Thoroughly Consistent

“Another matter which should be equally clear from this study is that the position of the Reformers in regard to infant baptism was an integral part of their whole theology. It is not as though baptizing very young children was a strange inconsistency which was perpetuated out of habit.  It is not as though here was a place where the Reformers strangely neglected to apply their usual principles of reform…The baptism of infants was a logical corollary of sola gratia, for it clearly demonstrated prevenient grace…Far from being a failure to carry through their reforming principles to their logical conclusions, the Reformers’ position on infant baptism was thoroughly consistent with their whole program of reform” (Shaping the Reformed Baptismal Rite, Hughes Oliphant Old, p. 143-144)

The Primacy of Grace

“At the very heart of the Protestant Reformation was the revival of Augustinian theology with its strong emphasis on the primacy of grace.  The Reformers believed that God took the initiative for humankind’s salvation. In light of such a strong doctrine of grace the baptism of infants was quite understandable.  In fact,  the baptism of infants demonstrated very powerfully that our salvation rests not on any knowledge or work or experience or decision of our own, but entirely on the grace of God.” (Hughes Old, Reformed Baptismal Rite, p. 139)

Bucer on the Old Testament Sacraments

“One notices with great interest that Bucer has a very high understanding of the spiritual value of the Old Testament sacraments. They are not merely outward forms or ceremonies. They were ordained of God as signs of an inward and spiritual reality.  Bucer did not reject the Old Testament ceremonies on the same principle that he rejected many of the medieval ceremonies of the Church.  He did not consider them empty, meaningless ceremonies of merely human invention. The sacraments of the Old Testament were truly sacraments because they were divinely given.  For Bucer, the problem with the medieval ceremonies was that they were not commanded by God.” (Hughes Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the 16th Century, p. 127-128

Trading One Pope for Another

Hubmaier [Another Anabaptist leader] “concludes by promising a sort of infallibility to the pious Christian who read with a clear conscience: ‘Then judge in your own conscience and understanding according to the simple Word of God…and you can be well assured you will not err.’ This short sentence is a clear statement of Hubmaier’s understanding of how Scripture is to be interpreted. Hubmaier rejects both medieval Scholastic exegesis with its great respect for tradition and the classical Protestant method of exegesis. In its place he puts a very private sort of personal illumination.” (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the 16thCentury, p. 97)

A Church Free from Sin

“For the circle of Conrad Grebel [An Anabaptist leader], as for Muntzer, believer’s baptism was the one key reform for the Church. If only those who gave evidence of a firm and mature faith were baptized, then the Church would be free from all kinds of impurities. Believer’s baptism would be the effective sword used to separate the true Christian from Christendom.” (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the 16thCentury, p. 91)

Whose Work Is It?


For Conrad Grebel, another leading Anabaptist, “one notices that [baptism] is not a sign of what God will do in the life of the baptized, as Zwingli had understood it, but rather a sign of what the baptized has done already and will do in the future. It would appear that for Grebel baptism is not so much an act of God as an act of the one baptized.  It is his or her confession of faith.” (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the 16th Century, p. 91)

Justification by Imitation


“Above all we should notice this fact: this call for a the radical reform of the rite of baptism [by Thomas Muntzer, a leading Anabaptist PJ] is found in a work which looks for the reform of the Church not in the direction of justification by faith, nor in a rediscovery of the authority of Scripture, nor in a renewed appreciation of the sovereignty of grace, but rather in a book which sees the reform of the Church in terms of medieval German mysticism. For Muntzer salvation is not through faith, but through the imitation of Christ.” (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the 16th Century, p. 83)