Baptism is still the most important sacrament. It removes past sins. It has two meanings here again we come deeply into Roman Catholic ideas. The one is the washing away of the sins, and the other is the reception of the Divine Spirit a negative and a positive element. This of course presupposed the baptismal confession of the creed; it presupposed the consciousness of one’s sins and the certainty of the Savior.
Characteristic for baptism are the following activities: 1) One lays the hand on the baptized, and gives him sacred oil, the medium which makes the reception of the Spirit possible.
2) One refutes the Devil, with all his pomp and angels. One leaves the demonic sphere. You must remember how important this way; the New Testament is full of the idea that Christianity has overcome the demonically ruled world. Therefore the refutation of the Devil is something which was extremely important: it meant really the end of participation in paganism. And it was not simply a moralistic formula; it went much deeper: it was the breaking of the religious neurosis which is paganism, the religious limitation to polytheistic limits, to demons, in other words. They could be thrown out. I remember from my own confirmation in Germany that, as a 14-year old child, this was the formula we had to say: I reject the Devil and all its pomp, etc… For us at that time this was some kind of romantic, dark and mysterious feeling about powers from which one goes away definitively. It was not what it was for a pagan who went over from a world which was really ruled by strong demonic powers: into a world of love. But it still was something. The symbol of the Devil was still alive even at that time.
3) The third element in baptism is the unity of forgiveness and regeneration, I. e. , the pagan existence has come to an end; the Christian existence begins. In this moment the preparatory stage has come to an end and those who are baptised are called the telaioi, the perfect ones, those who have reached the telos, the inner aim, of the introduction into the Church, the inner aim of man’s existence itself; and the universal aim: to be fulfilled in what one’s own being demands.