Book Review: How Our Children Come To Faith, by Stephen Smallman

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
-Matthew 19:14

Why Do We Baptize Infants, How Our Children Come to Faith, by Stephen Smallman is not a short defense of why Presbyterians baptize infants. The author writes on page 7, “I am not writing to teach about the baptism of our children.” Since this is emphasized in the beginning it seems strange when he then goes on to mention or defend the Presbyterian practice of baptizing infants no less than ten times in the short (27 pages) book. Perhaps he simply lost sight of his goal, but I couldn’t help feeling a little let down by this work, especially given the praise it received by some trustworthy figures.

That said, there is some praiseworthy content to be found. The doctrines of regeneration and conversion are often clouded and stirred together in muddy waters, the author brings some clarity to the differences between the two in a short and understandable way. He holds to the traditional reformed view that regeneration precedes faith. He also makes a short but helpful rebuttal of baptismal regeneration. The greatest strength of this short booklet is its foundation that the Christian parent must trust in God and His sovereignty to save our children. He gently reminds us that our children’s professions (which, growing up in a Christian home, may happen on several occasions) are not the grounds of their salvation, but the God who keeps His promises is. For this, the book is beneficial. However, those in the broader reformed camp that hold to credo-baptism, may find the book reads too much like an apologetic for covenant baptism.

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