Historical Development of the Trinitarian Mode of Baptism
By Donald Bryan and Walter L. Copes
In the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded that all believers be baptized. The necessity of baptism is again confirmed in Mark 16:16 and John 3:5. The apostles, to whom were given the authority and direction by Jesus, obeyed this commandment in the establishment of the original apostolic church, as recorded in the Book of Acts. In all of the recorded cases (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5) where the baptism command is fulfilled, the actual name of Jesus, along with the titles of Lord or Christ, is used. Nowhere in the New Testament was anyone ever baptized using the formula “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Yet the major portion of Christianity today does not baptize the way the apostles did in the Book of Acts. Where did the divergence begin? What is the correct mode of baptism? This paper will show that the original apostolic baptism was done “in the name of Jesus” and that the tripartite formula was a post-apostolic development. Most church historians and theologians agree that the baptism formula used today is not the formula used in the New Testament church. German Scholar Edmund Schlink has stated:
First of all there is the problem of the “trinitarian formula.” Nowhere else does the New Testament speak of baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” It speaks only of a baptism upon (in) the name of Jesus Christ (with slight variations) …. In that case, the baptismal command in its Matthew 28:19 form cannot be the historical origin of Christian baptism. At the very least, it must be assumed that the text has been transmitted in a form expanded by the church.1
How did Christian baptism originate? This historical question cannot be answered simply by referring to Matthew 28:19, since this text presents inescapable difficulties for historical thinking. Nor do the New Testament writings provide any support for the assumption that the primitive church did not at first baptize in the name of Jesus Christ.2 Although the extant writings for the period 96 A.D.-140 A.D., which represents the first post-apostolic period, are very limited, the glimpses do show baptism in Jesus name continuing as church doctrine. Clement of Rome, who was a contemporary of Paul, wrote in 96 A.D. in his Epistle to the Corinthians:
And now may the all-seeing God and Master of Spirits and Lord of all flesh, who chose the Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be His own people, grant to every soul over whom His magnificent and holy name has been invoked … 3
Note the use and singularity of “His magnificent and holy name,” which undoubtedly is the name of Jesus, that Clement refers to.
In The Shepherd of Hermas, which dates around 120 A.D., Hermas wrote, “Before man bears the name of the Son of God, he is dead, but when he has received the seal [baptism] he lays aside mortality and receives life.”4 What was the name of the Son of God? Jesus! Hermas’ writings were accepted by many of the ancient church leaders and read routinely in the church. In studying his writings, it is also obvious that he espoused only one God and not the Trinity. He wrote:
First of all believe that God is One, who created all things and put them in order.5. . They are such as have heard the word and were willing to be baptized in the name of the Lord; but considering the great holiness which the truth requires, have withdrawn themselves and walked again after their wicked lust.6
At this point in history, the extant writings continue to show baptism in Jesus name. They do not show the tripartite formula either as being practiced or written about. Many modern day historians agree with this conclusion. Wilheim Bousset wrote in Kurios Christos, “it is still essentially a baptism in the name of Jesus.”7
G.R. Beesley-Murray stated: “There is not one example in the whole New Testament literature of a baptism taking place in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”8
Harry Wolfson wrote: “Critical scholarship, on the whole, rejects the traditional attribution of the tripartite baptismal formula to Jesus and regards it as a later origin.”9
E. Lohmeyer in his book, Das Evangeliun des Matthaus, wrote that Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, frequently wrote Matthew 28:19 as: “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I command you.”10 Lohmeyer stated that the expression “in my name” referred to baptism in the name of Jesus.
Again Bousset wrote:
The testimony for the wide distribution of the simple baptismal formula down into the second century is so overwhelming that even in Matthew 28:19, the trinitarian formula was only later inserted.11
Ernest F. Scott affirms: “it is abundantly clear that the primitive church knew only the simple formula and even so late as the Didache, it is assumed that this alone is necessary.”12
At this point in church history the baptism formula was still “in the name of Jesus.” However, early in the second century the church was faced with the Gnostic controversy, which concerned the nature of Jesus and the relationship of the Son to the Father. The church leaders of this time felt that this controversy would lead to the total destruction of the Christian faith.13
Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, and Theophilus of Antioch were some of these men defending Christianity. These men became known as the Greek Apologists and were greatly affected by the Greek philosophis.14 The philosophy of Philo, who was a Jewish philosopher in Alexandria, identified the Logos with the Platonic world of forms or archetypes. From Philo’s teachings, the Greek Apologists set the Logos equal to Jesus Christ in order to frame an intellectually satisfying explanation of the relationship of Christ to God the Father.15 During this period of the Logos doctrine debate, the first historical references to trinitarian water baptism appeared. The primary source of a different baptismal formula is from Justin Martyr, who wrote in 140 A.D.:
For in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost, they then received the washing with water.16
Apparently it is during this period, when the Logos doctrine and trinitarianism were first being debated, that the first divergency away from Jesus name baptism occurred.
