The Anabaptists and their
by F.N. Lee
The American Rev. Dr. Robert G. Torbet was Professor of Church History at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (from 1934-51). In 1950, he made some very important statements in his book A History of the Baptists.
According to Torbet,412 Prof. Dr. "Walter Rauschenbusch, of [Colgate] Rochester Baptist Theological Seminary" in New York State, exhibited a "willingness to identify Baptists with the socially radical Anabaptists." Similarly, even Rev. Prof. Henry C. Vedder, the well-known Baptist and Church Historian at Crozer Theological Seminary from 1894 to 1927, noted the Anabaptists' "aversion to oath-taking and holding public office."
Torbet affirmed the view of "Ernest A. Payne, British Baptist church historian, that the Anabaptists were in all likelihood an influence in England which affected...Baptist development. Thus we are obliged to consider the influence of Anabaptist spiritualism upon early Baptists."
Wrote Payne in the Baptist Quarterly: "Baptists cannot be separated from...other...groups of the sixteenth century." For there is indeed a "relationship between the early English Baptists and the Continental Anabaptists.... The Mennonite influence was responsible in part for the first Baptist witness."
Torbet himself admitted that "the false claims made by Thomas Muenzer (1490-1525), a socialist and leader in the Peasants' War of 1525, and the horrors of the Muenster Rebellion ten years later under...Melchior Hofmann and Jan Matthys, combined to bring the Anabaptists into complete disrepute.... The extravagant cruelty and wanton destruction of the visionaries who sought to establish the millenial kingdom in Muenster, made an indelible impression.... The fanatics of Muenster were a potential menace to law and order" -- and "taught resistance, against government, by the sword....
"Anabaptist teaching was to be found in England quite early in the sixteenth century. Large numbers of this sect came in 1528...until 1573, when...some fifty thousand were in the country.... The earlier Anabaptist refugees were disciples of Melchior Hofmann's fanatical teaching.... In 1530...Archbishop Warham at the command of Henry VIII condemned an Anabaptist book.... In 1549, during the reign of Henry's son Edward VI, Bishop Latimer's sermons contained warnings against this 'sect of hereticks.' He accused them of being anarchistic."
With commendable candour, the Baptist Torbet then went on to provide further alarming details: "English Anabaptists known as the 'Family of Love'...were present in the country during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who came to the throne in 1558. This sect had its origin on the continent with Henry Nicholas (Niklaes), a native of Muenster, who migrated to Amsterdam in 1530.... [In 1546,] he wrote a little book still to be found in the Mennonite library at Amsterdam, entitled Of the Spiritual Land of Promise.....
"In this work he advocated and defended 'spiritual marriage,' somewhat akin to Mormon teaching.... On the continent, 'naked-runners,' as they were called, appeared in many cities. These 'naked-runners,' who reputedly were Anabaptist fanatics, seem to have been Nicholas' disciples. The sect, as transplanted to England, was known as 'Familists' -- and gained an unsavory reputation for immorality....
"Christopher Vitell, a Southwark joiner..., translated many of Nicholas' writings from the Dutch into English.... Bax, an able historian of the Anabaptist movement, admits...the historical connection between the 'Family of Love' and Anabaptists generally."
Fifty years later, concluded Torbet, the exiled English (Ana)Baptist "Smyth's congregation of some eighty persons seems to have had a separate existence [from Robinson's "Pilgrim Father" Congregationalists] in Amsterdam..... He [John Smyth] felt that a minister should not preach with any manuscript before him; not even a translation of the Scriptures.... Smyth finished a tract against infant baptism, The Character of the Beast ['666'], on March 24th 1609.... Smyth, undoubtedly under the influence of the Waterlander Mennonites, became an Anabaptist....
"He baptized himself.... Since they worshiped in a block of buildings belonging to a Mennonite merchant...., Smyth came increasingly under Mennonite influence." After Smyth's death in Amsterdam in 1610, his colleague and successor Thomas Helwys issued a Declaration of Faith, denying that baptism "appertaineth to infants." Then, with his flock, he returned to England -- to establish its first Baptist Church in 1611.
Were we to wish, we could dwell for a long while on some of the quainter views of many of the more sectarian Anabaptists. We could also point to the naked submersions of some, and the forward-leaning triple immersions of others, within groups of German Baptists.413 However, instead of examining those extraordinary eccentricities, we rather proceed straight to the British and Anglo-American Baptists -- who finally adopted the baptismal mode of backward-leaning and fully-clothed onefold submersion.
Yet, in light of all the foregoing, the esteem of certain modern Baptists for the apostate Anabaptists -- is absolutely appalling. We have already seen414 claims to this effect in the writings of the Baptists Torbet, Rauschenbusch and Payne.415 Other specialists in the history of the Baptists agree.416 Indeed, weirdly and woefully, even the modern British Particular Baptist Erroll Hulse has insisted417 that "we should call the orthodox evangelical Anabaptists of the Reformation 'Baptists' -- and not 'Anabaptists.'"
Speaking specifically of the situation in England and America, Hulse has continued: "The General Baptists...had their origin in John Smyth (d. 1612).... His study of the Scriptures brought him to practise believers' baptism.... In March 1639, [Roger] Williams and eleven others were baptized, and the first Baptist Church in America was constituted."
