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The modern evangelical view of baptism is actually the new view, an interpretation of baptism that was invented only in the 1520’s. It was created by the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), developed further by John Calvin, and accepted throughout most of the Protestant world. Until Zwingli, the entire Christian world for the first 1,500 years of its history was in agreement: water baptism is the God-appointed time when He first gives saving grace to sinners. Exceptions to this belief were extremely rare, limited mostly to medieval dualist sects that rejected all physical forms of worship…

The pre-Augustinian writers were practically unanimous in their teaching that baptism is the point of time when salvation is given. Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165) said that new converts “are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated… For… they then receive the washing with water,” as in John 3:5. “We have learned from the apostles this reason” for baptism: “in order that we… may obtain in the water the remission of sins” (First Apology, 61). I Tertullian (A.D. 145-220) said, “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life” (On Baptism iii). Also “The act of baptism… is carnal, in that we are plunged in water, but the effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins” (ibid., vii). Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-386) said, “When going down… into the water, think not of the bare element, but look for salvation by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Catechetical Lectures III:4).