Documentation that the Church changed the way we baptize?

So there’s a website for the Oneness Pentecostals that claims that the CC changed the way she baptizes from “In Jesus’ Name” only to the Trinitarian formula.

Here’s what the site offers as evidence:


The baptismal formula was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son & Holy Ghost by the Catholic Church in the Second Century. – 11th Edit., Vol. 3, ppg. 365-366.


The early church always baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until development of the Trinity Doctrine in the Second Century.


Here the Catholics acknowledged that baptism was changed by the Catholic Church. – Vol. 2, pg. 263.


Christian baptism was administered using the words, "in the name of Jesus." – Vol. 2, pg. 377. Baptism was always in the name of Lord Jesus until time of Justin Martyr when Triune formula used. – Vol. 2, pg. 389. NAME was an ancient synonym for "person." Payment was always made in the name of some person referring to ownership. Therefore one being baptized in Jesus’ name became His personal property. "Ye are Christ’s." – Vol. 2, pg. 377 on Acts 2:38.

How do we refute this?

he mentions that the Church changed this theology in the 2nd century meaning that if you look at the Church Fathers you should see first century Church fathers saying to baptize in the name of Jesus only. Well the thing is this isn’t the case The didache which is outside of scripture the earliest know witting, it is really simply a instruction document for early Christians, small but filled with great stuff. It says in it this.

“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water, and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Before baptism, let the one baptizing and the one to be baptized fast, as also any others who are able. Command the one who is to be baptized to fast beforehand for one or two days” (Didache 7:1 [A.D. 70]).

So as you can see as early as 70 AD the Church was baptizing using the trinitarian formula and has always used it. So the only way his statement is true is if the first 40 years of Christianity used in the name of Jesus only and then the Didache change it in the year 70AD. But I doubt this is the case.

I’m going to stop this post here but I’m going to address his theology in a second post, I feel like it needs to be addressed.But the history part needs its own post.

1 Like

ok even though I answered the OP’s question I still think this needs further explanation not church history but rather scriptural theology. The guy in the link makes an argument for baptizing in the name of Jesus only from scripture but I think his interpretation of scripture is way off.

In an effort to save words I will summerize more then qoute. But first he brings up Matthew 28, which for us Catholics is the form of Baptism. He says The first thing I would like to point out here is that name is singular. Now he is correct here but if he understood basic trinitarian theology he would understand why we say in the name, and no in the names. The simple reason is that THERE IS ONE GOD, and he is Father son and Holy Spirit. There is three in one. So while he does point out the name is single his reasons why this is the case is way off.

the next point where I actually think he makes a good point is when he brings up the point that acts 2:38 says they baptize in the name of Jesus. So we have a problem here the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus while Jesus wanted it in the name of the Father Son and Spirit. Seems to be something wrong here. He goes on to say that we never see anyone baptize using the trinitarian forumla in scripture. But the problem is, all of the qoutes he brings up aren’t actual baptism rather just instances in scripture that says in the name of Jesus.

but this issue doesn’t explain away why there is a difference here, now I’m sure scripture scholars could be able to explain this alot better then I could, if you go pick up a biblical commentary I bet it would be able to explain why it is this way. But without the assistance of that let me try and explain it.

So there seems to be an issue here Peter baptized in the name of Jesus when Jesus ordered them to be baptized in the name of the trinity. So did Peter ignore Jesus’ words, or is there something else going on here. I think it is important to notice that at this point of acts the liturgy of baptism doesn’t happen, he is preaching to the crowds. I fully suspect that if we were to witness that baptism we would see him say I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But why would Peter say in the name of Jesus, my guess is that there was no such word for trinity at the time and they didn’t understand it. He could have also meant that we are baptizing you using the commands of Christ. But I doubt it means that he ignored Jesus words and did his own thing. Plus the only part of scripture that tells us how to do baptism is in the Gospel of Matthew, all other parts of scripture only tell stories of how the apostles called people to be baptized, the actual baptism wasn’t recorded in scripture.

I do want to point out that Catholic Answers has a tract on this subject:

I counted 17 different examples/citations from the early Church discussing the use of the Trinity during baptism. The tract does a much better job providing evidence than I could.

On a side note, I’m sure that one wouldn’t be too hard pressed to find supporting evidence from early Christianity that “supports” (and I use that term loosely) pretty much any interpretation of what Jesus intended to establish in His Church. There were a LOT of heretical Christian sects in the first few centuries, and it isn’t hard to find a sect that believed whatever position you wanted to “prove”.

God bless,

I would look at his evidence to see if those documents really do say what he claims they say, and whether or not they have credible sources. Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has on the topic.

There has been a theological controversy over the question as to whether baptism in the name of Christ only was ever held valid. Certain texts in the New Testament have given rise to this difficulty. Thus St. Paul (Acts 19) commands some disciples at Ephesus to be baptized in Christ’s name: “They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In Acts 10, we read that St. Peter ordered others to be baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Those who were converted by Philip. (Acts 8) “were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”, and above all we have the explicit command of the Prince of the Apostles: "Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins (Acts 2).

