Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Early Bucer

More from D.F. Wright:

He quotes Bucer in his Ephesians commentary of 1527 as saying, "Faith and the Spirit are God's gift; he bestows them when he sees fit, not at our word. Certainly those who, as believers already, were baptized by the apostles, had previously been sealed by the Holy Spirit and received faith: what then did baptism or the word of the baptizer confer on them? So too our infants: if they were chosen of God before the foundations of the world were laid, the Lord will grant them the Spirit and faith when he sees fit, but our washing them with water will not for one moment grant them faith or God's Spirit - as some important persons affirm, no less ill-advisedly than irreligiously" (97). The rhetorical question in the above paragraph seems to imply a negative answer. To the adult already converted, baptism would seem to "confer" nothing.

Similarly, in the mid-1520s, Bucer explained to Luther that he found comfort in the fact that baptism was "external" for since the baptism of adults would "comply better with Scripture and the church's primitive usage, 'nevertheless we should not be too reluctant to concede this to the general consensus, that we baptize infants.'" (98).

Wright notes, as we have previously seen in Grund und Ursach, that Bucer attributed passages like Titus 3:5-6 and Ephesians 5:25-26 to "the baptism of Christ who baptizes with the Spirit, and not by baptism of a human being baptizing with water" (98).

In 1527, Bucer suggests that they baptize infants mostly for the peace of the church, but "if it required something different, we would not be at all reluctant to delay baptizing infants, while ever acknowledging that our children are holy and belong to Christ's until as adults by their own lives they show it to be otherwise" (98).

Likewise in Grund und Ursach, Bucer insists that this controversy over infant baptism is of minimal importance. He says that if there is "someone who delays baptism and desires to do so among those with whom he lives, without destroying love and unity, we in no way desire to quarrel with him about this, nor to condemn him... 'The kingdom of God is not eating or drinking,' neither is it baptism with water..."

Obviously things have changed between this point in the mid-1520s and the mid-1530s where infant baptism is required by church statute.

No comments: