Wednesday, June 21, 2017
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.
"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!
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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."