Yet it should be observed that after Smyth had 'baptized' himself, or rather 're-baptized' himself (and rebaptized himself), he was 're-re-baptized' by the Dutch Mennonite Anabaptists (by way of pouring). It should also be noted that after Williams was submersed, he later renounced that immersion as invalid -- because administered by one not yet himself submersed.
As the Scottish Baptist J.G.G. Norman has reminded us,418 John Smyth, "father of English General Baptists..., baptized himself." This he did in 1609; by affusion; and on foreign soil. Worse yet. After thus becoming a Mennonite, Smyth personally embraced their heretical christology.419
Even more startlingly, the noted English Baptist Rev. Prof. Dr. West has drawn attention to what he regarded420 as "the first statement by an Englishman arguing for believers' baptism. It is Smyth's pamphlet: Character of the Beast." Sadly, that is a diatribe -- 666! -- against the historic Christian Church's apostolic practice of infant baptism. The latter must be renounced, held Smyth, as "profanation" and as the baptism of "Antichrist."421
After Smyth's death while a Mennonite, his colleague and successor Thomas Helwys in 1611 drew up the first English Baptist Confession. At first, he denied original sin; always, he maintained an Arminian soteriology.422 Indeed, Helwys's Baptist Confession -- while indeed confining baptism only to those who have confessed Christ -- still says nothing about submersion.423 However, he not only identified Romanism with the first beast of Revelation thirteen -- but the Church of England as the second.424
Smyth and Helwys were both Arminian (Ana)Baptists. The first so-called 'Calvinistic' or rather 'Particular Baptist' congregation was formed, in England, only in the 1630s. Yet by 1638, this new denomination had rejected Scriptural sprinkling and had lapsed into sacramentalistic submersionism. Then, following that declension -- in 1641, Edward Barber was the first English Arminian or General Baptist to advocate dipping.425
Yet the sympathetic Williams has made an honest admission. For even he admits426 that "the adoption by English Baptists of the practice of immersion ultimately derived from the Minor Church of Poland...introduced into Holland by the Socinians" alias the Unitarian Anabaptists.
The famous American-Swiss church historian Rev. Prof. Dr. Philip Schaff has informed us427 that "in America the Baptists trace their origin chiefly...to Roger Williams.... He was charged with advocating certain opinions supposed to be dangerous."
These included the viewpoints: "that the magistrate ought not to punish offences against the First Table [of God's Law]; that an oath ought not to be tendered to an unregenerate man; [and] that a regenerate man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though it be his wife or child....
"He [Roger Williams] was immersed by Ezekiel Hollyman [during 1639] -- and, in turn, immersed Hollyman and ten others. This was the first Baptist church on the American Continent. But a few months afterwards, he renounced his rebaptism -- on the ground that Hollyman was unbaptized [meaning unsubmersed], and therefore unauthorized to administer the rite to him."
Clearly, it never dawned on Roger Williams that nobody had baptized John the baptizer. Yet it was John (and apparently by pouring or sprinkling) who baptized Jesus Christ. And it is the Latter's baptism alone which gives validity to all Christian baptisms.
Incredibly, the apostate Roger Williams pleaded428 even for the complete toleration of Islam, Judaism and Paganism. He read Dutch well; knew of the political concepts of the Dutch Anabaptists; and accordingly rejected the British and American Puritans and their Christonomic Theocracy.429 Unfortunately, the Dutch (Ana)Baptistic heresies of Roger Williams have now massively corrupted especially the United States.
As even the Baptist Hulse has indicated,430 "the Baptist World Alliance has published the statement that in 1975 there were 33,800,000 adherents throughout the world. Over 29,600,000 of these are in North America."
Well could Hulse have added that most are from Dixie: the Deep South of the U.S.A. There, Baptists themselves often boast, reside almost "more Baptists than people." Undoubtedly, Baptist Bill Clinton -- the U.S. President -- is clearly "Exhibit A."
What Hulse indeed has added,431 is that "the statistics might represent nominal Baptists only -- that is people who have little if any religious conviction; but when asked what religion they profess, will say Baptist. This is especially so in areas where there is little cost to discipleship....
"In some areas, such as the Southern States of America, membership may be almost as nominal as it is in State Churches of other countries. The great majority may have recorded a decision for Christ, but show no evidence of a saving change." What an admission, about Baptists, by a Baptist!
Clearly, Mennonite Verduin was wrong to regard the Anabaptists as the Reformer's stepchildren. The truth is, the Anabaptists were the Romanists' stepchildren -- and even more heretical. Yet Baptists like Torbet and Hulse have nevertheless regarded the Anabaptists as the ancestors of the Baptists -- and thus the Baptists as the 'stepchildren' of the Anabaptists (and therefore also as the 'great-stepchildren' of the mediaeval Romanists).
Baptist Estep has alleged432 that "baptism by immersion was inaugurated by 1641." He should have conceded these so-called immersions, or rather submersions, were not at all being "inaugurated" by "1641" -- but were then merely a restoration of the post-midpatristic submersions inaugurated by baptismally- regenerationistic and sacramentalistic Romanism.
