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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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A book about baptism for people in the pew

A book about baptism for people in the pew
Many of us belong to congregations where baptisms occur several times each year. But what is the deeper significance of this sacrament? Why is it important that we witness infant baptism as adult believers? Read More

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 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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The riches of God’s promises are for young children

  T is for Tree The riches of God’s promises are, indeed, especially for young children; God specifically includes them in his everlasting, unconditional covenant of grace: “...and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). Our little ones may not be neglected. Even in the books we choose to read to them, we can and we must keep the vows we made at the time of baptism to “help and cause them to be instructed” in the “true and perfect doctrine...

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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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Covenant of election or covenant of conditions (6)

This series is written by Rev. Nathan J. Langerak. This is the last article in this series. I continue my answer to a reader from the Canadian Reformed Churches who objected to some of my characterization of the conditional covenantal view of those churches. This view, as stated by the reader, is “that ALL our children are included in that covenant, both the elect and the reprobate.” I charged that this doctrine overthrows the doctrines of grace, specifically election and justification, and...

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Covenant of election or covenant of conditions (5)

This series is written by Rev. Nathan J. Langerak. I have responded to Coosje Helder, a member of the Canadian Reformed Churches, concerning her objection to my contention that the conditional view of the covenant as taught and maintained in her churches cannot be harmonized with and overthrows the Reformed doctrines of grace in the creeds, specifically predestination. I have proved that the creeds teach that the grace of God is controlled by election. It follows from this that the covenant of...

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Covenant of election or covenant of conditions (1)

This series of blog posts are written by Rev. Nathan J. Langerak. Coosje Helder, a member of the Canadian Reformed Churches, responded via the RFPA email to my review of the book, The Reformed Baptism Form. I contacted Coosje, and she agreed that I may use her name in my response, and she asked me to send a copy of my response to her. I intend to do this when the various installments of my response have been posted to the...

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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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Book Review: The Reformed Baptism Form (3)

The Reformed Baptism Form: A Commentary, B. Wielenga, trans. Annemie Godbehere, ed. David J. Engelsma. Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2016, 425 pages. Reviewed by Rev. Nathan J. Langerak. Wielenga throughout the commentary deals with the text of the baptism form. That is the strength of his commentary. The text as it was in use in his day differed at certain points from the official text adopted by the Synod of Dordt. At places he suggests emendations and changes to the text...

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