Theology Thursday - Council of Trent on Baptism

The Council of Trent was a key event in the so-called Roman Catholic “counter reformation.” It was held in Trento, Italy, from 1545 – 1563. This excerpt is from Trent’s remarks about baptism:1

CANON I.—If any one saith, that the baptism of John had the same force as the baptism of Christ: let him be anathema.

CANON II.—If any one saith, that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism, and, on that account, wrests, to some sort of metaphor, those words of our Lord Jesus Christ: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost:1 let him be anathema.

CANON III.—If any one saith, that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism: let him be anathema.

CANON IV.—If any one saith, that the baptism which is even given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church doth, is not true baptism: let him be anathema.

CANON V.—If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation: let him be anathema.

CANON VI.—If any one saith, that one who has been baptized can not, even if he would, lose grace, let him sin ever so much, unless he will not believe: let him be anathema.

CANON VII.—If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law1 of Christ: let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.—If any one saith, that the baptized are freed from all the precepts, whether written or transmitted, of holy Church, in such wise that they are not bound to observe them, unless they have chosen of their own accord to submit themselves thereunto: let him be anathema.

CANON IX.—If any one saith, that the remembrance of the baptism which they have received is so to be recalled unto men, as that they are to understand that all vows made after baptism are void, in virtue of the promise already made in that baptism; as if, by those vows, they both derogated from that faith which they have professed, and from that baptism itself: let him be anathema.

CANON X.—If any one saith, that by the sole remembrance and the faith of the baptism which has been received, all sins committed after baptism are either remitted, or made venial: let him be anathema.

CANON XI.—If any one saith, that baptism, which was true and rightly conferred, is to be repeated, for him who has denied the faith of Christ amongst Infidels, when he is converted unto penitence: let him be anathema.

CANON XII.—If any one saith, that no one is to be baptized save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death: let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.—If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be baptized in the faith alone of the Church: let him be anathema.

CANON XIV.—If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent: let him be anathema.

Notes

1 Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 3 vols. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1890), 2:122–125.

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There are 3 Comments

TylerR's picture

The Roman Catholic church claims:

  1. If you don't agree with it about baptism, then you'll be damned to hell (Canon 3).
  2. If you don't think baptism is necessary for salvation, then you're damned to hell (Canon 5).
  3. If you think that you're not obligated to perform the entire law, then you're damned to hell (Canon 7).
  4. If you think you don't have to obey the Roman Catholic church, then you're damned to hell (Canon 8).
  5. If you think your sins aren't imputed to you after salvation ("baptism"), then you're damned to hell (Canon 10).
  6. If you think babies should not be baptized, then you're damned to hell (Canon 13).
  7. If you think a baptized person shouldn't be compelled and forced to live a Christian life, then you're damned to hell (Canon 14).

These distinctions are ... kind of a big deal. The catechism of the RCC says likewise.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

mesly33's picture

As I read CANON XIV, if a person who has been baptized RC decides not to go through Confirmation (i.e. completing their baptism), then leaving them to their own device and prohibiting them from taking the Eucharist/sacraments is not enough? What else do they want you to do with the unbeliever?  Or am I reading that incorrectly?

TylerR's picture

I'm not sure! I have the complete decrees of the ecumenical councils at home, and I'll see if it sheds any light on the subject. It probably will.

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

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