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In 2008 and 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published two responses to questions posed regarding the validity of modified baptismal formulas. When administering baptism, some Catholic ministers had altered the prescribed formula with regard to the naming of the Trinity and with regard to the declarative introduction of the formula (ie ‘We baptise you …’ instead of ‘I baptise you …’). The Congregation dismissed all of these formulas as invalidating baptism and demanded that individuals baptised with these formulas be baptised again. In explaining its 2020 response the Congregation referred to Thomas Aquinas, who addressed these and similar issues in his sacramental theology. This reference is evidently due to Aquinas’ pioneering thoughts on the issue. However, in studying Aquinas’ work on the subject it is surprising to find that they reveal a far less literalist approach than the Congregation suggests. In fact, his considerations point at an alternative reading, namely that sacramental formulas should be understood as acts of communication which, based on the ministers’ intention of doing what the Church does, aim at communicating God's grace to the receivers in an understandable way.
Between AD c. 400 and c. 1100, Christian ideas about the afterlife changed in subtle but important ways. This chapter outlines broad trends in thought about the afterlife in this period in the Latin West, and examines the concomitant changes in thinking about the post-mortem fates of souls. Ongoing contemporary discourse around topics such as sin and penance or baptism contributed to developments in the way that contemporaries understood the afterlife, including heaven, hell, and an interim state between death and universal judgement. Significantly, as Christians came to be more certain about some aspects of the afterlife, the possibility of salvation for individual souls was perceived to be less certain. As a result, by the end of the period there is much greater evidence for concern about the post-mortem fate of the soul than there had been at the beginning, laying the foundations for high medieval theological discussions and developments.
This chapter explores literary representations of believers’ baptism published during the English Revolution. It focuses, in particular, on two surviving testimonies recounting participation in the ordinance originating in Fifth Monarchist communities: Anna Trapnel’s prophetic commemorations of her baptism recorded in 1654 and 1657-8, and the spiritual experiences of twelve-year-old Caleb Vernon published in 1666 as a spiritual antidote to the plague. The recounting of believers’ baptism in Fifth Monarchist communities was shaped by various political, social and doctrinal concerns originating both inside and outside the movement. The ordinance became a nexus of various imaginative affirmations of dissenting identity, including the connection of a present, commemorative act with a triumphant vision of the victorious saints in the near future. Baptisands recognised the commemorative function of baptism as a visible demonstration of their own spiritual regeneration and Christ’s resurrection (as well as other biblical models). However, this chapter will also explore how these surviving testimonies verge on bringing the past into the present, sometimes invoking divine presence through the physical gestures they describe. In such accounts, partly designed to urge fellow dissenters to undergo the ordinance, some believers appear to have transposed the pre-Reformation focus on immanence and sensory experience required by ritual acts.
Reytory von Angola was taken from the west coast of Africa and carried to the island of Manhattan, to the infant Dutch town of New Amsterdam sometime between 1626 and 1640. What awaited her there was a life of struggle, loss, and love. Her life demonstrates the challenges of claiming freedom for those with female bodies. Freedom required claiming family, claiming land, claiming human affections, claiming a role as a wife and a widow and a mother, and also claiming the most intimate parts of her own body. Freedom meant the ability to snatch children out of the maw of enslavement. She would never have a document that “gave” her freedom. Instead, freedom was something she made over the course of her life, which she bestowed on the generations that followed by building and defending a claim to the many aspects of herself. Marriage, motherhood, land ownership, and church membership all served as preludes to her final act of positioning her adopted son to acquire his freedom.
Vatican II was the catalyst for a significant realignment of ministerial life in the Catholic Church. Although the council did not undertake a thoroughgoing revision of episcopal or presbyteral ministry, the repercussions of its stress on the primacy of baptism and on the ecclesial dimension of all ordained ministries have altered the landscape of ministry.
The Second Vatican Council officially launched the Catholic Church into the ecumenical movement. A reexamination of these texts more than fifty years later suggests areas of critique as well as further possible developments that were underexplored at the time, even though the seeds for these developments were planted at the council.
