Friday, June 23, 2017

On Perseverance

The following is from the Baptist Gadfly blog and was written by me in September 2009 following a debate I had on perseverance. The article was titled

"Presently Saved If..." (see here)

"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Hebrews 3: 6 KJV)

"For we are (or 'have been') made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (vs. 14)

These verses are often cited by those who believe that saved people may become lost. Their argument is that salvation is here promised only to those Christians who persevere, and that the words imply that some Christians will not persevere, and thus not be finally saved. Thus, they lost their salvation when they failed to persevere. Yet, these words do not imply that genuine converts can fail to persevere and lose salvation. They only affirm that perseverence is a proof of genuine conversion.

Future perseverance is proof of genuine conversion

That is, we are presently saved if in the future we remain loyal to Christ. Or, conversion is real only if it is followed by perseverance. Perseverance is the proof of initial salvation. Falling away is proof of false conversion.

The wording of the above verses in Hebrews is not - "and you will be saved (future indicative) if you (future indicative) persevere." It is rather - "you have been, and now are, really saved, if in the future you hold fast to Christ."

Syllogism

1. One was saved in the past if he perseveres in the future.
2. John did not persevere in the future.
3. John was not saved in the past.

Examples

1) We are (now) mortal, if (in the future) we die.
2) We are (now) strong, if (in the future) we climb the mountain.
3) We are (now) saved, if (in the future) we persevere.
4) We are (now) children of John, if (in the future) the DNA tests match.
5) We have begun well, if we end well.
6) We are (now) good ground hearers, if (in the future) we bring forth fruit with patience.

Failure to persevere is proof of hypocrisy and a lack of genuine conversion.

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).

He set up a criterion by which true disciples might be distinguished.

"Jesus said unto them, if God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." (42)

"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled...If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister..." (Colossians 1: 21-23 KJV)

"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:11, 12 NIV)

These verses do not teach not that we are saved now because of a future act after salvation. Present salvation cannot be based upon acts that come after salvation. Events after salvation can only prove or demonstrate the reality of what was assumed.

We cannot, therefore say, "It is now raining, if tomorrow the sun is shining."

Those who persevere have been saved.
Those who do not persevere have not been saved.

If one does not persevere (hold fast), then he was not made a partaker of Christ. If he perseveres, he was (in fact) previously made a partaker of Christ.

Is it the case that only saved people "fall away" from salvation? Is it unscriptural to say of many false Christians that they "fell away"? Is it ever the case that the "good ground hearer" ever "fell away"? Which of the four hearers then "fell away"? Was it not the second and third hearers? The shallow ground hearers and the thorny ground hearers?

"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." (I Cor. 15: 2 KJV)

The Apostasy crowd promotes this proposition - "failure to persevere, after becoming a Christian, proves that one was truly saved," was a member of Christ's house, or a partaker of Christ. How contrary to the verses cited above!

Though a genuine child of God may lose many things, he cannot lose his standing with God in Christ. He may fall from some truth, or embrace certain errors, and may fall into temptation and sin, and lose joy, peace, and blessings, but he can never so fall as to be unrecoverable. In fact, the scriptures tell us that God takes the responsibility upon himself to see that they do not fall finally, completely, or totally. He will guarantee their return, their repentance, and their restoration.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hardshells and Alien Baptism VI

In this posting we will continue to cite from Dr. A.C. Dayton's book. In the previous posting we left off with Dayton citing the great John L. Waller. In this posting we will look at some other citations of Baptists who opposed Landmarkism and the idea that for there to be valid baptism it must be administered by a Baptist minister of a church in order. First in order is the citation of minister R. Fuller who writes in order to reply to a question that has been made to him. First the letter and the question to Fuller will be given and then give his response. (emphasis mine)

The Letter and The Query

"My Dear Brother. — I beg you will give me your views, as to re baptizing persons, who have been baptized (immersed) by Pedobaptist ministers. I do not ask this as a question of theoretical theology. I am deeply interested in the matter, as an urgent practical question. I am a Baptist minister, and pastor of the church, in the State of .

My wife was member of the Methodist church, is truely converted, and, on a profession of her faith in Christ, was baptized by a Methodist. She wishes to unite with the Baptists; but she says she has been baptized, and dares not repeat the ordinance. The Church requires her re-baptism. You see how painful is my situation. Give me your views on this subject, and oblige one who truly loves you. Yours in the best of bonds, Baltimore, Jan. 20, '57."

Fuller's Reply

"My Dear Brother. — I sympathize sincerely with you, and pray that God may guide your wife and self in this important matter. I know how to appreciate the feelings of your wife, for the question is not a new point with me. I was a member of a Pedobaptist church, and was immersed. On joining that Church, I required it of the pastor, for, as a Greek scholar, I was satisfied that baptism was immersion. When conviction compelled me to become a Baptist, I reflected on the subject, was baptized again, and for two reasons: First, I then knew that I had never been converted to God before. And, Second, My first baptism was clearly irregular. The first preachers were themselves baptized, and baptism by an unbaptized administrator appeared to me manifestly irregular. I, therefore, resolved to correct this irregularity, and leave nothing informal in this solemn act."

Here Fuller gives the reason for his re-baptism by the Baptists. It was not because he thought his first baptism was invalid due to the mode, for he was immersed. It was not because he thought the administrator, a Pedobaptist pastor, was unqualified. Rather, it was because he believed that he had "never been converted to God." He also gives as a second reason the fact that the baptism was "irregular." But, as we will see, the irregular nature of the baptism, in the view of Fuller and others, in itself, did not make the baptism invalid.

Fuller continued:

"Your wife, however, does not regard the matter in this light; and, therefore, the enquiry arises, "Ought the Church to require her re-baptism?" I think not. The distinction between an act which is informal and an act which is null and void, all will admit. A marriage may not be performed by one every way qualified according to the provisions of a civil statute, but it would be monstrous to pronounce it void, and their children illegitimate, on account of this want of some qualification in the person who officiated. If the parties acted in good faith, and took upon them the marriage vows, shall their co-habitation be declared fornication, and their children bastards, because a magistrate, for example, had not complied with some ceremony specified by law as incumbent on magistrates? Certainly not. The magistrate may be punished, but the marriage is not null and void. Let us now apply this to the matter in hand, and enquire if the baptism of a believer is null and void, because the officiating minister has neglected his own duty as to this ordinance."

Here Fuller clearly denies that the irregular nature of baptism by a Pedobaptist, by one who was never immersed, and therefore never really baptized according to Baptist thinking, did not make the baptism invalid.

Fuller continued:

"Now there is one argument which, of itself, goes far to settle this question. It is that if no baptism be valid without an administrator, whose baptism is regular, then there can be no valid baptism. The validity of baptism would depend on an unbroken succession of regularly baptized administrators from the days of the apostles; and if there be a defect in this chain, that defect violates all the subsequent baptisms. The oft exposed fiction of the apostolic succession is ridiculous enough, but the baptistical succession is even more puerile."

To me this argument, made by Fuller, Waller, and other anti Landmarkers, is irrefutable. Shortly we will see how Dayton responded to this argument. To argue that valid baptism requires a qualified administrator casts doubt on the validity of any and all baptisms. For, in order to prove valid, one must be certain that the chain of administrators, going back to John the Baptist, must have no unqualified administrators. Further, as I have shown, the Hardshells clearly have many unqualified administrators in their church and baptismal lineages and so none of them, by their own criteria, can be sure of having valid baptism.

Fuller continued:

"It may be replied, however, that this argument, though a reductio ad absurdum, only demonstrates that there can be no valid baptism; it does not prove that baptism by a Pedobaptist minister is valid. Let us, then, look at the point. I think such a baptism, though irregular, yet valid. If the candidate is dissatisfied, the ordinance may be correctly administered. "Baptism is the answer of a good conscience towards God." If the disciple have not this answer, let him have it. But, in a case like that of your wife, the party should not be compelled to repeat the act. Such is my opinion, and my reasons are these:

1. The Commission says: "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved." The party has believed and been baptized. Here are two personal acts, one internal, the other external. A defect in the administrator of baptism, can no more invalidate baptism than any imperfection in the preacher can nullify the faith.

2. Consider the use and design of baptism. It is a public profession of allegiance to Christ. It is "putting on Christ." "Were ye baptized in the name of Paul," viz. "Did you confess yourselves as saved by Paul and devoted to him ?" Now the party has made this public profession of loyalty to Jesus.

3. Reflect upon the metaphors by which baptism is represented, such as "Buried," "Planted," etc. Has not this been realized?

4. In the New Testament, baptism is always mentioned as a personal duty, like repentance and faith. The administrator is never referred to as at all affecting the validity of the act. This idea, that a minister confers any virtue on an ordinance, whether baptism or the supper, is a remnant of Popery. As to baptism, this superstition goes beyond Popery. For while the Church of Rome contends rigorously for the power of the priest to consecrate everything, it yet admits the validity of baptism by a layman. In referring to baptism, the inspired writers lay no sort of stress on the administrator. They never allude to him except as a matter of history. They simply mention the fact of baptism as they do of conversion. The eunuch was baptized by a deacon. As soon as converted, the most convenient water and administrator were employed. The reference to the "baptism unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea," shows how little the Holy Spirit regards the administrator. For there, the only ministry was that of the elements."

