Calvin on Anabaptists

Just ran across a nice quote from Calvin showing what he had to deal with in his day:

Certain Anabaptists of our day conjure up some sort of frenzied excess instead of spiritual regeneration. The children of God, they assert, restored to the state of innocence, now need not take care to bridle the lust of the flesh, but should rather follow the Spirit as their guide, under whose impulsion they can never go astray. It would be incredible that a man’s mind should fall into such madness, if they did not openly and haughtily blab this dogma of theirs. The thing is indeed monstrous! But it is fitting that those who have persuaded their minds to turn God’s truth into falsehood should suffer such punishments for their sacrilegious boldness. Shall all choice between dishonest and honest, righteous and unrighteous, good and evil, virtue and vice, be thus taken away? “Such difference arises,” they say, “from the curse of old Adam, from which we have been freed through Christ.” Therefore, there will now be no difference between fornication and chastity, integrity and cunning, truth and falsehood, fair dealing and extortion. “Take away,” say the Anabaptists, “vain fear — the Spirit will command no evil of you if you but yield yourself, confidently and boldly, to his prompting.” Who would not be astonished at these monstrosities? Yet it is a popular philosophy among those who are blinded by the madness of lusts and have put off common sense.

Tossed about by every wind of doctrine.


54 Responses

  1. Read: CERTAIN Anabaptists. Not all and certainly not me. I do not take my position on Confessions and ‘trusting the Holy Spirit’ from the Anabaptists in any way. I take it from the Scriptures. This is one of the problems regarding the study of the History of Anabaptism. For many years, the accounts about and definitions of the anabaptists have come primarily from the biased and unreliable writings of those who so strongly opposed them. These accounts were repeated over and over, until they became the authority on them. Recent scholarship is rapidly overturning many of these ‘myths’ and shedding new and positive light on the anapbaptist movement.

    BUT…let’s agree that ‘certain Anabaptists’ were totally freaking out and moving into gross error and sin. SHOULD THEY HAVE BEEN EXECUTED FOR IT??

    And upon what basis was their trial, sentence, and execution. One segment of the Body of Christ’s interpretation and confession of truth.

    “On a spring day in May, 1527, Michael Sattler was sentenced to death at the imperial city of Rottenburg on the Neckar River. The sentence read, ‘Michael Sattler shall be committed to the executioner. The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-hertic.” (William R. Estep, “The Anabaptist Story” (William B. Eerdman’s Publishing: Grand Rapids, MI) 1996, p.57.

    Felix Manz, another sentenced to death after having fought with the Zwingli-led Zurich Council, was sentenced to death on January 5, 1527, “Because contrary to Christian order and custom he had become involved in Anabaptism,…because he had confessed having said that he wanted to gather those who wanted to accept Christ and follow Him, and unite himself with them through baptism…so that he and his followers separated themselves from the Christian Church and were about to raise up and prepare a sect of their own…because he had condemned capital punishment…since such doctrine is harmful to the unified usage of Christendom, and leads to offense, insurrection, and sedition against the government…Manz shall be delivered to the executioner, who shall tie his hands, put him into a boat, take him to the lower hut, there strip his bound hands down over his knees, place a stick between his knees and arms, and thus push him into the water and let him perish in the water; thereby he shall have atoned to the law and justice…His property shall also be confiscated by my lords.” (Estep, pp. 46-47.)

    Isn’t this a nice defense of “Christian order and custom” ? Manz was a threat to the “unified usage of Christendom”. Sigh…

    What was Manz and Sattler, and hundreds of others’ crime? They used the wrong confession!

  2. Many Reformed as well as Anabaptists were martyred at that time. It was the way things were. Perhaps the world has grown up a little at that time. Everyone had a confusion of church and state thanks to the centuries upon centuries following Constantine. Sigh…

    But Rube, let us hasten to add that the Anabaptists Calvin was speaking of were not what we might call Baptists or Reformed Baptists today, but probably more like the Assembly of God or the 4 Square Churches. Calvin’s criticism connects better with them than say John Piper. The Reformed Baptist position didn’t really exist in Calvin’s day.