In July 1643, the National Assembly of infant-sprinkling British Puritans had convened at Westminster. Swiftly, the (Ana)Baptists reacted. Arising out of their disputation against the leading Anglican Puritan Rev. Dr. Daniel Featley, they quickly produced their 1644 Confession of the Seven Churches of London alias their London Confession.433
Thus did they issue their own 1644 symbol. Intriguingly, it was subtitled: Confession of Faith of those churches which are commonly...called 'Anabaptist.'434 This novelly alleged a single submersion to be the only valid form of baptism. Therein, it alleged that the candidate's total submersion (alias his being dunked or dipped under the water) -- is indeed necessary.
It was, of course, intended purely as a declaration of faith. For it possessed no binding power over British Anabaptists in general -- and not even over those seven submersing congregationalistic congregations in London which framed that document. Indeed, after the appearing of the sacramental parts of the British Puritans' Westminster Confession, the London Confession of the 'Anabaptists' appeared again in 1646 -- but this time with several additions and alterations.
Held this antipaidobaptistic and submersionistic Confession: "Baptism is an Ordinance of the New Testament...to be dispensed only upon persons professing faith.... The way and manner of the dispensing of this ordinance, the Scripture holds out to be dipping or plunging the whole body under water.... The word baptizo, signifying to dip under water -- yet so as with convenient garments both upon the administrator and subject, with all modesty."435
Only in the London Baptist Confession of 1677 (further to be reprinted in 1688 & 1689), was a general declaration with an abiding authority among Baptists made in this regard. Its full title was A Confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many congregations of Christians baptized upon Profession of their Faith.436 It contains the statement that "immersion or dipping of the person in water" was "necessary to the due administration of this ordinance."437
For the rest, this whole London Confession of 1677 was plagiarized from the paidobaptist Puritans' Westminster Confession of 1645. Of the latter, fortunately only the articles on Church Government and the Sacraments were perverted by the London Confession -- which, from 1742 onward, was in North America also known as the Philadelphia Confession. For the rest -- this Baptist borrowing from the Westminster Confession438 is indeed quite the sincerest form of flattery.
The Particular Baptists and the General Baptists separated from one another from 1691 until 1891. Based upon the London Confession of 1677, the 1693 London General Assembly of the Particular Baptists adopted their Baptist Catechism.439
The absurd allegations contained in the 1644 Baptist Confession of the seven congregations in London, soon became apparent upon the 1646 publication of the Westminster Confession of the British Puritans. See Francis Nigel Lee's I Confess! (subtitled Holy Scripture, the Westminster Confession, and the Declaratory Statement -- their Relationship to One Another in the Presbyterian Church of Australia).440
Of the various Westminster Standards, the Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God had appeared already in February 1645. "Baptism," it declared,441 "is not unnecessarily to be delayed.... The child to be baptized...is to be presented by the father....
"Before baptism, the Minister is to use some words of instruction...shewing that...the seed and posterity of the faithful born within the Church have by their birth interest in the covenant and right to the seal of it.... They are Christians and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized.... He is to baptize the child with water which, for the manner of doing it, is not only lawful but sufficient and most expedient to be by pouring or sprinkling of the water on the face of the child without adding any other ceremony." By the latter is meant the 'salt and spittle' as well as the submersions of post-midpatristic Romanism.
The Westminster Confession was finalized. It states442 that "the first covenant made with man was a covenant of works wherein life was promised to Adam and in him to his posterity. [Hosea 6:7 & First Corinthians 15:22 & 15:45f &] Romans 10:5 & 5:12-20.... God gave to Adam a Law -- as a covenant of works by which He bound him and all his posterity to...perpetual obedience. Genesis 1:26f & 2:17; Romans 2:14f."
The Petrobrusians had denied infants could demonstrate their worthiness and thus be saved. Accordingly, they rejected the baptism of babies. Also their descendants, the Anabaptists, rejected the baptism of infants, and equivocated on their salvation. So too do their stepchildren, the Baptists. But the Calvinistic Westminster Confession summarily declares443 that "elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, Who worketh when and where and how He pleaseth. Luke 18:15f; Acts 2:38f; John 3:3,5; First John 5:12; Romans 8:9; John 3:8."
At man's creation, the 1647 Westminster Confession continues,444 "marriage was ordained...for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue and of the Church with an holy seed. Malachi 2:15.... The catholick or universal church which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect....
"The Visible Church which is also catholick or universal...consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion together with their children, and is the family of God. First Corinthians 7:14; Acts 2:39; Ezekiel 16:20f; Romans 11:16; Genesis 3:15 & 17:7.... Unto this catholick Visible Church Christ hath given the Ministry, Oracles and Ordinances of God.... Matthew 28:19 & Isaiah 59:21." In the last two prooftexts, taken together, also infant baptism is indicated.
Specifically, the Confession goes on,445 "baptism is a sacrament...and seal of the covenant of grace.... Dipping of the person into the water is not necessary; but baptism is rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling water upon the person. Hebrews 9:10-22; Acts 2:41 [also vv. 14-18 & 33] & 16:33; Mark 7:4." See too Psalms 77:15-20 & 78:12-16; Joel 2:16,23,28f; First Corinthians 10:1-2; and First Peter 1:2 & 3:20f.
