This was my final article for Tabletalk Magazine, published after I left Ligonier Ministries. It is a short review of Randy Booth’s book Children of the Promise.
I read many books on the subject of infant baptism, but their arguments never connected with my experience. When I read that Robert Booth used to be a Baptist minister, I thought he could explain it in a way I could understand. I was not disappointed this time.
He begins his argument with a thorough explanation of covenant theology. The question of how to interpret the Bible in regards to covenant theology cannot be minimized. We tend to read the Bible as post-enlightenment, 20th century, individualist Americans. The original audience(s) understood covenants and the idea of headship. Keeping this in mind makes the going easier.
Booth then argues for the continuity of the covenant community between New and Old Covenants. He does this from a variety of New Testament passages. This is an important part of the argument, and the biblical evidence must be reckoned with before reaching a conclusion.
The ideas which had presented a problem for me were those of signs and seals of the covenant. Booth explained them in a way which made sense and made infant baptism nearly unavoidable. His comparision of circumcision and baptism was most helpful. They are not identical, but the continuity is important. There is much misunderstanding concerning the meaning of circumcision today. This chapter is useful in correcting this problem. He also reminds us baptism represents what God has done, not what we do. Here, too, there is much confusion to be removed from the conversationn. Booth’s presentation is clear and powerful.
The last sections of the book deal with the concept of household baptism followed by a summary of the argument for infant baptism. In these chapters, indeed the whole book, Booth interacts with the ideas of baptistic theologians like Jewett, Kingdon and Strong. Booth answered all of the objections to infant baptism I had. This book, published by P & R, can help those who struggle with this issue.