  3. Echo…

    No, for Calvin the issue of rejecting infant baptism was primary in that it was a tacit rejection of the doctrine of Election. I and my church, which rejects infant baptism, would indeed be the object of his judgment. Do not in anyway attempt to somehow release Calvin from his indictment, not only of the Spiritualists, the Anabaptists and the, not much talked about, Psychopannychists (those who taught that Mary, heaven forbid, was in a state of soul-sleep awaiting to be woken up at the resurrection!).

    I am wondering why, if Presbyterians are true Calvinists, they would accept non-Presbyterians as actual believers and brothers in Christ. Or, maybe you do not accept us as true believers, possessing salvation. Calvin most assuredly would not have given or allowed me assurance of my salvation.

    For Calvin, anyone who accepted the Anabaptist heresy of ‘adult baptism’, or we could say, rejected infant baptism, was outside of the ‘true church. For Calvin, only the Reformed Church was the true church!

    In describing the return and conversion of Herman of Gerbehaye, who had gone the way of the Anabaptists for a season he writes, “Herman has, if I am not mistaken, in good faith returned to the fellowship of the Church. He has confessed that outside the Church there is no salvation, and that the true Church is with us. Therefore, it was defection when he belonged to a sect separated from it.” (Calvin to Farel, 27 February, 1539).

    Do Presbyterians today, or Calvinists, truly believe that the ‘true church’ is the Reformed Church, ‘outside’ of which there is no salvation?

  4. “true church” yes; as distinguished by the three marks: preaching of the pure gospel (esp. sola fide), proper administration of the sacraments (including infant baptism), and proper administration of church discipline. Pretty much any other church we see as compromising on one or more of those marks. Even the Lutherans don’t get the sacraments right, still clinging to baptismal regeneration and consubstantiation.

    “outside of this there is no salvation”, no. The opposite of “true church” is not “false church”, but just more specifically a part of the church which is flawed in at least one of the three marks we confess are most critical.

    But see WCF 25.4,5 for a fuller statement. That chunk doesn’t use the phrase “true church”, but instead uses a continuum of “more or less pure”, also noting that “The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error”. I think that is more helpful, because the opposite of “true” is most naturally “false”, but the opposite of “pure” is merely “impure” — more specifically, the opposite of “more pure” is “less pure”, which I think is less offensive and more accurately gets across our actual view of other churches.

  5. I understand the WCOF and its talk of the pure and less pure church. It/they are obviously softening Calvin’s doctrine. I am speaking specifically of John Calvin, as the father of the “Calvinism” and the Reformed Faith to which the PCA is true.

    Calvin said that outside the ‘true church”, or “with us” (‘us’ being with Calvin’), there is no salvation. My question is, was Calvin wrong on this point? Is there salvation outside of what Calvin would have considered ‘us’?

    Don’t get me wrong…of all the Reformers, I like Calvin the most. He was actually, for many years very close to many of the Anabaptist doctrines!

  6. Thanks, fellas, but I’ll stick with Romans 10:9-10.

    Good night now.

  7. Davie, I know of no Reformed person who would say that salvation depends on, say, confession of Westminster or 3-forms, or membership in a church with a Reformed confession. If Calvin meant what you think he meant, then I would say he is wrong.

    Calvin wasn’t right about everything (his commentary on Matt 1:25 shows that he held to the perpetual virginity of Mary); he was just right on almost everything!

  8. BTW, if you read the rest of the context, you will see that baptism wasn’t the only thing going on with Hermann:

    …for this misstep he asked forgiveness. He accepted instruction on the freedom of the will, the deity and humanity of Christ, rebirth, infant baptism, and other things. Only on the question of predestination he hesitated somewhat; yet he almost subscribed to this too, except that he could not understand the difference between the foreknowledge of God and foreordination. But he asked that this might not prevent his being received into the fellowship of the church with his children. I received him with fitting readiness.

