Calvin on the Validity of “Romish” Baptism

Baptistic Catabaptists reject all infant baptisms (whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant).   They are zealous in rebaptizing all of their converts from such circles.   Until about 1700 A.D., most Baptistic Catabaptists (re)baptized by pouring (thus the European Anabaptists).   Since then, however, most now (re)baptize by submersion (thus the American Baptists etc.).

Sadly, one sometimes encounters even Quasi-Protestant Catabaptists (many of whom uphold infant baptism as such).   However, these people — who repudiate all 'Romish baptisms' largely because they were administered by Romanists — are often reactionaries.   For they seem to be far more Anti-Romish than they appear to be Pro-testant!   Such include those whom the (Free) Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia's Dr. Rowland Ward well describes as: "Ultra-Protestants who lose all ability to think, through a myopic aversion to Romanism."

Yet the Catabaptists also include even some ultra-hardline Anti-Protestant and Anti-Romanistic 'Eastern Orthodox' Christians.3   Such deny the validity of triune baptism, if performed specifically in the world-wide 'Latin' or Western Rite of the Roman Church — or if performed in any of the Protestant Churches.   In general, however, the 'Eastern Orthodox'  usually determine the validity of baptisms exactly in the same way as do both Classic Protestants and Roman Catholics.

Now the Frenchman John Calvin — later to become the greatest Presbyterian of all time — was conceived in a Romish home.   He was born on 10th July 1509 — in the church-dominated town of Noyon in Picardy.   He was baptized soon after his birth — in the Roman Catholic parish church of Sainte-Godebert.

His mother was a very dedicated Roman Catholic woman.   Calvin later wrote that he very well remembered how she had taken him, when a small boy, to religious processions and to one of the churches in town. There, she taught him to honour the multitude of images — and to kiss the relicts of the saints.

His father was registrar to the ecclesiastical court, and notary fiscal to the Roman Catholic bishop. At an early age, his father enrolled him for the priesthood.   So, at the age of twelve, John became a clerk and received the tonsure.1

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Calvin's protestantization and exodus from Romanism

Calvin's commitment to Christ gradually ripened, especially after studying the Word of God.   Rev. Prof. Dr. R. Schippers of the Free University in Amsterdam concludes that John Calvin's actual conversion to Christ and indeed to Protestantism took place only after many years of thorough methological investigation of the problematics involved — and also of the writings of the Protestant Reformation.   It was in 1533 that he reached his internal crisis.

Yet even then, he did not schismatically sever himself from his Church.   Instead, he attempted to heal her of her pollutions.   He did not abandon the Church that had mothered him.    However,  she -resisting all his filial efforts to rehabilitate her from her prostitution — so internally pressured him, that a year later he had to leave her establishment.2

On 4th May 1534, he returned to his home town Noyon and took leave of his quasi-appointments and ecclesiastical income.   Without support, he now scurried throughout France and preached the Gospel in caves and cellars.  A new wave of persecution against those pro-testing or witnessing for the truth of God's Word, now forced him to leave his fatherland.

Yet the Mother Church Visible, though unfaithful to her Divine Husband, was still John Calvin's mother.   Repudiated by her through her own unfaithfulness and even expelled from his country, he would faithfully and constantly plead and keep on pleading with her — to reform.   Hosea 2:2!

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