The following is translated from pages 991-992, 1081-1082, 1091-1095 of Examen Theologicum Acroamaticum Universam Theologiam Thetico-Polemicam Complectens (Stockholm and Leipzig: Gottfried Kiesewetter, 1750) by David Hollaz. The content comprises Questions 1 and 2 from “De Mediis Salutis in Genere” (The Means of Salvation in General) and 4, 11, and 13-15 from “De Baptismo” (Baptism). This translation was originally prepared for “Soteriology I” class at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Since then it has been corrected and revised.
The formatting, bracketed translations [ ], and the footnotes, with the exception of some bibliographic information which has been augmented and also corrected in some cases, belong to the translator. Everything else belongs to the author. The translator thought it useful occasionally to include in parentheses ( ) the original Latin or German phrase employed by the author following the translation of that phrase. The translator once again owes a debt of gratitude to Benjamin Schaefer, for the use of his copy of Hollaz’s Examen. He also would like to thank President Paul Wendland of the Seminary, for correcting his translation and providing helpful comments; Mrs. Catherine Zell, for always being willing (with a smile!) to hand over her key to the rare books room in the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library, which was attached to the same keychain as the key to her van; and the Triune God, for richly blessing him with his mind and all his abilities and with saving faith through the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Question 1. What are the means of salvation?
All people have fallen away from God into sin. Christ the mediator has won salvation for them. The means of salvation are the divinely ordained means through which God graciously offers them the salvation won by Christ, gives and preserves true faith, and leads all who embrace the merit of Christ with abiding faith (finali fide)1 into the kingdom of glory together.
Question 2. Into how many groups are the means of salvation classified?
The means of salvation are of a twofold order. Some means of salvation are termed more strictly and more properly; other means of salvation are termed more broadly and less properly.
A) Strictly speaking, on the part of God, the conferring means (media δοτικά), or the means which offer salvation (media exhibentia), are the Word and sacraments.
B) On our part, the receiving means (medium ληπτικόν), or the means which lays hold of the salvation offered (medium apprehendens), is faith which relies on the merit of Christ.
C) Broadly speaking, the means of salvation are death, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, and the end of the world. These are the isagogic (media εἰσαγωγικά) or executive means (media exsecutiva), the means which bring into the kingdom of glory (media introducentia).
In the stricter sense the means of salvation are termed the conferring (exhibitiva) and receiving (receptiva) means because they are causal. For, although they are not the principal causes of salvation, they are nevertheless the instrumental causes of salvation. The isagogic means are only conditions without which there is no entrance into the kingdom of glory. Therefore they are named the means of salvation in a loose sense (ὡς ἐν πλάτει).
Proof for A: The word of God and the sacraments are the conferring means of salvation (media exhibitiva) because through them the most merciful God offers, applies, and seals grace and salvation to people.
Proof for B: Faith is the apprehensive means (medium apprehensivum) because it receives the grace of God founded in the merit of Christ and offered in the promise of the gospel, by which eternal salvation is given.
Proof for C: Death, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, and the end of the world are called the executive and isagogic, or introductory,2 means of salvation. They are said to be executive insofar as God executes or carries out his sentence of glorification and damnation through them. They are called isagogic insofar as people who persevere in faith to the end are brought into the kingdom of glory by their intervention, which is very near at hand. Concerning these means, see Dr. Hülsemann, Breviarium Theologiae, Chapter 16, p. 1126ff,3 and Dr. J. A. Osiander, Colleg. System., Part VI, p. 246.4
Question 4. Who ordinarily administers baptism?
In ordinary circumstances ministers of the church administer baptism, who are
A) legitimately called and ordained, and
B) orthodox and blameless in their way of life.
But in an extraordinary circumstance, and in a case of necessity, any Christian can administer baptism, who is
C) pious and familiar with the sacred rites, whether male or female.
Proof for A: Only ministers of the church are the ordinary stewards of the mysteries of God (1Co 4:1). They are God’s ambassadors, sent into the ministry of reconciliation (2Co 5:18,20), which consists of preaching the Word and administering the sacraments.
