Friday with the Fathers – Infant Baptism

I’ll give you two…

“He came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age” (Against Heresies 2:22:4 ).

“Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them” (The Apostolic Tradition 21:16 ).

Even Zwingli allowed infant baptism.

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Christus Victor in Hippolytus?

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As part of Hippolytus’ liturgy, which included the Eucharist, he displays an image of atonement which I believe is similar to the Christus Victor approach – and one familiar at the time.

Who, when he was deliveredb to voluntary suffering,
in order to dissolve death,
and break the chains of the devil,
and tread down hell,
and bring the just to the light,
and set the limit,
and manifest the resurrection,

What say you? Does this view of atonement fit with your view? Further, can different views fit into prayers and liturgies more easily than other or perhaps even co-exist with others?

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Earliest Song of Songs Commentary now Online

Mike Aquilina alerts us to a freebie:

The earliest Christian commentary on the Song of Songs is, at long last, available in English. Yancy Smith embedded a translation in his doctoral dissertation, Hippolytus’ Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context, which is available free online. You can also get to it by going to the TCU website, Then input either the author name or title.

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Creeds: Second Century

We are continuing our week of examining early Church creeds with two creedal statements from the 2nd Century. The below creed is from Justin Martyr (Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldon, New York: The Christian Literature Company). We know that Justin generally referred to Christ as ‘another God’ (Trypho, 56).

We worship the God of the Christians, whom we consider One from the beginning, the creator and maker of all creation, visible and invisible.

And the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of God, who had also been proclaimed beforehand by the prophets as about to be present with race of men, the herald of salvation and teacher of good instructions.

Justin forcefully distinguishes the Servant of God from the God of the Christians.

During Hippolytus’ schism with the Church at Rome, during the trouble Modalism, he enlisted the aid of past Elders who seemingly issued a creedal statement against Noetus

We also know in truth one God, we know Christ, we know the Son, suffering as he suffered, dying as he died, and risen on the third day, and abiding at the right hand of the Father, and coming to judge the living and the dead. And in saying this we say what has been handed down to us.

According to Hippolytus, Noetus had stated,

“When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” (Book IX Refutation of All Heresies)

It should be remembered that while Justin had proclaimed Heraclitus as a ‘Christian’ although he lived some 600 years before Christ, Hippolytus accused the same deceased as being the progenitor of the heresy of Noetus. The heresy of Noetus is that the Father produced the Son and declared the Son the Father, creating a paradox and troublesome thought of patripassianism.

Unlike Justin in Europe, the Asians carried from God to Christ to the Son without removing Christ from God, but assigning the suffering to the Son.

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Hippolytus and the Baptismal Ceremony of the 3rd century Roman Church

Chronicon has posted a digitalization of Hippolytus‘ work, Apostolic Tradition. Here are a few of the highlights:

Hippolytus, the first ‘antipope’ (although he later was taken back into the Church before his death), begins his work with:

We have duly completed what needed to be said about “Gifts”, describing those gifts which God by His own counsel has bestowed on men, in offering to Him­self His image which had gone astray. But now, moved by His love to all His saints, we pass on to our most im­portant theme, “The Tradition”, our teacher. And we address the churches, so that they who have been well trained, may, by our instruction, hold fast that tradition which has continued up to now and, knowing it well, may be strengthened. This is needful, because of that lapse or error which recently occurred through ignor­ance, and because of ignorant men. And Holy Spirit will supply perfect grace to those who believe aright, that they may know how all things should be transmitted and kept by them who rule the church.

The writer is setting forth the proper way for bishops and elders, as well as other minor offices, to be ordained, but he touches on two issues of importance to me. First, we note that Hippolytus no where refers to Christ as God, as Ignatius had done two generations earlier; however, holding to what is later Marcellus’ thought, Hippolytus declares a distinction between the Incarnate Son and the Preincarnate Word.


Jesus Christ … Who is thy Word, inseparable from thee; through whom thou didst make all things and in whom thou art well pleased. Whom thou didst send from heaven into the womb of the Virgin, and who, dwelling within her, was made flesh, and was manifested as thy Son, being born of Holy Spirit and the Virgin.

Hippolytus, in this work, rarely calls Jesus Christ anything by ‘your Servant Jesus Christ.’

For the baptism, which for Hippolytus has developed into a far reaching ceremony, surely not intended by even the most pretentious of the Apostles,

Then, after these things, let him give him over to the  presbyter who baptizes, and let the candidates stand in the water, naked, a deacon going with them likewise. And when he who is being baptized goes down into the  water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say thus:

Dost thou believe in God, the Father Almighty?

And he who is being baptized shall say:

I believe.

Then holding his hand placed on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say:

Dost thou believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead?

We see the early creed, the early rule of faith stated by Hippolytus, but we also see how later doctrine was developed from this creed. For the first one hundred years, baptism was done in the name of Christ, but sometime before Justin, as the baptism formula changed, it became more developed, as we see here – before it would be contracted in later centuries to what we have in Matthew 28.19.

And when he says:

I believe,

he is baptized again. And again he shall say:

Dost thou believe in Holy Ghost, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh?

He who is being baptized shall say accordingly:

I believe,

and so he is baptized a third time.

Note that nothing in Scripture allows for this baptismal formula (note as well, that baptism was considered a sacrament for the remission of sins (Acts 2.38; Romans 6.1-7))

And afterward, when he has come up , he is anointed by the presbyter with the oil of thanksgiving, the presbyter saying:

The next step connects both baptismal traditions (Matthew 28.19 and the book of Acts)

I anoint thee with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ. And so each one, after drying himself, is immediately 20 clothed, and then is brought into the church.

Then the bishop, laying his hand upon them, shall pray, saying:

O LORD GOD, who hast made them worthy to obtain remission of sins through the laver of re­generation of Holy Spirit, send into them thy grace, that they may serve thee according to thy will; for thine is the glory, to the Father and the Son, with Holy Spirit in the holy church, both now and world without end. Amen.

As with the final baptism (of the three), the holy Spirit is here connected with the holy Church, perhaps in reference to

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV)

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