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Understanding Four Views on Baptism (Counterpoints: Church Life) Paperback – February 5, 2007
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About the Author
Paul E. Engle, series editor for Counterpoints Church Life, is an ordained minister who served for twenty-two years in pastoral ministry in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, and Michigan. He is an adjunct teacher in several seminaries in this country and internationally. He serves as associate publisher and executive editor in the Church, Academic, and Ministry Resources team at Zondervan. He and his wife Margie, live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
I fall within the Reformed perspective, and I was impressed by how the Reformed writer not only included several classic terms from Reformed theology (e.g., "covenant", "sign and seal", "means of grace") but also defined these terms and showed how they emerge from the Bible and not just from the Reformed Confessions. Other reviewers will have to assess whether they think the other 3 perspectives were as well-represented, but I thought all the chapters were very well-written. (Perhaps a few additional comments could have helped in a few areas. For example, neither of the two proponents of Infant Baptism addressed very strongly how the biblical data is somewhat inconclusive: just as there is no explicit command to baptize infants, neither is there an explicit command forbidding it; and just as there is no clear-cut example of an infant being baptized in Scripture, neither is there any example of an infant being presented for baptism by his or her parents, and being denied. But this is a small point.Read more ›
The first one up at the plate is Thomas Nettles, who represents the Baptist view. He points out that the pattern for baptism is that it is something which follows belief. Therefore, Nettles would not baptize an infant. Nettles struggles somewhat as he tries to explain how difficult texts such as 1 Peter 3:21 and Acts 22:16 fit into his system.
The Reformed view is presented by Richard Pratt, Jr. He contends that infant baptism has a similar function to circumcision in the Old Testament in that it incorporates the child into the visible community (even though it does not confer saving grace on the child).
Nettles and Castelein countered Pratt by noting that Pratt placed an equal amount of emphasis on the Westminster Confession as he did the Bible, and that non_Reformed Christians would object to this. They note that our doctrine should come straight from Scripture.
Robert Kolb presents the Lutheran view, and it is very similar to the Reformed perspective. The main difference is that Lutherans believe that babies ARE born again when they are baptized. Nettles counters this by noting that that there are no known instances of salvation in the New Testament apart from hearing and responding to the gospel, an argument which struck me as quite cogent.
John Castelein presents the Church of Christ view. His presentation is very similar to the Baptist view. The one difference is that Castelein contends that baptism is the occasion for justification, a teaching that Pratt and Nettles effectively challenge.Read more ›
The rebuttals and counterarguments made by the other three theologians were more interesting than the actual presentations themselves unless you are completely new to the baptism debate. However the relatively simple introductions to the respective approaches to baptism might clue you in on how the other side actually thinks. It is highly unlikely that anyone will come away with a changed mind given the nature of the presentations. The Reformed and Lutheran positions, for instance, approach the subject of baptism by relying heavily on the Reformed confessions and the theology of Luther respectively. Those who do not share such presuppositions are unlikely to come away convinced.
Nettles's presentation of baptism is fine and does not begin with a confessional basis or a great theologian such as Luther, but the Bible, arguing that baptism is a symbol of Christ's saving work whereby a person who has already come to faith now visibly enters the Christian community. Nettles then details the baptism of John and Jesus and then describes several key instances of conversion and baptism in the Book of Acts arguing that faith in Christ/conversion always precedes baptism. One of the strengths of the Baptist approach is the lack of biblical evidence for children being baptized in the New Testament.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book with excellent reviews all around. Best Counterpoints book I've read thus far. Much better panel of people to present the views and well presented, defended, and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Christopher L. Colegrove
This book is a great summation of the major views on baptism. The book is not lengthy and each of the four contributors do an excellent job of concisely summarizing the reasons for... Read morePublished 10 months ago by don
If you're looking for a brief overview, this is helpful. The opposing views helped clarify and challenge my personal views. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jason Douglas
Nice, introductory survey of four major denominational view & their historical theological development. Read morePublished on July 14, 2013 by pahouseholder
I am enjoying the book. I will say that it is nothing to skim through. You really have to sit down and read it to get the most out of it. Read morePublished on June 26, 2013 by Rachel Tingle
Being part of the Restoration tradition, I found this book to be helpful in better understanding the positions and reasoning of the differing views on baptism. Read morePublished on October 24, 2011 by Anonymous
I've taught adult religion classes for several years. I refuse to use canned Sunday School classes (those so-called study books that direct the class to read a verse of Scripture... Read morePublished on October 21, 2011 by Billy Tucker