Proof for B: “Take care to present yourself as a workman approved by God, not needing to be ashamed, who rightly divides the word of truth” (2Ti 2:15). In this passage you may note that a minister of the church is required to live piously for the sake of propriety, but the efficacy of baptism does not depend on his integrity, since the efficacy of baptism flows from God, its author. Therefore the validity of a baptism distributed by an impure minister should not be doubted in the least.
Proofs for C:
Those who are not permitted to teach in the church are also not permitted to baptize, because the office of teaching and of baptizing have equal dignity. Women are not permitted to teach in the church (1Ti 2:12). Therefore women are also not permitted to baptize.
Response: As it is not appropriate for women to teach formally (solemniter) and publicly, so the formal practice of baptizing is not suitable for them. But just as they are able to teach privately in urgent necessity,5 so they are also able to baptize in such a case.
Women are not called to teach and to baptize.
Response: They are not called with a particular and proper (œconomica) calling. But they are called with a general calling to the spiritual priesthood, and with a calling to love one another. And in a baptismal case of necessity they ought to practice this love.
Those who are not allowed to distribute the Holy Supper are not allowed to administer baptism. Women are not allowed to distribute the Holy Supper. Therefore our major premise stands, because the benefit and necessity of baptism and of the Lord’s Supper are equal.
Response: We deny the major premise. As proof, we say that the necessity of baptism is greater than that of the Lord’s Supper. Concerning baptism the Savior says, “Unless someone will have been born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Jn 3:5). But he does not say the same about the Lord’s Supper. Strengthening (confirmatio) of faith is obtained from the Holy Supper, but not from it alone. Strengthening of faith can also be obtained from a pious remembrance of baptism, the announcement of absolution, and the promise of the gospel.
Question 11. Who should be baptized?
One should be baptized who is
A) a real human being,
B) born according to the flesh,
C) delivered into the light,
D) whether male or female,
E) whether more grown up (and not opposed to being baptized)
F) or an infant.
Proof for A: Matthew 28:19. Therefore a real human being should be baptized, not a bell or a monster, incapable of reproduction.
Proof for B: “Unless someone is begotten of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. What is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:5,6). People need baptism because they are flesh from flesh, i.e. conceived in original sin.
Criticism: Christ was baptized, yet he was not flesh from sinful flesh.
Response: Christ was baptized in the same arrangement (aeconomia)6 or special dispensation in which he was circumcised, no doubt that he might sanctify the baptismal waters by contact with his body and apply the righteousness acquired by his blood to us through baptism with water (Mt 3:15).
Proof for C: No one can be reborn unless he is born. Hence an embryo is not at all suitable for baptism.
Proof for D: We read in Acts 16:15 that Lydia, a female, was baptized. “Here there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:17).
Proof for E: History teaches that many adults were baptized with sacred water at the beginning of the Church as it was growing. Infants and adults differ [with respect to baptism] in the following way: Infants are not able to be instructed beforehand, but adults should be taught first and baptized later, in order that from the hearing of the Word they might acquire both a hatred for sin and faith in Christ (Mt 28:19; 3:6; Ac 8:37). For this reason faith and the blessings that attend faith, justification and renewal, are not first conferred to adults through baptism, but sealed and increased to them thereby.
Proof for F: The fact that infants are suitable for baptism is clear from…
The Anabaptists and Socinians attack infant baptism with the following arguments:
We do not have an explicit divine command that infants should be baptized. Therefore we are not obligated to baptize infants.
Response: The universal command provides sufficient evidence for us that he grants the descent [into the baptismal waters] to infants. Otherwise we could use the same logic to conclude: No explicit divine command is given that Transylvanians should be baptized; therefore no Transylvanian should be baptized. No explicit command is given that the Eucharist should be offered to women. Should it therefore not be offered to them? But just as from the words, “Drink from it, all of you,” we make a correct deduction regarding women, so also on account of the words, “baptize all nations,” we argue irrefutably regarding infants.