"Also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized. Genesis 17:7-9; Galatians 3:9,14 [and vv. 27f]; Colossians 2:11f; Acts 2:38f; Romans 4:11f; Mark 10:13f; Luke 18:15f.... It be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance. Luke 7:30 & Exodus 4:24-26.... Baptism is but once to be administered to any person. Titus 3:5."
The Westminster Larger Catechism was adopted in October 1647. "God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, but" -- it states446 -- "bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant...of grace.... Under the New Testament...the same covenant of grace was and still is to be administered in...the administration...of baptism. Matthew 28:19f.....
"Baptism is a Sacrament of the New Testament wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water...to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into Himself.... Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out[side] of the Visible Church.... Infants descending from parents either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ and obedience to Him are in that respect within the covenant and to be baptized. Genesis 17:7f; Colossians 2:11f; Acts 2:38f; Romans 4:11f; First Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 28:19; Luke 18:15f; Romans 11:16.... Baptism is to be administered but once..., and that even to infants."447
Finally, the Westminster Shorter Catechism was adopted in November 1647. It insists448 that "baptism is a Sacrament wherein the washing with water in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace and our engagement to be the Lord's. Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:4; Galatians 3:27. Infants of such as are members of the visible church, are to be baptized. Acts 2:38f; Genesis 17:10; Colossians 2:11f; First Corinthians 7:14."
It was hardly necessary for the Westminster Confession to condemn the Anabaptists by name. For earlier, it had already condemned their distinctive doctrines of revolutionism,449 of pseudo-pentecostalism,450 of opposition to oath-taking,451 of anarchy,452 of polygamy,453 of adultery,454 and of their communistic redistribution of private property.455
Scripture and the Westminster Standards both see rebaptism as a sin. It is a transgression of the Law of God. For the Decalogue commands that God be worshipped only in the authorized way -- and not be worshipped through any 'graven images' (such as rebaptism) contrary to His revealed will.
In Old Testament times, bodily circumcision is unrepeatable --and recircumcision was and is impossible. Deut 10:16 & 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4 & 9:25-26. Because circumcision has now been replaced by baptism, the latter too is unrepeatable -- and rebaptism impossible. Romans 4:11-25 & 6:1-5; Galatians 3:6-29; Colossians 2:11-13.
Only unitarians and heretics practised 'rebaptism' in the apostolic and post-apostolic ages. Mark 7:3-8; Acts 19:1-3; First Corinthians 11:18f & 15:29. To the True Visible Church of the Triune God, there was only one baptism -- trinitarian, life-long, and unrepeatable. Matthew 28:19f; Mark 16:15f; Romans 6:3-23; Ephesians 4:4-6; Colossians 2:6- 16.
Hebrews 6:1-6 implies that those who get themselves rebaptized, recrucify Christ. For it commands: "Do not again lay down...the doctrine of baptisms!" Indeed, such who do so, thereby "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh!" See Francis Nigel Lee's Rebaptism Impossible.
The Westminster Confession of Faith456 declares that "the sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person. Titus 3:5."
The Westminster Larger Catechism457 rightly insists that the Second Commandment requires the proper "receiving of the sacraments. Matthew 28:19." Indeed, the Third Commandment requires that the "sacraments...be holily and reverently used...by an holy profession."
Consequently, the Westminster Larger Catechism458 also requires "that baptism is to be administered but once with water -- to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ. Matthew 3:11 & Galatians 3:27." But once! Rebaptism thus denies Christ's work for us once-and-for-all!
According to both Holy Scripture and the Westminster Standards, being unbaptized is a sin. Omitting to have also one's baby baptized, is sinfully to break the Law of God. The Confession (28:5) calls this not just a minor aberration, but "a great sin."
God solemnly warns us not to neglect getting the Sacrament of initiation administered to our own babies. See Francis Nigel Lee: Have You Been Neglecting Your Baby? On the Serious Consequences of Withholding Baptism from the Infants of Christians.459
In Genesis 17:10-14, God demands that all covenant babies concerned "must needs" receive the sign of the covenant. If they do not, those babies are "cut off" from God's people. This then occurs because of the "breach" of the covenant -- through their wayward parents' sinful omission of getting the sacrament affixed to their infants.
Commented Calvin:460 "As God adopts the infant son in the person of his father, so when the father repudiates such a benefit -- the infant is said to [be] cut...off from the Church.... God indeed will not acknowledge those as among His people who...[do] not bear the mark and token of adoption.... God will take vengeance on every one who despises to impress the symbol of the covenant on his child (Genesis 17) -- such contempt being a rejection and as it were abjuration of the offered grace."
In Exodus 4:24-26, God sought to kill Moses -- for neglecting to give the sign of the covenant to his infant child. Significantly, God then threatened with death not the infant but his wayward father Moses. For "the Lord met him, and sought to kill him."
So, to prevent the death of her husband, Moses' unordained wife Zipporah herself then (very understandably yet highly irregularly) circumcised their son, and threw his foreskin at Moses' feet. "Then she said: 'You are surely a husband-of- blood to me!' Then He [God] let him [Moses] go. Thus she said: 'You are a husband-of-blood!' -- because of the circumcising."
To put this in church-historical terms, we may say that the backslidden Presbyterian Rev. Moses had temporarily lapsed from strict obedience to God -- by becoming a de facto antipaidocircumcisional or 'antipaidobaptistic' Baptist. For he had neglected himself to circumcise his infant son. His presbyterianized wife, however -- though overenthusiastically herself administering the sacrament -- had commendably remained a loyal paidocircumcisional or 'paidobaptistic' Presbyterian.