Kant is critical of many of the practices of Christianity in his time. But when we appreciate the dynamic relation between rational and revealed religion as Kant conceives them, the apparent opposition becomes more questionable and raises more questions than it answers. Kant’s project in the Religion bears important affinities with the religious philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s philosophy of church and state and their relation involve a number of radical proposals expressive of Enlightenment religious consciousness. Mendelssohn’s concept of enlightened Judaism bears interesting comparison to Kant’s enlightened reflections on Christianity. Mendelssohn defends a form of evidentialism even more radical that Clifford’s. He also defends a conception of the freedom of religious conscience that inspires Kant’s treatment of that topic in part four of the Religion. Conscience is an important theme in Kant’s moral philosophy, which has special application to religious conscience and the freedom of conscience Kant and Mendelssohn both defend.
The so-called rites of passage - baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion, marriage, and burial - are rarely addressed in the Constitution of the Church in Wales. Norms are found in liturgical rubrics and other regulatory forms in the service books, in soft-law, and in pre-1920 ecclesiastical law which continues to apply to the Church in Wales unless and until altered by it. Baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion are not governed by State law. But the civil law on marriage and burial continues to apply to the church as vestiges of the old establishment. Over the century, there have been several key changes in ritual norms. In some respects, the church is progressive when compared with other Anglican churches. Changes to burial norms in the 1970s removed the traditional prohibitions on those who die unbaptised, excommunicate or who commit suicide. The Church in Wales is only the fourth Anglican church to admit to Holy Communion all those who have been baptised. Moreover, there are proposed changes afoot in relation to solemnising same-sex marriages. However, the way in which these changes have been implemented has, in some respects, led to a degree of uncertainty - and it remains to be seen what impact some of the changes (such as in the case of confirmation) will have on the rites in the future.
During the Middle Ages, the justification of humanity increasingly came to be linked with an explicitly sacramental economy of salvation, with a particular emphasis upon the sacramenta mortuorum (baptism and penance) as the divinely ordained means of establishing and restoring justification. This chapter considers this development, which forged an increasingly robust link between the practice of justification and the institution of the church. Although the possibility of extra-sacramental justification was recognised, the normative account of the initiation and restoration of justification was now firmly linked with the sacramental ministry of the church. This chapter explores the development of this move, and considers its implications. In closing, it turns to deal with some trends in Renaissance biblical scholarship which opened up new and important questions in relation to the theory and practice of justification, such as the revision of the accepted words of Christ on beginning his ministry from ‘Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand’ to ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’.
Chapter One traces the development of local legal regimes in Cuba, Virginia, and Louisiana in which blackness was identified with enslavement and social degradation. We demonstrate that legal and social precedents such as those invoked by Frank Tannenbaum and Alan Watson mattered deeply to the development of these new slave societies, yet not in the way traditional comparisons argued. By the time the Iberians arrived in the New World, they were familiar with the enslavement of sub-Saharan Africans, and set about immediately to establish a racially based society in Cuba. In Virginia, by contrast, distinctions of race were not systematized in law until slave status was set in stone decades after the colony’s settlement. The French arrived in Louisiana at a much later point in the development of their empire, and had already written a code for slaves and “noirs.” Across the regions, colonial legislators established a degraded status for people of African descent, but they did so much more quickly in Cuba and Louisiana.
Most of the rituals that would much later be defined as ‘sacraments’ make an appearance in the earliest papal legislation, along with one or two rituals that never made it into the final ‘sacrament’ category, notably a curious combination of penance and quasi-exorcism. The papal decretals show Christian ritual in a formative phase of development. Liturgy too is both recognizable in broad lines – the structure of the year and the week according to the life of Christ, penance, and celebration – but not yet in the form with which medievalists are familiar. Liturgy and rituals are saturated with a symbolic mentality.
‘Bigamy’ – the ban on twice-married men or husbands of widows becoming clerics – was another way of marking out the clergy from ordinary people. For the latter, remarriage after the death of a spouse was unproblematic, but it was an absolute bar to a clerical career. The underlying rationale takes one deep into the realm of symbolism.
John Calvin, like all Protestant reformers of the 1520s and 1530s, was born into a Roman Catholic society and baptized as an infant, according to Catholic practice. When Calvin began to work with Guillaume Farel to lead the Reformation in Geneva, they were interacting with a community of individuals who had all received Catholic baptisms, whether at a baptismal font by an ordained priest, or in the birthing room by a midwife. Those late medieval rites of baptism reflected a number of theological concerns and assumptions, including the teachings that the sacrament of baptism was essential to salvation and that infants who died without baptism would be consigned to limbo. At the same time, traditional baptismal practices also embodied a series of social and familial priorities, including the importance of godparents in building and solidifying social networks and the desire to honor those godparents in the name of a child. As a result, Calvin’s understanding of baptism challenged core beliefs and social traditions with which both he and his Genevan followers (both enthusiastic and reluctant) had been raised, complicating the implementation of his ideas and shaping the development of his teachings across the mid-sixteenth century and well beyond Geneva.
