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Christian Baptism

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Sets forth the scriptural arguments that are the basis for the Reformed and Presbyterian teaching on baptism. Topics include: mode of baptism, the church, infant baptism and more.


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Sets forth the scriptural arguments that are the basis for the Reformed and Presbyterian teaching on baptism. Topics include: mode of baptism, the church, infant baptism and more.

30 review for Christian Baptism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Ray

    Really fantastic. Murray's chapter on mode is worth the read alone. I don't think anyone can read and seriously consider that chapter and come away holding immersion exclusivity. Really well done. Not to mention how he handles baptism as a whole. As with most books recommended to me by people much smarter than I am, the only thing I didn't like about Christian Baptism was how long it took for me to finally pick it up. Would recommend to anyone even remotely concerned with the issue of baptism. Really fantastic. Murray's chapter on mode is worth the read alone. I don't think anyone can read and seriously consider that chapter and come away holding immersion exclusivity. Really well done. Not to mention how he handles baptism as a whole. As with most books recommended to me by people much smarter than I am, the only thing I didn't like about Christian Baptism was how long it took for me to finally pick it up. Would recommend to anyone even remotely concerned with the issue of baptism.

  2. 4 out of 5

    JM

    Very rarely do I read a book that convinces me to take the opposite viewpoint of what it advocates. This one did. As far as the general meaning and significance of baptism goes, Murray is spot on. His section of how baptism in Romans 6 pictures union with Christ is excellent, and his discussion of church membership from a Reformed perspective is helpful. That being said, his section on linguistic and exegetical data for immersion took logical leaps that were surprising from as seasoned a theolog Very rarely do I read a book that convinces me to take the opposite viewpoint of what it advocates. This one did. As far as the general meaning and significance of baptism goes, Murray is spot on. His section of how baptism in Romans 6 pictures union with Christ is excellent, and his discussion of church membership from a Reformed perspective is helpful. That being said, his section on linguistic and exegetical data for immersion took logical leaps that were surprising from as seasoned a theologian as he is. Additionally, as with all those argue paedobaptism that I've read, he overrides all opposing data by seeing such continuity in the covenants that he flattens out the contours of the NT text. This book was a bit of a letdown, especially since it came from a scholar for whom I have such great respect.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Felipe

    Very good!

  4. 5 out of 5

    William

    Chapter 2 is a clear and thorough look at what the Baptists historically insist: Baptism by immersion. Dr. Murray proves, with a detailed look at the Biblical texts, that the terms frequently used do not REQUIRE immersion. He painstakingly labors in the Old Testament and the New as well as looking at the LXX to make his argument. Dr. Murray argues that the terms typically referenced by Baptists are not accurately applied and have no grounding in Scripture. Chapter Three is an examination of the Chapter 2 is a clear and thorough look at what the Baptists historically insist: Baptism by immersion. Dr. Murray proves, with a detailed look at the Biblical texts, that the terms frequently used do not REQUIRE immersion. He painstakingly labors in the Old Testament and the New as well as looking at the LXX to make his argument. Dr. Murray argues that the terms typically referenced by Baptists are not accurately applied and have no grounding in Scripture. Chapter Three is an examination of the visible and invisible Church distinction (a distinction that is often misunderstood and misread by Baptists). In this chapter Dr. Murray is setting the stage, arguing from the perspective of the Covenant, to lead us into a defense of paedobaptism. More later...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tom Rogstad