I think these arguments are cogent and destructive to the Landmarker view. It is, as Fuller says, "a remnant of Popery," and even an error that exceeds that of Romanists, for even Romanists allow that a layman may administer baptism, but this is denied by Hardshells and many Landmarkers who contend that only ordained ministers in good standing in their churches may administer baptism.

Fuller continued:

5. Where would the requirement of qualifications in the minister terminate? Suppose he had been immersed, but not with the same formula used by us, say, "in the name of Jesus," and not "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" Would this invalidate all baptisms performed by him? If so, the ordinance by the apostles was void; for they had only John's baptism, which was certainly not with the formula prescribed in the Commission. Suppose a minister had been immersed, but holds some doctrine which we regard as erroneous. Does this vitiate the baptism he administers? Surely heresy as to truth is at least as fatal as error, as to an ordinance. But where would the scheme lead us? Who shall decide what error vitiates and what not? I fear some churches would not be satisfied to receive a member from another Baptist church, because he had been baptized by a minister who did not hold election, or perseverance, or limited atonement, or close communion. And how monstrous would this be. Lastly, suppose a minister proves an apostate, are the baptisms he administers all void? This has never been pretended; and shall we be so bigoted and superstitious, as to attach more importance to an error about an ordinance than we do to gross immorality, or down right hypocrisy?"

What Fuller does is to show how Landmarker ideas on the necessity of qualified elders to administer baptism has created consequences that are monstrous and troublesome for the peace of churches, what in the preceding posts was the creating of a "worse precedent." In the case of the Hardshells, as history will attest, the one who decides which churches, ministers, and baptisms are valid are either associations or some leading minister. Certainly not the local church!

Fuller continued:

"These, my dear brother, are my sentiments. They are written in haste, but were formed after much thought and deliberation. The matter has often disturbed churches, but I hope the day is at hand when these controversies will forever cease. Yours in the Lord Jesus, R. FULLER."

And how often has it "disturbed churches" among the Hardshells! But, more on that later.

Dayton's response to Fuller deserves notice. He wrote:

"It is, I believe, very generally conceded among the Baptists of the South, that when Elder Richard Fuller, of Baltimore, has made an argument for or against any position, it may be regarded as the very best that can be made. What his capacious intellect and cultivated mind, with all the advantages of the most thorough mental discipline, and his long and large experience cannot achieve, no other need attempt.

Ought a church to require the baptism of an applicant for membership, who is said to have been already baptized by a Pedobaptist minister?

Elder Fuller says, No, provided the candidate be satisfied; and Yes, provided he be not satisfied. I will venture to differ with Elder F., so far as to say that the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the applicant, has nothing at all to do with the decision of the question. It is a question for the church, and not for the candidate to decide. The question is, whether the ceremony which has been performed was true and scriptural christian baptism. If it was, it must not be repeated, for Christ requires a christian to be baptized but once. Now, it either was or it was not, and that quite independently of any opinion which the recipient may have come to entertain upon the subject. This is self-evident."

One wonders how Dayton and the Landmarkers want to say that the conscience of the Christian is not factor in the matter. Dayton says that "the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the applicant, has nothing at all to do with the decision of the question."  "Nothing at all"? Is baptism not a very personal matter with the newly converted disciple? Here we have a case where baptism was in every way valid except that the administrator is judged to be unqualified and on that basis alone the baptism is said to be invalid and the person urged to be baptized. It is amazing to me how the Landmarkers can be so insensitive to the conscience of the believer in such cases.

Dayton is on record as affirming, and for good reasons as we have noted, that when baptism has been administered, it "must not be repeated," because it is to be done "but once." Why say this and then seem so careless about seeing that it is not repeated? Is it not a sin to force a disciple to be baptized again when in fact the first baptism was valid? I think so. So does Dayton. But, he will not allow that invalidating baptisms performed by non-Baptists is doing the very thing he warns against.

Some Hardshells, and other Landmarkers, in trying to convince some to be immersed again will sometimes argue like this: "well, what's the harm? It is just being safe and making sure that you have a valid baptism. Also, it is what your brethren desire of you." It is easy to see how they do not realize that it is sin to make disciples to be baptized again when their first baptism is valid.

Dayton continued:

"Now let us go to the Book and ask, Who are required to administer baptism? Just as we are accustomed to go to it to learn who are to he baptized.

1. "Go ye and teach all nations baptizing them." Who are these ye? baptized or unbaptized? Eld. Fuller says, they "were baptized." Is any authority given elsewhere to any others who were not baptized? No one will say so. Is there any example of any one baptizing who had not been baptized? Eld. Fuller cannot find one. How then with this law given to the baptized, and without one solitary precept or one single example contravening it, can it be pretended that it was ever permitted to any other."

But, there is an example! John the Baptist! He was not baptized himself and yet he baptized others! For Dayton to argue that Fuller and other non-Landmarkers "cannot find one" is simply astonishing. Further, when the commission was first introduced, baptism had not yet been corrupted. There was no baptism of infants, no sprinkling or pouring as a mode. That would come later. So, though all to whom the commission was given were immersed disciples, that does not preclude others, through ignorance, being unbaptized disciples because they were sprinkled. To argue as the Landmarkers is to be logically forced into saying that no Pedobaptist is able to preach the gospel! If it is granted that PedoBaptists, or "Reformers," or any non-Baptists, preach the gospel, then the argument of Dayton becomes itself invalid.

Dayton continued:

2. Eld. Fuller says, "consider the design of baptism." I have considered it, and am compelled to the conviction that the great practical object which baptism was intended to accomplish could only be accomplished when administered by one already in the kingdom and acting under the legal authority of the kingdom." 

Dayton here asserts what he failed to prove from scripture. Recall that Dr. Gill and the first Particular Baptists would disagree with Dayton.

Dayton continued:

"The design of baptism, so far as it affects the relation which the baptized sustains to the churches is initiation into the body of Christ's visible people. It makes him a member of Christ's visible kingdom. A particular church, as the executive body in the kingdom, must be composed of those who are members of the kingdom. He who has professed his faith in Christ and has been baptized, is regarded by the churches as initiated: and it is on this ground alone that he is regarded as eligible to membership in any church." 

But, again, this is all assertion without scriptural support. Dr. Gill would not agree with Dayton. He did not think that baptism automatically put one into a particular local assembly. I agree. Which local church was the eunuch put into when he was baptized by the deacon Philip?

Further, I see Dayton contradicting himself in what he writes. On one hand he wants to argue that baptism is that act of "initiation" which puts one into the local church. Then, on the other hand, he says that baptism does not do this automatically but makes him "eligible to membership."

Dayton continued:

"But it is evident that this ceremony of initiation to be a valid one, must be performed according to the law of the kingdom, and by those properly authorized to administer that law. Now if baptism be the door of entrance, it is certain that the unbaptized have not come in. They being out of the kingdom can have no authority in it. They cannot stand outside of the kingdom and thrust others in. No organization in the world would be so silly as to leave the work of making and initiating its members to those who refused, themselves, to be initiated. There must be a profession of faith, and this not made to the world, not to some priest of Jupiter, not to some lodge of Odd Fellows, or Division of the Sons of Temperance: not to a class-leader or even to a society of good men. It must be made to a Church of Christ or to some one duly authorized by a church to receive it, and him, in consequence of it. Then there must be immersion, performed, not by a Jewish priest, or a disciple of Joe Smith, or a mere pious man without legal authority; but it must be by one authorized under the laws of the kingdom to administer it. Any act of baptism which is not a recognition of the person baptized as henceforth one of the members of the visible kingdom, is deficient in the very thing which is essential to the design of baptism. If it does not initiate him, it has failed of its object, and he is no more ready to be received into a particular church than if it had not been performed. Now when a baptism is performed by a Pedobaptist, it is designed to initiate him into a Pedohaptist society. It is so understood, both by the administrator and the subject of it. It does what it is intended to do and nothing more; and when a Baptist Church recognizes it as a valid baptism, she of necessity recognizes that society as equally with herself a part of the visible kingdom. They stand on the same ground and possess the same authority."

Again, Dayton asserts things about baptism's administrator without any proof. Further, his statement - "when a Baptist Church recognizes it as a valid baptism, she of necessity recognizes that society as equally with herself a part of the visible kingdom" - is not sound. It is, as we will see, one of the leading arguments made by today's Hardshells. They say that to accept the baptism of any non-Hardshell churches would be to give recognition and approval to those churches. But, this line of reasoning is not sound. Here are the reasons.

1) In the NT there were several churches, founded by the apostles, that entertained serious heresies and corrupt practices, such as the church at Corinth and the churches of Galatia. Yet, in spite of this, there is no invalidating, by the apostles, of their baptisms, ordinations, or other valid work.

