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The Reformed Baptism Form: A History from Dordt to today

The Reformed Baptism Form: A History from Dordt to today

Throughout the history of the baptism form, there have always been officebearers who attempted to omit parts of the form. These omissions happened in different ways. First, book publishers printed the forms in any way which they saw fit and not according to synodical decisions. Second, ministers regularly skipped parts of the form during the sacrament so that later church printings followed suit (often by placing the “undesirable” section in parentheses and then deleting it altogether without approval). Third, the modern church world has approved a brand-new set of liturgical inventions that have not come from Dordt.

In his book, The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, Bastiaan Wielenga lists several instances where the original form has not been followed. The examples show how violence has been inflicted upon the form.

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The History of the Reformed Baptism Form (2)

The History of the Reformed Baptism Form (2)
We continue our study of the history of the Reformed baptism form in connection with an RFPA book entitled The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary by Bastiaan Wielenga. Our blog post series began with a treatment of the form in connection with Christian education. We then turned to the history of Peter Dantheen and the history of the form. And last time we noticed that the Dutch Reformed in the 1560s and 1570s endured fiery years of persecution at the hands of their cruel Spanish overlords. Many were forced to live in exile outside of the borders of the Lowlands in cities such as Emden and Wesel. In the last blog post, we left off our study of the Reformed baptism form at Wesel in 1568 where several decisions were made concerning the formation of Reformed churches in the Lowlands in the interest of preaching the truth of God’s word. Read More

The History of the Reformed Baptism Form (1)

The History of the Reformed Baptism Form (1)
The Reformed baptism form in the back of the 1912 Psalter has a glorious history that is rich in significance. In previous articles, we have traced the work of Peter Dantheen in compiling this great work. This group of articles will focus on the history of the form from Dantheen, through Dordt, to the New World, to the 1912 Psalter. 

The inspiration for this group of articles comes from Bastiaan Wielenga in his book, The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary. In that book, he cries out that the Reformed Churches return to the unadulterated baptism form passed at the great Synod. You can read the official version of the form on pages 11–17 of this book recently translated by the RFPA. When one reads this official version, one is quickly aware that the version in the Psalter of the Protestant Reformed Churches is very similar to that form. In the book Portraits of Faithful Saints we read: “The form we use in baptism came from his [Dantheen's] hand, although the Synod of Dordt in 1618–1619 added the section for the baptism of adults and made some minor changes in it.” (p. 235). During this four hundredth anniversary year of the Synod of Dordt, let us commemorate God's work of preserving this form which we use. Read More

The Reformed Baptism Form: The Author (2)

The Reformed Baptism Form: The Author (2)

The origin of the Reformed baptism form can be traced both to England and to the European continent,  During the years after the coronation of Bloody Mary in 1553, the pages of church history record the heartrending stories of ruthless persecution and martyrdom of faithful Protestants in England. Many Reformed saints who had first fled from the Lowlands now had to flee for their lives from England to parts of continental Europe.

Thus begins the second part of our story that traces the origin of our Reformed baptism form. In the year 1555, Petrus Datheen became a minister in Frankfurt, Germany at a church that John à Lasco initiated for refugees from the London Refugee Church.  Under the gracious hand of God’s providence God again led Datheen to follow John à Lasco for the good of his church. We remember that Datheen would use à Lasco's liturgy to form and craft the beautiful lines of our Reformed baptism form. In Frankfurt the Lord blessed Datheen and his wife with a daughter named Christiana.  But this time of peace did not last very long. In 1561 Datheen had to flee again as a Reformed exile, this time because the Lutherans in Frankfurt would not allow a Reformed congregation in their midst.[1]

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The Reformed Baptism Form: The Author

Our Reformed baptism form has a glorious history sealed in the fires of persecution. Most church historians agree that the father of the form is Petrus Datheen, a Dutch reformer who lived from about 1531 to 1588.[1] Despite the oppression he and many Reformed believers faced from the Roman Catholic Church, including threats of terrible persecution at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition, Datheen worked tirelessly for the cause of those who loved the Reformed faith both of his own time and those in the generations to come.

As we celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Synod of Dordt this year, we focus our attention on one aspect of Datheen’s extensive work as a reformer: the Reformed baptism form, which was approved for use in the Dutch Reformed churches by the great Synod of Dordt.

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Instruction with a Goal

Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (10): Instruction with a Goal The instruction of covenant children is the rearing of royal children of King Jesus. In this blog, we have treated several passages of the baptism form that deal directly with Christian education. Now we come to the goal of that education. Wielenga concludes his commentary on the form with a section on the glorious prayer of thanksgiving. The prayer in the form is that our Triune God will govern...

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Instruction that is Governed

Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (8): Instruction that is Governed The instruction of covenant children is governed by God himself. In the thanksgiving prayer of the form for baptism we pray for the covenant children “that they may be piously and religiously educated.” This rearing was first mentioned in the form at “the end of the doctrinal part, where it was said, ‘parents are in duty bound to instruct their children further herein while they grow up.’ This was...

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Govern this Child

Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (8): Govern this Child  Our covenant children are royal children of King Jesus and as such we ask God to govern them. The prayer at the end of the baptism form explains all of our instruction as flowing out of this governance: “We beseech thee, through the same Son of thy love, that thou wilt be pleased always to govern these baptized children by thy Holy Spirit.” In The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary,...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form: According to Ability

The book entitled The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary by Bastiaan Wielenga, is clear that the establishment of Reformed Christian schools is deeply rooted in the Reformed tradition. In the past few blog articles, we have treated this commentary in connection with the third question of the Reformed baptism form. In this installment, we will treat the words “to the utmost of your power.” These are such powerful words—“to the utmost of your power.” When Reformed parents vow at baptism to...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (6): Causing to Instruct Children with Sola Scriptura

The third question of the Reformed baptism form states that parents are called to “instruct” their children in the “aforesaid doctrine” to “the utmost” of their power.  The aforesaid doctrine is comprised of the teachings of the Bible and the Reformed Confessions. This year we celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the great Reformation. One of the five “solas” of the Reformation was sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.” Glory to God alone (soli Deo Gloria) that at this late date in history...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (5): Meditation at the beginning of a new school year

What is a world view? It is an overall guide for life. However, a world view is particularly interested in our life on earth before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, our view of the creation. Prof. David J. Engelsma picks up on this point when he writes, "By world view, I understand a comprehensive, unified view of the whole of creation and its history, including the creation's origin, meaning, and goal and including my own life, in...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (4): Duty Bound

The Christian instruction of covenant children is a duty that is bound upon the Reformed parent. We read this in the third question asked of the parents in the Reformed Baptism Form. We now turn to this second section in the form that speaks of Christian education.   In previous posts we have discussed that parents stand in the office of prophet, priest, and king with regard to their children. In this post, we look at the vow that parents take...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (3): Instructing the Children

Our covenant children are royal children. Once they come to years of discretion we are called to hold before them, “Do you know, my child, that when you were very small something solemn, something holy happened to you? You were baptized in the name of the triune God. You are not a heathen child, but a child of the covenant” (Wielenga, Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, 182). All instruction in the home and at school has that at its core: our...

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Christian Education and the Reformed Baptism Form (2): Heirs of the Kingdom of God

Picture a glorious king seated on a throne in a royal palace with watchful advisors standing at attention and waiting for the bidding of the sovereign. Then in comes the royal children. They need not stand at attention, but they run joyfully into the lap of the king and are received with familial love. We as children of God are also received in God’s favor and love! The children of godly parents are heirs of the kingdom of God. In the...

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