Vol. 1 - No. 9 

September, 1982

Books On Baptism

Reviews By  Byron Gage

BAPTISM: ITS MODE AND SUBJECTS, by Alexander Carson, published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprint. This book is approximately 500 pages long and is exhaustive in its approach to the subject named in the title. It was first published in 1853 and is the result of research which eventually resulted in the separation of the author from the Presbyterian denomination. The book deals extensively with the fact that the word bapto deals with mode rather than the element into which something or someone is dipped. Historical usages are cited profusely and are quite valuable in establishing the extra-Biblical meaning. Proof is amply provided that Biblical usage does not differ as to "mode."

The next section of the book deals with the subjects of baptism and the author adequately presents the case for the baptism of believers only. Obviously, this was in opposition to the teaching of the denomination of which he was for some time a member. Arguments of the proponents of infant baptism are cited and dealt with.

The next section of the book deals with the subject of "Defining Greek Words" and the following section deals with "Philosophy of Baptizo." These sections cite and refute false argumentation on the action and meaning of the word baptizo. The false positions are in defense of the practice of sprinkling (or, affusion) in place of baptism.

The following section is entitled "A Fuller Study of Baptizo" and deals with various positions taken in order to defend the practice of sprinkling or pouring. Such positions as "baptizo signifies to purify," and that it applies to the minds of men (that is, their minds are baptized) are cited and refuted. The writer's position and interpretations are then noted.

The sections following are: "Early New Testament Baptisms, Further Study of Mode, Sprinkling? Pouring? Immersion?, Is Immersion Baptism?, Purification or Baptism?, (and finally) Church Fathers Speak."

I have only scanned this book but anticipate an enjoyable and very profitable study when I look at it more carefully. It is a book that will be very valuable as a study help and especially for those who have no access to extra-biblical sources.

THE MEANING AND USE OF BAPTIZEIN, by Thomas Jefferson Conant, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977 (originally, American Bible Union, 1864). This book is divided into nine sections which, when noted, reveals well the content of the book. They are: "As used by Greek writers, including the Church Fathers, when not speaking of the Christian rite ... Its use in Greek versions of the Old testament ... summary of its uses ... As used by the Church Fathers ... Requirements and practice of the Christian Church ... Its use in other versions ... View of scholars of different Communions ... Obligations to translate this word."

In a great number of the 236 examples of usage of the word the Greek text is included below the English translation. This is extremely valuable for the student who has no access to the original works cited in that one does not have to depend on the author's translation of the text. It is the author's purpose to so thoroughly document the secular and Biblical use of the word so as to remove any doubt whatsoever with regard to its being properly defined (translated) as to immerse. Yet, he leaves (as much as possible) the final conclusion to the reader.

The book is only 192 pages long, but is extensive in its documentation of the word in the title. Every Christian (especially teachers and preachers) would benefit from a study of this book.

Both of these books are valuable additions to my library. They are to be used as reference type books and I can recommend them both.