2) The argument falsely assumes that baptism represents an official act of a church which the scriptures no where affirm and as Dr. Gill taught. If we assume that the Eunuch, being baptized by the disciple evangelist Phillip, was not initiated into any particular church, then accepting the validity of a baptism does not equate with accepting a particular church.

3) The argument also falsely reasons that accepting the validity of an individual's baptism requires the accepting of the administrator in all respects.

4) The argument falsely assumes that accepting any single thing in heretical churches requires accepting all things in those churches.

5) The argument falsely assumes that non-Baptist churches do not preach the gospel or teach per the great commission.

Dayton continued:

3. But here is another thought: No Baptist Church could consistently receive and sanction as valid any official act performed even by one who had been a Baptist minister, after such minister had been deposed from his office and excluded from the Church.

Where is there scriptural warrant for making such a blanket statement? Though such would be irregular, it would not be invalid. Further, this rarely happens. Also, one can envision circumstances where the deposed and excluded minister baptized believers and they would be valid. Are not some ministers falsely excluded? What if such a minister were to be in a place where there had been no Christians and made converts. Suppose those converts desired baptism. Would it not be the minister's duty as a disciple to baptize them?

Dayton continued:

"But if, says Elder Fuller, we require that the minister shall have been baptized, "Where will our requirements cease?" Must he be sound in faith? Must he be this, or that, or the other thing? I wonder that any one should be embarrassed by such difficulties as these. We surely ought to know that for a Baptist Church to recognize ones official acts he must be a Baptist minister in good and regular standing in some Baptist church. It is not because he has been baptized that we recognize his official acts, but because he is a member and a minister duly authorized to perform them; and when he ceases to be either the one or the other, those churches who know the facts, must and will, if they be faithful to their duty, disown him as a brother, and repudiate his official acts if he should continue to perform them. The validity of his official acts does not depend on his baptism, or on his piety, or on his orthodoxy, but on the authority which he has received from the Church. So long as he retains this authority, therefore, his acts are valid, and when it is withdrawn the churches must regard them as invalid, as they must the official acts of one who has never received such authority."

But, authority to baptize, like the authority to preach, teach, disciple, and convert, does not come from the church, but from the word of God, and from the word of Christ given in the commission. It is the same with church organizing. Does a church require another church or minister to make them into a church? Landmarkers would say yes. The premise behind such an idea consists in believing that authority to preach, teach, organize churches, baptize, observe the Lord's Supper, etc., reside in the church. But, it does not. Rather, as our Baptists forefathers who wrote the first London Confession taught, it resides in the word of God. This being the case, we can imagine a people who live in an area of heathendom where there is no divine revelation and where there are no Christians. In such a case we can imagine them receiving a Bible for the first time. They read it and many become believers. They want to be baptized, become a church, eat the Lord's Supper, etc. Can they do all this with only Bible authority? Our forefathers believed that they could. So do I.

Dayton continued:

"But one thought more and I have done. If that alone be valid baptism, says Elder F., which is administered by one who has been himself baptized, there is no such thing as valid baptism. For who can say that somewhere in the lapse of eighteen hundred years there may not a link be wanting in the chain of our baptismal succession. And so because there may have been such irregularities in the past as he is advocating, we must sanction them now. Because some church may at some time in past ages, ignorantly or inadvertently have given her sanction to an irregular and invalid baptism; does Elder Fuller think, or can any Baptist think, that therefore, every church ought now knowingly and willfully to sanction every such case that may come before her?"

Notice that Dayton acknowledges the difficulty but accepts it! He is basically admitting that he cannot be certain of the validity of his own baptism nor of anyone else's!

Dayton continued:

"There were those in England after the so called reformation, who contended that it would be right and lawful to baptize themselves, and so begin anew. But there is no proof that they did so, for we know they sent to the Continent to receive a baptism which would have no suspicion concerning its validity. And thus, I do not doubt, it has ever been. God has preserved the scriptural baptism in all that is essential. And if a baptized administrator is essential, (as we have proved it is,) then he has never permitted the children of his visible Kingdom to be thrust into it by those who would not enter in themselves."

But, Dayton is wrong on affirming that the first Baptists in the early 17th century "sent to the Continent to receive baptism." I referred to this claim in previous postings, involving what is called the "Kiffin Manuscript." This manuscript is the only proof of the claim and it has been thoroughly debunked by men like John T. Christian. Further, John Spilsbury's own words show it to be false.

Further, Dayton says that "God has preserved the scriptural baptism in all that is essential," and this includes preserving a valid succession of administrators. He states the fact but he cannot prove it, either by historical facts or sound reasoning. Logic alone would destroy his claim. He cannot prove that all the administrators in a particular chain of baptisms are valid, but he accepts it as true based upon faith!

In the next posting we will finish looking at sections of Dayton's book, at both the pro and the con of the debate.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On King James Onlyism

Brother Sarber wrote a good article titled "The Evidence Against King James Onlyism" (see here). I agree with him. I have been against the Hardshells embracing KJV Onlyism since the 1970s when Sonny Pyles and others began to lead the Hardshells into that fallacy. Father was against Pyles on this and argued against the promotion of KJV Onlyism. I have been wanting to write a series of articles on this issue for many years but other topics have required attention first. Perhaps one day I can do this. But, in the mean time, for all those Hardshells who really want to honestly study the matter, let me suggest that they go to youtube and type in these words in the search - KJV James White. Doing this you will find many of Dr. White's debates with advocates of KJV Onlyism and you will see how he completely annihilates them. Will you do it? Remember, don't believe anything without first studying the matter thoroughly with an open mind. If you believe something because some church or elder told you this is what you are supposed to believe, and you just accept it on that basis, then you are no better than most Catholics who believe what they believe because the priest, bishop, or pope tells them to believe it.

One of the commendations that I received from another Bible scholar years ago was from Bob L. Ross of Pilgrim Publications. I recall talking to him about my thoughts on elder rule in Baptist churches and he said to me - "why don't you write a book on it?" I responded by saying - "I'll have to research the matter first." His response was - "That's what I like about you." He went on to explain that he was commending me for not wanting to take a dogmatic stand on an issue till I had studied it thoroughly. I recommend this practice to my Hardshell brethren.

Hardshell Silence & Father's Words

In the posting Hardshell Silence Speaks Loudly back in December, 2016, I spoke of the near total lack of engagement with us at The Old Baptist Test blog regarding the errors of the "Primitive Baptists." As an addition to that short posting I want to make mention of some words of my beloved father, Elder Eddie K. Garrett Sr.

A few years ago I was involved with Dr. Mack Griffin, God rest his soul, here in Monroe, N.C. He was the head of a small seminary and a group of several Baptist churches that supported it. One of those churches, Crossroads Baptist Church, is where I had my membership for a few years. Dr. Griffin and I became close friends as I studied intermediate Greek under his tutorship and as I taught a class in the seminary. I recall vividly Dr. Griffin with another elder journeying with me to the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where I had a debate on the campus with Campbellite John Gentry. I remember this event because my father and sister drove down from Ohio to attend the debate. Father and I stayed in one motel room and Dr. Griffin and Dr. Babaa in another room. During the days we all had many discussions about Bible doctrine and I can recall those discussions to this day.

Prior to this debate I had been having heated discussions with Dr. Griffin and members of the churches associated with Dr. Griffin and the seminary here in Monroe. I used to call father and we would talk about these disagreements. One of the grave errors of Dr. Griffin and the churches here was their practice of baptizing in the name of Jesus only, their refusal to say "in Jesus name" when they ended prayers, and their denial of the Trinity and belief in Modalism. I did not know these things about them when I first began to associate with them, but as I began to hear them preach these things I began to engage them on the issue. I used to make arguments to Dr. Griffin and the brethren, from scripture, that to my mind completely destroyed their Modalism. Many times they would simply remain SILENT and give no response to my arguments. Of course, I knew why. The arguments were not answerable. In scripture language, their mouths were stopped. (Titus 1:11) I recall asking father this question - "what do you think of people who, in debate, refuse to respond to arguments?" His reply was - "because they can't answer them." I agree. Now to the point.

I have had the same thing happen in the numerous debates that I have had with the Campbellites. Many arguments that I made against their heretical doctrines were blatantly ignored. I know why and so do others. It is the same way with the Hardshells. This blog and the Baptist Gadfly blog are full of arguments against the Hardshells and to this day, only one person, Jason Brown, has attempted to respond to those arguments. For the most part the Hardshells have remained silent towards what we write here, and their silence says a lot! Does it not? Recalling father's words, it is "because they can't answer them."

Come on my Hardshell brethren, engage us here! What have you got to be afraid of? What could you possibly lose? Though we may press our points in debate, especially when they are ignored, we will still treat you kindly as brothers in Christ. Further, we are always open to be corrected if wrong.

