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Because the second 'birth' does not follow automatically, but only after active engagement in the pursuit of Christian virtue and knowledge, it is the case that some who have experienced the first 'birth' will nevertheless have a will (gnome) that is inclined toward sin. Unless and until the will is 'wholly endowed with the Spirit by participation in divine mysteries that are made known through active endeavour',42 it will continue to issue forth in sin. The quotidian experience of Christians is thus characterised by a deep and abiding tension between the renewal that comes from baptism and the temptations which they face daily.

Regeneration and renewal

This abiding tension that characterises Christian life after baptism may helpfully be thought of as a sign of the kingdom of God being at hand. In the treatments of baptism and salvation that we have considered - and especially in the discussions of post-baptismal sin - most of our authors take for granted that, in a very real (albeit incomplete) sense, the Christian has already returned to paradise. Baptismal rites reinforce the point that to enter the church is itself to enter God's presence, or, even more boldly, to enter heaven. The eschato-logical and the social dimensions alike of this ecclesiological claim deserve our attention.

Entering paradise

It was a widespread custom during the patristic era for the recently baptised to receive communion immediately thereafter.43 This practice is tellingly glossed in the seventh-century baptismal Ordo of Severus of Antioch as follows: 'The fruit which Adam did not taste in Paradise has been put in your mouths.'44 This comment marks the confluence of mystical interpretations of the sacraments with much earlier ideas about the heavenly status ofthe newly baptised. Origen had long since remarked that 'those who have been regenerated through divine baptism are established in paradise, that is, in the church, to do the spiritual deeds that are within'.45 Basil indicates that it is impossible for those 'who have not been sealed with baptism' to ascend into heaven - and this view bears

42 Maximus, Ad Thalassium 6 (CCSG 7.69-70; trans. Wilken and Blowers, 103, slightly modified).

43 Thus, e.g., Chrysostom (Baptismalhomilies 2.27 (SC 50:148-9)) andDenys (Eccl. hier. 2.3.8 (PTS 36: 78)).

44 Cited from Bernard, The Odes of Solomon, 21; the ordo echoes Ephrem's Hymn of the Baptized 17 (trans. NPNF 2, xiii: 283): 'The fruit which Adam, tasted not in paradise: -this day in your mouths, has been placed with joy.'

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