Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
SBJT 15:1 (Spring 2011) p. 108
Baptism: Three Views. Edited by David F. Wright. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009, 200 pp., $16.00 paper.
In recent decades the popularity and utility of theological books that present multiple opinions on a single doctrinal subject—allowing rebuttal and response for each view and by every contributor—have been demonstrated amply. In 1977, Robert G. Clouse edited The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views with contributions by George Eldon Ladd, Herman A. Hoyt, Loraine Boettner, and Anthony A. Hoekema. Following a similar approach, multiple-view treatments of Revelation, the rapture, hell, divine providence, eternal security, salvation, creation and evolution, the NT use of the OT, and other topics followed, helping many students wade through difficult subject matter. Readers were able to digest succinct presentations of competing perspectives, each written by a recognized proponent of that view and then countered by the other contributors, usually followed by a final word of response from the presenter.
The book Baptism: Three Views attempts to follow that successful formula, but only partially succeeds. The three views to which the title refers begins with credobaptism, or believer’s baptism, championed by Bruce A. Ware, professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor and past president of the Evangelical Theological Society. The covenantal paedobaptist position, advocating the baptism of infants born into a Christian household, is ably expressed by Sinclair B. Ferguson, senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, South Carolina, and Professor of Systematic Theology at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Anthony N. S. Lane, Professor of Historical Theology at the London School of Theology in Northwood, England, advocates a hybrid “dual-practice” view of baptism, arguing that churches are free to baptize either infants or believers.
From the outset, the book evinces two significant problems. The first problem is the exclusion of a credible academic defense of a true sacramental or baptismal regeneration view, especially in the tradition of Alexander Campbell. In the city where Dr. Ware and I teach sits Southeast Christian Church, the largest church in Kentucky and the fifth largest in the United States. On the church’s official website, their doctrinal statement about salvation reads: “We believe the Bible teaches that one receives God’s grace by putting faith in Christ, repenting of sin, confessing Christ and being immersed into Christ.” Millions of Christians concur with this view of baptism as essential to salvation. The book would have been much stronger, more helpful, and more complete
SBJT 15:1 (Spring 2011) p. 109
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