April 14th, 2010
Elliff, Jim. Going Under: Discussions on Baptism. Kansas City: Christian Communicators Worldwide, 2006. 64 pp. $6.25.
I have reviewed some of Jim Elliff’s resources in the past. I count Jim as both a friend and mentor. His ministry is Christian Communicators Worldwide and is definitely worth checking out. This particular book on baptism is unashamedly baptistic in nature and will certainly ruffle some feathers of those who do not believe in believer’s baptism by immersion.
Going Under is not written like other books I have read on the topic of baptism. The entire book is a conversation that takes place between an obvious Southern Baptist and someone questioning his views on baptism.
The book is divided into 5 “discussions” and contains two appendices. The first discussion is who should be baptized followed by how they should be baptized. Building on those two discussions, the Baptist shows from Scripture whether the act of baptism is symbolic or salvific in nature. He concludes with a nice conversation on how baptism is a new covenant rather than a refashioning of the old and finally ends with who is able to baptize.
The two appendices are worth the price of the book in my opinion. The first appendix, Jim explains why baptism does not save in more detail than what is shared in discussion three. The second appendix looks back in history at how men understood the mode and subject of baptism.
While I agree with Jim Elliff on his understanding, I struggled with the nice and easy flow of the “discussion’s” presented in the book. Every time I discuss baptism with someone, I find it can get heated quickly. It is important to note that baptism is a secondary issue and not one that we should break fellowship over (unless you believe that baptism does save–that is when we have problems).
Elliff offers much biblical support for his position and does not appeal to emotion or dogma. Again, this discussion goes back centuries and will certainly not be settled in this 64 page booklet.
Going Under is an excellent resource to be a catalyst for discussing this important ordinance of the church. For those who disagree with a baptistic understanding of believer’s baptism by immersion, this book introduces in a non-combative manner why Baptists believe what they do. For those who agree with Jim Elliff will find a resource that will teach you how to discuss baptism with others who disagree with you. I do recommend this book for Christians on both sides of the river.