A Jagged Contention: Baptized Without Faith?

“Further, we say, we do not put the main emphasis on whether the person baptized believes or not, for in the latter case baptism does not become invalid. Everything depends on the Word and commandment of God. This is a rather subtle point, perhaps, but it is based upon what I have said, that baptism is simply water and God’s Word in and with each other; that is, when the Word accompanies the water, baptism is valid, even though faith is lacking. For my faith does not make baptism; rather, it receives baptism. Baptism does not become invalid if it is not properly received or used, as I have said, for it is not bound to our faith but to the Word.”

-Martin Luther, The Large Catechism: On Baptism (Kolb & Wengert ed, pg. 463)


In this remarkable passage, Luther comforts those who fear their baptism was invalid because they did not know enough or believe enough when it happened. What are the dangers in trying to locate the power of baptism in faith?

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