    As a denier of either the humanity or deity of Christ, I would say that Hermann’s salvation was definitely in jeapordy; also who knows what his problem with “rebirth” was — perhaps he was mistaken about the doctrine of salvation itself? Without more concrete information, we can only speculate.

  9. For many years, the accounts about and definitions of the anabaptists have come primarily from the biased and unreliable writings of those who so strongly opposed them. These accounts were repeated over and over, until they became the authority on them. Recent scholarship is rapidly overturning many of these ‘myths’ and shedding new and positive light on the anapbaptist movement.

    The same is true of Calvin

  10. Calvin said that outside the ‘true church”, or “with us” (’us’ being with Calvin’), there is no salvation.

    Source please.

    • Bruce S: So kindly succinct in your request for a source! I trust the brevity of the request is only a chronological point and not judicial :)

      George H. Williams, “The Radical Reformation” (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), p. 580.

      Or, see Reuben above as he quoted the remainder/context of that quote.

      On another note, why don’t Presbyterians/Calvinists today use the “Confession(s)” that Calvin used to determine citizenship, residence, and full participation in the life and city of Geneva? Does it even exist in any type of codified form?

      • I don’t even know what confessional standard Calvin used (obviously, Westminster was 100 years away still). And apart from that, you should know that the Genevan town council were not Calvin’s yes-men — they fought him all the time, so much so that he left the city for a number of years. But as can be seen here, from the very formation of Presbyterianism on American soil in 1729 (prior to the eventual American Revision of Westminster in 1788/89), we have understood that the roots of the Reformation were still tainted with Christendom:

        declaring the said [Westminster] Confession and Catechisms to be the confession of their faith, excepting only some clauses in the twentieth and twenty-third chapters, concerning which clauses the Synod do unanimously declare, that they do not receive those articles in any such sense as to suppose the civil magistrate hath a controlling power over Synods with respect to the exercise of their ministerial authority; or power to persecute any for their religion, or in any sense contrary to the Protestant succession to the throne of Great Britain.

      • why don’t Presbyterians/Calvinists today use the “Confession(s)” that Calvin used to determine citizenship, residence, and full participation in the life and city of Geneva?

        This isn’t an eschatology thread, but since you asked…
        Because the so-called enlightenment taught our fathers that politics and religion are not to be mixed. But the kingdom of Christ is not merely a spiritual kingdom, or He would never have said “The Kingdom is here,” with both feet firmly planted on earth. Or, He would have merely said, “All authority in heaven has been given to Me.” Christ claimed all authority in *earth*. He then told His disciples to go to the nations and tell them that this is the case and command them to follow *their King*. Calvin took Him at His Word and sought to place civil authority under the universal authority of Christ. Pastor Davie, I wonder why you as a “Kingdom Now” brother would relegate that Kingdom to one of *word only* by denying earthly kings the authority of commanding their nations to walk by the light of New Jerusalem (Rev 21). The enlightenment wasn’t progress. It was just a rehashing of the old order of things (vs 4).

      • In other words, Ron, as a theonomist, still believes the state should be prosecuting 1st table offenses. You can see the theonomy tag of this blog for plenty plenty discussion of that whole topic: 15 posts, and many hundreds of comments.

  11. Rube, do you think the state should even be prosecuting the 2nd table offenses?

    • To answer your real question, no I wouldn’t execute adulterers or gays. The civil magistrate is ordained to prosecute violations of Natural Law that fall under commandments 5,6,7,8,9, and is not required to follow the Mosaic penology with which God set up a uniquely holy nation. And that’s as far as I’m going in that discussion.

      • That’s as far as you are going because you haven’t an argument as to what exactly Natural Law says the civil magistrate *ought* to do with a 7th commandment violator (for example). Further, as I have pointed out before, your position doesn’t even rise to a mandate that the civil magistrate *ought not* execute for 7th commandment violations, only that “[you] wouldn’t execute adulterers or gays.” But what if a civil magistrate would? On what grounds would you object? That it doesn’t sit well with you personally? That is nothing more than the moral standard of the atheist. This is why we must turn to special revelation on this and all issues of civil justice. Natural revelation says nothing about what is required by the civil magistrate.

