Rey’s Reviews: Christian Baptism (Gibbs)

I’ll be reviewing this title that is copyrighted 1966. A.P. Gibbs is a
pretty well known writer and teacher within Plymouth Brethren circles
so I wonder how I’ll approach this…

What’s the Point of the Book?
Gibbs seeks to write an explanation of baptism that will be a “blessing
to all the people of God”, so that they may be “brought to a greater
realization of the importance of the subject” and therein have a
“deeper appreciation of the tremendous spiritual significance involved
in this divinely appointed ordinance”. Basically he wants to explain
Baptism, the purpose of it, different interpretations of it and a
justification of his own beliefs on the matter.

The Good?
The book was inexpensive, costing me $8 for a new copy. The book is a
somewhat short read with 254 pages that includes hymns and index. The
relatively short title is loaded with verses and explanations thereof,
sometimes dividing the examination of a verse across chapters. The easy
pacing and numerical tabulation of the arguments make the reading easy
to grasp and progress in. The book portrays alternate positions and
explains why the positions take the stances that they do. In some cases
the author even quotes opponents agreement with his own position.

The Bad?
I love A.P. Gibbs so don’t take these comments as a slam against him.
I’m trying to honestly assess the book. Gibbs sometimes pushes away an
opponents arguments by first stating that the argument doesn’t agree
with the general teaching of Scripture and then pointing at a “well
known Bible teacher” (often Ironside) in support of his position. Thing
is, he states that the general teaching of Scripture is his position.
So it’s something like this.

R is the general teaching of Scripture on Baptism and it is true
P doesn’t work with R
P is false.
{X Teacher} agrees that P is false and R is true
Therefore R is true.

There’s several other fallacies throughout the piece like this. At
other points Gibbs might support his argument by pulling something
right out of context and applying it to the present discussion. For
instance, after arguing how the Church is not in the Old Testament he
supports not messing around with what the church (local) is supposed to
do by looking at Moses who built the tabernacle according to the
pattern God had shown him. There’s a valid point there, but I just feel
he got there the wrong way. Lastly, the book should have been longer
and really fleshed out some of these positions instead of, in some
cases, relying on fallacious argumentation.

The Ugly?
This is purely stylistic and you may disagree with this assessment.
Most of the time, you’ll notice that the Ugly section may be seriously
subjective. My wife, for instance, disagrees with me on this following
point. In this title, Gibbs tends to stop the flow of thought by
breaking into a hymn or quoting a verse fragment. This may be a
Brethren style though, since I’ve often noted that they/we skew
devotional whenever considering portions of Scripture. I’m completely
two-faced about this though since I may delve into the same sort of
thing though I try to keep from expressing it until somewhere near my
conclusion. The Jacket is horrendous. It screams 60’s.

Star Rating
So the book gets three stars with the understanding that theologically
you may disagree with it if you are into paedobaptism or Covenant
Theology. It’s a Could Read since I doubt it will change your position
if you’re entrenched in your theology but know that it doesn’t claim to
do so. Its goal is to bless, and with that understanding, enjoy the
read.

-r-

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