The other is that Luther and the whole Reformation, even Zwingli, emphasized infant baptism, namely that baptism is the symbol of the prevenient grace of God and not dependent on the subjective reaction. Of course, the subjective reaction of the infants is either not possible or, as Luther and Calvin believed, a Divine miracle.
But that is not decisive. The decisive thing is that God starts, and that before we answer much can happen; that the time difference between the indefinite moment of maturity and the definite moment of baptism doesn’t mean anything in the sight of God. Baptism is the Divine offer of forgiveness, and to this we always can come back. But adult baptism emphasizes the objective participation, the ability of the mature man to decide. Here you have again the difference.
Then a last point: Luther was very much worried, as were the other Reformers, by the way in which these sects isolated themselves and emphasized that they were the true Church, and that each of their members was elected. Such a possibility was completely out of the thinking of the Reformers, and I think in this they were right; psychologically it is well known that the sects of the Reformation period were very much out of love towards anybody who did not belong to the sect, and I believe that some of you probably have had similar experiences even today with sectarian or quasi-sectarian groups. What is most lacking in them is not theological insight, not even insight in their negativities, the love which identifies the negative situation in which we are, with the negative situation of everybody – outside or inside the center.
The final point was the eschatology: the eschatological negation of the state, the revolutionary criticism which we find in the sectarian movements in the Reformation period, either more passive or more active, were negated by the Reformers by their eschatology, namely the eschatology of the coming kingdom of God, from a vertical line – nothing to do with the horizontal line, which is, so to speak, given to the devil anyhow. Luther always spoke of the beloved last day, and he was longing for it, in order to be liberated – not so much as Melanchthon, from the “wrath of the theologians,” but from the power-play which was at that time not much nicer than it is today.
So it was another mood, and again this mood is so visible in the present status of things in Europe and here. Here under the strong influence of the Evangelical Radicalist movements we have the tendency to transform reality. In Europe we have, especially today after the two World Wars, the eschatological feeling, the desire for and the vision of the end in a very realistic sense, and the resignation of the Christians with respect to the power-plays. Now all such things – I must emphasize again – are exaggerations, typical structures, and no typical structure is ever empirically real; everything empirically real is an approximation to a type. But I would say, after my double experience in Europe and here, that it is very visible that European Christianity is dependent on the Reformation especially, and the American more on the experiences of Evangelical Radicalism, especially in this political point of view.