A Theological and Sociological Critique of Rebaptism

Dogmatic Joy

For most of Christian history, the rite of baptism was universally thought to be unrepeatable. If a person was baptized with water in the name of the Holy Trinity, whether as an infant, child, or adult, that person was considered validly baptized and could not be baptized again. Church Fathers, medieval scholastics, and Reformers cited Paul’s declaration that there was “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” as well as the Nicene Creed’s acknowledgement of “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” as justification for this position.[i] This strongly held theological commitment sometimes manifested itself politically. In certain contexts in Christian history (for example, in the Justinian Byzantine Empire or in Reformation-era Zurich), adult rebaptism was an offense punishable by death![ii] For these reasons, “the vast majority of all Christians from the third or fourth century on” were baptized in infancy and never re-baptized as adults.[iii]

With the…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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