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Summary of Zwingli on Baptism

Exposition of the Articles (1524)

© R. S. Clark, 2000.

  1. Baptism is being enrolled by an "oath of allegiance" (sacramentum) into the church visible, an initiation into the people of God.
  2. If there is one people of God, with one faith, in one Savior, then it follows that the signs and seals of that salvation, Savior and faith, have not changed radically.
  3. Thus, he appealed to Colossians 2.11-2, where Paul linked circumcision and baptism, as evidence that Christian parents ought also to administer the sign of the covenant to their children.
  4. He agreed with Luther that the Sacraments strengthen faith, but he was clear to say that they do not give it. This is the work of the Spirit through the Word.
  5. Against the Anabaptists (i.e., Schwenkfelders) he argued that they added to SS by denying paedobaptism. NT is silent, therefore the command to administer the sign of the covenant continues to apply today.
  6. By forbidding it, they were adding to SS and doing exactly what Jesus said not to do: forbidding the children to come to him!
  7. If we deny that children should be baptized, then we must deny that women should come to the table, because there is no positive evidence that they were communicated in NT.
  8. If John's baptism is substantially the same as Christ's, then there is no categorical necessity of being discipled before baptism since John's disciples had not even heard of Christ before they were baptized. John's baptism was prospective and Christ's retrospective.
  9. Certainly children were baptized in the OT. All Israel, children and adults were baptized with Moses in the Red Sea (1 Cor 10).
  10. Children of believers are born with original sin, but not original guilt and are therefore eligible for baptism.
  11. How can the children of NT believers be worse off than the children of the Jews who received the sign of the covenant, since this is a better covenant?
  12. The sign of initiation, in both covenants, always entailed a pledge to renew it with one's children, hence the sign.