Commented Calvin:461 "Why should Zipporah have taken a sharp stone or knife, and circumcised her son -- had she not known that God was offended at his uncircumcision? ... Moses had provoked God's vengeance.... He was terrified by the approach of certain destruction.... The cause of His affliction was shewn him.... It would otherwise never have occurred to himself or his wife to circumcise the child to appease God's wrath.... Let us then learn from hence, to use reverently the Sacraments which are the seals of God's grace -- lest He should severely avenge our despisal of them!"
In Exodus 12:24-43f, God debars from the second Sacrament all adults whose infants still lack the first Sacrament. Commented Calvin:462 "They should also teach their children.... For doctrine may justly be called the life of Sacraments.... The Paschal Lamb corresponds to the Holy Supper.... None but the initiated were admitted.... From the analogy between the Holy Supper and the Passover, this Law remains in force now."
In Joshua 5:2-8, at God's command, Moses' successor Joshua circumcised the people of Israel. For they had lapsed into uncircumcision, while on their way through the wilderness.
Because of that widespread delinquency, Joshua soon thereafter told the Israelites: 'As for me and my household -- we will serve the Lord!' Joshua 24:15. For he would not only preach paidocircumcision, but -- by his personal example and that of his family -- also practise it 'puritanically' and precisely. Indeed, he would do so especially by then and thereafter training his covenant children to serve the Lord lifelong -- and thus to 'improve' the sacrament they had received in infancy.
As Rev. Prof. Dr. John Calvin explained of the soon-backsliding and indeed then-anabapticizing and de- presbyterianizing antipaidocircumcisional Israelites:463 "They did not desist from circumcising their children the very first day after their departure [from Egypt], but only after they had been obliged to retrace their steps through their own perverseness.... None were circumcised on the way, after they had set out.... For it is said that their sons...were circumcised by Joshua....
"The real object of Joshua was...to renew and confirm the covenant which God had already made.... To impress them [the 'anabapticized' people] with a feeling of shame -- he declares that he and his house will persevere in the worship of God." For Joshua the Presbyterian would represbyterianize those antipaidocircumcisionized backslidden 'Baptists.'
Let us now put the above in church-historical terms easily understandable in an anabapticized Clintonic America today almost totally fallen away from its colonial heritage of paidobaptistic Puritanism. After the exodus, the previously- Presbyterian people of God had lapsed into an 'anabaptistic' antipaidocircumcisionalism (or 'antipaidobapticism'). Thus the Israelites had become de facto Baptists. But the faithful and paidocircumcisional or 'paidobaptistic' Joshua now represbyterianized them -- even as paidobaptist Presbyterians must now repuritanize Clinton the Baptist's U.S.A.
Indeed, Joshua did this not by impossibly attempting to recircumcise the circumcised -- but by circumcising all of those of them and of their infants who had grown up uncircumcised. He also did so -- by declaring that, whatever the people themselves would thenceforth do, at least he and his household would paidocircumcisionally and presbyterianly serve the Lord.
In Ezekiel 44:7 -- a foreshadowing of the New Testament Church --God rebukes those who have received the Sacrament of initiation for bringing those who have not, to worship in His presence. Declares God: "You have brought into My sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to pollute it.... They have broken My covenant." What application does this have to baptized Baptists, who regard their own babies as strangers to God but yet bring them to worship Him?
In Luke 7:29f, God declares that "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized." Commented Calvin:464 "It was already an evidence of their piety, that they [the godly] presented themselves to be baptized.... The scribes, in despising the baptism of John, shut against themselves, through their pride, the gate of faith.... Let us first guard against despising the very least of God's invitations, and be prepared in humility to commence with small and elementary instructions!"
In Acts 2:38f, God commands the penitent: "Be baptized every one of you..., for the promise is unto you and to your children!" Commented Calvin:465 "This passage therefore sufficiently refutes the Anabaptists, who deny baptism to the children of the faithful while they are still infants, as though they were not members of the Church.... This gross presumption is of no profit to them."
In Acts 11:16f, Peter saw his baptizing of the entire family of Cornelius as a fulfilment of Christ's prediction that people would be baptized with the Holy Spirit at and after His outpouring. Peter added "What was I, that I could withstand God?" Commented Calvin:466 "Those who are opposing infant baptism, are waging war against God."
According to the Westminster Larger Catechism,467 the Fifth Commandment requires fathers and mothers not to commit "sins" by "the neglect of the duties required of them" -- such as that of bringing their children to be baptized. "Second Kings 5:13; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:6f; Ezekiel 34:2-4."
Indeed, the Westminster Larger Catechism468 requires that "infants descending from parents either both or but one of them professing faith in Christ...are...to be baptized. Genesis 17:7f; Galatians 3:9f; Colossians 2:11f; Acts 2:38f; Romans 4:11f; First Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 28:19; Luke 18:15f; Romans 11:16."
Rightly does the Westminster Confession469 therefore conclude that "also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.... It be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance. Luke 7:30 & Exodus 4:24-26."
