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Amandus Polanus on Baptism

June 27, 2007

Thus far concerning the of the minister administering baptism: now concerning the action of a faithful man that is baptized.

The faithful that is baptized receives the outward baptism of water, that thee may be signified and sealed up unto him, that he is as assuredly washed from his sins, by the blood and Spirit of Christ, as his body is certainly sprinkled & washed with water. Reve. 7:14. Ezech. 36:25.

To be washed with the blood and Spirit of Christ, is to be made partakers of the benefits of the covenant of grace, that is to say, to be reconciled, justified, regenerated, adopted by God, to be his son, to be endued with the freedom of the sons of God, and so forth.

The outward man feels the force of the water: but the inward man feels the powerful working of the blood and Spirit of Christ.

Even infidels are washed with water: but believers only with the blood and the Spirit of Christ.

Therefore no all that are baptize receive remission of sins and regeneration, but the believers only.

To the receiving of baptism, there must be adjoined thanksgiving, which is presently performed by him that is baptized, if he be an adult, or of the years of discretion, or by the witness of his stead, if he be an infant: who yet notwithstanding afterwards when he shall come to years of discretion ought all his life be thankful to God for this benefit.

The peculiar ends of Baptism are.
1. That it may be a seal unto us, of our receiving into the covenant of grace, and fellowship with Christ and the Church, Act. 2:29. Gal. 3:27. 1 Cor 12:13. Therefore Augustine calls baptism, the kingly character or mark, also the character or badge of Christ our Emperor: because that by baptism, as it were by a certain note, Christians are discerned from the other sects, and drawn to acknowledge Christ for their king and Emperor.

2. That by the outward washing, it might represent and confirm unto us the inward cleansing of our souls, which stand in the justification and regeneration, Ephes. 5.26. wherefore baptism does confirm unto every one of us, but that all our sins, original and actual, are forgiven us, for the death of Christ, Act. 2:38. and 22:26. Rom. 6:3. and also that we are clothed with his righteousness, Gal. 3:27. and that we are regenerated by the Holy Ghost, Tit. 3:5. And in the same sense is it said, that baptism saves us, 1 Pet. 3:21. because it seals unto us eternal salvation.

3. To put us in mind of repentance, and of changing our life to the better, Matt. 3:11.

4. That thereby we might be sealed to the certain hope of the resurrection, and of blessed and eternal life.

Now not only those that are of years of discretion, and profess the faith in Christ are to be baptized: but also infants of Christians.

1. Because the very infants are comprehended in the covenant of the grace of God. 1 Cor. 7:14. And therefore both the faith of the parents themselves, and of the Church is confirmed by this sign, that God will be the God and Saviour, as of the faithful parents themselves, so of their seed and children: which promise of his, he at his good time performs in the elect. Rom. 8:29, 30. Tit. 3:5.
2. Because to them also belongs the promise of forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ.
3. Because they belong to the Church of God.
4. Because they are redeemed by the blood of Christ.
5. Because to them is promised the Holy Spirit.
6. Because they are to be discerned from the children of infidels.
7. Because in the Old Testament infants were to be circumcised.

Therefore every of the faithful one should be but once baptized, as the Israelites were but once circumcised, because we are but once only born. And as circumcision was the nativity or first beginning of Judaism, so baptism is the first beginning of Christianity.

And though we but once baptized, yet is baptism unto us a perpetual sacrament, of the washing from sin, and of our regeneration, that is to say, as baptism does not only evacuate and wash away original sin, but also all other sins, past and present. For they that are baptized, are baptized into Christ’s death. Now Christ’s death is available, not only to wash away those sins, that go before baptism, but those also which in our whole life follow baptism, so that we have not need, to devise a new sacrament, and second table. But does as the Apostle does, who calls the Galatians back to the grace of baptism, Gal. 3:27. So many as are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.