Hardshells and Alien Baptism V


In this posting we will continue to cite from Dr. A.C. Dayton's book. In the previous posting we left off with Dayton citing the great Baptist John L. Waller. From Waller's essay Dayton continued citing Waller. Wrote Waller (emphasis mine throughout):

"The first matter that the church should inquire into respecting an individual baptized by a "Reformer" or a Pedobaptist, is, was he a disciple or believer, in the Scriptural sense of these terms, before baptism? An unconverted person is not a disciple or believer in the Bible sense, and therefore cannot receive christian baptism. This is most fully asserted by Mr. Campbell, in his debate with Mr. Rice. He says: —

"No man believes more cordially, or teaches more fully, the necessity of a Scriptural change of our affections — a change of heart — than I do. I have said a thousand times that if a person were to be immersed twice seven times in the Jordan for the remission of sins, or for the reception of the Holy Spirit, it would avail nothing more than the wetting the face of a babe, unless the heart is changed by the word and spirit of God. I have no confidence in any instrumentality, ordinance, or observance, unless the heart is turned to God. This is the fundamental, the capital point; but with these, every other divine ordinance is essential for the spiritual enlargement, confirmation and sanctification of the faithful.' — Pages 544 and 545. Matt, xxviii. 19: Mark xvi. 16."

"The next matter of inquiry is: Has the person, as above described, been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? If not, then the commandment of the Savior has not been complied with; and as a guardian of the truth and of the word of God, the church must reject him. Baptism is immersion. This we will take for granted, and shall not pause to prove. Of course it is not expected that Baptists will recognize anything else as baptism. The matter before us then is, that a person whose heart has been changed by the Word and Spirit of God, and who has a genuine faith and penitence, has been solemnly baptized, or immersed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by a "Reformer," or Pedobaptist. What does he lack yet? Is the commission fulfilled which says, "Make disciples, baptizing them. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved?"

Yes, indeed, "what does he lack yet?" Landmarkers and Hardshells say that his baptism lacks a proper administrator! Further, they say that the baptism of such a person does not fulfill the command of Christ! Certainly such a charge requires express and clear scriptural support and yet this is exactly what it does not have. It is clear in scripture that baptism must be by immersion, that it be a burial in water. It is equally clear that baptism is only to be administered to a penitent believer, and therefore not to infants. But, it is not clear that the administrator must meet certain conditions.

Waller continued:

"To these questions only one answer can be returned: that his baptism is strictly in accordance with the commission, unless it prescribes the administrator as absolutely as the mode and the subject." 

This is unanswerable by the Landmarkers! If the administrator of baptism was as essential to its validity as are the mode and candidate, then it would be as plainly taught as those two points. When Landmarkers try to prove that administrators must meet qualifications, they do not cite plain express words of scripture that say what they affirm, but rather try to argue the case from what they think are fair inferences. Yet, we do not teach the necessity of faith for baptism, or the necessity of immersion, by inference!

Waller continued:

So our investigations are now limited to the inquiry, whether the great commission has made the validity of the ordinance depend on the administration, as well as on the subject and the mode? To a certain extent, all will answer the question affirmatively. The difference of opinion consists in this, whether the administration of baptism is limited to a privileged class in the church or not. This is a vexed question, and has long been agitated. It has given rise to much discussion, and able advocates on either side have been found in all the leading denominations of Christendom. The Episcopalians are divided. One party, while it admits that baptism ought ordinarily to be administered by one who has been especially ordained, yet contends that it may, in certain cases, be administered by others; and that such a baptism, although irregular and defective, is nevertheless valid. But another party denies the validity of all lay baptism — that is, Baptism or the form thereof administered by such as have not received a regular commission to act as Christ's ministers, from the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the church of God. None admit the regularity or legality of lay baptism who maintain that Episcopal ordination is necessary to constitute a man an ambassador to God. With those who deny that Episcopal ordination is essential to a regular, legal and valid ministry, we have no common ground. For we regard as laymen all who have not a commission Episcopally conveyed. Our argument is with those who, while they maintain (according to the Primitive and Catholic rule, nulla Ecclesia sine Episcopo, no church without the Bishop,) that a commission, derived from Christ through his Apostles and their Episcopal successors, is essential to regular and valid ministration in things divine, hold, notwithstanding that the irregular and illegal ministration of the Holy Sacrament of baptism, in particular, whether by a layman in or out of the church, is truly a sacrament, and valid to the receiver." Not unlike this is the minutes of the General Assembly of the (Old School) Presbyterian Church in the United States, setting forth the reasons why Papal baptism should be rejected, viz: that baptism is invalid, unless administered by a regular ordained minister in the true church of God visible. These opinions of the Churchmen and of the General Assembly are equally destitute of foundation. They are as impalpable as phantoms; Scripture, facts, and common sense, utterly subvert them. The Bible knows nothing of those ecclesiastical oligarchs — of those inflated bladders of spiritual dignity, which Mr. Ogilby denominates "Bishops," and "Episcopal successors" of the Apostles."

Hardshell Landmarkers, in arguing that only ordained elders, with church authority, may baptize, are in league with the Episcopalians, Old School Presbyterians, and with those who argue for an episcopacy that must administer all ordinances! I find the reasoning of Elder Waller, in the above words, to be weighty and powerful.

Waller continued:

"Nor have we from the Apostles a regular succession of ministers, deriving ordination in an unbroken chain in the true church of God visible. The ministerial successors of the Apostles is an order dependent for its existence on proofs, as chimerical and dream-like as that of "Episcopal successors." The Redeemer made no promise of such a succession. It is the invention of man's vain imagination. Its career has been that of inquiry. It has no foundation in truth. It is no where in the Scriptures made the duty of ministers as such to give the rite of baptism. To the churches are committed the keys. They can open, and none can shut: they can shut, and none can open. The churches are the highest authority under Christ. They are not dependent on the ministry for existence, but the ministry upon the churches. That propriety may make it expedient for the churches to assign the administration of baptism to their ministers or servants, so far from being denied on our part, is most earnestly and strenuously insisted upon."

Again, it is amazing that Landmarkers must argue for a "regular succession of ministers" to declare baptisms legitimate! But, more on this shortly.

Waller continued:

"But the expediency which dictates that baptism should usually be committed to the preachers of the gospel, does not bind the churches at all times to intrust it to their hands, or receive it alone from them."

This was the teaching, as we have seen, of the first Particular Baptists who put out the first London Confession of 1644, as well as men like John Gill in the 18th century. It has been the majority opinion of Baptists.

Waller continued:

"That our brethren will not think our views novel, or that we are attempting innovations upon their time honored doctrines, we will quote from the oldest Baptist creed ever put forth in the English language — the one published in London, 1643:

'The person designated by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scriptures hold forth to be a disciple; it being no where tied to a particular church officer, or person extraordinarily sent — the commission enjoining the administration being to them as considered disciples, being men able to preach the gospel.' — Art. 41.

But we have far higher and older authority than this. The Scriptures inform us that "Jesus himself baptized not, but disciples." It was to his disciples that the Savior said, "Go ye, therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." And the Apostle says to the Church in Corinth, "Now I praise you brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as 1 delivered them unto you."

The churches have not transferred baptism to the ministry. This they could not do without proving recreant to the trust committed of heaven to their charge. They may and do authorize their servants, the preachers of the gospel, to discharge this duty for them; but it does not follow that they must always authorize them and no others; or that they cannot receive it when administered by others. Hence the baptism administered by the pastor or bishop of one of our churches is received without hesitation or debate by the others. Hence, too, the baptism of Roger Williams, and of the first church in Providence, is considered as valid and as scriptural as if administered by the Apostle Paul. They believed and were baptized. They were first disciples and then baptized in the name of the Trinity. They were doers of the law."

"It was to his disciples that the Savior said, "Go ye, therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them." Yes, indeed. It was not to a corporate group, either to the church or ministry. It was given to individuals, to every disciple or Christian. This was the view of Gill. Of course, what is true for individuals is also true for churches and ministers, but this indirectly. Though the commission was given to disciples as individuals, yet it certainly does envision them fulfilling it both individually and as a group, or as a church.

Continued Waller:

"Mr. Benedict, in his History of the Baptists, has aptly remarked:

All agree that it is an unadvisable measure for a person to apply to unbaptized ministers to lead them into the water; but after they have been properly immersed on a profession of their faith, it is generally thought that it would be improper to immerse them a second time. It is difficult to conceive why they would not in this case, come under the head of Anabaptists. [Vol. ii., p. 473.] It is urged by some that the Pedobaptist minister does not administer immersion in good faith and that "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin." This may be true of the administrator — he may commit sin in the case supposed, but it does not affect the subject. He is not responsible for another's sins.

