New Book on Baptism: Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament

News has come through of the imminent publication of a new book on baptism by Anthony Cross.

The subject of baptism continues to be of considerable interest—though it frequently appears within broader studies of sacraments, liturgy, worship, and ecumenical studies, and within confessional bounds: credobaptist or paedobaptist—yet it is rarely discussed by Evangelicals. This book, however, is neither an apologetic for credobaptism nor paedobaptism; rather Cross believes that, as practised today, both forms are a departure from New Testament baptism, which, he maintains, was an integral part of becoming a Christian and part of the proclaimed gospel. He argues that the “one baptism” of Ephesians 4:5 is conversion-baptism and that the baptism referred to in the various New Testament strata refers to this “one baptism” (of Spirit and water). The study sets out the case for this interpretation and contends that in key passages “baptism” is an example of synecdoche. The case is then made for a sacramental interpretation of baptism from a thoroughgoing Evangelical perspective. Cross concludes with reflections on the necessity of baptismal reform and the relevance of a return to conversion-baptism for the contemporary church in a post-Christian, post-Christendom, mission setting.

‘The challenge of this thesis … is essentially simple: we are called and challenged simply to accord the significance to baptism that it is accorded within the New Testament.’
John E. Cowell, Minister, Budleigh Salterton Baptist Church, UK, and Senior Research Fellow, Spurgeon’s College, London
‘This is a remarkably detailed, biblically focused, and ecumenically sensitive book on the sacrament of baptism. Like Beasley-Murray in his classic study on baptism, Anthony R. Cross brings new insight to the indispensable role of Christian initiation both in personal faith and the life of the church. Highly recommended!’
Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama; Chair of the Doctrine and Christian Unity Commission of the Baptist World Alliance
‘This rich theological work on such a significant subject is a gift to the whole church. It is full of good scholarship, wise in judgment, and practical in its insights. We are given a timely contribution on the meaning of Christian identity, inviting us all to reflect again on the biblical teaching, our doctrinal affirmations, our sacramental understanding, and what amounts to faithful practice in the church of Christ.’
Brian Haymes, former Principal of Northern and Bristol Baptist Colleges, and President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
‘Carefully using an impressive range of biblical, theological, and historical scholarship, Anthony R. Cross argues that baptism lost the importance that it had in the New Testament and pre-Nicene church; but that in post-Christendom baptism’s significance is re-emerging. When it embodies New Testament themes of conversion, faith, community, and ethics, baptism once again emerges as a sacrament of untold potential, enriching discipleship, and empowering mission.  This mature fruit of “Baptist sacramentalism” offers gifts to Christians of all traditions. I recommend it enthusiastically.’
Alan Kreider, Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana
‘Anthony R. Cross makes a compelling case both for the inseparability of faith and baptism and of water and Spirit baptism. The evangelical insistence on justification by faith alone, he contends, should and must make room for “baptism” as a biblical term encompassing all three: faith, water baptism, and Spirit baptism. Arguably the most important book on baptism since George Beasley-Murray’s Baptism in the New Testament, extending and enriching the argument of that seminal work.’
J. Ramsey Michaels, Missouri State University

You might also like to know about two other really good books on baptism from Pickwick. I only have a flyer for the former, but the latter can be found on their website:
I've also attached a flyer for Brandon Jones' Waters of Promise. Brandon is a young, North American Baptist scholar who has published his doctorate on a covenantal approach to baptism. It's very good and an important addition to the study of baptism from a Baptist perspective.
Gordon L. Heath and James D. Dvorak, eds.
Baptism: Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives. Eugene,Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2011.
271 pages. $32, from the website $25.60. Attempted to attach the cover image from the website. Gordon is a Baptist, but I don't know about James, though he too teaches at McMaster Divinity College.