It Takes a Church to Baptize

What the Bible Says about Infant Baptism

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The issue of baptism has troubled Protestants for centuries. Should infants be baptized before their faith is conscious, or does God command the baptism of babies whose parents have been baptized?
In It Takes a Church to Baptize, renowned New Testament scholar Scot McKnight makes a biblical case for infant baptism, exploring its history, meaning, and practice and showing that infant baptism is the most historic Christian way of forming children into the faith. He explains that the church's practice of infant baptism developed straight from the Bible and argues that it must begin with the family and then extend to the church. Baptism is not just an individual profession of faith: it takes a family and a church community to nurture a child into faith over time. McKnight explains infant baptism for readers coming from a tradition that baptizes adults only, and he counters criticisms that fail to consider the role of families in the formation of faith.

It Takes a Church to Baptize will appeal to pastors seeking an easy-to-relay message about the biblical justification for baptizing infants, readers with a background in adult baptism considering infant baptism, parents and grandparents considering baptizing their infant children, and Christians attracted to the Anglican Church, The Book of Common Prayer, the lectionary approach to Sunday worship, and the liturgical ordering of the church calendar.

Foreword by Todd Hunter
Preface: A Letter
1. Our Baptism: First Six Words
2. Baptism: Church and Family
3. Presentation and Commitments
4. The Three Great Themes of Our Baptism
5. The Bible and Infant Baptism
6. The Act of Baptism
7. My Personal Testimony
Afterword by Gerald McDermott


"As someone who grew up Baptist and has wrestled deeply with questions about infant baptism, I wish I could have read this book years ago. Scot McKnight has given the church an enduring gift--a book that is theologically rich, serious, and steeped in tradition yet accessible and readable. As a mother of young children and as a priest, I will put this book in the hands of many a friend and parishioner. If you are a parent deciding whether to baptize infant children, this book is essential reading."

Tish Harrison Warren, priest in the ACNA, co-associate rector (Church of the Ascension Pittsburgh), and author of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life

"Scot McKnight gives a cogent apology for the sacrament of infant baptism. McKnight, a New Testament scholar, writes in a comfortable and non-academic style that his readers will surely appreciate."

Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Episcopal priest and author of Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness

"Scot McKnight provides a controversial though ultimately compelling case for infant baptism. He narrates his own journey from previously holding to believer's baptism as an Anabaptist to now settling on infant baptism as an Anglican. McKnight offers here a robust biblical defense of infant baptism. But it is not just the who and how of baptism that he tackles; the genius of this book is that McKnight elegantly explains what baptism is even about, what it means, what it does for the recipient, and why it really does take a church to baptize a child. Read it with caution: this book could change your whole view of conversion, faith, family, children's ministry, and the church!"

Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

"In It Takes a Church to Baptize, Scot McKnight offers the most compelling case for infant baptism available today. Not content to sprinkle with prooftexts, McKnight immerses his reader in the biblical, historical, and sacramental theology of this ancient Christian practice, and seals it with a testimony of how his mind was changed. Read this book--and remember your baptism!"

Joel Scandrett, director of the Robert E. Webber Center and assistant professor of historical theology, Trinity School for Ministry

"Somebody has needed to write this book for some time, but maybe we were waiting for Scot McKnight. It Takes a Church to Baptize is just the right prescription for many Christians drawn to more deeply rooted expressions of the Christian faith but facing an obstacle of conscience: 'Yes, eventually the church came to baptize infants, but can such a practice possibly be biblical? What, if anything, does that action actually accomplish--or does it merely signify?' Having been on this journey himself, McKnight offers a more-than-biblical account of these and other questions, not merely with a scorecard of exegetical skirmishes but with a holistic biblical theology rendering the people of God and rehearsing the actions of a saving God. This finally will be the book I recommend to Christians asking these questions."

Garwood P. Anderson, interim dean, associate dean for academic affairs, professor of New Testament and Greek, Nashotah House Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Scot McKnight
    Marcus Emerson

    Scot McKnight

    Scot McKnight (PhD, University of Nottingham), a world-renowned scholar, writer, and speaker, is a visiting professor at Houston Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Centre, United Kingdom. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than...

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