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B. B. Warfield – On the Church

“It is, no doubt, as a protest against the harshness of the Romanist syllogism, “No man can attain salvation who is not a member of Christ; but no one becomes a member of Christ except by baptism, received either in re or in voto,” (Aquinas) that this Pelgagianizing drift is to be regarded. Its fault is that it impinges by way of mitigation and modification on the major premise, which, however, is the fundamental proposition of Christianity. Its roots are planted, in the last analysis, in a conception of men, not as fallen creatures, children of wrath, and deserving of doom which can only be escaped by becoming members of Christ, but as creatures of God with claims on Him for natural happiness, but, of course, with no claims on Him for such additional supernatural benefits as He may yet lovingly confer on His creatures in Christ. On the other hand, that great religious movement which we call the Reformation, the consititutive principle of which was its revised doctrine of the Church, ranged itself properly against the fallacious minor premise, and easily broke its bonds with the sword of the word. Men are not consituted members of Christ through the Church, but members of the Church through Christ; they are not made the members of Christ by baptism which the Church gives, but by faith, the gift of God; and baptism is the Church’s recognition of this inner fact.” – Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield, The Doctrine of Infant Salvation, Studies in Theology, Banner of Truth Trust, 1932, 1988

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