Did John Wycliffe affirm baptismal regeneration as a general rule of faith? Or did he hold a more symbolic view of baptism?

1 Answer 1


It is reported that John Wycliffe stated :

... baptism doth not confer, but only signify grace, which was given before

This is reported in the following citation :

There is some evidence that Wycliffe rejected infant baptism, at least toward the end of his life. There is evidence of this from his own writings. Wycliffe taught that “baptism doth not confer, but only signify grace, which was given before.” This principle undermines the doctrine of infant baptism. The Martyrs Mirror, first published in Dutch in 1660, states that in 1370 Wycliffe issued an article “declared to militate against infant baptism” (p. 322).

There is also evidence of this from the Catholic authorities. Thomas Walden and Joseph Vicecomes claimed that Wycliffe rejected infant baptism and they charged him with Anabaptist views. Walden, who wrote against the Wycliffites or Hussites in the early part of the 1400s, called Wycliffe “one of the seven heads that came out of the bottomless pit, for denying infant baptism, that heresie of the Lollards, of whom he was so great a ringleader” (Danver’s Treatise, p. 2, 287, cited by Joseph Ivimey, History of the English Baptists, 1811, I, p. 72).

Even if Wycliffe did not entirely deny infant baptism, it is certain that many of his Lollard followers did. The term “Lollard,” like that of “Waldensian,” was a general term that encompassed a wide variety of doctrine and practice. While many of the Lollards retained infant baptism, it is certain that others did not.

History of the English Bible

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