Friday, July 06, 2007

Baptismal Regeneration 13 -- Point of History

More typology to come. First an excursis into a small but significant point of history.

The evidence that infant baptism was practiced throughout the 2nd century, let alone widespread is slim to non-existent. Paedo-Baptists need to be honest about this.

When I was a Baptist I used this to argue that paedo-baptism is "wrong" or "not really baptism." But that does not hold. First, the evidence is silent. Silence does not prove anything one way or another. Second, when criticisms of paedo-baptism occur they are arguments to wait for baptism which is rooted in the strict baptismal discipline of the early church. The argument (if my memory serves my right) is not that the infant baptisms are not valid. In fact, it is there very validity that makes them problematic, i.e., baptismal discipline.

It is interesting that around the end of the second century Tertullian is writing against paedo-baptism. Remember what this means -- paedo baptism was being practiced in a widespread enough manner that he could write against it. Also, he probably wrote against paedo-baptism as a montanist which raises all sorts of problems in itself.

More to come ....


Jim said...

Excellent points to ponder, again, I am in communion with those who do, and those who don't. I am very interested in how the early chrisitans viewed baptism, however, especially with respect to Paul's reference of those being baptised on behalf of the dead. If the dead can be vicariously (symbolically)baptized, why can't children who are alive and in the care of their believing parents be baptized?

Anonymous said...

What about Irenaeus?

"He [Jesus] 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 . . . [so that] 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 [A.D. 189]).

"‘And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]" (Fragment 34 [A.D. 190]).

Peter said...

My point wasn't that infant baptism wasn't practiced, but that the evidence is not conclusive that it is widespread.

I, with you, take Ireneaus to be referring to infant baptism, but his words do prove the view was widespread.