Sunday, August 26, 2007

Believer's Baptism

In his chapter on what the NT epistles teach about baptism, in the book Believer's Baptism, Tom Schreiner writes:
When a matter like baptism has been debated for so long without consensus among Christians, it is tempting to conclude that further discussion is fruitless. How can we advance the discussion when believers have been polarized for so many years? I do not believer, of course, that my essay will break up the logjam and produce consensus, and yet further study on baptism is still mandatory and helpful. If we are open to change, the Scriptures can correct, refine, or even confirm our previous understanding of a doctrine. And we should not avoid making judgments on controversial matters, for if we limited our doctrinal convictions to issues on which all Christians everywhere agreed, we would leave out many areas of teaching to which the Scriptures speak. Further, we are all responsible before God to understand the Scriptures to the best of our ability and to live in harmony with them. Indeed, in our churches we must decide how to order our life together as Christians. One way or the other we make a decision in our churches about how baptism should be practiced, and so every church implements some kind of theology of baptism. Surely all Christians would agree that we should strive to be as biblically faithful as we can in understanding and applying the scriptural teaching on baptism in our churches.
In my view, all readers should seriously consider purchasing this book. As Bruce Ware has said, this book "is now unquestionably the best volume on a theology of baptism and the best defense of believer's baptism available."

So if you're a baptist, this book will solidify and strengthen and inform your understanding; if you're a paedobaptist, it will help you understand better what the "other side" believes and why.

B&H Academic has kindly granted me permission to post one of the chapters from the book: Steve Wellum's excellent study of Baptism and the Relationship between the Covenants (PDF). Wellum writes:
At the heart of the advocacy and defense of the doctrine of infant baptism is the argument that it is an implication drawn from the comprehensive theological category of the “covenant of grace,” a category which, it is claimed, unites the Scriptures and without which the Bible cannot be understood correctly. In many ways, all other arguments for infant baptism are secondary to this overall line of reasoning.
The structure of Wellum's essay is as follows:
First, I will outline and then unpack briefly the covenantal argument for infant baptism as given by the proponents and defenders of the view. Second, I will attempt to evaluate their argument, albeit in a summary fashion, both in terms of critique and positive construction.
Highly recommended!