This summer, one of the books I have read while not in class was Believer’s Baptism, edited by Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright. This book is an excellent resource for a defense of biblical baptism against attacks from the best arguments offered by paedo-baptist sources, as found in works by John Calvin, John Murray, Pierre Marcel, Meredith Kline and in the book The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, edited by Gregg Strawbridge. Believer’s Baptism also contains some pastoral wisdom from Mark Dever in regards to the practice of baptism in the local church.
The usefulness of this book is severely compromised, however, by a single chapter. When I saw that there was a chapter in the book titled “Baptism in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement,” I fully expected this chapter to warn baptists not emphasize believers’ baptism to the point that in guarding against paedo-baptism, we would fall into the opposite error of Campbellitism. And I was happy at the prospect of reading such a chapter, because here in Louisville there is a large number of Campbell’s theological descendants, especially in the “Christian Church.” Rather than an apologetic defense against Campbellitism, the author of this chapter, A.B. Caneday, asserts that “if one perseveres in reading [Alexander Campbell’s] works with care, one discovers that Campbell, particularly on baptism, has been unfairly treated to this day” (304) and furthermore:
American Evangelicalism’s exclusion of Christians and of churches from the Stone-Campbell tradition has injured both traditions. With this in view, the rapprochement of many within the Stone-Campbell tradition and of evangelicals… is worthy of commendation. (304)
But is Caneday correct? Should evangelicals (and, in this format, I would especially like to add, should Baptists) seek rapprochement with those in the Campbellite tradition [found in denominations such as the Christian Church and the Churches of Christ]? Should we not instead follow the example set by historic Baptist associations (299-300) and seek to distance ourselves from fellowship with the Campbellites, based on New Testament passages such as Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 John 10-11? (more…)