be deprived of the chance of any healing care by their death in severance from the body. And if he had severed himself, how many were there to follow! what a name was he likely to make for himself among men! how much more widely would the name of Cyprianist have spread than that of Donatist! But he was not a son of perdition, one of those of whom it is said, "Thou castedst them down while they were elevated;" but he was the son of the peace of the Church, who in the clear illumination of his mind failed to see one thing, only that through him another thing might be more excellently seen. "And yet," says the apostle, "show I unto you a more excellent way: though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." He had therefore imperfect insight into the hidden mystery of the sacrament. But if he had known the mysteries of all sacraments, without having charity, it would have been nothing. But as he, with imperfect insight into the mystery, was careful to preserve charity with all courage and humility and faith, he deserved to come to the crown of martyrdom; so that, if any cloud had crept over the clearness of his intellect from his infirmity as man, it might be dispelled by the glorious brightness of his blood. For it was not in vain that our Lord Jesus Christ, when He declared Himself to be the vine, and His disciples, as it were, the branches in the vine, gave command that those which bare no fruit should be cut off, and removed from the vine as useless branches. But what is really fruit, save that new offspring, of which He further says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another?" This is that very charity, without which the rest profiteth nothing. The apostle also says: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;" which all begin with charity, and with the rest of the combination forms one unity in a kind of wondrous cluster. Nor is it again in vain that our Lord added, "And every branch that beareth fruit, my Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit," but because those who are strong in the fruit of charity may yet have something which requires purging, which the Husbandman will not leave untended. Whilst then, that holy man entertained on the subject of baptism an opinion at variance with the true view, which was afterwards thoroughly examined and confirmed after most diligent consideration, his error was compensated by his remaining in Catholic unity, and by the abundance of his charity; and finally it was cleared away by the pruning-hook of martyrdom.
And again one should note that St. Cyprian's real mistake was subsequently addressed by other fathers quite directly. But if his belief that God could be merciful in cases where a soul failed to be baptized through no fault of their own were also to be listed as being yet another error of his, why is there no comparable response to that supposed mistake? In particular, why does no subsequent Father write of St. Cyprian's opinion that those unbaptized through no fault of their own could be shown God's mercy, explaining why and how he was wrong, as St. Augustine does here above in the first case wherein he really was wrong?
Yet there is more. Even as Tertullian had so clearly described Baptism of Blood in the chapter on that quoted in full in the previous installment, another ancient writer, a contemporary of St. Cyprian, described Baptism of Desire in similarly clear detail:
A Treatise on Re-Baptism by an Anonymous Writer (15), attributed to Bishop Ursinus and composed about 256 A. D.: And since we seem to have divided all spiritual baptism in a threefold manner, let us come also to the proof of the statement proposed, that we may not appear to have done this of our own judgment, and with rashness. For John says of our Lord in his epistle, teaching us: "This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood: and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For three bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one;" - that we may gather from these words both that water is wont to confer the Spirit, and that men's own blood is wont to confer the Spirit, and that the Spirit Himself also is wont to confer the Spirit. For since water is poured forth even as blood, the Spirit also was poured out by the Lord upon all who believed. Assuredly both in water, and none the less in their own blood, and then especially in the Holy Spirit, men may be baptized. For Peter says: "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet; It shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and their sons and their daughters shall prophesy, and their young men shall see visions, and their old men shall dream dreams: and upon my servants, and upon my handmaidens, will I pour out of my Spirit;" - which Spirit we discover to have been communicated in the Old Testament, not indeed everywhere nor at large, but with other gifts; or, moreover, to have sprung of His own will into certain men, or to have invested them, or to have been upon them, even as we observe that it was said by the Lord to Moses, about the seventy elders, "And I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them." For which reason also, according to His promise, God put upon them from another of the Spirit which had been upon Moses, and they prophesied in the camp. And Moses, as a spiritual man, rejoiced that this had so happened, although he was unwillingly persuaded by Jesus the son of Nave to oppose this thing, and was not thereby induced. Further, also in the book of Judges, and in the books of Kings too, we observe that upon several, there either was the Spirit of the Lord, or that He came unto them, as upon Othoniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Saul, David, and many others. Which comes to this result, that the Lord has taught us most plainly by them the liberty and power of the Holy Spirit, approaching of His own will, saying, "The Spirit breathes where He will; and thou hearest His voice, and knowest not whence He cometh or whither He goeth." So that the same Spirit is, moreover, sometimes found to be upon those who are unworthy of Him; not certainly in vain or without reason, but for the sake of some needful operation; as He was upon Saul, upon whom came the Spirit of God, and he prophesied. However, in later days, after the Spirit of the Lord departed from him, and after a malign spirit from the Lord vexed him, because then he had come, after the messengers whom he had previously sent before with care, with intent to kill David; and they therefore fell into the chorus of the prophets, and they prophesied, so that they neither were able nor willing to do what they had been bidden. And we believe that the Spirit which was upon them all effected this with an admirable wisdom, by the will of God. Which Spirit also filled John the Baptist even from his mother's womb; and it fell upon those who were with Cornelius the centurion before they were baptized with water. Thus, cleaving to the baptism of men, the Holy Spirit either goes before or follows it; or failing the baptism of water, it falls upon those who believe. We are counseled that either we ought duly to maintain the integrity of baptism, or if by chance baptism is given by any one in the name of Jesus Christ, we ought to supplement it, guarding the most holy invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, as we have most abundantly set forth; guarding, moreover, the custom and authority which so much claim our veneration for so long a time and for such great men.
I have no doubt that someone might wish to post the objection that this passage is "only" some anonymous quote. In that same category however one would have to put the Didache, and for that matter even the Apostle's Creed! Even the Biblical book of Hebrews, though sometimes attributed to Saint Paul, shows some signs of quite possibly having been written by someone else, and after Paul's own death. This "Treatise on Re-Baptism by an Anonymous Writer" has always been included among the collected works of the ancient Fathers. This same passage was also cited by Msgr. Joseph Pohle (one of Fr. Anthony Cekada's "25 theologians") in his book "The Sacraments - a Dogmatic Treatise," on page 245.
I think we should by now be able to see that, between the quotes regarding those who lived in ignorance, and the above several writers who also believed in the possibility of those being saved who, through no fault of their own, failed to attain the baptism of water before they died, whether they died as martyrs or not, that the establishment of the Church teachings of Baptism of Blood and Desire were in no way in any doubt by the time Sts. Ambrose and Augustine came on the scene. Of all the ancient fathers it seems to me that St. Augustine has been by far the most criminally misrepresented by heretics of many stripes. For this reason it is regarding St. Augustine most specifically that Pope Alexander VIII condemned the proposition that "When anyone finds a doctrine clearly established in Augustine, he can absolutely hold it and teach it, disregarding any bull of the pope." For thus did the Calvinists so misquote Augustine to support their own peculiar doctrine of predestination, and similarly did the Jansenists.
Griff L. Ruby
Coming in December: Part 11
For the first installment of this series, see Part 1
For the second installment of this series, see Part 2
For the third installment of this series, see Part 3
For the fourth installment of this series, see Part 4
For the fifth installment of this series, see Part 5
For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 6
For the seventh installment of this series, see Part 7
For the eighth installment of this series, see Part 8
For the ninth installment of this series, see Part 9
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.