Protestant Denominations, Catholics Sign Ecumenical ‘Mutual Recognition of Baptism’ Agreement

Austin, Texas — Leaders from several Protestant denominations met with representatives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last night to sign an ecumenical document agreeing to recognize each other’s baptisms.

The document, entitled “These Living Waters: Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism,” has been approximately four years in the making. The Presbyterian Church USA was reportedly the first to deliberate the move, followed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The Common Agreement affirms that both Catholic and Reformed Christians hold that baptism is the sacramental bond of unity for the Body of Christ, which is to be performed only once, by an authorized minister, with flowing water, using the Scriptural Trinitarian formula of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” wrote the bishops in a news release about the matter two years ago.

Therefore, if a person is baptized by a Catholic priest but later converts to a Protestant church, the denominations involved in the ecumenical gesture agree to accept the baptism and not ask that the person be baptized over again — and vice versa.

The Common Agreement was signed last night in Austin, Texas by members of both the Presbyterian Church USA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as the Christian Reformed Church of North America, the Reformed Church of America and the United Church of Christ.

Writer Brian Cross says that while there has been somewhat of an alliance between Protestants and Catholics over the matter for centuries, disagreement has remained.

“The Catholic Church has long recognized the validity of Protestant baptisms in which the person was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” he explained. “In the last ten or fifteen years, however, there were concerns among Catholic bishops regarding Protestant baptisms in which different names were substituted for the Holy Trinity, or in which a method of sprinkling was used that did not achieve any flow of water on the skin.”

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“The Dutch and German Reformed traditions have generally recognized the validity of Catholic baptisms, as have most Presbyterian churches. The major exception to this were the Presbyterian churches in the United States since the time of James Henry Thornwell in the mid-nineteenth century, especially in the south. Thornwell argued that Catholic baptisms were invalid because Catholic priests were not ‘lawful ministers of the Word,'” Cross continued. “Some Reformed denominations in the United States remain on Thornwell’s side of that debate, and still do not necessarily accept the validity of Catholic baptisms.”

While there remains debate over whether Protestants — those who agree with Reformers such as Martin Luther, who rebuked and separated from the Roman Catholic Church with his “95 theses,” a document that outlined his many concerns with the establishment’s traditions and teachings — should agree to recognize Catholic baptisms, the greater question of whether Protestants and Catholics should engage in any forms of ecumenicism at all continues to be an issue among Christians.

“Everybody’s afraid to say that Roman Catholics are not Christians, and that if you make that statement, you are perceived as unloving or old school,” stated Pastor Jon Speed of the Log College and Christ is King Baptist Church in Syracuse, New York. “But, either we’re trying to hide what we believe about the Gospel, or we don’t really believe it.”

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  • Roman Catholics are not Christians, there I have said it also. They have a different Jesus, one whose work was not finished upon the cross,dare I say they have a different Spirit,one who does not convict them of their sin of idolatry and they have a different Gospel, a Gospel of works which is no Gospel at all.
    2Co 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
    2Co 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

    • Wendy Raichart

      Here is a website that helps to witness to Roman Catholics:

      • CrossedtheTiber

        I appreciate the gesture, but seeing as we are already Christians, there is no need to witness to us. However, oftentimes the challenges and witnessing techniques presented by well-meaning Protestants can actually spur Catholics to study their faith more closely (to combat all of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations) so thankfully God is able to use these attempts to help Catholics gain a better understanding of their faith. God is able to use all things for good.

    • Dwight Spivey

      Dale, as a convert from the Southern Baptist tradition to the Catholic Church, I can tell you that I once would have agreed with you. However, having investigated the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church myself (as opposed to relying on what third-parties had to say about those beliefs and teachings), I must take issue with your statements. I am indeed a Christian, and I am most certainly not an idolater.

      • jprime

        If you are catholic you are not a christian. you are an idol worshipper and probably a freemason. free masonry is strong in SBC.HOLY GHOST is not decieved. you left the KINGDOM OF GOD for idolatry..

      • CrossedtheTiber

        “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” – Fr. Fulton Sheen
        I am also a convert except my background is Pentecostal, then a variety of denominations until I finally and thankfully found my way home to the Catholic Church. I thank our Lord Jesus every day for this great gift. Welcome home sir!

    • Brian Carey

      Mr. McAlpine,

      If the Catholic Church is not the true Church, then which of the many thousands of Protestant denominations is? If you use the Bible as your sole authority, history has proven that this does not work! Even president Obama and many in his camp support abortion and same-sex “marriage” based on their own personal interpretations of Scripture. When each person is his own private magisterium, anything goes! Whole denominations have flip-flopped on key issues like the indissolubility of marriage, contraception, abortion, the nature of marriage, the priesthood, the sacrements and even the divity of Christ. In these denominations, what was once evil is now good! I will follow the Church that Jesus himself founded when he gave the keys to the kingdom to Peter the apostle. This is the Catholic Church. I’ve heard many ad hominem attacks aginst various scoundrels who have identifed themselves as Catholic. Yet I have never heard any good argument that refutes the teachings of the Catholic Church, whose teachings have remained steadfast since they were imparted to Peter and the apostles by Christ himself.

      • AM

        Brian, when the Catholic Church said that they were imparted to Peter and the apostles by Christ himself, they were lying to you. Peter was never a Pope. The Catholic Church loves to use Peter as an excuse to claim that they are the one true church. But if you examine Catholic traditions along with the Bible, you will conclude that many Catholic teachings contradict the bible.
        The Catholic Church did not truly begin until Constantine wanted to establish a state church three centuries later. Did Peter live that long? Of course not. The only reason why you haven’t heard a good argument that refutes the teachings of Catholicism was because you didn’t search for them.
        Catholicism is not Christianity by any means. Catholicism means “universal” not “Christian.” Constantine wanted to create a “universal” state religion modeled after the Roman Empire. Along with that, he brought a lot of his pagan practices into it in order to attract new believers. The Virgin Mary is NOT the Mary of the Bible. The real Mary had lots of kids after giving birth to Jesus. She cannot hear your prayer because she already passed on. The Virgin Mary was based on a false virgin mother goddess. Even all the statues and pictures of the Virgin Mary would be considered idolatry.
        Confessionals are not Christian because only Jesus can forgive. The practice of Confessionals were deeply rooted in paganism. Infant baptisms were never practiced anywhere in the New Testament. Mass is just completely wrong because it cheapens the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross.
        I urge you to visit the following ministries started up by former Catholics turned born-again Christians:
        Ex Catholics for Christ
        My Soul Refuge

  • Ron

    Cain an Abel both gave their offerings to the Lord, one accepted and one rejected. God says to Cain if you do the correct way wont you be accepted(paraphrase).This means Cain new what was God’s chosen way of doing this but he wanted to offer to God but using his own way without Blood which represented Christ.(Trying to create a tradition of worship not based on thus says the Lord) Not all ways are accepted to the Lord. Lesson 1. Jesus again and again condemned Jews for traditions contrary to the Bible(old testament then)Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. Catholic church officially accept they use traditions above the bible.Jesus answered, “Truly, I tell you emphatically, unless a person is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. King James Bible (Cambridge …)For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:.1 Peter 2:21. See how he was baptised and the desciples teaching on baptism. For more you tube vedios by professor walter veith “The Greatest Invitation”. Dont get offended if you are really seeking for true biblical God’s way. Read “The great controvercy by E G White”. Remember true preacher were not always accepted of old. Seek for the truth without getting offended.

  • Jo

    When you get saved don’t you repent of your sins? Sins like praying to dead people and angels, I know I did when I got saved. Then how does the baptism work.