Baptism, as we demonstrated a short time since, is a solemn profession of religion. The believer publicly acknowledges his allegiance to Christ — is buried with Christ in baptism, and rises to walk in newness of life — declares that he is dead to sin — his baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God. If the church is satisfied that all this is true of the individual who has received the ordinance at the hand of a "Reformer" or Pedobaptist, it appears to us that she cannot deny him admission to membership. The commission of our Lord is not only preserved in spirit, but in letter. The whole design of baptism has been clearly met. To such an individual there remaineth no more baptism. He could not be baptized according to the commission, nor to secure any of the ends contemplated in the institution of the ordinance."

This I believe is the teaching of scripture and the general teaching of Baptists.

Waller continued:

"We deem it unnecessary to say more. These views are submitted with much diffidence, and we have been induced to give them only because we have been urged to do so by respectable brethren in different sections of the West. Although conscious that we are sustained by the great majority of the Baptists now and in time gone by, still we know that many, eminent for piety and learning, entertain opposite opinions. But it is a matter which all concur in declaring belongs to each church, without question or appeal — that it does not and ought not to involve matters of fellowship. In past times, it has caused no divisions, and but little discussion among the Baptists; and, it is confidently hoped and believed, that their good sense and their devotion to the real interests of Zion, will restrain even the most restless spirits from making it now a cause of dissension. Let every thing but a pure conscience in the sight of God yield to the preservation of harmony and peace among brethren. It is good and pleasant for such to dwell together in unity."

What I observe from the words of Waller is how the anti-Landmarker brethren are much more charitable in debating this issue with their Landmark brethren than vise versa. The Landmarkers are ready to cast off their non Landmarker brethren over this issue, and will not leave the matter with each local church. The Hardshells are people of that "most restless spirits," schismatic and cantankerous, and make the issue to "involve matters of fellowship."


Brother Jeremy Sarber's Excellent Writing

Elder Sarber wrote an excellent article "Hyper-Grace and the Denial of Justification By Faith" (see here) and I encourage all to read it. He also has some other good articles on his web site. It is a blessing to see him reaching out to his Hardshell brethren and addressing their hermeneutic errors. Also, his article "Command Does Not Imply Ability" (here) is excellent as well as his article "The Powerful Sword of the Spirit" (here).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hardshells and Alien Baptism IV

The following citations are from Dr. A.C. Dayton's book, introduced in the preceding post (see here). The case being debated is whether a person immersed by a Pedobaptist, or by a "Reformer" ("Church of Christ" or "Campbellite") upon a profession of faith and in the name of the Trinity, is to be judged as having undergone legitimate baptism and therefore need not be baptized again by the Baptist when such a person seeks membership in a Baptist church.

Dayton first cites from minister Lathrop and records (emphasis mine) these words from him:

"The Rev. Mr. Lathrop thus speaks in behalf of himself and the leading ministers of N. York:

"So far as it has been in my power, I have ascertained the views of leading brethren in this city. Brethren in this quarter are pretty generally agreed on this point. Perhaps nine out of ten of our ministering brethren regard baptism in the case proposed as valid. Their reasons are as follows: The individual was immersed in good faith, viz: had repented of sin, believed in the Lord Jesus; and on looking into the Bible, saw that the first thing afterwards to be done, was to be baptized, and "arose and was baptized."

"But the administrator, you think, and so do I, was not qualified, that is, who is not himself a baptized man. The question arises--Is it essential to the validity of baptism that the administrator shall be in all respects qualified? It is always desirable, but is it essential? It is thought not. What in an administrator is a higher qualification than piety? Yet how many unholy, unconverted Baptist ministers, as we have reason to fear, have administered the ordinance of baptism to true converts. When, afterwards, such men have apostatized, no one has supposed that all whom the apostate (unqualified as he was) had baptized, should be re-immersed. If in good faith and to answer a good conscience, the individuals supposed have been baptized, they have discharged their duty. The administrator must settle his account with God."

I find the reasoning of Mr. Lathrop cogent. Who can disagree that most Baptist churches have judged that the baptisms of such cases were legitimate? This being so, who can deny that many Baptist churches today have members whose baptismal or church lineage has such members? Further, if we say that the baptisms of certain administrators are invalid due to some lack of a qualification, such as not having been immersed, or not having a church to give authority, or because authorized by an illegitimate church, then where will such reasoning end? Who can doubt that many, even in Hardshell churches, have been immersed by unholy or unconverted ministers? Further, with all the divisions within the Hardshell church, an administrator in one side of a schism is judged to be in disorder by another side in a schism. Therefore each side declares that all the baptisms done by that "disorderly" church or preacher is illegitimate. On this point more will be said later as we look at some things our Hardshell brethren have said on this issue in our time.

Lathrop continued:

"The case, I admit, is a somewhat difficult one, from the fact that there is nothing in the Bible that bears directly on the point. We can be guided only by general principles, and a reference to consequences. I confess, that in looking over the whole matter, I am inclined to the opinion, that to re-immerse under the circumstances mentioned, would be to establish a worse precedent than to pursue the contrary course."

Yes, the subject is difficult and those Hardshells and Landmarkers who think it an easy question have not really approached it with the open mindedness and honesty that it requires. Further, who can doubt that the precedent established by Hardshell Landmarkers has indeed created a "worse precedent"?

Lathrop continued:

"Benedict, the Historian, (after mentioning the opinion of the Richmond Association, that re-baptism is to be required,) says:

"As persons are frequently applying for admission into Baptist Churches, who have been immersed by Methodist and Congregational ministers, this question has, within a few years past, been often proposed, and most Associations have decided differently from this. All agree that it is an unadvisable measure, for a person to apply to unbaptized ministers to lead them into the water; but after they have been properly immersed on a profession of their faith it is generally thought that it would be improper to immerse them a second time. It is difficult to conceive why they would not, in this case, come under the denomination of Anabaptists." — (Vol. IL, pp. 472-3.)

Of course it is essential that people seeking to be baptized 1) understand that baptism must be by immersion, and 2) that it be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and 3) that faith and repentance must precede the act, and finally that it should be done by a Christian. But, is it also essential that the administrator have been immersed? Yes, it is preferable, of course. But, is it essential? If so, then where is the scripture that says so?

Next, Dayton writes these words from Basil Manly Sr. I presume:

"But now, lest it be thought that all the "Doctors" and great men of the denomination agree substantially with these, we will subjoin a few opinions on the other side. "Doctor Manly," in 1848, writes as follows:

About the question of re-baptizing, I must say I have been greatly in the dark. On the question of independent abstract propriety of repeating a baptism once rightly administered, there can be no difficulty. But this case is embarrassed by many circumstances that throw the administration into great doubt. I can suppose a case, (an extreme one) in which the want of baptism to the administrator would not vitiate his performance of it to others. But ordinarily or when it can be avoided, is it best or as good to have an unbaptized administrator? I would not choose to volunteer a declaration that I thought their baptism invalid. But I would not assert that it is valid. I lean over to the side of baptizing them when they come to us. I can have no doubt they are baptized acceptably in this case. In the other I might have some doubt. And I decide the case rather on the ground of expediency; because I cannot see far enough into other grounds to know on which side the argument preponderates."

Dr. Manly argues like others, that though the baptism administered by certain non Baptist administrators is irregular, yet it is not invalid. Manly appears to want to "straddle the fence" on the issue, not being sure which view is right. Does this not say a lot? I'm sure than Manly would not be so indecisive were he certain that the scriptures spoke a clear answer to the question. He was at least willing to be not so dogmatic due to the lack of scripture support for the Landmarker view.

Wrote Dayton:

"Elder A. Broadus, of Va., in his reply to queries presented by "Xenoi," thus expresses his opinion:

"Now, to the particular case before us. The plea of difficulty here urged, I take it for granted, is a reasonable one; and the irregularity, as before presumed, consists in the commencement of the series of baptisms by an unbaptized — perhaps an unordained individual. But it was all done upon solemn conviction of divine requirement, upon profession of evangelical faith; and in due form, according to Christ's expressed will as to the action. Does the apparent defect in the circumstances here stated, invalidate the baptism? I am persuaded it does not."

"I will plead not as a precedent, the case of the baptism of Roger Williams, and his congregation in Rhode Island, from whom many of the Baptists of this country have sprang; if that was wrong, it cannot make this right. Nor am I disposed to deny, that baptizers in the apostles' days were all baptized persons; though, by the way, the first baptizer was not so..." (chapter one)

Again, Elder Broadus shows how the baptisms of John the Baptist would all be invalid if it was a requirement that all administrators of baptism be themselves baptized. Further, as stated previously, if the baptisms done by administrators who were not themselves immersed, or who belonged to churches that held to heresy, then there ought to be scripture that upholds that idea. But, there is none. In fact, many baptisms performed by Hardshells were performed by administrators who were either unconverted themselves, or who held to serious heresy.

If we check the lineage of any Hardshell today, we no doubt will find that someone in their chain of baptismal administrators was not qualified, using the Hardshells own criteria for judging qualifications. Many of their present churches today once believed things that today are judged as heretical and disqualifying. For instance, all of their ancestral churches once believed the London and Philadelphia confessions of faith, and in means in the new birth, and in the absolute predestination of all things. Further, as Hassell's history affirms, many Hardshell churches used to be Arminian, and when they became Calvinistic, they did not all get re-baptized. And, if that is so, then no baptism since that time has been valid! What an awful consequence of Landmark teachings!

