Let’s return to the days of yesteryear … That was how my favorite stories used to start. Namely, The Lone Ranger. I grew up listening to the old radio shows on vinyl records, watched re-runs of the black & white TV shows, and aspired to be like the peace-loving, justice-enforcing masked man!
Those stories depicted the 1800s, a time of strife and conflict. The Civil War (1861-1865) had ravaged the U.S., which might not have remained ‘U.” Deep divisions remained throughout the rest of that century, and would paint politics for years to come.
That conflict involved more than just human slavery, for sure. There’s no denying, however, that the abolitionist movement played a key role in the war. There were those who witnessed the barbaric treatment of slaves and could not stand by and do nothing.
Come with me, then, to a bit further back in time, and let’s visit a place across the ocean where a similar divide began and another civil war was waged. I’m referring to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648).
Martin Luther kicked it off with his famous list of truths–a Manifesto, if you will–nailed to the Wittenburg Door. Other reformers followed, such as Urlrich Zwingli, John Calvin and John Knox.
But there were others, too. Reformers who didn’t want to stop with Luther’s list, but make a clean break from the Roman Catholic Church. These lesser known reformers were hated, despised, routed, robbed and murdered. Catholics and Protestants alike derided them as Anabaptists, or Re-baptizers!
This Anabaptist movement began in 1523–a short six years after the Protestant Reformation began. It took place in Zurich, when Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz began discussing the troublesome issue of child baptism versus adult baptism with Ulrich Zwingli (an associate of Martin Luther, and part of the Reformation). Grebel and Mantz were bothered by the fact that Scripture lacked a single instance of infant baptism and did not command it.
Zwingli could see that this was, perhaps, a “bridge too far,” recognizing that abolishing infant baptism would be far more revolutionary than Luther’s 95 objections to the State Church. Ultimately, Zwingli passed a decree in 1526, ordering the execution of Anabaptists by drowning. It doesn’t sound too Christian, does it? Keep in mind, he was an associate of Martin Luther, who never defended the Anabaptist movement–though he didn’t actively participate in the slaughter, either.
One might wonder why these fellow reformers (Zwingli, Luther) broke fellowship with Grebel and Mantz. After all, Luther had defiantly objected to The Church’s ability to dispense salvation through ‘indulgences.’ Indulgences are actions given by the priest to the person confessing, so that the confessor can earn remission of his or her sin. So, basically, the person confesses that they did some sin and the priest tells them to say five “Holy Mary’s” and give money in the Offertory. This concept holds that The Church (meaning the Priests and Pope) are the ministers of redemption to people. Luther noted–rightly–that Jesus Christ is the minister of redemption through His sacrifice and people can obtain that salvation through faith alone, apart from The Church.
This was revolutionary …. but it didn’t go as far as what Grebel, Mantz and the other Anabaptists proposed.
So, what was this insane proposal? Why was it so disturbing as to incite these church leaders to disown these men, revoke property rights, torture and kill them?
After all, they simply pointed out that infant baptism was not taught or commanded by our Lord, and that believer baptism was.
In today’s culture, we can hardly understand why this would be so revolutionary. It’s akin to us trying to fully grasp the issues surrounding the Civil War. Or the Revolutionary War, for that matter. Or the French and Indian War.
To make it simple, all of those wars–and the Anabaptist movement–had to do with power. Like all great villains, people want to rule the world. That is either done through controlling trade routes (French and Indian War), taxation (Revolutionary War), natural resources and cheap labor vs. industry (Civil War) or, in this case the eternal destiny of people’s children (at a time when infant and child mortality was pretty high).
While The Church may have lost some of its control over adults with the Protestant Reformation, they maintained dominance by claiming the ability to save their infants and children. Nobody wants to risk losing their children to Hell.
Unfortunately, the Anabaptist movement couldn’t be stopped through drowning–which was called “the third baptism.” As common people read the Scriptures, the veil that The Church had placed over their eyes fell like scales.
Menno Simons (from whom we have the Mennonites, 1492-1559) was one of the more famous ‘leaders’ of the movement. Menno was a Catholic priest, well-trained in the Scriptures, educated in Latin and devoted to the status quo of what passed for Christianity.
One day, however, by the Grace of God, he began struggling with the doctrine of salvation through the sacraments (infant baptism, confession, communion, etc.). He read some tracts written by Martin Luther and could plainly see their implications. Their suggestion frightened him because it suggested that he–although a priest–was a lost sinner bound for Hell! Thankfully, that fear was outdone by the growing dread God’s righteous justice–and worse, that he was leading people to the gates of Hell.
Like Paul, after his conversion, Menno delved into Scriptures anew and found–as with fresh eyes–the beauty of the Gospel and the grave error and idolatry of The Church.