  12. Ahhh…RJ would be happy to hear these kinds of questions even being asked. RON SMITH, my point was not about relegating the kingdom of God to ‘word only’, it was based on my reading that Calvin mandated that all city officials and eventually citizens raise their hand and swear that they believed his ‘confession’. IF that was so, then why not use his confession of faith in that the PCA is ‘true to the reformed faith’, whose father is John Calvin.

    However, you can believe in Kingdom Now without having to have President Obama execute adulterers and heretics.

  13. RubeRad, I know the marks of the true church are outlined in the Belgic Confession. Can you outline a biblical defense of why those three things are the defining marks of the true church, and not others?

    • Funny, since I asked pretty much the same question myself, my answer would have to be “no”. Echo makes a pretty good point that word, sacrament, discipline, align pretty neatly with Christ’s offices of prophet, priest, and king.

      I’ll assume you agree that there is sufficient biblical evidence, that the given three marks are assuredly part of the church’s job description, so to the extent that the church fails to do her job in those three areas, she is deficient/impure/untrue.

      As I suggest in my other post, perhaps the third “ordinary means of grace”, prayer, could also be considered a mark of the true church. Given John 13:35 and 1 John 3:10, I would suggest brotherly love within the church might be another mark. But at some point you begin to cross a line from duties the institutional church is required to perform (and certainly word, sacrament and discipline fall in that category), to characteristics of members of Christ’s body (prayer, brotherly love, etc.)

      Maybe another one: ordaining and sending missionaries. But really (Rom 10:14–), that’s kind of the same thing as preaching the pure word of the gospel.

      Note also that the three marks are not just Belgic; as I cite above, there’s also WCF 25.4:

      particular Churches, which are members [of the visible church], are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

      • Hey, I just noticed, “public worship performed” doesn’t really sound at all like “discipline”. Maybe purity of worship is another possible mark.

  14. […] Duh, I just noticed that WCF 25.4 gives a different “three marks” by which “particular […]

  15. RubeRad,

    Thanks for the honest reply. I agree that deficiency in these marks makes a church exactly that — deficient, but I definitely would not make “deficient” equivalent to “untrue.” It seems a rather large step to jump from “deficient” to “untrue.”

    It’s like if I made cookies, but didn’t add enough sugar. They may be nasty-tasting cookies, but they’re still cookies. I would have to seriously mess up that batch in order for them to no longer be cookies.

    Was the Corinthian church “untrue” when it wasn’t exercising discipline? Or did Paul treat them as a deficient church that needed correction? If the Corinthian church were no longer a church, you would think he wouldn’t even bother with them, or he would say something to that effect. The same goes for the churches in Revelation 1-3.

    Good thoughts about sending missionaries. I am hesitant to lump that under pure teaching of the word, because the logic that entails means you could lump basically everything taught in the Bible under that, including the sacraments/ordinances.

    I assume you would agree that every church is deficient in their conformity to Scripture. I think if we’re going to call other churches “untrue,” we need to have a solid biblical foundation for doing that, lest we fall into the “I am of Apollos” divisions in 1 Cor. 1.

    I would propose that, following the teaching in Galatians 1, that there is just one mark: the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are lots of other things that the church should be doing, but the gospel is the center and the source of our unity. Without the gospel, there is no church. Paul will chastise a deficient church like the Corinthian church, but he will completely condemn those who pervert the gospel.

    • It seems a rather large step to jump from “deficient” to “untrue.”

      As I note above, we might be operating with an unfelicitous artifact of old language. It would seem that the opposite of Belgic “true” must be “false”, but the way Westminster describes it the opposite would be “impure”.

      I assume you would agree that every church is deficient in their conformity to Scripture.

