In the minds of most if not all Catholics, Baptism is thought of only as the washing away of original sin. This has led to the thought and practice that it is some sort of a magical ceremony and rite of passage. People come to have their babies baptized because grandparents are scared to death that the baby will go to hell, without considering that it is the parents they should be worried about. We are still living with a limbo mentality and a 19th century Jansenistic devotionalism. First of all there is no official church statement on limbo; please reference Denziger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum.

The point is that Catholics miss the whole concept of being born again. When asked by an evangelical friend if they are, the Catholic gets the deer in headlights look. Dying with Christ and rising with Christ is the whole fulfillment of the Exodus template, the central thematic material governing the whole Bible.

Sin and transgressions (Our Father language) is death, spiritual death, dead to the reign of God. Sin breaks the fundamental relationship with God, and turns one in on one’s self. “Incorvata in se“, St. Augustine says.

Note the corporate nature of Christ’s actions. Everything is in the plural; there’s nothing individualistic about it. Christ does three things: forgives, obliterates, and removes. Here Paul is calling the inscription on the cross an indictment, a serving notice that Christ rules.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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