Elder Herb Hatfield, present day Hardshell, wrote the following in "The Importance of Scriptural Baptism" (see here). I wish to particularly examine what he says about "alien baptism" and on the administrator of baptism. (emphasis mine)
"Much dispute has centered on the subject of “Who has authority to administer scriptural baptism?” This is unfortunate and is the Devil’s work to discredit the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. A brief study of the New Testament, with an open mind, will clear up the confusion. John the Baptist was the first baptizer, and he got his authority from God (John 1:6). Jesus and all twelve apostles were baptized by John (Acts 1:21-22). Jesus gave the apostles, who made up the first church (I Cor. 12:28), the authority to baptize. He commissioned that same church to send out authorized ministers to preach the Gospel and baptize converts (Matt. 28:19)."
In critiquing this apologetic, notice first the arrogance in the elder saying - "A brief study of the New Testament, with an open mind, will clear up the confusion." As if the topic is really not that difficult! As if a simple "brief study" of the topic would remove any and all confusion! As if all except the Hardshells and strict Landmarkers have studied the matter with an "open mind"! Let us see if the elder is able to "clear up" the confusion by showing us those NT passages that tell us in plain words about who has the "authority" to baptize.
One also notices the arrogance and conceit in his affirming that only the Hardshells are to be judged as being "the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ." This is that old Pharisaical attitude that says "we be Abraham's seed," and "we be the only ones," etc. The Hardshells think that they are the only ones who are Christians, the only ones who received the true Spirit, the only ones who preach the Gospel, the only ones contending for the faith, etc.
Notice also the arrogance in affirming that no one has "authority from God" to preach or to baptize but Hardshell elders! They, like John the Baptist, and like the Apostles, have such authority from God! Only they have authority from the one true church!
Was the great commission given to the church as a body? Hatfield wants to argue such, but he must know that this is not the historical or general view of his Hardshell brethren. But, while he argues that this places the "authority" to baptize in the church as a body, he also wants to place it in the hands of God, or heaven, or the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, he admits that individuals have been commissioned to baptize in addition to the church group. He also seems to think that once the church, as a group, was given authority to baptize, that only they then had the authority after the fact, and that only they could authorize an individual. Hopefully you can see the contradictions in these statements.
Hatfield wants to know where authority to baptize comes from and asserts that it can only come from the church, assuming that the commission does not give authority to Christians as individuals to do preaching or baptizing. But, he admits that both John the Baptist and the Apostles were given authority to baptize apart from the church, or as individuals.
The truth of the matter is that the commission is binding on all Christians as individuals and on individual churches. But, this is denied by the Hardshells. To them no one but themselves have a commission to teach, disciple, convert, and to baptize. To them Christ does not give authority to individual Christians to do these things, and anyone outside of the Hardshell church that does these things are sinning, doing those things without a warrant from God or Heaven.
"On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people who received the Word were baptized and added to the church (Acts 2:41). It makes sense that the same church to which those new converts were added was the church that had the authority to baptize them."
Does Hatfield not make assumptions here? First of all, the church as a group cannot baptize anyone. One person baptizes another, not a group. The group may appoint a single person to do the immersing and pronounce the words, but still it is the individual that actually does the job. Why exclude the idea that the commission, or word of God itself, is sufficient to give authority to the individual?
Further, did not Peter, who did the preaching and who answered the questions of the penitent enquirers, not have authority himself to baptize? Has Hatfield not admitted this?
Further, where does the text say that only the apostles and elders did the baptizing? Three thousand people! Surely, if we are to argue on the basis of what "makes sense," then we can safely assume that many of the brethren, those who were not elders, did much of the baptizing on that day.
Further, where is there any evidence that the 120 who made up the church took a vote on the matter, which is the way "authority" is given in Hardshell churches? Also, as a side note, I wonder if the church took the time to question each of those three thousand souls about their marital status? About whether they belonged to any secret society? Etc.?
"Philip, an ordained minister authorized by the church at Jerusalem, preached in Samaria and baptized the converts. He got his authority from the Jerusalem church."
Where is that stated in the Scriptures? Many non Berean type of Hardshell members will read what Hatfield writes and take his word when he says that Philip was "an ordained minister." There is no text that says this! He assumes it and puts it out as a fact. We do know that he was one of the seven deacons. What Hatfield does is what all Hardshells do. They see that Philip baptized and because they take their proposition to the scriptures (that says that only ordained elders can baptize) they assert that he must therefore have been ordained as an elder. But, it would "make sense" to rather see the case as proving that deacons may baptize, having been given such authority not merely by a church, but by the Lord himself. Further, where does the text in the Book of Acts say that Philip was "authorized by the church at Jerusalem" to both preach and baptize? Did he not already have that authority given to him by the Lord through the commission? As another side note, I wonder if Hatfield would say that the church also told him to go preach in Samaria? He would probably say no because the Hardshells have been vehemently against the church having any say so in where to send their ministers.
"Peter preached in the house of Cornelius and the whole household believed and received the Holy Ghost. He then baptized them in water by the authority of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 10: 47 and Acts 11:12). Paul baptized his converts during his preaching trips because the Holy Ghost, through the church at Antioch, had called and sent him to the work of evangelism. (Acts 13: 1-4)."