Although history is not clear on who first introduced the trinitarian formula, it does not appear to be coincidental that its introduction (as far as historical references are concerned) occurred during the Apologists’ period, when the Godhead debate was sweeping the church. As more churches embraced the trinitarian concepts (which were not fully developed at this point), we find more references to the triune baptismal formula.
It is interesting to note that during the Apologists’ period, although the doctrine of the trinity was not fully developed, the triune formula emerged very quickly. We can only speculate that this occurred when men lost the concept of the deity and nature of Jesus Christ and, contrary to Colossians 3:17, which states, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” began to misunderstand the meaning of Matthew 28:19. Once the concept of the oneness of God and salvation through the name of Jesus began to be in question, the churches in the Apologists’ period began to place greater importance on Matthew 28:19. This was done apparently because they could not reconcile baptism there against what the apostles actually did in the Book of Acts.
The trinity of persons in the Godhead is the reason assigned for the triune immersion by Tertullian and later by Jerome, Basil and the Apostolic Canons.17 Many modern historians have recognized the destructive influence that the philosophies of the Apologists’ period introduced into the church. As Adolph Harnack in Outlines of the History of Dogma wrote:
[The church] legitimized in its midst the Hellenic speculation, the superstitious views and customs of pagan mystery, worship and the institutions of the state organization to which it attached itself and which received new strength thereby. In theory monotheistic, it threatened to become polytheistic in practice and to give way to the whole apparatus of low or malformed religion.18
As the doctrine of the trinity slowly displaced the monotheism of the apostles, many errors and traditions of men began to creep into the church. The process was slow and frequently accompanied by strife and on occasion, bloodshed. A close look at some of the errors which spoiled the church will give some understanding of how error led to more error. For instance, the Greek word used for baptism in the New Testament means “to dip, to immerse, to sink.” There is no evidence that Luke, John and Paul put any meanings upon this verb not recognized by the Greeks) 9 Stanley, in his History of the Eastem Church said:
There can be no question that the original form of baptism, the very meaning of the word, was complete immersion in the deep baptismal waters, and that for at least four centuries any other form was either unknown or regarded, unless in the case of dangerous illness, as an exceptional, almost a monstrous case.20
It is likely that the practice of affusion arose out of the custom of laying on of hands and anointing with oil. J.N.D. Kelly wrote:
The general procedure was that, on coming up from the baptismal water, the newly baptized Christian was anointed with scented oil, at the same time receiving the laying on of hands.21
Because of these anointing, men began to conclude that its purpose was for the Holy Spirit to fill that person.22 Because of this belief, it became customary to pour water upon the head of the one being baptized after he had been immersed.23 After the fourth century, immersion had begun to be replaced in some churches by a copious effusion on the head, while the person being baptized stood in the water.24
However, sprinkling was slow to be accepted as a common mode of baptism. Not until the thirteenth century did sprinkling become the rule and immersion the exception.25 As Christianity spread over the Roman Empire and into conquered territories, the conversion of the adults usually meant baptism also of all children, regardless of age. In time very few were being baptized as adults.