God has not left us in the dark as to how to overcome Anabaptist (and all other deleterious) influences even in our modern world. Those methods are: firstly, the powerful preaching of the Gospel; secondly, the 'improving' (or daily living-out) of one's own baptism; thirdly, the joyful outworking of the preached Word of God; fourthly, the State's punishment of criminals. Thus, fifthly, do we confidently approach the future millenium --when Consistent Christianity (alias Calvinism) will triumph internationally.
Firstly, there needs to be the powerful preaching of the Gospel. States the Westminster Larger Catechism: "The Spirit of God maketh the reading but especially the preaching of the Word an effectual means of enlightening, convincing and humbling sinners...and drawing them unto Christ...; of strengthening them against temptations and corruptions...and establishing their hearts in holiness. Nehemiah 8:8; Acts 2:37-41; 8:27-38; 26:18; Psalm 19:8; Matthew 4:4-10; Ephesians 6:16f..... They that are called to labour in the Ministry of the Word, are to preach sound doctrine...in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Titus 2:1-8 & First Corinthians 2:4."470
Secondly, Christians are to 'improve' their own baptism. States the Westminster Larger Catechism:471 "The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism is to be performed by us all our life long..., by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it and...the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby and our solemn vow made therein; by...growing up to assurance of pardon of sin and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ into Whom we are baptized...; and by endeavouring to live by faith...in holiness and righteousness. Colossians 2:11f; Romans 6:4-11; Galatians 3:26f; Romans 6:22."
Thirdly -- and proceeding from the aforegoing -- there is to be a joyful outworking of the Word of God in our lives. States the Westminster Confession of Faith:472 "They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are farther sanctified really and personally through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them. John 17:17; Second Thessalonians 2:13.... Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. John 15:4f; Ezekiel 36:26f....
"There is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12f & 4:13; Second Corinthians 3:5. Yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit. But they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them..., the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God revealed in the Law requireth to be done. Hebrews 6:11f; Second Peter 1:3-11; Isaiah 64:7; Second Timothy 1:6; Acts 26:6f; Jude 20f; Ezekiel 36:27; Hebrews 8:10; Jeremiah 31:33."
Fourthly, the State, as God's servant, is to punish all criminals. Explains the Westminster Confession of Faith:473 "They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power or the lawful exercise of it...resist the ordinance of God. Matthew 12:35; First Peter 2:13-16; Romans 13:1-8....
"For their publishing of such opinions or maintaining of such practices as are contrary to the light of nature or to the known principles of Christianity..., they may lawfully be called to account and proceeded against...by the power of the civil magistrate. Romans 1:32; Deuteronomy 13:6-12; Ezra 7:23-28; Nehemiah 13:5-30; Second Kings 23:5- 21; Second Chronicles 34:33 & 15:12-16; Daniel 3:29; First Timothy 2:2; Isaiah 49:23; Zechariah 12:2f.... God the supreme Lord and King of all the world hath ordained civil magistrates to be under Him over the people...for the defence and encouragement of them that are good and for the punishment of evil-doers. Romans 13:1-4; First Peter 2:13f."
Fifthly, we are confident of the Church's future. States the Westminster Larger Catechism:474 "Christ was exalted in His ascension..., triumphing over enemies. Ephesians 4:8." He "visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men. Acts 1:9-11; Ephesians 4:10; Psalm 68:18.... As God-man, He is advanced to the highest favour with God the Father...and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend His Church and subdue their enemies. Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:22; First Peter 3:22; Romans 8:34." This confidence is rooted in the Lord's Prayer.
It is quite inevitable that all our planet's nations (obviously including their babies) will yet be brought into baptismal subjection to the Triune God. For Jesus urges and promises this, in the "Lord's prayer" for His disciples. There, He enjoins us to pray each day: "Thy Kingdom come!" Matthew 6:10 & Luke 11:2. God commands this; and God will execute this.
Here, explains the Westminster Larger Catechism,475 "we pray: that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed; the Gospel propagated throughout the world; the Jews called; the fulness of the Gentiles brought in." This is a prayer that "the Church [be] furnished with all Gospel-Offices and Ordinances" such as infant baptism. It is an earnest petition that the Church be "purged from corruption" such as Anabaptism, and be "countenanced and maintained by the Civil Magistrate" against all ungodliness -- so "that the Ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed." Romans 10:1f & 11:25f. This is a petition that baptism no longer be limited by some to adults alone -- nor repeated in adulthood to those already baptized in infancy.
The Westminster Assembly's Directory for the Publick Worship of God rightly understands the above petition to be a promise that the Church will ultimately calvinize all the world. That includes de-brainwashing heretics -- and redirecting them toward the untruncated Word of God.
For in the 'Publick Prayer before the Sermon'476 the Minister is "to pray for the propagation of the Gospel and Kingdom of Christ to all nations -- for the conversion of the Jews; the fulness of the Gentiles; the fall of Antichrist." He is also to pray: "for the deliverance of the distressed churches abroad from the tyranny of the antichristian faction and from the cruel oppressions and blasphemies of the Turks [or the Moslems]; for the blessing of God upon the Reformed Churches"; and for God to "establish...the purity of all His Ordinances, and...remove heresy."
