When I moved to Mississippi I was informed that there were more Baptists than people. I have found this largely to be true. Joking aside I have felt very welcomed by my Baptist brothers and sisters. I am friends with several Baptist ministers. In fact, I can’t think of a single Baptist I have a bad relationship with. The question I get most often is, “So what is the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians?” I always begin by highlighting our agreement in the most important doctrines: gospel, Trinity, deity of Christ, etc. But there are meaningful differences and one of them is baptism.
Guy Richard’s book is a generous and helpful contribution to the conversation. In 115 pages Guy explains what Presbyterians believe about Baptism including the meaning of baptism, the debate over immersion, why we baptize, how it should be done, and who should receive it. He gives significant portions of the book addressing Baptist objections to the Presbyterian view. There is one chapter that records Presbyterian objections to the Baptist “believers only” view of baptism.
As a former baptist I really appreciate this book for one particular aspect. It took me five years of inconsistent study (hey I had a life okay?) while in seminary to come to the Presbyterian side of things. Having thoughtful conversations and generous debates is extremely helpful. I have experienced what it is like when that doesn’t happen as well. Guy is careful to frame the debate as a disagreement within the family of faith. This means we can debate generously and charitably (as we always should!) without questioning anyone’s salvation. There is a real disagreement. Someone is right and someone is wrong. Let us be convinced by the scriptures as we engage one another in love.
If you are looking for an easy to read book that sums up the Presbyterian view on baptism and gets at the heart of the debate between Presbyterians and Baptists over this issue then get this book. It is now the resource I will be recommending in the future to my own church members. If you are looking for a deep dive into the issue then check out J.W. Fesko’s Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective of Baptism.
Where are you at on this issue? What have you found the most convincing? Have you read anything from the other side you found challenging? You can contact me here. Thanks for reading!