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Baptism: A Guide to Life from Death

ISBN: 9781683594635
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Do You Believe?

You’ve been baptized. But do you understand what it means?

Baptism is the doorway into membership in the church. It’s a public declaration of the washing away of our sin and the beginning of our new life in Christ. But the sacrament that is meant to unite us is often a spring of division instead.

All Christians use water to baptize. All invoke the triune name. Beyond that, there’s little consensus. Talk about baptism and you’re immediately plunged into arguments. Whom should we baptize? What does baptism do? Why even do it at all?

Peter Leithart reunifies a church divided by baptism. He recovers the baptismal imagination of the Bible, explaining how baptism works according to Scripture. Then, in conversation with Christian tradition, he shows why baptism is something worth recovering and worth agreeing on.

Praise for Baptism

A book of liturgical wisdom for all of God’s people—wherever their place may be in the Lord’s family.

–Timothy George, distinguished professor, Beeson Divinity School of Samford University

I strongly recommend this small work: it compels deep and profitable thinking about what has long been a controverted subject.

–Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

This book is an incredible gift to us all, and will greatly enhance the ongoing conversation about our one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5). Take, read, and rejoice in all the gifts God gives you in your baptism!

–Harold L. Senkbeil, Executive Director Emeritus, DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel, author of The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart

This is a brilliant resource for the classroom with your best university students or for teenagers contemplating new life in Christ. For it is not just about baptism. It is about the triune God, about the whole of the Christian faith, and about how to be more human.

–Jason Byassee, Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Interpretation, the Vancouver School of Theology, author of Surprised by Jesus Again.

Top Highlights

“Baptism is an act of the church, using water in the name of the Trinity to bathe a person entering the church. Because Jesus commands baptism, it is an act of God.” (Page 14)

“Second, by his resurrection and ascension Jesus burst through death into the life of the age to come” (Page 5)

“Baptism is powerful because it places us in the church where pastors, friends, and mentors train us and pray for us—where God corrects and feeds us by his word at his table. Baptism does what it does because Jesus authorizes it. Baptism works because the church works, and the church works because it’s the body of Christ, enlivened by the Spirit.” (Page 7)

“The church is the family of the Father, the body of the Son, and the temple of the Spirit because it shares in the new creation that has begun in Jesus. And the church shares in that new creation by hearing the word, confessing sin, assembling at the Lord’s Table, passing through the waters of baptism.” (Page 7)

“Baptism doesn’t just picture an announcement. Baptism announces. It doesn’t portray preaching; it preaches” (Page 14)

Christian Essentials

The Christian Essentials series passes down tradition that matters. The ancient church was founded on basic biblical teachings and practices like the Ten Commandments, baptism, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Prayer, and corporate worship. These basics of the Christian life have sustained and nurtured every generation of the faithful—from the apostles to today. The books in the Christian Essentials series open up the meaning of the foundations of our faith.

Learn more about the other titles in this series.

  • Family, Body, Temple
  • Rites Old and New
  • World from Water
  • Killing and Saving Flood
  • A Cut in the Flesh
  • Drowning Pharaoh
  • An Ample Washing
  • Crossing the Jordan
  • Rain on Mown Grass
  • Spirit of Prophecy
  • Title: Baptism: A Guide to Life from Death
  • Author: Peter J. Leithart
  • Series: Christian Essentials
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Pages: 128
  • Format: Logos Digital, Hardcover
  • Trim Size: 5x7
  • ISBN: 9781683594635

Peter Leithart is President of Theopolis Institute and serves as Teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. He is the author of many books, including a two-volume commentary on Revelation (T&T Clark, 2018), God of Hope (Athanasius, 2022), On Earth As In Heaven (Lexham, 2022), and a forthcoming book on God the Creator (IVP). He writes a fortnightly column at FirstThings.com, and has published articles in many periodicals, both popular and academic.

Leithart has served in two pastorates: He was pastor of Reformed Heritage Presbyterian Church (now Trinity Presbyterian Church), Birmingham, Alabama from 1989 to 1995, and was pastor of Trinity Reformed Church, Moscow, Idaho, from 2003-2013. From 1998 and 2013 he taught theology and literature fulltime at New St. Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho. He received an A.B. in English and History from Hillsdale College in 1981, and a Master of Arts in Religion and a Master of Theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 1986 and 1987. In 1998 he received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England.

He and his wife, Noel, have ten children and fifteen grandchildren.


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  1. TJ Torgerson

    TJ Torgerson


    If you write a book on Baptism the chances are I will give it a positive review. I love this topic and reading about it always fills my spirit with life and peace. I was provided a digital copy free of charge from the publishers for reviewing purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. -- I may have to order a physical copy for my shelf. I am a fan of the Christian Essentials series of which this book is a part. The nature of this series is short accessible works on the essentials of the Christian Faith. Meaning, this great little book on Baptism was simply too short. It could have easily been a 250 page book rather than a 120 page book. Each chapter I was wishing it dove a little deeper into the waters. If you are a preacher needing some guidance or further help crafting some sermon on Baptism each chapter in this book could easily be adapted into a sermon highlighting a different aspect of the Sacrament of Baptism. Liethart, doesn't spend time being distracted by the debates and divisions found in discussions around this topic. It is his desire to bring unity around this topic rather than further division. Liethart writes, "This book is a small contribution to the effort to reunite a church divided by baptism. My approach is oblique. I don’t offer any nice knock-down arguments. As currently framed, the controversies are insoluble anyway. To arrive at unity, we need to recover the baptismal imagination of earlier generations. We need to start at the foundation and work our way up." That Baptismal imagination is seen page after page with a seeming barrage of simply beautiful statements regarding baptism. Here are just a few.. "The Greek philosopher Thales was right: Water is at the base of everything! Baptism lays the foundation of a new world, the city and kingdom of God." "Baptism points to Jesus, who rose from the dead as the firstfruits of the age to come. As it points to Jesus, baptism tells the world, “Behold, a new creation has come!” To the baptized, it’s performative speech, effecting what it declares: “Behold, you are a new creation!” As more and more are baptized, baptism forms the church as the locus of new-creation life in a dead world." "Baptism calls us to resist every tyrant, petty or potent, in the name of Jesus. We’re certain our Commander will conquer and reign until all his enemies are beneath his feet (1 Cor 15:25). Baptism makes us new creatures in Christ by placing us on the winning side." Get yourself a copy, read it with your friends and let the beauty of baptismal imagination be sparked in you.
  2. Anstey Jeremiah
    I've read the article in my explorer and have found it to be irresponsible and misleading. the one thing that baptism is I have not seen, that baptism is burial of the old man Adam and the resurrection of man to the newness of life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit . Sinless Christ did it to show us what will happen when we baptism, again receive the Holy Spirit as he did. To mention the word " poured" is n poor taste. Is it that we cannot visualize people on the day of pentecost being immersed in Jerusalem? in any case the scripture never said that the 3 thousand were baptized in Jerusalem. to mention baptism in the Jordan was also misleading since the water stopped flowing. Noah's and the Red Sea baptism are considered as such because of the burial effect of the non-stop rain covering the ark on all sides in one case and the reds was like an open grave with water on both sides (and probably mist on top). the real cleansing of Christians are done by the blood as far as I know and not the water of baptism. who's really watering down baptism?


Print list price: $15.99
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