Thinking Through Baptism

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By: Davezelenka

The beginning of this year has seen me start reading through some of the issues related to believer’s baptism vs. infant baptism. A few months ago I baptised a couple of young people at church and it sparked the realisation that I’d never investigated “the other side” (infant baptism). In any case, these holidays I’ve taken the time to read two books on the topic thus far and I’ve at least 3-4 to go.

The books I’ve read are:

  1. Troubled Waters: Re-thinking the theology of baptism by Ben Witherington.
  2. Baptism: Three views ed. by David Wright.

A few initial comments on these books:

  • They’re both great books on baptism and I’m glad to have chosen these as the first two to read. They’ve covered all the issues that differentiate the baptist and infant views.
  • Witherington is rather persuasive in his thoughts about the importance of infants and children. Not convinced this means that they should be baptised so young and without making a decision for themselves but puts the issue on the table well.
  • The point above is linked to the very real question of whether children of Christian parents are saved or not. This has practical and theological ramifications and Witherington does well to persuade here.
  • The importance of baptism seems to be undermined a little when Witherington questions it’s importance in the NT. This is odd considering he writes a whole book on baptism anyway. Certainly the weight of the NT on baptism is a consideration in whether one should make a larger than life issue out of it.
  • Acts seems to be be main book for where the main arguments come from in this book. I did wonder whether it was relied on too heavily or not.
  • The three views book is excellent with two particular scholars, B. Ware and S. Ferguson going at each other.
  • Ware, a proponent of the baptist view, is more convincing here. Ferguson spends heaps of time explaining the covenants, which is good but isn’t so convincing re baptism and the NT.
  • Ware is thorough in his exegetical points whereas the other two aren’t as much. The third view, a middle ground view that includes both views by A. Lane, is interesting but quite inventive and too reliant on historical grounds and not the NT.

Overall, these are two good books to begin with. It’ll be time to crack on with a few more in the coming weeks.

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