The Covenant of Grace and Christian Baptism
Baptist denominations have become world leaders in proselytising and many Christians have ceased to question Baptist dogmas in view of their obvious zeal. Yet modern Baptists show little pan-Biblical knowledge regarding their central initiation ceremony. This work demonstrates the great Biblical doctrines expressed in New Testament baptism. It is also a refutation of the Baptist position based almost entirely on a selective use of pagan Greek. Baptists fail to see that Biblical vocabulary concerning baptism bears a specifically Christian meaning not found in other ancient literature. New Testament Greek words used for baptism must be studied primarily in conjunction with their Biblical roots in Hebrew and Greek OT usage. Baptism here does not refer to a ‘bath of submergence’ as Baptists claim, but is a sign of cleansing where the mode is secondary. Indeed, though words to do with sprinkling, pouring, washing and dressing are used of Old Testament cleansing and New Testament baptism, words meaning to immerse, to sink or to submerge are nowhere found. Baptist secular linguistic claims are therefore groundless. New Testament baptism is a continuing sign of the Abrahamic Covenant of Grace pointing to the righteousness which is by faith. It is for believers and their seed as taught in both Testaments. This so embarrasses Baptists that they deny the New Testament norm of household and family baptisms and that believers’ children are under covenantal promises. This book analyses the major occurrences of words to do with baptism in the Greek and Hebrew Biblical texts in the light of the Covenant of Grace and the promises to believers and their family dependents. Baptist claims that the Early Church only knew immersion and adult believer’s baptism are refuted on written and archaeological evidence. From the third century onwards, immersion and adult baptism only were indeed practised superstitiously by some enthusiasts because of the idea that immersion washed away all sin. These candidates postponed their baptisms until after they had sown their wild oats, fearing that post-baptismal sins were beyond repentance. Such are the Baptists’ historical roots. Dr. George M. Ella, (b.1939) is a historian, theologian and linguist who holds degrees from London, Hull, Uppsala, Essen and Duisburg Universities. Though a Yorkshireman he has lived forty-seven years on the European Continent where he has served in pastoral, secondary school and university work. He has written definitive biographies on William Cowper, William Huntington, James Hervey, John Gill, Augustus Montague Toplady and Henry Bullinger besides publishing shorter works on some seventy Christian leaders. He has also produced theological works on Justification, Common Grace, the Free Offer and the teaching of Andrew Fuller. He has chaired university examining boards at Duisburg University and written curricula for Business Colleges in North-Rhine Westphalia, also producing study material for the Martin Bucer Seminary, Bonn. He is a regular contributor to a number of Christian magazines. The author has spent many years in fellowship with Reformed Baptist Christians and written most approvingly on many of their heroes such as James P. Boyce and William Carey. He has also traced the history of Baptist missions to the American Indians in his Isaac McCoy Apostle of the Western Trail. However, Dr. Ella has learnt to challenge the Baptists’ sacramental views on baptism in favour of the more Biblical position outlined in this work.