RENUNCIATION OF THE DEVIL IN THE BAPTISMAL RITE: A ceremony which, according to ancient usage, in many rituals precedes the application of water in baptism. In the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican communion, the offices for the public and private baptism of infants and of those of riper years contain the question: "Dost thou . . . renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world . . .?" The question is addressed to the sponsors in the offices for infant baptism and to the candidates in the office for those of riper years. Similarly in the Anglican Catechisms of 1549 and 1662 in reply to the third question: "What did your godfathers and godmothers then (i.e., in baptism) for you?" the answer is: "They did promise and vow . . . that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh," and this is retained in the catechism in current use. This renunciation has a long ancestry and a wide application, a very few rather notable exceptions alone prohibiting assertion of the universality of its use in the Christian Church in all its branches since the second century. Indeed, attempts were made very early to trace in the New Testament evidences of the use of this renunciation to the Apostolic Church. These attempts were based partly upon I Tim. vi. 12: "thou hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." Examples of this are given in the commentary on the passage in the works of Jerome and Ambrose, attributed to Hilary the Deacon and Pelagius, the words being explained: "Thou hast confessed a good confession in baptism, by renouncing the world and its pomps, before many witnesses" ("world and its pomps" being regarded as equivalent to "the devil and his pomps" found in many of the formulas; see below). A second alleged testimony to the Apostolic use of this formula is found in I Pet. iii. 21: "The answer of a good conscience toward God," which is interpreted as recalling the question and answer in the prebaptismal service. Tertullian derives the practise "if not from Scripture" yet from custom supported by enduring tradition (De corona, iii., given in ANF, iii. 94), and Basil derives it directly from the apostles ("On the Holy Spirit," xxvii.; Eng. transl. in NPNF, 2 ser., viii. 42, and by G. Lewis, in Christian Classics Series, vol. iv., London, 1888). While this assertion of Apostolic origin can not be sustained by cogent proof, the evidence is clear that in the second century formal renunciation of the devil was customary immediately preceding baptism.

The first explicit testimony to the use of a definite formula comes from Tertullian (De corona, iii.), where he says: "When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels"; and in De spectaculis, iv (ANF, iii. 81), he employs almost the same words, and proceeds to explain them with reference to the temptations current at the time. In third-century usage, as shown by the Canons of Hippolytus (canon xix.), the catechumen turned to the West (symbolically the region of darkness) and repeated: "I renounce thee, Satan, with all thy pomp." Cyril of Jerusalem ("Catechetical Lecture," xix. 2-9; Eng. transl. in NPNF, 2 ser., vii. 144-146) lengthens the formula to: "I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy works, and all thy pomp, and all thy service," the candidate facing the West and stretching out his arm. Cyril adds a running commentary, in which the significance of the act in its several parts is given with reference to the life of the times.

The establishment of the formula is proved by its entrance into the church orders of the fourth century, sometimes varied slightly, as in the form: "I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy service and all thy (unclean) works." The "Testament of the Lord" (ii. 8) makes the candidate turn to the West and recite: "I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy (military) service (literally, "wills"), and thy shows (literally, "theaters "), and thy pleasures, and all thy works" (Testament of our Lord, ed. J. Cooper and A. J. Maclean; p. 126, cf. 213, Edinburgh, 1902). The Apostolic Constitutions (vii. 41) has a longer formula: "I renounce Satan, and his works, and his pomps, and his worships, and his angels, and his inventions, and all things that are under him" (ANF, vii. 476). While it is abundantly evident that the foregoing is primarily the utterance of adults in their own persons, it is also clear that sponsors took upon them these vows in behalf of children (Tertullian, De baptismate, xviii., ANF, iii. 678-Tertullian is arguing in this place against the admission of children to baptism; "Canons of Hippolytus," "Testament of our Lord," ii. 8). The form in use at Rome at least as early as the eighth century consisted of a triple question and answer: "Dost thou renounce Satan? I renounce (him). And all his works? I renounce (them). And all his pomps? I renounce (them)." In the original English form there were also three questions and answers: "Dost thou forsake the devil and all his works? I forsake them all. Dost thou forsake the vain pomp . . . desires of the same? I forsake them all. Dost thou forsake the carnal desires . . . nor be led by them? I forsake them." (J. H. Blunt, Annotated Book of Common Prayer, p. 413, New York, 1908).

This usage is confirmed by the Missale Gallicanum and the missal of Sarum, and the formula occurs in the office of the Orthodox Eastern Church for making a catechumen. The Armenian form is: "We renounce thee, Satan, and all thy deceitfulness, and thy wiles, and thy service, and thy paths, and thy angels." Practical uniformity is preserved also in the Jacobite, Coptic, and Ethiopic rites (cf. Denzinger's work, in bibliography).

Bingham (Origines, XI., vii. 4-5) calls special attention to these facts: (1) the baptisteries contained two rooms, and it was in the anteroom that the renunciation was made; (2) the direction in which the catechumen faced was (invariably) the West; (3) the renunciation was emphasized, by gesture and act-by extension of the hands (probably with a triple gesture of repulsion), by striking of the hands together (thrice), even by (triple) ex-sufflation or spitting (Gregory Nazianzen, Oratio, xl., De baptismate; Dionysius, De hierarchia ecclesiastica, ii.3).



From the medieval baptismal rite renunciation came into Luther's Taufbüchlein, and thence into the Lutheran ritual of baptism. The validity of baptism, however, was not made dependent on the renunciation; it is missing in some sixteenth-century forms, as the Württemberg Kirchenordnung of 1536. It was wanting in Zwingli's form for baptism, from which all additions, not founded on the Scriptures, are omitted, and in the Geneva ordinances, but is retained in the English baptismal liturgy. Since the rise of rationalism an effort has been made among Lutherans to abolish the renunciation because of the denial of the devil's existence, the offense which the cultured took at the practise, and the fear of promoting superstition. Furthermore, it has been regarded as a species of Exorcism (q.v.). Toward the end of the eighteenth century clergymen began to relax in their strict observance of church ordinances, and the renunciation disappeared in many congregations of Germany, but was more generally retained in the country. Many of the modern liturgies either omit it altogether or retain it in modified form.