Christ was baptized when he was thirty years old. Therefore baptism in the present day should be deferred until the thirtieth year of age.
Response: Christ was circumcised when he was an infant. At that time baptism had not yet been instituted, since John the Baptizer first administered baptism when Christ was twenty-nine years old. Add to this the fact that baptism of the most holy Jesus (which he underwent as part of God’s free arrangement of salvation [libera œconomia]) could be deferred without danger. But our infants, who are conceived in sin, are subject to manifold dangers.
If infants are fit to receive baptism, then they will also be fit to receive the preaching of the divine Word (because both baptism and the preaching of the word are means of regeneration). The consequence is false; therefore the antecedent is also false.
Response: We deny the major consequence. Attention and contemplation are required to receive the preaching of the Word profitably. Infants, because they lack the full use of their reason, are unable to attend and contemplate. But there is nothing at all to hinder them from being baptized.
If infants are fit for baptism, then they will also be fit for the Lord’s Supper (for each one is a sacrament of the New Testament). The consequence is false; therefore the antecedent is also false.
Response: We deny the major consequence. One who is about to go to the Lord’s Supper ought to examine himself, δοκιμαζέτω ἑαυτόν (1Co 11:28). But δοκιμασία [examination] of this kind does not belong to infants, nor is it demanded of those who are to be baptized.
Whatever baptism is not voluntary is not legitimate. The baptism of infants is not voluntary; therefore the major premise stands. For the entire Christian religion is voluntary; therefore baptism, a prominent part of the Christian religion, is also voluntary. The minor premise is proved by the fact that προαίρεσις, or a resolving of the will, does not yet belong to infants.
Response: Something is called voluntary which is either elicited from the will or permitted by a will that is not resisting. It is true that infants do not actively choose baptism. Nevertheless, they do not resist, but willingly allow it.7
Question 13. Should the children of prostitutes and of other people who have been excommunicated from the Church be baptized?
The infants of prostitutes and of other people who have been excommunicated from the Church are rightly baptized, if the parents agree to it.
Criticism: The author of the book of Wisdom condemns those of illegitimate birth (Wsd 3:16,17).
Response: First, that book is apocryphal. Secondly, those of illegitimate birth mentioned there are understood as those who follow the footsteps of their impious parents (Ex 20:5).
Retort: But a person of illegitimate birth is forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord, even to the tenth generation (Dt 23:2).
Response: “To enter the assembly of the Lord” in the passage cited means to discharge an ecclesiastical office. Those of illegitimate birth are prohibited from it, lest the authority of the ecclesiastical office be despised.
Question 14. Should *χαμεύρετοι, or exposed,10 infants also be baptized?*
Baptism should not be denied to exposed infants.
But if a piece of paper has been attached to the exposed infant which testifies that he or she has been baptized, then baptism should not be repeated, right?
Response: That piece of paper does not merit faith, seeing as it comes from a woman who is more wicked than the beasts. Even the beasts care for their young.
But the infant can be baptized in a conditioned way, thus: “If you have been baptized, I do not baptize you. But if you have not been baptized, I baptize you in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Response: That hypothetical baptism of the papists creates perpetual doubt both in him who administers the baptism and in the one who receives this sacrament conditionally. Was baptism conferred once or twice? Rightly or wrongly? For this reason that conditional baptism should not be tolerated in the Church.
Question 15. Are the infants of Christians holy and included in the divine covenant before they have received baptism?
The infants of Christians, before they have received baptism,
A) are holy with an external holiness, or the holiness of the church,
B) but are not holy with an internal holiness, or the holiness of faith.
C) The promise of the covenant is ready (competit) for them, but they are not yet in the covenant that has been given.