When and how the practice of infant baptism began is not certain. Nowhere in the New Testament is there an example of the practice nor is it anywhere commanded.26 Tertullian knew of infant baptism but condemned it in his writings around 200 A.D.27 However, infant baptism became generally accepted church practice by the fifth century with only isolated pockets of resistance, such as the Paulicians of the ninth century and the Petrobusians of the twelfth century.28
During this period of transition of baptism modes, the emphasis of baptism shifted from its New Testament significance to an outward sign, and thus baptism lost its spiritual importance. Beasley-Murray stated:
When infant baptism did prevail, the personal religious element fell away and the sacramentalsoteriological element of baptism, which for the common people meant the sacramental-magical element, became the essential thing in the rite.29
More and more, salvation became an outward element with no inward significance. This led Hatch to state:
When infant baptism became general, and men grew up to be Christians as they grew up to be citizens, maintenance of the earlier standards became impossible in the church at large. Professing Christians adopted the current morality; they were content to be no worse than their neighbors … that which had been the ideal standard of qualifications for baptism became the ideal standard of qualifications for ordination; and there grew up a distinction between clerical morality and lay morality which has never passed away.30
During this transition period, apparently, more and more Christians began to accept the trinitarian formula as the mode of baptism. However, it should be remembered that to the average Christian in this period, it was not greatly important what formula was used as much as the fact that he -was actually baptized. However, not everyone felt this way. One of the controversial subjects continued to be the baptismal formula. Many congregations continued to baptize in the name of Jesus. The church of Rome, pastored by Alexander in 115 A.D., was a “bearer of the Father’s name”, according to Ignatius in his Epistle to the Romans.31 It was no doubt a Oneness church at this time.Even during the period when Zephyrinus and Callistus were bishops of Rome (198 A.D. – 220 A.D.), Hippolytus writes in his Refutation of all Heresies that these men were modalists or Oneness believers.32 Based upon the connection between Oneness believers and baptism in Jesus’ name, it appears that the church in Rome still baptized in Jesus’ name at this point.
During this period, the Montanist controversy, which swept the church around 156 A.D., apparently became a decisive factor in a number of churches. Many of the early churches reacted strongly to the teachings of Montanus.
If the main thrust of Montanism was revival of the gifts of the Spirit in the church as some have said, why should a large number of the Christians in the early churches have reacted so much to Montanus when the majority of believers spoke in tongues and used the gifts of the Spirit?
Although it cannot be proven conclusively, since Montanus was trinitarian,33 it could be that the churches were rejecting the trinitarian doctrine more than they were the gifts of the Spirit. If so, more than likely the controversy also involved baptism.
Other Oneness baptizers continued to appear.
One of the most notable was Praxeas. Although the true identity of Praxeas is not known, he came from Asia Minor, which was the home of Monarchian views,24 and arrived in Rome during Victor’s pastorate (around 190 A.D.). Praxeas was unquestionably a Oneness believer. This is known because of the strong attack by Tertullian in his writing Against Praxeas. Tertullian described the teaching of Praxeas:
God Himself, the Lord Almighty, whom in their preaching they declare to be Jesus Christ.35 . . . the Father Himself came down into the virgin, was Himself born of her, Himself suffered, indeed was Himself Jesus Christ.36
We know conclusively that Praxeas was a Oneness baptizer because of Tertullian’s strong defense of the trinitarian water baptism against Praxeas. Tertullian wrote, “He [Jesus] commands them to baptize into the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into one and indeed it is not once only but three times that we are immersed into the three persons.”37
While during the second century Jesus-name baptism was being challenged by the trinitarians, by the beginning of the third century the trinitarians began to condemn those baptized in Jesus’ name as heretics and to demand anyone who rejoined the church to be rebaptized with the trinitarian formula. Harnack in Outline of the History of Dogma wrote:
In all the ecclesiastical provinces there were monarchian contests.38. Many Occidental teachers, who were not influenced by Plato and the Orient, used in the third and fourth centuries modalistic formulas without hesitation.39
Tertullian and Origen testified that the majority of Christian people in their time thought “monarchianically.”40 Tertullian further admitted (indirectly) that the majority of the believers in his day continued to baptize in Jesus’ name:
The simple, indeed (I will not call them unwise and unlearned), who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the one only true God… They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves pre-eminently the credit of being worshippers of the One God.41
Cyprian, who became the bishop of Carthage in 248 A.D., wrote in his Epistle to Agrippinus concerning rebaptism of heretics. He defined one group of heretics as those who had not been baptized using the trinity formula.42 Obviously, there must have been a continuing debate in the churches about Jesus name baptism versus triune baptism for these church leaders to continue to make denunciation of the “heretics.” In 255-256 A.D., the Council on Baptism of Heretics was called by Stephen, Bishop of Rome, to address this issue. Obviously, there were believers at this point in church history who continued to use the name of Jesus in baptism. When Stephen allowed “heretics” to enter into the church without baptism using the trinity formula, even though they had been baptized in the name of Jesus, Cyprian felt so incensed that he wrote a strong letter of rebuke to Stephen about his leaning toward Oneness.43 But many historians feel that Stephen did more than lean toward Jesus-name baptism, but in fact, considered baptism as valid when administered in the name of Jesus Christ only. As Joseph Hefele wrote in A History of the Christian Councils:
It may again be asked if Stephen expressly required that the three divine Persons should be named in the administration of baptism, and if he required it as a condition sine qua non, or if he considered baptism as valid when administered only in the name of Jesus Christ. St. Cyprian seems to imply the latter was the sentiment of Pope Stephen, but he does not positively say so anywhere.44. . Thus Cyprian acknowledges that Stephen, and those who think with him, attribute no value to the baptism, except it be administered in the name of Jesus Christ.45
Cyprian also wrote twice in his letter that “his adversaries considered as sufficient baptism administered out of the church, but administered in nomine Christi.”
