More than American Individualism
Where Westminster sees the covenant dispensed through Baptism which may be administered not only to those who personally profess faith in Christ but also to infants, the Baptists restrict Baptism to "those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus."
On January 5, 1527, at 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon, Felix Manz was drowned to death in the icy waters of the Limmat River by order of the Zurich City Council. He had been identified as "one of the real beginners and chief promoters" of the Anabaptist movement. By his own admission he had (re)baptized a woman in Embrach and declared that, if released, he would do the same kind of thing again. (1) If you have a current subscription or current on-line account please log-in here to read the rest of this article.
1 [ Back
] John Allen Moore, Anabaptist Portraits
(Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1984), 65-66.
2 [ Back
] Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed., The Protestant Reformation
(New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 131.
3 [ Back
] "Gespräch mit Karl Barth," Stimme
, December 15, 1963, 253.
4 [ Back
] Quoted, Paul K. Jewett, Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 222.
5 [ Back
] William H. Willimon, Peculiar Speech: Preaching to the Baptized
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 61.
6 [ Back
] Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1978), 66.
7 [ Back
] Article 40 of the London Confession
in John H. Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches
(Atlanta; John Knox Press, 1982), 719.
8 [ Back
] Thomas Edwards, Gangraena
(London, 1646), Pt. 1, 204.
9 [ Back
] Ibid., 265.
10 [ Back
] W. L. Lumpkin, ed., Baptist Confessions of Faith
(Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson Press, 1959), 245.
11 [ Back
] Ibid., 291.
12 [ Back
] David Kingdon, Children of Abraham: A Reformed Baptist View of Baptism, the Covenant, and Children
(Haywards Heath, Sussex: Carey Publications, 1973).
13 [ Back
] CD IV/4, 204.
14 [ Back
] Faith and Order Paper
No. 111 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982), 4 (11). The adult pattern of initiation was also normative for John Wesley. See Henry H. Knight, III, "The Significance of Baptism for the Christian Life: Wesley's Pattern of Christian Initiation," Worship
63 (1989), 133-142. Cf. also Aidan Kavanagh's claim that adult initiation is what the "Roman Catholic norm of baptism
is henceforth to be." Made, Not Born
(Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976), 118.
15 [ Back
] David F. Wright, "The Origins of Infant Baptism-Child Believers' Baptism?" Scottish Journal of Theology
40 (1990), 1-23. Wright cites the example of Gregory Nazianzen who as late as 381 recommended that baptism should be given to children no earlier than age three when they could at least verbalize an answer to the baptismal queries for themselves and perhaps take in something of its meaning despite their tender years.
16 [ Back
] Philip Schaff, ed., Creeds of Christendom
(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1877), 3:521.
17 [ Back
] Ibid., 211.
18 [ Back
] Cf. Jewett, Infant Baptism
19 [ Back
] LW 36, 47. Cf. Robert Latham, "Baptism in the Writings of the Reformers," The Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology
, 7 (1989), 21-44.
20 [ Back
] Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press), 349.
21 [ Back
] LW 36, 73.
22 [ Back
] This is the charge made against Luther by D. J. Gottschick, Die Lehre der Reformation von der Taufe
(Tübingen, 1906), 14. Cf. also Adolf von Harnack's view: "In the doctrine of the sacraments Luther abandoned his position as a reformer, and was guided by views that brought confusion into his own system of faith." History of Dogma
, tr. Neil Buchanan (New York: Dover, 1961), 248. Karl Barth is even more explicit in his critique of Luther's Wassertheologie
: "To believe in Jesus Christ and
in water consecrated by his presence is a dangerous thing and is not confirmed by any necessary relationship between the two." The Teaching of the Christian Church Regarding Baptism
, tr. E. A. Payne (London: SCM Press, 1948), 23.
23 [ Back
] E. C. Whitaker, Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy
(London: SPCK, 1960), 69-71. Cf. D. T. Williams, "The Baptism of Repentance: A Further Factor in the Infant Baptism Debate," Theologia Evangelica
20 (1987), 37-49.
24 [ Back
] Jewett, Infant Baptism
, 181; The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI
(London: Dent, 1968), 240.
25 [ Back
] Bossuet, "On the Holy Supper," quoted in T. E. Watson, Should Infants Be Baptized?
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 96.
26 [ Back
] Zwingli and Bullinger
, ed. G. W. Bromiley (Philadelphia: Westminster Press), 130.
27 [ Back
] Ibid., 139.
28 [ Back
] Huldreich Zwinglis Sämtliche Werke
, ed. E. Egli et al. (Leipzig, Zurich, 1905), 8, 85.
29 [ Back
] Ibid., 4, 218.
30 [ Back
] Cf. David C. Steinmetz, "The Baptism of John and the Baptism of Jesus in Huldrych Zwingli, Balthasar Hubmaier and Late Medieval Theology," in Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History: Essays Presented to George Huntston Williams
, eds. F. F. Church and Timothy George (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979), 169-81.
31 [ Back
] Kingdon, Children of Abraham
, 34. J. P. T. Hunt has shown that the interpretation suggested here is supported by early patristic exegesis. Col. 2:11-12 was not used as an argument for infant baptism until after the practice had arisen on other grounds. "Colossians 2:11-12, the Circumcision/Baptism Analogy, and Infant Baptism," Tyndale Bulletin
91 (1990), 227-44.
32 [ Back
] G. Ernest Wright, The Biblical Doctrine of Man in Society
(London: SCM, 1954), 79. Cf. Karl Barth: "The Christian life cannot be inherited as blood, gifts, characteristics and inclinations are inherited. No Christian environment, however genuine or sincere, can transfer this life to those who are in this environment. For these, too, the Christian life will and can begin only on the basis of their own liberation by God, their own decision." CD IV/4, 184.
33 [ Back
] George R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament
(London: Macmillan, 1963), 338.
34 [ Back
] James F. White, Sacraments as God's Self-Giving
(Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983), 46.
35 [ Back
] John Tombes, Examen of the Sermon of Mr. Stephen Marshall About Infant Baptism
(London, 1645), 33; quoted in Kingdon, Children of Abraham
, op. cit., 99.
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Dr. Timothy George is the founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and a senior editor of Christianity Today.
Issue: "How Do We Receive Christ: God's Sacraments or Ours?" May/June 1997 Vol. 6 No. 3 Page number(s): 41-47
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