Religious legalism and works-righteousness false gospels always, always, always lead to contradictions and unanswerable rabbit-hole conundrums. Two of the most glaring examples I’ve come across in my seven-plus years of blogging were the bizarre cases of Catholic priests, Matthew Hood and Andres Arango.
As a preliminary, we recognize that the RCC teaches un-Biblical baptismal regeneration:
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), 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.'” – CCC 1213
Let’s now get to our two examples:
- In the Summer of 2020, RC priest, Matthew Hood, of Detroit discovered via an old family video that a Catholic deacon had baptised him as an infant using an incorrect incantation. Instead of using the prescribed formulaic incantation, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” the deacon said, “We baptize you…” Hood’s baptism was thereby ruled to be invalid by RC church authorities, meaning his priestly ordination in 2017 was invalid, which meant that all of the sacraments Hood had administered over the course of three years as an illegitimate priest – baptism, eucharist,* confession, matrimony, last rites – were also invalid. Hood had to be rebaptized, reconfirmed, and reordained. The Archdiocese of Detroit set about to contact as many affected Catholics as possible to re-receive the requisite sacraments from a valid priest. See my 2020 posts on Hood here and here.
- Then, in February 2022, it was discovered that priest, Andres Arango of the Diocese of Phoenix had been using the incorrect “We baptize you…” incantation for 20 years. The Phoenix diocese also attempted to contact those who were affected. See my 2022 post on Arango here.
Needless to say, the secular press had a field day with the two cases. They mistakenly believed inane Catholic scrupulosity represented Christianity.
The above should raise serious questions about the legitimacy of baptismal regeneration in the minds of those who espouse it. Does salvation hinge upon a precise formulaic incantation? What about all of the affected people who died or couldn’t be reached? How many other priests and deacons have used incorrect baptismal incantations? How can Roman Catholicism teach baptismal regeneration requiring a precise incantation when it incongruently allows that all non-Catholics and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they follow their conscience?
I was recently perusing the Reformanda Initiative website and I noticed two podcasts that examine the “invalid baptism” quandary mentioned above. Reformanda Initiative is both a Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics and an educational resource for evangelicals. There’s some excellent discussion on this radically bizarre example of Roman Catholic legalism and I invite you to listen:
Recall Notice! Your Baptism is not Valid: Part I – March 1, 2022 – 38 minutes
Featuring Clay Kannard and Reid Karr of Reformanda Initiative with guest, Jordan Standridge, missionary to Rome.
Recall Notice! Your Baptism is not Valid: Part 2 – March 14, 2022 – 32 minutes
Featuring Leonardo De Chirico, Clay Kannard, and Reid Karr of Reformanda Initiative
*Some Catholics claim that they have a sublime, ecstatic experience after consuming the consecrated Jesus wafer. As I asked in one of my referenced posts, how is it that over the course of three years not one Catholic noticed that invalid priest Hood’s wafers were not transubstantiated?
Postscript: Listening to these podcasts gave me an excellent idea for a weekly series. Tune in for the announcement next Monday.