By Thomas WeisserA Plan Conceived in LoveThe love Jesus has for people is evident when we consider the great plan He has for all of us. At the Last Supper He revealed to His disciples, as they were sitting there, that His blood was to be shed for the remission of many peoples’ sins. 1
Before His ascension He instructed His disciples to preach ‘repentance and remission of sins in His name,’2 beginning at Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem Peter obeyed Jesus. While under the anointing of the Spirit of Christ, he instructed new converts to; Repent, and be the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. ‘3
The Pauline epistles anointed by Christ say many beautiful things about baptism. The writer himself was cleansed of his sins upon entering the Christian faith. Ananias says to Paul; ‘And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’4
In Romans Paul asks and answers a very important question; ‘Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’5
First Corinthians ten reminds us that the Jews in their release from bondage and escape from Pharaoh’s army, ‘were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.’6 To the New Testament Church Peter plainly states that everyone desiring to be released from the bondage of sin should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.7 The Jews all drank from a spiritual Rock that followed them. The Rock that we now build upon is a stationary Rock. His name is Jesus Christ and He is the cornerstone of a building fitly framed together that is called the Church. He is unmovable and unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever. The gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church because Jesus is its builder and all power in heaven and earth belongs to Him.
Colossians, anointed by Christ, says the Church is; ‘Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcison of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.’8
When Paul was in Ephesus he found disciples of John the Baptist. After finding out that they had only been baptized ‘unto John’s baptism,’ he proceeded to baptize them in the name of the Lord Jesus. 9.
Peter, the preacher of the New Birth message in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, compares baptism to the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood. ‘In the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism cloth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’10
When Peter commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized in the name of the Lord, it was out of concern for their salvation. Just as Noah was building an ark for salvation from the flood, so is Christ building a Church that will have the power of His name to escape the judgement of the world.
Relationship To Practices in Bible Times
Why did God choose baptism as an initiatory and cleansing rite for new converts to Christianity? Were there any parallel practices among the people of those times? If there were, this would help to explain why this was readily accepted by many thousands in the early days of the Church.
Archaeologists tell us that immersionary washing’s were common among the Jews of Jesus’ day. These immersion baths were called miqva’ot.
William Sanford La Sor in a recent article entitled; ‘Discovering What Jewish Miqva’ot Can Tell Us About Christian Baptism,’ argues for immersion as the earliest form of baptism. He says; “But the archaeological and Mishnaic evidence seems to support the argument for immersion. That is clearly what occurred in the contemporaneous Jewish miqva’ot, so that is probably what happened in early Jewish-Christian baptism.” 11 In considering the necessary steps for a proselyte to Judaism he says; “Three things were required of a proselyte to Judaism; circumcision, the offering of a sacrifice and immersion in the miqveh.”12.
Considering the significance of being baptized ‘into the name’ Ralph Bohlmann has shed some light on early practices. After outlining the meaning of entering into union with God through baptism he explains another aspect. “Another explanation is suggested on the basis of many of the papyri coming from the Hellenistic world of business and finance. Here the expression ‘into the name’ was used to designate an entry made into an account or account book over which the name of the owner was written. What was placed ‘into the name’ of a person was placed into his account and became his possession.” 13
The Scripture tells us we; ‘are bought with a price.’l4 The price cannot be equated in money, but blood. The blood of the perfect sacrifice, Christ. “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”15 Paul again exhorts the Corinthians, saying; “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” 16 Paul is very explicit in Colossians where he warns about men who would take us away from the beautiful experience of being; ‘buried with him in baptism.’l7 Traditions of men would take us away from this life changing action but the Word of God would never take this wonderful opportunity from anyone.
Again, Bohlmann tells us about the Jewish practice between the testaments of freeing slaves. He says; “ritual washings for manumitted slaves were prescribed and carried out ‘into the name’ of a free man; in such references the expression ‘into the name’ states the special purpose and intention of the ritual act, namely, to become a freeman.”18
The greatest indictment against mankind is recorded in the Bible. The pronoucement is bold and straightforward; “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”19 In a spiritual sense every one is a slave to sin. Is there a way out? Fortunately, yes, Jesus is the way. “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.”20 Jesus is the only one who ever lived on the face of this earth without sin. This is why it is so vital that we be washed in the name of the only free-from-sin man so that we might be free. This explains why the Scripture says; “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”21
What About Mt. 28:19?
Much confusion concerning baptism has been caused as men interpreted this verse of Scripture. After the apostles a dangerous trend appeared in the thinking of many men. They started to view the terms Father, Son and Holy Ghost as representing three separate Persons in the Godhead. This concept which was out of harmony with the general truth of Scripture gave them a ready excuse to abandon the only saving name, the name of Jesus Christ, in baptism. Instead of baptizing into the name of Jesus Christ at baptism many started to baptize into the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This, along with conceiving God as three Persons was a clever trick of Satan to eliminate the name of Christ in Baptism. It violates the clear word of Scripture which states; “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be caved.”21
Then how should we interpret Mt. 28:19? First, we have to consider who Jesus was addressing in this Scripture. The obvious answer is, his disciples. The question then we must consider is, how did they fulfill Christ’s commission in their actual practice? Invariably, when the words are related at baptism, they baptized in or into the name of Christ.
Were the disciples disobedient to Christ’s command? Did they purposely ignore the admonition to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? I don’t believe so. Then what is the explanation for this incongruity? The only logical solution is that Peter and the others recognized that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is Jesus. Obviously, the apostles did not recognize these titles to represent three persons in the Godhead. They understood these to be three titles that could all be ascribed to Jesus Christ.
Many people have held to baptism in Jesus’ Name since the beginning of the Church. They felt it important that they use this saving name in baptism. They were looked down upon and persecuted. Yet they felt they were standing for something instituted by Christ and, therefore, eternal. This book is dedicated to and about them.
POPES, COUNCILS AND SCHOLASTICS
Bishops of Rome, Church Councils and Scholastics had much to say about water baptism in history. In this chapter we will examine what they pronounced on the subject in relation to Jesus’ Name baptism.