    Made me a Baptist.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

    This book did a fair job of summarizing many of the arguments for paedobaptism. However, some of the reasoning is dated in that there are now Baptist answers to a number of Murray's arguments. Not addressed: differences within Reformed theology over what, exactly, baptism symbolizes. Murray is firmly convinced that it symbolizes union with Christ, and leaves the question of the mode of baptism open - he shows that immersion is not Biblically mandated and that, if anything, the weight of opinion This book did a fair job of summarizing many of the arguments for paedobaptism. However, some of the reasoning is dated in that there are now Baptist answers to a number of Murray's arguments. Not addressed: differences within Reformed theology over what, exactly, baptism symbolizes. Murray is firmly convinced that it symbolizes union with Christ, and leaves the question of the mode of baptism open - he shows that immersion is not Biblically mandated and that, if anything, the weight of opinion slightly favors sprinkling. He argues that we are required by divine institution to baptize the children of confessing believers, but, after rejecting all notions of a separate external covenant, or baptismal regeneration, his argument for infant baptism, worded somewhat crassly, can be boiled down to "God tells us to, so we do it even if we don't understand why". I did take issue with his view of infant salvation - that faith is not a necessary component of salvation in infants because they are not psychologically capable of such. This seems to me a dangerous notion; if God can save an infant, he can work in their hearts to have faith in him even before they understand what that means. It is more than a little surprising to me that, after so emphatically arguing for continuity between the Old & New Covenants - continuity which would presumably extend to the mode of salvation - that Murray would even implicitly suggest a different mode of salvation in infants. Although this is a reasonably thorough book given the amount of ground it covers in only 90 pages, it was not a particularly enjoyable read - very dry, even to someone who likes reading dry theological texts. For that reason, and because of the somewhat dated reasoning, I might suggest that those seeking a Biblical case for infant baptism should turn elsewhere. Gregg Strawbridge's "The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism", for instance, is a much more accessible and lay-friendly primer on the topic that has the advantage of showcasing several slightly different viewpoints, as each chapter has a different author.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Filip Sylwestrowicz

    Murray's short book is one of the most insightful defences of the Reformed view on baptism. Its arguments are well balanced and worth careful consideration. But what makes this short book the real gem is its discussion of ecclesiology. Murray balances well categories of visible and invisible Church, avoiding some pitfalls that are common to more 'pietistic' presentations of Reformed ecclesiology. More on my blog: https://fsylwestrowicz.com/book-thoug... Murray's short book is one of the most insightful defences of the Reformed view on baptism. Its arguments are well balanced and worth careful consideration. But what makes this short book the real gem is its discussion of ecclesiology. Murray balances well categories of visible and invisible Church, avoiding some pitfalls that are common to more 'pietistic' presentations of Reformed ecclesiology. More on my blog: https://fsylwestrowicz.com/book-thoug...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pastor Matt

    The late professor Murray's argument for paedobaptism is the strongest I have read but is ultimately unconvincing. He, like most Reformed scholars within a presbyterian denomination, see, following Calvin's argument for continuity of the covenant, a parallel between circumcision and infant baptism. Yet, his exegetical arguments are strained at times. I agree that the old and new covenants have more in common than many evangelicals would care to admit but as for circumcision, I would land on Roma The late professor Murray's argument for paedobaptism is the strongest I have read but is ultimately unconvincing. He, like most Reformed scholars within a presbyterian denomination, see, following Calvin's argument for continuity of the covenant, a parallel between circumcision and infant baptism. Yet, his exegetical arguments are strained at times. I agree that the old and new covenants have more in common than many evangelicals would care to admit but as for circumcision, I would land on Romans 2:29, which points out the circumcision of the heart.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Grant

    Thanks to my pastor's library, I read this book for a school project. While it was exactly the scope and length I was looking for, it was a more difficult read than I expected. One sentence is often three lines long and the sections about Greek words are written for people who actually know Greek script. :) I'm glad I read this book, though; it was very informative and a great resource. Thanks to my pastor's library, I read this book for a school project. While it was exactly the scope and length I was looking for, it was a more difficult read than I expected. One sentence is often three lines long and the sections about Greek words are written for people who actually know Greek script. :) I'm glad I read this book, though; it was very informative and a great resource.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    As expected, Murray is concise and clear. But three stars because I fundamentally disagree with him on the issue of infant baptism, most clearly on the relationship between the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant. Still, he presents a good summary of the paedobaptist position.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Vos

    Short, but incredibly helpful defense of infant baptism

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lundy

    A very short explanation of Baptism. A vital classic for every Christian to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Kiser