Proof for A: “But now your children are holy” (1Co 7:14). An external, or ecclesiastical, holiness is meant. This holiness consists in the fact that the infants of believers have more ready access to divine grace, and indeed to participation in the means which God has ordained in order to confer eternal salvation. For they have been born within the fortresses of the Church. They have jus ad rem (the right to the thing), although they do not yet have jus in re (right in the thing), that is, they have immediate access to divine covenantal grace, but they do not yet actually share in divine covenantal grace. It is called ecclesiastical holiness, not as if the infants of Christians are ἀβάπτιστοι [unbaptized] citizens or members of the church, but because they have the right and ability to obtain the privileges of citizens of the Church. These privileges are not so easily granted to others who are outside of the Church. Dr. Calov calls this external holiness “purely relative holiness” and of such a kind “according to extrinsic designation.”11 Dr. Baldwin terms it “Levitical” and “legal” holiness,12 and Dr. Dannhauer terms it holiness “corresponding to Levitical” purity.13
Proofs for B:
Proof for C: The divine covenant is certainly promised to the infants of believers, but it has not yet been given or applied to them (Gen 17:10; Ac 2:39,41). Since the promise of the covenant is conditioned, or limited by the condition that one must undergo circumcision or baptism, therefore infants are not actually grafted into the divine covenant before they received the sacrament of initiation.14
The Anabaptists assert that the infants of believers are holy and received into the divine covenant before they have undergone baptism. They argue thus:
The infants of believers are expressly called holy (Ro 2:26; 1Co 7:14).
Response: The infants of believers, before they have undergone baptism, are holy with an external holiness, or holiness of the Church, but they are not yet holy with an internal holiness, or holiness of faith.
Those to whom the divine covenant pertains are holy. The divine covenant applies to the infants of believers. Therefore the minor premise is clear from Genesis 17:19; Acts 2:38.
Response: Those to whom the divine covenant given and applied through the means of grace (circumcision and baptism) pertains are holy with an internal and spiritual holiness. But certainly only the promise of the covenant pertains to infants of believers who have not yet been circumcised or baptized. And that promise is limited by the condition that one must undergo circumcision or baptism.
Many people who were not baptized have believed, e.g. Cornelius (Ac 10:47) and the eunuch (Ac 8:37). Therefore they were holy with the holiness of faith before they underwent baptism.
Response: We distinguish between infants and adult catechumens. In infants, when baptism intervenes, faith is kindled. In adult catechumens, when baptism mediates, faith is increased and strengthened.
If those born of the Jews are called Jews by nature, then also those born of Christians will be Christians by nature. Paul testifies that the antecedent is true (Gal 2:15); therefore the consequence is also true.
Response: We distinguish between Jews according to the flesh and according to the spirit. Jews according to the flesh are people who are born of Israelites and are contrasted with the Gentiles, just as the Germans are distinguished from the Gauls, the Spaniards, etc. “Christian” is not the same kind of national name, but the one who has been anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit is truly called a Christian. That person is not born as such, but is made such through baptism, just as a Jew according to the spirit is one who has been grafted into the divine covenant through circumcision and remains in that covenant through true faith.
Retort: If the infants of Christians are not Christians by nature, there will not be any distinction between infants of heathens and infants of Christians, because both the former and the latter are devoid of holiness.
Response: There certainly is a distinction. The infants of Christians enjoy an external and ecclesiastical holiness, because they have been born in the Church of believing parents and have an immediate or more accessible right to the means of grace, so that certain prerogatives are more ready for them than for those who are outside of the Church (1Co 5:12). Thus the people (vulgus) speak inappropriately when they call those infants “little heathens” (junge Heyden).