Stephen I 254-257 (Bishop of Rome)
“[Fragment from a letter of Stephan from a letter of Firmilianus to Cyprian) ‘But,’ he [Stephen] says, ‘the name of Christ conduces greatly to faith and to the sanctification of baptism, so that whoever has been baptized anywhere in the name of Christ, at once obtains the grace of Christ.”‘1
Sylvester I 314-335 [Council of Arles)
“The question of heretical baptism was taken up again by the General Council of the western Church at Arles in Gaul in the year 314. The decision of the Carthagenian councils under Cyprian, was revoked; and it was ordained that heretics who had been baptized in the Trinity, should not be rebaptized on returning to the Catholic fold.”2
The Council of Arles under subheading ‘The Baptism of Heretics, Canon 8’ says; “Concerning the Africans, because they use their own law so as to rebaptize, it has been decided that, if anyone from a heretical sect come to the Church, he should be asked his creed, and if it is perceived that he has been baptized in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, only the hand should be imposed upon him, in order that he may receive the Holy Spirit. But if upon being questioned he does not answer this Trinity, let him be baptized.”3
Council of Nicea 325
Robert Robinson, in his work entitled Ecclesiastical Researches says the following about the Council of Nicea. “All the classes, who did not hold the doctrine of a trinity of persons in God, whether called Artemonites, Paulianists, Arians, Monarchians, Patropassians, Sabellians, or by any other name, administered baptism in the name of Christ: and these were the people, whom the council of Nice required to be rebaptized, in case they came to join the popular party, who believed the trinity of persons, who called themselves the orthodox, and who had managed, being the larger and most complying party of Christians, to get themselves established by the secular power.”4
“The same question is treated more fully in canon, which at present is enumerated as the seventh in the canons of the second General Council held at Constantinople (381), but which most probably was taken from a letter, addressed by the Church of Constantinople to Bishop Martyrius of Antioch in the middle of the fifth century (ca. 460). This canon, or rather letter, mentions that the Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatines (followers of Sabbatius), Novations, Quartodecimans and Apolliarists are not rebaptized; but the Eunomians, the Montanists (who are called Phrygians), the Sabellians and all other heretics, especially such as hail from Galatia are received as heathens, they are baptized only after a long period of instruction.”5.
Innocent I 401-417 (Bishop of Rome)
[From epistle (2) ‘Etsi tibi’ to Vitricus, Bishop of Rouen, Feb. 15, 404]. “That those who come from the Novatians or the Montanists should be received by the imposition of the hand only, because although they were baptized by heretics, nevertheless they were baptized in the name of Christ.”6
Pelagius I 556-561 (Bishop of Rome)
Cuneo says; “About a hundred years later (ca. 560), we find the first explicit statement concerning heretics who baptise in the name of Jesus alone. It is contained in the letter, Admonemus ut, written by Pope Pelagius I to Gaudentius, Bishop of Volterra in Italy. The Pope declares such baptisms invalid, and demands that persons baptized with such a formula should be re-baptized according to the words of Mt. 28:19. “7
Pelagius says; “There are many who assert that they are baptized in the name of Christ alone with only one immersion. But the evangelical precept which the very God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, handed down warns us to give each one holy baptism in the name of the Trinity and with a triple immersion also, since our Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples: Go, baptize all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [Matt. 28:19]. If, in fact, those of the heretics, who are said to remain in places near your
love, confess perchance that they have been baptized only in the name of the Lord, without any uncertainty of doubt you will baptize them in the name of the Holy Trinity, if they come to the Catholic faith. But if… by a clear confession it becomes evident that they have been baptized in the name of the Trinity, you will hasten to unite them to the Catholic faith, employing only the grace of reconciliation, in order that nothing other than what the evangelical authority orders may seem to be accomplished.”8
Pelagius admits here that ‘many’ in his day were still baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ with one immersion. This is interesting when you consider that Theodosius, the emperor, in 381 outlawed every group outside Catholicism.
These many people still holding to the original apostolic formula did so in the face of stiff opposition. In the face of it they feared God more than man. For Jesus admonished that if we would not confess Him before men, neither would He confess us before the Father. It also strengthens the declaration of Christ in Mt. 16:18 where He said; “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church that He established. The Church that Jesus started was instructed to preach repentance and remission of sins in His name beginning at Jerusalem. That explains why Peter admonished those in Jerusalem to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. In the Scripture there is no indication that this practice was to be changed to, into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Pelagius derives his authority from no Scripture that explains Post-Acts 2 Church activity.
[From letter to Quiricus, June 22, 601]. “Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and the Cataphrygae, because the former do not believe in Christ the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like unto whom are many others; these, when they come to the holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity.”9
[From the responses to the decrees of the Bulgars, Nov. 866]. “You assert that in your fatherland many have been baptized by a certain Jew, you do not know whether Christian or pagan, and you consult us as to what should be done about them. If indeed they have been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity or only in the name of Christ, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles [cf. Acts 2:38; 19:5], (surely it is one and the same, as Saint Ambrose sets forth) it is established that they should not be baptized again.”10
Nicholas is allowing for the form in Christ’s name as a valid practice. He appeals to Ambrose, who, though obviously Trinitarian could be construed as, at least, allowing for Jesus’ Name baptism. 11
Twelth General Council, Fourth of Lateran 1215
“But the sacrament of baptism, which by the invocation of each Person of the Trinity, namely, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is effected in water, duly conferred on children and adults in the form prescribed by the Church by anyone whatsoever, leads to salvation. And should anyone after the reception of baptism have fallen into sin, by true repentance he can always be restored. Not only virgins and those practicing chastity, but also those united in marriage, through the right faith and through works pleasing to God, can merit eternal salvation.”12
Cuneo calls this; “the first clear official enunciation of the baptismal formula used in the Catholic Church.” He goes on to say; “it will be observed, however, that nothing is stated about the validity, or invalidity, of other formulas in past ages.” 13
Fifteenth General Council at Vienne 1311-1312
“All must faithfully confess that a single baptism, as one God and one faith, administered in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, regenerates all those baptized in Christ, we believe that it is a perfect remedy unto salvation for adults as well as for infants.”14
Cuneo says about this decree; “that this statement of the Council of Vienne, and likewise that of the Fourth Lateran Council, refers to the actual practice of the Church at the time in which those councils were held, and does not regard the baptisms administered in the past, seems clear from the discussions, which continued in the theological schools, as to whether the Apostles made use of the trinitarian, or the christology formula in baptism.”15
Council of Basle 1431-49
John of Ragusa writes to this council in 1433 stating; “that to perform baptism in the name of Jesus alone in his day were invalid, still, he says, it was valid in the early days of the Church.”16
Council of Trent 1545-1563
“Can. 3. If anyone says that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism, let him be anathema. Can. 4. If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema” 17
Scholastics on the Subject of Baptism
“The same scriptural texts which caused difficulty to the Popes and the councils from the third century down to the eighteenth, agitated the minds of the scholastic theologians from the twelfth century onward. The two greatest exponents of theology in the first half of the twelfth century, were Hugo de St. Victor and Peter Lombard. Hugo de St. Victor wrote his work De Sacramentis about the year 1134, some eleven or twelve years before Peter Lombard wrote his famous Book of Sentences (ca. 1145-1151).
In the work De Sacramentis (lib. 2, pars 2, cap. 1), Hugo states as his conviction that baptism is valid (plenum) even if it be administered in the name of one person of the Trinity, provided the minister believed in the entire Trinity; whereas if the minister did not believe in the Trinity, the baptism performed by him was imperfect (imperfectum), even tho it had been administered with the trine invocation.”18
Hugo supports his belief that baptism was valid when only done in the name of Christ by a passage in Ambrose’s work entitled The Holy Spirit. The passage says; “And so they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”19
“It was on the authority of this passage that Peter Lombard, also, asserted that baptism in the name of Christ alone was valid…He confirms this view, moreover, by the answer of Pope Nicholas I, Ad Consulta Bulgarorum, which has been mentioned above…We find the same opinion in its more mitigated form, viz: that baptism in the name of Christ was always valid…as late as the 15th and the 16th centuries by Adrianus (d. 1458), Cajetan (d. 1534), and Toletus (d. 1596).”20
In his concluding statements about what Popes and Church Councils had to say about baptism as it relates to Jesus’ name, Cuneo says; “We have no decision of a General Council, or any papal document addressed to the entire Church, or in fact, any document at all of a pope, synod, or council, which states that baptism performed in the name of Jesus alone, was invalid in every age of the Church’s history. We know for certain that such baptisms were considered invalid in the sixth century by Pelagius I, in the seventh by Gregory I, in the eighth by Zachary I, and probably in the fifth by Innocent I. In the third century the position of Stephen I on the question is very doubtful, as is also that of Nicholas I in the ninth century.