Thus have I, a miserable sinner, been enlightened of the Lord, converted to a new mind, fled from Babel, entered into Jerusalem, and finally, though unworthily, called to this high and arduous service. –Menno Simons
Menno began by bringing his teaching in line with the Protestant doctrine of salvation through faith alone. Soon, all of the ceremony–infant baptism in particular–stood out as blatant idolatry. He found no ordinance in Scripture directing such a child sanctification practice for God’s people. Performing such service to God–which had not been commanded–was wrong, tantamount to the Israelites who incorporated Baal worship alongside the prescribed Temple Worship.
His convictions got him ousted from the life of wealth, comfort and honor. He was hunted and despised by the so-called Church. But he brought this message of beautiful hope to the peasants who had long been dominated and controlled by The Church.
With this rising movement, The Church was effectively robbed of their power of Heaven and Hell. The poor could meet Jesus without the ceremony of the so-called priests.
For some, this seemed to be a second wave of the peasant war that had just been put down with the slaughter of 100,000 farmers. Now, The Church and State conspired to wipe out this movement, as well through violence, in an effort to preserve their power.
Those who sought to obey Christ in baptism as a sign of obedience (rather than a supposed sign of the covenant) were kicked out of their homes, hunted, put on racks, drowned, burned at the stake, impaled and stoned to death.
This reminds me of a famous film, The Godfather, in which we witness the baptism of Michael Corleone’s son as he has his men carry out the simultaneous assassination of his rival mob bosses.
While the movie intended this scene to be ironic, as you might see from the Anabaptist history, it isn’t.
The pedo-baptist movement has always been made up of hypocritical murderers.
You might be wondering, where did the doctrine of infant baptism come from? It is commonly believed that the Apostles baptized infants with the “he and his whole household” references in Scripture (there are 3, and one involves a “household of a unmaried woman, or widow who very likely had no infants or small children in the house). Many believe this because they trust what they are told without fact-checking their church or their pastor/priest.
The fact is, none of the Apostles ever taught or practiced infant baptism.
Rather, it was instituted in 400 A.D. by Pope Innocent (actual irony). It incorporated a pagan practice, similar to the passing of babies through the fire, as practiced by pagan people throughout the ages. Ahaz, a king of Judah practiced this, and it was odious to God.
A side note, when the Bible commands Israel not to pass their children through the flame to Moloch, it may refer to both a literal human sacrifice, or a type of pagan purification ceremony in which infants were merely passed through a flame. Some commentators expand this prohibition to mean that God’s people shouldn’t “pass their children through the flame” of the world’s doctrines or allow them to go through rituals that the world endorses. Food for thought.
Whether you believe the babies in the fire always meant human sacrifice, or simply a purification ceremony, it holds one thing in common with infant baptism: It was never ordained by God. To offer up some ceremony in God’s name is to blaspheme His nature.
The purpose of baptizing the infants–according to Rome and pedo-baptist Protestants– is to “wash away original sin.” In other words, the water–known to Catholics as Holy Water–dispensed from the priest would effectively cleanse the baby of his inherited sinfulness from Adam. In other words, it was a purification ceremony for the infant.
Without getting too theological … that’s what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross did for all who would come to Him in repentance and belief! It is Christ’s literal sacrifice that cleanses the believer of his or her guilt and sin inherited from Adam. No amount of water, fire or ceremony will clean that stain.
Had the covenant depended upon the sign, and not upon the assurance of grace, what would have become of the female children, and the males that died uncircumcised before the eighth day? –Menno Simons
Mainstream protestant churches today will use what’s called “Covenant Theology” to justify this practice. They teach that children born to believers are “in” the Covenant of God and the ceremony of infant baptism ratifies the covenant through obedience and faith.
They link baptism to the circumcision of the Old Testament Covenant with Israel, then appropriate the amended practice for the New Testament Covenant.
The problem is, they do so at their own peril. Why, you ask? After all, there is that passage that says, “This promise is for you and your children…” Acts 2:39.
But you need to keep reading to do a good job of understanding … anything, really. The verse does refer to God’s Covenant in Christ, but it goes on to say “…and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”
We glory to have obtained grace, favor and the forgiveness of our sins with God our Father; and not through baptism, whether we are children or believers. –Menno Simons
A half-truth is a whole lie. The promise of the Gospel is to all whom the Lord our God calls to Himself. Those He calls has nothing to do with genetics, rituals or earthly priests. It has everything to do with repentance, belief and obedience.
The Bible never commands Christians to baptize infants.
By creating this command in the church, these leaders are acting like Saul who disobeyed God in preserving the best of the Amalekites’ animals ‘for sacrifice to God.’ In Saul’s mind, he had obeyed the word of the Lord (See 1 Samuel 15:20).
