Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hübmaier replies to Warfield

…or something like that.[i]

Presbyterian B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) writes,
“It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the New Testament, no express record of the baptism of infants, and no passages so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized. If such warrant as this were necessary to justify the usage we should have to leave it incompletely justified. But the lack of this express warrant is something far short of forbidding the rite...As Lightfoot expressed it long ago, ‘It is not forbidden’ in the New Testament to ‘baptize infants, — therefore, they are to be baptized’.”[ii]

Anabaptist Balthasar Hübmaier (1480-1528) replies,
“It is clear enough for him who has eyes to see it, but it is not expressed in so many words, literally: ‘do not baptize infants.’ May one then baptize them? To that I answer: ‘if so I may baptize my dog or my donkey, or I may circumsise girls...I may make idols out of St. Paul and St. Peter, I may bring infants to the Lord’s Supper, bless palm branches, vegetables, salt, land and water, sell the Mass for an offering.’ For it is nowhere said in express words that we must not do these things.”[iii]

Interesting how the Anabaptist/Baptist position of believer’s baptism accords with the Regulative Principle, while infant baptism does not – though a good many Pedobaptists profess to hold the Regulative Principle.

[i] Not a direct reply obviously, since Hübmaier wrote first by over 350 years; but the answer of Hübmaier rather than the assertion of Warfield agrees with the “Regulative Principle,” which Presbyterians are supposed to hold: “...the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture...The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy  receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God... Excerpts from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, Paragraphs 1 & 5; emphasis mine
[ii] In “The Polemics of Infant Baptism,” The Presbyterian Quarterly, xiii. 1899, pp. 313-334
[iii] “The Christian Baptism of Believers,” in The Writings of Balthasar Hubmaier (translated by G. D. Davidson, 3 vols., 1939, p. 121) as quoted in The Anabaptist Story: an Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism (William R. Estep, 1996,  p. 90)

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