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Outward SignsThe Powerlessness of External Things in Augustine's Thought$
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Phillip Cary

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336498

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336498.001.0001

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 The Efficacy of the Church's Baptism

 The Efficacy of the Church's Baptism

Against Donatists and Pelagians

(p.193) 7 The Efficacy of the Church's Baptism
Outward Signs

Phillip Cary (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In his polemics against Donatism, Augustine makes a sharp distinction between the validity of the sacrament of baptism and the salvific efficacy of what it signifies. Efficacy is found not in the external sign but in the inner unity and peace of the church, outside of which there is no salvation. The efficacy of baptism, for both infants and adults, derives from the prayers of the one true church. Though the external sacrament itself is not efficacious, it is a necessary outward mark of this inner unity. Hence even infants are damned if they die without it, for all who are not united inwardly with Christ are united with Adam in the mass of damnation generated by original sin.

Keywords:   Augustine, Donatism, sacrament, baptism, church, unity, grace, efficacy, external, sign

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