In CHAPTER III of Dayton's book, titled "REVIEW OF J. L. WALLER," Dayton wrote:

"Some years ago, our lamented Brother Waller prepared and published in the Western Baptist Review, the following Article. In the recent discussion of this subject and of questions growing out of it, reference has been often made to this great man's opinion, as though it should of itself do very much to settle the controversy. I am very glad, therefore, to see his article republished in the Western Recorder, of November 25th, 1857, so that brethren may see for themselves what positions he actually took, and by what arguments he endeavored to sustain them. Let the reader observe how small a part of all he said has any direct bearing upon the question in dispute. That question is not whether one baptized in unbelief is properly baptized, Upon this point Baptists are very generally agreed. Nor is it whether baptism given by a layman is valid baptism. But whether baptism administered without any authority from a true visible church of Christ, is true and valid baptism. If Pedobaptist Societies are not true churches of Christ, then baptism conferred in them, is conferred by neither ministers nor laymen, but simply by those who are not members of a visible church of Christ at all."

Dayton is willing to acknowledge that baptism does not require an ordained elder, saying that even a "layman" can administer "valid baptism." However, our Hardshell brethren go even further than Dayton and most Landmarkers in this, affirming that only ordained elders can baptize. Most Landmarkers affirm that the authority for baptism resides in the local church, and not with the minister, and therefore a layman may, with authority from the church, conduct baptisms. It seems that the question was not only whether baptism administered by an unqualified administrator is valid, but whether any baptisms of any church deemed not to be a "true" church are valid. But, who judges which churches are "true" churches? With many Hardshell churches, historically, they have been very strict in judging which church was "true" and which was not. But, more on that later.

Dayton cites these words of Elder Waller under the caption "Waller's Essay":

"The inquiry is often made, whether persons baptized upon a profession of genuine repentance and faith, by a "Reformer,'' or by a Pedobaptist, ought, on such baptism to be received as members of Baptist churches? In the West, the practice of our churches has not been uniform, and the opinions of brethren who have bestowed considerable attention upon the subject, are discordant. This question is substantially the same with that which has for many centuries elicited so much angry and useless discussion, viz: Is an ordained minister in the true church, as an administrator, at all times essential to the validity of baptism?"

Yes, that is indeed the question! And, the minority view has always been to affirm that only ordained ministers judged to be in "the true church" could administer valid baptisms. But, more on that later.

Waller continued:

"But our practice, although not uniform, has not been the cause of any serious misunderstanding. It has been left entirely to the churches to dispose of, as the merits of the applicants seemed to demand; and where dissent has occurred at all, it has been confined to the bounds of the church where the case existed; and to the churches in their independent capacities it rightfully belongs. It can never be taken from them. We must be understood, then, as simply discussing a question of expediency and propriety, about which a variety of opinions may exist, and yet furnish no just cause of alienation of feeling. In the discussion of this and all kindred questions, our arguments must necessarily be based upon inferences drawn from the Scriptures. There is no express precept or example to guide us in our investigations. The question is a new one originating out of the unhallowed and unfortunate dissentions and divisions that have transpired since the canon of Scripture was closed. But we must be careful not to violate any of the injunctions of the Scriptures, and to examine attentively for those great landmarks drawn by inspiration, to conduct the patient and prayerful enquirer after truth in the ways that he should go. The primitive practice is clear. The path in which the holy men of old walked is so plain that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein. Then all who believed and were baptized, were admitted into the church. The commission of the Savior was, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." "Preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.""

Yes, it should be "left entirely to the churches" to decide. But, the Hardshells would not allow this to be the case, but rather forced churches to conform to their extreme Landmarker view. They have done this even though they cannot defend the practice from the scriptures. As Waller says - "there is no express precept or example to guide us in our investigations."

It seems that one side, the Landmarker view, wants to protect the church against evil associations with other non Baptist churches while the non Landmarker view wants to protect the significance of baptism itself and the conscience of the baptized. If it is indeed intended that baptism, unlike the Lord's Supper, be done only once, and for good reason, then it would be a sin to be baptized more than once. Baptism symbolizes Christ's death, burial and resurrection. So, to repeat it affirms that Christ must die again, or more than once. Baptism also symbolizes the Christian's death to sin and resurrection to spiritual life, and seeing that this likewise only occurs once, and never needs be repeated, then baptism must not be repeated. My own father was baptized three different times and I never did think he needed to have been baptized but once, believing his first baptism was valid. If a church ever required me to be baptized again to become a member then I would never be a member of such a church.

More to come! Comments welcomed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hardshells And Alien Baptism III

John T. Christian, the learned Baptist historian (see here) wrote (emphasis mine):

"It is now time to consider the history of another body of Baptists, who if not so numerous were at least highly influential. They were called Particular Baptists, since they held to Calvinistic views. Two views of the administrator of baptism prevailed among them. The first and oldest was that every Christian man could, without himself having been baptized, immerse a candidate upon a profession of faith." 

Several things are to be particularly noticed from these words of our historian. First, he states that the issue regarding the question of who may lawfully baptize, or regarding qualifications of baptism's administrator, is an old one among Baptists. The debate among Particular Baptists goes back to the early 17th century. It is therefore doubtful than anyone will introduce any new arguments to the discussion. What needs to be done is for the historical debate to be made available to new generations who seek to arrive at an answer. I have done this and would recommend that all do this. It saddens me that many Hardshells and Landmark Baptists take their position because they are told to do so by their churches and leaders and fail to listen to both sides fairly and honestly before making a decision on the question. We should not take a position on this issue till we have fully studied it.

Second, Dr. Christian says that the oldest and majority view among the early 17th century Particular Baptists was the one I have been putting forth as the correct view, which avows that any teaching disciple may baptize, and that baptism is not strictly a church ordinance that can only be performed by its direction or by its ordained elders. This was the view of Dr. Gill and many of the first organized Particular Baptists of the 17th century. Knowing these things about those Old Baptists leads us to reject later Landmarker arguments that avow that "Baptists have always insisted on qualified administrators appointed by the church."

Christian continued:

"Later there were those who held that an administrator should have a succession from a previously baptized administrator." 

Notice that he says that the Landmark Baptists were "later" in origin. As we will see, John Spilsbury, leader of the first Particular Baptists who signed the 1644 Confession, wrote against the idea that there were qualifications that an administrator had to meet in order to legally baptize. Some Landmarkers argue that William Kiffin differed with Spilsbury on this point, and that he and others, in order to obtain valid baptism, sent to Holland to receive baptism from an "authorized" administrator. Though I will not get into this disputed event, involving what is called the "Kiffin manuscript," which supposedly proves these events, the reader should read Dr. Christian's remarks on it. He fully shows that the "Kiffin manuscript" is not genuine, but was a hoax, probably created by later Landmarkers.

One of the sub tenets that the Landmarker view was forced to uphold, relative to "proper administrators," was the view that only properly baptized (immersed) persons, whether ministers or church appointed individuals, had authority to baptize. A minister who had himself only been sprinkled could not therefore administer proper baptism, even if he immersed the candidate. I firmly believe that the two leading arguments against this view have not, nor can they be, answered by the Landmarkers. Those two sub tenets are these:

1) Valid baptisms, like valid churches, require a valid succession to be legitimate
2) Only baptized persons can baptize others

Concerning these two important points, I will have much to offer later in this series. But, I will briefly rebut these two points, giving the historical response to them. Concerning the first, i.e. concerning the contention that in order for baptism to be valid, a person must be able to have a legitimate succession of baptisms, and administrators, back to the beginning, is both absurd and smacks of Romanism. Concerning the second tenet, it is obviously invalid due to the fact that John the Baptist was not baptized.

Christian continued:

"At times these views came into conflict and caused much troublesome discussion. The Particular Baptists had a wholly different origin from the General Baptists."

One of those "times" certainly was the middle 19th century, when "Landmarkism" became a major controversy among Southern Baptists and other Baptist groups. It is also a controversy now with the Hardshells who are requiring that Russian Baptists, who are seeking fellowship with the Hardshells, be immersed again by Hardshell elders. Many of these Russian Baptists are asking for the Hardshells to tell them why their previous immersions were not valid and why they must submit to being newly baptized. Concerning the debate among J.R. Graves and the Landmarkers against their non-Landmarker brethren, I will be giving more information in this series.

Christian continued:

"But the greatest number of English Baptists, and the more judicious looked upon all of this as needless trouble, and what proceeded from the old Popish doctrine of right to administer sacraments by an uninterrupted succession, which neither the Church of Rome, nor the Church of England, much less the modern dissenters, could prove to be with them. They affirmed therefore, and practiced accordingly, that after a general corruption of baptism, any unbaptized person might warrantably baptize, and so begin a reformation (Crosby, I. 100-103)."