      Yes, I confess with WCF 25.5 that “The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error”. Thus “marks of the true church” might should be understood in the sense of “marks of the ideal church”. Again, I think WCF 25.4,5 makes more sense than Belgic 29, which seems so cut & dried: “These two churches [true and false] are easy to recognize and thus to distinguish from each other.” That might have been the case in the 1500s when Guido looked around and the only options were Rome (“synagogue of Satan”), Radical Anabaptists (anarchists, polygamists, and heretics), and the Reformed (plus I guess all of the Eastern/Orthodox flavors). But things have gotten more complicated since the Radical Anabaptists mellowed out, so to speak.

      I would propose that, following the teaching in Galatians 1, that there is just one mark: the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ

      I disagree. The gospel is surely necessary, but it is not sufficient. A guy can stand on the street corner and proclaim the gospel, but no matter how pure and biblical his understanding of the gospel may be, that doesn’t make him “the church” or even “a church”. Contrariwise, if some particular church preached a gospel as pure as the driven snow, but didn’t administer any sacraments at all, and/or didn’t have any discipline at all, I would not call it a true church. Apart from the purity of the gospel, the same rule would distinguish churches from The parachurch organizations, like InterVarsity, Navigators, Westminster Seminary California, etc.

  16. Jumping in on Rube and elnwood’s comments..

    If we begin to talk about a church that is ‘deficient’, we would have to focus primarily on the Reformed churches. The word ‘deficient’, as elnwood suggests, implies the lack of something: “Not having enough of a specified quality or ingredient.”

    If the WCF was a confession defining the ‘whole counsel of God’ I just might get behind it. As it is, it is deficient. It is lacking the specified ingredients of believer’s baptism, Gifts Of The Spirit, Spirit Baptism, full church government of Headship Gifts of Christ, laying on of hands, and other ingredients. What would be great would be at least the elementary teachings about Christ described in Hebrews 6.1-2.

    If a church is deficient, then I suppose it is untrue. Not untrue in the sense of being wrong, but untrue as in unfaithful to the original mandate of the One designing the Church. WCF may be faith to Calvin, but is ‘untrue’ or unfaithful to the Scripture in that it is deficient, or leaves out prescribed ingredients. That is the primary reason for the older Pentecostal churches to call themselves ‘Full Gospel”.

    On another note, would not Acts 2.42ff, be a great Biblical summary (I know it wasn’t written by divines) of what a true church consists?

    1. Apostolic Teaching
    2. Breaking of Bread
    3. Fellowship
    4. The Prayers

    I understand that we have to ‘confess’ what all that means and implies, but it is a great place from which to start.

    Thank the Lord that being ‘deficient’ doesn’t mean lost!! :)

  17. RubeRad,

    With regard to the street preacher, I was operating under the premise that we already have a basic understanding of what a (ekklesia) “church” is — an assembly, or congregation, or a called-out group. Obviously, a street preacher is not a church because he is not an assembly!

    With regard to parachurch organizations (collegiate fellowships, seminaries, etc.), they are clearly not churches because they do not commit to regularly assemble as a group. (Can you say summer?)

    By the way, I know parachurch organizations that do administer ordinances and have a defined membership (and presumably would exercise discipline) in addition to preaching the gospel. Would you call them a church?

    Re: the Belgic Confession, I think you misunderstand the confession when you say the marks are describing the ideal church. It says “By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it.” For the writers, the true church was not something ideal, but something they were. The point of that article is to say a) we are the true church, and b) the Roman Catholic church is not.

  18. Yes, I understand and agree that Belgic is B&W, and that Rome is a false church (synagogue of Satan). And also, as I said, I prefer the WCF pure/impure continuum to the Belgic’s B&W.

    As for parachurch org. with ordinances and membership, I would say they are playing at church when they shouldn’t. Are you talking about maybe a jail ministry or something?

  19. No, this was actually a collegiate fellowship. They performed baptisms and the Lord’s Supper on Easter. For what it’s worth, they were administered by an ordained minister.

