Event Title

Martin Luther’s Understanding of Faith in Relation to Infant Baptism

Location

Room N235

Start Date

7-2-2020 9:30 AM

End Date

7-2-2020 10:00 AM

Description

This article explores Martin Luther’s understanding of faith as a means to reconcile the seeming tension between his emphasis of faith in baptism against Roman Catholicism and his de-emphasis of faith against Anabaptism. This tension is most evident in his support of infant baptism despite his belief in sola fide. It is proposed that Luther’s understanding of the sovereignty of God influences his perception of the role of faith in baptism, which emphasizes God’s role and de-emphasizes human acts in the ceremony. Luther argues that human faith, while important for the daily application of baptism, cannot be the basis of the sacrament, and therefore cannot be considered a prerequisite. God’s command and promise alone make baptism (including for infants) valid, while human faith makes it efficacious. Hence, in Luther’s thinking, infant baptism is valid.

After what is intended to be a balanced presentation of Luther’s theology, some weaknesses of his position are outlined, specifically his defense of infant baptism mainly based on philosophical argumentation, that his emphasis on the validity of the sacrament inevitably constitutes an ex opere operato understanding, and that his emphasis on the necessity of both faith and baptism (both infant and adult) for salvation contradicts his teaching of sola fide. The final section of the article briefly discusses practical application for Seventh-day Adventism, examining how the above issues relate to how Adventist practice baptism or rebaptism.

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Feb 7th, 9:30 AM Feb 7th, 10:00 AM

Martin Luther’s Understanding of Faith in Relation to Infant Baptism

Room N235

This article explores Martin Luther’s understanding of faith as a means to reconcile the seeming tension between his emphasis of faith in baptism against Roman Catholicism and his de-emphasis of faith against Anabaptism. This tension is most evident in his support of infant baptism despite his belief in sola fide. It is proposed that Luther’s understanding of the sovereignty of God influences his perception of the role of faith in baptism, which emphasizes God’s role and de-emphasizes human acts in the ceremony. Luther argues that human faith, while important for the daily application of baptism, cannot be the basis of the sacrament, and therefore cannot be considered a prerequisite. God’s command and promise alone make baptism (including for infants) valid, while human faith makes it efficacious. Hence, in Luther’s thinking, infant baptism is valid.

After what is intended to be a balanced presentation of Luther’s theology, some weaknesses of his position are outlined, specifically his defense of infant baptism mainly based on philosophical argumentation, that his emphasis on the validity of the sacrament inevitably constitutes an ex opere operato understanding, and that his emphasis on the necessity of both faith and baptism (both infant and adult) for salvation contradicts his teaching of sola fide. The final section of the article briefly discusses practical application for Seventh-day Adventism, examining how the above issues relate to how Adventist practice baptism or rebaptism.