Thursday, February 22, 2024

Credobaptism Before The Reformation

I discussed infant baptism at length in some posts here in 2006. I don't think I've addressed the subject much since then. I want to revisit it.

Monday, February 19, 2024

A Response To Trent Horn's Comments In His Recent Sola Scriptura Debate With James White

In his debate with James White on sola scriptura last week, Trent Horn repeated some sentiments he's expressed before about the alleged lateness of the recognition of the New Testament documents as scripture, their lack of prominence before the time when Irenaeus wrote, etc. I've responded to him on the subject before, in the post here. What I documented there is also relevant to something else Trent said during the debate, when he referred to how Jesus didn't tell anybody to write anything before he ascended to heaven. As my post linked above argues, Jesus' comments on the work of the Holy Spirit in John 14-16 likely anticipate the New Testament. What he said isn't limited to what the apostles would write, but it does include their writings. That's probably why John's comments about his gospel toward the end of the document parallel what Jesus said in those earlier chapters. John seems to have considered his gospel a fulfillment of what Jesus anticipated. Again, see my post linked above for further details. That post also addresses other problems with Trent's view of the New Testament.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Evidence Against Infant Baptism In Aristides

I've written about how Aristides is a neglected source on baptismal issues. A passage I didn't bring up there was the following in section 15 of his Apology:

"Further, if one or other of them [Christians] have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction."

If somebody considers infant baptism a means of making the baptized child a Christian, the testimony of Aristides is some early evidence to the contrary. You could add one or more qualifiers to Aristides' comments to reconcile what he said with the view of infant baptism under consideration (e.g., by "children", he only meant a particular subcategory of children), but that would be a less natural reading.

When Tertullian writes against infant baptism in section 18 of his treatise On Baptism, he's often thought to be making the first explicit reference to an actual practice of infant baptism in the historical record rather than to be merely responding to a hypothetical. And I agree. It's likely that infant baptism was being practiced at the time by some people, though only a minority, and that Tertullian was responding to actual people who advocated the practice. And one of the comments Tertullian makes when arguing against infant baptism is "let them [infants] become Christians when they have become able to know Christ". So, it seems that the opponents he has in mind considered infant baptism a means of making the infants Christians. If so, the contrast between their view and Aristides' comments about persuading the children of Christians to become Christians is striking. Aristides appears to be offering two contrasts to the advocates of infant baptism Tertullian is interacting with. Aristides doesn't mention making infants Christians through baptism, and he does mention persuading them to become Christians. Tertullian's comments provide a significant contextual factor in interpreting Aristides.

And a point I made in my earlier thread about Aristides should be reiterated. He was writing to a pagan audience. It's unlikely, accordingly, that he would have expected his audience to make certain unstated Christian assumptions relevant to infant baptism, would have expected them to recognize highly subtle allusions to infant baptism, etc. The best explanation for why he seems to say nothing of infant baptism when discussing relevant topics and seems to even contradict the concept of making infants Christians through baptism is that he didn't hold such a view of baptism.