Saturday, July 07, 2007

Infant Baptism in Irenaeus

I posted this as a comment on "Confessing Evangelical's" blog, but thought I'd post it here as well.

Regarding infant baptism in the early church. Of some interest might be this passage in Irenaeus’s “Against Heresies,” which is thought to have been written sometime between 182 A.D. and 188 A.D.:

“For [Jesus] came to save all through means of himself — all, I say, who through him are born again to God — infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men” (bk II, ch. 22, para. 4).

I trust that no one will deny that the early fathers all affirmed baptismal regeneration (as do the Scriptures). Nonetheless, as far as Ireneaeus is concerned, consider:

“And again, giving to the disciples the power of regenreation into God, he said to them, ‘Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’” (bk III, ch 17, para. 1).

And from Fragaments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1):

“‘And dipped himself,’ says [the Scripture,] ’seven times in Jordan.’ If was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it 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 new-born 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’” (XXXIV).

In this regard, recall that the OT purity laws would require the baptism of infants when they were unclean (skin disease or inside a tent or house when grandma passed away during the night), and 1 Co 10 says that “all” were baptized into Moses in the Red Sea, and Paul twice emphasizes that this, with other events, serves “as an example” to the Christian church (vv. 6, 11).


Blogger Gary said...

Baptists and evangelicals are absolutely correct...there is no SPECIFIC mention in the New Testament that the Apostles baptized infants. There are references to entire households being converted and baptized, but we orthodox cannot prove, just from Scripture, that these households had infants, and neither can Baptists and evangelicals prove, just from Scripture, that they did not.

One interesting point that Baptists/evangelicals should note is that although there is no specific mention of infant baptism in the Bible...neither is there a prohibition of infant baptism in the Bible. Christians are commanded by Christ to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and to baptize all nations. No age restrictions are mentioned. If Christ had intended his followers to understand that infants could not be baptized in the New Covenant, in a household conversion process as was the practice of the Jews of Christ's day in converting Gentile households to the Covenant of Abraham, it is strange that no mention is made of this prohibition.

So, the only real way to find out if Infant Baptism was practiced by the Apostles is to look at the writings of the early Christians, some of whom were disciples of the Apostles, such as Polycarp, and see what they said on this issue.

And here is a key point: Infant Baptism makes absolutely no sense if you believe that sinners can and must make an informed, mature decision to believe in order to be saved. Infants cannot make informed, mature decisions, so if this is the correct Doctrine of Justification/Salvation, Infant Baptism is clearly false teaching. But the (arminian) Baptist/evangelical Doctrine of Justification/Salvation is unscriptural. Being forced to make a decision to obtain a gift, makes the gift no longer free. This is salvation by works!

Baptism is a command of God. It is not a work of man. God says in plain, simple language, in multiple locations in the Bible, that he saves/forgives sins in Baptism. We orthodox Christians accept God's literal Word. We take our infants to be baptized because God says to do it. Our infants are not saved because we perform the act of bringing them to the baptismal font...they are saved by the power of God's Word pronounced at the time of the Baptism. Christians have believed this for 2,000 years!

There is no evidence that any Christian in the early Church believed that sinners are saved by making a free will decision and then are baptized solely as a public profession of faith. None.

Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

June 11, 2013 8:58 PM  

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