Baptism

“I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but He that cometh after me is mightier than I…  He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire…”

Mt. 3:11

” Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 2:38

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Subsections

Infant Baptism

Baptismal Regeneration

Baptism for the Dead  (1 Cor. 15:29)

On the 7 Sacraments of Romanism

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Order of Contents

Article
Books
Quotes
Only Ministers are to Baptize, with No Exceptions
The Baptismal Formula
A Baptismal Prayer
Who is Validly Baptized?
Is Romish Baptism Valid?
Sprinkling, Pouring or Immersion?
On the Baptism of Servants

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Article

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

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Books 

1700’s

Warden, John – A Practical Essay on the Sacrament of Baptism: wherein, the Doctrine of that Divine Ordinance is Opened and Explained, the Controversies Concerning it are Stated and Determined…  1724  290 pp.

Warden (d. 1764) was a reformed minister in the Church of Scotland.

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1800’s

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

Marshall, William – Popery in the Full Corn, the Ear, and the Blade; or the Doctrine of Baptism in the Popish, Episcopalian, and Congregational Churches; with a Defense of the Calvinistic or Presbyterian View, to which is Subjoined a Translation of on Essay on the Efficacy of Baptism by Herman Witsius  (Edinburgh, 1852)

Marshall was a friend of J.A. Wylie of the Free Church of Scotland.

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.

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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, with No Exceptions

The Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France  1559

Ch. 11, ‘Of Baptism’, Canon 1  in Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, vol. 1, p. xliv

“Baptism administered by an unordained person is wholly void and null.”

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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 Due Right of Presbyteries (1644), pt. 1

p. 195

“You [John Robinson] will happily say [Rutherford approving], there is no such necessity of baptizing as of ordination of ministers; and baptizing is incom­municable, because we read not that any in the apostolic Church baptized but pastors.”

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pp. 454-455

“2.  There is no such moral necessity of the sacraments as there is of the ministry of the Word, and consequently of some use of the keys where a scandalous person may infect the Lord’s flock.  For where vision ceases the people perish, but it is never said, where baptism ceases the people perish; and therefore uncalled ministers in case of necessity, without ordination or calling from a presbytery, may preach and take on them the holy ministry and exercise power of jurisdiction, because the necessity of the souls of a congregation in a remote island requires so, but I hope no necessity in any [of] the most extraordinary case requires that a midwife may baptize, or that a private man remaining a private man may celebrate the Lord’s Supper to the Church without any calling from the Church.”

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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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Who is Validly Baptized?

For more understanding on where Rutherford is coming from (and that he is right), see his whole section on the Fundamentals, starting on p. 221, as well as his other writings on Church communion, the sacraments and excommunication, which are on this website.

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Samuel Rutherford

The Due Right of Presbyteries  (1644), pt. 2, pp. 228-9

“8th Distinction…  yet will it not follow that these few fundamentals [such as in the Apostles’ Creed] received by all Christians, Papists, Lutherans, Arians, Verstians, Sabellians, Macedonians, Nestorians, Eutychanes, Socinians, Anabaptists, Treithitae, Antitrinitarii (for all these be Christians and validly baptized) do essentially constitute a true Church, and a true Religion.

Because all Christians agree that the Old and New Testament is the truth and Word of God, and the whole faith of Christian Religion is to be found in the Old Testament, acknowledged both by Jews and Christians; for that is not the Word of God indeed in the Old Testament which the Jews say is the Word of God in the Old Testament.  Yea the Old and New Testament, and these few uncontroverted points received universally by all Christians, are not God’s Word as all these Christians expone them, but [rather are] the dreams and fancies of the Jews saying that the Old Testament teaches that Christ the Messiah is not yet come in the flesh, the Treithitae [Tritheists] say there be three Gods, yet are the Treithitae Christians in the sense of Doctor [Christopher] Potter [a Laudian Anglican]: so that one principal as that There is one God, and Christ is God and man, and God is only to be adored, not one of these are uncontraverted, in [the] respect [that] every society of sectaries have contrary expositions upon these common fundamentals, and so [they have] contrary religions.

Who doubts but all Christians will subscribe and swear with us Protestants the Apostolic Creed, but will it follow that all Christians are of one true Religion, and do believe the same fundamentals?  Now these fundamentals are the object of faith according as they signify things.  To us and to the Treithitae this first article, ‘I believe in God’, as I conceive, does not signify one and the same thing; now join this, ‘I believe in God’ with holy obedience, as we expone it, and as the Treithitae expone it: it could never be a step to everlasting salvation; for it should have this meaning: ‘I believe there is one only true God, and that there be also three Gods,’ and what kind of obedience joined with a faith made up of contradictions can be available to salvation?

3.  One general catechism and confession of faith made up of the commonly received and agreed upon fundamentals would not make us nearer peace, though all Christians should swear and subscribe this common Christian catechism, no more than if they should swear and subscribe the Old and New Testament, as all Christians will do, and this day do.”

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Is Romish Baptism Valid?

Is Romish Baptism Valid?

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Sprinkling, Pouring or Immersion?

1600’s

Baillie, Robert – Anabaptism, the True Fountain of Independency, Brownism, Antinomianism, Familism, and the most of the other Errors (which for the Time do Trouble the Church of England) Unsealed. Also the questions of Paedobaptism and Dipping handled from Scripture. In a second part of the Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time  (Londno, 1647)

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Historical

Whitsitt, William H. – A Question in Baptist History: Whether the Anabaptists in England Practiced Immersion Before the Year 1641?  With an Appendix on the Baptism of Roger Williams at Providence, R.I. in 1639  (Louisville, KY, 1896)

Whitsitt was a baptist and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

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On the Baptism of Servants

Article

Howe, George – Article III, ‘The Baptism of Servants’  in Southern Presbyterian Review, no. 1  (June 1847), pp. 63-102

Howe (1802-1883) was a Southern presbyterian.