This is to be effected even in "the universities and all schools and religious seminaries of Church and Commonwealth, [so] that they may flourish more and more in learning and piety." For we are to pray "that God would pour out a blessing upon the Ministry of the Word, Sacraments and Discipline; upon the Civil Government; and all the several families and persons therein." This is to be done "with confidence of His mercy to His whole Church" -- thus giving "evidence and demonstration of the Spirit and power."
The above Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God was intended to provide a uniform international religion for the united kingdom of England and Wales, the kingdom of Ireland, and the kingdom of Scotland. On 3rd February 1645, it was put into execution by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.477 Its relevant Act declared:
"Whereas an happy unity and uniformity in religion amongst the kirks of Christ in these three kingdoms...having been long and earnestly wished for by the godly and well-affected amongst us..., these kingdoms...are now by the blessing of God brought to a nearer uniformity than any other Reformed Kirk." This is for us "the return of our prayers, and a lightening of our eyes, and reviving of our hearts...., and an opening unto us a door of hope...in the expectation and confidence whereof we do rejoice."
Thus we are confidently "beseeching the Lord to preserve these kingdoms from heresies..., and to continue with us and the generations following these His pure and purged Ordinances, together with an increase of the power and life thereof -- to the glory of His great Name, the enlargement of the Kingdom of His Son, and the...unity and comfort of all His people."
In 1648, both the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and the Parliament of the Committee of Estates of Scotland approved the Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant. That declared:478 "Because religion is of all things the most excellent and precious, the advancing and promoting the power thereof against all...Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Arminianism, and Socianianism, Familism, Libertinism, Scepticism, and Erastianism...shall be studied and endeavoured by us before all worldly interests."
Similarly, on 31st May 1851, the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland declared479 that "it pleased Almighty God in His great and undeserved mercy to reform this Church from Popery -- by Presbyters.... Nations and their rulers are bound to own the truth of God, and to advance the Kingdom of His Son.... How signally God opened for her...a door of utterance and a door of entrance not only in this but in other countries also..., this Church cannot but most devoutly acknowledge....
"In the holy boldness of faith unfeigned, she would still seek...to prosecute the ends contemplated from the beginning in all the acts and deeds of her reforming fathers -- until the errors which they renounced shall have disappeared from the land, and the true system which they upheld shall be so universally received -- that the whole people, rightly instructed in the faith, shall unite to glorify God the Father in the full acknowledgment of the Kingdom of His Son our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to Whose Name be praise for ever and ever!"
Karl Marx, himself a stepchild of the communistic Anabaptists, loved to enjoin: "Workers of the world -- unite!"480 But, standing upon Scripture, Christian Calvinists now say to all such stepchildren: "Anabaptists of all countries -- repent!"
We therefore call upon all of the various stepchildren of the Anabaptists -- including justified Baptists; heretical Seventh-day Adventists; apostate "Jehovah witnesses"; polytheistic Mormons; and atheistic Communists -- to repent of their great sin of antipaidobaptism (and of all their other sins).
Standing upon Scripture -- Matthew 28:18f and Revelation 7:2f & 9:4 & 12:17 & 14:1 & 21:2,24 & 22:3f -- we now call upon them all to repent of their antipaidobaptism. We call upon them: to bring their babies and their other children to that great King of men and divine Leader of angels, the mighty Archangel Jesus; to get them all baptized on their foreheads with the seal of the Triune God; and then to urge them life-long to improve that baptism.
To His Ministers of the Word and Sacraments, "Jesus came and spake...saying, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make all nations into [My] disciples, baptizing them into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, continuing to teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded!'"
In the last book of the Bible, the Apostle John declared: "I saw an...Angel [apparently the risen Christ Himself] ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And He cried out with a loud voice...saying [to His angels], 'Do not hurt the land nor the sea nor the trees -- till We [the Three Persons of the Triune God through His Ministers of the Word and Sacraments] have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads!' And I heard the number of them which were sealed -- sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel....
"I beheld [or kept on beholding]," continued John. "Then look, a great multitude which no man could number -- of all nations and kindreds...stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.... They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
John also heard God's Spirit say: "Do not hurt the grass of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree; but only those men who do not have the seal of God upon their foreheads.... But the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war against the rest of her seed -- who keep the Commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Finally, John observed with joy: "I looked, and behold -- a Lamb stood upon Mount Zion [the Christian Church]! And those with Him have His Father's Name written upon their foreheads.... I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem coming down from God.... The nations of those who are saved, shall walk in the light of it.... There shall be no more curse. But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. Then they shall see His face; and His Name shall be upon their foreheads!"
412 R.G. Torbet: A History of the Baptists, The Carey Kingsgate Press Ltd., London (1950), 1966, pp. 20-35.
413 Estep's op. cit. p. 231; and R.G. Clouse's Church of the Brethren, in Douglas's op. cit. p. 228.
414 See above at n. 412f.
415 See Torbet's op. cit. pp. 20-35; and Payne's The Anabaptists of the 16th Century and Their Influence in the Modern World (London, 1949), pp. 18-21.
416 E.B. Bax's Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists, London, 1903, chs. 5-9; C.-P. Clasen's Medieval Heresies in the Reformation (in Dec. 1963 Church History, XXXII:4, pp. 392-414); H.E. Dosker's The Dutch Anabaptists, pp. 45f; A.H. Newman's History of Anti-pedobaptism (Philadelphia, 1897), chs. 7,21,22; J.H. Shakespeare's Baptist and Congregational Pioneers, London, 1905.
