Origen: The Early Church Received The Practice Of Infant Baptism From The Apostles

The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.

Origen (c. AD 184–c. 253),Commentary on Romans (5:9)

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Seems the greater takeaway here is that no direct scriptural teaching was cited. And of course so-claimed apostolic tradition is also the clinching basis for apostolic succession (Irenaeus), the real bodily presence in the eucharist (Cyprian), paedo-communion (many), etc. etc. So much for Sola Scriptura I guess…

    • Phil,

      I understand that your tongue is planted in your cheek.

      I’ve responded to this objection here.

      I’m not claiming that Cyprian’s argumentation was always flawless but it is fairly clear that infant baptism was the ancient practice of the Christian church.

      This reading of Cyprian is a bit anachronistic but it seems to be popular these days.

      Your comment is tongue-in-cheek but if I may be so bold, this is a typical Baptist binary response to the messiness of church history: “They got it wrong. Away with all of them!” No. As Protestants we receive the ancient church but we don’t do so uncritically. We’re openly selective. We affirm what can be affirmed and criticize what must be criticized. We don’t have to take a binary approach.

      Rev. 15:00 6 May 2020

    • In turn, you have erroneously assumed and characterized my position by reading way too much into one brief, and what I thought would obviously be taken as a hyperbolic quip. 🙂

      • Sorry Phil.

        I get this very kind of stuff from Baptists all the time. So, you’re right, I did assume. What seemed hyperbolic and thus obviously absurd is what I get daily on Twitter and sometimes here.

        Sorry for assuming.

        I’ve revised my reply (for future reference) to recognize its tongue-in-cheek nature.

    • But Phil a Roman Catholic once told
      me that the Apostle John waited
      outside the tomb of Our Lord to let
      Peter enter before him thus proving
      that Peter was the Pope, see sola sriptura

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