Baptism in the Orthodox Church

Essay by MinabomberUniversity, Master'sA, September 2006

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Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth and founded the Church, through His Apostles and disciples, for the salvation of man. In the years which followed, the Apostles spread the Church and its teachings far; they founded many churches, all united in faith, worship, and the partaking of the Mysteries (or as they are called in the West, the Sacraments) of the Holy Church, one of which is baptism.

Being a Coptic orthodox myself living in America (land of sin in the eyes of the church fathers) it has been my experience with the church that everything evolves around sin and salvation, which directly relate to baptism and are two main foundations of any religion. I will briefly cover each of these foundations from the scriptures point of view. Sin literally means to "miss the mark." As St. Paul writes, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

We sin when we pervert what God has given us as good, falling short of His purposes for us. Our sins, according to the orthodox belief, separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2), leaving us spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). To save us, the Son of God assumed our humanity, and being without sin "He condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3). God forgives our sins when we confess them and turn from them, giving us strength to overcome sin in our lives. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

Salvation is the divine gift through which men and women are delivered from sin and death, united to Christ, and brought into His eternal kingdom. St. Peter said, "Repent, and let every one of...