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A review of "Reforming Infant Baptism" at the time by Dr Guite - Non-stipendiary curate in the parishes of Ely, Chettisham and Prickwillow.

Oh, no!  Not this subject again.  I spent eight years in theological college teaching, and the question of baptismal discipline came round again and again - and no class of students ever reached agreement.  Could this book have helped us? 

Well, of course, it’s written from a very definite standpoint - indeed, it’s a campaigning book.  It assumes that its readers are familiar with the hoary debates surrounding infant baptism, and the different possible degrees of “discrimination” in its administration; and Buchanan, Owen and Wright, together with the lay General Synod member, Roger Godin (who contributes an epilogue), carry the argument for a Church-wide “discriminating” policy forward in typically trenchant style. 

There’s much that is persuasive, to my mind; but the weakness of the book lies in the fact that it doesn’t tackle seriously enough the author’s most powerful opponents. Colin Buchanan gives a whole chapter to expostulating with Mark Dalby’s book, Open Baptism, with its rather fanciful claim that godparents can save the integrity of baptism where parents don’t seem to have Christian faith; he would have done far better to spend a chapter wrestling with Wesley Carr’s acute observation that “If for centuries the Church has insisted on the baptism of infants, actively persuaded parents to have it done, and urged it as a duty to God, and to the child, it is not possible to reverse that teaching by a mere change of doctrinal stance”.  The question is, can pastoral practice today simply look back to the New Testament, and forward to the Decade of Evangelism, without looking inwards to the deep memories of our culture?  And if these memories are taken seriously, how best can they to be made fruitful?  This book only gives us limited help with that question.

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