Karl Barth's pneumatological doctrine of baptism
Karl Barth wrote the doctrine of baptism twice-The Teaching of the Church Regarding Baptism (1943) and Church Dogmatics IV/4: Fragment (1967). A number of differences can be found between them, despite their shared anti-paedobaptism. The characteristics of the first work can be described in this way. 1. Jesus Christ is the sole principle of baptism. 2. As a sacrament, baptism is a means of grace and indirectly an act of Christ. 3. The meaning of baptism is the cognition of salvation. Recognition of the work of Christ presupposes an ability to understand and respond. Therefore, the baptism of infants cannot be justified. Barth's first work on baptism can be denoted as being a christological, sacramental and cognitive doctrine. More briefly, it can be entitled primarily a christological doctrine of baptism. The characteristics of the second work can be summed up in the following terms. 1. The work of Jesus Christ is the objective historical ground of baptism and baptism with the Spirit is the subjective existential ground of baptism. There is no faith in Christ without baptism with the Spirit, and there is no baptism with water without faith in Christ. Hence, the work of the Spirit in man is enormously emphasized. 2. Baptism with water as an act of man is no longer a sacrament. Instead, baptism with the Spirit as an act of God is a sacrament as well as the resurrection of Christ. It is a pneumatological substitute for the traditional conception of the sacrament. 3. Baptism with the Spirit is the command of God and baptism with water is the obedience of man. By the work of the Spirit, man becomes a free partner of God able to obey the divine command. This is his pneumatological ethics. Barth's second work on baptism can be denoted as a pneumatological, non-sacramental and ethical doctrine. In short, it can be entitled a pneumatological doctrine of baptism. A pneumatological baptismal theology provides the proper logical ground for credobaptism. Baptism is an act of man whose free responsibility is given by the Holy Spirit.