The Lateran Council of the 13th century, that of Vienne in the 14th, and that of Trent in the 16th put down as requirements for a valid baptism, the ablution by water and the invocation of the Trinity. This invocation is not further determined by these councils. It is determined only in the practical instruction of Eugene IV to the Armenians, in the form: I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
That the General Councils did not wish to condemn all baptisms of the past, which had not been performed with the formula I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, seems clear from the Cathechismus Romanus, edited in the year 1566 for the pastors of the Catholic Church by express orders of the Council of Trent. This official catechism of the Council of Trent takes up the question of the baptisms administered by the Apostles in the first century. It says that if the Apostles baptized merely in the name of Jesus, they did it by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost (Spiritus Sancti afflatu), and in this christology formula everything was contained which had been ordained by Christ.” 21
After reviewing what Popes, Councils and Scholastics have said about baptism some interesting observations can be made. First, it is obvious by the admission of the Popes themselves that the practice of baptism in Jesus’ Name alone did not die out after the fourth century. Secondly, historically, the orthodox prescription for baptism has never been finally declared by the Roman Catholic Church unless you want to apply the word final declaration to the decree of the Twelfth General Council in 1215. To make a final decree though, concerning an institution (the Church) which was already more than a thousand years in existence is, needless to say, ludicrous. The Council of Trent did nothing more than add to the confusion by making the bold statement; “If anyone says that in the Roman Church, which is the mother & mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning baptism, let him be anathema.” 22 Are we to assume then that Stephen I, Innocent I and Nicholas were in error when they allowed that baptism in the name of Christ alone was sufficient?
We run into the incongruity and self-contradiction that has been the mainstay of the Roman Catholic Church throughout its turbulent history. Any Christian group that places its final authority on the whims and discretions of its human leadership is going to find itself changing its beliefs with every new generation that comes into that power. A Christian group that places its final authority in the Word of God is not going to change and will find likeness with the pattern set by the true founder of the Christian Church, Jesus Christ. Human government will change but Theocratic government is unchangeable because it is based on absolutes that go beyond human speculative reasoning.
If honest people would consider what the New Testament, and it alone, says about baptism and obey it we could see a tremendous unity take place that would cause the world to marvel. The world would be tremendously impressed if we would do what Paul pleaded with the Corinthians to do; “Now I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement.” 23.
ROBERT ROBINSON EXTRAORDINARY BAPTIST
An interesting character in the history of Baptist Nonconformists in England was Robert Robinson (17351790). A. C. Underwood in his A History of the English Baptists gives us this brief account of his life: “A hairdresser’s apprentice, converted by Whitefield, he became in 1759 the minister of a dispirited Baptist church in Cambridge, which had lost its minister who was described as a ‘lord in his church, a tyrant in his family and a libertine in his life.’…His (Robinson’s) success as a preacher was phenomenal. Members of the university and others who had never entered a Baptist meeting-house became his hearers. The undergraduates came to have their share of fun, but Robinson knew how to deal with them. He also preached a great deal in the villages round Cambridge. The London ministers made arrangements for him to visit the British Museum regularly, with a view to his writing a history of the Baptists. He conceived the enterprise on such a vast scale that years later all he could issue was his elaborate Ecclesiastical Researches and A History of Baptism.” 1
The Baptist Encyclopedia by Cathcart calls him; “one of the most eminent names in Baptist history.”2
The research that he accomplished for his writings was amazingly thorough, as expressed by one of his biographers, William Robinson; “His determination was to consult original authorities. The field of research widened as he advanced, and the mines he had to explore were deeper and more mazy than he had imagined. At length he projected forth four thin quarto volumes, almost every page of which was to be a condensed report of information disinterred from the thickest dust of libraries, and from the obscurity of various foreign languages; several of which he had to learn for the purpose.”3
The results of this extensive research include his Ecclesiastical Researches and The History of Baptism. In his History of Baptism he makes an intriguing statement under the subtitle ‘Apolitical Baptism’; “It is observable, there is no mention of baptizing in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Peter exhorted the Jews of Jerusalem to repent and be baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ. Philip baptized the Samaritans in the name of the Lord Jesus. Peter commanded the believers at Caesarea to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Many Christians taking it for granted, that the apostles thoroughly understood the words of the Lord Jesus (Mt. 28:19), and supposing the form of words of local and temporary use, administer baptism in the name of Christ, and think themselves justified by the book of the Acts of the Apostles.”4.
It is hard to determine who these ‘many Christians’ were that baptized in Jesus’ Name at his time (18th century). It is possible that Mr. Robinson baptized converts this way himself. In his Plea for the Divinity of Christ he refers to baptism as an act of worship performed in his name. Theophilus Lindsey, a notable Unitarian of the time, quotes this in opposition to Robinson’s position thusly; “Mr. Robinson next affirms; ‘Baptism is an act of worship, performed in his (i.e. Christ’s) name.”‘ 5
Robinson’s most impressive work by far is his Ecclesiastical Researches. In it he rewrites Church History from a non-conformist’s viewpoint. Most importantly, he mentions groups that baptized in Jesus’ Name and ascertains their existence throughout the Nicene, Dark and Middle ages, and beyond.
He makes this statement about the Council of Nicea; “All the classes, who did not hold the doctrine of a trinity of persons in God, whether called Artemonites, Paulianists, Arians, Monarchians, Patropassians, Sabellians, or by any other name, administered baptism in the name of Christ: and these were the people, whom the council of Nice required to be rebaptized, in case they came to join the popular party, who believed the trinity of persons, who called themselves the orthodox, and who had managed, being the larger and most complying party of Christians, to get themselves established by the secular power.”6.
Of the Eastern Kingdom which housed the Eastern Orthodox or Greek Church he writes this about heretics, some of which baptized in Jesus’ Name; “The more they (religious and secular authorities) tried to force uniformity, the faster hereticks multiplied in their lands, so that three hundred years after (tenth century), in the reign of Phocas, the empire teemed with hereticks, and in the latter end of the twelfth century the whole world was full of heresy.”7.