In baptism original sin is washed away and taken away, specially as concerning the guilt, that is to say, the fault and the punishment, there remaining notwithstanding the vitiation, and the sickness, that is to say, wicked lust and inclination to evil: and that to this end, we might all our life long, fight against sin, and the devil, the author of sin, we in the meanwhile continually calling upon God, and constantly cleaving unto him.

Amandus Polanus, The Substance of Christian Religion, (London: Arn. Hatfield, 1600), 327-332.

There are some other comments from Polanus which I will try and get to later.

As I was typing this up, I had to wonder about the ordo sulutis on all this. :-) Clearly Polanus is operating by some other schema that does not quite match up with the later Protestant Scholastic ordo.

What is also interesting is that like the others, Calvin, Ursinus, Bullinger, Vermigli, and Kimedoncius, he is not separating the thing signified and the thing itself. And so he is not just reading Gal 3:27 as some sort of mere social identity marker, or external covenant marker.

David

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2007 2:35 pm

    David P.:
    As I was typing this up, I had to wonder about the ordo sulutis on all this. Clearly Polanus is operating by some other schema that does not quite match up with the later Protestant Scholastic ordo. >>>>

    DL:
    Don’t the older guys have baptism first, since it is in or during baptism that one is regenerated? They take the actual act of baptising very literally it seems.

    DL:
    Of course, I think sometimes that we lowest of the low Evangelicals put too little stock in baptism, though we say that there is something spiritual in the _obedience_ to submit to baptism.

    DL:
    There is more “going on” at baptism than most of us Baptist types admit to, but considerably less than what Polanus proposes, right? Even so, there are some beautiful thoughts in these quotes.

    I like, “The outward man feels the force of the water: but the inward man feels the powerful working of the blood and Spirit of Christ.

    Even infidels are washed with water: but believers only with the blood and the Spirit of Christ.”

    Thank you, David,
    Donna L. Carlaw

  2. Flynn permalink
    June 27, 2007 5:18 pm

    G’day Donna,

    Yes something else is happening in their system which we moderns don’t have categories for right now. I know that quite a few read some of the Calvin stuff and can only conceptualised his comments as Romanist. I believe that quite a few have a basic epistemological naivete when it comes to some of this. Anyway…

    I was thinking about this as I was driving home too. Recall that for Calvin, regeneration is progressive. In his tract against the Anabaptists and Libertines, he says that any man who says they are completely regenerated is a liar, or words to that effect.

    And if I recall correctly, justification and sanctification in Calvin were not completely distinguished. I don’t know enough about the others yet to know if they held to anything comparable. Perhaps Musculus will reveal something when I get around to reading him.

    But if we just stay with Calvin, it would be undeniable that his “ordo” would look very different to the modern calvinist ordo.

    One of the reasons I am posting these early comments on baptism is because they show that for early Reformation theology, many ideas were fluid, and that there was a lot of diversity at this time as men were trying to create their own synthesis. My basic contention is that the first generation Reformers were the close of the Medieval synthetic theological paradigms. Others who came after represent a radical paradigmatic shift. I don’t believe folk like Nicole, Helm, Rainbow even Muller properly appreciate this. I don’t believe some scholars today are properly appreciative of critical transitional theologians who began to reshape Augustinianism (rightly or wrongly).

    If the early Reformation view of Baptism could undergo such a radical shift within 100 years, such that many of the claims made by these guys would be discarded, what other doctrines may have been subject to radical revision?

    My other point is that only by reading these guys, reading lots of material, can we begin to see how they connect baptism with regeneration and how they are reading the texts at hand. I think Josh the other day spotted this when he asked me for commentary. He expressed what many of us moderns want to say when we see these folk use biblical passages in the way they did.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

  3. Flynn permalink
    June 27, 2007 5:32 pm

    Okay I want to say something else. Too many folk really imagine that they can just read Calvin’s comments on a given subject from the Institutes and that makes them an authority on Calvin. With some its gotten to the point where they are almost delusional. I am thinking of some of the hypers on the net. And this is why I am trying to post quotations and documentation in larger numbers so readers can get a feel of what was happening with various theological topics, how they were evolving, devolving, or even just remaining static as the topic was handled by various Reformed theologians through the generations. It is for this reason I am trying to contrast some of the continuities and discontinuities between the First Reformers, the Protestant Scholastics and even the Hypercalvinists (either Gillite or Hoeksemian or Clarkian).

