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The Council of Miletus, Baptism, and Confirmation

During the Reformation, among many discussion was the essence and efficacy of the sacraments. Calvin’s polemics against this would focus on the necessity of repeated infusion of grace – ex opere operato – in all sacraments. Calvin writing against confirmation:

Have not we then been buried in baptism with Christ, made partakers in his death, that we may also be sharers in his resurrection [Rom 6:4-5]? Moreover this fellowship with Christ’s death and life Paul explains to be the mortifying of our flesh and the quickening of the Spirit, because ‘our old man has been crucified’ [Rom 6:6, Vg.] in order that ‘we may walk in newness of life’ [Rom 6:5, Vg.]. What is it to be equipped for battle, but this? (Institutes 4.9.8)

Calvin shows a clear line of argument against Confirmation. For Calvin Confirmation represents a serious devaluation and misappreciation of the significance of baptism, and against Rome he quotes a resolution taken by the council of Miletus:

Whoever says that baptism is given only for forgiveness of sins and not as a help for grace to come, let him be anathema.

The Roman view of baptism actually is a lower view of baptism because throughout the rest of their sacramental system they draw people away from the sacrament of baptism.  In fact in the rest of the sacramental structure of Rome the other sacraments (with the exception of the Supper) abolish the function of baptism. This is a problem that cannot be stated enough. The Roman view in fact views baptism as an incidental event, that does infuse supernatural grace in the recipient but cannot function decisively in the struggles of life but Paul in Romans 6 indicates precisely the efficacy and development of the new life against the background of baptism.

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