Newsletter for 8/27/22

by Gideon Lazar

Last week, my first child was born. As we prepared for his baptism, it gave me a chance to reflect on how our belief in creation can help us more deeply contemplate this sacrament.

The first and most obvious way that creation relates to baptism is the whole reason for baptism. The primary purpose of baptism is the remission of original sin from the one being baptized. This is the main reason we baptize infants. Although they are guilty of no personal sin, they have the effects of original sin.

The whole concept of original sin sounds absurd to modern ears. Human moral flaws are due to evolutionary pressures, not a fall from grace. Furthermore, it seems there never even was a first pair of parents from whom all humans come. Original sin then is impossible, the relic of an earlier time when humans didn’t understand science. In the face of all of this pressure, the Church has stood strong in defense of original sin. Pope Pius XII, in Humani generis, condemned the view that there is no original sin and no Adam and Eve.

If we don’t believe in creation then, there will be no imperative to baptize children. Baptism become merely a nice family gathering to celebrate the birth of a child, not a sacrament in which the child is freed from original sin.

The other and more mystical way creation relates to baptism is through typology. In Genesis 1:2, we see that the creation was initially just water over which the Spirit hovered. The Father brought the whole creation into shape then over the next three days through his Word and his Spirit. In baptism, this process repeats. The one baptized is said to be a new creation (Rom 6:4). In baptism, we are placed into water, but this is only an outward sign of the inward reality, the gift of the Spirit. This brings us into union with Christ, the Word (Rom 6:3), making us children of the Father (Gal 4:5).

Creation is not an arbitrary belief, but something that illuminates the whole Catholic faith. All the Fathers and Doctors presumed that what the scriptures teach about creation is true. We can only fully understand their teachings when we too are willing to believe what is revealed in the scriptures.

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