Notice the error of Hatfield. He says that Peter baptized the house of Cornelius and yet the text says merely that Peter "commanded them to be baptized" (Acts 10: 48). Is this not ironic? Here is an arrogant man who wants to straighten out everyone else on the topic and yet makes such statements and is so careless with the scriptures!
Also, where does the text say that the house of Cornelius was baptized "by the authority of the church at Jerusalem"? Did Peter not already have that authority from Christ himself in the great commission? Also, where are the scriptures that say "Paul baptized his converts during his preaching trips"? That Paul baptized some, is granted. But, he seemed to do little of the baptizing, leaving it to others who traveled with him, just as Peter. (I Cor. 1:17) Further, why say that Paul got his authority to preach and to baptize from the church at Antioch when he got it from the Lord himself? (See Acts 26: 16-18) If Paul already had such authority, from Christ himself, why would he need it from the church at Antioch?
"A SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM MUST HAVE A SCRIPTURAL ADMINISTRATOR – By the authority of a New Testament Baptist Church. Not just anyone can print legal money, nor can just anyone practice medicine as a doctor, neither can just anyone be a lawyer. The laws of man regulate all these activities. Baptism is regulated by the laws of God. If any one of the above conditions is not met, then the baptism is not scriptural, and therefore, is invalid. Without scriptural authority, there is no scriptural baptism. It may be that both the administrator and the candidate for baptism are very sincere and devout, but neither sincerity or devoutness is a substitute for authority from God."
Hatfield says that "scriptural baptism must have a scriptural administrator," but he does not cite any verses that affirm such and that give the qualifications of such administrators. Keep in mind that he is supposed to be clearing things up on this matter by his "brief study"! Seems to me that he is rather clouding the issue.
Hatfield says that "baptism is regulated by the laws of God" and we agree. The great commission is that law! It authorizes every disciple to teach and to baptize. No church has the right to abrogate that law or to change it! Notice that though he states that only those elders appointed by the church may baptize, he has yet not given any scripture to prove it!
Hatfield wants to make the administrator of baptism into a "professional"! This is something his forefathers would have repudiated! They vehemently argued against making the clergy into a "profession"!
"When Paul found those disciples at Ephesus whose baptism was unscriptural, he did not hesitate to instruct them correctly and then give them proper baptism. Today, any child of God who may discover that for any reason their baptism is unscriptural should immediately seek to be scripturally baptized."
It is amazing how Hatfield can make such blanket statements as these and yet offer no proof from the scriptures to substantiate them! Ironically, he is the one that keeps using the word "scriptural" (just like the "twin" of the Hardshells, the Campbellites do) and yet gives us no scriptures!
About the supposed re-baptism of those disciple at Ephesus, I will have more to say later in this series. But, even if we grant that they were re-baptized, it must be shown that the reason for it was due to an unqualified administrator! This he cannot do!
Hatfield then writes (his captitals):
"IF A PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH ACCEPTS ALIEN IMMERSION, THEY ARE HELPING TO PAVE THE WAY FOR THE ECUMENICAL ONE WORLD CHURCH"
Whether this is true or not, it is not a fact observable from a "brief study" of the NT on the subject of baptism! I will have more to say on this argument in the next posting when I look at what a couple other present day Hardshell elders have written on this topic, for they argue the same way. I have already stated that it is illogical to think that one cannot accept one aspect of another church, yea, even one in disorder, without accepting everything. The only thing that really needs to be said here on his assertion is to say that it is simply that, an assertion, and does not prove anything. It is again ironic how he constantly has used the word "scriptural" for his argumentation and yet here relies on what is clearly a mere assertion. I bet the church Hatfield pastors sings lots of songs written by members and preachers of other denominations, men like John Wesley, and yet finds this to be okay.
"How can Primitive Baptists fellowship with, cooperate with, or receive baptism from churches that may be Baptist in name, but who receive baptism from every religious order that comes along? Baptism does not hinge upon whether the person is satisfied with it, but the question is, is the Lord satisfied with it? Does it meet the teaching of the Scriptures? There are some Primitive Baptist preachers and Primitive Baptist churches that seem to be sound on baptism, as far as the local congregation is concerned; however, they are not embarrassed to receive members from non-Primitive Baptists churches. Those religious orders send out missionaries through mission boards, have Sunday schools, support Bible schools and other religious auxiliaries. How “can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (I Cor. 5:6)"
Oh God forbid that the Hardshells should have any fellowship at all with other Christians! God forbid that they should cooperate at all with other Christians! When he asks "is the Lord satisfied with it?" he is really asking "are the Hardshells satisfied with it?" Again, he refers to the criteria to judge all baptismal questions, asking "does it meet the teaching of the Scriptures?" What scriptures? Where are the ones that make the qualifications of the administrator integral to baptism?
"If a Primitive Baptist church ever accepts any baptism from any religious order other than a New Testament Primitive Baptist church, that church will have started down the slippery slope of compromise and ecumenicalism that leads to apostasy. They will themselves cease to be a New Testament Primitive Baptist Church."
Again, more repetition and baseless assertion! Scare tactics!