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HTS Theological Studies

Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 no.2 Pretoria Apr./June 2008

 

Boekbesprekings / Book Reviews

 

 

Brownson, J V 2007The promise of baptism: An introduction to baptism in Scripture and the Reformed tradition
Publisher: Eerdmans. Pages 223. Price $16.00.
Reviewer: Rev N J S Steenekamp (Middelburg)

In this well researched book, Prof Brownson clearly outlines the meaning of baptism from a Reformed perspective. He uses the questions and opinions about baptism from the church and the community at large to form the framework within which he discusses this sacrament.

Brownson argues that baptism should be seen as a Christian practice that declares God's promises to man. This perspective is used to answer all the questions about faith and people's perspectives on baptism in our times. Issues discussed include rebaptism, infant baptism, the meaning baptism has for people who no longer believe; the place where baptism should take place et cetera. All discussions are pastorally orientated.

The book consists of thirty short chapters (seldom more than eight pages apiece) which each masterly answers one specific question on the meaning or practice of baptism. References to historical works and Biblical passages abound and are well integrated into the discussion. The book can be read from beginning to end, but also offers the possibility of being used as a reference work, reading the chapters in a random fashion in order to answer specific questions.

Every chapter is concluded with a summary of three to six bulleted phrases. This serves as a very useful search facility of the contents of the chapter or as a study-aid for students. In addition, a few questions and statements for further reflection and discussion are included, as well as a very short reference for further study on the contents of the specific chapter. The thirty chapters are grouped in six sections namely:

• Basic questions;
• The core meanings of baptism;
• Baptism, faith and salvation;
• The case for infant baptism;
• Disputes and questions surrounding infant baptism;
• Pastoral decisions surrounding baptism.

An index of Scripture references and a select annotated bibliography on baptism are included.

Apart from the book's value for the scholar or student, it would be very useful for any church member in deepening their understanding of baptism.