Luther's Small Catechism: Baptism

Well, we have reached the part in Luther's Catechism on Baptism. Luther's view was a paedobaptist view, and I was taught it well growing up. However, this issue is what caused me to change my church affiliation. As I studied the Scriptures, I found no evidence of infant Baptism. I do see the ordinance of Baptism to be held in higher honor than it is by most Baptists, being that the Scripture seems to point to the ritual of Baptism to be sacred. It is an act that points to a reality in the unseen world. I can accept pouring instead of immersion in certain situations (ex. sick bead, handicapped, etc...). However, the original languages specifically teach that immersion was the way in which water Baptism was done. The Scripture readings I have seen to defend infant sprinkling doesn't specifically describe the event to clarify this doctrine. Therefore, I can only go with what is in the text. I also haven't found or read of any evidence of infant baptism in the church until after 400AD. How this method was developed I think was an attempt to merge the idea of circumcision in the Old Testament with the baptism of the Spirit, and the baptism of water in the New Testament. Below are some Scriptures:

"But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him," Matthew 20:22 NKJV

"Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4 NKJV

"buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Colossians 2:12 NKJV

"There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," 1 Peter 3:21 NKJV

The last text points to the act of water Baptism being more of a symbol in response to a "good conscience." Obedience to the "call" so to speak. An infant is not able to respond with a "good conscience" to Baptism as far as I know. Matthew 20:22 also points to a different context in which baptism is used. Jesus is referring to His work on the cross. A willful "immersion" so to speak in the horrid torture on the cross for the sins of the world. This is just a small portion of what I have studied on the subject. I am going to share with you Luther's Catechism and the 1689 Baptist Confession on this. Luther isn't totally wrong in his analysis of Baptism. In fact, a true believer will want to be baptized to confess his or her commitment to the Lord as soon as possible. I personally wish we had the water ready so we could baptize immediately after a public confession of sin and commitment to Christ. I do think Baptism is necessary for salvation in the sense that a true believer will follow Christ in obedience to the call, and there is something sacred about the water and the word together. However, if someone professes Christ, then dies before they are baptized, I will take the high road and assume they are preserved to the Lord for salvation due to their public confession and conversion. It is God who awakens the dead, not the ritual of Baptism.

Luther's Small Catechism

IV. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism


As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.
First.
What is Baptism?--Answer.
Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's Word.
Which is that word of God?--Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye into all the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Secondly.
What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer.
It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Which are such words and promises of God? Answer.
Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Thirdly.
How can water do such great things?--Answer.
It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

Fourthly.
What does such baptizing with water signify?--Answer.
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?--Answer.
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

 The 1689 Baptist Confession

 Chapter 29 BAPTISM

29.1 Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be to the person baptized a sign of fellowship with Christ in his death and resurrection, of being grafted into him,1 of remission of sins,2 and of giving up oneself to God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.3
(1) Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12; Gal 3:27
(2) Mar 1:4; Act 22:16
(3) Rom 6:4
29.2 Those who actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects for this ordinance.1
(1) Mat 3:1-12; Mar 1:4-6; Luk 3:3-6; Mat 28:19-20; Mar 16:15-16; Joh 4:1-2; 1Co 1:13-17; Act 2:37-41; 8:12-13,36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 11:16; 15:9; 16:14-15,31-34; 18:8; 19:3-5; 22:16; Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27; Col 2:12; 1Pe 3:21; Jer 31:31-34; Phi 3:3; Joh 1:12-13; Mat 21:43
29.3 The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, in which the person is to be baptised1 in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.2
(1) Mat 3:11; Act 8:36,38; 22:16
(2) Mat 28:18-20
29.4 Immersion, or dipping the person in water, is essential for the proper administration of this ordinance.1
(1) 2Ki 5:14; Psa 69:2; Isa 21:4; Mar 1:5,8-9; Joh 3:23; Act 8:38; Rom 6:4; Col 2:12; Mar 7:3-4; 10:38-39; Luk 12:50; 1Co 10:1-2; Mat 3:11; Act 1:5,8; 2:1-4,17

Comments