Is the story of the good thief in Luke 23:39–43 proof that baptism isn’t necessary?

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Is the story of the good thief in Luke 23:39–43 proof that baptism isn’t necessary?


First, it isn’t clear that baptism had yet been mandated by Jesus before he met the thief. If it had been, we do not know for certain that the thief hadn’t already been baptized. In any case, the thief clearly underwent a conversion at some point during his crucifixion, and it seems evident that he would have desired baptism before his death had he known of its necessity. That would have been sufficient, because the Church recognizes that, in such a case, the desire for baptism brings about the fruits of baptism (CCC 1258).

Jim Blackburn


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  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Do Catholics understand the implications of this? What it means is that innocents who are aborted, miscarried or stillborn who commit the grievous crime of dying before being baptized go to Hell by default. The catechism says that it knows of no way to salvation outside of baptism. What does this mean? It means that an all-powerful god sends completely innocent souls to Hell. They have no means by which to desire baptism – they don’t know anything about it. They are going to Hell. Now the Church says you can believe in Limbo, an unofficial doctrine, but it still denies salvation, and the mother who loses her unborn baby will never see it unless perhaps she goes to Hell as well. The Church also permits you to “hope” that your god isn’t a complete monster who sends innocents to eternal torment – but it’s a very thin hope and is not part of the formal catechism.
    Fortunately the DNA evidence almost certainly eliminates the possibility of a 2-person DNA bottleneck, thus there was no Adam and Eve and no talking snakes, no fall from grace, no original sin, no need to believe, say and do the right things in order to be saved by Jesus.
    By the way, we know that Yahweh can remove original sin or prevent it if he chooses to. The Church decided in 1854 that he did that for Mary, so he could do it for anyone, but apparently chooses not to do so, preferring that all those aborted, miscarried and stillborns go to Hell. Nice guy, that Yahweh.

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