Owing to these texts some theologians have held that the Apostles baptized in the name of Christ only. St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and Albertus Magnus are invoked as authorities for this opinion, they declaring that the Apostles so acted by special dispensation. Other writers, as Peter Lombard and Hugh of St. Victor, hold also that such baptism would be valid, but say nothing of a dispensation for the Apostles. The most probable opinion, however, seems to be that the terms “in the name of Jesus”, “in the name of Christ”, either refer to baptism in the faith taught by Christ, or are employed to distinguish Christian baptism from that of John the Precursor. It seems altogether unlikely that immediately after Christ had solemnly promulgated the trinitarian formula of baptism, the Apostles themselves would have substituted another. In fact, the words of St. Paul (Acts 19) imply quite plainly that they did not. For, when some Christians at Ephesus declared that they had never heard of the Holy Ghost, the Apostle asks: “In whom then were you baptized?” This text certainly seems to declare that St. Paul took it for granted that the Ephesians must have heard the name of the Holy Ghost when the sacramental formula of baptism was pronounced over them.

The authority of Pope Stephen I has been alleged for the validity of baptism given in the name of Christ only. St. Cyprian says (Epistle 72) that this pontiff declared all baptism valid provided it was given in the name of Jesus Christ. It must be noted that the same explanation applies to Stephen’s words as to the Scriptural texts above given. Moreover, Firmilian, in his letter to St. Cyprian, implies that Pope Stephen required an explicit mention of the Trinity in baptism, for he quotes the pontiff as declaring that the sacramental grace is conferred because a person has been baptized “with the invocation of the names of the Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Ghost”.

A passage that is very difficult of explanation is found in the works of St. Ambrose (On the Holy Spirit I.3), where he declares that if a person names one of the Trinity, he names all of them: “If you say Christ, you have designated God the Father, by whom the Son was anointed, and Him Who was anointed Son, and the Holy Ghost in whom He was anointed.” This passage has been generally interpreted as referring to the faith of the catechumen, but not to the baptismal form. More difficult is the explanation of the response of Pope Nicholas I to the Bulgarians (cap. civ; Labbe, VIII), in which he states that a person is not to be rebaptized who has already been baptized “in the name of the Holy Trinity or in the name of Christ only, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (for it is one and the same thing, as St. Ambrose has explained)”. As in the passage to which the pope alludes, St. Ambrose was speaking of the faith of the recipient of baptism, as we have already stated, it has been held probable that this is also the meaning that Pope Nicholas intended his words to convey (see another explanation in Pesch, Prælect. Dogm., VI, no. 389). What seems to confirm this is the same pontiff’s reply to the Bulgarians (Resp. 15) on another occasion when they consulted him on a practical case. They inquired whether certain persons are to be rebaptized on whom a man, pretending to be a Greek priest, had conferred baptism? Pope Nicholas replies that the baptism is to be held valid “if they were baptized, in the name of the supreme and undivided Trinity”. Here the pope does not give baptism in the name of Christ only as an alternative.

No mention that there was a definitive change from “Jesus only” to the Trinitarian formula. In fact, this source is of the opinion that “in the name of Jesus” is shorthand for what really happened.

I don’t think you can refute it. As far as I know, all of the evidence indicates that baptism was in the name of Jesus until the time of Justin Martyr in the mid 2nd century when the Trinity doctrine was invented. Whenever baptism is mentioned in the Bible, it is ALWAYS in the name of Jesus. NONE of the writings of the early church fathers prior to Justin Martyr around A.D. 150 taught Trinity baptism.

BRITANICA ENCYCLOPEDIA – Everywhere in the oldest sources it states that baptism took place in the name of Jesus Christ. Vol. 3, page 82.

As far as the Didache quote that someone posted, scholars are not in agreement regarding the date of the Didache. It may not have been written until after the Trinity doctrine was invented in the second century. Even if it was written earlier, there is evidence that the baptism passage was changed from Jesus only to the Trinity. In another section of the Didache, on the Eucharist, it says a person must be baptized “into the name of the Lord” to receive the Eucharist. I would not consider the Didache to be reliable evidence of Trinity baptism in the early church.

“But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord (Didache, Ch. 10)”

Is Matthew 28:19 evidence of Trinity baptism?

according to a wide scholarly consensus, it is not an authentic saying of Jesus, not even an elaboration of a Jesus-saying on baptism." (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, 1992, page 585)

In place of the words “baptizing… Spirit” we should probably read simply "into my name," (Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, 1929, page 723).”