In his chapter on ‘The Church of Spain’ Robinson divides it into periods. We will began with the third period and go to the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition. His third period runs from 409 AD to 713 AD. Under this period he says; “there were in Spain Christians of all descriptions, as well as Jews and pagans. This appears by the books published by the catholic faction against Manicheans, Priscillianists, Acephali, Sabellians, Photinians, Arians, and others, whom they insolently named heretics.” 8 He goes on to say some of these baptized (by immersion); “in the name of Christ.”9
He mentions an effort by Leovigild (d. 586), the last Arian ruler of Visigothic Spain to bring about toleration between the various Christian groups in Spain. “Leovigild conducted his affairs in this
critical conjuncture with the tenderness of a parent, and the prudence of an experienced governor. He convened an assembly at Toledo to try, if possible,` to abate the zeal of the enthusiastically Catholics, and to form an union between them and the Arians. The chief article of discussion was baptism, for all the arian Goths, the Priscillianists, the followers of Bonosus, and others deemed heretics by the Catholics were literally Anabaptist in regard to the Catholics. Themselves were baptized once only by dipping in the name of Christ: but when Catholics, who had been dipped in the name of the trinity, joined their churches, they re-baptized them. The Catholics resented this, and considered it, as it really was, a tacit denial of the whole of their religion. Against this they published books, and filled Spain with lamentable declamations and outcries against heresy, and the sacrilege of re-baptizing. Yet the Goths tolerated pagans, Jews, Catholics, and all others, and did not compel any to join their churches.”10
Robinson’s fourth period covers the reign of the Saracens or Moors in Spain which covered roughly the next eight hundred years. He says freedom of religion was practiced throughout this time. 11
He mentions groups deemed heretical by the Catholics; “They all held, that the Catholic corporation was not a church of Christ, and they therefore re-baptized such as had been baptized in that community,
before they admitted them into their own societies. For this reason they were called in general Anabaptists. In a council held at Lerida, in the archbishoprick of Tarragona, it was decreed that such as had fallen into the prevarication of Anabaptist, if they should return to the church, should be received as the council of Nice had enacted. The bishops there had agreed that proselytes returning from the Novations and others, who held the doctrines of the church, and baptized in the name of the trinity, should be admitted by laying on of hands: but that such as came from anti Trinitarians, who had been baptized only in the name of Christ, should be re-baptized. Other parties made no such
distinctions; they baptized converts from pagans and Jews, they re-baptized all Catholics; and they baptized none without a personal profession of faith. They called themselves Christians; they censured the fraud and folly of those, who imposed on the world by calling themselves Catholics, and who ought rather to call themselves Cyprianites, being the apostate followers of that pretended saint; they quoted abundance of scripture to prove that a new testament church consisted of only virtuous persons, born of water and the spirit; they separated from the Catholics on account of the impurity of their church; they despised councils, and expressed their astonishment, that Christians should approve of such superficial writings as those of Cyprian, and others called fathers; and they took the new testament for the rule of a christian’s faith and practice.” 12
After the Moors were conquered in Spain a diabolical instrument was used to bring religious conformity (Catholicism) to the country. The Spanish Inquisition brought fear and loss of liberty to a once advanced and liberated country. “It was the chief instrument by which Ferdinand, Charles and Philip subverted the constitutional civil liberty of Spain…Heretics of all ranks and of various denominations were imprisoned and burnt, or fled into the other countries.” 13
Other instances of the practice of baptism in Jesus’ Name in other areas of Europe are mentioned in this fascinating work.
VARIED CITINGS FOR BAPTISM IN JESUS’ NAME
In this chapter we will list quotes from various sources supporting baptism in Jesus’ Name &/or the existence of Jesus Name Baptized Believers in Church History. We will examine Cyprian’s reasoning for adopting the Trinitarian formula. Also, the practices of two Fourth Century Church leaders named Theophranes and Eutycus will be examined.
Encyclopedia Brittannica, 11th ed.
“5. The Baptismal Formula. The Trinitarian formula and trine immersion were not uniformly used from the beginning, nor did they always go together. The Teaching of the Apostles, indeed, prescribes baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but on the next page speaks of those who have been baptized into the name of the Lord-the normal formula of the New Testament. In the 3rd century baptism in the name of Christ was still so widespread that Pope Stephen, in opposition to Cyprian of Carthage, declared it to be valid. From Pope Zachariah (Ep. X) we learn that the Celtic missionaries in baptizing omitted one or more persons of the Trinity, and this was one of the reasons why the church of Rome anathematized them; Pope Nicholas, however (858-867), in the Responsa ad consulta Bulgarorum, allowed baptism to be valid tantum in nomine Christi, as in the Acts. Basil, in his work On the Holy Spirit just mentioned, condemns ‘baptism into the Lord alone’ as insufficient. Baptism ‘into the death of Christ’ is often specified by the Armenian fathers as that which alone was essential.
Ursinus, an African monk (in Gennad. de Scr. Eccl. xxvii.), Hilary (de Synodis, 1xxxv.), the synod of Nemours (A. D. 1284), also asserted that baptism into the name of Christ alone was valid.”1
Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities
“53. Real Exceptions. On the other hand we find evidence, even as early as St. Cyprian’s (Epist. [xiii.) time, That there were some who maintained that it was sufficient to administer ‘in the name of Jesus Christ.’ St. Ambrose favors this opinion, if the treatise De Spiritu Sancto (lib. i, cap. 111) be really his. In later times this same opinion was formally maintained by more than one authority. The Council of Frejus, a. 792, and Pope Nicholas I, in his Responsa ad Bulgaros, all maintain more or less emphatically the validity of such a formula.”2
Saint Ambrose (c 381)
“And so they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and baptism was not repeated among these, but was received for the first time; for there is one baptism…For when it is said ‘In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ the mystery is completed by the unity of the name.”3
Note: It must be remembered that even though Ambrose approves of baptism in Jesus’ Name he held a form of Trinitarianism.
During the 12th Century the famous scholastics Hugo de St. Victor and Peter Lombard approved of baptism in Jesus’ Name based primarily on the above writing from Ambrose. 4 (It must be noted that, in their eyes it was valid only when the person baptized professed belief in the Trinity.)
Cyprian and Stephen
A controversy in the Third Century arose over baptism. The main characters were Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (d. 258), Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (d. 269) and Stephen, Bishop of Rome (d. 257).
Cuneo says this about it: “Firmilian was the first to come into conflict with the Roman See. Between the years 230 and 235, he presided over a synod held at Iconium in Phrygia, in which the bishops of Galatia, Cilicia and the neighboring provinces participated. At this synod it was unanimously decided that baptism administered by heretics was invalid; and that consequently everyone who had been baptized in heresy, had to be re-baptized on entering the church. This decision of the Asiatic bishops, and their corresponding practice, brought them into disfavor with Stephen, who threatened to excommunicate them, if they did not abandon their views.