    Excellent treatise on the purpose of sacraments, the model of baptism, and efficacy of baptism. This is a must read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dwain Minor

    This book was a strong argument for its position. The mode of baptism was pretty an interesting and thought provoking chapter for a baptist to read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Arie Van Weelden

    My first reading of John Murray. I hope to read more, this book was a joy to read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    The part on the mode of baptism was quite convincing and helpful. With regards to infant baptism, he made good points looking at various passages of scripture. The most helpful thing is reminding Christians about the meaning of baptism, and using the language of a sign and a seal.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    Contains some of the best defenses and explanations I've read for infant baptism, and for sprinkling or dipping as biblical modes. It's essentially a refutation of the Baptist position on those issues. The main text heavily references the Bible, and the footnotes cite many Reformed sources. Import of Baptism Baptisms performed by John the Baptist and by disciples during Jesus' ministry (John 3:22, 26, 4:1-2) were of different nature than baptism instituted b Jesus in Matt 28:19. Baptism is the ci Contains some of the best defenses and explanations I've read for infant baptism, and for sprinkling or dipping as biblical modes. It's essentially a refutation of the Baptist position on those issues. The main text heavily references the Bible, and the footnotes cite many Reformed sources. Import of Baptism Baptisms performed by John the Baptist and by disciples during Jesus' ministry (John 3:22, 26, 4:1-2) were of different nature than baptism instituted b Jesus in Matt 28:19. Baptism is the circumcision of NT (Col 2:11-12). Mode of Baptism Nothing in the Hebrew or Greek words, or in context, requires immersion (except Lev 11:32; Job 9:31); dipping or sprinkling are adequate. Even when words translated "baptize" or "baptism" refer in a specific case to immersion, that doesn't prove the words always mean immersion. Several Levitical lustrations were performed by sprinkling (Lev 14:4-7, 16, 49-53, 16:19; Num 8:5-7, etc.), and these are alluded to as baptisms in Heb 9:10-23. Baptism represents sprinkling of blood of Christ (Heb 9:13, 14, 22, 10:22, 12:24; 1 Pet 1:2). Infant Baptism The Church is one in both dispensations (OT & NT). The NT economy is the unfolding and fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham, necessarily implying the unity and continuity of the Church. OT covenant included infants (infants received circumcision). Circumcision was primarily a spiritual sign (Acts 7:8), and only secondarily a sign of family, race, nation, privilege. Circumcision's 3 elements - union and communion with God, removal of defilement, righteousness of faith - are closely similar to the elements of baptism. NT doesn't revoke or imply revocation of inclusion of infants in covenant, or their participation in covenant sign and seal. No express command for infant baptism is necessary because of continuation of OT command. Scope of NT covenant is broader than OT, so it shouldn't' exclude infants who were included in OT. Abraham knew the covenant wouldn't be established with Ishmael, and Rebecca knew Esau was to be rejected, yet these parents circumcised those sons to obey God's ordinance. We baptize infants because of God's ordinance, not because we know our children will be saved. When Jesus said "of such is the kingdom of God," there were infants in that group of children (Luke 18:15). Paul includes children saints in Eph 6:1, 4; Col 3:20-21. 1 Cor 7:14 shows that children of even 1 believer are considered "holy" in the sense of connection and privilege (not in sense of regeneration, as seen by context). 3 of 12 recorded baptisms are household baptisms (Acts 16:15, 33, 34; 1 Cor 1:16; Acts 10:47-48, 11:14), indicating that household baptism was common practice, and it's extremely likely that some households contained infants. Acts 2:38-39 says promise is to children of believers. This is same idea as OT Gen 17:7 and Deut 29:10-13. Parallels between circumcision and baptism, and Passover and Lord's Supper Circumcision was administered to infants Circumcision was administered only once Circumcision was rite of initiation No evidence that infants partook of Passover Passover meal not appropriate to infants Passover repeated; circumcision not Baptism represents initiation into body of Christ; Lord's Supper represents edification of members of Christ's body. Baptism is a means of grace to signify and confirm grace, but not a means of conferring the grace it signifies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wade

