Early Church and Baptismal Regeneration

Nahum

Puritan Board Freshman
(I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask, but the Baptism section seems to be only for discussion and debate, and this is technically a question. Also, I have checked other posts regarding this issue, and while they've been helpful I still have some questions regarding this topic.)

I was reading Irenaeus' "Against Heresies", and in Chapter 21 he says this:

"1. It happens that their tradition respecting redemption is invisible and incomprehensible, as being the mother of things which are incomprehensible and invisible; and on this account, since it is fluctuating, it is impossible simply and all at once to make known its nature, for every one of them hands it down just as his own inclination prompts. Thus there are as many schemes of redemption as there are teachers of these mystical opinions. And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole faith."

This led me to trying to find any Church Fathers who didn't believe in Baptismal Regeneration, but it seems that all of them believed in it. How should we respond to this? This is a very important issue, and Irenaeus goes as far as claiming that Satan was the one who instigated people to deny Baptismal Regeneration and renounce the faith. Is there really no Church Father who didn't believe in Baptismal Regeneration? If so, how should we approach this issue? I understand the ECF weren't perfect and they aren't infallible, Scripture is, but why did everyone seem to believe in this doctrine for about 800 years?
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sometimes it can be difficult to know with precision. Were they speaking literally or sacramentally? Were they speaking by synecdoche?
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Kind of. Most would have believed in something like "baptismal regeneration." There is no point denying it. We need to remember several things, though.

1) What does regeneration actually mean? Even Calvin used the word differently than some later Reformed. Does regeneration mean baptism makes it "one and done"? Certainly not.

2) Those at the time who rejected baptismal regeneration did so to underline a docetic Christology. With the exception of Anabaptists and some American Gnostics, we don't hold to such a Christology today, so the baptismal regeneration line misses us.
 

Nahum

Puritan Board Freshman
Kind of. Most would have believed in something like "baptismal regeneration." There is no point denying it. We need to remember several things, though.

1) What does regeneration actually mean? Even Calvin used the word differently than some later Reformed. Does regeneration mean baptism makes it "one and done"? Certainly not.

2) Those at the time who rejected baptismal regeneration did so to underline a docetic Christology. With the exception of Anabaptists and some American Gnostics, we don't hold to such a Christology today, so the baptismal regeneration line misses us.
Do you think it could be possible that by Regeneration they meant something more like an visible being set apart? As in being seen as part of the Visible Church? This is what I've seen some people claim is what many of the fathers meant by Regeneration in this context.
 

Jerrod Hess

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you think it could be possible that by Regeneration they meant something more like an visible being set apart? As in being seen as part of the Visible Church? This is what I've seen some people claim is what many of the fathers meant by Regeneration in this context.
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Do you think it could be possible that by Regeneration they meant something more like an visible being set apart? As in being seen as part of the Visible Church? This is what I've seen some people claim is what many of the fathers meant by Regeneration in this context.

They meant it much stronger than that. They were Platonists and would have seen the sacrament as a "focal point" to the eternal form.
 
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