Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Recent Disputes Over Baptismal Regeneration And The Southern Baptist Convention

There's been a lot of discussion lately about how Southern Baptists view the reference to baptism in the Nicene Creed. I've seen the usual false claims about how everybody in the early church believed in baptismal regeneration, all of the church fathers believed in it, nobody opposed it before the Reformation, and so on. Few opponents of baptismal regeneration say anything significant about the extrabiblical evidence for their position, and the few who speak up typically only mention a small percentage of that evidence. For example, it's seldom mentioned that the ancient sources who held some kind of highly efficacious view of baptism widely disagreed about the nature of that efficaciousness. Christians of the patristic era disagreed about the meaning of "baptism for the forgiveness of sins". That's not a later development. There's a major need for opponents of baptismal regeneration to improve their handling of the issue. Here are some resources to that end.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to me how many want to read modern theological discussions back into the discussions of the early church as though the categorical systems are identical and the early church could speak into today's discussions. The assumption is that the early church was somehow better than us theologically because they were closer to the biblical history and the direct teachings of the Apostles.

    Instead, immediately after the demise of the Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers seemed to recognize their own theological inadequacies and we should be able to recognize the incipient immaturity of their theological thinking. It would take a few centuries to settle the fundamental orthodoxy on doctrines like the authority of Scripture, Christology, Pneumatology, and the Trinitarian formula.

    Baptism was an issue then, but it hasn't been settled yet being so integral to different Reformed theological systems that the differences in practice could each be considered within the pale of orthodoxy. Baptismal regeneration should be the weakest of these and the easiest to put down. Nevertheless, I know some Lutherans who hold to it today.