“As far as the relationship of faith to eternal election is concerned, faith is to be placed neither before nor after election. Both the later Lutherans and the Calvinists deviated from the truth on this point. The later Lutherans logically position faith before the eternal election. For they maintain that God has foreseen which persons will have remained in faith to the end, and has consequently elected those persons (election intuitu fidei finalis)” (Dr. Franz Pieper, Christliche Dogmatik Dritter Band [St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1920], 548-49). ↩
I.e., that which brings into (“introductory” in the etymological sense). ↩
Johann Hülsemann (1602-1661) was a Lutheran professor of theology at Wittenberg and Leipzig. This volume was not available to the translator. But cf. Dr. Johann Hülsemann, Extensio Brevarii Theologici exhibentis praecipuas et recentiores Christiane Fidei Controversias (Heilbronn, 1667), Chapter 16, “De glorificatione fidelium, damnatione infidelium, et mediis utriusque,” p. 434. He discusses the mediis utriusque on pp. 448ff, where he begins, “Media exequendi Glorificationis & Damnationis sententiam sunt Mors hominis, *Resuscitatio corporis, extremum Judicium, & consummatio saeculi; sed diverso respectu, quod glorificandos & damnandos.” He then treats each one of these *media in turn in Theses XII-XX. ↩
Johann Adam Osiander (1622/6-1697) was a Lutheran professor of theology, renowned Old Testament exegete, and chancellor of the University of Tübingen. This volume was not available to the translator. But cf. Johann Adam Osiander, Collegium Considerationum in Dogmata Theologica Cartesianorum (Stuttgart: Johann Gottfried Zubrot, 1684), Chapter 21, “De morte, animae statu, et resurrectione,” pp. 402-496. ↩
Translator Hollaz seems to be overstating the biblical position here (cf. e.g. Ac 18:26; 1Ti 2:12 “over a man” [emphasis added]). ↩
Aeconomia is “a term applied primarily to the arrangement of the works of God… In general, dispensatio, oikonomia, or its usual transliteration in the Latin of the scholastics, oeconomia, refers to the special saving providence of God” (Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1985], 93). ↩
This seems to be a weak argument against the antithesis. Using this same logic, one could argue that anything that the parents have their infants undergo is voluntary on the infants’ part, whether those things are in harmony with or contrary to God’s Word. ↩
Hollaz here seems to be granting that baptism is a two-sided covenant, when in fact it is one-sided (as also circumcision was the seal of a one-sided covenant on God’s part, Genesis 17:3-8,11). In baptism God gives and we simply receive (Ac 2:38,39; Titus 3:4-7). ↩
The phrasing of this antithesis and response has lasted to the present day in the Lutheran Church. In the meaning of his words, Hollaz has taught nothing false. But especially in the Evangelical religious climate of America today where the essence of the sacraments is often misunderstood, this phrasing has more potential to increase the confusion over the sacraments, particularly baptism, than clear it up. When talking about ability or capacity with regard to spiritual matters, God only has one thing to say in his Word: Humans born in the ordinary way, of a human father and mother, do not have any (Ro 8:7; Eph 2:1,5). To say that we are capable of regeneration and of faith undermines total depravity. (And undermining total depravity leads to undermining God’s grace.) When God gives rebirth and creates faith, he first, logically speaking, creates the ability to believe and then creates saving faith itself. (In reality, both of these constitute one divine action.) God tells us that he does this through certain means – the proclamation of his Word and baptism (Ro 10:17; Titus 3:4-7). So the question really is not: Are infants capable, i.e. of having faith? But rather: Is God capable, i.e. of creating faith, also in infants, using baptism as the means? According to his Word, he certainly is capable and he certainly does. When those who deny infant baptism argue that infants are not capable of faith, they are more than likely a) viewing faith as an act of the human will, and b) viewing the sacrament of baptism as something other than a divine means of grace. Therefore the proper response is to agree with them. It is true; infants are not capable of faith. Neither are adults. But our concern with respect to baptism and faith is not human, but divine capacity. If God says in his Word that he is able to and does create faith through baptism (and indeed he does say so), then to attack infant baptism is to attack God’s power and love. ↩
