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My daughters have been baptised as Catholic even though I am Church of England. Is there anything I can do about it now? Do Catholics and Protestants for to the same heaven?
Thank you for these two very honest questions, which obviously trouble you very much. I will try to provide some basic guidance for your further thinking.
First of all, you ask about what baptism means in the Catholic and Protestant churches. For those who uphold infant baptism, it requires essentially (a). naming the child; (b). sprinkling with, or immersion in, water; (c). in the name of the Trinity - that is, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both Catholics and Protestants perform these essentials so that the baptism will be accepted whoever has performed it. In other words, the child has not been baptised first of all into one or another denomination, but into the whole Christian Church. From this point of view, you do not need to worry if you would have preferred your children to be baptised by a Protestant minister.
A second consideration is what baptism means spiritually to the child. In the Catholic tradition it is believed that baptism makes a child spiritually alive, or 'born again', so that a baptised child is certain of salvation, or God's acceptance, in this life and the next unless they reject it when they are older. Some Church of England clergy also hold this view, but others regard baptism as entry into the family of the Church but not into salvation unless the child makes a personal profession of faith later in life, demonstrated by the ceremony of Confirmation.
I should also point out that many Protestants do not recognise infant baptism as valid at all. Their position is that baptism, as taught by Jesus and practised in the Bible, is a definite choice that can only be made when someone is old enough to know what they are doing. They believe that infant baptism was a mistaken practice which began some time after the period when the New Testament was written.
Now for your second question: do Catholics and Protestants go to the same heaven?
The simply answer is that there is only one heaven, and only one way of salvation - through personal faith in Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord:
"There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
The big question, therefore, is how are we saved? Both 'infant-baptisers' and 'believer-baptisers' who take the Bible as their authority teach that a Christian is not just someone who is baptised, or goes to church, or even tries to live a good life. A Christian is someone who has made a personal decision to repent from living without God and instead has placed their lives in the hands of Jesus Christ by inviting him to become their personal Saviour and Lord. Without that, no ceremony or loyalty to a church can guarantee salvation. In fact, it is impossible even to live a good life in order to be saved because, as the Bible teaches:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:23-25).
This biblical passage tells us that salvation is a gift of God, not of any church. It is given freely to those who recognise that they are sinners and turn themselves to Jesus Christ. John 3:16-19 tells us:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."
The first spiritual thing we all need to do for our children, therefore, is to get right with God ourselves by repenting from our lives of sin and placing our personal trust in Jesus Christ. If our children hear us teaching them what we don't follow ourselves, they won't believe us. It is essential that we understand that church attendance, bible reading, even prayer do not in and of themselves make us Christians, nor give us a place in heaven. It is only by recognising that we are in rebellion (sin) against a holy God and seeking forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus Christ alone at the cross, where He paid the penalty of our sin under the judgement of God, that we can be assured of heaven. Where this truly happens we will then live lives on a daily basis where God is central to everything we do and His guidance through the Bible and prayer directs not just our outward actions, but our inward attitudes and behaviour.
The second spiritual thing we need to do is to read the Bible with our children, tell them about Jesus, take them to a church where the Bible is clearly explained, and pray every day that God will show Himself to them.
In summary, whether or not your child is baptised in a Roman Catholic or Protestant church, if they both believe in infant baptism then the baptism would be equally valid. However, some churches only believe in believer's baptism (adult baptism). Baptism in and of itself does not save us, but the Bible tells us that we are saved because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. I encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- 1 Peter 3:18-21
- Romans 5:1-11
- Galatians 2:16
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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