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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—28.  Saturninus of Victoriana 1802 said:  "If heretics may baptize, they are excused and defended in doing unlawful things; nor do I see why either Christ called them His adversaries, or the apostle called them antichrists." 1803

29.  To him we answer:  We say that heretics have no authority to baptize in the same sense in which we say that defrauders have no authority to baptize.  For not only to the heretic, but to the sinner, God says, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?"  To the same person He assuredly says, "When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him." 1804   How much worse, therefore, are those who did not consent with thieves, but themselves were wont to plunder farms with treacherous deceits?  Yet Cyprian did not consent with them, though he did tolerate them in the corn-field of the Catholic Church, lest the wheat should be rooted out together with it.  And yet at the same time the baptism which they themselves conferred was the very selfsame baptism, because it was not of them, but of Christ.  As therefore they, although the baptism of Christ be recognized in them, were yet not excused and defended in doing unlawful things, and Christ rightly called those His adversaries who were destined, by persevering in such things, to hear the doom, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity," 1805 whence also they are called antichrists, because they are contrary to Christ while they live in opposition to His words, so likewise is it the case with heretics.


Footnotes

504:1802

Victoriana was in ecclesiastical province of Byzacium.  [The name Saturninus is found in Cypr. Epp. xxi. 4, xxii. 3, xxvii. 1, 11, lvii. ter. lxvii. bis, lxx. quinquies.

504:1803

Conc. Carth. sec. 51.

504:1804

Ps. 50:16, 18.

504:1805

Matt. vii. 23.


Next: Chapter 16

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