Modern anti-ecumenism in Orthodoxy is grounded in a sacramental or eucharistic ecclesiology which identifies Christianity and the church exclusively with the Orthodox Church and stands in opposition to universal baptismal ecclesiology. This neo-traditionalist ecclesiology stresses the unity of the sacraments of baptism, chrismation and eucharist as equally necessary for membership in the church, identified exclusively with the Orthodox Church. It exploits a weakness in Orthodox eucharistic ecclesiology, according to which the church, identified with the Orthodox eucharistic community, can be interpreted as excluding non-Orthodox Christians from the church. The article demonstrates that this anti-ecumenical, exclusivist ecclesiology is contrary to several major aspects of the Orthodox tradition.
This chapter reconstructs the liturgical context of two chronicle entries about Princess Olga of Kiev: the account of her baptism in Constantinople in 955 and the panegyric following her death in 969. The chapter demonstrates that the tale of the princess’ baptism derives, in part, from the tenth-century baptismal rubrics of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. In the liturgical manuscripts, every word and action for the baptismal ritual is spelled out for the priest performing the service. In the chronicle, the prelate and princess act out these ritual behaviours between baptiser and baptised, precisely as they are prescribed in the church books. The chapter also uncovers the liturgical typologies in the text. In 955, Princess Olga is depicted as a ‘Slavic Mary’ using hymns from the major feasts of the Mother of God, and in 969 she is cast as the ‘Slavic Forerunner’ using hymns from a series of feasts surrounding the conception and birth of major sacred figures, such as Saint John the Baptist. The ‘blessed Olga’ is thus best understood not as a biblical or hagiographical creation but rather as a liturgical one. She is a textual figure fashioned from the songs, prayers, and readings of the Byzantine rite.
This chapter presents a thorough re-examination of the so-called ‘Great Conversion,’ a period after the Spanish Conquest when millions of natives were baptized. Countering mendicant apologetic narratives that presented the process as a great spiritual turning, and more recent work that has limited itself to critique the apologists, this chapter demonstrates baptism was inextricably related to the social and political repercussions of conquest and demographic crisis. The chapter begins by examining the politics of indigenous adhesion to Christianity in the aftermath of conquest, highlighting the early alliances between rulers and missionaries. The chapter then examines the role of spiritual warfare and iconoclasm in mass-baptisms, which was a by-product of these early alliances. Amidst this violence, however, missionaries also extended a promise to protect indigenous communities from Spanish exploitation and enslavement of the native population. By the mid-1530s large-scale conversions resulted from an emerging consensus in indigenous communities that the mission provided them with a means to preserve their lives, property, and communities. Self-interest, spiritual warfare, and the search for sanctuary all drove this phenomenon. Through the waters of baptism, native communities began the process of remaking Mesoamerica in the 1530s.
This chapter explores the mission’s vital antecedents by employing a transatlantic comparison of the ways in which religion served as a marker of sovereign power, connected violence to theologies of imperialism, and offered sanctuary amid the disruptions of unprecedented transatlantic contacts. Three lines of inquiry form the basis of this chapter. First, I examine religion as an expression of political sovereignty in fifteenth-century Mesoamerica and Iberia. Second, I address the most fundamental differences between Iberia and Mesoamerica. In Iberia, religious exclusivism fuelled a Spanish theological imperialism that sought to extend Catholicism to the exclusion of all competing god and religious institutions, while Mesoamerican empires integrated defeated gods to their pantheon. Part three, meanwhile, examines the way in which unprecedented cycles of encounter, conquest violence, widespread enslavement, and severe demographic crises in the Canaries and the Caribbean also made the mission a sanctuary from the worst depredations of early colonization. The transatlantic roots of the Mexican mission enterprise consist of three interconnected but also contradicting elements: religion as an expression of political sovereignty, as a basis for repression and violence, and as a promise of protection.