John H. Armstrong, ed. Understanding Four Views On Baptism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. 222 pages
ISBN: 978-0-3102-6267-1
Pastor Dennis Hartman

THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 2. Fall 2007. Volume 25. Page 1-2

The "Four Views On Baptism" will be very disappointing to anyone who would expect a spirited parley on modes of baptism. The four denominational perspectives represented are the Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran and Church of Christ. The Methodist perspective is missing. However, it does cite the Methodist articles of religion, 16 and 17, in the appendix.

The book is written in a strong ecumenical spirit. The editor quotes Richard Kidd saying, "The world is already too racked with pain and conflict to permit Christians the Luxury of adding to its fragmentation by internal arguments about baptism." So in this spirit the editor says that, "by working to understand our differences, we can demonstrate to the world that we love one another." This sounds good, and evidently the Reformed and Lutheran writers heeded the plea, as far as it concerned the debate over which mode was correct. Both said little, if anything, to counter balance the Baptist and Church of Christ writers view of immersion.

However, the Reformed and Lutheran writers tried to defend infant baptism. This position was, of course, hastily dispatched by the Baptist and Church of Christ writers. The Reformed writer defends his position poorly. I was completely surprised by his lack of scripture usage in his defense of infant baptism. However, he cited many confessions as proof of his position. Perhaps it would have helped if this Reformed brother had reviewed, "Treatise on Baptism" by Rev. J. J. Leeberman a Reformed writer in the late 1800s.

Three final points in closing. First this book does give beneficial insight on the significance of baptism as related to the plan of redemption with respect to the denominations that are represented. Second, the rebuttals to each position were more informative in most cases then what was originally presented. Finally, this book makes a critical error. It is endemic with modern ecumenicity that most of the time the idea of reaching out loses its sense of orthodoxy. By allowing the Church of Christ writer to share, it gives a half hearted credence to their heresy of baptismal regeneration and gives it the appearance of orthodoxy.


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