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Infant Baptism

by Scaer, David

Item #: 531188 / 2011 / Paperback / 224 Pages


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Author David P. Scaer investigates the effects of rationalism and other influences on modern views of Baptism, especially the teachings of Erlangen theologians in the nineteenth century. At the heart of the matter are questions about "infant faith" (fides infantium) and the Reformation principle of "faith alone" (sola fide).
What Others Are Saying
David Scaer proves his thesis well: something significant was lost in Luther’s baptismal theology when nineteenth century Lutherans began to deny that infants are able to have faith. This lively and clear tour of key German theologians demonstrates from yet another angle the corrosive effects of Rationalism and Romanticism on Lutheran sacramental theology. A recovery of Luther’s robust understanding of baptism is sorely needed in our churches. Dr. Scaer’s careful study points to what must be said when we talk about God’s powerful action in water and word.
—Dr. Mark D. Tranvik
Professor of Religion and Department Chair
Augsburg College
Minneapolis, MN

Luther wanted Christians to have no doubt that in their baptisms, God had made them his own, and this faith, received at baptism, was to be exercised each day in repentance and trust. Dr. Scaer shows how that confident confession was eroded by a fragmented modern understanding of the individual and a resulting defective theology. This book uncovers the errors, faulty logic and inconsistencies among 19th century theologians and serves to restore the confidence in baptismal faith as the Lutheran Confessions attest.
—Martin E. Conkling, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology
Concordia College-New York

Real advances in the history of doctrine (Dogmengeschichte) come not through the publication of general treatises like Jaroslav Pelikan’s five volume opus, but through research on specific theological topics (loci) in specific historical periods. David Scaer’s book on the doctrine of infant baptism in the 19th century is a sterling example of such a real advance, containing both detailed descriptions and orthodox Lutheran critiques. Besides a brilliant defense of Luther’s doctrine of the “faith-of-infants,” this book also reveals the non-Lutheran anthropology of German Idealism that was the basis for most of the “Erlangen theology” in the 19th and 20th centuries.
—Rev. Martin R. Noland, Ph.D.
Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Evansville, IN
Former Director of the Concordia Historical Institute

This is a controversy that is erupting again and again. . . . Because the Church grows through Baptism and exists through it as a community in the Body of Christ, this fascinating study by Professor Scaer has a fundamental and exemplary significance.
—Professor Dr. Reinhard Slenczka, D.D.
Professor emeritus from Erlangen Faculty of Theology
This book will be of interest not only to systematic theologians, but also liturgists, pastoral theologians, ecumenists, and pastors seeking fidelity to Scripture and the Confessions.
—Prof. Mark Mattes, Ph.D.
Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Grand View University, Des Moines, IA
In this volume Dr. Scaer traces the theological challenges that confronted nineteenth-century Lutherans who had abandoned Martin Luther’s teaching regarding infant faith. Lutherans two centuries down the line from the subjects of this book are still impacted by their thought and practice. This book is an indispensable resource for tracing the differing understandings about the nature of faith and its relationship to God’s work in and through baptism that still affect the Lutheran tradition today.
—Rev. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr., Ph.D.
President and Professor of Historical Theology
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, IN

In this fascinating study Dr Scaer examines the way infant baptism was handled by nineteenth century Lutheran thinkers.  With typical forthrightness he exposes their discomfort—and the theological gymnastics required of them as they sought to retain the practice whilst having discarded much of the theology which justified it, especially Luther’s assertion of infant faith.   This book deserves a wide readership not only amongst confessional Lutherans seeking a better understanding of their tradition, but amongst all who seek clarity and honesty in their theology and practice of baptism.
—Rev. Preb. Jonathan Trigg, Ph.D.
Anglican clergyman, Diocese of London
Author, Baptism in the Theology of Martin Luther

David P. Scaer, Th.D., is a professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana and editor of Concordia Theological Quarterly. He is an author for three volumes in the Confessional Lutheran Dogmatics series, as well as The Sermon on the Mount (2000), Discourses in Matthew (2004), and numerous other publications.

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