Return to Grace: A Theology for Infant Baptism

Article excerpt

Return to Grace: A Theology for Infant Baptism. By Kurt Stasiak. Collegeville: Pueblo, 1996. xiv + 224 pp. $29.95/L19.95 (paper).

Whilst the first half of this book may be of little more than specialist interest to students of American post-Conciliar Roman Catholic baptismal praxis, the final 100 pages stand on their own and deserve a wide readership, not least among those Anglicans who are currently wrestling with questions relating to the revision of initiation rites and the place of children within the ecclesial community of faith.

Kurt Stasiak, O.S.B., argues that a coherent theology of adoption might be the best way to reassert the value and importance of the practice of baptising infants. His book falls into two related but independent sections. The first, a clear and comprehensive review of American Catholic post-Conciliar texts over the last twenty-five years starts with the 1972 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which Stasiak acknowledges to be a watershed in baptismal praxis, affecting not only adults but infants and young children, whose place within the Church is the focus of this book.

Part 2 is Stasiak's personal response to the post-Conciliar material and here he takes issue with Kavanagh's influential thesis that it is the adult Ordo which must set the norm for the Church's baptismal praxis. The author offers a most enlightening and helpful `theology of childhood' and reminds the reader that the child is not only one who learns passively from adults but an important teacher of adults too. …