    We have to stop thinking Reformation theology is monolithic, and that, for example, men like Turretin and Owen were transparent exact images of men like Calvin and Musculus, or whoever. It’s this bogus perception of a monolithic Reformation theology that has enabled men like Nicole, Helm (whom I quite respect btw), Archbald, and Rainbow to read back later theological contructions into Calvin et al. They read later paradigms and arguments back into these men. And they get away with it because for the most part, many have bought into the idea that Reformation theology was essentially monolithic theologically, even if form and structure was diverse as per Muller (this is why a lot of what Muller argues does not help us).

    Take care,
    David

  4. June 28, 2007 2:05 pm

    David:
    One of the reasons I am posting these early comments on baptism is because they show that for early Reformation theology, many ideas were fluid, and that there was a lot of diversity at this time as men were trying to create their own synthesis.>>>

    DL:
    Well, I have not been around Reformed “stuff” long enough to really be very into it all. However, your comments on the fluidity of early Reformation theology makes me wonder how some of the new Reformed folks – like Wilson – can be such a threat to the Reformation itself.

    DL:
    Of course, I am looking in from the outside – or at least from the entryway. To me, it is all kind of mind-blowing and fascinating.

    David:
    And if I recall correctly, justification and sanctification in Calvin were not completely distinguished.>>>

    DL:
    Well, I don’t know how they can be completely distinguished. It seems a bit artifical and unnecessary linguistically to make such a wall of division between justification and sanctification. After all, if you look at those Greek verbs that Paul uses, a lot of them are in the present tense! It would have helped if he had thrown them into the aorist or perfect. :-)

    DL:
    Of course, I am just a cheeky monkey. David, I don’t know why, but I find all this information and your explanations to be refreshing and really helpful. What you share gives me hope that I can find a little corner in Calvinism to feel at home – kind of like the little bird making her nest in the temple that the Psalmist talked about. What a joyful place to be!

  5. Flynn permalink
    June 28, 2007 4:04 pm

    Hey there Donna,

    DL:
    Well, I have not been around Reformed “stuff” long enough to really be very into it all. However, your comments on the fluidity of early Reformation theology makes me wonder how some of the new Reformed folks – like Wilson – can be such a threat to the Reformation itself.

    David: He is perceived as a threat to the current expression of Reformed theology. It is causing a lot of folk to hunker down. I have to wonder if it is not all the reaction to FV that has actually made FV more popular. I never even started reading Wilson until all this blew up recently. I never read any of them on this, apart from one; but even then my reading was more scanning, as trying to stare at something I couldn’t figure out all to well.

    DL:
    Of course, I am looking in from the outside – or at least from the entryway. To me, it is all kind of mind-blowing and fascinating.

    David: I am an outsider too. My take is that of 1) the historical theologian’s point of view; and 2) a real hard-earned dislike of legalism and black and white thinking. I had enough of that in my old hyper days.

    DL:
    Well, I don’t know how they can be completely distinguished. It seems a bit artificial and unnecessary linguistically to make such a wall of division between justification and sanctification. After all, if you look at those Greek verbs that Paul uses, a lot of them are in the present tense! It would have helped if he had thrown them into the aorist or perfect. :-)

    David: A lot of the key words for new birth etc are in the aorist. But as I understand it, the theology that now dominates, the ordo salutis etc, arose out of a context that saw the aorist as a punctiliar instantaneous event in the past. So present tense continuous was like a line, the aorist was a simple dot. But now modern Greek sees the aorist as an undefined aspect in the past, it is not making a statement that the aspect is instantaneous, etc. So I wonder how that will impact modern discussions of Regeneration, and if Calvin’s progressive regeneration view will ever come back into vogue. From what I can see and read in Calvin, he is not treating the aorist as an instantaneous action completed in the past. Rather, he allows the metaphor as a whole, not the “tense” of a verb to dominate his thinking.

