Another Dip [2]

OK – so we touched on Justin Martyr’s (for the sake of the vulgar, Justin lived c. 100-165 AD) bit on baptism in First Apology, and we don’t see any covenantal implications to baptism in his short mention. He wasn’t really writing a systematic treatment (to be fair to our paedo brothers and sisters) but it just didn’t come up. For those following along, I’m using Schaff as a kind of surveying tool to get to the first pass of ECFs talking about this topic, and we’ll make a second pass as we go based on recommendations from you readers and other troublemakers who happen to pass through.

In that, the first suggestion that intrigues me is the Didache. Given that this document is pretty hard to date, I think its use is not as influential as something written which is not anonymous and not difficult to date in this discussion. The consensus is that it’s “early”, prolly about the time of Justin’s birth. The current thinking is that it’s c. 100 AD. Fair enough?

It mentions baptism twice (J.B.Lightfoot’s translation):
7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.
And then again:
9:1 But as touching the eucharistic thanksgiving give ye thanks thus.
9:2 First, as regards the cup:
9:3 We give Thee thanks, O our Father, for the holy vine of Thy son David, which Thou madest known unto us through Thy Son Jesus;
9:4 Thine is the glory for ever and ever.
9:5 Then as regards the broken bread:
9:6 We give Thee thanks, O our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou didst make known unto us through Thy Son Jesus;
9:7 Thine is the glory for ever and ever.
9:8 As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and being gathered together became one, so may Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom;
9:9 for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
9:10 But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord;
9:11 for concerning this also the Lord hath said:
9:12 {Give not that which is holy to the dogs.}
And all the Baptists in the reading audience started holding their breaths, if they have any good sense. Now, why? Listen: section 7 again simply cannot be any reference to infant baptisms. The admonition to fast “for a day or two” prior to being baptized cannot be thought to be for infants, and there is no exception listed for one too young to fast. It’s a great tacit endorsement of credobaptism as far as it goes.

The part that should be putting a knot in the tummies of Baptists is the second section which tells us about the proper administration of the eucharist. In the first place, it is pretty, um, liturgical, right? It smacks of a rite. It makes me woozy just to glance it over.

But more challenging, look at the matter of who may and may not receive the eucharist: only the baptized my eat or drink; none which are not baptized may eat or drink because they are dogs and unholy.

“Cent, I’m a Baptist, and I don’t get any chill-bumps over that,” says one guy with a black Scofield. “We Baptists don’t let the unbaptized up to the table of the Lord. What’s the problem?”

The problem, my dear sock puppet, is that the distinction baptized=holy, unbaptized=unholy is precisely the FV view of the matter. That is to say, the Didache doesn’t say, “if he’s baptized and he’s still inside the bounds of orthodoxy,” or “if he’s baptized and the elders haven’t beat him up for reading from the Greek OT rather than the Hebrew OT,” or what have you: it makes the plain analogy that unbaptized is to unholy as baptized is holy.

Even if Didache does implicitly talk about baptizing grown-ups only, it says a lot more about baptism in that single analogy than a lot of Baptists can muster in a 20-page white paper on the topic.

BTW, this is exactly the kind of trouble Doug Wilson was talking about over at his blog. And before anybody starts e-mailing my pastor over this, let’s be clear that I’m not saying this is right Baptist teaching. I’m saying that the Didache plainly thinks more of baptism than the average Baptist does.

I am sure a healthy discussion of what kind of document the Didache is ought to ensue here. That’s what the meta is for.

3 comments:

DCF said...

First of all, what is the "meta?"

I am new here. I am one of those crazy paedos who occasionally comments over at Blog and Mablog. Anyway, the other day I got a hold of you open letter to Michael Horton and thought it was great. You seem to be able to "touch it with a needle." So, I finally made the connection that you are the Frank over at Mablog and said: "hey I'll bet this guy has some good stuff to read." Sure enough--you do.

As far as the post goes, you have keyed on something that started my fall down the paedo stairs as a baptist. As I see it, generally speaking, if you are a baptist you MUST NOT believe that baptism "does anything." The problem is that the apostles and the early church and most of the church throughout history repudiated such anti-sacramental thinking. Of course, I am not trying to "prove" infant baptism by commenting here, but your post and your observation is absolutely right--baptismal efficacy should make Baptist shudder and perhaps go hide in a closet until the hyperventilating is over...

Really enjoy your blog and your sense of humor. Thanks.

Frank Turk said...

There's an easy way to rectify the problem without baptizing babies, DCF: believe that baptism really does let people into the church, and into the family of God.

That'll fix ya.

DCF said...

Thanks for the response. There's other reasons of course for my change to paedobaptism but I sure appreciate your and Mike Bull's desire for an efficacious credobaptism. Still, what's the "meta?"

Daniel Franzen