Thursday, January 11, 2007

#2033a-T0 Leonhard Beier,Pastor in Zwickau

(Compare #,s 2018 and 2036)

To the highly honorable brother in Christ, Master Leonhard Beier, the faithful and plain Bishop of the Church in Zwickau.
Grace and peace in Christ! Concerning baptism about which you needed to ask my advice I have talked with ours and this is what we hold: First, that you should publicly teach as we here have long done that the women should completely refrain from such baptism since one who is not yet born cannot be reborn; otherwise there would be no basis present why a child should not be baptized in the mother's body by pouring water on the mother's body if there was fear about the danger in birth. One should pray and commend to God the fruit not yet born or those who die during birthing. That is the first. Secondly. This, your case with the child before birth or wanting to be born was baptized, because it is something in the past, this is the rule set down, that you baptize the boy anew, not as though his soul would have been lost had he died in between but because he is now grown, believes and requests baptism ( though his baptism might have been considered as nothing); this faith has protected him; but because that baptism was no baptism a he is not baptized a second time but simply baptized as if he had not been baptized. Though he was secure previously without baptism yet he must not now, since he can be baptized, not despise it. From time to time the women have a habit of deceiving in that they deny that they baptized because of the danger of death after birth or cast doubt on whether the baptism was done by the mid-wife or the woman and so they disavow either through their silence or a denial that the baptism was done. Here you must again teach that they should acknowlege publicly whether the baptism has been done. Thereupon there should not be baptism again but (the child) should be brought to the church and before the servants of the church and after the reading of the Gospel of Mark and the Our-Father and the laying on of hands the baptism ratified. Thus Baptism should be a Sacrament, that is , a public sign of confession and it must through the servants of the Church or through two or three women as witnesses attested (so the Word stands: in the mouth of two [Matthew 18:16] it is received and presented. )If it is only from one or from the mother alone bestowed it should be held as nothing. So also if the women are silent or deny that there was a baptism it should simply be baptized and those sort of women who gossip that it has been previously a baptism should not be believed.
The very same is to be held on the baptism of abandoned children: if there is a notice attached to them which says: This child has been baptized it is still a baptism without the witness of the church and not a public sign or sacrament and on that account not to be believed because it cannot be verified. And here there is no second baptism or an expedient for the Anabaptists. This condemns the baptism which is public and done according to right order in the church and to be sure, it is believed that this is a human and not a divine work. We, however, know and believe that it is not a man who baptizes but God Himself through the hand of the Church for this reason this dealing is God's own dealing. There you have what we have in this matter for an answer while we are involved with many projects. Be it well with you and pray for us as we also do for you in these last times . Monday after Paul's conversion (26 January) Anno 1534. Your Martin Luther, D.

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