St. Cyprian entered the controversy in the year 255. In that year he convoked a Council at Carthage, at which 31 bishops adjudged baptism administered outside the pale of the Church to be invalid. A second council of 71 bishops in the following year (256) rendered a similar decision. St. Cyprian sent the conciliar acts to Rome for approval; but Stephen rejected the decision, and maintained the validity of heretical baptism.”5
Cyprian, in his Epistle 73 dated 256 and sent to Jubaianus says: “But since I found it written in an Epistle, of which you transmitted me a copy, that ‘no enquiry is to be made who baptized, since the baptized may receive remission of sins according to his own faith;’ I thought this topic not to be passed over, especially when, in the same Epistle, I observed ‘some mention to be made of Marcion also, saying, that not even such as came from him were to be baptized, as appearing to have been already baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. We ought therefore to consider the faith of those who believe without, whether, on the ground of having the same Faith, they can obtain any grace. For if heretics and we have one Faith, we may also have one grace. If the Patripassians, Anthropians, Valentinians, Apelletians, Ophites, Marcionites, and others, pests, swords, and poisons, for the destruction of the truth, confess the same Father, the same Son, the same Holy Ghost, the same Church with us, then too may they have the one Baptism, if they have also the one Faith.”6
Cyprian opposed the acceptance of heretical baptism because heretics disagreed with him on the Godhead. He says; “Moreover, it is one thing for those within, in the Church, to speak of the Name of Christ; another, for those without and acting against the Church, to baptize in the name of Christ.”7.
He also uses the poor and oft repeated excuse for baptizing in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost that this mode was meant for the Gentiles. He says; “But, when after the Resurrection, the Apostles are
sent by the Lord to the Gentiles, they are commanded to baptize the Gentiles in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How then do some say that a Gentile ‘baptized wheresoever and howsoever,’ without the Church, yea and against the Church, so that it be ‘in the Name of Jesus Christ,’ can obtain remission of sins; whereas Christ Himself commands the Gentiles to be baptized in the full and united Trinity?” 8
Two very basic incongruities are seen in this quote from Cyprian. First, the Apostles were not sent to the Gentiles only. Acts 1:8 quotes Christ as commissioning His disciples to Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria and then to the uttermost part of the earth. Luke 24:47 states; “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” In obedience to this commission Peter left us this testimony from Jerusalem to the Jews, the message that was to be preached to ‘all nations’. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”9
Secondly, to say that baptism in the titles of Father, Son and Holy Ghost is the only proper way for Gentiles to be baptized is in-congruent with the Scripture record. Cornelius, according to Acts 10:45 was a Gentile. He was baptized ‘in the name of the Lord’ 10 in direct opposition to Cyprian’s theory. The fact that Cornelius was not baptized in the titles Father, Son and Holy Ghost adds weight to the Scriptural injunction in Acts which says that; “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” ll
Theophranes & Eutychus (c. 375 AD)
Sozomen, in his History of the Church from AD. 324 to AD. 440 says this about two leaders who broke from communion with the apparently Arian Bishop Eunomius: “Theophranes, a native of Cappadocia, and Eutychus, both zealous propagators of this heresy, seceded from communion with Eunomius during the succeeding reign, and introduced heretical doctrines concerning the rite of baptism: they taught that baptism ought not to be administered in the name of the Trinity, but in the name of the death of Christ…Now, according to their opinion, those who have not received the rite of baptism in conformity with their mode of administration, are unbaptized; and they confirm this opinion by their practice, inasmuch as they rebaptize all those who join their sect, although previously baptized by the Catholic Church.”12
The Didache is an ancient writing attributed to the Apostles. Since the discovery of an eleventh-century copy of it in 1875, it has been the subject of great controversy. Various dates have been ascribed to it and authorities have yet to agree on a date. 1 The problem that we must consider is that some say it was written in the First Century.
The particular part we are concerned with is Did. 7, it says; “But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. 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. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold then in warm. 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.”2
Many Trinitarians claim this proves the Early Church Trinitarian, and that the early practice of baptism was performed by repeating the words in Mt. 28:19. Let us first consider that the Didache is a forgery. Although it is ascribed to the Apostles they probably never saw it.
Secondly, the internal evidence points to Did. 7 as an interpolation, or later addition. In Did. 9 which deals with communion the writer says; “But let no one eat, or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”3 Shortly after saying baptism should be performed in the titles Father, Son and Holy Spirit he states the absolute necessity of being baptized in the name of the Lord (i. e. Jesus-same Greek word as in Acts 10:48). This represents an obvious contradiction and gives validity to the argument Did. 7 is an interpolation.
Thirdly, the writers approval of baptism by pouring presents a problem with dating it in the First Century. Bigg points out that this must have been written after 250 A.D. 4 He argues that pouring was generally unacceptable in baptism as late as Cyprian (c 250). 5 Therefore, Did. 7 could be no earlier than the late third century.
Recent scholarship points unequivically to baptism in Jesus’ Name as the original form advocated by the Christian Church. Lars Hartman in a recent article entitled “Baptism ‘Into the Name of Jesus’ and Early Christology” says; “There is little doubt that baptism was practiced by the first Christians as a kind of initiatory rite, when they received new believers into their community. Also, we can be quite certain that this baptism was given ‘into the name of Jesus.”‘6.
To use an obscure passage from an obscure eleventh-century copy of a work of doubtful origin to substantiate early practice is needless to say, poor scholarship. It is a mistake to quote the Didache (especially Did. 7) as an authoritative source for early Christian practice.
POLAND-THE POLISH BRETHREN
In spite of the popular ridicule of anything Polish today, this country for a long time was probably the most advanced in Europe. “Polish political theory, culture, and science had a vitalizing effect on the mainstream of European thought, and ideals such as religious toleration were pioneered in Poland at a time when most of Europe was engaged in bitter persecution.”]
Polish concensus during the Middle Ages was strongly in favor of religious freedom. “In spite of the power of the Catholic Church, the ideal of religious toleration became so entrenched in the consciousness of the Polish people that Casimir the Great found it advisable to establish it as one of his basic policies…Casimir’s kingdom was the only continental European country where several Christian creeds were able to live side by side for any length of time two centuries before the Reformation.” 2
The Counter-Reformation after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) had a strong negative effect on Poland. Led by the Jesuits this had an adverse effect on a once pluralistic society. “The Counter-Reformation led to religious disorders; many of the Protestant churches were closed; especially in the large royal cities (particularly between 1574 and 1612); and the number of Protestant parishes diminished, as many of the aristocratic dynasties reverted to Catholicism. The constitutional maxim of religious tolerance was finally abandoned in 1648-58.” 3
With religious freedom’s departure a once healthy society was reduced to a skeleton of its former self.
Baptism in Poland
In a society that allowed various faiths to survive side by side it is not unusual to see groups that baptized in Jesus’ Name. According to Wallace these Anabaptists formed themselves into Churches in 1569.
One of the most prominent of these was George Schomann who says in his diary; “On the last day of August, 1572, I, being in the forty-second year of my age was baptized in the name of Christ at Chmielnik.”4 He goes on to say; “in the year 1573, I was sent to the ministry of the Minor Church at Cracow.” 5 This Church was probably started by Simon Ronemberg in 1569 and the first pastor was Gregory Pauli.
Mr. Schomann wrote a summary of the beliefs of this Church. It was printed in Cracow and in the preface it is addressed; “by the little and afflicted flock in Poland, which was baptized in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, to all those, who thirst after eternal salvation.”6
George Huntston Williams in his The Polish Brethren quotes Morzkowski (pastored in Volhynia, Krzelow, Czarkow and also the compiler of The Ecclesiastical Polity); “Now, concerning the words that the baptizer uses, of what importance is it to say those words, which until recently the whole Christian world has believed to derive from Christ as the form for the administration of baptism? To them, however, whom this displeases, because the Apostles are perceived to have opposed this precept, who are said to have baptized not by these words but only in the name of Christ, it is appropiate to adduce here those words of Irenaus [d. c. 200]: ‘In the name of Christ there is understood he who has anointed, and he himself who is anointed, and the unction itself wherein he is anointed.”‘7.
