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Book Announcement: Infants and Children in the Church

B&H Academic has scheduled a Nov. 15 release for a book I co-edited with my friend, Dr. Kevin Lawson of Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California.

The publisher’s blurb explains:

Infants and Children in the Church: Five Views on Theology and Ministry addresses an important, but often overlooked, theological and ministry issue facing the church today: How should churches receive and minister to the infants and children God has entrusted to their care?

Various Christian traditions affirm different theological views and ministry practices concerning the spiritual status of children, how they relate to God, and how churches can best minister to and promote their growing response to the grace of God in Christ Jesus. To help address this critical area of concern, the contributors to this volume provide a comparative analysis of the views and practices of five major Christian traditions.

The book begins with a brief biblical and historical overview of the church’s theological understanding of ministry to children. Then, advocates from the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and Baptist perspectives each address the following critical questions as they describe their theological traditions and the ministry efforts that flow from them.

  • How are infants and children impacted by sin?
  • How does God treat people who die in their infancy or childhood?
  • When and how are children considered members of the church?
  • When and how are children instructed in Christian doctrine?

The authors then respond to each of the other viewpoints, addressing areas of agreement and difference. The book closes with an examination of areas of commonality and several implications for ministry for, to, with, and by children in our churches. What we believe (theology) impacts what we do (ministry), and it is our hope that this book will help Christian leaders think more clearly and act more faithfully in regard to the infants and children God has entrusted to our churches and communities.”

Contributors include:

Kevin E. Lawson (EdD, University of Maine, Orono) serves as co-editor of this book and contributes the introduction and the conclusion. He is professor of Christian education and former director of the PhD and EdD programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is editor of the Christian Education Journal. He also served as a board member of The Society for Children’s Spirituality: Christian Perspectives from 2001 to 2012. Among other books, he edited Understanding Children’s Spirituality: Theology, Research, and Practice (2012).

Jason Foster (PhD, Durham University) advocates for an Orthodox view. He is priest of Holy Nativity of our Lord Orthodox Church in Bossier City, Louisiana. He holds master’s degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary, Cranmer Theological House, and Oxford University. His PhD dissertation is entitled “Sursum Corda: Ritual and Meaning of the Liturgical Command in the First Five Centuries of the Church.”

David Liberto (PhD, Marquette University) advocates for a Roman Catholic view. He is professor of historical and dogmatic theology at Notre Dame Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has published several articles in academic, peer-reviewed publications and is currently working on a book- length treatment of the psychological analogy of the Trinity.

David P. Scaer (ThD, Concordia Seminary) advocates for a Lutheran view. He is professor of systematic theology and New Testament as well as editor of Concordia Theological Quarterly at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Among other works, he is the author of Infant Baptism in Nineteenth Century Lutheran Theology (2011) and contributor to Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper (2007).

Gregg Strawbridge (PhD, University of Southern Mississippi) advocates for a Reformed view. He is pastor of All Saints Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is the founder and creative director of www.WordMp3.com, an online audio library of Christian worldview resources. He edited and contributed to The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (2003) and The Case for Covenant Communion (2006).

Adam Harwood (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as co-editor of this volume and advocates for a Baptist view. He is associate professor of theology, McFarland Chair of Theology, director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the author of The Spiritual Condition of Infants (2011) and Born Guilty? (2013).

Excerpted endorsements include:

“I have been looking for a book such as this for two decades—a book that drills deep into the interlinking theological issues of sin and guilt, the status of children before God, and infant baptism (and believers’ baptism)—and how beliefs on such complex issues impact how we receive and welcome children in our faith communities.”
Holly Allen, professor of family studies and Christian ministries, Lipscomb University

“In an age that trumpets abortion as a fundamental right, this book reminds us that whatever their differences otherwise, the faithful recognize children as God’s creation and the object of his love in Jesus Christ, and in the church, they should be treated as such.”
Cameron A. MacKenzie, Forest E. and Frances H. Ellis Professor of Historical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary

“I highly recommend this book, and hope it is the beginning of long reflection of what it means for the church to be child-like in our dependence and child-friendly in our mission.”
Russell Moore, president, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

The book can be pre-ordered here.

2 Comments

  1. Ron F. Hale Ron F. Hale

    Wow! I look forward to reading this book!

  2. Looking forward to this one, Adam. Can one be a baptistic non-Calvinist but not treat your small children / grandchildren as if they are lost and going to hell? (You know, kinda’ like like Reformed Presbyterians 🙂

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