Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Believers' Baptism

In his book, David Horton describes believers' baptism as "The practice in which the rite is reserved for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Implied is that the recipient either an adult or has reached the 'age of accountability.' " Sometimes referred to as "age of reason"; the point at which a child is believed (by some Christians) to be responsible for knowing right from wrong, or capable of understanding and appropriating God's gift of salvation. Some hold this age to be seven, some thirteen (after Jewish custom), while others believe it differs for each child.
Lutherans hold the view that baptism communicates grace. It produces forgiveness of sin; necessary for salvation. Infant baptism is necessary; God works faith in them. For Calvanists baptism is only for believers; it's a sign of faith, but children are baptized to show they are in covenant. Anabaptist believe it is only for believers; infant baptism is rejected.
According to the Paul Enns, reformed believers taught that the sacraments are to be administered only to believers as signs of their faith. God does, however, communicate His grace through sacraments.

The following is an excerpt from The Moody Handbook of Theology.

Reformation Ecclesiology

LUTHERAN VIEW

Luther taught that the sacraments of baptism and Lord's Supper are vehicles that communicate the grace of God. They are not dependent on the person's faith or worth, but are dependent on God's promise. Hence, Luther later taught that unbelievers profit from the sacraments.
Luther's concept of baptism did not differ markedly from the Roman Catholic view; he retained much of the Roman ceremony connected with the rite. Luther taught that baptism is necessary to salvation and, in fact, produces regeneration in the person. Luther emphasized that baptism is an agreement between God and man in which God promises to forgive the sins of the person and continue to provide His grace while the person promises God a life of penitent gratitude. Concerning baptism Luther stated: "it is most solemnly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved. . . . the Sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian Church."
Luther also upheld infant baptism, teaching that although infants are unable to exercise faith, God, through His prevenient grace, works faith in the unconscious child. He based the baptism of infants on the command to baptize all nations (Matt. 28:19).

REFORMED VIEW

Reformed believers taught that the sacraments are to be administered only to believers as signs of their faith. God does, however, communicate His grace through the sacraments.
Reformed adherents held that, although baptism is to be administered only to believers, infants should be baptized to indicate their inclusion in the covenant. It is a symbol of assurance to the parents that the child is included in the covenant, and because children thus come under the covenant, they have a right to baptism.

ANABAPTISTS

Anabaptists stressed that only believers are to be baptized; as a result they rejected infant baptism as invalid, necessitating the rebaptism of those who had become believers but who had received only infant baptism. In this the Anabaptists even departed from Zwingli, who advocated infant baptism. Baptism is to be administered only to those who consciously exhibit faith in Christ. The name "Anabaptist" (the prefix ana is Latin meaning "again") was derived from the adherents' demand for rebaptism of those who had been baptized as infants. Interestingly, the mode of baptism was not who had been baptized as infants. Interestingly, the mode of baptism was not an issue with Anabaptists; some held to immersion while many held to affusion.


References: The Portable Seminary: A Master's Level Overview In One Volume by David Horton, Glossary.
The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns, p. 453-456.

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