This view just seems SO similar to the old circumcision. I know it is an old view, but the old Church leaders thought so many different things, not all true.
Why do you think those being circumcised were rebuked so passionately? Severed from Christ? What does it mean? Clearly he wasn't just upset about them obeying a law that didn't apply. There was something about they way they viewed it that was apparently anti-grace. Or is this different because of its nature? Are you saying that Christ himself is doing the baptism? It is not an act that comes from us, but an act of Christ? Surely it must be. How else could it be safe? Grace alone. Paul must have meant something in Galatians when he spoke of Faith. Something that was quite different from the way the Galatians viewed law.
And I reply ...
The value of Baptism is all over the New Testament ...
It is like circumcision only in as much as one is not circumcised outwardly, but inwardly (see Col. 2:11). And where on earth did Christ criticize either circumcision or those who were circumcized? That is utterly anti-scriptural. Christ himself WAS circumcized. (Luke 2:21) Christ came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. (Mat. 5:17)
And yes, the value of the Baptism does not come from man, but from God.
We do not think of it as a magic formula, but the fact is that God uses material things to convey spiritual power. That's been the case since the Incarnation, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Now, of course, we can all become like the Galatians or the Pharisees and think that once we receive the grace, it's all over. Protestants can make that mistake too and think, "Well, now that I've got faith, it's a done deal". But it's not an automatic outward process; it comes from God, but it is completed by our cooperation with God.
PAUL: Faith works through love (Gal. 5:6).
JAMES: Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26).
In neither case are we saved by our own efforts or by some magic pill, but by the grace of God, which God allows us to bring to fruition and fullness after He's given it to us.Catholics can make the mistake of thinking that the sacraments work on their own, the way the Jews thought that circumcision made them children of Abraham and the process ended there - but God can raise children of Abraham from stones (Luke 3:8) - the point of the gift from God that makes us either children of Abraham (by means of circumcision) or brothers of Christ (by means of Baptism) is for us to "produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8 again, Christ's own words). In that passage, Jesus says, in effect, "Don't boast about something God gave you without your deserving it or earning it; instead now that you've got the gift, show forth the glory of the gift by living in a way that shows the transformation of your heart - for that transformation is the point of the gift."
Today the second reading at Mass was from Romans 4:13 and following ...
It was not through the lawthat the promise was made to Abraham and his descendantsthat he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
Faith or Baptism are not ends in themselves, but are to be the groundwork for righteousness - a righteousness that leads to everlasting life (see Rom. 6:22).