“It has been customary to trace the institution of the practice (of baptism) to the words of Christ recorded in Matthew 28:19. But the authenticity of this passage has been challenged on historical as well as on textual grounds. It must be acknowledged that the formula of the threefold name, which is here enjoined, does not appear to have been employed by the primitive Church, which, so far as our information goes, baptized ‘in’ or ‘into the name of Jesus’ (The Dictionary of the Bible, 1947, page 83)”

Critical scholarship, on the whole, rejects the traditional attribution of the tripartite baptismal formula to Jesus and regards it as of later origin. (The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, Vol. 1, Harry Austryn Wolfson, 1964, pg 143)”

“It is often affirmed that the words in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost are not the ipsissima verba [exact words] of Jesus, but…a later liturgical addition. (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, I, 275)”

The testimony for the wide distribution of the simple baptismal formula [in the Name of Jesus] down into the second century is so overwhelming that even in Matthew 28:19, the Trinitarian formula was later inserted. (Wilhelm Bousset, Kyrios Christianity, page 295)”

the formal authenticity of Matt. 28:19 must be disputed (The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge)”

Matthew 28:19 in particular only canonizes a later ecclesiastical situation, that its universalism is contrary to the facts of early Christian history, and its Trinitarian formula (is) foreign to the mouth of Jesus. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, page 2637, Baptism)”

Here’s how the well respected church historian Eusebius quoted Matthew 28:19 in his writings before Constantine established the Trinity at the Council of Nicea:

"Whereas He, who conceived nothing human or mortal, see how truly he speaks with the voice of God, saying in these very words to those disciples of His, the poorest of the poor : ’Go forth, and make disciples of all the nations.’ ‘But how,’ the disciples might reasonably have answered the Master, ‘can we do it?’… But while the disciples of Jesus were most likely either saying thus, or thinking thus, the Master solved their difficulties, by the addition of one phrase, saying they should triumph ‘IN MY NAME.’ For He did not bid them simply and indefinitely ‘make disciples of all nations,’ but with the necessary addition ‘In My Name.’ And the power of His Name being so great, that the Apostle says: ‘God has given him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’ He shewed the virtue of the power in His Name concealed from the crowd, when He said to His Disciples: ‘Go, and make disciples of all nations in my name.’

Source - The Proof of the Gospel, Vol. 1, edited and translated by W.J. Ferrar, 1981, page 157

Why does Eusebius’s quote matter? It matters because ALL known manuscripts of Matthew prior to A.D. 325 when Constantine established the Trinity doctrine are conveniently missing the last page, the page that would have contained Matt 28:19. I don’t know whether they were burned to get rid of the original version, but what’s known is there is NO biblical evidence that Jesus taught Trinity baptism since there aren’t any other verses in the Bible that teach baptism in the name of a Trinity. In fact, they teach the opposite, that baptism was done in the name of Jesus.

There is also textual evidence against Matt 28:19. Which version do you think sounds authentic?

Matthew 28:18-19, Quoted by Eusebius in early 4th Century (A.D. 320)
Jesus said, “All authority … has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations in my name…”

Matthew 28:18-19 (NIV), Current Version dated from late 4th Century (A.D. 390)
Jesus said, “All authority … has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Why would Jesus, after announcing that all authority has been given to him, then say that, because of his authority, his disciples should baptize in someone else’s name?

Don’t think Matthew 28:19 could have been changed to support the new Catholic Trinity teaching? Research 1John 5:7, the other verse used to support the Trinity. The evidence is so overwhelming that it was added to the Bible, that it has been removed from all modern non-Catholic Bibles.

Unlike the modern Catholic Church, early Christians always did everything in the name of Jesus, and NEVER in the name of a Trinity.

“God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phillipians 2:9-11, NAB)”

giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father (Ephesians 5:20, NAB)”

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17, NAB)”

I think everything includes baptism.

[quote="The Catholic Encyclopedia “]St. Paul (Acts 19) commands some disciples at Ephesus to be baptized in Christ’s name: "They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In Acts 10, we read that St. Peter ordered others to be baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”. Those who were converted by Philip. (Acts 8) “were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ”, and above all we have the explicit command of the Prince of the Apostles: "Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins (Acts 2). Source -

Thanks, folks! I’ll use your responses in my answer to these objections on my blog, 3 Minute Apologetics.


I checked out the link. Only one church father prior to Justin Martyr was quoted to support Trinity baptism. The quote was from The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philippians. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, this was a spurious epistle probably written in the fifth century. So, no evidence of Trinity baptism in the church fathers prior to Justin Martyr in the middle of the 2nd century. Since the only Bible verse that teaches Trinity baptism is of questionable authenticity, there is no solid Biblical evidence either.

[quote=“The Catholic Encyclopedia”]The spurious letters in this recension are those that purport to be from Ignatius

to Mary of Cassobola (Pros Marian Kassoboliten);
to the Tarsians (Pros tous en tarso);
**to the Philippians** (Pros Philippesious);
to the Antiochenes (Pros Antiocheis);
to Hero a deacon of Antioch (Pros Erona diakonon Antiocheias). Associated with the foregoing is
a letter from Mary of Cassobola to Ignatius.

It is extremely probable that the interpolation of the genuine, the addition of the spurious letters, and the union of both in the long recension was the work of an Apollinarist of Syria or Egypt, who wrote towards the beginning of the fifth century. Source -