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Definition and Demarcation – Conrad Grebel and Others to Thomas Müntzer (September 5, 1524)

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On the subject of baptism we are really pleased with your book, and we desire further instruction from you. We understand that even an adult is not to be baptized apart from Christ’s rule of binding and loosing. Scripture describes baptism for us as signifying that through faith and the blood of Christ our sins are washed away: to the one baptized that this inner self has been changed, and that he believes, both before and afterward. It signifies that one should be and is dead to sin, and walking in newness of life and spirit; also that he shall certainly be saved by the inward baptism if he lives his faith according to this significance. But the water does not strengthen nor increase – as the learned ones at Wittenberg say – and that it gives very great comfort, and is even one’s final refuge on one’s deathbed! Furthermore, it does not save, as Augustine, Tertullian, Theophylact, and Cyprian taught: and by such teaching they brought faith and the suffering of Christ to shame, in relation to adults; and also in relation to the unbaptized infants they brought shame upon the suffering of Christ. On the basis of the following Scriptures we hold that all children who have not yet come to the discernment of the knowledge of good and evil, and who have not yet eaten of the tree of knowledge, are certainly saved through the suffering of Christ: Genesis 8, Deuteronomy 1, 30, 31, 1 Corinthians 14, Wisdom 12, 1 Peter 2, Romans 1, 2, 7, 10, Matthew 18, 19, Mark 9, 10. Christ is the New Adam who has restored their ruined life, for they would have been subject to death and damnation only if Christ had not died. Also, they have not yet grown up to the infirmity of our broken nature – unless indeed we could be shown that Christ did not suffer for the children. But if the objection is raised that faith is demanded of all who are to be saved, we exclude children from this requirement, holding that they are saved without faith. We hold this on the basis of the Scriptures cited above, and from the description of baptism, also from the book of Acts (according to which no child was baptized). From the above Scriptures (which alone apply to the whole subject of children, and all other Scriptures [demanding faith] do not apply to children), we conclude that infant baptism is a senseless, blasphemous abomination, contrary to all Scripture. Indeed it is contrary even to the papacy, for we learn through Cyprian and Augustine that for many years after the time of the apostles, even for six hundred years, believers and unbelievers ware baptized together, etc. Since you know this ten times better than we, and have published your protests against infant baptism, we hope that you are not acting against the eternal Word, wisdom, and commandment of God (according to which only believers are to be baptized) by baptizing a single child. If you or Carlstadt do not write sufficiently against infant baptism, and all that is associated with it, how and why one is to baptize, etc, I (Conrad Grebel) will try my hand at it, and will complete what I have begun, to write against all those (except yourself) who hitherto have written misleadingly and willfully on baptism, and who have translated into German the senseless and blasphemous liturgy for infant baptism – such as Luther, Loew, Osiander, and those of Strassburg; and some have been even more shameful. Unless God avert it, I and my colleagues are more certain to suffer persecution from the learned ones than from other people. We entreat you not to use nor adopt the old antichristian rites, such as sacrament, mass, signs, etc. Hold to the Word alone, and rebuke as ambassadors should, especially you and Carlstadt, for you are doing more than all the preachers of all nations.

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