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The Belgic Confession on Baptism

June 13, 2008

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law, has made an end, by the shedding of His blood, of all other sheddings of blood which men could or would make as a propitiation or satisfaction for sin; and that He, having abolished circumcision, which was done with blood, has instituted the sacrament of baptism instead thereof; by which we are received into the Church of God, and separated from all other people and strange religions, that we may wholly belong to Him whose mark and ensign we bear; and which serves as a testimony to us that He will forever be our gracious God and Father.

Therefore He has commanded all those who are His to be baptized with pure water, into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, thereby signifying to us, that as water washes away the filth of the body when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled upon him, so does the blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan.

The ministers, therefore, on their part administer the sacrament and that which is visible, but our Lord gives that which is signified by the sacrament, namely, the gifts and invisible grace; washing, cleansing, and purging our souls of all filth and unrighteousness; renewing our hearts and filling them with all comfort; giving unto us a true assurance of His fatherly goodness; putting on us the new man, and putting off the old man with all his deeds.

We believe, therefore, that every man who is earnestly studious of obtaining life eternal ought to be baptized but once with this only baptism, without ever repeating the same, since we cannot be born twice. Neither does this baptism avail us only at the time when the water is poured upon us and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life.

Therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, who we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed His blood no less for the washing of the children of believers than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that which Christ has done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ’s suffering and death shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, baptism is to our children. And for this reason St. Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ.

Belgic Confession of Faith, “Holy Baptism,” Art 34.

[Note the shades of two-fold baptism as in Vermigli and Ursinus for example.]

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2008 12:03 pm

    I realize this could open a large can of worms, but… the post already opened it. :)

    We anabaptists do what we do because it is what Scripture teaches. The baptism of infants is not instructed, the baptism of believers is instructed. It takes a bit of theological gymnastics to try and demonstrate paedobaptism from Scripture.

    I was raised in a PCA church and was baptized as an infant. When my beliefs about baptism turned into a conviction for credo-baptism I wrestled for a while over whether or not to be re-baptized. I faced the struggle described in the last paragraph above – whether or not to be “content with the one only baptism”. The final answer was that I believed baptism means something particular in the Bible – the immersion of believers. Since that had not happened to me, I had not been baptized, regardless of whether or not someone sprinkled water on me as a baby. Thus to be baptized for the first time according to the method instructed in Scripture could not be considered re-baptism.

  2. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    June 13, 2008 12:19 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Actually I don’t think the post opened the door to that. :-)

    You don’t ask me a question, so there is nothing I can say. :-)

    Of course I do not agree. However, this blog is not really the best place to discuss that specific question. Don’t take that the wrong way. I just think the sort of question-issue you brought up can be discussed better at a discussion board.

    Thanks for stopping by and reading.

    Take care,
    David

  3. June 13, 2008 1:37 pm

    David,

    I understand and that is fine. I appreciate this blog – those times that I am able to understand the contents!

  4. CalvinandCalvinism permalink*
    June 13, 2008 1:59 pm

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for taking my reply well. I was not trying to blow you off. My desire is to keep this blog topic specific, and that it is crisp and clean in its demeanour and content. I am not saying you are not crisp and clean. Its just that a lot of blogs out there have allowed themselves to degenerate into muck-raking forums where folk just anathematize others.

    The issue of baptism of infants is a little off the scope here. I post the material on baptism that I have, because I am interested in the classical constructions of infant regeneration in Baptism.

    If any blog post is not understandable, feel free to post a question.

    As an aside, you can always add me to your blog-roll and then I will add you. ;-)

    Take care,
    David

  5. June 13, 2008 2:38 pm

    David,

    “As an aside, you can always add me to your blog-roll and then I will add you.”

    Actually, I had forgotten that I had not added you. This is the problem with adding blogs to my reader and assuming I will later remember to link to them on my site. I enjoy this blog and hope others will do so as well, so it certainly deserves a link.

    And you are about to get a trackback from me anyway. :) I’m working on a post that was inspired by another post on this site.

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