Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"We Believe in One Baptism for the Forgiveness of Sins"

Question: Tell me, pray, and rid me of all doubts, why little children are baptized.?
Answer: That their sins may be forgiven them in baptism."
St. Jerome, Against the Pelagians, 3:18(A.D. 415)

Point A) The early Church believed in the necessity of baptism for salvation based on Jesus words and the teachings of the apostles. Numerous writings from the early Church prove that infant baptism was the normative pathway for salvation.

Point B) The fathers of the reformation both believed and insisted on infant baptism as necessary for salvation. As a matter of fact, Luther and Calvin dealt severely with anabaptists (did not believe in infant baptism) calling them heretics, blasphemers and even worse.

Point C) Some modern day Christians believe that if you ask Jesus into your heart to be your Personal Lord and Savior, you are saved. Baptism is then later "required but not necessary" or for some, never required at all.

So how did we get from point A to point C in just 500 years? What is the truth? Is the Creed written by the early Church stating we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins, wrong? Is this concept of baptism for the forgiveness of sins something we can dismiss easily because it doesn't fit our modern day view of baptism? Even if our view is diametrically opposed to both early christian writings or the theology of the reformers?

Here's what the early church and the reformers said about baptism:

St Augustine 400 AD:

And if any one seek for divine authority in this matter, though what is held by the whole Church, and that not as instituted by Councils, but as a matter of invariable custom, is rightly held to have been handed down by apostolical authority, still we can form a true conjecture of the value of the sacrament of baptism in the case of infants, from the parallel of circumcision, which was received by God's earlier people, and before receiving which Abraham was justified, as Cornelius also was enriched with the gift of the Holy Spirit before he was baptized."
Augustine,On Baptism against the Donatist,4:24:31(A.D. 400),in NPNF1,IV:461

John Calvin:
"But as baptism is a solemn recognition by which God introduces his children into the possession of life [e.g., regeneration], a true and effectual sealing of the promise, a pledge of sacred union with Christ, it is justly said to be the entrance and reception into the Church. And as the
instruments of the Holy Spirit are not dead, God truly performs and effects by baptism what he figures.”
“There is a union complementary with the thing figured, lest the sign be empty, because that which the Lord represents in sign he effects at the same time, and executes in us by the power of the Spirit . . . What indeed do we abrogate or take away from God when we teach that he acts through his instruments, indeed, he alone . . . God works . . . through the sacraments as instruments… The Spirit is the author, the sacrament is truly the instrument used.

"So then we must ever come to this point, that the Sacraments are effectual and that they are not trifling signs that vanish away in the air, but that the truth is always matched with them, because God who is faithful shows that he has not ordained anything in vain. And that is the reason why in Baptism we truly receive the forgiveness of sins, we are washed and cleansed with the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are renewed by the operation of his Holy Spirit.

And how so? Does a little water have such power when it is cast upon the head of a child? No. But because it is the will of our Lord Jesus Christ that the water should be a visible sign of his blood and of the Holy Spirit. Therefore baptism has that power and whatsoever is there set forth to the eye is forthwith accomplished in very deed."

Martin Luther:
"That the Baptism of infants is pleasing to Christ is sufficiently proved from His own work, namely, that God sanctifies many of them who have been thus baptized, and has given them the Holy Ghost."

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church:

"The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament. The Spirit heals and transforms those who receive him by conforming them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior."

For more on why Catholic baptize babies go here.


Blogger kkollwitz said...

Q:"So how did we get from point A to point C in just 500 years?"

A: Me and my Bible.

June 14, 2009 4:55 PM  
Blogger George Weis said...


This one is REALLY hard for me. I haven't pondered this so much... for adults... yes... but doesn't the Church also teach 3 kinds of the one Baptism? The usually administered water Baptism, Baptism by intention and Baptism by Fire (Martyrdom)?


June 15, 2009 7:22 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

The Church teaches that baptism is the normative (meaning: in most cases usual) way of the receiving Christ's salvific work. Yes Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but the Church insists on baptism in water for receiving this gift from God accompanied by faith, for without faith it is impossible to please him. Can a baby have faith? Hard to say but the Church in its wisdom desires little children to receive the grace of God in baptism and an adult "stands in"
for them. See my post here. One of the first Tiber Posts!! and hopefully that sheds a bit more light on the infant baptism issue.

Now regarding the baptism of desire and blood. God instituted the sacraments but He is above them and can work outside them, so the thief on the cross etc, receives God's grace without water baptism. A person who desires salvation in Christ but never gets to the baptismal font and is martyred on the way stuff like that. God allows for these exceptions(He is merciful of course) but the usual way is to be baptized in water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins and to be introduced into the body of Christ.
Check out this article here from Catholic answers. it has ample references from the Church fathers which illustrate this is what the early Church practiced.

June 15, 2009 10:18 PM  
Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Oh for more St. Jeromes in this world! I guess they're in the blogosphere, but how I pray, they were in the pulpits of every single Catholic Church!

June 19, 2009 7:25 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

Can you help me find this quote from Calvin? In what work is it found?

September 14, 2009 11:36 AM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

John Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, p. 1244.

September 14, 2009 7:54 PM  
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 11:01 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

"Eis": Why has EVERY Bible translator gotten this little Greek word wrong?

One of the principle reasons that Baptists and evangelicals refuse to believe that Baptism is God's act of saving sinners and forgiving sins is based on the translation in the Bible of one, little, Greek word: "eis"

Baptists and evangelicals believe that this Greek word has two principle English translations, and that the context of the Bible passage determines which meaning should be translated into English as the true Word of God. Here are these two English translation options:

1. for, unto
2. because of

Now, as we will see shortly, these two English translations can give the translated sentence in question a completely different meaning...depending on which translation you choose.

Let's look at Acts 2:38 translating "eis" using each English option:

Repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sins.
Repent and be baptized...because of the forgiveness of sins.

HUGE difference in meaning, isn't there?

So how many English translations of the Holy Bible translate Acts 2:38 using "because of"?

Answer: not a single one!

Find out why not:

December 07, 2013 11:03 PM  

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