Original Research

Heretical baptism in debate

A. van de Beek
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 43, No 3 | a236 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v43i3.236 | © 2009 A. van de Beek | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2009 | Published: 26 July 2009

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A. van de Beek, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Abstract

It is generally stated that acceptance of heretics in the Catholic Church without baptism has always been normal use in the church and has been confirmed by general councils. The only exceptions would be some groups in North Africa in the third through the fifth century. This opinion is mainly based on Au- gustine’s “De baptismo”. The author of this article argues that Augustine is historically incorrect and systematically weak in this respect. Baptism of converted heretics was normal, except from Rome, and even the council of Nicea confirms that normal use. The bishop of Rome in the fifties of the third century, Stephan, had his own reasons for refusing to rebaptise heretics. Augustine’s view that the baptismal rite and its salutary effect by faith can be received separately is a break with early Christian ecclesiology and its impact on the Western Church has been enormous.

Keywords

Early Church History; Heretical Baptism; Rebaptism

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