    This is the best book that I have read on baptism. Because it is written by John Murray, it is not an easy read. It is still readable, but may take some time (and re-reading) if one is not accustomed to reading theological material. Having said that, it is well worth the read. The entire book is thoroughly exegetical; Murray does not randomly grab Bible verses as an exercise in proof-texting, rather he constantly looks at the whole counsel of Scripture to inform every topic upon which he is writ This is the best book that I have read on baptism. Because it is written by John Murray, it is not an easy read. It is still readable, but may take some time (and re-reading) if one is not accustomed to reading theological material. Having said that, it is well worth the read. The entire book is thoroughly exegetical; Murray does not randomly grab Bible verses as an exercise in proof-texting, rather he constantly looks at the whole counsel of Scripture to inform every topic upon which he is writing. Murray begins by addressing the meaning and importance of baptism. He clearly shows how John the Baptist’s baptism is not to be identified with the baptism that Jesus instituted. Murray shows how baptism is centrally about union with Christ and being baptized into (the phrase “baptized into” is significant) the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Murray also does an excellent job explaining the meaning of the word baptizo (the Greek word for “baptize”). He gives an extremely solid argument proving that the word baptizo does not mean “immerse”, as some traditions in recent church history have tried to claim that it means. Murray explains the significance of baptism for the church and shows how the New Testament is the unfolding of the Abrahamic covenant, that all nations are blessed in terms of the promise given to Abraham. Murray gives a sound and biblical defense of infant baptism. Emphasizing the continuities of the two covenants, he shows how the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:1-14) is unfolded in the New Testament. The leading notion in circumcision is the same as the leading notion in baptism, which is union and communion with the Lord. The sign and seal of the covenant being given to infants had been in place for 2,000 years by the time Christ instituted baptism as the sign and seal of the new covenant; the command to administer the sign to infants is never revoked in the New Testament. Murray goes on to point out that the new covenant is more expansive than the old covenant and therefore it is counterintuitive to expect retraction, unless that retraction is explicitly stated in the New Testament. Furthermore, Murray explains how the new covenant was inaugurated at Pentecost; Peter took up the old covenant language and said, “This is for you and your children.” Murray also draws a helpful distinction between paedobaptism and credocommunion, pointing out that all of the notions of the Lord’s Supper involve conscious understanding and therefore credocommunion is more consistent with the Passover as well as with all that the Lord’s Supper implies. Since baptism is one of only two sacraments in the church, it is helpful and important to have a clear understanding of what that sacrament really means; this book aids very well in that understanding.

  19. 4 out of 5

    E

    Good look at baptism from a man with impeccable Reformed credentials. Some reader of this book in the past was evidently not a fan, based on the questions he penciled into the margins at key junctures. I enjoyed interacting with these questions as well. By the end of the book, I think this anonymous interlocutor had scarcely a leg on which to stand. For Murray did a great job. He begins by looking at uses of the word bapto and baptizo, and their OT analogues. He concludes, with justification, tha Good look at baptism from a man with impeccable Reformed credentials. Some reader of this book in the past was evidently not a fan, based on the questions he penciled into the margins at key junctures. I enjoyed interacting with these questions as well. By the end of the book, I think this anonymous interlocutor had scarcely a leg on which to stand. For Murray did a great job. He begins by looking at uses of the word bapto and baptizo, and their OT analogues. He concludes, with justification, that the word does not require a meaning of immersion, and at times cannot mean immersion. This chapter was not terribly related to the rest of the book, but it did make a clear case for the validity of baptism by sprinkling of pouring. He heart of the book begins with a look at the church--at the difference between the visible and invisible church, and the requirements of admission into each. He looks at the privilege of covenant membership in the OT, and its continuation in the New. He looks at infant baptism specifically, particularly how there is no reason in the NT to suppose that the covenant is no longer applied to children. In fact, there is sufficient evidence to support the opposite. He deals with objections to infant baptism before addressing just who is to be baptized. He concludes with a discussion of baptism's efficacy. Although we sometimes separate in our minds the efficacy of infant and believers' baptism, Murray points out that there is absolutely no warrant for doing so. In this discussion, however, I felt that Murray shied away from the power of baptism, out of a fear of appearing sacerdotal. He writes, "baptism does not convey or confer the grace which it signifies." I disagree. I believe that God, in fact, does use baptism to do that very thing. He does not have to--we can't force the giving of grace by baptizing someone, for it is not automatic, but I don't like the distinction he makes that "Baptism is a means of grace but not a means of conferring the grace represented." I do not think we need to tie God's hands in this manner.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tirzah

