Master of Arts (MA)


Carl Diemer

Primary Subject Area

History, Church; Religion, History of


Anabaptist, Baptism, Hubmaier, Reformation, Sacrament, Zwingli


This thesis examines the written debate that occurred in 1525-1526 between Balthasar Hubmaier and Ulrich Zwingli on the proper candidate of baptism. Both pastors held to the reformation principle of sola scriptura yet came to different conclusions as to what the Bible teaches about baptism. Hubmaier argued that baptism should be administered to believers only. Only those who have mindfully repented and have chosen to follow Christ are eligible for Christian baptism. Hubmaier's arguments for believers' baptism are presented in the second chapter. Zwingli, on the other hand, argued that the children of believers are entitled to the Christian baptism. Just as circumcision was a sign of the Old Testament covenant with Israel, baptism is the sign of the New Covenant with the church. The arguments for infant baptism by Zwingli are set forth in the third chapter. Next, Hubmaier's rebuttal of Zwingli is examined. Hubmaier pointed out inconsistencies in Zwingli's arguments. His strongest argument is the lack of example or instruction of infant baptism in Scripture. The fifth chapter outlines Zwingli's refutation of Hubmaier. Zwingli suggests that Hubmaier is causing division in the church and ignoring the Old Testament. His best argument is the example of entire households being baptized into the church. These households, conceivably, would have included children. Finally, the final chapter is an analysis of the arguments presented by Zwingli and Hubmaier, specifically in light of sola scriptura. While Zwingli made compelling arguments, Hubmaier's argument that baptism is for believers was founded more upon Scripture.