Daniel R. Hyde
Reviewed by: J.V. Fesko
Date posted: 11/02/2008
Jesus Loves the Little Children: Why We Baptize Children, by Daniel R. Hyde. Published by Reformed Fellowship, 2006. Paperback, 104 pages, list price $9.50. Reviewed by OP pastor J.V. Fesko.
The author’s intention is to show that infant baptism is not simply a Roman Catholic leftover, but a genuine biblical practice. The book discusses the sufficiency of Scripture and a good and necessary consequence, the definition of the term baptize, connections between circumcision and baptism, the mode of baptism, a brief history of infant baptism, and pastoral counsel for parents. There are also two helpful appendixes: a collection of statements on baptism from a number of historic Reformed confessions, as well as a suggested form for an infant baptism.
The book excels on several fronts. First, it is brief and clearly written, making it a useful pastoral aid in the instruction of parents on the meaning and significance of baptism, but especially infant baptism. Second, the author grounds the doctrine upon the whole of the canon, not simply one part. Too many discussions on baptism center upon the New Testament. Yes, the New Testament is obviously crucial, but not to the exclusion of the Old Testament. Third, the author grounds the doctrine in both divine revelation and God’s covenants with his people. This goes against the grain of the individualistic tendencies that one often finds in the church, but is nevertheless faithful to the Scriptures’ teaching that God does not come to man apart from covenant. And, all covenants have signs: the tree of life, the rainbow; circumcision, the Sabbath, and baptism.
There are, how ever, several places in the book where some points could be sharpened. For example, the author states, “Thus God’s covenant sign of baptism is to be given to the children of believers because it has replaced circumcision” (p. 27). In one sense this is true, but there is a sharper way that this could be stated. Namely, since Christ has come, he has fulfilled circumcision—the seed of the woman has been cut off from the land of the living and brought the baptism of the Spirit, to which baptism now points (cf. Gen. 3:15; 15; Isa. 53:8; Col. 2:11; Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16; Acts 2:32 33; Gal. 3:13-14). Also, one wishes that the author had pressed this point more strongly: there are baptized infants in Scripture, for all Israel was baptized into Moses, the cloud, and the sea (1 Cor. 10:1-4). Infants were baptized into the Old Testament manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the cloud, which pointed to the greater baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (cf. Ex. 14:24; Acts 2:3).The Red Sea baptism typifies the outpouring of the Spirit upon young and old, male and female, slave and free (Joel 2:28 29; Acts 2:16-21, 38-39).
These quibbles aside, the author has written a helpful book that will prove to be a useful resource for pastors and sessions who want to show their congregations the biblical basis of infant baptism.