I have said on numerous occasions that if I could invent a device that would retrieve words that are spoken before they reach the ears of the hearer, I would become a billionaire. All too often our tongues are in overdrive before our brains have gotten out of first gear. Consequently, the words that come out of our mouths are not exactly the ones we want to say, and they can be embarrassing. Such was the case when I first came to the church I pastor. I was to introduce a missionary to the congregation who had just returned from the country of Turkey during the first Gulf War. I wanted to say that he had ministered to the Turkish and Kurdish people, but it came out that he ministered to the Kirks and the Turds. If only I had that device! A pastor, who is a friend of mine, had a number of visitors at his church one Sunday to hear a guest speaker. He was encouraging his guests to return, stating that in the morning services, he was preaching through a certain book of the Bible and, likewise, in the evening service. On Wednesdays, he meant to say that they had begun a profitable study concerning the doctrine of sin, but it came out of his mouth that, “they had been in sin for the last three weeks and having a great time.” If only he had that device!
Fortunately, my faux pas of words did not affect the ministry of the missionary, nor my friend’s the opportunity for the return of the visitors. It appears though, that such is not the case with the Rev. Andres Arango. It was reported this week that he misspoke the words of the baptismal formula decreed by the Roman Catholic Church. Instead of saying “I baptize you…” he has for years said, “We baptize you…” The result is that the church has declared that all the baptisms performed by him are invalid and all will need to be rebaptized. But that is not the worst case. In 2017, Rev. Matthew Hood was ordained as a priest in the Catholic Church. However, he too had been baptized as a boy in Detroit by a deacon who used the wrong words in the baptismal formula. When this was discovered later, his ordination became invalid. As a result, all the marriages that he had officiated were put in jeopardy in regards to the church, and those married by him were urged to see if they needed to get married again.
Matthew 23:24 records the words of Jesus who spoke of the Pharisees and said, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” While Jesus spoke of the Pharisees, His words certainly apply to the Catholic Church. Bishop Thomas Olmsted stated, “The issue with using ‘We’ is that it is not the community that baptizes a person, rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all of the sacraments, and so it is Christ Jesus who baptizes.” So, if Olmsted’s reasoning is correct and Christ alone is baptizing, what is the function of the priest? Obviously, he is involved and therefore “we” is correct. But that is just a gnat. The camel is the belief that a person’s standing before God is dependent upon a religious ceremony. Baptism does not make a person righteous before God, only personal faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary can do that (Romans 5:1, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5). Baptism is the response of a righteous person before the world of their faith that has already saved them from God’s judgment. In this case the Catholic Church has swallowed the camel and is straining at the gnat.
More than likely, you may have inadvertently inhaled a gnat. It’s not pleasant. But the consequence is not long-lasting, nor is it fatal. Words innocently misspoken can be embarrassing for a moment, but ultimately they have no serious consequence. However, false doctrine spiritually ingested can be extremely injurious to one’s well-being.