You’ve been baptized. But do you understand what it means?
Baptism is the doorway into membership in the church. It’s a public declaration of the washing away of our sin and the beginning of our new life in Christ. But the sacrament that is meant to unite us is often a spring of division instead.
All Christians use water to baptize. All invoke the triune name. Beyond that, there’s little consensus. Talk about baptism and you’re immediately plunged into arguments. Whom should we baptize? What does baptism do? Why even do it at all?
Peter Leithart reunifies a church divided by baptism. He recovers the baptismal imagination of the Bible, explaining how baptism works according to Scripture. Then, in conversation with Christian tradition, he shows why baptism is something worth recovering and worth agreeing on.
A book of liturgical wisdom for all of God’s people—wherever their place may be in the Lord’s family.
–Timothy George, distinguished professor, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University
I strongly recommend this small work: it compels deep and profitable thinking about what has long been a controverted subject.
–Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
This book is an incredible gift to us all, and will greatly enhance the ongoing conversation about our one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5). Take, read, and rejoice in all the gifts God gives you in your baptism!
–Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director Emeritus, DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel, author of The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart
This is a brilliant resource for the classroom with your best university students or for teenagers contemplating new life in Christ. For it is not just about baptism. It is about the triune God, about the whole of the Christian faith, and about how to be more human.
–Jason Byassee, Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Interpretation, the Vancouver School of Theology, author of Surprised by Jesus Again.
“Baptism is an act of the church, using water in the name of the Trinity to bathe a person entering the church. Because Jesus commands baptism, it is an act of God.” (Page 14)
“Second, by his resurrection and ascension Jesus burst through death into the life of the age to come” (Page 5)
“Baptism is powerful because it places us in the church where pastors, friends, and mentors train us and pray for us—where God corrects and feeds us by his word at his table. Baptism does what it does because Jesus authorizes it. Baptism works because the church works, and the church works because it’s the body of Christ, enlivened by the Spirit.” (Page 7)
“The church is the family of the Father, the body of the Son, and the temple of the Spirit because it shares in the new creation that has begun in Jesus. And the church shares in that new creation by hearing the word, confessing sin, assembling at the Lord’s Table, passing through the waters of baptism.” (Page 7)
“Baptism doesn’t just picture an announcement. Baptism announces. It doesn’t portray preaching; it preaches” (Page 14)
The Christian Essentials series passes down tradition that matters. The ancient church was founded on basic biblical teachings and practices like the Ten Commandments, baptism, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Prayer, and corporate worship. These basics of the Christian life have sustained and nurtured every generation of the faithful—from the apostles to today. The books in the Christian Essentials series open up the meaning of the foundations of our faith.
Learn more about the other titles in this series.
Peter J. Leithart is president of the Theopolis Institute, a Christian study center and leadership training institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is author of numerous books, including The End of Protestantism, Deep Exegesis, Delivered from the Elements of the World, and commentaries on 1–2 Kings, 1–2 Chronicles, and Revelation