BAPTISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH by Hendrik Stander and Johannes Louw

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WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Matthew wrote:-
Its not until post-anabaptism that we begin to have a "controversy" surrounding mode.
A little earlier than that, I think.

'Baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. If you have no running water, baptize in other water; if you cannot baptize in cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water on the head thrice.......' (Didache VII. Early 2nd Century.

Martin

Red Herring?
 

Mayflower

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Matthew wrote:-
Its not until post-anabaptism that we begin to have a "controversy" surrounding mode.
A little earlier than that, I think.

'Baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. If you have no running water, baptize in other water; if you cannot baptize in cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water on the head thrice.......' (Didache VII. Early 2nd Century.

Martin

So in the didache there is no immersion ?
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Mayflower

So in the didache there is no immersion ?

It is inconclusive. Rather, I should say that it is inconclusive only to those who do not equate immersion with baptism. In my humble opinion, the Didache is saying the where of baptism, not the how.

In Christ,

KC
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Mayflower
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Matthew wrote:-
Its not until post-anabaptism that we begin to have a "controversy" surrounding mode.
A little earlier than that, I think.

'Baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. If you have no running water, baptize in other water; if you cannot baptize in cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water on the head thrice.......' (Didache VII. Early 2nd Century.

Martin

So in the didache there is no immersion ?

:um: They are baptizing in water, not with water.

Well, if nothing else that proves that there was controversy before the Reformation. :lol:

Martin
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate

:um: They are baptizing in water, not with water.

Well, if nothing else that proves that there was controversy before the Reformation. :lol:

Martin

No, it just proves the need for discipling and training.

In Christ,

KC
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
"Running water", the Didache's first recommendation, should be taken for exactly what it says--swift, flowing water. This is not a description of a pool; it is emphatically not the description of a riverside bay (such as at Jordan? sorry, that's not "running" water). Running water deep enough to dunk in is unsafe for anyone standing, unless we suppose the parties are held in place with ropes.

How does this principal recommendation fit immersion as a mode? Of course, I'm not asserting that one could not possibly submerse in such, but I'm pointing out that the method of using that water is by no means "obvious" from either the type of water described, nor the use of the term "in". If the Didache excerpt shows anything, it shows that very early in the church "precision of mode" of baptism was viewed as distinctly secondary to the fact of it. The baptist insistence on immersion (as opposed to the less-insistent-but-not-completely-non-committal position of the typical presbyterian) is peculiarly wedded to his understanding of the meaning of baptism, and the key interpretive texts: Col. 2:12 and Rom. 6:4.

kc is correct. Neither the lonely use of the word "baptizo" or "in" by definition, nor appeals to history since the apostles will prove decisive in this question. Neither side will give up their plausible interpretations, or the items they give the greatest weight to.

If ever there was an case to be determined
on "the preponderance of the evidence,"
on persuasion,
and by an appeal to foundational axioms especially as to baptism's import--it is the case of the mode of baptism.

[Edited on 12-6-2005 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
"Running water", the Didache's first recommendation, should be taken for exactly what it says--swift, flowing water.
Well, the word 'swift' is Bruce's addition to the text. 'Running water' means not stagnant water. Secondly, where exactly is this torrent of water that could sweep a man to his death to be found in the Mediterranean? The problem for the writers of the Didache was that there wasn't enough water of any sort to be found, hence the various options!

I do assure you that England gets a whole lot more rain than the Med! But nonetheless, early English baptists frequently baptized in rivers (running water) and if anyone got drowned, I haven't read of it. The main reason that we don't baptize much in rivers today is that it's too jolly cold!

Grace & Peace,

Martin
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
"Running water means not stagnant water."

Is water "slowly flowing" what the ancient author meant by "running"? That, at least, is a debatable point, yes?