Although it cannot be said that Stephen was a Oneness believer, he certainly recognized Jesus-name baptism as important, if not essential. Thus the issue of Jesus name baptism was not confined to just a few “heretics” but continued to attract large numbers of followers, sufficient enough for the Catholic church to call a special council to address the issue.
During this period of dual baptism formulas, the trinitarians acquired political power, primarily through the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine in 312 A.D. When Constantine embraced Catholicism, the trinitarians, for the first time, acquired full power to stamp out
organized resistance to their teachings. When Constantine called the Council of Nicea together in 325 A.D., ostensibly to debate the Arian-Athanasian issue, canons were also issued against the Jesus-name baptizers. In Canon XIX issued by the Council of Nicea, the Oneness believers of the Paulinians were required to be rebaptized using the trinity formula before they could be accepted into the Catholic church.46
In Canon VII of the Council of Constantinople of 381 A.D., the Catholic church specifically stated that those followers of Sabellius (who was a Oneness believer) “who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians,” were heathens with an invalid baptism.47
From these canon denunciations, it is obvious that Jesus-name believers were very strongly present in the churches at this point in church history. By the time of the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D., the doctrine of the trinity had been fully developed and accepted. However, as Pope Pelagius said after the Second Council of Constantinople in 560 A.D., “There are many who say that they baptized in the name of Christ alone and by a single immersion.”48
Despite repeated pressure from the Catholic church, Oneness churches obviously continued to survive. After the church went into the Dark Ages, clear references to Jesus-name believers become difficult to trace. When Martin Luther began the Reformation and other men became enlightened to truth, they carried with them the triune baptismal formula into the new faiths. Consequently, most churches today have based their baptism on this tradition.
Although this mode of baptism has become accepted in Christianity today without serious question, history reveals that it was not part of the original apostles’ doctrine. Furthermore, until the concept of the trinity evolved due to the blending of Greek philosophy and Christianity, the early church continued to baptize in Jesus-name after the apostles’ deaths. Any serious followers of the Bible will desire truth in its original form, not an addition because of the traditions of men. If one is cursed who preaches any other message than what Paul preached,49 what about the followers of the message?
In conclusion, we believe that baptism by immersion in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is the only method of baptism supported by Scripture. All other forms are incorrect and arose after the apostles’ deaths.
1. Edmund Schlink, The Doctrine of Baptism (London: Concordia Publishing House, 1972), p. 27-28.
2. Ibid., p. 27-28.
3. Clement, “Epistle to the Corinthians,” Library of ChristiansClassics trans. by Cyril C. Richardson (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1953), p. 73.
4. Wilheim Bousset, Kudos Christos, trans. by John E. Steeley(Nashville: Abingdon Press), page. 295.
5. Hermas, “The Shepherd,” 2:1, Ecclesiastical History, trans. Roy Deferrari (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press), p. 299.
6. Hermas, “The Shepherd:’ The Apocryphal New Testament (New York: Peter Eckler Publishing).
7. Bousset, p. 295.
8. G. R. Beasley – Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (GrandRapids, ML: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962), p. 82-83.
9. Henry Austryn Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers,p. 277.
10. E. Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Mattaus ed. Werner Schmauch, 2nd ed. (Gottengen, 1967), p. 412.
11. Bousset, p. 295.
12. Ernest R Scott, The Beginnings of the Church (Scribner’sPublishing, 1914), p. 176-177.
13. W. Ward Gasque, “The Church Expands, Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity, ed. Tim Dowley (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.), p. 75.
