I was saved and baptized over thirty years ago and I have always felt like I have a pretty good understanding on the act of baptism. When I received Understanding Baptism in the mail I figured it would be a quick read (it’s only 74 pages) that would basically be addressing issues for new believers.
Well I was sort of right because the book (booklet?) does reach out to new believers but it was also written for the more mature believer that is just wanting more specifics and of course it is also designed for the church leadership. Pretty diverse audience if you ask me, but it works. Bobby Jamieson doesn’t beat around the bush with anecdotes and cute stories, instead he addresses the issue head on.
Let me give you a little taste of his style with this passage from the chapter How Should Churches Practice Baptism?:
“Baptism is a church’s act of affirming and portraying a believer’s union with Christ by immersing him or her in water, and a believer’s act of publicly committing him or herself to Christ and his people,thereby uniting a believer to the church and marking off him or her from the world. In baptism, a believer commits to God’s people and God’s people commit to that believer. Therefore, where a church exists, baptism should confer church membership. The church doing the baptizing should, by that very act, be inducting this new believer into their number. Baptism isn’t just a prerequisite to church membership; normally, baptism begins church membership. Church membership is the house, and baptism is the front door.” (pg.67)
After reading this short text I think the reader will not only come away with a greater understanding of baptism but also a more precise understanding of the role of the church in the act. I read the book aloud to my husband on a recent road trip and it sparked some interesting and in depth conversations.
I think this would make a wonderful resource for small groups or even Sunday or Wednesday night services where most of the participants are believers. I think often a person is saved and then proceeds to baptism (or not) without the knowledge of what that signifies both to the person being baptized and the body of believers (the church). With that in mind I highly recommend this book to church leadership with the hope that they will then share it with their membership.
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.