  20. Davie Copp,

    “Read: CERTAIN Anabaptists. Not all and certainly not me. I do not take my position on Confessions and ‘trusting the Holy Spirit’ from the Anabaptists in any way. I take it from the Scriptures.”

    So, just the kookier manifestations of Anabaptism? Isn’t that like asking Ian Murray to distinguish between good revivalism and bad revivalism, or Jonathon Edwards to delineate good subjectivism and bad subjectivism? Have you ever heard of variations on a theme?

  21. Zrim,

    Yes, kookier manifestations of Anabaptism. Grouping all Anabaptists together is like saying Presbyterians are liberal because the largest body of Presbyterians in the United States (PCUSA) is liberal. (It’s even harder to classify Anabaptists, though, because the churches are independent).

    Scholars often divide the Radical Reformers into different groups, one of which is the spiritualists, whom Calvin is addressing. The Reformers were often guilty of criticizing the more radical elements and lumping all Anabaptists into the same group. (Note the preface to the London Baptist Confessions). I highly recommend William Estep’s The Anabaptist story for a more accurate picture than you will get from Calvin.

  22. Elnwood,

    Yes, grouping all Presbyterians as liberals would be a mistake. But that’s because the taxonomy is actually confessional and evangelical, not liberal and conservative. And evangelicals break down between liberals and fundamentalists. So something like the PCUSA represents the liberal-evangelical and something like D. James Kennedy is fundamental-evangelical. Funda-evangelical Presbyterianism is Charles Finney to Billy Graham. Confessional Presbyterianism is Stuart Robinson to Nevin to Machen. Presbyterianism has its variations on a theme.

    But, by the same token, so does Anabaptistism, since the magisterial Reformation would never have recognized any form of Anabaptism, kooky or staid, any more than Romanism. Anabaptism, past and present, isn’t Protestant, it’s just non-Romanist.

    What Davie Copp seems seems to be suggesting is a variation on an Anabaptist solo scriptura theme. He doesn’t “take his position from Confessions (read: I’m not mainstream, confessional Protestant) or swallowing the Holy Ghost feathers and all (read: I’m not Spiritualist or radical Anabaptist)–I just have the Bible.” Confessional Protestants are sola scriptura: high view of confessional formulations, infallible view of the Bible.

  23. It seems like a lot of splitting hairs on whether Anabaptists are Protestant. I am a Baptist, not an Anabaptist, by the way. I don’t think the magisterial reformers would have recognized Baptists as Protestants either.

    The Anabaptists originated from Zwingli, who is considered a Protestant Reformer. They were rejected by Zwingli because they did not accept the imposition of the government on the practices of communion, a position I would assume most of us would uphold.

    We speak with great respect of the “magisterial” reformers, but with respect to the civil government, most Protestants, including the American Presbyterians who revised the WCF, would be closer to the Anabaptist view of civil government than the view of the Reformers.

  24. As a two-kingomite myself, part of me would love for kingdom theology to play a part. American Presbyterians correctly revised the Westminster Standards in 1787 to reflect the new pattern of government. And the CRC Synod of 1958, in line with 1910 and 1938 American churches decided that the original BC Art 36 was wrong (read: theocratic). Such views are thought of as Anabaptistic, but it’s really just good Reformed Protestantism.

    But Anabaptism has to do with sacramental theology (as in “to re-baptize”), not kingdom theology. Confessional Reformed make the former a standard to being Protestant (as in the second mark of the three marks of the true church). Refuse paedobaptism for credo-baptism and a categorical shift has taken place.

  25. To be fair, Anabaptists have always been closely associated with more than just rebaptism; in particular, after the violent wing of anabaptists brought death upon themselves in Muenster, the remainder was largely about rebaptism, pacifism, no oaths, and a free church. Not exactly two kingdoms, because they basically rejected the Kingdom of Man. But I think it could be fairly said that anabaptists figured out that the concept of a “State Church” was wrong way before the Reformed community caught on in 1788.

