Abraham Scultetus on Baptism with the Spirit

13 September 2010 by Wes Bredenhof

The other day I attended a reception to commemorate the retirement of Dr. N. H. Gootjes, my seminary dogmatics professor.  In honour of this occasion, one of his colleagues from the seminary presented a copy of a collection of writings of Dr. Gootjes, Teaching and Preaching the Word: Studies in Dogmatics and Homiletics.  I hope to soon have a review of this book posted here.  So far, it’s excellent.

Chapter 6 deals with “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit and the Meaning of Pentecost.”  Gootjes discusses the history of how various figures have interpreted “baptism with the Spirit.”  One of the figures he mentions is Abraham Scultetus.  Scultetus was a professor at the Reformed academy in Heidelberg.  He was one of the representatives of the Palatinate at the Synod of Dort, 1618-19.  Here’s what Gootjes has to say about him:

In the period that followed [Calvin], this view that the baptism with the Spirit is in fact the essence of the baptism of John and of Christian baptism was very influential.  A noteworthy exception is A. Scultetus (1566-1625), a theologian of great influence at the Synod of Dort, 1618-19.  He mentioned that the general understanding is that John the Baptist distinguished the external baptism and the administration by himself and other ministers from the internal administration of Christ.  However, Scultetus cannot agree with this.  In his opinion, Luke 3:16 mentions two baptisms: a baptism with water and a baptism with fire.  The baptism with water has people submerged in water and pulled from it as a testimony to the Holy Spirit’s work of putting to death and raising to life.  The baptism with fire takes place when the fiery gifts of the Holy Spirit are poured out in people in a miraculous way.  This latter baptism refers to the special gifts of Pentecost, which have been repeated several times since.  Only Christ can give this baptism, and he ceases when the authority of the gospel is sufficiently confirmed.  Scultetus does admit that his opinion is different from that of the majority.

Gootjes has a footnote here indicating that he drew this from the compilation of Balduinus Walaeus, Novi testamenti libri historici: Gr. et Lat. perpetuo commentario (1653): 574-575 as a commentary on Luke 3:16.  Unfortunately, that source is apparently not (yet) available online.

2 responses to “Abraham Scultetus on Baptism with the Spirit”

  1. Mark Veenman says:

    Dr. Bredenhof, we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I’m afraid I don’t fully understand the point of your post.

    • The issue is the interpretation of Luke 3:16. What does it mean that John baptized with water, but Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire? Calvin and many others had an interpretation of which differed from that of Scultetus.

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