I'm continuing to provide brief reviews of the books that I read in 2013.
Multiple Views Books
This is a helpful three-views book debating the issue of infant baptism. Unfortunately, David F. Wright (who devoted much of his scholarly career to questioning the evidence for infant baptism in the early church) died before the book was completed, so he was unable to write the introduction and that had to be written by Daniel Reid, an editor at IVP. The three interlocutors are: Bruce Ware (defending believer’s baptism and immersion), Sinclair Ferguson (defending covenantal baptism), and Anthony Lane (arguing for what he calls “dual practice”). All three did a good job defending their views, and the dialogue came across as very respectful and brotherly, which made for pleasant reading. Personally, I liked the essay by Sinclair Ferguson best. Of course, that could be because I’m a paedobaptist. But, honestly, I really liked his essay, not just because I agreed with it, but because he presented such a Christ-centered, powerful doctrine of baptism, and one which, I think even credobaptists could rejoice in (as Bruce Ware acknowledged). He also used some of Kline’s arguments in By Oath Consigned, which was a nice bonus. Anthony Lane’s position was defended not from the New Testament but from church history, which was a little odd, but still, he did a solid job arguing that the early church practiced both adult conversion baptism and infant baptism.
I’m not aware of another multiple-views book that addresses the issue of whether the fourth commandment is still binding today. This makes this book uniquely useful.
Skip MacCarty defends the Seventh Day Adventist position. As you would expect, his position starts with the assumption that the Decalogue is the unchanging, eternal moral law of God. I was not convinced by his attempts to explain away the Pauline texts which teach that Christians are no longer obligated to observe the Sabbath (Rom 14:5-6; Gal 4:10; Col 2:16-17).
Joseph Pipa defends the Puritan “Christian Sabbath” as articulated in the Westminster Confession, which is similar to the SDA view, except that the Sabbath has changed from the last to the first day of the week. As with the SDA view, I was not convinced by Pipa’s exegesis of the Pauline Sabbath passages. Nor was I convinced by his attempt, following John Owen, to take Hebrews 4:9 (“there remains a sabbatismos for the people of God”) as proof that the Sabbath requirement continues today. Interestingly, the other authors ganged up on Pipa and did a great job showing how inconsistent it is to say that the fourth commandment is eternal moral law, and yet that the day has changed! This, I believe, is the Achilles’ heel of the Puritan position.
Craig Blomberg defends the view, which I think is right in the main outline, that Christ fulfills the Sabbath, so that literal Sabbath observance is not binding on the NT believer. According to Hebrews 4, we “keep the Sabbath” in a spiritual sense, by resting from our works and trusting in Christ. This is basically Calvin’s view.
Charles Arand defends the Lutheran view. He argues that, while the fourth commandment was given to the Jews alone, rest and worship are still obligatory for Christians, though not tied to observance of a particular day. Similar to but not as satisfying as Blomberg’s presentation.
Wherever you stand on this issue, this book is definitely clarifying.