Friday, September 25, 2020

A Patristic Witness Against Baptismal Regeneration

          Following are a few excerpts from an Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.) which seem to convey early opposition to baptismal regeneration or the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation. The first objection concerns people who heard the gospel and never had a chance to get baptized upon becoming a Christian:

          "And what wilt thou determine against the person of him who hears the word, and haply taken up in the name of Christ, has at once confessed, and has been punished before it has been granted him to be baptized with water? Wilt thou declare him to have perished because he has not been baptized with water? Or, indeed, wilt thou think that there may be something from without that helps him to salvation, although he is not baptized with water? They thinking him to have perished will be opposed by the sentence of the Lord, who says “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven;” because it is no matter whether he who confesses for the Lord is a hearer of the word or a believer, so long as he confesses that same Christ whom he ought to confess...therefore nobody can confess Christ without His name, nor can the name of Christ avail any one for confession without Christ Himself."

          The author of this treatise also uses the example of the apostles and their betrayal of Christ as an argument against baptismal regeneration:

          "...but all the disciples, to whom, though already baptized, the Lord afterwards says, that “all ye shall be offended in me,” all of whom, as we observe, having amended their faith, were baptized after the Lord’s resurrection with the Holy Spirit…the baptism of water, which is of less account provided that afterwards a sincere faith in the truth is evident in the baptism of the Spirit, which undoubtedly is of greater account."

         He even goes to distinguish between the baptism of water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

          "Which Spirit also filled John the Baptist even from his mother’s womb; and it fell upon those who were with Cornelius the centurion before they were baptized with water. Thus, cleaving to the baptism of men, the Holy Spirit either goes before or follows it; or failing the baptism of water, it falls upon those who believe."

          Thus, it can be said that this individual believed one could be saved apart from water baptism. Consider this excerpt from his treatise:

          "And there will be no doubt that men may be baptized with the Holy Ghost without water, as thou observest that these were baptized before they were baptized with water; that the announcements of both John and of our Lord Himself were satisfied, forasmuch as they received the grace of the promise both without the imposition of the apostle’s hands and without the laver [baptismal font], which they attained afterwards. And their hearts being purified, God bestowed upon them at the same time, in virtue of their faith, remission of sins; so that the subsequent baptism conferred upon them this benefit alone, that they received also the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, that nothing might appear to be wanting to the integrity of their service and faith."


Jesse Albrecht said...

Jordan Cooper,

"On the surface, the quotation by itself alone without regards to the rest of the text seems to prove Jesse’s point, there’s no regenerative or salvific quality to water baptism at all."

I cited other excerpts from the same work in this article. I did not provide a stand alone quotation.

"Of course for those who honestly read the text, we know better than to attribute distinctions between the material or physical aspects of any sacrament and its Divine reality to entail radical separation, as if the two cannot be conjoined together or that as if when water baptism happens, there is practically nothing else but bare washing taking place."

Of course, the mere fact that something is possible or can happen in a certain way does not actually make it so.

"Our anoymous author here also makes this very clear for us."

The author still does not say that baptism is necessary for salvation. Your excerpt still does not necessarily undermine how I presented excerpts from his treatise.

"...there is no indication that water baptism does nothing or it is merely just an empty testimony or symbol detached from what God is doing."

That is because no one here is actually saying the things you are saying. You merely regurgitate a garbled caricature of the symbolic view of baptism.

"Instead the author is merely affirming that God isnt restricted by the material sacrament itself which, even Catholicism believes."

The author clearly seems to convey that the baptism of the Spirit can take place without the ritual of water baptism. The former is what actually saves a person.

"So ironically, by using this to deny Baptismal Regeneration, Jesse is showing he is unfamiliar with Early Christian primary sources which is the most charitable mode of assumption to go by here, or he is actually being dishonest."

You are reading past me without understanding what I have written or the meaning of the text I cited.

"After all, one doesnt invoke a very similar argument that St Augustine will later use against the Donatists where the immoral minds of the cleric invalidates the efficiacy of the sacrament if the point is that Baptism by the Spirit is completely separate from Baptism by water."

You are muddying the waters by changing the subject. This has nothing to do with anything Augustine said or did.

"This is practically what Baptismal Regeneration affirms, the Word joined to the visible Sacramental signs as Luther notes in his Cathechism."

Luther and his Catechism is not relevant to anything that I said in this article.

"Water Baptism here is considered instrumental in attaining the Baptism of Salvation and Glory. Not exactly a good way to phrase things if one’s point is that Baptism by water avails to nothing at all and is completely detached from the operation of the Holy Spirit."

You make a lot of assertions without actually showing that he held baptism was essential for salvation.

Jesse Albrecht said...

"After all why does water baptism function as part of Divine Grace being administered for the baptism of glory if Baptismal Regeneration is false?"

He could have held to a view in which baptism is seen as the entrance of being included into the people of the New Covenant just like Jews viewed circumcision (which never saved anyone). Baptism in some way would be a catalyst for the administration of divine grace but not as a means of salvation.

"So in conclusion, we see that either Jesse is ignorant of the very text he is quoting given the incongruity between the author himself and Jesse’s presentation of his words, or he is being dishonest and misrepresenting him."

