This study examines the baptismal practices of the early Christian community using Tertullian’s ethical text on baptism in relation to his other writings to dialogue with the Roman Catholic understanding of baptism, original sin and grace. Tertullian referring to the sacramental form of baptism that is done with water, held that baptism is indispensable for salvation because it imparts the grace that washes away original sin and makes someone a Christian; and capable of attaining a matured Christian life.
At the moment, the Roman Catholic Church does not confer baptism of water on polygamists, and subsequently fails to admit them to her sacramental life because of their polygamous relations. This raises a question regarding the salvation of these polygamous families. How do they receive baptismal grace and become part of the church?
This study argues that church and baptism were inseparable right from the beginning of Christianity in the New Testament. People became members of the church by the fact of their baptism. This study does a hermeneutical retrieval of the early church’s teaching on baptism and original sin in the light of Tertullian as the pillar of western theology. The study concludes by invoking pastoral consideration to baptize polygamous families (husband and wives) who married before converting to the faith. They are not to enter into any new marriage after baptism since they have received Christ in their state. “Go and sin no more,” says Christ.
Dissertation (MA Theol)--University of Pretoria, 2014.