This requires little comment from me. I just wish that our Hardshell and Landmark brethren would consider these things and quit being so hasty to take the Landmarker view without having first researched the matter fully.

Christian continued:

"John Spilsbury did not believe he was under obligation to send anywhere for baptism; but that he had a right to baptize like John the Baptist did. He had nothing to do with this Blount scheme. (the scheme to send men to Holland to supposedly obtain valid baptism by a "proper administrator" - SG) He says:

And because some make it such an error, and so, far from any rule or example, for a man to baptize others who is himself unbaptized, and so think thereby to shut up the ordinance of God in such a strait, that none can come by it but through the authority of the Popedom of Rome; let the reader consider who baptized John the Baptist before he baptized others, and if no man did, then whether he did not baptize others, he himself being unbaptized. We are taught by this what to do upon like occasions.

Further, I fear men put more than is of right due it, and so prefer it above the church, and all other ordinances besides; for they can assume and erect a church, take in and cast out members, elect and ordain officers, and administer the Supper; and all a-new, without any looking after succession, and further than the Scriptures: But as for baptism, they must have that successively from the Apostles, though it come through the hands of Pope Joan. What is the cause of this, that men do all from the Word but only baptism? (Spilsbury, Treatise on Baptism, 63, 65, 66).

There is so much that can be said here, but let me at least say "amen" to what Spilsbury argued. Consider the fact that there have been numerous occasions, undoubtedly, throughout history, where a person was baptized by persons who were not themselves baptized. Why would we want to argue that such baptisms were invalid? If I were a soldier on the battlefield, on the front lines, with little hope of surviving the battle, and I became a believer and wanted to be immediately baptized, why could I not seek a Christian, whether baptized or not, to baptize me? Why must I seek for a "qualified" administrator?

Christian continued:

"Nor is it probable," says Crosby, "that this man should go over sea to find an administrator of baptism, or receive it at the hands of one who baptized himself?" (Crosby, I. 104). The position was defended with ingenuity by the Particular Baptists. John Tombes was one of the most learned men of his times; an unwearied opponent of infant baptism; and frequently in public debates with Baxter and others. He defended this position (Tombes Apology for two Treatise, 10), and such was likewise the view of Henry Laurence, Esq. (Laurence, Treatise on Baptism, 407).

The position was finally assumed by the Particular Baptists as the correct one. Says Crosby: It was a point much disputed for some years. The Baptists were not a little uneasy at first about it; and the Paedobaptists thought to render all of the baptisms among them invalid, for want of a proper administrator to begin their practice: But by the excellent reasoning of these and other learned men, we see their beginning was well defended, upon the same principles on which all other Protestants built their Reformation (Crosby, I. 106)."

Notice that it was the Paedobaptists, like the Catholics, who argued for "proper administrators" and a valid succession of baptisms! I ask my Hardshell and Landmarker brethren to consider these things!

Christian continued:

"The Confession of Faith was equally clear on the proper administrator of baptism. The view of Spilsbury prevailed. He held that if baptism was lost, any disciple could begin it again, and quoted John the Baptist in proof of his position. They declared it was not necessary to send anywhere for an administrator. Article XLI is as follows:

The person designed by Christ to dispense baptism, the Scriptures hold forth to be a disciple, or a person extraordinarily sent, the commission enjoining the administration, being given to them who were considered disciples, being men able to preach the Gospel.

"The view of Spilsbury prevailed"! As it should even now!

Graves, Dayton, Pendleton vs. Waller, Wayland, Broadus

In "Pedobaptist and campbellite immersions: being a review of the arguments of Doctors Waller, Fuller, Johnson, Wayland, Broadus, and others" by A.C. Dayton (see here or here), a leading Landmarker who helped forward the movement started by J.R. Graves, we have an in depth discussion of alien immersions. This is a lengthy discussion among Baptists on the subject of alien immersion. In the remaining posts in this series, we will be looking at the argumentation that was put forth by those on each side of question in debate. It shows that the controversy over this issue, though generally settled by Baptists in the 17th century, was revived in the middle of the 19th century in America.

The book by Dayton gives the discussion that was made by leading men on both sides of the question, in J. R. Grave's periodical The Tennessee Baptist and in John Waller's periodical The Baptist Banner and Western Pioneer in the 1840s. The discussion begins with a question as seen in the following citation from the first article (emphasis mine):

"Here is a question — a serious and practical question of official duty to the churches of Christ. One upon which almost every church is likely, sooner or later, to be called on to take decisive action. It is whether a person who has been immersed upon profession of his faith, by a Pedobaptist minister, acting in behalf of a Pedobaptist church, and who thereafter shall apply for admission as a member of a Baptist church, shall by that church be regarded as having been truly baptized, or not baptized at all? If he has been baptized, the ordinance must not be repeated; for Christ requires but one baptism. If not baptized, the ordinance must be administered, for Christ requires that every member of his church shall have been baptized. Here, then, is the point which the church must determine: Was that immersion a true baptism, according to the Scriptures, or was it not? Upon her decision of this question her action in regard to his reception will depend.

That the question is one of great practical importance, and that it has been so regarded by the churches, is evinced by the discussion which it has provoked. That it is exceedingly desirable that it should, if possible, be so answered, once for all, as to secure uniformity of action among all churches, no one will doubt. But many will doubt whether this can ever be done. That very great diversity of opinion does exist, will be seen by the following letters. The majority of the "Doctors," so far as we have been able to gather their opinions, are either undecided, or else believe that the churches should regard such persons as baptized. Were we to be decided by the influence of great names, we should probably ourselves lean to that opinion. But we long since have learned to take no teaching in regard to religion, of any man, however great and good, and learned, as certainly true, until we had ourselves carefully tested it by the word of God. The Bereans were not praised because they implicitly believed without examination the teachings, even of an apostle, but because they "searched the Scriptures daily whether these things were so." When, therefore, my attention was first called to this subject, by a letter from a brother beloved, in South Carolina, enclosing a copy of the published letter of Elder Fuller, of Baltimore, with a request that I would review it, I carried it to the Bible, and by its teachings endeavored to ascertain what was the truth concerning it.

I afterwards learned, however, that so far from being a new question, it was one which had, for a long time, distracted and rent our Zion; that it had been, again and again, the object of earnest, and sometimes of almost angry contention; that Elder Fuller, so far from standing alone, was sustained by the opinions of such "Doctors" as Curtis and Johnson, Wayland and Waller, and that there were many who believed that it had been the uniform practice of the denomination in all times to receive immersions so administered as valid baptism. Such a discovery, made after my review of Elder Fuller's letter had been written and published to the world, might well have given pause to one much better qualified than I to conduct such a discussion. It seemed more likely that I should be in the wrong than that so many, so wise, so good, so learned men should have been mistaken. It surely called for a re-investigation upon my part of the grounds upon which I had so hastily ventured an opinion."

Dayton is right when he says that the question as to who may baptize was not a "new question" for it goes back to the early 17th century. Further, it became a major issue in the 19th century because some Baptists, the Landmarkers, began to make it a major issue, in much the same way that the Hardshells began to make missions, religious education, etc., major issues.

Dayton next writes:

"If Fuller and Wayland, if Johnson and Waller, cannot make good the point, which they contend for, others need hardly make the attempt. Upon that side, we suppose, we have the end of the strife. No new arguments are likely to be presented — or if there should be, the gleaner on the field which such men have reaped, will not be likely to gather any thing of equal value to that which they have already brought in. If, therefore, we have succeeded in showing that they have failed, utterly failed, to establish their position, may we not hope that this will decide the controversy at once and forever.

Of the opinions and arguments here collected in favor of the reception of Pedobaptist immersions as true and genuine christian baptism, those of Elder Waller were first published, and we have thought best to place them first in order in the body of this work. The reader will perceive that he is much less confident than "Doctor Wayland," whose sentiments were published in The Western Baptist Review, vol. iv. p. 31.

Says Wayland:

"I have not the shadow of a doubt in regard to the question of which you write. The only command is, to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that is, as I suppose, in baptism (that is immersion) to profess to submit ourselves in all things to God. It is the outward manifestation of what we have done before, in the recesses of a contrite heart. This is the whole of the command. There is no direction given beyond, nor have we a right, to make any. It is convenient, as a matter of church order, that there should be some general rule, and that this rite be administered by a clergyman, and it would be naturally performed by one who had been himself baptized by immersion. But if these things be absent, from necessity or ignorance, they alter not the fact, that the person who has been immersed on profession of faith, is, as I understand it, a baptized believer. This is a very common case with us in this city. Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Methodists here quite frequently baptize persons on profession of their faith. We consider them as baptized believers, and when they request it, admit them upon a simple relation of their experience. Indeed, were not this admitted, I know not to what absurdities we should be reduced. If the obedience to Christ depends upon the ordinance being administered by a regularly baptized administrator, where are we to stop, and how shall we know who is regularly baptized, or who has obeyed Christ? All this looks to me absolutely trivial, and wholly aside from the principle which, as Protestants and Baptists, we have always considered essential to Christian liberty. It seems to me like assuming Puseyism under another name, or in fact going back to the elements of the Catholic church. Such are my views. How they meet the views of others, I know not, but to me these principles of Christian freedom are above all price. It is time that we, above all others, should "walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and not be entangled with any yoke of bondage."