You are not more informed about things than I am. You are not more careful or honest than I am. You are not better than me as a person. You really need to get off your soap box.

"I let the reader decide and as a bonus offer, I ask that if Stein or this anoymous author do indeed contradict what I have written then by all means, explain with proof from their own writings without being triggered."

I cannot help but wonder whether you are projecting your own emotional state on to me. You are reading way too much into the tone of my comments, although I do find you annoying.

"Quickly, Jesse has replied only to beat around the bush."

Meh. I unwittingly stumbled across your website which is a mound of garbage and then had to immerse myself in over one hundred gallons of Clorox bleach just to rid myself of its stench.

"Instead what the text means is based on what one wants to see or in this context “my understanding”

This is ironic since that is how you treat my own words. Hypocrite.

"Now of course people can have their own understanding of what a written text says, but that doesnt change the fact that there are always good ways to interpret it and bad ways to interpret it."

You may pretend like you are some kind of a scholar but prove yourself to be shady.

"In Jesse’s case, we see a textbook example of a bad approach to interpreting any text where basic context or the concept of “Letting the author explain himself” is not utilized at all."

You are probably the type who would eat the spines out of your own textbooks.

"Rather than demonstrate why what I posted is wrong and inaccurate, there is a progressive and liberal level appeal to subjectivism here where there are no longer standards and clear themes or meaning that is embedded and intended by the author."

That sounds very much like what you have done in regards to what I have said. You put words in my mouth and go all out on the offensive with irrelevant details. Too funny! It is no wonder that other people have banned you from their sites.

Jesse Albrecht said...

"After all if Jesse do believe this treatsie on Re-Baptism really espouses his Zwlinglian view then he can show it from text, context or basic scholarship done on the subject."

What the heck is a treatsie? An ice cream sundae? I assume you mean treatise, but that does not reflect positively on your attention to detail.

A person does not have to agree with everything that a source says in order to find parts of it useful or profitable. I never said the Anonymous Treatise on Re-Baptism corresponded exactly to Zwingli, nor was he the only Reformer who disagreed with baptismal regeneration.

The article already has the reasons listed as to why the author "seems" (the word I used in my introduction) to contradict baptismal regeneration.

"And on Jesse’s final note one can see how rather than clarify his view on water Baptism, he simply asserts without any explanation that the view I ascribe to him does no justice to his understanding. One can only ask how?"

Baptism is not a mere formality. It serves as a reminder of our new identity in Jesus Christ. It is a powerful picture of the transformation of the heart by the Spirit of God that takes place in the Christian life.

"If Baptismal regeneration is false, then clearly nothing Divine is to be conjoined, attached with or even be at the spatial location of the washing by water. It’s just symbolic."

There is nothing "mere" or "empty" about a symbolic view of baptism. You seem to lump everyone who disagrees with you into this one stupid category in which they essentially view baptism as unnecessary or unimportant. It is myopic of you.

"For one Baptismal Regeneration doesnt deny one is Saved by Faith. Luther’s own Catechism and Luther scholars like Philip Cary has stressed this point."

Those who teach justification by faith alone and baptismal regeneration are doing so inconsistently. They are wrong. Baptism is a work.

Baptismal remission of sins and baptismal regeneration are both false doctrines based upon a misreading of the New Testament text of John 3:5.

Jesse Albrecht said...

"In fact given we are now using dichotomous reasoning here, I propose that without the Sacramental logic of Luther’s view of Baptism, you cant really be saved by faith but instead literally by your own works as one is relying on some emotive inner state and its presence in the soul, not trusting what is given in the Sacraments."

Who cares what you have to propose about the nature of sacraments? People most certainly can be saved without the sacramental logic of Luther's view of baptism. The New Testament tells people what to do to get right with God in the simplest of terms. That is our source of hope. You sound like a hardened legalist like the scribes and Pharisees of the Law were.

"Claiming my description of the nakedly symbolic view of water baptism is “reductionistic” is a mere assertion, especially when nothing clarifying your own position is given at all."

You employ seemingly derogatory language like it is an "empty testimonial" or a "bare washing." It is very much full of meaning because of what it revolves around (i.e. Christ's death, burial, and resurrection) and should be treated seriously. You have not been fair to me at all in this. Do not lecture me about "mere assertions" when you make several of those yourself.

"So you are adding another extra sentence that adds no value to what we discern from your own statement."

Yawn. I have got better things to do with my time than to engage some strange windbag like yourself. I am not interested at all in talking to someone who is condescending like you are.

"Lastly, just because St Augustine believed in Baptismal Regeneration (as all Patristic figures who mention Baptism) does it make my mention of him superflous. Anyone familiar with his standard reply to the Donatist can see similarities in reasoning with this earlier 3rd cent author on the issue of rebaptism. So again, a bad excuse."

This article is not about the beliefs of Augustine. Period. You are in no position to come to me with a complaint about my post and then dictate how I discuss my reasoning. Very, very haughty of you. Disgusting.

Whatever patristic figures believed on any subject is an open question. You are obviously a fanatic who just accepts the teachings and traditions of your church.