Review: As Hammett acknowledges in the beginning of the book, there is an irony found in the rites of the Lord's Supper and Baptism. Whereas these practices should bring about Christian unity, they have historically caused division among the universal Church.
40 Questions About Baptism and the Lord's Supper does not try to reunify the Church, but it does spend quite a bit of time offering presentation of the various perspectives rather than an ongoing polemic against every non-Baptist understanding. I found this refreshing.
Additionally, Hammett explores the terms for these rites (i.e. ordinances or sacraments) with a balanced perspective.
Now, being an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, I generally find myself in agreement with Hammett's conclusions. I'm not a hard-nosed Baptist, though. My theological convictions don't arise from historical Baptist roots. And because of this, I found Hammett's approach to the viewpoints on Baptism and the Lord's Supper intellectually and biblically honest.
I never got the sense that Hammett was out to prove the Baptist viewpoint, and demolish the Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed theologies. On the contrary, Hammett approached the rites looking for as much common ground as possible, and only offered his evaluations after the common ground was affirmed.
I found the following questions of particular usefulness:
- Are Baptism and the Lord's Supper Sacraments or Ordinances?
- Is Baptism a Divine Means of Grace or a Human Act of Obedience?
- What Is The Correct Term for [the Lord's Supper]?
- What Is the Meaning of the Lord's Supper?
- In What Sense Is Christ Present in the Lord's Supper?
One last note, I began reading this book while waiting to have my tonsils removed and assumed during my recovery I would turn toward a more simple form of leisure. I returned to this book however. While Hammett is quite scholarly in his presentation, he's also very enjoyable to read.
Rating: 5/5 (I loved it)
Find it at Kregel here.
Find it at Amazon here.