It has always seemed to me that evangelicals have a very take-it-or-leave-it approach to baptism. Indeed, so much so that when we preach the gospel the message is reduced to "repent and believe the gospel" and baptism does not so much as get a look in.
I suspect that the reason is that evangelicalism has always been transdenominational and evangelicals from different denoiminations have differing views on whether babies can be baptised. We have decided to set aside such issues for the sake of evangelical unity. As a result you will never hear the likes of Billy Graham say, in NT fashion, "Believe and be baptized."
But because baptism is now politely removed from evangelical understandings of how one responds to the gospel evangelicals struggle to know what to do with it.
Baptists. They're good on baptism, right? Surely if anyone pays it attention it is Baptists, right? Sadly — and I generalize here — the answer is No. Baptists are not that good on baptism. My experience is that baptists share with most evangelicals the idea that becoming a Christian is about repentance and faith. Baptism is about a public declaration of one's faith (hence the emphasis on the place of giving one's testimony at baptism). This confession is an outward symbol of what God has already done in your heart. And it is not just the Baptists who take this approach but all those baptistic Christians who follow in their footsteps (e.g., Pentecostals).
I have no time to make the case now but I think it can be easily demonstrated that this view of baptism is deeply sub-biblical. (David Pawson's book, The Normal Christian Birth, is very good on this point, even though I think that there is more to be said for infant baptism than he allows.) In the NT baptism is about conversion; it is about becoming a Christian; it is about getting saved. Baptism is more than a symbol. It is, to borrow later theological language, a sacrament by which God united us to Christ by his Spirit. Baptism accomplishes that which it symbolizes.
Am I a sacramentalist? Of course I am! I believe in the Holy Spirit and in the teaching of Scripture!
Maybe evangelical Anglicans are better on this front. They do get the idea that one becomes part of the church through baptism, right? Alas, No. In my experience, evangelical Anglicans are often just as weak in their view of baptism as Baptists. Their great fear is "baptismal regeneration" because that would mean that all the babies that got "done" are regenerate even if they have never attended church since, have never believed in God, let alone Jesus, and beat up old ladies. Clearly baptism does not make one a Christian. Repentance and faith do that. So baptism tends to create a bit of confusion and fuzzy thinking amoung some (not all) evangelical Anglicans. NT views have to be watered down to accomodate the problem of over-liberal application of baptism in some quarters.
So it seems to me that both the believer baptisers and the baby baptisers often (not always) seem to water down (excuse the pun) the NT stress on baptism as a sacrament of conversion. This cannot be good.
So we need some good ecumenical theological work to put baptism back at the centre of evangelical understandings of Christian initiation (whether it is babies or believers we are speaking of). We need to be able to create versions of things like Alpha courses that make a big deal about baptism.
Perhaps to pave the way for that we need to get past the "no-go zone" of baptism. Perhaps evangelical paedobaptists need to find theological ways of accommodating the practices of credo-baptists (the historical theological work of David F. Wright is excellent here); likewise, credo-baptists need to find theological ways of acknowledging the legitimacy the practice of baptising babies (the new wave of Baptist theologians, like Steve Holmes, have done good work here). Good things have been happening here, even among evangelical theologians, and I am very hopeful for a renaissance of baptismal theologies (note the plural) among evangelicals.