    So glad I discovered this book! I wanted to know more about the subject of baptism, specifically about the mode of baptism (sprinkle or immersion?) and infant baptism (commanded by God or no?). I was raised believing one way and then in high school, I switched to a church that thought another. So since then, the subject of baptism has been a bit hazy for me until I read this book. Theologian John Murray lays it out somewhat simply (some of the Hebrew word references got confusing and some parts So glad I discovered this book! I wanted to know more about the subject of baptism, specifically about the mode of baptism (sprinkle or immersion?) and infant baptism (commanded by God or no?). I was raised believing one way and then in high school, I switched to a church that thought another. So since then, the subject of baptism has been a bit hazy for me until I read this book. Theologian John Murray lays it out somewhat simply (some of the Hebrew word references got confusing and some parts were a bit wordy) as he supports his views with multiple Scriptural references and other reputable theologians' references (i.e., John Calvin). While I may not thoroughly understand all of what he said, I walked away from Christian Baptism with greater knowledge of what baptism and infant baptism is and how it applies to the Christian and the Church.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Wichert

    This book was a quite readable John Murray, in fact a very quick read (90 pages). It is essentially an apology for paedobaptism, deriving the practice from God's covenant with Abraham, and answering some Baptist objections. Murray is a theological giant and it shows in this short work. Key quote: "The argument for infant baptism rests upon the recognition that God's redemptive action and revelation in this world are covenantal...Embedded in this covenantal action of God is the principle that the This book was a quite readable John Murray, in fact a very quick read (90 pages). It is essentially an apology for paedobaptism, deriving the practice from God's covenant with Abraham, and answering some Baptist objections. Murray is a theological giant and it shows in this short work. Key quote: "The argument for infant baptism rests upon the recognition that God's redemptive action and revelation in this world are covenantal...Embedded in this covenantal action of God is the principle that the infant seed of believers are embraced with their parents in the covenant relation and provision." (Children of believers ARE different than all other children). An important read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I read this book to gain a better understanding of the reformed view of baptism. It was very well written. Prayerfully, I will continue studying this issue. For one who can not read Greek or Hebrew letters (which includes me) the chapter about the mode of baptism may be confusing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bendick Ong

    Have questions about baptism? This short book is the ultimate handbook to hold, covering the import, mode and efficacy of baptism. The focus in the main body is on the for and against of infant baptism.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andy Smith

    A helpful and short synopsis of the doctrine of Baptism, but it seems to get distracted by secondary issues (method of baptism) and so doesn't spend as much time as it could on the primary issues. A helpful and short synopsis of the doctrine of Baptism, but it seems to get distracted by secondary issues (method of baptism) and so doesn't spend as much time as it could on the primary issues.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Very good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jon R. Jordan

    A very clear and concise presentation of reformed paedobaptism. This was a very quick read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timmy

    I disagree with him on most topics; nevertheless, a very clear, concise, and straightforward presentation.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Watkins

    A great concise defense of reformed paedobaptism. Highly recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    WH

    A bit dense, but well worth the read. Murray combines rigorous exegesis with clear writing to present a balanced and fair defense of a Reformed view of baptism.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Very helpful, both in its polemics and its positive statements.

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