    • Rube,

      Re-baptism is to sacramental theology what pacifism (law/gospel confusion) is to kingdom theology. Neither are properly Protestant.

      But credo-baptists of any stripe seem to understand the importance of sacramental theology by the very fact that they go by a name which is all about it (OK, Presbyterians go by a name that is about polity). So when Elnwood says he’s Baptist, not Anabaptist, that is just a variation on a credo-baptist theme. The Anabpatists were baptized in the Roman communion, determined their infant baptism was no good and re-baptized themelves, then then didn’t baptize their own children. It took all of one generation to create the Baptists.

  26. Zrim,

    I know good Confessional Presbyterians (I’m thinking of an OPC pastor in particular) who reject Roman Catholic baptism. Anabaptists aren’t the only ones.

    If the discussion is going to move to Baptists not being properly Protestants, I’m going to have to bow out of the discussion. I’m not going to defend my own Protestant credentials. It’s a variation on a theme of “you’re not really Reformed,” and these discussions are really quite pointless.

    • I know good Confessional Presbyterians (I’m thinking of an OPC pastor in particular) who reject Roman Catholic baptism.

      Then they aren’t very good Confessional Prebyterians at all. They are dysfunction ones.

      • As we discuss here, since we still confess that Rome is a “synagogue of Satan”, I’d say we have good confessional grounds for requiring rebaptism of cat-licks. (Why anybody would want to lick a cat is beyond me!)

      • Rube,

        I don’t get the cat-licks thing. But can you give any evidence from Protestant history that we have ever required do-overs on the parts of those who were baptized into the name of the triune God?

        But the baptisms of Catholics and radicals alike are as legitimate as the marriages of unbelievers.

  27. Re: Kingdom Theology, the Confessional Congregationalists and Confessional Baptists articulated a non-pacifistic two kingdom approach in the Savoy Declaration (1658) and the 2nd London Baptist Confession (1677) over a century before the American Presbyterians followed suit in 1788. “Good Reformed Protestantism,” indeed!

  28. Hypothetical for you, Zrim.

    Say your baby has just been born, and suddenly a guy dressed as a clown appears out of nowhere, utters the magic words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” sprays the baby with his squirting flower, and then runs off, never to be seen again.

    Would you then not present your baby at church for baptism?

    • Elnwood,

      Yes, I would, just like you wouldn’t accept the baptism of the adult who said he took care of his own baptism in the shower last night.

      I think I know where you’re going here, but, as fun as they are, I’m not sure what really is to be gained by absurdities. You may not realize it, but I am the one charitably protecting your baptism as well as those of the Romanists. If Rube is right, your baptism also needs a re-do if you come into Reformed communion. But Rube is wrong.

      • You’re saying you wouldn’t accept a clown’s Trinitarian baptism, but you would accept the baptism of a synagogue of Satan? On what grounds?

        I wouldn’t accept a self-baptism because people were baptized by other people in the Bible, so there is no self-baptism. I don’t see how this is analogous.

        Rube doesn’t think RC baptism is proper because, according to the WCF, they are a “synagogue of Satan.” Rube can speak for himself, but I don’t think he would classify Baptist churches as such.

      • To the extent that both do not meet the standards of the three marks of a true church, a Baptist church is not a true church (second mark), and neither is the RCC (first mark). But if Paul is good with charlatans preaching the true gospel with false intentions then I’m good with the Trinitarian baptisms by false churches. God can convert through charlatans and he can baptize through false teachers.

        If Rube thinks the RC needs to be re-baptized upon converting into a Reformed communion I see no difference between the theology that informs this and Anabaptism. I’d like to see evidence that the Reformed have ever required re-baptism.

  29. Zrim, I asked RubeRad this question on this thread, so I’ll ask you also. Can you outline a biblical defense of why those three marks in the Belgic Confession are the defining marks of the true church, and not others?

  30. I don’t get the cat-licks thing.

    Just a pun. Move along, nothing to laugh at here…

    But can you give any evidence from Protestant history that we have ever required do-overs on the parts of those who were baptized into the name of the triune God?

