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Authority, Mission, and Institution: A Systematic Consideration of Matthew 28.18-20 in Karl Barth's Doctrine of Baptism

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Many of Barth's most faithful and devoted interpreters have taken issue with his unapologetically non-sacramental account of baptism in CD IV/4 and his attendant rejection of infant baptism. While many questions have been raised concerning the veracity of the exegesis that Barth produces in support of his position, little attention has been paid to the way in which Matthew 28.18-20, when systematically considered, relates to his account of baptism. Taking the themes of authority, mission and institution as analytic tools, this paper examines the role played by the Matthean passage throughout the Church Dogmatics period, and considers how these themes relate to Barth's rejection of infant baptism. It is suggested in conclusion that understanding baptism as the 'sign of the gospel' allows us to move beyond Barth's rejection of infant baptism without abrogating his concern for mission.


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