Note: Since I first wrote this post another excellent book has been published on the subject. It is The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism by Jeffrey D. Johnson. I have posted about it here. Frankly, I think this book is the single best one on the subject that I have read to date. I highly recommend it.
As a pastor I have done a lot of reading over the years about the doctrine of baptism, including reading numerous works that defend the doctrine of infant baptism, especially from the standpoint of my Reformed paedobaptist brothers. In fact, I received my M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary (PCA), a Reformed seminary that holds to paedobaptist views. I am indebted to these brothers for a great deal, and I am glad that so many Reformed Baptist and Presbyterian believers have been open to working together for the sake of the Gospel. It does my heart good, for example, to see men such as R.C. Sproul and John Piper side by side at conferences that seek to promote Biblical theology and true Christian devotion. As a matter of fact, Immanuel Baptist Church – where I serve as an elder – has always welcomed our Reformed paedobaptist brothers and has enjoyed great fellowship and mutual encouragement in the faith with them.
However, that does not mean that I think the issue of the proper subjects of baptism is unimportant, and in my years of study and reflection on the matter I have only become more and more convinced that believer’s baptism (sometimes also called credobaptism) is the true teaching of Scripture. This is why I want to remind my Reformed Baptist brothers and sisters of the three books I have read that offer the best defense of this Biblical teaching:
1) Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace by Paul K. Jewett.
I read this book while I was in seminary and struggling to sort through the matter. It was especially helpful to me because it responds to the arguments for infant baptism from the standpoint of Covenant Theology. It helped me to see that a truly Biblical understanding of Covenant Theology leads to believer’s baptism rather than to infant baptism. For a long time, this was the best book available on this issue.
Malone is a former Reformed paedobaptist who understands their views from the inside out. I was especially encouraged by his treatment of the promise of the New Covenant made in Jeremiah 31 and how this relates to the issue of baptism. This is an outstanding book that offers many of the same arguments found in Jewett’s book, but it is even better in my opinion. It is temporarily out of print, but I look for Founders Press to make it available again soon. Until then there are copies available on Amazon.com.
3) Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright.
This is in my opinion the single best volume available right now for a comprehensive overview on baptism from a Baptist perspective. Here is a look at its contents by chapter:
Chapter 1 – Baptism in the GospelsChapter 2 – Baptism in Luke-ActsChapter 3 – Baptism in the Epistles: An Initiation Rite for BelieversChapter 4 – Baptism and the Relationship Between the CovenantsChapter 5 – Baptism in the Patristic WritingsChapter 6 – “Confessor baptism”:The Baptismal Doctrine of the EarlyAnabaptistsChapter 7 – Baptism and the Logic of Reformed PaedobaptistsChapter 8 – Meredith Kline on Suzerainty, Circumcision, and BaptismChapter 9 – Baptism in the Stone-Campbell Restoration MovementChapter 10 – Baptism in the Context of the Local Church
Since so many have asked me for such material over the years, I hope that these recommendations will be helpful to the blog’s readers.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Update 25 May 2011
Since I first wrote this post another excellent book has been published on the subject. It is The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism by Jeffrey D. Johnson. I have posted about it here. Frankly, I think this book is the single best one on the subject that I have read to date. I highly recommend it.
7 thoughts on “The Three Best Books in Defense of Believer’s Baptism”
You should read, “MEANING AND MODE OF BAPTISM,” BY JAY ADAMS.
I have read it. I just didn’t agree with it. Hence my Baptist convictions.
I read Fred Malone's book. Truly outstanding and definitive. Confirmed my Covenantally Reformed Southern Baptist beliefs
Have you read Christian Baptism and It's Subjects by R. Ingham? A book I assume is long out of print, my copy having been printed in 1871.
No, I haven't read it. I did find this book by R. Ingram available one line:
It is entitled “A Handbook on Christian Baptism”
Really helpful thank you, have ordered Malone and Schreiner based on your comments, thank you.
Since I first wrote this post another excellent book has been published on the subject. It is The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism by Jeffrey D. Johnson. I have posted about it here:
I have also updated this post accordingly.