Dr. William’s comments on this statement are; “Morzkowski here takes up the two scriptural formulas. The one traditionally used, Matt. 28:19, which though triadological was not consubstantially Trinitarian and which, in fact, the Unitarian Brethren used, and the other found mostly in Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5; cf. Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27, baptism in the name of Christ. This Christocentric formula one would have expected the fully restoration Brethren to have preferred since they regarded Christ as Lord, and the formula could not be easily construed in a Nicene sense.” 8
Smoke in the Temple
In 1645 in England a very interesting work calling for religious liberty appeared. The title seems to have been inspired by Rev. 15:8. He lists the various groups in England at that time and what they believed calling for religious freedom and the separation of Church and State.
Under his chapter entitled; “Anabaptism So called; What it is, or what they hold,” he makes these amazing statements. “That the Baptism of Jesus Christ by water, was onely in the Name of Jesus Christ, as appears in all places where such a Baptism is practiced, as in Act 2:38. Act 10:48. Act 19:5. Act 8:16. Rom. 6:3. All which is a Baptism onely in the Name of Jesus Christ…That the form by which they baptize, viz. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is a form of mans devising, a tradition of man, a meer consequence drawn from supposition and probability, and not a form left by Christ.”1
Mr. Saltmarsh’s Smoke in the Temple was responded to by John Ley who calls himself ‘One of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster’. The title of Mr. Ley’s work was Light for Smoke (1646). In it he claims that Saltmarsh’s reference to baptism by the Anabaptists was a quote from Claudius Salmasius’ De primatu papae (French Huguenot scholar, 1588-1653). The quote is; “Baptisma in aquis perennibus Apostolici instituti moris, sed non invocatio Trinitati’s super Baptizatun, cum Apostoli in solo nomine Jesu Baptizarent.”2.
Ley contends that there is no difference between baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and in Jesus’ Name. He says; “for if the Apostles baptized only in the Name of the Lord Jesus, it cloth not appeared they had any form for that left unto them by Christ, no more then of the other, In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…it is as lawful to baptize In the Name of the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, as in the Name of the Lord Jesus.”3 He refers to Saltmarsh’s Smoke in the Temple in which Saltmarsh says; “All administration of Ordinances were given to the Apostles as Disciples; not so under the notion of Church power as pretended.”4 The conclusion that apparently Ley is making is that it is up to the individual Disciple how he baptizes, whether it be in the Trinity or in the name of Jesus.
Ley is certainly misquoting Saltmarsh for Saltmarsh recognized (or at least the Anabaptists he writes about) the authority of the Scripture and did not intend for disciples to baptize in any way they desired, but; “onely in the name of Jesus Christ.” 5 He also overlooks the Scripture in Luke 24:47; “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,” which directs our attention to Peter’s message preached on the day of Pentecost which calls for baptism in Jesus’ Name (Acts 2:38).
These 17th Century Anabaptists latched onto a concept that modem day Oneness Pentecostals espouse. That the only Scriptural way to baptize is by immersion into the name of Jesus Christ.
The True Gospel Faith
What Whitley calls the earliest General Baptist Confession, a work entitled The True Gospel Faith appeared in 1654. It says the following about baptism; “That they that believe the things so preached ought to be dipped in water, Acts 10:47. Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized, which in English is Dipped, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? Acts 10:48. He commanded them
to baptized in the Name of the L. Jesus, Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41. Then they that gladly received the word,
were baptized, Acts 8:12. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.”6 Notice that no mention is made of Trinitarian baptism or even Mt. 28:19.
In England in the 17th Century there existed two kinds of Baptists. The General were Arminian in theology believing that salvation is open to whosoever will. The Particular followed Calvinism believing that a particular few were preordained to salvation.
On Feb. 10, 1659 a brief message was conveyed by leading baptists (these were primarily Particular) including William Kiffen. The title of this message was; “The humble and hearty address of sundry Churches of persons baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus.”7
Confessions of Faith
In 1656 a Confession of Faith was drawn up by the congregations in the county of Somerset. It is entitled; “A Confession of the Faith of several congregations of Christ in the county of Somerset, and some churches in the counties near adjacent.” It says the following about baptism; “That it is the duty of every man and woman, that have repented from dead works, and have faith towards God, to be baptized. Acts ii. 38. Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. Acts viii. 12, 37, 38. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women–And Philip said,
if thou believest with all shine heart, thou mayest, and he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down both into the water both Philip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him: That is, dipped or buried under the water. Rom. vi. 3,4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death, therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death. Col. ii. 12. Buried with him in baptism. In the name of our Lord Jesus. Acts viii. 16. Only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”8
In 1660 the General Baptist Confession appeared. The preface says; “A BRIEF CONFESSION OR DECLARATION OF FAITH: Set forth by many of us, who are (falsely) called ANABAPTISTS, to inform all Men (in these days of scandal and reproach) of our innocent Belief and Practice; for which we are not only resolved to suffer Persecution, to the loss of our Goods, but also Life itself, rather than to decline the same.
Subscribed by certain Elders, Deacons, and Brethren, met at ‘London,’ in the first Month (called ‘March,’ 1660) in the behalf of themselves, and many others unto whom they belong, in ‘London,’ and in several
Counties of this Nation who are of the same faith with us. ‘After the Way which men call heresy, so worship we the God of our Fathers; Believing all things which are written in the Law, and in the
Prophets,’ Acts 24: 14” 9
It says this about baptism; “That the right and only way of gathering Churches, (according to Christ appointment, Mat 28. 19, 20.) is first to teach, or preach the Gospel, Mark 16. 16. to the Sons and
Daughters of men; And then to Baptize (that is in English to Dip) in the name of the Father, Son, and holy Spirit, or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; such only of them as profess ‘repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,’ Acts 2. 38. Acts 8. 12. Acts 18. 8.” 10
John Lawrence Mosheim (1694-1755) says about the General Baptists in his Ecclesiastical History; “They dip only once, and not there times, as is practiced elsewhere, the candidates for baptism, and consider it as a matter of indifference, whether that sacrament be administered in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, or in that of Christ alone.” 11
William Wall (1647-1728) in his The History of Infant-Baptism says this about these General Baptists; “One sort of them do count it indifferent whether they baptize with these words; In the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: or with these; In the name of the Lord Jesus. And do in their public confession allow either of the forms. And I have heard that some of them do affectedly choose the latter…Those that baptize only in the name of the Lord Jesus plead the example of the apostles, Acts 8:16; item, 19:5.” 12
A Few Words of Obvious Truth
In 1829 an extraordinary work appeared in England. The title is A Few Words of Obvious Truth and the author, unfortunately remained anonymous. In this work he advocates baptism in Jesus’ Name as the only
proper form of baptism. He calls himself ‘a Unitarian believer in the divinity of Christ, The Apostolical Christian.’ In other words he was an anti Trinitarian who believed in the deity of Christ of the
Apostolic faith. It is interesting that modern day baptizers in’ Jesus’ Name call themselves of the Apostolic Faith.
