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Archive for the ‘Infant Baptism’ Category

The Baptized BodyThe Baptized Body by Peter J. Leithart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For me, this book, like Leithart’s writings generally, was both a hit and a miss. Let’s take it from the top.

Chapter one, “Starting before the Beginning,” was intended to clear “enough ground to move ahead” to discuss the biblical texts about baptism. This chapter seemed a bit choppy, as Leithart’s hitting on different philosophical, ontological, and theological topics. It was intended to be controversial with section headings such as, “Why Sacraments Are Not Signs,” “Why Sacraments Are Not Means of Grace,” and “Why Sacraments Are Not Symbols.” That said, I found the concept of Sacraments as rituals to be compelling and helpful. Sacraments can, however, be signs, means of grace, symbols, AND rituals. (more…)

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This post is the second (here’s the first) in a series that should provide a biblical defense of the practice of infant baptism, and I admit that it’s way too long. I hope, however, that it is very clear and compelling. Having corresponded with my friend, I have come the conclusion that he holds to the spiritual unity between the believers before Christ and those of us after him, which was the concern of the first post. Since that is so, I hoping to progress in this post and examine the question of who is in the New Covenant. That is, is the New Covenant (NC) administration peculiar in that only the faithful are a part of it, or are unfaithful hypocrites also a part of the NC? The purpose of examining this question is that a significant number of folks hold that the NC is exclusively for the faithful (and thus quite distinct from the covenants that precede it). I think that such a view of the NC is incorrect. What’s more, I think it’s easy to show that such a view of the NC is incorrect. Finally, I think that such a view of the NC tends toward a misunderstanding of both the progression of administrations of the Covenant of Grace and the place of the children of believers in that Covenant. So, I’m still laying groundwork so that we can progress toward baptism and infant baptism specifically. Anyhoo… let us now look how the Bible views the NC and who it includes in that covenant. (more…)

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The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth CenturyThe Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century by Hughes Oliphant Old

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book to be fascinating, greatly informative and easily accessible. Old offers a look at the development of the practice of baptism among the Reformers, but in so doing he gives us much more than that. For anytime one studies the Reformers, one necessarily studies all of church history before the Reformers. This book offers a sweeping (but detailed) view of the baptismal rite from NT times into the early Christian centuries, through the long Middle Ages into the Reformation. Old analyzes changes in the rite of baptism in light of historical, political, and theological developments in the church and the culture generally. He demonstrates how the baptismal rite developed through the centuries and what the Reformers had to work with as they set to reforming the baptismal rite in their own churches. I’ve read a good deal about the Reformed doctrine of baptism, but I was blown away by how much I didn’t know about the Reformed practice of baptism. Further, I am impressed at how conversant the Reformers were (generally, but specifically with regard to baptism) with the early and medieval church. The Reformers (and Old’s presentation of their work and thought) should encourage us to read more broadly and be less provincial. This is an excellent book and is highly recommended for anyone interested in the doctrine and practice of baptism in the Reformed churches.

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Dear child, do you wish to lead a Christian life and to live according to the will of God our heavenly Father?

Yes, dear father, for I have been baptized in the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit….

These are the opening words from Martin Bucer’s catechism from 1534. Note that the child’s identity is wrapped up in their baptism. “Do you want to live in a way that pleases God?” “Yes, for I am baptized.” That’s not a full answer, but it’s a fine start. We train up our children to grow up into who they are: children of God. Further, note the strong connection between discipleship and baptism, which is drawn from (among other places) Mt 28. Bucer’s commitment to Christian pedagogy also made Strasbourg a thriving center of evangelical education.

(Drawn from Hughes Oliphant Old’s The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 186.)

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