Reflection: Ancient Christian Doctrines Vol 5 – One Baptism

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I am continuing to highlight this book, which is just an outstanding series from IVP-Academic. For those of us who like Church History, to like to dig through the words of those who have come before, this series is a must. It takes the Creed of 381 and provides a commentary on it through the writings of early Christian writers, although many of them didn’t know the Creed.

But perhaps the hearers of the church may say, generally it was better with the ancients than with us, when pardon for sinners was obtained by offering sacrifices in a diverse ritual. Among us, there is only one pardon of sins, which is given in the beginning through the grace of baptism. After this, no mercy or any indulgence is granted to the sinner. Certainly it is fitting that Christians, “for whom Christ died,” have a more difficult discipline. Origen, Homilies on Leviticus 2.4

We who are baptized, having wiped off the sins that obscure the light of the divine Spirit, have the ye of the spirit free, unimpeded and full of light, by which alone we contemplate the Divine, the Holy Spirit flowing down to us from above. Clement of Alexandria, Christian the Educator 1.6

You, indeed, correctly state that the church is a people born again of the water and the Holy Spirit, free from denial of the name of Christ. Pacian of Barcelona, Letter 3.2

This bath does not merely cleanse the vessel but also melts the whole thing down again. Even if a vessel has been wiped off and carefully cleaned, it still has the marks of what it is and still bears the traces of the stain. But when it is thrown into the smelting furnace and is renewed by the flame, it puts aside all dross, and, when it comes from the furnace, it gives forth the same sheen as newly molded vessels. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions, 9.21

There is, like in the previous sections, much more than could be represented here about the baptism in the early Church.

You may order the other books in the series from here, or here.

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3 Replies to “Reflection: Ancient Christian Doctrines Vol 5 – One Baptism”

  1. Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I ask you to consider these points:

    1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean? Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

    Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

    Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

    2. There is NO translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into ANY language, ANYWHERE on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

    No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

    Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

    Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

    3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, WHEN exactly does God give it?

    4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism didn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, these early Baptists re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

    Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

    Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

    God bless you and keep you!
    Luther, Baptists, and evangelicals

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