As I began my study into Covenant Theology, I was often reminded of the “2,000 years” argument from my P&R brethren.
Upon leaving the Marine Corps in 2012, I soon found myself sitting in a classroom at a liberal Christian University, and a pastor at a seeker-sensitive church in Southern California. After growing up in the Calvary Chapel movement my background was heavily shaped by a theological tradition known as Arminianism. Although, if you had called me an Arminian at the time, I would likely have had no idea what you were talking about. As I continued to read my Bible, and study many theologians, I grew convicted by the inconsistencies in both the university I attended, as well as the local church I served in. It was during this time that by His Grace I had come to embrace the Doctrines of Grace.
But I didn’t stop there. Frustrated with the Calvinistic-Charasmatic movement I had become a part of, I decided to move forward on a journey that would help me sift through all the groups that were claiming to be Reformed, and get to the ones who actually had a seat at the Reformed table. It was at the beginning of this journey where the “2,000 years” screams became louder and more consistent.
Back to Covenant Theology…
On the beginning of my journey I would often be told that a theology would only truly be Reformed if it resulted in the practice of infant baptism. Many of the people saying these things were fellow Christians I had much respect for, and still do so today. One was a professor at a local seminary, with others being Christians in churches who were eager to pass down the tradition they had already embraced. As I mentioned earlier, the screams were getting louder so my study into the early church fathers was about to get serious.
So this is where Baptism in the Early Church comes in. It is a book written by two professors who specialize in the field of Patristic Studies. Combined, prof. Stander and prof. Louw have written over 500 books, and articles. But what really got me interested in this book was that both professors were members of paedobaptist churches. James Renihan mentions this in the foreward…
“The authors, two internationally known and highly regarded classical scholars, members of paedobaptist churches, present a dispassionate examination of the problem, based on a careful treatment of primary sources.”
As a pastor and student, I had been lucky to have in my possession a Logos library that contained the complete works of the early church fathers. I was able to examine the “2,000 year” argument in the primary sources themselves, and do so concurrently with this book. So Baptism in the Early Church served as a tool to guide me through the original sources themselves. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the “2,000 year” argument I am referring to is the argument that infant baptism has been the norm in the church for 2,000 years.
After reading this book (as well as the original sources themselves) I feel this claim has been put to rest. The method of baptism, which includes the who, what, when, where, why, and how, has not been the same for 2,000 years, and those claiming otherwise should give this book a read as it will challenge that position. This book has been tough to track down for some, with the price varying from $85.00, down to about $35.00 from third party sellers.
Regardless of the price, this book has been a tool I return to often.