Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Part two from last Wed...Why the doctrine of “Entire Sanctification” was deviated from...and the doctrine of Water Baptism was accepted

Here are nine historical reasons (not scriptural) that indicate “why, how, and when” the blessing of Entire Sanctification was set aside and Water Baptism “birthed and gained” popularity after the First century Church.

1. The late 1st-century/early-second century Epistle of Barnabas (possibly written by the Apostle) contains the following description of Christian baptism: "...we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit..." (Epistle of Barnabas)

2. The Shepherd of Hermas, a popular book in the 2nd and 3rd century Eastern Church, describes the meaning of baptism as follows: "...before a man bears the name of the Son of God he is dead; but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive." (Shepherd of Hermas - Similitude IX, Chapter 16)

3. The c. 3rd-century "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles" discusses the seriousness of baptism and the potential consequences if a Christian continues to sin after being initiated into the faith through baptism: "Beloved, be it known to you that those who are baptized into the death of our Lord Jesus are obliged to go on no longer in sin; for as those who are dead cannot work wickedness any longer, so those who are dead with Christ cannot practice wickedness. We do not therefore believe, brethren, that any one who has received the washing of life continues in the practice of the licentious acts of transgressors. Now he who sins after his baptism, unless he repent and forsake his sins, shall be condemned to hell-fire." ("Constitutions of the Holy Apostles", Book 2, Section 3)

4. Events prior to a pre-Nicene baptism typically included a two to three year period of instruction into the Christian faith, and a period of fasting prior to the baptism. "But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but thou shalt order the baptized to fast one or two days before." (“Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”, Chapt. 7)

5. Baptisms were generally performed by church officials (bishops, presbyters, etc.) often in the period preceding Easter, or the period between Easter and Pentecost. The baptism itself included both an anointing with oil and/or ointment, as well as the dipping or immersion in water: "Thou therefore, O bishop, according to that type, shalt anoint the head of those that are to be baptized, whether they be men or women, with the holy oil, for a type of the spiritual baptism. After that, either thou, O bishop, or a presbyter that is under thee, shall in the solemn form name over them the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, and shall dip them in the water; and let a deacon receive the man, and a deaconess the woman, that so the conferring of this inviolable seal may take place with a becoming decency. And after that, let the bishop anoint those that are baptized with ointment." ("Constitutions of the Holy Apostles", Book 3, Section 16/17)

6. The meaning of the tri-part baptism (oil, water, ointment) is discussed: "But thou shalt beforehand anoint the person with the holy oil, and afterward baptize him with the water, and in the conclusion shall seal him with the ointment; that the anointing with oil may be the participation of the Holy Spirit, and the water the symbol of the death of Christ, and the ointment the seal of the covenants." ("Constitutions of the Holy Apostles", Book 7, Chapter 22)

7. The Constitutions describe the meaning of the immersion and rising up out of the water: "This baptism, therefore, is given into the death of Jesus: the water is instead of the burial...the descent into the water the dying together with Christ; the ascent out of the water the rising again with Him.” ("Constitutions of the Holy Apostles", Book 3, Section 16/17)

8. In a passage from Hippolytus (c. 215 A.D.), it appears that whole families might have been baptized together, including their children. Hippolytus also seems to infer that full immersion is not a requirement for baptism: "Where there is no scarcity of water the stream shall flow through the baptismal font or pour into it from above; but if water is scarce, whether on a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water is available. Let them remove their clothing. Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them." (Hippolytus, "The Apostolic Tradition", 21:15).

9. Hippolytus also preserves an early baptismal creed in his writings. Similarities to the Apostles Creed are to be expected, as the Apostles Creed probably started out as a baptismal creed: “When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say: ‘Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?’ And the person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe.’ Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say: ‘Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified inder Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?’ And when he says: ‘I believe,’ he is baptized again. And again he shall say: ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and the resurrection of the body?’ The person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe,’ and then he is baptized a third time.” (“Creeds Of The Church”, Ages Software, P. 7)

For part one of this teaching go to the following link...

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