Finnish Orthodox and Evangelical Lutherans sign joint declaration on Baptism

Turku, Finland, October 3, 2022

Abp. Leo and Lutheran Abp. Tapio sign a joint declaration on Baptism. Photo: Abp. Leo and Lutheran Abp. Tapio sign a joint declaration on Baptism. Photo:     

The Finnish Orthodox Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland signed a joint declaration on the meaning and significance of Baptism last week.

The address was signed at the Lutheran church’s main cathedral in Turku by Archbishop Leo of Finland and the Lutheran Archbishop Tapio after being adopted at theological discussions on September 20 to 21, reports the Finnish Orthodox Church.

The Finnish Church was represented at the discussions by Metropolitan Ilija of Oulu, Archpriest Heikki Huttunen, Doctor of Theology, Archpriest Mikael Sundqvist, Master of Theology (M.Div.) and Soili Penttonen.

In his remarks at the signing, Abp. Leo emphasized that he hopes the document will help the churches “convey the importance of the meaning of Baptism in a more accessible way” against the background of declining numbers of Baptism among children.

The joint declaration testifies that Baptism was instituted as a Sacrament by the Lord Jesus Christ, in which a man becomes a member of the Body of Christ through immersion in water in the name of the Holy Trinity.

According to the declaration, although “we have different ideas about Baptism and how to celebrate it,” converts from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy in Findland or vice versa are not to be received by Baptism, as the “churches recognize the efficacy of Baptism celebrated in both of them.”

Read the full declaration below:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:4-5).

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).

These New Testament texts testify to the confidence of the ancient Church that God decided to give the world a new, eternal life by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish the work of the salvation of man and the entire world. The work of salvation was accomplished by the Triune God through the Incarnation, public activity, and the death and Resurrection of Christ.

Man becomes a participant in salvation when he is puts on Christ in Baptism. Both churches recognize Baptism as a Sacrament or Mystery. In it, God Himself accepts the baptized from death into life. Baptism is celebrated in the name of the Triune God using water, according to the commandment of the risen Christ: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). In Baptism, a man enters the Church, the community called in the New Testament the Body of Christ. A baptized person who is recognized as a member of this community can receive the grace of eternal life in Christ.

The practice of Baptism in both churches and the understanding of the importance of joint Christian witness in our country are based on the fact that we share this Christian faith and the vision of the importance of Baptism derived from it. In a situation when a member of one of our churches decides to become a member of the other church, Baptism is not celebrated over him anew. In this sense, our churches recognize the efficacy of Baptism celebrated in both of them.

Our churches have common roots in the undivided Christianity of the first millennium. After that, the development of doctrine took different paths, and therefore we have different ideas about Baptism and how to celebrate it. They were discussed during theological discussions and set out in the communiques published after them.

The theological discussions between our churches and the everyday coexistence of our members prompted us to draw up a common address on Baptism. Today we are facing challenges in transmitting the Christian tradition. Many may find themselves outside of what is given in Baptism. We wish to bear witness together about the gift of Baptism and encourage everyone to become more familiar with it.

Adopted by the Bishops’ Council of the Finnish Orthodox Church on 3.15.2022 and the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland on 5.5.2022.

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M M12/13/2022 12:38 pm
“Today we are facing challenges in transmitting the Christian tradition.” I suppose this is what happens when we attempt to water down the Eastern Orthodox Faith and making joint declarations that there are Mysteries outside of the Body of Christ..
AncientPreference10/5/2022 8:16 pm
Too many clergy have confused condenscension with efficacy. There is no efficacy in mysteries outside of Orthodoxy. "Our churches have common roots in the undivided Christianity of the first millennium." First off, no, no we dont. Lutheranism was invented 500 years into the 2nd millennium. They are rootless. Secondly, by this flawed logic it could be said that Arians share common roots with us in the first millennium. So what? They also tried to negate the Holy Trinity and became heretics. After being condemned, they no longer had efficacy. Tell me when have theological discussions and joint declarations with those outside of the faith helped anyone to join the Orthodox Church?
Rdr Dani10/4/2022 1:09 pm
Only baptisms of the Orthodox Church are truly baptisms. Those preformed by the heterodox may be fulfilled in chrismation by economia providing they are actual baptisms (emersion) three times in the name of the Holy Trinity. A sprinkling by a priestess of an LGBT support pseudo-Christian group, cannot be in anyway seen as baptism. The statement and directives of the quasi-Orthodox church of Finland are uncanonical and should be disregarded by the faithful.
Petrakis10/4/2022 12:45 pm
«Θα περάσουν βρωμερά ασκέρια από τα σπέρια μέρη της Δύσης και θα ρωτάνε: Που ‘ναι η Πόλη, είναι σιμά; όσοι θα λένε ότι είναι σιμά, δεν θα τους πειράξουν, όσοι πουν ότι είναι αλάργα, θα τους κόβουν»
Brent10/4/2022 9:11 am
Μην ανησυχείς γι'αυτό
Ephraim10/4/2022 2:15 am
Complete and utter heresy. There is no baptism outside the Orthodox Baptism.
Zac10/4/2022 2:02 am
In spite of what some will say with respect to the advisability of signing joint theological declarations with non-Orthodox Christians, it seems to me that the statement contains very little that ought to be considered controversial. Aside from the very late Greek opinion about the complete invalidity of baptism outside the One Church, as well as the very late opinion that pouring baptism is formally invalid, the consensus of the Orthodox Church, from St. Mark of Ephesus, St. Gennadius Scholarius, St. Theophan the Recluse, and all the ecumenically received synods, most especially that of Carthage 419 A.D., the Ecumenical Synod (not numbered) of 1484, the Ecumenically received Council of Jerusalem 1672, and the theological teachings of St. Philaret of Moscow, hieromartyr Daniel Sysoev, etc., and the binding decisions of every modern patriarchate, Latin, monophysite, and Protestant confessions still maintain a valid Trinitarian baptism. St. Augustine, and many, many others (like blessed Dositheus Notaras II of Jerusalem) explain that heretics have a valid baptism (provided it is pouring or immersion in the Name of the Trinity) but that such is not *effective* for salvation unless and until such a baptized Christian repents of heresy and schism and joins himself unto the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church. The valid/effectual distinction makes FAR more sense than the filling an empty form via oikonomia theory developed in the 18th century. Florovsky's writings on this topic are very good, as are the writings of St. Seraphim (Sobolev) of Sophia.
Mike 10/3/2022 2:08 pm
Just more antichrist ecumenism
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