Brad Atchison's Reviews > The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism

The Fatal Flaw of the Theology Behind Infant Baptism by Jeffrey D. Johnson
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Jun 19, 2012

it was amazing
Read from June 19 to 25, 2012

After an initial reading of this book, I was very impressed with the argumentation that Jeff Johnson set forward in this. Johnson interacts with much of the historical view of paedobaptisim, how its woven into covenant theology and how it should not be.

Johnson comes from the standpoint of affirming Covenental Theology with a leaning towards a modified Klineianism. In other-words, Johnson affirms that the Mosaic Covenant was a "republication of the covenant of works". Johnson does not affirm NCT, he leaves a small critique of NCT at the end of the book. Though the work is polemic in nature (I'm not a fan of the title), the book is irenic towards the Paedobaptist view. There are not potshots, just logical discourse about the outcomes of what Paedobaptism leads to with its interaction with Covenant theology.

Johnson interacts with every major work on covenant theology from Calvin to Owen to Wistius all the way up to O. Palmer Robertson's and Horton's classic work. He even does a good job at showing he vast differences in Paedobaptist camp of how they view baptism, how they view nature of the old and new covenants, and how the Mosiac and Abrahamic covenants play into each other. Johnson also does a good job interacting with Federal Vision theology, which most Baptists have steered clear of because they believe its a "Presbyterian" problem. His critique of FV, though good, probably is not the strongest I have seen. I would have like to see a little more scriptural interaction at times. The book sometimes felt more like a history on the systematic category of Covenant Theology rather than a critique. However, that does not mean the book was devoid of scriptural interaction. Johnson, for the most part, did a good job interacting with scripture.

There were a few points in which I was wondering if I was reading some straw-men. I didn't necessarily see any. However, I am also biased by my own presuppositions. I know I will be going back to this because it is a necessary book to work through when seeking to understand the Covenental Credobaptist position and to see if I missed anything I disagreed with.. Overall, I commend this book to anyone who is trying to sort their way through figuring out what baptism means and why Credobaptism is the biblically faithful means of doing so.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Charles (new)

Charles Thanks Brad. I'm a convinced Baptist but I do not read in this area. I'm curious about this; the use of the word "fatal". How has the theological weakness behind this practice proved "fatal" to say, the Presbyterian Church(es); they appear to be all over the map theologically from ultra-liberal to men like Ligon Duncan, Boice, and so on.

When paedobaptist churches have gone off the rails completely, what is at the roots of their death? Is this really it, or is it something else?


Brad Atchison Charles,

In my understanding of his use of the word "fatal", he means it as "this is the reason why this theology does not hold up in light of what scripture informs us." Johnson interchanges the word "fatal" and "fundamental" in the book a few times so that is why I'm lead to believe it is not a justification of why paedobaptist churches go liberal (or anything like that). He only uses it as a means to show why paedobaptism does not hold up in regards to what the Bible teaches.

Hopefully that clears some of the confusion up on the use of the word "fatal". Johnson seems to be highly appreciative of the work his paedobaptist breathern have done on behalf of the church universal. However, I think this is a good lesson to learn about being careful on using in house polemics.


message 3: by Charles (new)

Charles In view of his objectives, not the best choice to use in the title.


Brad Atchison That I can definitely agree with.


message 5: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Johnson Thank you for the kind review. I also agree that the word "Fatal" has been a little misleading. I did ask a few Presbyterians what they thought before I official decided to use it. Since they were not offended, I moved forward with it. For I did not mean spiritually fatal. Rather, the book seeks to underline the exact point where the theological framework behind infant baptism falls apart. Here is the pin, if you would, that holds the whole system together, and it at this point that the theological system has a fatal flaw. Thus, as I sought to point out in the book, Presbyterian Covenant Theology is inconsistent with itself and falls apart upon its own weight because it is built upon the false presupposition that the covenant of grace incorporates covenant breakers. Thus, The Fatal Flaw behind the Theology of Infant Baptism.


Brad Atchison Hey Jeff, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, the title thing was a mere quibble for me 2 years ago, and its even less now. But thank you again for writing the book. It certainly was a blessing for me.


Brad Atchison Also, I am really excited to read your next book, The Kingdom of God. I'll review it when I get a chance to purchase and read it. And I am sure it will be as good as this one, if not better.


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