Friday, November 13, 2009

Omit from baptism all theatrical pomp

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 15 - Baptism
19-22 - Objections to ceremonies around baptism
19. Additions to baptism - consecrating the water, candles, breathing out on the baptizand, etc - dishonor baptism itself and show discontent with the authority of Christ. Only the essentials should be done: present him to the whole church, recite the creed, recount the promises of baptism, pray, baptize and dismiss. Immersion or sprinkling is "of no importance, but ought to be optional.... yet the word 'baptize' means to immerse," and that's how the ancient church did it.
20. Emergency baptism of babies near death by laity and/or women is not allowed nor necessary. We don't baptize children to bring them into salvation promises. "His promise of itself suffices." How could Christ fulfill the promises, if they aren't "valid without the aid of a sign." Also, "it is wrong for private individuals to assume the administration of baptism... [Christ] gave this command to those whom he had appointed apostles."
21. Women are not to baptize, as they are not to "claim for herself the function of any man" [preaching, baptizing, administering the Supper].
22. Zipporah circumcising Moses' son is no evidence for women baptizing. First, administrators of circumcision and baptism are different. Second, we have Christ's rule that apostles [and their successors, the elders] baptize. Third, Zipporah wasn't doing a godly thing, but an act of self-preservation. She shouldn't have done this, with Moses right there. Baptism is given with God's promise, not to make the promise work, but to confirm the promise to us. Because infants of believers "already belonged to the body of Christ, they are received into the church with this solemn sign."

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