False Premise #4: The Christian Church has always believed that immersion is the only acceptable mode for Baptism.
The Protestant Church of Christ’s fourth false premise is a common Protestant trait, which is to label any nonconforming example from history as “not true Christianity,” or not pertaining to the invisible “true Church” that exists within a community’s assumed ancient presence. The strategy always allows for a “true” form of Christianity to elusively exist somewhere within the shadows of history—a form that always adheres to any modern whim. So, for those of you who have considered my review of the last three false premises, and are entertaining the possibility, no matter how slight, that the Catholic Church has a more perfect grasp on the subjects of Baptism and Scripture, then the following should solidify your inkling.
The earliest extra-biblical Church document we have is called The Didache, also called The Teachings of the Twelve, and it may have been composed by the Apostles or their schools as early as A.D. 70. The Didache contains what Hebrews 6:2 likely refers to: instructions for baptisms:
After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.18
The Didache is not inspired, and therefore, the Catholic Church chose not to include it within the canon of Scripture; but the document is real, and it was referred to by early Church fathers. The early Church under the Apostles undeniably prescribed immersion and pouring as valid modes, and history proves that the early Church practiced both modes; so to suggest that the “true Christian Church” has always recognized only immersion as a proper mode is false; unless of course, one is willing to swallow the theory that the Church was already in utter apostasy even before the death of the Apostles—that the Apostles could not hold the Church together longer than your group’s 19th century restorers could hold the Church together.
Church history is filled with examples of various modes of Baptism. Consider:
• In A.D. 215, Pope Cornelius wrote that his antagonist, antipope Novatian, was baptized as he was dying in bed.19
• In A.D. 255, St. Cyprian explained proper modes: “The divine methods confer the whole benefit on believers nor ought it to trouble any one that the sick people seem to be sprinkled or affused, when they obtain the Lord’s grace.”20
• In A.D. 215, St. Hippolytus of Rome taught, “If water is scarce, whether as a constant condition or on occasion, then use whatever water is available.”21
These past examples are real. These things happened. So either the only Church with any paper trail recognized various modes of Baptism, or there was an Apostasy of an invisible Church that had no paper trail of any kind, which amazingly, confirms your group’s modern and impossible-to-document beliefs. One scenario is reasonable; the other requires denial of facts and reason.
18 The Didache, chapter 7. Available at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm as of January 12, 2014.
19 Letter to Fabius of Antioch. Available at http://www.seanmultimedia.com/Pie_Cornelius_I_Letters.html as of January 12, 2014.
20 Letter to Magnus. Available at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050675.htm as of January 12, 2014.
21 Jurgens, William A., The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1970), 169.