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“Cyprian Letter to Pompey about Stephen's views on the baptism of "heretics" - Epistle 73 or 74, LXXIII or LXXIV - Latin Text with English translation”

The question of whether those baptised by "heretical" priests should be rebaptised was a controversial one. Cyprian's firm view was that rebaptism was necessary (though it was not strictly a second baptism as the first was not truly baptism). Pope Stephen affirmed the validity of baptism in water in the name of the Trinity, even if carried out by a heretical priest.  73 or 74, LXXIII or LXXIV.

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Relevant books
 available at Amazon

Many Cyprian translations
and studies with links to Amazon

A selection below

 

J. Patout Burns
Cyprian the Bishop

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Allen Brent
Cyprian and Roman Carthage

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Everett Ferguson
Baptism in the Early Church

 

Epistle LXXIII.
To Pompey, Against the Epistle of Stephen About the Baptism of Heretics.
 Argument.—The Purport of This Epistle is Given in St. Augustine’s “Contra Donatistas,” Lib. V. Cap. 23. He Says There: “Cyprian, Moreover, Writes to Pompey on the Same Subject, When He Plainly Signifies that Stephen, Who, as We Learn, Was Then a Bishop of the Roman Church, Not Only Did Not Agree with Him on Those Points, But Even Had Written and Charged in Opposition to Him.”
 1. Cyprian to his brother Pompeius, greeting. Although I have fully comprised what is to be said concerning the baptism of heretics in the letters of which I sent you copies, dearest brother, yet, since you have desired that what Stephen our brother replied to my letters should be brought to your knowledge, I have sent you a copy of his reply; on the reading of which, you will more and more observe his error in endeavouring to maintain the cause of heretics against Christians, and against the Church of God. For among other matters, which were either haughtily assumed, or were not pertaining to the matter, or contradictory to his own view, which he unskilfully and without foresight wrote, he moreover added this saying: “If any one, therefore, come to you from any heresy whatever, let nothing be innovated (or done) which has not been handed down, to wit, that hands be imposed on him for repentance; since the heretics themselves, in their own proper character, do not baptize such as come to them from one another, but only admit them to communion.”
 2. He forbade one coming from any heresy to be baptized in the Church; that is, he judged the baptism of all heretics to be just and lawful. And although special heresies have special baptisms and different sins, he, holding communion with the baptism of all, gathered up the sins of all, heaped together into his own bosom. And he charged that nothing should be innovated except what had been handed down; as if he were an innovator, who, holding the unity, claims for the one Church one baptism; and not manifestly he who, forgetful of unity, adopts the lies and the contagions of a profane washing. Let nothing be innovated, says he, nothing maintained, except what has been handed down. Whence is that tradition? Whether does it descend from the authority of the Lord and of the Gospel, or does it come from the commands and the epistles of the apostles? For that those things which are written must be done, God witnesses and admonishes, saying to Joshua the son of Nun: “The book of this law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate in it day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Also the Lord, sending His apostles, commands that the nations should be baptized, and taught to observe all things which He commanded. If, therefore, it is either prescribed in the Gospel, or contained in the epistles or Acts of the Apostles, that those who come from any heresy should not be baptized, but only hands laid upon them to repentance, let this divine and holy tradition be observed. But if everywhere heretics are called nothing else than adversaries and antichrists, if they are pronounced to be people to be avoided, and to be perverted and condemned of their own selves, wherefore is it that they should not be thought worthy of being condemned by us, since it is evident from the apostolic testimony that they are of their own selves condemned? So that no one ought to defame the apostles as if they had approved of the baptisms of heretics, or had communicated with them without the Church’s baptism, when they, the apostles, wrote such things of the heretics. And this, too, while as yet the more terrible plagues of heresy had not broken forth; while Marcion of Pontus had not yet emerged from Pontus, whose master Cerdon came to Rome,—while Hyginus was still bishop, who was the ninth bishop in that city,—whom Marcion followed, and with greater impudence adding other enhancements to his crime, and more daringly set himself to blaspheme against God the Father, the Creator, and armed with sacrilegious arms the heretical madness that rebelled against the Church with greater wickedness and determination.
 3. But if it is evident that subsequently heresies became more numerous and worse; and if, in time past, it was never at all prescribed nor written that only hands should be laid upon a heretic for repentance, and that so he might be communicated with; and if there is only one baptism, which is with us, and is within, and is granted of the divine condescension to the Church alone, what obstinacy is that, or what presumption, to prefer human tradition to divine ordinance, and not to observe that God is indignant and angry as often as human tradition relaxes and passes by the divine precepts, as He cries out, and says by Isaiah the prophet, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching the doctrines and commandments of men.” Also the Lord in the Gospel, similarly rebuking and reproving, utters and says, “Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mindful of which precept, the blessed Apostle Paul himself also warns and instructs, saying, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to His doctrine, he is proud, knowing nothing: from such withdraw thyself.”
 4. Certainly an excellent and lawful tradition is set before us by the teaching of our brother Stephen, which may afford us a suitable authority! For in the same place of his epistle he has added and continued: “Since those who are specially heretics do not baptize those who come to them from one another, but only receive them to communion.” To this point of evil has the Church of God and spouse of Christ been developed, that she follows the examples of heretics; that for the purpose of celebrating the celestial sacraments, light should borrow her discipline from darkness, and Christians should do that which antichrists do. But what is that blindness of soul, what is that degradation of faith, to refuse to recognise the unity which comes from God the Father, and from the tradition of Jesus Christ the Lord and our God! For if the Church is not with heretics, therefore, because it is one, and cannot be divided; and if thus the Holy Spirit is not there, because He is one, and cannot be among profane persons, and those who are without; certainly also baptism, which consists in the same unity, cannot be among heretics, because it can neither be separated from the Church nor from the Holy Spirit.

 



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Cyprian Epistolae
Cyprian Letters
Migne Latin
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Latina
 

 

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