Question:

I found a whole list of early church fathers, Ante Nicene fathers who said baptism is necessary for salvation and it's a regeneration. I got Irenaeus, Tertullian, Ambrose, Justin Martyr, Clement, Cyprian and the list goes on. Can I use these men and their quotes to back up the Bible and the apostles? Most people take the Bible out of context or pick and choose verses, but if I give Bible verses on baptism and how it saves plus throw in the church fathers, who can argue with that? What you think? Good source or no?


Answer:

The early Christian writers are not always reliable. They are uninspired men and sometimes got things right and sometimes missed the mark. I will use the early writers when someone argues, "It was never done ..." to show that it was done. In your case, the early writers do show that others came to the same conclusion. It doesn't prove the point, but it does show that what you are advocating isn't a wild newfangled idea. In this case, the quotes from the early writers do show that it is the people claiming that baptism is unnecessary who are the ones introducing a relatively new idea. Another use of the early writers is to see how points are justified. Bad ideas constantly get recirculated so seeing the reasoning of others in the past can give you ideas on how to reason today.

What proves that baptism is necessary is what God said in the New Testament. The quotes from the early Christian writers are just the opinions of respected men. They are worth thinking about, but they don't make your particular argument stronger.