To "run" with water implies at the very least a "steady" stream, and even a two or three foot stream (enough to submerse in) is by definition a rather swift moving current. And at greater depth the force of the water is enhanced by volume. If we are talking about a sheltered pool at creekside, an eddy, then I say by definition we are not speaking of running water any more. Although I am not a hydrologist, I know that water force is not something to play around with. If one is submersing in a river or creek side, surely one is seeking a place with as still a patch as one can find. Am I correct? Who wishes to be struggling with the current? Adn isn't a current necessary for water to be "running."

Martin, brother,
I'm not really excited about sparring over the words. As I stated earlier, how one interprets the Didache, or any other passage from ancient literature that is not concerned to spell something out (like baptismal mode) but rather assumes a local familiarity not requiring detailed explanation, such interpretation will be influenced by what he thinks about the subject from other angles. Neither you nor I find the author's words objectionable to our respective interpretations.

I agree that the availability of water quantity is relevant to the question, and there must have been a disparity from place to place, from one church to another. I personally think that the flexibility of the church's practice indicated in the Didache demonstrates that the precise mode of application was a secondary issue to the author, not primary.

You are welcome to correct my misunderstanding, but I do believe that most baptists do not consider the mode to be a matter of indifference, or even strictly a "secondary" matter, but basic to the baptist interpretation of baptism and essential to its practice.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
You are welcome to correct my misunderstanding, but I do believe that most baptists do not consider the mode to be a matter of indifference, or even strictly a "secondary" matter, but basic to the Baptist interpretation of baptism and essential to its practice.

I wouldn't dare speak for 'most Baptists', but for myself, the mode is not of the first importance. I do not doubt for one moment that the biblical mode was immersion, but it seems to me that it is the state of the heart that is important (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 37 ). Personally, I believe that as soon as one says that baptism must be done in a certain way to be 'genuine', one is in danger of turning the ordinance into a law work.

For someone, like myself, who believes that immersion is the mode described in the Bible, to be baptized any other way would be disobedience; but if someone else can look at the various texts and come to another conclusion then, while my church would not baptize him, we would accept his baptism elsewhere as genuine if he believed it was. This view is very common among Reformed Baptists in Britain, but possibly not in America.

My only purpose in bringing up the quotation from the Didache was to refute Matthew's assertion that mode was not an issue until after the Reformation.

Martin
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
You are welcome to correct my misunderstanding, but I do believe that most baptists do not consider the mode to be a matter of indifference, or even strictly a "secondary" matter, but basic to the Baptist interpretation of baptism and essential to its practice.

I wouldn't dare speak for 'most Baptists', but for myself, the mode is not of the first importance. I do not doubt for one moment that the biblical mode was immersion, but it seems to me that it is the state of the heart that is important (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 37 ). Personally, I believe that as soon as one says that baptism must be done in a certain way to be 'genuine', one is in danger of turning the ordinance into a law work.

Just so you know, the 1689 disagrees with you:

Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.

So does Hiscox's Manual for Baptist Churches.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Just for the record, there were occurences of "baptism" resulting in death.

When Baptists were persecuted by Rome and other Protestants it was common to burn the men at the stake and then tie their wives to a chair and throw them in the river - called "death by baptism." Some of the men were killed this way as well, being tied up and thrown in the water to drown simply because they had rejected infant baptism and sought to be Scripturally baptized!


:down:

[Edited on 12-7-05 by pastorway]
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Just so you know, the 1689 disagrees with you:

Quote:
Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.


So does Hiscox's Manual for Baptist Churches.

Thank you, Fred. Yes, I was aware. I do believe that immersion is the correct and Biblical mode; I'm just not prepared to base church fellowship upon it.

Phillip wrote:-
Just for the record, there were occurences of "baptism" resulting in death.

When Baptists were persecuted by Rome and other Protestants it was common to burn the men at the stake and then tie their wives to a chair and throw them in the river - called "death by baptism." Some of the men were killed this way as well, being tied up and thrown in the water to drown simply because they had rejected infant baptism and sought to be Scripturally baptized!

You are quite right, Phillip! I stand corrected.



Martin
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
And as I posted above there was no doubt in Calvin's or Luther's mind that the mode of baptism practiced by the early church was immersion.

For His Supremacy,
Steve Clevenger
 
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