Baptismal Regeneration


#1

I seem to have wandered into an area of faith I had little idea existed. Can anyone offer any insight on this??

Baptism and Regeneration, sxws.com/charis/questions-5.htm

[Mark, since you believe so heartly in a part of your salvation coming via the pouring of the so-called “holy water” by a catholic priest I thought you might find this very helpful. You are still doing your speed reading with that photostaic mind of yours right? Good!!!]

Some of those who argue in support of Catholic teachings on baptismal regeneration assure me that all the Church Fathers affirmed that in this sacrament our sins are forgiven and our souls regenerated. One I encountered recently asserted that the Bible makes this very clear! He charged me to “Look up John 3:5, for starters!”

It would appear that this person who so vigorously waves the Catholic banner of doctrinal purity was declaring that, without exception, every one of the church fathers supported the fantasy of baptismal regeneration. Could it be he was correct in making this declaration? After all, even a blind hog occasionally roots up an acorn. Before examining the proof text he offered, I first sought to determine whether every Early Church Father indeed did support this doctrine so beloved of Rome and those who speak for her.

As it turned out, my abbreviated search of the early church fathers failed to turn up anyone whose writings disagreed with the Catholic apologist’s claim. This is not to say the Fathers had a right understanding of the doctrine, as may be seen in this paragraph from the Catechism:

1213. Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua),[Cf. Council Of Florence: DS 1314: vitae spiritualis ianua.] and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.’[Roman Catechism II, 2, 5; Cf. Council Of Florence: DS 1314; CIC, cann.]–Catechism of the Catholic Church, © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Is the above teaching in line with Scripture? No. In the New Testament, baptism is the believer’s public profession of his inner faith, his testimony that he had come to Christ.

**The Scriptures teach that through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of repentance and faith, a person is united to Christ, forgiven for all sin, accepted by God, adopted into the family of God and given the gift of eternal life. Baptism is the outward sign of the inward reality of these spiritual truths and a seal to the believer of their reality.***–William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, © 1996 Banner of Truth Trust, p. 96 *


#2

That article is really somewhat amusing. If you read it carefully, the writer first says that the apologist is correct – that there are no Church fathers that disagree with baptismal regeneration. Then he goes on to say, however, that they were all mistaken! “When the apostolic age had ended, things changed and the Church began to look to baptism as the means of spiritual regeneration.” [font=Arial]So here he contends that “things changed” and, essentially, that being “born again”, a core theme in the doctrine of salvation, was misunderstood almost as soon as the apostolic age ended! Oh, but 1,500 years later the reformers figured it out from a careful reading of the Scriptures that were written by the very people who taught (some face-to-face!) those that supposedly completely missed the real point.

IMHO, absurd.

His entire argument regarding Nicodemus also has some significant flaws.

He starts off by saying “[/font]The reference to being born again was a common one among Jews.” Then says “Poor, confused Nicodemus. How in the world could he, bound up in legalism and submitted to the Law, understand this teaching?[font=Arial]” Well, if it was indeed a common theme among the Jews, Nicodemus surely would not have been confused when hearing it. And if it really meant so many different and varied, allegorical things, why would Nicodemus respond with “[/font]How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?[font=Arial]” From Nicodemus’ own words we can see that he was clearly understanding Jesus literally – as in being born from a woman’s womb again. There was no common allegorical understanding that he drew from.

So Jesus clarified for him “Unless one is born of Spirit and water…”. Thus Nicodemus, and all the Church Fathers understood – being born again is receiving the Spirit through the waters of baptism.

Generally, the author just proposes his own view, with very little to support it and a lot of descriptive speculation.

It isn’t even clear that he really understands what the Catholic Church teaches because he never seemed to address it directly.

Peace,
javelin
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#3

Nice post, thanks javelin!


#4

[quote=FightingFat]Nice post, thanks javelin!
[/quote]

Thanks for the props – those are nice now and then :slight_smile:

Peace,
javelin


#5

Here are some Scripture verses that support the Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4)
(baptism > baptismal; newness of life > regeneration)

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
(water and the Spirit > baptismal; born > regeneration)

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word (Eph 5:25-26)
(washing of water with the word > baptismal; cleansed > regeneration)

he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)
(washing > baptismal; regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit > regeneration)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:22)
(bodies washed with pure water > baptismal; hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience > regeneration)

and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col 2:12-13)
(baptism > baptismal; made alive > regeneration)


#6

As indicated in Col 2:12-13, in my previous post, one of the results of baptimal regeneration is forgiveness of sins.