He wrote this in an effort to disprove the authenticity of Mt. 28:19. This Scripture is authentic and really helps the stand forJesus’ Name baptism if people would recognize that the Apostles understood that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost is Jesus Christ. In spite of this he does make an interesting observation. “That our Saviour should have commissioned his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and that they should have considered it as perfectly optional whether they would so baptize, or simply and solely in his name, is to me not one whit
less absolutely incredible, than that they should have smiled in their sleeves at the preciseness of the command; or have abbreviated its form, to save themselves time and labour.” 13
His conclusion of the matter is; “It was Christ that this Apostle, and all the other Apostles, preached: It was in HisName only that they taught: It was through faith in His Name only that they wrought Miracles-and it was in or into His Name only that they baptized.” 14
A commentary on this work appeared in the Monthly Repository, 829, vol. 3, p. 785. The author admits; “The alleged discrepancy between the practice of the apostles, who are uniformly recorded to have baptized in the name of Christ, and the language in Mt. 28:19, is indeed a formidable one to all.” 15.
One of the leading Freewill Baptists, Rev. Daniel Hibbard is said to have baptized in Jesus’ Name. At the time of the formation of the Randallite Freewill Baptists it was discovered that; “Rev. Daniel Hibbard had been accustomed to baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ only.” 1
The Free Baptist Cyclopedia gives us this biographical sketch of Rev. Hibbard: “Rev. Daniel Hibbard was born in 1757, and was a member of the Gray and New Gloucester church from the time of its organization, in 1782…From this time (1783) he was intimately associated with Randall and Tingley. He was chosen moderator of the second Quarterly Meeting, held at New Gloucester, March 6, 1784, and about this time he moved to Woolwich and took charge of the church there, which numbered eighty-nine members; he at the same time served the Westport church. He gave the right hand of fellowship in June, 1785, at the ordination of John Whitney ‘the first ordination of the new connection.’ In 1786, Hibbard on invitation moved to Squam Island (now Westport), and rendered timely aid to the church there, which was passing through perplexity. A church of twenty members was now organized at Edgecomb by him, assisted by Whitney, who now lived there. Previous to the establishment of the Yearly Meeting in 1792, he was
moderator of seven sessions of the Quarterly Meeting out of the thirty-four. He was sent on the committee with Rev’s Randall, Tingley, Whitney, and Deacon Otis, to the Sandy River region in September, 1793, by the Yearly Meeting, to acknowledge the return of Edward Lock and to encourage the new churches. The Yearly Meeting convened at his place took the initiatory steps which resulted in the establishment of the Elder’s Conference. At that same time he, with Whitney, accepted the appointment to visit the brethren on the circuit as far as Burnham…He died at Westport in 1827 at the age of 70.”2
The Christian Church and Baptism
In the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries there arose, in the U.S., a loose knit group that called themselves Christians. They did this because they didn’t want to take on any sectarian names. Their rallying cry was basically one leader of the Church, Christ; and one rule of faith, the Bible. They avoided creedal statements and felt that the only way there could be unity in the Church is by doing away with
such human intervention. These noble sentiments met with limited but, nevertheless, impressive success. Modern day ecumenism would do well to follow this anti-sectarian desire by rejecting all human creeds and recognizing Jesus Christ as the only head of the Church and the Bible as its only rule of faith.
One of the most prominent voices of this group was the ‘Herald of Gospel Liberty’. This publication is said to be the oldest religious newspaper. Its editor in the formative years was Elias Smith. The Dictionary of American Biography says this about Rev. Smith; “SMITH, ELIAS (June 17, 1769- June 29, 1846), clergyman, associated with the movement that led to the establishment of the Christian Connection,
author, editor of the first religious newspaper in the United States, was born in Lyme, Conn., a son of Stephen and Irene (Ransom) Smith. In his fourteenth year the family moved from a Connecticut farm to the much harder conditions of the frontier settlement of South Woodstock, Vt. Elias’ meager educational advantages ended with this change, but he was a thoughtful boy and fond of reading. His father was a Baptist, but the mother was a ‘strict’ or ‘separatist’ Congregationalist, a fact which accounted for his being baptized by ‘sprinkling’ to his lasting resentment-in his eighth year. At the age of eighteen he attended school for a few weeks and then began teaching, which occupation he followed for two years. About this time he experienced a profound religious awakening and, after much mental conflict over the subject of baptism, joined the Baptist Church in 1789. He now devoted himself to the study of the Bible and theology, and, though greatly distrustful of his own worthiness and ability, began to preach in 1790. His success was marked and he was ordained by the Baptists as an evangelist at Lee, N. H., in August, 1792. On Jan. 7 of the following year he married Mary Burleigh, established his home in Salisbury, N. H., and became a successful itinerant preacher throughout the towns of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In 1798 he was installed pastor of the Baptist church in Woburn, Mass…Meanwhile his theological opinions underwent a radical change. He rejected the Calvinistic system held by the Baptists, repudiated the doctrine of the Trinity, and disowned all systems of church order and all denominational names not found in the New
Testament. After a brief business venture which failed, he moved to Portsmouth and founded a church acknowledging no creed but the Bible and having no denominational name but Christian…On Sept. 1, 1808, he issued the initial number of the Herald of Gospel Liberty, the first weekly religious newspaper in the United States.”3.
Some interesting reports are made in the July 7, 1809 edition of this paper. Mr. Smith reports of various meetings in New England. I’ll let him give you eye witness accounts of what happened during his tour:
“Wednesday, we met at Stafford, in the Universalist’s meeting house; a large number attended from this and the adjoining towns. There is a propriety in saying God was there of a truth. In the time of meeting an awful solemnity reigned through the assembly. After meeting one brother and his wife were baptized by Elder Farnum, in a stream near the meeting house. Several circumstances combined to make this a time long to be remembered; the brother baptized had the command of a company there, and was Grand Master of Masons, a man much respected in the town. When the people saw him submitting to be baptized in the name of Jesus, with his companion; it carried an evidence they had found something superior to all this world affords. While we were at the water, some rejoiced, some wept, some cried for mercy, some were so overcome with a sense of their need of a part in Christ, that their friends held them up to prevent their falling to the ground…The next Saturday, six were baptized in Bridgewater, where we held a meeting-two I understand had been Congregationalists-two Methodists-two had never made any public profession of religion. On the bank of Quechee river they rejected all party names and rules for the name and rule of
In the same edition Elias Smith tells us about a meeting held at Portsmouth, NH, June 23-25, 1809.
“The next thing which followed, was the communion. About three hundred communed. It is not possible for me to describe this glorious scene. Those who communed, had named the name of Christ; had been baptized in his name; were blest with a comfortable evidence of being born again; were united in love; and each in a good degree were determined to press towards the mark.”5
Mr. Smith advocated immersion and it is apparent that baptism in Jesus’ Name was an accepted practice among these people who called themselves simply, Christians.