417 Hulse's op. cit. pp. 21,25,52.
418 J.G.G. Norman's Smyth, John (c.1565-1612), in Douglas's op. cit. pp. x & 911.
419 Estep's op. cit. p. 221.
420 West's op. cit. pp. 223f & 265f.
421 Ib. p. 220.
422 T. Helwys: Baptist Confession, 1611, art. 3 reads that "God imposes the necessity of sin on nobody." Compare Estep's op. cit. p. 222: "Helwys...in his first confession of faith...was one with Smyth in denying original sin.... Other aspects of an Arminian soteriology were retained."
423 A.M. Derham's Helwys, Thomas (c. 1550 - c. 1616), in Douglas's op. cit. p. 459. See too the Baptist Confession of 1611, art. 10 (in Schaff's Creeds I pp. 857f).
424 Ib. p. 224.
425 R.S. Ward's Baptism in Scripture and History, pp. 58f.
426 Rad. Ref. p. 788.
427 Schaff's Creeds I pp. 849f.
428 R. Williams: The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed, ed. Edward Bean Underhill, Hanserd Knollys Soc., London, 1848, pp. 1-2: "It is the will and command of God that...a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish or anti-christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries." Cited in Estep's op. cit. pp. 226 & 235 n. 63.
429 Estep's op. cit. p. 228. Per contra, J. Cotton's Abstract of the Laws of New England (1641).
430 Op. cit. p. 7. Cf. too p. 92: "North America...29,681,927." World total = "33,749,228."
431 Ib. pp. 89-91.
432 Op. cit. p. 229.
433 P.J.S. de Klerk: Reformed Symbolics, Van Schaik, Pretoria, 1954, pp. 88f.
434 W.L. Lumpkin: Baptist Confessions of Faith, Judson, Philadelphia, 1959, p. 157.
435 Marginal note, in the Particular Baptists' 1644 Confession of Faith of those churches which are commonly...called 'Anabaptist'. See too our text at the previous three footnotes.
436 See De Klerk's op. cit. p. 89.
437 Art. 29; and Schaff's Creeds I pp. 835f,849f,855f.
439 Ib. pp. 88f.
440 F.N. Lee: I Confess! Holy Scripture, the Westminster Confession, and the Declaratory Statement: Their Relationship to One Another in the Presbyterian Church of Australia (revised ed., Brisbane 1991), pp. 29f.
441 Westminster Directory for the Publick Worship of God: Of the Administration of the Sacraments -- and first, of Baptism, in the Subordinate Standards of the Free Church of Scotland, Free Church Offices, Edinburgh, 1933, pp. 293f.
442 West. Conf. 7:2 & 19:1.
443 Ib. 10:3.
444 Ib. 24:2 & 25:1-3.
445 Ib. 28:1-7.
446 West. Larg. Cat. 30 & 35.
447 Ib. 165f & 177.
448 West. Short. Cat. 94.
449 West. Conf. 20:4.
450 Ib. 21:3.
451 Ib. 22:2.
452 Ib. 23:1.
453 Ib. 24:1.
454 Ib. 24:5.
455 Ib. 26:3.
456 Ib. 28:7.
457 West. Larg. Cat. 108 & 112.
458 Ib. 177.
459 Jesus Lives, 3 Kenya St., Wavell Heights, Australia, 1981.
460 J. Calvin: Commentaries on the First Book of Moses called Genesis (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1948), I pp. 458f; and Calvin's Inst. IV:16:9.
461 J. Calvin: Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses arranged in the Form of a Harmony. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1948, I p. 106.
462 Ib. pp. 465-67.
463 J. Calvin's Commentaries on the Book of Joshua (5:2-8 & 24:15), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1948, pp. 80f & 276f.
464 J. Calvin: Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965, II p. 19.
465 J. Calvin: The Acts of the Apostles, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965, I pp. 19f.
466 Ib. p. 325.
467 West. Larg. Cat. 124-130.
468 Ib. 166.
469 West. Conf. 28:4f.
470 West. Larg. Cat. 155 & 159.
471 Ib. 167.
472 West. Conf. 13:1; 16:3; 19:7.
473 Ib. 20:4 & 23:1.
474 West. Larg. Cat. 53-54.
475 West. Larg. Cat. 191.
476 The Subordinate Standards, pp. 290f..... 477) Ib. pp. 286f.
478 Solemn Acknowledgement of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant, in The Subordinate Standards pp. 280 & 283.
479 Ib. pp. v,vi,xiv,xv. Cf. the West. Conf. 8:8; and the West. Larg. Cat. 45, 52, 53, & 54.
480 Cf. the last words in any edition of K. Marx & F. Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848).
This material may be reproduced and circulated, providing written credit is given to its author, Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, of the Queensland Presbyterian Theological Hall in Australia. (within Emmanuel College, Upland Road, St Lucia, QLD, Australia 4067). Phone: Intl. +61 7 3266 1688.
The right of (re)publication by the author in any different way is hereby reserved.
Converted by R. J. Long , of Dominion Data using routines developed by Oblong Software Products
The Reformed Reader Home Page
Copyright 1999, The Reformed Reader, All Rights Reserved