“…in favor of the baptism of infant servants, from the cessation of the Jewish Church to the times of Augustine, we can only say that Augustine speaks of it as a custom in existence; that it resulted, in his day, from the conviction that baptism came in place of circumcision, a conviction which we can trace up through the earliest fathers…

…we commend the resolutions of the Synod of South Carolina…

‘1. Resolved, That it is the duty of believing masters to train up their servants, as well as their children, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2. Resolved, That the principles of the Abrahamic covenant, as to the cirucmcision of servants, is till in force in reference to the infant offspring of those who stand to us in this relation; and that as baptism succeeds to circumcision, it is the duty of masters to dedicate such servants to God in the ordinance of baptism, and to do all in their power to train them up in a knowledge of the truth and in the way of salvation through Christ.

3. Resolved, That though there are great and manifest dificulties in carrying out the principles of these resolutions, these difficulties have chiefly resulted from the long continued neglect of believing masters and of the church, and that these difficulties must be gradually overcome by continued and persevering efforts.'”

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Quotes

1500’s

Richard Hooker

The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker (that learned and judicious divine), in Eight Books of Ecclesiastical Polity… (London, 1666), bk.5, section 64, p. 244  Hooker (1554–1600) was a prominent Anglican apologist.

“‘It comes sometime to pass’ (says St. Augustine)

‘that the children of bond-slaves are brought to baptism by their Lord; sometime the parents being dead, the friends alive undertake that office, sometime stangers or virgins consecrated unto God, which neither have, nor can have children of their own, take up infants in the open streets, and so offer them unto baptism, whom the cruelty of unnatural parents casts out, and leaves to the adventure of uncertain pity.’

As therefore he which did the part of a neighbor, was a neighbor to that wounded man whom the parable of the Gospel describes, so they are fathers, although strangers, that bring infants to him which makes them the sons of God.”

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1600’s

Thomas Blake

The Birth-Privilege, or, Covenant-Holiness of Believers & their Issue in the Time of the Gospel, Together with the Right of Infants to Baptism  (London, 1644), p. 22

“We have examples not to be contemned of the baptism of whole households, and whether infants were there or no, as it is not certain (though probable) so it is not material: The precedent is a houshold; he that follows the precedent must baptize households.

It appears not that any wife was there, yet he that follows the precedent in baptizing of households, must baptize wives, and so (I may say) servants, if they be of the household.”

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The Colony of Virginia  1667

A Complete Collection of All the Laws of Virginia Now in Force...  (London [1684]), At a Grand Assembly held at James City September 3. Anno 1667, p. 155

“II. An Act Declaring that Baptism of Slaves does not Exempt them from Bondage

Whereas some doubts have arisen whether Children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of the owners made partakers of the blessed sacrament of baptism should by virtue of their baptism be made free; It is enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of Baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom;

That diverse masters freed from this doubt may more carefully endeavor the propagating of Christianity by permitting children, though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable, to be admitted to that sacrament.”

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William Sherlock

A Practical Discourse of Religious Assemblies…  (London, 1681), pt. 2, ch. 5, pp. 303-4  Sherlock was an Anglican.

“…use the best skill you have to instruct your children and servants, yet this is no reason to withdraw them from public instructions: nor can any man, who understands his religion, think he discharges his duty to God and the Church, merely by his private instruction of his family, when he neglects, or refuses to bring them to public instructions.

3. For he must consider, that his children and servants, who are baptized, are members of the Christian Church, and therefore ought to be sub∣ject to the instructions and discipline of it, as far as their age and capacity will permit.  They do not only belong to his private care, but to the public care of the Church, who is to provide for the instruction of her children; and to deny the Church liberty to instruct her children, or not to interpose their own authority to make them submit to it, is to withdraw their children from the communion of the Church, after a solemn dedication of them to God.”

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Nathaniel Taylor

Paidobaptismos Orthobaptismos: or, The Baptism of Infants Vindicated by Scriptures & Reasons...  (London, 1683), Argument 6, p. 51  Taylor was reformed.

“…yet we find [in the N.T.] whole families baptized, and several saints greeted with the Church of God in such an house, which may as reasonably infer the children and servants of such families to have been baptized, and to have been reckoned Church-members; and we may as reasonably believe there were children in some of their houses and families who were baptized, as they [baptists] can confidently deny it.”

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Latin

Chamier, last edition, Tome 4, bk. 5, ch. 11, section 2

As quoted in Giles Firmin, A Sober Reply to the Sober Answer of Reverend Mr. Cawdrey…  (London, 1653), p. 42

“And learned Chamier speaks very warily upon the question:

Servi si fim verè servi quales olim, non diffitear•nam Abrahamo legimus imperatum ut circumcideret suos omnes servos, sed quales hodià not serves habem•• ut plurimum quia verè liberi suns, non putem sic tractandus, non cor quidem qui jure belli fiunt subditi principibus, nam hoc genus subditorum tamen liberum manet: De natu ergo ex parentibus insidelibus liberis, si consentiant parentes, distinguendum putem: Consentiunt enim vel ip•i facti fideles, ac tune nulla difficultas, etc. vel perseverates in infidelitate, ac tum non putem baptizandor, etc.'”

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Related Pages

The Covenant of Grace

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