    DL:
    Of course, I am just a cheeky monkey. David, I don’t know why, but I find all this information and your explanations to be refreshing and really helpful. What you share gives me hope that I can find a little corner in Calvinism to feel at home – kind of like the little bird making her nest in the temple that the Psalmist talked about. What a joyful place to be!

    David: Originally Calvinism was broad. You had all sorts of Calvinists, all with bunches of nuances and twists and turns. However, later on, there was a big move to tighten up the orthodox. I don’t think that’s been good over all. We need the diversity.

    Take care,
    David

  6. June 29, 2007 11:28 am

    David:
    David: A lot of the key words for new birth etc are in the aorist. But as I understand it, the theology that now dominates, the ordo salutis etc, arose out of a context that saw the aorist as a punctiliar instantaneous event in the past. So present tense continuous was like a line, the aorist was a simple dot. But now modern Greek sees the aorist as an undefined aspect in the past, it is not making a statement that the aspect is instantaneous, etc. >>>>

    DL:
    Well, David, I’ll make a couple more comments. I appreciate your taking the time to respond, and your taking the time to post these great quotes. FWIW, coming to Calvinism – even my, as some might say, sloppy, simplistic, “in-the-ball-park” understanding of it – has made me feel as though I were coming home.

    DL:
    I appreciate what you say about the aorist. Since I have become fluent in Spanish, I have wondered about a lot of the things I was taught in Greek class many moons ago.

    DL:
    I think that the punctiliar (aorist) verses continuous action in the past (imperfect) is an attempt to help English-speakers understand the differences between these two tenses.

    DL:
    Then, in English we have present tense and also a progressive present. Like “I walk” verses “I am walking.” In the Greek, I guess that both ideas are contained in the present.

    DL:
    Anyway…It kind of solidified into punctiliar verses continuous action, but more in the minds of English-speakers, I think. I have wondered about that kind of absolutism based on ancient Greek tenses – especially since I learned Spanish, which seems to work a lot more like Greek than English does. Anyway…

    DL:
    I think that the Greek works better when filtered through a French-speaking commentator such as Calvin. Of course, my opinions really don’t have a lot of weight, and are just based on a “feeling” of how language works. I have studied Latin and Greek, though, and am fluent in Spanish. I also play the oboe. All that should count for something. :-)

    DL:
    The pre-schoolers I work with don’t get all that complex anyway. The more simplistic the better…but it doesn’t hurt me at all to stretch my mind a little.

    DL:
    Anyway, keep it coming, David, as you have time and interest.

    God bless, and please take care,
    DL

  7. Flynn permalink
    June 29, 2007 4:05 pm

    G’day Donna,

    DL:
    Well, David, I’ll make a couple more comments. I appreciate your taking the time to respond, and your taking the time to post these great quotes. FWIW, coming to Calvinism – even my, as some might say, sloppy, simplistic, “in-the-ball-park” understanding of it – has made me feel as though I were coming home.

    David: thats good. There are key structures within Augustinian-Calvinist soteriology that connect with our hard-wiring as Gods creatures. I should invert that ordering: we are hard-wired to connect, to want to connect, with the Bible’s understanding of salvation and redemption and God himself.

    DL:
    I appreciate what you say about the aorist. Since I have become fluent in Spanish, I have wondered about a lot of the things I was taught in Greek class many moons ago.

    David: It was ironic at one moment. We would come out of Greek class and learn about the aorist now not to be understood as a punctiliar event, and then go next door into systematics and have the prof tell us that regeneration is instantaneous because the aorist is punctiliar. I think the systematics prof was out of date. :-) Of course, the idea of informing the prof that he is using out-dated Greek didnt go down well with my friends. :-) I ended up keeping my mouth shut.