15. John Norman Davidson Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (NewYork: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1958), p. 95
16. Justin Martyr, “Apology,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Vol. I (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1980), p. 183.
17. Henry S. Burrage, The Act of Baptism in the History of the Christian Church (Philadelphia, PA: American Baptist Publication Society, 1879), p. 48.
18. Adolph Harnack, Outlines of the History of Dogma 1893 trans.by Edwin K. Mitchell (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1957), p. 194.
19. Burrage, p. 27, quoting from E. A. Sophocles, Lexicon of GreekUsage in the Roman and Byzantine Periods (B.C. 146 # A.D. 1100).
20. Burrage, quoting Stanley, History of the Eastern Church, p. 117.
21. Kelly, p. 433.
23. Burrage, p. 87.
24. Christian Baptism, ed. A. Gilmore, (London: Luttenworth Press,1960), 3rd ed., p. 219.
25. Phillip Schaff, History of the Apostolic Church, p. 569.
26. Schlink, p. 134.
27. Ibid., p. 132.
28. Christian Baptism, Gilmore, p. 217.
29. Beasley-Murray, p. 353.
30. Christian Baptism, Gilmore, p. 221.
31. Ignatius, “Epistle to the Romans,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers,Vol. 1.
32. Hippolytus, “Refutation of all Heresies:’ The Ante-NiceneFathers, Vol. V, p. 125.
33. Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. III, p. 829.
34. J. F. Bethune-Baker, An Introduction to the Early History ofChristian Doctrine (London: Methuen & Co., 1903), p. 102.
35. Tertullian “Against Praxeas,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III,p. 598.
36. Ibid., p. 597.
38. Harnack, p. 169.
39. Ibid., p. 182.
40. Ibid., p. 176.
41. Against Praxeas, p. 598.
42. Cyprian, “Epistle LXX” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V, p. 378.
44. Charles Joseph Hefele, A History of the Christian Councils, 2nd ed., trans. William R. Clark (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1894), p. 110.
45. Ibid., p. 108.
46. “The Seven Ecumenical Councils,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers,Vol. XIV, p 40.
47. Ibid., p. 185.
48. Burrage, p. 77.
49. Galatians 1:8.
by J. R. Ensey
Many beautiful truths concerning the Godhead- have been presented here, some aspects of which may not have been widely known among us until now. This is why “illumination” is an easier term for me to deal with than “revelation.” The terminology of revelation seems to put too much responsibility upon God for our understanding of truth. The comprehension of the Godhead does not have to come to us as a blinding flash; it can come, and does come, to us as we open our minds to God’s Word.
The reason the vast majority of Christendom does not have this light is that their eyes are blinded-not that it has not been made available by God. Paul declared in 11 Corinthians 4:4: “in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Blindness has resulted from religious pride, preference for tradition over absolute truth, and simple human carnality. The more men unleash themselves from these elements, the more truth will flow into their minds.
In critiquing this paper, several observations and deductions came to mind.
Trinitarians are trapped in a time frame belonging to a distant, dark past. They are in lockstep with ancient philosophers whose philosophies are as cold and brittle as their bones. Their ideas and theologies are frozen in time and are yet in the Dark Ages. The Reformation did not thaw them out.
Luther did not dissect the doctrine of the trinity in, his ninety-six theses.
The Anabaptists did not excise it out of their doctrinal statements.The Campbellites did not repudiate it.
The Holiness movement did not discover the treasure of truth although they did plow in the field.
The thaw did not come until the Holy Ghost fire fell in the early part of the twentieth century. The Latter Rain has produced a bountiful harvest of important truths, still vibrant and alive, after a long winter of spiritual ignorance.
Since the Reformation, theology has been returning to its roots. As long as theology is moving in the direction of Scripture, and not away from it, there is hope. C. H. Yadon has reminded us many times over the years that a stream is purest nearest its point of origin. The closer we get to the source of doctrinal absolutes-the Biblethe purer our stream of truth.
That is how the Reformation served us best-it pointed us back to the Book. It did not go far enough in its early stages, all the way to the salvation message, but it headed us back in the right direction.The post-apostolic apologists moved us away from truth, and corrupted the pure theology of Christ and the Apostles. And we can see where they ended up-deep in trinitarianism which was (and is) rife with heathen and pagan philosophy. Religious leaders became murderers, literally making martyrs out of detractors. Selfish, nearsighted bishops and popes arose who were more hungry for power than truth. Special indulgences were instituted to help raise funds for many Catholic projects.
