Karl Barth was Infant Baptized and Refused to be Rebaptized
Karl Barth with his first great grandchild, Olivier Schopfer, in 1962.

Karl Barth with his first great grandchild, Olivier Schopfer, in 1962.

In the following letter, Karl Barth says that he was baptized as an infant, and that he refused to be rebaptized for 79 years, and that paedobaptism is valid baptism! Karl Barth's repudiation of paedobaptism is infamous in The Teaching of the Church Regarding Baptism (1948) and in the Church Dogmatics IV.4 fragment (1967).  However, Barth's argument for a more correct and important practice of Baptism is wrongly used to justify the divisive practice of Rebaptism. It should be noted that this letter was written near the end of Karl Barth's life, long after his revision of Christian Baptism had been initially inked.

Letter 186

To Mrs. Ludmilla Gowalezyk (Augsburg) [#1]

Basel, 7 April 1965

Dear Mrs. Gowalezyk,

That seventy-nine years ago I was baptized as an infant -- like the vast majority of all Christians from the third or fourth century on--is one of the many disorders from which the church suffers. I have opposed this disorder. But I have never maintained that baptism administered in this disorder is not valid baptism. What was said to me back then, unfortunately without my being asked or able to reply, was said, and therefore I do not see why I should replace that baptism by another and second one. I regarded and stiller egard it as more correct and important to take my one baptism very seriously. Part of this requires calling on the church to remedy the disorder in the future.

With friendly greetings,

Yours,

Karl Barth

[Note #1: As a member of a community teaching believer's baptism the recipient had expressed to Barth her pleasure at his repudiation of infant baptism and asked him why he did not have the courage to be baptized afresh.]

Karl Barth: Letters 1961-1968trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley

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  1. IS NATURAL BIRTH ESSENTIAL TO BE SAVED? BY STEVE FINNELL

    According to some, men must be born of natural birth to enter the kingdom of God. There are many who declare that Jesus said you must be born of the water (amniotic fluid) to enter the kingdom of God. What did Jesus say?

    John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

    Was Jesus saying you must be born of natural birth (amniotic fluid) to enter the kingdom of God? Of course not.

    Men do need to be born of the waters of baptism to enter the kingdom of God.

    On the Day of Pentecost (2:22-41) the apostle Peter preached Jesus as a miracle worker. Peter preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. Peter told them that God raised Jesus from the dead. When the three thousand believed, they where told to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. After the three thousand received Peter’s word they were baptized in water and added the the kingdom of God on earth, which is the church of Christ.
    Peter did not tell one soul that they had to be born of natural birth (amniotic fluid) to enter the kingdom of God. The church is the kingdom of God on earth. The requirements for entering the kingdom of God on earth are the same as for entering the eternal kingdom of God. You must be born of water and the Spirit.

    The new birth (Acts 2:38) Water baptism and the Holy Spirit.
    The new birth (Titus 3:5) Washing of regeneration (water baptism) and renewing of the Holy Spirit (born of the Spirit).
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    (Scripture from. NKJV)
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