More to come!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hardshells and Alien Baptism II

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matt. 28:18-20)

This is the place to begin a discussion concerning who may baptize. All agree that those commissioned by Christ in these words have authority to teach, disciple, make converts, and baptize. If such authority comes from Christ, then it does not come from any other. It is an error to believe that the local church gives this authority or that a presbytery gives it.

There are basically three views as to who is given commission and authority in these last words of the Lord Jesus Christ. First, there is the view that the commission was given to the eleven apostles, and to them only, and through them to God called men who have been properly ordained by a presbytery of elders. Second, there is the view that the commission was given to the church as an organized body. Third, there is the view that the commission was given to every Christian or to disciples. How are we to know which is the correct view? How does knowing the correct view relate to answering the question as to who is given authority to baptize?

I recall Elder Sonny Pyles, many years ago, make the argument that the ones commanded to do the teaching were the ones commanded to do the baptizing and thus only teachers, or ordained elders, could baptize. But, his error lies in the fact that he limits the obligation to teach to the ordained ministry, and he has no grounds to do so. If the command to "teach" were indeed limited to the ordained clergy, then he would have weight to his argument. But, it is clear that the command to "teach" was not limited to the apostles or to the ordained elders.

Who can deny that many of those who are taught the gospel, or made disciples, or converted, were taught by unordained Christians? Even in the Hardshell church, many members were first taught the gospel by regular church members. So, the reality proves that the assertion is false. Which Hardshell wants to come forward and affirm that all their members were taught the gospel and made disciples solely by ordained elders?

Not only is the foregoing fact against the Hardshell interpretation that only ordained elders are intended by Christ to be teachers and converters of the nations, but so is the actual history of the fulfilling of the commission, as seen in the Book of Acts and in the NT epistles. In the book of Acts we plainly see that not all the preaching and baptizing was done by the elders. Also, from the epistles we see that gospel teaching was not limited to the ordained clergy.

You All Ought To Be Teachers

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat." (Heb. 5:12)

The plural "ye" in this verse is not limited to the ordained clergy. What Hardshell or Landmarker will deny this plain fact? The words of the text are addressed to all disciples, who begin as students of the word, having others over them as teachers. Every disciple is to learn in order that he or she may be able to teach others. And, this being so, the great commission is clear that every teacher of the gospel is authorized to baptize those who they teach and convert. This is enough to settle the case about who may legally baptize.

Certainly it is the regular practice for new converts to seek baptism in conjunction with asking for church membership. This is true now and historically in the past. This being so, baptism is most often performed by ministers of the particular church where disciples are converted and where they seek membership with other Christians. But, though this is the regular normal scenario, this does not mean that every baptism occurs in this way, nor that it must occur in that way. In other words, if we ask whether it is a regular practice, historically speaking, for new converts to be baptized by the unordained, we answer "no." But, if we ask whether such an irregular practice is therefore invalid, we answer "no." Likewise, with baptisms performed by women teachers.

What is being affirmed is what the first Particular Baptists affirmed in the early 17th century when they said that "any disciple" is authorized to baptize. This has been proven by the words of the great commission. All who teach or disciple may baptize those who receive their teaching. And, as we have seen, every Christian ought to become a teacher or discipler.

Another verse, among many others that could be cited in addition to Hebrews 5:12, is the words of Paul to Timothy.

"And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (II Tim. 2:2)

The first thing to notice about this text is that "men" is from ἀνθρώποις (humans) and not anēr (males). Timothy was to teach faithful persons, male and female, and these in turn would teach others. And, as we have observed, all who teach others may baptize those who are converted by their teaching.

From gotquestions.org in answer to the question - "Who is permitted to baptize/perform baptisms?" (see here) we have these words:

"If this commission is given to all Christians (as is commonly held), then it follows that the authority to baptize is also given to all Christians."

Remember that this was the teaching of those Baptists who put out the first London Confession in 1644. The writers at the above web site also write (emphasis mine):

"The Epistles never discuss who is to baptize. What is discussed is the meaning behind baptism. In both the book of Acts and the Epistles, the proper understanding of how one is saved (Acts 19:1-5) and the symbolism involved in baptism (Romans 6) seem to be more important than who is doing the baptism."

"Based on Matthew 28:18-20, as well as on the silence of the remaining portions of Scripture concerning this issue, it would seem that any true believer has authority from God to baptize, even as he has the authority from God to evangelize and teach all that Christ commanded."

In an article titled "Who is Authorized to Baptize?" by Stephen M Young (see here) we have these good words:

"There is biblical precedent for asking church leaders to step back from out of the baptismal waters and give space for others to do the baptizing. A number of scriptures insinuate a model where the leader is not the lead baptizer. Jesus did not baptize, but rather his disciples did (John 4:1-2). Paul did not baptize many, he left it for others (1 Corinthians 1:14-16). Peter did not baptize Cornelius’s household. Instead, he simply ordered that they should be baptized (Acts 10:47-48). The Twelve almost certainly called upon the 120 for the baptism of at Pentecost (Acts 1:15, 2:41)."

This is very insightful and lends weight to the proposition that any disciple may legally baptize.

Young continues:

"This kind of immediate baptism on location is New Testament hallmark. The fact that they were done wherever the new Christians professed Christ is probably due to the pioneer missions nature of the events, but the immediacy is almost startling. Paul was baptized in Damascus before the local church even knew he was converted. The jailor and his family in Phillipi did not wait for daybreak. The Ethiopian, who didn’t interrupt his travel to hear the gospel, called his ride to a stop in order to be baptized before continuing. In each of these cases, everything happened so fast, the local church did not have a chance to be involved."

Again, these comments support the view that any disciple can baptize and baptisms may be performed without the consent of a church.

Consider these words from Acts.

"And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles...Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." (Acts 8:1-4)

Who can limit the class of disciples that were "scattered abroad" to ordained elders? Were those scattered abroad not a group that included many ordinary disciples? And, did they not preach or proclaim the word of the gospel? And, in doing so, did they not do what Christ commanded in the great commission? And, when they made disciples of the nations in all those areas where they were scattered, did they not baptize them? Did they have to get approval from the church at Jerusalem to baptize in each case? I think not.

Wrote John Gill (emphasis mine):

"As the first covenant, or testament, had ordinances of divine service, which are shaken, removed, and abolished; so the New Testament, or gospel dispensation, has ordinances of divine worship, which cannot be shaken, but will remain until the second coming of Christ: these, as Austin says[1], are few; and easy to be observed, and of a very expressive signification. Among which, baptism must be reckoned one, and is proper to be treated of in the first place; for though it is not a church ordinance, it is an ordinance of God, and a part and branch of public worship. When I say it is not a church ordinance, I mean it is not an ordinance administered in the church, but out of it, and in order to admission into it, and communion with it; it is preparatory to it, and a qualification for it; it does not make a person a member of a church, or admit him into a visible church; persons must first be baptized, and then added to the church, as the three thousand converts were; a church has nothing to do with the baptism of any, but to be satisfied they are baptized before they are admitted into communion with it. Admission to baptism lies solely in the breast of the administrator, who is the only judge of qualifications for it, and has the sole power of receiving to it, and of rejecting from it; if not satisfied, he may reject a person thought fit by a church, and admit a person to baptism not thought fit by a church; but a disagreement is not desirable nor advisable: the orderly, regular, scriptural rule of proceeding seems to be this: a person inclined to submit to baptism, and to join in communion with a church, should first apply to an administrator; and upon giving him satisfaction, be baptized by him; and then should propose to the church for communion; when he would be able to answer all proper questions: if asked, to give a reason of the hope that is in him, he is ready to do it; if a testimony of his life and conversation is required, if none present can give it, he can direct where it is to be had; and if the question is put to him, whether he is a baptized person or not, he can answer in the affirmative, and give proof of it, and so the way is clear for his admission into church fellowship. So Saul, when converted, was immediately baptized by Ananias, without any previous knowledge and consent of the church; and, it was many days after this that he proposed to join himself to the disciples, and was received (Acts 9:18, 19, 23, 26-28)..." (A Body of PRACTICAL Divinity, Book 3—Chapter 1-OF BAPTISM)

I firmly agree with Dr. Gill on this. I don't believe, however, that there is any scripture that says that Ananias baptized Paul. Ananias simply said to Paul - "get yourself baptized." Ananias may have baptized Paul, but the text does not say so. Further, Ananias does not tell Paul to get baptism from a particular administrator. This is revealing in itself. If the administrator was so important, then surely Ananias would have added words about that, such us "get yourself baptized by elder so and so" or "get yourself baptized by the authority of such and such a church."

More to come, the Lord willing.