[quote="garysibio, post:1, topic:285894"]
First let me say that I believe that baptism actually forgives sins and that, under normal circumstances, it is necessary for salvation. I am not looking for an explanation of the Catholic view of baptism. It is what I believe.
My question is: Are there any theologians prior to the Reformation that believed what Protestants believe about baptism, namely that it is just a public declaration of a person who has become a Christian and that it does not forgive sins?
I'm just trying to learn how Protestants came to their understanding of baptism.
Another interesting Baptist article:
Jointly published by the Baptist History and Heritage Society
and the William H. Whitsitt, Baptist Heritage Society
The article cites Acts 2:38-41 as a source for Peter's call "to repent and be baptized." However, the authors have ignored Baptism's connection with the forgiveness of sins--other than to say a baptized believer is assured that sins are forgiven--though not in the act of baptism itself.
38 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 will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The article also cites Acts 16:11–14; 31–34 as an example of Paul’s converts at Philippi being baptized "following their conversions."
Yet, Scripture reveals that the Philippian Jailer was Baptized along with his whole family; and he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
The article says that Martin Luther, John Calvin, Huldreich Zwingli, and others, retained the term "sacrament," gave less emphasis to the mystical elements of the sacrament of baptism, and stressed more on the role of parents--and later in a child’s development---and individual accountability for "personal faith."
The article moves on to "radical reformers" called "Anabaptists," who insisted upon a "rebaptism" as believers. The article claims this was a restoration of "some of the original meaning of baptism from the primitive New Testament context." Anabaptists are described as standing "historically just before the rise of Baptists."
The article then jumps to the eighteenth-century, saying the American Baptist historian, Morgan Edwards, called "Believer’s baptism" the distinguishing mark of the denomination. The article continues with more history.
Col. 2:11–13** is cited and the article says, "Baptism for the entire New Testament community became what circumcision had been for males in ancient Israel." However, the article goes on to say that in being baptized a believer is assured that sins are forgiven--though not in the act of baptism itself.
It's an interesting article and really should be read in full to understand the context, and to ensure that I have not unintentionally misrepresented the article through any misunderstanding.