On Baptism, Against The Donatists

The Seven Books of Augustin, Bishop of Hippo, On Baptism, Against the Donatists

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

Chapter 25.—48. Therapius of Bulla1827 said: "If a man gives up and betrays the baptism of
Christ to heretics, what else can he be said to be but a Judas to the Bride of Christ?"1828
49. How great a condemnation have we here of all schismatics, who have separated themselves
by wicked sacrilege from the inheritance of Christ dispersed throughout the whole world, if Cyprian
held communion with such as was the traitor Judas, and yet was not defiled by them; or if he was
defiled, then were all made such as Judas; or if they were not, then the evil deeds of those who
went before do not belong to those who came after even though they were the offspring of the same
communion. Why, therefore, do they cast in our teeth the traditores, against whom they did not
prove their charge, and do not cast in their own teeth Judas, with whom Cyprian and his colleagues
held communion? Behold the Council in which these men are wont to boast! We indeed say, that
he who approves the baptism of Christ even in heretics, does not betray to heretics the baptism of
Christ; just in the same way as he does not betray to murderers the baptism of Christ who approves
the baptism of Christ even in murderers: but inasmuch as they profess to prescribe to us from the
decrees of this Council what opinions we ought to hold, let them first assent to it themselves. See
how therein were compared to the traitor Judas, all who said that heretics, although baptized in
heresy, should not be baptized again. Yet with such Cyprian was willing to hold communion, when
he said, "Judging no man, nor depriving any of the right of communion if he entertain a contrary
opinion." But that there had been men of such a sort in former times within the Church, is made
clear by the sentence in which he says: "But some one will say, What, then, shall be done with
these men who in times past were admitted into the Church without baptism?"1829 That such had
been the custom of the Church, is testified again and again by the very men who compose this
Council. If, therefore, any one who does this "can be said to be nothing else but a Judas to the
Bride of Christ," according to the terms in which the judgment of Therapius is couched; but Judas,
according to the teaching of the gospel, was a traitor; then all those men held communion with
traitors who at that time uttered those very judgments, and before they uttered them they all had
become traitors through that custom which at that time was retained by the Church. All,
therefore—that is to say, both we and they themselves who were the offspring of that unity—are
traitors. But we defend ourselves in two ways: first, because without prejudice to the right of unity,
as Cyprian himself declared in his opening speech, we do not assent to the decrees of this Council
in which this judgment was pronounced; and secondly, because we hold that the wicked in no way
hurt the good in Catholic unity, until at the last the chaff be separated from the wheat. But our
opponents, inasmuch as they both shelter themselves as it were under the decrees of this Council,
and maintain that the good perish as by a kind of infection from communion with the wicked, have
no resource to save them from allowing both that the earlier Christians, whose offspring they are,


Bulla (Vulla) was in ecclesiastical province of Africa Proconsularis. For Therapius cp. Cypr. Ep. lxiv. 1.


Conc. Carth. sec. 61.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 23.