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JULIAN OF ECLANUM ON BAPTISM

Liber I ad Turbantium, as found in Augustine, Contra Secundam Juliani Responsionem Imperfectum Opus, 1.53

Julian disagreed with Augustine over whether the baptism of infants implied that infants inherit "original sin". Pelagians like Julian saw baptism not as necessary for dealing with original sin, as Augustine asserted, but rather as helpful in a child's journey towards holiness.

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Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from Kidd, Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church (SPCK, 1920).

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In so saying I do not overlook what will be put about concerning us, that we do not consider the grace of Christ necessary for infants. I have nothing but approval for Christian people taking violent offence at this, if only they would not credit us with responsibility for a statement so intrinsically impious. They would then escape the guilt of believing what is not true of their brethren, and show themselves zealous in love for the faith. That faction must be secured by us against making idle attacks; and by a brief explanation, we must sew up the mouths of those who vilify us. We then so fully acknowledge the grace of baptism to be profitable to all ages that we smite with perpetual anathema all who think that it is not necessary to children also. But this grace we believe to be rich in spiritual gifts: one, too, which, abounding as it does in many endowments and venerable for its virtues, in proportion to the differences of men’s ailments and the diversities of their condition, heals them not only by bestowing remedies but by the virtue of its gifts. When it is conferred, it is not variable according to occasion; of itself, it distributes its gifts to suit the capacity of each recipient. For just as no art or craft suffers any diminution or addition in consequence of the difference of the materials which it lays hold on for adornment, but, conducting itself always in one and the same fashion, results in a variety of ornament, so, too, the “one faith,” and the “one baptism,” of which the Apostle speaks, have many and far-reaching benefits, but suffer no change in their sacramental character. The grace which washes out the stains of iniquity, is not incompatible with righteousness; it does not cause sin, but cleanses; and that which absolves the guilty does not incriminate the innocent. Christ, who is the Redeemer of His own handiwork, bestows upon His image an increase of blessing by His perpetual generosity; and those whom by creation He made good, by renewal and adoption He makes better.

 



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Julian of Eclanum
Pelagian view of baptism
Augustine's theology of baptism and original sin
 

 

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