Baptism

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Subsections

Infant Baptism

Baptismal Regeneration

Baptism for the Dead  (1 Cor. 15:29)

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Order of Contents

Article
Books
Qutoes

Only Ministers are to Baptize
The Baptismal Formula

A Baptismal Prayer
Is Roman Catholic Baptism Valid?

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Article

Berkhof, Louis – Christian Baptism  1950  35 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology

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Books 

Dabney, Robert – Fiction, No Defence of Truth: or a Review of Theodosia Ernest; or the Heroine of the Faith  1859  166 pp.  

Theodosia Ernest was a current popular fictional novel where the main story revolved around the baptist convictions of the heroine.  Here is Dabney’s review of it.

M’Crie, Thomas – Lectures on Christian Baptism  1850  230 pp.

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Quotes

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

To his daughter Maria:

“The Lord gave you to me, and I gave you back to Him before and in baptism.”

To his daughter Annie:

“Annie, you were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  It is a holy name that is named upon you.  Let it point you evermore to Jehovah, who sanctifieth Israel, and remind you of the call: ‘be ye holy’.”

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Only Ministers are to Baptize

Samuel Rutherford  1642

A Defense of the Government of the Church of Scotland, Article 5

The minister or pastor only may baptize, as he only may preach the Word (as Matt 28:19; Jn. 4:2; 1 Cor. 1:14-16).

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The Baptismal Formula

Intro

The baptismal formula traditionally used in the Church, and sometimes legislated therein, is the minister pronouncing the words, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost’ (based upon the Great Commission of Mt. 28:19) when baptizing someone.

Gillespie argues below that this verbal formula, while lawful and good to do, is not prescribed by Scripture (and hence necessary), nor does the omission of it make a baptism invalid.

The importance of the question, besides ecclesiological practicalities, is careful discernment of, and faithfulness to, the will of God revealed in Scripture.  Gillespie argues for the Lord’s Supper, on the others hand (in the same chapter as the first quote below), that the Sacramental words, ‘This is my body, etc.’, are morally required for a proper observance of the Supper, though they are not essential to its validity.  The reason for the difference is due to the level of detail that God has revealed with regards to the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the spiritually significant words that attend it.  Christ says, with reference to all of it: ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’  There is no parallel for Baptism.

In relation to this topic, be sure to note: the passages in the New Testament which speak of baptizing ‘in the name of Christ’ (Acts 2:38; 8:12,16; 19:5; whereas there is no instance in Scripture of a baptism being done ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’), John 17:20-21,24,26 and the Trinitarian words of John 17:23:

“Jesus… said… ‘If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

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George Gillespie

English-Popish Ceremonies, part 4, ch. 7, p. 209

“It is sounder divinity to say, that the consecration of a sacrament does not depend ‘on some certain form of words.’¹  For it is evident that, in baptism, there is not a certain form of words prescribed, as [Robert] Bellarmine [a Roman Catholic] also proves;² because Christ says not, ‘Say, I baptize thee in the name, etc.’  But only he says, ‘Baptizing them in the name, etc.’  So that he prescribes not what should be done.  [Thomas] Aquinas likewise holds,³ that the consecration of a sacrament is not absolutely tied to a certain form of words.”

¹ [William] Ames, Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in Worship, book 4, ch. 6, ‘ex certa aliqua formula verborum

² in Ames, Fresh Suit, book 1, ch. 2

³ Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 3, Question 60, article 8

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Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, p. 110-111

But where I added, that in the name of Jesus Christ we baptize, though I said no more than the Scripture says [i.e. Acts 2:38; 8:12,16; 19:5], yet he [Mr. Hussey] is pleased to object against me…  I cited plain texts to prove that baptism is done in the name of Christ…

But how does baptizing in the name of Christ, as Mediator, agree with the commission to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?…

First, I say, the question is of things or actions, not of words.  Mr. Hussey (it seems) did apprehend my meaning, as if I had intended an expression to be made in the act of baptizing, thus: ‘I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ.’  But [on the contrary] I speak of the action, not of the expression, even as in another instance I gave: our assembling together is in the name of Christ, though we do not say in terminis [in the very terms], ‘We are now assembled in the name of Christ.’

In baptism Christ does not command us to say either these words, ‘I baptize thee in the name of Christ;’ or these, ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost:’ but we are commanded to do the thing, both in the name of Christ as Mediator, and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; but in different respects.

A minister of Christ does both preach and baptize in the name of Christ, as Mediator; that is, vice Christi, in Christ’s stead [see 2 Cor. 5:20], and having authority for that effect from Christ, as Mediator; for Christ, as Mediator, gave us our commission to preach and baptize, by Mr. Hussey’s confession.  So that to preach and baptize epi to onomati Iesou Christou [in the name of Jesus Christ] (which we find both of preaching, Lk. 24:47, and of baptizing, Acts 2:38), comprehends a formal commission, power and authority, given and derived from Christ.  I say not that it comprehends no more, but this it does comprehend.

But when Christ bids us baptize eis ta onoma, ‘unto’, or ‘into’, or ‘in the name’ of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Mt. 28:19, this does relate to the end and effect of baptism, or the good of the baptized (if we understand the words properly), not the authority of the baptizer, as if a formal commission were there given him from the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

So that to baptize on ‘in’ or ‘unto’ the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is properly meant both of sealing the parties’ right and title to the enjoyment of God Himself, as their God by covenant, and their interest in the love of God, the grace of Christ, and of the communion of the Holy Ghost; and of dedicating the party to the knowledge, profession, faith, love, and obedience of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

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A Baptismal Prayer

Ludwig Lavater, Rites and Institutions of the Zurich Church (1559)

“Then the minister continues, saying:

Be mindful that God our savior wills all people to come to the knowledge of the truth through the only mediator, Jesus Christ, who handed himself over as a ransom for many.  

God also wills for us to join in many prayers, that we should arrive at the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, our redeemer.  Therefore we ask the Lord to grant faith to this little one, that the external baptism should take place internally through the Holy Spirit in [by means of?] the salvific water.

Therefore, pray in this way:

Almighty, eternal God, who through the flood, in accordance with your severe but just judgment, condemned the unbelieving world and saved, on the grounds of your immense mercy, faithful Noah’s eight; you who submerged hardened Pharaoh with all his people in the Red Sea, but then led your people Israel across with dry feet, a prefiguring of baptism —

We beseech you through your immense mercy that you would deign to look mercifully upon your servant, [name], and kindle in his heart the light of faith, so as to be grafted into your Son, buried together with him in death, and also raised into a new life, in which he would eagerly follow your son in bearing his cross daily and cling to him in true faith, firm hope, and ardent love, so that for your sake, he could boldly despise this life, which is nothing other than death, and on the last day present himself fearlessly at the universal judgment of your Son.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God throughout all ages.  Amen.”

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Is Roman Catholic Baptism Valid?

Peru Mission – The Reformed Churches and Roman Catholic Baptism – An Anthology of Principle Texts  106 pp.

The answer is Yes.  This anthology includes quotes and brief analyses of the French Confession of Faith (1559), Calvin, Knox, Beza, Perkins, Rutherford, the Westminster Confession of Faith, Baxter, Turretin, and Hodge, all of whom said yes. 

Knox, John – ‘Answer to Some Questions on Baptism’, pp. 254-255, in Select Practical Writings of John Knox

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Related Pages

The Covenant of Grace

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Visible Church being Outwardly in the Covenant of Grace