Book Review: To a Thousand Generations

to-a-thousand-generations

To a Thousand Generations: Infant Baptism – Covenant Mercy for the People of God

by Douglas Wilson

Most of the book reviews that I write are fairly positive. This is primarily because I get to choose which books I will review, and I tend to choose books that I think I will like and that will be beneficial for you.

However, in my years as a pastor, there have been several times that I opened the mailbox to find a book sent to me, totally unrequested. Most of the time I do not recognize the sender’s name, if one is even given. While sometimes the books are good (some very good), most of the time they are way off-base. This is one of those times.

Because I have always been taught that infant baptism is not valid and is unscriptural, I admit that I am biased in that way. However, I also consider myself to be open-minded if someone can prove from the Scriptures that I am wrong in my beliefs.

So when Wilson opened his book by writing, “My desire is to present here a case for biblical infant baptism,” (p. 8, italics original) I was willing to listen. And by the end of his introduction, where he wrote, “Water baptism does not regenerate, it does not save, and it does not cleanse,” he had my attention! Is it possible that I have missed something all along?

For the next 110 pages, Wilson laid out his case in a very compelling way. In fact, there are a couple of places where he makes some really good arguments. The problem is that those arguments actually go against his premise, not for it!

Instead of a biblical case for infant baptism, I found a series of self-contradicting and straw man arguments. In fact, out of the 78 notes that I made throughout the book, I was able to write, “YES!” or “Good!” (showing strong agreement), only eight times. Here is a sample of the other things I jotted in the margins:

  • “This is a stretched argument that doesn’t follow the natural reading [of the passage].”
  • “False premise; straw man argument”
  • “Most of his argument is built on this verse [Colossians 2:11].”
  • “It’s not a fair comparison.”
  • “Out of context!”

The main problem with Wilson’s conclusion is that it is based on a belief system called “Covenantal Theology”. Basically, this belief system teaches that the Church of the New Testament (all Christians) has replaced the Israel (all Jews) of the Old Testament when it comes to God’s covenants with Israel.

While there are too many flaws in this belief system to get into here, let me just say that the Bible is very clear that 1) Israel has not been replaced, 2) the Church is not the “New Israel” (as Wilson claims on page 27), and 3) the promises made to Israel will be given to Israel in the future – not to the Church.

In summary, even though I provided the link to this book (like I do for all books I review), as a teacher of the Scriptures, I cannot recommend this book. Even if his conclusions were correct, Wilson’s teachings go against the Scriptures on nearly every page, making his arguments completely invalid on this topic.

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Daniel Goepfrich

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