I.e., infants who are found after their unknown parents have abandoned them. ↩
Translator “Sanctificari ergo ἄπιστος dicitur per conjugium cum fideli, non quoad personam, quae nonnisi fide sanctificatur; sed quoad usum, & conjugalem consuetudinem, quae sanctificatur per preces fidelis conjugis. Alii dicunt, ipsum sanctificari, non quoad sanctitatem internam, quae nulla est sine fide; sed quoad externam quondam sanctitatem, qua sanctificata dicantur, quod non immunda sint, sed munda, licita, & Deo probate. Sed quia sanctitas renovationis, & interna, non est, nisi personae, externa autem non personae est, sed conjugii, prior distinctio commodior est. Posterior autem aptius applicatur liberorum sanctati, quae hic non est interna, vel fidei, vel foederalis, ut Calvinianis placet. Haec enim non ex generatione; sed regeneratione est: Sed externa, vel communionis sacramentorum, & aditus ad privilegia Ecclesiae; quam nonnulli Ecclesiastica proprie est, quia privilegium aditus ad Ecclesiam nondum facit civem Ecclesiae; nec politica, quia non oritur e societate civili, nec civilia beneficia concernit, quae nihil sanctitatis habent. Sanctitas autem illa est mere relativa, & secundum externam tantum denominationem ita vocatur; de qua B. Balduinus ita habet: Cum neque de mere civili, neque de mere Ecclesiastica, vel spirituali sanctitate intelligenda sit sanctitas liberorum, ex fidelibus prognatorum, nos locum de intermedia sanctitate interpretamur, quam Leviticam, seu legalem appellare possumus, hoc est, de jure isto, & potestate consequendi privilegia civium Ecclesiae. Quemadmodum enim non quilibet in populo Dei sacra facere in templo, vel tabernaculo poterat; sed Levitae saltem, qui juxta legem certis ceremoniis sanctificabantur, I. Paralip. XV. vers. 14” (Dr. Abraham Calov, *Biblia Illustrata Novi Testamenti, Quibus Simul Hugonis Grotii Annotationes In Libros N. T. Cum Appendicibus Tome I [Frankfurt am Main: Balthasar Christopher Wust, 1676], 317). Note that Calov also includes the quote of Dr. Balduin which Hollaz cites. Denominatio can also mean “metonymy.” In this case, “holiness” would be a metonymy of actuality for potentiality. ↩
v. supra. The original volume, a Latin commentary on all the Epistles of St. Paul, was not available to the translator. Friedrich Balduin (1575-1627) was a Lutheran professor of theology and superintendant at the University of Wittenberg. ↩
“Qui vero intra castra Israelis a Christianis parentibus nascuntur, ad illos jure quodam hoc beneficium pertinet, cuius juris respectu a Spiritu sancto sanctitatis nomine, none internae, sed externae, & Leviticae illi respondenti *(δ) nobilitantur, ac ideo gentiles vel Heyden proprie non sunt vocandi, (ε) vide D. Balduin” (Dr. Johann Conrad Dannhauer, *Hodosophia Christiana seu Theologia Positiva In certam, plenam & cohaerentem methodum redacta, Ordinariis ac publicis Dissertationibus Argentorati proposita [Leipzig: Frideric Groschuff, 1695], 1039). Dannhauer (1601-1666) was a Lutheran professor of theology at the University of Strasbourg and presiding officer of the local church administration. Note how closely Hollaz’s wording for this proof corresponds to that of Calov, Balduin, and Dannhauer. ↩
Hollaz comes to the correct biblical conclusion here. Because this is true, the distinction between external and internal holiness does not seem to be a helpful one. This teaching itself gives parents no more comfort when their unbaptized infants die than they would have had otherwise. The distinction seems to be driven by 1 Corinthians 7:14 and the opponents’ misuse of it. But this passage hardly convinces one to believe that the infants of Christians must be holy in some way before baptism. Not read in its entirety, Hollaz’s position even runs a good risk of being misconstrued in two ways: 1) that baptism is not an urgent necessity, and 2) that people can ride the coattails of their parents or other relatives into heaven. Hollaz himself would disagree with both of these tenets. ↩
Hollaz address the topic of baptism as a conferring means of salvation.
Mar 3, 2010