In the late 1800’s a book appeared entitled The Issues Distinguishing Free and Other Liberal Baptists by Oscar E. Baker. He was the pastor of the First Free Baptist Church, Lincoln, Nebraska.
On page 11 he says; “The real issues are here presented briefly, in several propositions. 1. Christian baptism consists essentially in the immersion of believers in water ‘in the name of Jesus Christ,’ or ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”‘6
On page 20 he says; “‘in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,’ as Christian baptism.’ But, not one example of using this particular formula occurs in all the practice of the Apostles. They baptized ‘in the name of the Lord’ Acts 10:48, ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (8:16 and 19:5); at the Pentecost, even, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ (2:38). Any one of these comprehended the full formula specified by our Lord in His commission.”7
It is clear that, at least, some Freewill Baptists were baptizing in Jesus’ Name in the late 1 800’s.
In corresponding with the American Baptist Historical Society I received a letter from Carl W. Tiller, the Interim Director of the American Baptist-Samuel Colgate Library. The letter is dated Feb. 10, 1988. He says; “It appears likely that in the days of our spiritual forefathers, the Trinitarian formula was often used with triune baptism (thrice immersing the candidate), and that when triune baptism was disregarded in favor of a single immersion, some pastors moved from Matthew’s account to Luke’s version of Baptism.”8.
Twentieth Century Pentecostal Movement
In the explosive atmosphere of the Pentecostal revival of this century many Pentecostal ministers left the practice of repeating the words in Mt. 28:19 and opted for the practice of the early church by baptizing in Jesus’ Name.
Fred Foster, in his book, Think it Not Strange tells us about what was later called the ‘new issue’ among Pentecostals. The setting was the World Wide Los Angeles Camp Meeting of 1913. A leading evangelist, R. E. McAlister, according to Foster, broached the subject; “Unburdening his heart just prior to baptizing several converts, he spoke forcefully on the subject of baptizing as the first-century church had, that is, in the name of Jesus Christ. He emphasized the fact that the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost were never used in first-century baptism.”9
Brumbach, the Assembly of God historian, said about this in his book Like a River, that; “Some had used the shorter formula for years, so its use was no drastic innovation.” 10
Today, many groups baptize in Jesus’ Name. These Oneness Pentecostals call themselves truly Apostolic and preach the essentiality of baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
1. ML 26:28
2. Lk. 24:47
3. Acts 2:38
4. Acts 22:16
5. Rom. 6:3,4
6. I Cor. 10:2
7. See Acts 2:38 & 10:4448
8. Col. 2:12
9. Acts 19:1-5
10. I Pet. 3:20, 21
11. Biblical Archaeology Review; vol. 13, no. 1, p. 58
12. Biblical Archaeology Review; vol. 13, no. 1, p. 59
13. Concordia Journal; Jan. ’79, p. 1
14. I Cor. 6:20
15. I Cor. 6:20
16. I Cor. 7:23
17. Col. 2:12
18. Concordia Journal; Jan. ’79, p. 2
19. Rom 3:23
20. I jn. 3:5
21. Acts 4:12
1. Denzinger, p. 22
2. Cuneo, p. 8
3. Denzinger, p. 25
4. Robinson: ER, p. 65
5. Cuneo, p. 10
6. Denzinger, p. 41
7. Cuneo, pp. 10,11
8. Denzinger, pp. 91,92
9. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; vol. 13, p. 83
10. Denzinger, pp. 134,135
11. The Fathers of the Church; vol. 3, pp. 49,50
12. Schroeder; Decrees of the Councils; pp. 238,239
13. Cuneo, p. 14
14. Schroeder; Decrees of the Councils; p. 374
15. Cuneo, p. 15
16. Cuneo, p. 15
17. Schroeder; Council of Trent Canons and Decrees of; p. 53
18. Cuneo, p. 17
19. The Fathers of the Church; vol. 3, p. 49
20. Cuneo, pp. 19,20
21. Cuneo, pp. 16,17
22. Schroeder; Council of Trent, Canons and Decrees of; p. 53
23. I Cor. 1:10
1. Underwood, p. 139
2. Cathcart p. 996
3. William Robinson, pp. lx & Ixi
4. Robinson; HB, pp. 49,50
5. Lindsey, p. 84
6. Robinson; ER, p. 65
7. Robinson; ER, p. 73
8. Robinson; ER, p. 212
9. Robinson; ER, p. 213
10. Robinson; ER, pp. 206,207
11. Robinson; ER, p. 223
12. Robinson; ER, pp. 246,247
13. Robinson; ER, p. 249
1. Ency. Brit. 11th ea., vol. 3, pp. 365,366
2. Smith; vol. 1, p. 162
3. The Fathers of the Church; vol. 3, pp. 49,50
4. Cuneo, pp. 17-19
5. Cuneo, p. 5
6. The Epistles of St. Cyprian, p. 245
7. The Epistles of St. Cyprian, p. 251
8. The Epistles of St. Cyprian, p. 253
9. Acts 2:38
10. Acts 10.48
11. Acts 4:12
12. Sozomen, pp. 282-284
1. Church Quarterly; July 1970; vol. 3, pp. 57-62
2. Lightfoot, p. 232
3. Lightfoot, p. 232
4. Bigg, p. 58
5. Ante-Nicene Fathers; vol. 5, pp. 400,401
6. Hartman; Studia Theologica; vol. 28, no. 1, p. 21
1. The New Ency. Brit.; 15th ea.; vol. 14, p. 637
2. The New Ency. Brit.; 15th ea.; vol. 14, p. 640
3. The New Ency. Brit.; 15th ea.; vol. 14, p. 645
4. Wallace; vol. 2, p. 350
6. Robinson; ER, p. 602
7. Williams; part 2, p. 455
8. Williams; part 2, p. 459
1. Saltmarsh; Smoke, p. 16
2. Ley, p. 92
4. Saltmarsh; Smoke, p. 14
5. Saltmarsh, Smoke, p. 16
6. Lover, p. 6
7. Mercurius Politicus; Feb. 10, 1659, p. 226
8. Crosby; vol. 1, p. 45
9. Whitley; Minutes; vol. 1, p. 10
10. Whitley; Minutes; vol. 1, pp. 14,15
11. Mosheim; vol. 2, p. 130
12. Wall; vol. 1, pp. 539,540
13. A Few Words; p. 15
14. A Few Words; p. 32
15. Monthly Repository; 1829; vol. 3, p. 785
1. Stewart; vol. 1, p. 76
2. Burgess, p. 260
3. Dictionary of American Biography; vol. 17, pp. 258,259
4. Herald of Gospel Liberty; vol. 1, no. 23, p. 89
5. Herald of Gospel Liberty; vol. 1, no. 23, p. 90
6. Baker, p. 11
7. Baker, p. 20
8. Tiller, C. W.: letter to T. Weisser dated Feb. 10, 1988
9. Foster, p. 51
10. Brumback, p. 42
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THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THOMAS WEISER, 1989, PAGES 1-50. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.