Book Reviews

Baptism in the Early Church

Hendrick F. Stander, Johannes P. Louw Leeds, UK 2004-09-01

The practice of baptism remains a hotly debated issue in many churches. Stander and Louw have compiled quotations from numerous church fathers in the first four centuries to help readers understand firsthand how the early church viewed the mode and meaning of baptism, and the qualifications and preparations for baptism. Starting with the earliest writings—the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas—the authors then cite the writings of twenty church fathers, from Aristides of the second century to Theodore of Mopsuestia in the fourth century.

Of interest is the point that the literature on baptism “shows how, in the majority of instances, it was persons of responsible age (generally adults and grown children) who were recipients of baptism” (p. 183). Only during the fourth century and mostly in North Africa did infant baptism become an acceptable practice (p. 184). These observations are especially striking since the authors, faculty members at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, are paedobaptists.

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