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Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace Paperback – July 19, 1978

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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About the Author

Paul K. Jewett (1919–1991) was professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He also wrote Man as Male and Female and God, Creation, and Revelation.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; First Thus edition (July 19, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802817130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802817136
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is incredibly thorough, well researched, and well presented. Jewett analyzes the practice of infant baptism from a theological and historical standpoint. I found his detailed historical analysis to be particularly beneficial, as the historical record is often muddled and partial. The book is well worth purchasing if for no other reason than its look at the history of infant baptism.
The theological analysis was quite thorough as well, however it is important that one pays close attention to the subtitle of the book "An Appraisal of the Argument That As Infants Were Once Circumcised, So They Shoud Now Be Baptized." The theological analysis deals strictly with the covenantal view of infant baptism - the author does not address the view that infant baptism actually creates faith such as the Lutherans believe. I don't find this omission to be a fault of the book; I find it necessary to keep the argument focused. A detailed examination of all the issues concering infant baptism would surely take up volumes. Suffice it to say that Jewett has successfully analyzed this particular category of infant baptism theology.
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I have examined the Scriptures and read books on both sides of this complex issue trying to find the truth (see my listmania list to follow my journey), but this book is by far the most thorough, biblical, and thoughtful book I have read on the subject of baptism. Jewett comes at the discussion from a distinctly Reformed view due to his adherence to covenant theology (a view I share) so this book may not be useful for those of Anglican, Lutheran, or Catholic persuasions.

Starting with church history , Professor Jewett examines infant baptism back to the time of the Apostles examining sources and the defense of some of the best defenders of infant baptism like Joachim Jeremias. Then he moves on to theological questions concerning the covenant of grace, the definition of baptism in Reformed creeds, and the actual practice of baptism in Reformed tradition in their light. What he finds is: weak evidence for the Apostolic foundation of infant baptism and foundational inconsistencies between the definition of baptism given by the Reformers and their disciples and their practice of infant baptism.

Even if you disagree with Professor Jewett's conclusions this is a must read for baptists and paedobaptists who want to make sure they are true to the bible and the biblical principles of the Reformation.
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Format: Paperback
As a Pedobaptist, I must say that I am impressed with Dr. Jewett's work on this subject. Though his Baptist bias shines through the work at various places, and there are some of the typical Baptist errors in argumentation throughout (ie attempting to find evidence for infant baptism instead of looking at it correctly from the direction of Infant inclusion in the Covenant), the work as a whole attempts to analyze the subject of Infant Baptism in a holistic manner. I must say that if your view of Pedobaptism cannot pass the muster of Jewett's work in a consistent biblical manner, it is not worth holding onto.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book for the good reviews, and came to it more of a Baptist than anything else, thinking that it was finally time that I explored this question in depth. But this book turned me right off, and actually sent me to look more closely at the other side. After all my reading, I have come to think the baptists are missing part of the truth. I know that there are many dear brethren in these churches... but as to this book:

First, I was put off by self-righteousness. Mr. Jewett keeps insisting on his humble desire for truth, but derides others as "cavalier," uncaring about truth and "shallow". For example at p. 48: "To argue [from household baptism] so that we need not so much as stop to ask if there were infants in those families specifically mentioned, reflects a cavalier indifference to the scrupulous, persevering quest for accuracy which is the humble guide to all truth." Who is he accusing of being indifferent to truth? Should Christians so speak evil of others?

The Apostle Paul made it clear that salvation under the Old Covenant, when infants were circumcised, was by faith: "circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing, but a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). Paedobaptist see baptism in the same light, or should do so in my view, without denying its importance. Salvation is still by faith. Adult converts should be baptized, as adult males were circumcized upon conversion, under the Old Covenant. Of course, paedobaptists also accept infant baptism, likening the practice to the circumcision of infants. Jewett finds error in this, but to be honest, his explanation is so obscure, I cannot follow it.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Jewett's book is something that anyone interested in infant baptism should read. This book examines the historical evolution of infant baptism, the scriptural arguments, and the theological arguments. It is highly informative and reads like a thesis. If you are at all interested in infant baptism, READ THIS BOOK.
The problem with this work is that Dr. Jewett makes conclusions where the evidence is not necessary conclusory. For instance, he analyzes history and concludes that infant baptism was not a practice of the apostles, yet such a concusion is just one INFERENCE that could be made after taking in all the evidence. However, it should be noted that such conclusions are probably the best that anyone could do in reaching a definitive answer to an age-old issue.
The reason for Dr. Jewett's approach is clearly that he has made his decision from the beginning. This book reads like he has already made his decision, and whatever it takes, he is GOING to push the round peg into a square hole.
However, I would highly recommend this book for two reasons. First, the sheer amount of research and information provided by the author is worth taking a look at. Second, his arguments will better help anyone to refine their thoughts, from either an experienced theologian or a novice.
My lone criticism of this book, other than I believe it reaches an incorrect conclusion, is that he should have tried to be more objective, and avoided any language that would indicate his view was already biased from the start.
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