    DL:
    I think that the punctiliar (aorist) verses continuous action in the past (imperfect) is an attempt to help English-speakers understand the differences between these two tenses.

    David: sure, but to build a theological construction on such a line of reasoning is a little tricky [understatement]. :-)

    cut

    DL:
    Anyway…It kind of solidified into punctiliar verses continuous action, but more in the minds of English-speakers, I think. I have wondered about that kind of absolutism based on ancient Greek tenses – especially since I learned Spanish, which seems to work a lot more like Greek than English does. Anyway…

    David: the danger is grounding ones scholarship in the shifting sands of academia. We often love change for change’s sake.

    DL:
    I think that the Greek works better when filtered through a French-speaking commentator such as Calvin. Of course, my opinions really don’t have a lot of weight, and are just based on a “feeling” of how language works. I have studied Latin and Greek, though, and am fluent in Spanish. I also play the oboe. All that should count for something. :-)

    David: That looks intriguing but I dont know enough about the nuances and distinctions. I once tried searching for articles on the history of the aorist but didnt get very far. I think thats gotta be reserved for a conversation with Dan Wallace.

    cut

    DL: Anyway, keep it coming, David, as you have time and interest.

    David: thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I think I can hear the heresy-hunters beating on my office door. :-) But that aside, the thing to keep in mind is that before one jumps to a judgement regarding Calvin, et al, the thing to do is read, read some more and then read still some more. One can only get inside the mind and thought of Calvin by a lot of patient reading. What has interested me too has been the supposition that Calvin’s constructions did not arise out of a vacuum. So I have been reading around him, other contemporaries, to get clues about his expressions etc. Its worked and has been very enlightening.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

  8. June 30, 2007 5:31 pm

    David:
    There are key structures within Augustinian-Calvinist soteriology that connect with our hard-wiring as Gods creatures. I should invert that ordering: we are hard-wired to connect, to want to connect, with the Bible’s understanding of salvation and redemption and God himself. >>>>

    DL:
    Wow! Great thoughts, David.

    David: That looks intriguing but I dont know enough about the nuances and distinctions. I once tried searching for articles on the history of the aorist but didnt get very far. I think thats gotta be reserved for a conversation with Dan Wallace.>>>>

    DL:
    Have you ever asked Prof. Conrad over at B Greek? I asked him once about the middle voice and when it acted like a reflexive verb. He aksed me when the middle voice is _not_ reflexive. Duh! Why don’t they just call it reflexive, then?
    :-)

    DL:
    Aorist is close enough to preterit for my purposes, but I won’t tell a lot of people that.

    David:
    David: thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes I think I can hear the heresy-hunters beating on my office door. >>>>

    DL:
    You know what Quijote would say to you, don’t you?

    “Sancho, deje que los perros ladran, es que cabalgamos…”

    “Sancho, let the dogs bark…we’re making advances…”

    (That’s not the exact quote, but it’s what one of my Chilean friends always says.)

    DL:
    He also said: “Quien a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija…”

    “The one who gets close to a good tree will have good shade.”

    …and some counter with: “Quien a buen árbol se arrima, buen árbol le pueda caer encima.” :-)

    “The one who gets close to a good tree might have that good tree fall on top of him.” :-)

    DL:
    Don’t sweat it, David. You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do. This is considerably more than just a nerdy interest in collecting quotes from dead theologians with last names that sound like food. I suspect that you couldn’t NOT do what you are doing.

    DL:
    Well, I’ll stop bugging you for awhile – time off for good behaviour and all that… My daughter and I are going to Mexico for a couple of weeks to help in camps. We’re skipping Cuba this summer. It’s too dicey and the religious workers’ visas are getting more scarce.

    DL:
    Thank you, David. I am just one person, and may not be all you’d want in a fan, but I do appreciate what you are doing, here.

    God bless, and please take care,
    DL

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