Dipping into baptism 10: response to dual practice

Continuing our discussion of a good recent book on the contested waters of baptism is Baptism: Three Views, edited by the late David F Wright just before he died.

The three views are:

1. Believers’ Baptism View: Bruce A. Ware

2. Infant Baptism View: Sinclair B. Ferguson

3. Dual-Practice Baptism View: Anthony N. S. Lane

Response to the Dual-Practice View

So what of Bruce Ware’s and Sinclair Ferguson’s critique of Tony Lane’s Dual Practice view?  Basically, niether like Lane’s position, even though he (Lane) agrees large amounts of both views .


Ware first: he does not like Lane’s position for three reasons. One seems to have some weight to me, the other two seem to be more assertions rather than arguments:

– The claim that there is no normative NT teaching on baptism. [Ware assumes here that the Bible should and does teach a normative position.]

– His hope that a church could practice both forms of baptism is unrealistic and impractical (in Ware’s view). Such an approach actually promotes ‘no particular view of baptism’. [This is not a strong argument – others can easily counter that they have seen dual-practice work].

– Ware wishes Lane had stayed with the evidence from Acts and not given such weight to the debatable historical record. He should have stuck with sola Scriptura. [This is a stronger argument].

Ferguson also doesn’t like Lane’s position because:

– While there is evidence of diversity, this is far from being evidence for dual practice where both modes are practiced together on an equal footing.

– Historically there is silence regarding anyone proposing & defending such a dual practice position. Ferguson argues it’s stretching things to think that a rite as important as baptismal practice was left open to (who?) people to decide as they saw fit.

– While Lane’s goal of mutual acceptance is admirable, Ferguson thinks it does so at the price of theological reductionism.

In the last post on this book, I’ll finish with Lane’s final comments and throw in some of my own.

What option persuades you and has your thinking changed or been challenged through this series?


4 thoughts on “Dipping into baptism 10: response to dual practice

  1. Cynicism has been the result of my reading. History doesnt provide certitude and neither does sola scriptura. Im left with making sarky comments from the peanut gallery 🙂

  2. Well it seems to have been so with me doesnt it? I am cynical because i am thoroughly sceptical that i (or you) will ever know what the apostles were thought by Jesus about Baptism.

  3. Fair ‘nough Richard – I’d be a bit more positive. Lots we do know and is clear, and plenty in common between the two views, which is why in practice they co-exist pretty well together in church life.

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