    I don’t know about how practice has ever shaken out, but I can point you to some extremely harsh quotes from PCUSA GA 1845 and PCA GA 1987.

    a Baptist church is not a true church (second mark), and neither is the RCC (first mark)

    And second mark! WCF doesn’t mention RC baptism, so you might be able to argue a point there, but WCF 29.6 clearly gives RC no score on the second mark. (Not to mention those 5 other spurious “sacraments”)

  31. Elnwood,

    Can you outline a biblical defense of why those three marks in the Belgic Confession are the defining marks of the true church, and not others?

    No, sorry, I’m not an exegete. But I do think there is a difference between absurdities and hypotheticals. An absurdity is asking about hit-and-run clowns, a hypothetical is asking about things that really happen (e.g. Christian believers of different traditions converting into each other and what to do with their baptisms).


    Do you know of a minority report that took issue with a majority report saying RC baptisms are invalid?

    WCF 29 has to do with communion. WCF 28.7 makes it clear that “The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.” It can even have been administered by a pagan pastor. If that’s true, I don’t see why a Roman priest’s action invalidates a baptism any more. If I found out our pastor who baptized our daughters was an unbeliever I wouldn’t seek their re-baptism. (Elnmwood, see, that’s another example of a hypothetical because that happens way before hit-and-run clowns.)

  32. Yes, that report also contained a minority report. But it appears that the GA took a dodge, “receiv[ing] both the Committe and Minority Reports, commending them to the attention of its churches and lower courts as information”

    WCF 29 has to do with communion

    I know. And because of WCF 29, you cannot say that the Reformed recognize RC to have the second mark of proper administration of the sacraments. RC gets one mark for discipline, I guess.

    It can even have been administered by a pagan pastor.

    Not just any pagan pastor; but a pagan pastor who was providentially “lawfully ordained”. I don’t think the Synagogue of Satan can lawfully ordain ministers of the Word.

    Anyways, the question of RC rebaptism is way off topic, and the rut around that particular tree has already been dug deep over there.

  33. Zrim, I am simply disappointed that you adhere to the confessions so strongly that you’re willing to call Baptist churches false churches based on the Belgic, yet you cannot give a biblical defense for this doctrine.

    Go ahead and make your arguments based on the (revised) Westminster Standards, the (revised) Three Forms of Unity, the CRC Synods, and “Protestant history.” But don’t expect it to carry any weight if you can’t support it with Scripture.

    • Elnwood,

      Sorry to disappoint. Since I descend from it, I realize in more Anabaptist-biblicist minds it is the duty of every believer to be able to do the hard work of biblical exegesis, otherwise everything he believes is more or less fubar. But not only do I try not to attempt things for which I am unfit, but mine is a more confessional tradition. Here we trust the doctors of the church to have done the hard work of biblical exegesis and translated it into the confessional formulations; I’m just going with it. I also think eating paint chips is unhealthy, but I don’t pretend to exegete science to defend that view or keep my kids from inhaling them.

      And we both know that were I to get sucked into an exegetical battle you’ll never be satisfied because we both have different presuppositions.

  34. I’m writing a paper on Calvin and Luther’s view of Anabaptists for a class called The Reformation. Can I ask where you got this quote so I can cite it? I have to use primary resources, and this quote may have just saved my life…but need to cite the actual source, along with your website. Any help would be amazing and help my paper out tremendously!!!

  35. Hey, thanks for dropping by! I can’t for the life of me think why I didn’t attribute and link the quote when I first posted, and it took a little digging, but I found it. It is from Calvin’s Institutes, 3.3.14. This quote here was from the Battles translation, but you can find the older Beveridge online at this link:
    14. Some Anabaptists in the present age mistake some indescribable sort of frenzied excess for the regeneration of the Spirit…

    • THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH! I really appreciate your help! Randomly came across this site and was like “hellooooo!!!” Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

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