Nadab and Abihu, priests, sons of Aaron, the High Priest, brought incense in their censers and offered “strange fire” or unauthorized worship before God, which He had not commanded them.
They were killed by God (Leviticus 10:1, Numbers 3:4, Numbers 26:61). It is a grievous thing to offer worship that is not commanded by God and to do so as if it were.
Those who claim that pedo-baptism is a command from God as a sign or ratification of the new covenant are worshiping with strange fire. Granted, many do so in ignorance. They haven’t fact-checked the church’s doctrine. They swallow the shifty doctrine that tries to pull from John The Baptist’s leaping in his mother’s womb to Noah’s grown children in the Ark to the children who must have passed through the Red Sea and then were able to enter the Promised Land (because of the baptism in the Red Sea? This isn’t even vague in Scripture! The Bible says that those who did not enter God’s rest were barred because of their unbelief!).
But, what about these teachers who get paid to study the Bible? They have the benefit of reading all manner of commentaries, including the writings of Menno Simons and countless other theologians … or simply looking at history to see the satanic persecution that Protestants and Catholics carried out on the fearful, innocent people who entered rivers and lakes in clear obedience to Christ … these teachers have no excuse.
From each pastor who preaches this doctrine–that seeks to substitute water and ritual for the completed work of Christ–much will be required. They are purporting to be teachers of God’s word, and they are perverting it with false teaching, leading people into idolatry.
The world commands that we should baptize children and not believers. –Menno Simons
How is it idolatry? It elevates a symbol into an effective means of God’s Grace. Catholics and many protestants do the same with communion. The Roman doctrine of transubstantiation teaches that the Eucharistic elements (bread and wine) become the body and blood of Christ when blessed by the priest (and only look like bread and wine).
As I said before, the State Church, primarily, and any church that ascribes to this formalism and human-based theocracy, seeks to control people by either teaching, or implying that they hold the keys to Heaven and Hell.
This makes them anti-christ. They usurp the role of Christ by claiming that they dispense the regenerating water cleanse church and the body and blood of Christ for the remission of sins.
The infant-baptizers will say things like, “circumcision was the sign of the old covenant and baptism is the sign of the new.” And with that, they reveal their reliance upon idolatrous ritual for the soul’s salvation.
Paul pointed out–as did the writers of the Old Testament prophets and David in the Psalms–that the blood of bulls and rams could never atone for the people’s sin. Since God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, we cannot offer Him something He doesn’t already own.
When the believer sacrificed the lamb, bull, ram, goat, dove … it was in obedience to the Word of God through faith. It was their faith that allowed God to attribute to them righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Since, then, infant baptism is performed without the command of God, it cannot be a ceremony of God, but a pernicious superstition of men, and evidently idolatry; therefore, the promise of God cannot rest upon such abominations. –Menno Simons
By grace we are saved through faith (believing God), and it isn’t anything we do (ritual, ceremony, etc.). It is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).
Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the Gospel, making disciples (those who have repented and believed), baptizing them (Matthew 28:19). This is a command from our only Rabbi, Teacher and Lord–the Head of the true people of God.
But, they might say, Jesus said “Let the children come to me.” (Matthew 19:14). Yes, Jesus did say that. In fact, He said, “for such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Note, Jesus didn’t baptize them. And yet, he said they belong to the kingdom of heaven.
This demonstrates Jesus’ choice, His grace which confirms that children, though born with a sinful nature from Adam, are included in the Kingdom of Heaven without any ritual or ceremony administered by some priest or pastor. Jesus alone has the prerogative to reconcile sinners to Himself, and has done so for all children who are unable to understand their sin, confess, repent and believe in Him.
Therefore, he who seeks the remission of his sins through baptism, rejects the blood of the Lord and makes water his idol. –Menno Simons
This same doctrine can be extended to those who are afflicted with genetic disorders that leave them as children, intellectually. They are unable to understand their responsibility, unable to respond to the Gospel. Yet, Jesus can take them in His arms.
And He doesn’t ask–or need–our help to do that.
What is so wrong with infant baptism? Some will claim that it is because it gives people a false assurance of salvation. That may be true, but so do countless evangelicals that wrangle a prayer of salvation from as many people as they can manipulate.
No, infant baptism is wrong because it is bald-faced idolatry. It adds a form of worship to God, claiming it is a ritual of obedience that was never taught or practiced in Scripture. It then elevates this ritual to a sign that substitutes itself for Christ.
I’ll end with this quote from Menno Simons:
Since Christ has ordained and commanded to baptize believers; and has not said a word about infant baptism, we believe and teach that the baptism of believers is of God and His word, and infant baptism of the dragon and the beast.
Next Blog … What’s Wrong With Adult Baptism …. Stay tuned…