Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation

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Essay Question
In the Catholic tradition why is baptism considered necessary for salvation? (In this essay you will need to explain the doctrine of original sin and how baptism is the sole way of overcoming the effects of original sin.)

Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door, which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, 2009). Salvation is one of the promises of God to all believers: to be given the gift of eternal life. To be "saved" in the full sense of the word means to have received eternal life. The word salvation is also used to describe the process we go through before we can receive eternal life.

Baptism restores us to holiness. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the "stain" of original sin is defined as "the privation of grace" (Summa I-II:109:7; Summa III:87:2, ad 3). Baptism is necessary to restore us to God’s friendship and sanctifying grace, but the weakness of human nature remains, even after baptism. Through his Church, Christ, the divine Physician, has left us with his healing grace through the Sacraments and through prayer. (Lowell, M. 2010). The doctrine of original sin is the identification given to the concept of the entrance of sin into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God had prepared a perfect place for man and then gave them the gift of volition (the act of practicing free will). Volition comes with responsibility and consequences. God had placed trees in the midst of the garden. Adam and Eve could freely eat the fruit from any tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But the Lord, God gave him this warning: 'You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die' (Genesis 2:16-17).

Therefore, just as through ‘one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned’. (Romans 5:12). It is interesting to note that Jesus did not baptise. "The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptising more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but His disciples" (John 4:1-2). If water baptism were necessary for salvation, wouldn't Jesus have baptised? Jesus presented himself to the Jews as their Messiah with signs and Messianic miracles, but he did not baptise them, the Apostle Paul only baptised a few. "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul? I am thankful that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptised into my name. For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:13-17). 



Those who teach that baptism is necessary for salvation overlook this statement of Paul's. If water baptism were necessary for salvation would not the Apostle Paul have made water baptism a central theme of his ministry? Rather, the Apostle Paul taught the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," which occurs when one is born again and it is a spiritual identification as the believer is placed in Christ. "For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free" (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit baptises us or identifies us as a child of God and then seals us and sets us apart to the "day of redemption" or the day when our redemption will be completed and we see him "face to face." "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

The brokenness of mankind is apparent in the...
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