The Book Corner
The Water That Divides. By Donald Bridge and David Phypers. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977. 208 pp. N.p.
The divergent views on baptism have created many problems. Some churches baptize babies by sprinkling water. Others baptize adults by sprinkling or pouring. There are others who baptize by immersion only adults or children who have confessed Christ.
The meaning, too, of baptism differs with groups. For some it is a sacrament which confers grace and salvation irrespective of the spiritual state of the recipient. Some would say it confers salvation if accompanied by faith. To others it is only a symbol, devoid of meaning unless the person has already believed.
How should a group teaching believer’s baptism treat Christians who may have different beliefs? If a person trusts Christ but feels his infant baptism is adequate, should he be received into the fellowship? Or is believer’s baptism the door to the church without which fellowship is not possible?
Donald Bridge is a minister at the Free Church in Essex, England. David Phypers belongs to the Church of England. They have coauthored this interesting book.
The first section seeks to expound the teaching of the New Testament and then to evaluate the paedobaptist and baptist approaches. This is handled quite thoroughly. Regardless of the position the reader holds, this section will help him understand the reasoning of other views.
The second part deals with the history of baptism in the church from the Apostles to modern missions. It is instructive and illuminating. The two concepts of either a state church or a gathered church based on personal confession of faith are traced through the centuries.
The final section dealt with baptism today as an issue that divides churches. How should Christians respond to those of different beliefs on baptism? If one has truly accepted Christ as Lord, but clings to his infant baptism, should he be barred from fellowship? The authors plead for understanding and grace between God’s people.
In closing John Bunyan is quoted: “I dare not have communion with them that profess not faith … I am bold to hold communion with visible saints … because God hath communion with them … Failure in such a circumstance as water, doth not unchrisitan us” (p. 204).
— Donald L. Norbie