Posted March 27, 2020
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.
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. 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.