Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An overt outrage against baptism

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 19 - Rome's five other "sacraments"
4-13 - Confirmation not a sacrament

4. The early church had a laying on of hands ceremony for those being restored to the faith who were already baptized (instead of baptizing them again). This was a good practice.

5. But Rome has made it into a sacrament all its own - confirmation - with no warrant for it in the Bible.

6. The apostles laid hands on the Samaritan believers and they received the Spirit. We no longer receive the Spirit in this way, though we still have the Spirit, our "guide and director." See John 7:37; Isa 55:1; John 4:10; 7:38. "But those miraculous powers and manifest workings, which were dispensed by the laying on of hands, have ceased; and they have rightly lasted only for a time. for it was fitting that the new preaching of the gospel and the new Kingdom of Christ should be illumined and magnified by unheard-of and extraordinary miracles. When the Lord ceased from these, He did not utterly forsake His church, but declared that the magnificence of His Kingdom and the dignity of His word had been excellently enough disclosed." Because this gift ceased, Rome can't claim anything in the sacrament of confirmation by laying-on hands.

7. Rome should not use oil in confirmation and call it the "oil of salvation," as they do. This violates Gal 4:9; Col 2:20; 1 Cor 6:13. "Who taught them to seek salvation in oil?"

8. Rome says baptism can't be complete without confirmation. "What wickedness!" See Rom 6:4-6. The council of Milevis is also against them on this point, anathematizing those who deny that baptism is "a help for grace to come." Rome's assertion draws us away from our baptism, against Gal 3:27. Confirmation is "an overt outrage against baptism."

9. They say you have to be confirmed to be a Christian, but this ceremony isn't in the Bible. And they let half their congregations be unconfirmed, stating by this practice that "it is not so important [even to them] as they claim."

10. They say confirmation is more important than baptism, since only bishops confirm while any priest may baptize. This gives the sacrament worth based on the worth of the minister, like the Donatist heresy. By the same token, if they restrict confirmation to the bishop, why don't they restrict the bread and wine to them?

11. They say confirmation is more important than baptism, since only the top of the head receives water in baptism, while the forehead is smeared with oil in confirmation. This is "trifling, foolish, and stupid." Their oil is "not worth one piece of dung."

12. Not having the Word of God, they claim the antiquity of the church's practice, as usual. And they did lay hands on corrected heretics to receive them, but not as a sacrament. "What else is laying on of hands than prayer over a man?" Augustine asked.

13. Calvin wanted this confirmation recovered in the form of catechism. Formulate "a manual... containing and summarizing in simple manner most of the aritcles of our religion, on which the whole believers' church ought to agree without controversy. A child of ten would present himself to the church to declare his confession of faith, would be examined in each article, and answer to each..." This "would certainly arouse some slothful parents, who carelessly neglect the instruction of their children as a matter of no concern to them; for then they could not overlook it without public disgrace."

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