This verifies that theology cannot be divorced from lifestyle. As our theology becomes corrupted and deteriorates, so do our lives. If men can think right they can live right. The authors’ quotation of gilmore underscores this fact. That one quote is pungent with pure insight into the relationship between theology and lifestyle.
This is why Paul implored us to “hold fast to the form of sound words…beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ…take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (II Timothy 1:13; Colossians 2:8; I Timothy 4:16).
It does not take long for apostasy to prevail once the cancer of compromise and accommodation begins to work in us. Forty years beyond Patmos, doctrinal error already had a death grip on the vitals of the visible church. This paper substantiated these facts very well. It is difficult to fault the findings or the scholarship of the paper. Perhaps there was a place or two where assumptions were drawn from a particular source’s quote that may not have been intended.
The first sentence was perhaps slightly awkward. Technically, Jesus did not command all believers to be baptized in Matthew 28:19. This injunction was directed to the “eleven disciples” (verse 16) and concerned the way baptism was to be administered.
On the positive side, the authors have produced a paper which is easily read and understood. It is not a mark of earnest scholarship to couch theories in a language that is not commonly understood. Good communication demands that, whenever possible, we use terms on the level of understanding of our readers and listeners.
The authors have done the cause of God a great service by showing us in a scholarly way the origins of one of the biggest hoaxes ever foisted upon the religious world-the trinity doctrine and the triune formula of water baptism. This paper and the entire symposium prove the value of research. We need not fear truth! The gospel message will stand the scrutiny of sincere and open-minded study.
One last observation: the authors state that Tertullian and Origen “testified that the majority of Christian people in their time thought ‘monarchianically.’ ” That is remarkable, but it seems that the monarchians were leaving all the writing to the trinitarians. We must not repeat that bit of history! May God help us to ever be honest seekers and distributors of truth!
J.R. Ensey is the President of Texas Bible College in Houston, Texas.
by E. Don Doyle
The authors of this paper deserve our appreciation. Much time and effort was obviously given to this work. It is hard for us to think as trinitarians, so it is extremely difficult to find fault with a paper such as this.
The point in the beginning about the necessity of baptism was very well taken and is supported by many scriptural references. The authors’ attempt to answer the question, “Where did the divergency begin?,” was done in a very scholarly manner, and yet it was very readable.
The conclusion of the paper is excellent: “We believe that baptism by immersion in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is the only method of baptism that is supported by Scripture. All other forms are incorrect and arose after the Apostles’ deaths.”
The subject matter that this paper dealt with is difficult at best, for it is very difficult to debate historical fact. The authors had to search into an area that has already been recorded and try to determine the validity of the statements recorded.
If there is a weak point in this paper, it seems to be in the area of defending Jesus-name baptism more than describing the development of the trinitarian mode of baptism. The quotations from The Shepherd of Hermas are a good example. Time after time the references are excellent, but they are in the defense of Jesus-name baptism rather than on the stated subject of the paper.
Another example is the quotation from EdmundSchlink: “First of all there is the problem of the ‘trinitarian formula! ” Certainly, there is a problem with the trinitarian formula. The intention of this paper, however, is to show why some baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It is not an argument to prove a point. Instead of giving all the references in favor of Jesus-name baptism, more space could have been allotted to the development of the subject matter.
In general, this paper was very well written, with plenty of documentation. The paper certainly provides an excellent foundation for the historical study of the baptismal formula.
E. Don Doyle is the Superintendent of the Central New England District and pastor of the United Pentecostal Church of Essex Center, Vermont.
Donald Bryan is pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church of Slidell, Louisiana and Sunday School Director for Section One of the Louisiana District. He has the Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana Tech University. He is the recipient of several scholarships and other academic awards.
Walter L. Copes is a member of the First United Pentecostal Church of Slidell, Louisiana. He earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from Louisiana Tech University and the University of Oklahoma and completed master course studies at Ball State University. For the past eleven years, he has been employed by the National Weather Service.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN A PAPER GIVEN AT THE 1986 ONENESS SYMPOSIUM, ST. LOUIS, MO, BY DONALD BRYAN AND WALTER L. COPES, PP. 197-222. THIS MATERIAL MAY BE USED FOR STUDY AND RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.