Book Review: You and Your Household by Gregg Strawbridge
Author: Gregg Strawbridge
Publisher: Kuyperian Press
Reading Level: Moderate-Leisure
Despite church history’s overwhelming agreement on permitting infants to the baptismal fount, the debate continues to rage in evangelical circles. In this particular arena, both sides reject the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic basis for baptism. So, in You and Your Household, Gregg Strawbridge enters the debate presenting a Covenantal position for infant baptism that is consistent with the primary doctrines of the Reformation. Because of the length of this booklet (32 pages), Strawbridge gets straight to the important question: “is the mature-individual (Baptist) view right, or is the covenant-family (covenantal infant baptism) view right?” (4).
Strawbridge begins the short booklet by arguing for Scriptural consistency in covenant signs (4-10). This is consistent across the Old and New Testament, the covenant signs of the Covenant of Grace are offered to adults and children. Does this offering of the sign change? With this question in mind, Strawbridge plunges into the passages dealing with the baptisms of Acts. These passages are more commonly associated with the Baptist paradigm and argument for decisional theology (credobaptism). He even presents a head turning answer to the question “what must I do to be saved” when He quotes the Apostle Paul’s answer in Acts 16:31, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household” (8). This argument is helpful for those raised in decision-oriented evangelism.
Strawbridge follows up this sign based argumentation with a lengthy list of Scriptures placing children within the New Covenant (11-14). Without a basis for removing children, these quotes are definitive descriptions of New Covenant status for children. Strawbridge states, “no one can produce even one text which explicitly excludes them. Dozens of texts explicitly include them!” (14).
Strawbridge even addresses a theological style argument dealing with apostasy (27-31). The only downside to You and Your Household is that Strawbridge does not address the Scriptural passages found among the Baptist Federalism position (e.g. Pascal Denault, Jeffery Johnson). Baptist Federalism denies that the Abrahamic Covenant was a Covenant of Grace. This Baptist rendition of Covenant Theology insists that God’s dealings with Abraham were merely a promise pointing to the New Covenant and thus the inclusion of children throughout the Old Testament is irrelevant. In You and Your Household, the Abrahamic covenant is only mentioned through the lens of circumcision (20-23). So while Strawbridge is correct in concluding that “any argument of the improper application of baptism to children because of baptism’s spiritual meaning, could also be an objection to circumcision” (22), he leaves Genesis 15-17 and the Baptist Federalism handling unaddressed.
Similarly, the credobaptist exegesis and arguments from Hebrews 8-10 receive little attention aside from a couple bulk references. These crucial New Testament texts on the New Covenant have become the center of the baptism debate (often involving the exegesis of John Owen) and need to be discussed. Unfortunately, You and Your Household’s limited word count curtails these advanced polemics.
Despite these specific shortcomings, Strawbridge provides a veteran presentation of the historic Reformed position on infant baptism. Strawbridge demonstrates that covenantal thinking encapsulates all of God’s dealing with mankind. Infant baptism is the natural, logical, and biblical conclusion to consistent covenantal thinking. You and Your Household is written with clarity and is a great primer. Its readability and shortness make it an excellent booklet for churches to utilize for covenantal education.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.