Defending Roman Catholic Baptism

September 2005

Dear Friends,
We hold no theologian in higher esteem than John Calvin, whose theology has blessed millions of souls. But even Calvin nodded now and then. 

    One of his errors was asserting that  Roman Catholic baptism is Christian baptism, and many other Reformed theologians, aping Calvin, have defended Romanist baptism ever since Calvin's time. 
    One of Calvin's arguments is so laughable that one wonders if Calvin wrote it tongue in cheek. In the Institutes (Book IV)  he wrote:
        "Thus it did not harm the Jews that they were circumcised by impure and apostate priests. It did not nullify the symbol so as to make it necessary to repeat it. It was enough to return to its genuine origin. The objection that baptism ought to be celebrated in the assembly of the godly does not prove that it loses its whole efficacy because it is partly defective. When we show what ought to be done to keep baptism pure and free from every taint, we do not abolish the institution of God, though idolaters may corrupt it. Circumcision was anciently vitiated by many superstitions, and yet ceased not to be regarded as a symbol of grace; nor did Josiah and Hezekiah, when they assembled out of all Israel those who had revolted from God, call them to be circumcised anew."
    That is an argument offered in defense of Roman Catholic baptism by one of the most brilliant Protestant theologians of the last 500 years.
       Seeing how such a great mind can fall into laughable absurdity should keep us all humble. It should also warn us against a Protestant traditionalism, now becoming popular in some circles, that ranks the opinion of theologians higher than Scripture.
John Robbins
The Trinity Foundation
September 15, 2005