Here are some other Scripture verses that indicate that sins are forgiven in baptism:

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16)


#7

The following may also be helpful in understanding the regenerative nature of baptism:

OT-- Baptism prefigured and fulfilled in the NT
Ezk 36:25-28
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Compare this to:
ACTS 2:37-39
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

Going statement for statement we see an unmistakable pattern and prefiguring in Ezekiel with a corresponding fulfillment in the NT. The Book of Acts makes the connections abundantly clear. In Ezekiel we are told that God will use water to cleanse you of your uncleannesses (i.e sins). In the book of Acts it says to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. God says in Ezekiel that he will “give you a new heart and remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” In the book of Acts we are told that they were cut to the heart. In Ezekiel God says, “I will put a new spirit within you.” and in the book of Acts we are told that we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then finally in Ezekiel God says, “…and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” And in the book of Acts we are told that “the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." Clearly, all those that the Lord our God calls to himself are rightly called “his people.”


#8

[quote=Pax]The following may also be helpful in understanding the regenerative nature of baptism:

OT-- Baptism prefigured and fulfilled in the NT
Ezk 36:25-28
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Compare this to:
ACTS 2:37-39
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

Going statement for statement we see an unmistakable pattern and prefiguring in Ezekiel with a corresponding fulfillment in the NT. The Book of Acts makes the connections abundantly clear. In Ezekiel we are told that God will use water to cleanse you of your uncleannesses (i.e sins). In the book of Acts it says to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. God says in Ezekiel that he will “give you a new heart and remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” In the book of Acts we are told that they were cut to the heart. In Ezekiel God says, “I will put a new spirit within you.” and in the book of Acts we are told that we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then finally in Ezekiel God says, “…and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” And in the book of Acts we are told that “the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." Clearly, all those that the Lord our God calls to himself are rightly called “his people.”
[/quote]

Cool, I have to remember Ez36:25!!


#9

Some great stuff there, thank you my friends! Now, I have been quoted Tertullian in this argument-

Tertullian offers some expectedly convoluted arguments to explain how Old Testament saints might have been saved without being baptized. How simple it is to start with an idea and then work backward to force history and revelation into submission to that idea.

**Here, then, those miscreants provoke questions. And so they say, “Baptism is not necessary for them to whom faith is sufficient; for withal, Abraham pleased God by a sacrament of no water, but of faith.” But in all cases it is the later things which have a conclusive force, and the subsequent which prevail over the antecedent. Grant that, in days gone by, there WAS SALVATION BY MEANS OF BARE FAITH [my emphasis], before the passion and resurrection of the Lord. But now that faith has been enlarged, and is become a faith which believes in His nativity, passion, and resurrection, there has been an amplification added to the sacrament, viz., the sealing act of baptism; the clothing, in some sense, of the faith which before was bare, and which cannot exist now without its proper law. For the law of baptizing has been imposed, and the formula prescribed: “Go,” He saith, “teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The comparison with this law of that definition, “Unless a man have been reborn of water and Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens,” has tied faith to the necessity of baptism. Accordingly, all thereafter who became believers used to be baptized. Then it was, too, that Paul, when he believed, was baptized; and this is the meaning of the precept which the Lord had given him when smitten with the plague of loss of sight, saying, “Arise, and enter Damascus; there shall be demonstrated to thee what thou oughtest to do,” to wit — be baptized, which was the only thing lacking to him. That point excepted, he had sufficiently learnt and believed “the Nazarene” to be “the Lord, the Son of God.”***–A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Edd., The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol 3, B o o k s F o r T h e A g e s, AGES Software, Version 2.0 © 1997, p. 1225 *

Mark, I’m sure that with your great ability to read and comphrehend as much as fast as you are able to do can easily see how far off your sordid system has become from back then. Right!!! [this bit is what the guy is saying to me]


#10

Tertullian’s opinion about how people were saved who died before Christian baptism was instituted by Christ was not shared by all early Christians. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 15:29, there is mention of the practice of baptism by proxi for the dead. And, in Hermas’ The Pastor (or The Shephard), Ninth Similitude (or Parable), chap. 16, it says that after the apostles died they went and baptized the dead.

Something else to consider is that Abraham’s faith saved him but his faith was hardly what we today would call a Christian faith. Abraham never made a personal decision to accept the saving sovereignty of Jesus Christ. By bringing this up is your friend suggesting that a personal faith in Jesus Christ is not necessary to salvation? Of course, we would suspect that had Abraham known about Jesus and about Christian baptism, he would have accepted Jesus as Lord but he would have also chosen to be regenerated in the waters of Christian baptism. Jesus indicates that those who don’t know God’s will won’t be held to the same standard as those who do know it. (Luke 12:47) Jesus made God’s will fully known and baptismal regeneration is included in it.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church discusses the possibility of salvation for non-Christians in paragraphs 846-848.


#11

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