Reply to Baptist Charges and Challenges
Recently, a brother wrote and posed the following for consideration:
I am...getting ready to send propositions to an Independent Baptist in Lewisburg, TN. He is on the radio station down there and has been preaching hot and heavy against baptism, saying it was "Satan's doctrine"....He has said, "The Campbellites have sent more people to hell than any other group." A fellow down there heard me in the debate in November and asked if I'd debate this fellow, and I said I would. Anyway, I'm planning on sending some propositions and then taking it from there.
The following is a quote from the Baptist. He has just finished saying we are saved "by grace through faith" and that we put on Christ the moment we are saved by grace through faith. He then said, "...You'll want to be baptized because you are saved. I put on a ring because I did get married...."
Have you heard this one? It is similar to other arguments, I know, but am not able to put my finger on it right now....
He may also say that a person is married whether he wears a ring, or not (therefore, in his mind, excluding baptism completely). He says that ring shows the world he is married, and baptism shows the world you are saved.
(Hopefully the remarks below in answer to this good brother will be helpful to our readers as well. . Should the material generate other questions on these or related matters, feel free to contact brother Hafley at the email address at the end of this article).
The argument assumes the point to be proven. One has to grant that salvation precedes baptism to parallel it with the wearing of a ring.
He says we believe, are saved, then are baptized; so, we are married and then wear a ring. Thus, he assumes the very point he is to prove. Grant him the assumption and his illustration is apt. However, we do not grant him the point. Let him prove it.
Now, if the Bible said all those things, could one then use the gentleman's ring argument? (No, he would be going around in circles!) Likewise, one cannot use his argument since the Bible says what it says about baptism.
Too, his illustration proves that one can be saved and never be a Baptist, for it takes baptism to make a Baptist. So, if one can be married without ever wearing a ring, then one can be saved without ever being a Baptist. Conclusion--one can disobey Baptist doctrine, never be baptized, and go to heaven at last; however, one cannot disobey the gospel and be saved (2 Thessalonians 1:8). So, the Baptist gospel is not the gospel of Christ. (Christ said preach the gospel to every creature--he that believeth not shall be damned--disobey Christ's gospel and be damned, Mark 16. But one may disobey Baptist doctrine, never be a member of the Baptist church, and go to heaven at last, so Baptist doctrine is not Bible doctrine).
Since one can be married without ever wearing a ring, and if that represents baptism, what does that do to their old arguments about being baptized because Jesus was? What does that do with their protests that they believe in baptism but just don't believe it is essential?
The Romans were married to Christ (Romans 7:4). They had been "baptized into Christ." Suppose the Bible, in talking about marriage, said, that one who wears a ring "weareth it into marriage," what then? Would the gentleman's argument be valid then? Would it then be proper to say that one may be married without wearing a ring?
Though I've never met a Campbellite, I am more than a little intrigued by their power. (By whose authority do the Campbellites send souls to hell? And who gave them this authority?) First, I thought the Lord was the one who destroyed both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). That being so, why does this Baptist fellow ascribe such a feat to those Campbellites?
Second, according to the Baptist doctrine, how could the Campbellites send anyone to hell? They can't send children of God, since, according to Baptist doctrine, once one is saved, he is always saved; so, children of God cannot be sent to hell by the Campbellites. Too, they can't send the unsaved, unbelievers to hell, for "he that believeth not is condemned already" (John 3:18). Baptists teach that we are born in sin, totally depraved children of the devil. Campbellites cannot send such folks to torment, for they are "condemned already."
Now, since the Campbellites cannot send even apostate children of God to hell, and since unbelievers are "condemned already," just who is it that they are sending to hell? Our Baptist friend must know, for he says they are doing so. Will he tell us who it is that they are consigning to hell? If not, will he withdraw his charge and apologize for his false accusation against the Campbellites?
Finally, when our Baptist friend so charges those pesky Campbellites, is he, in effect, sending them to hell? He is certainly not recommending them for heaven; so, does his charge not show that he is condemning the Campbellites to hell?
Also, in this connection, when Baptists preach that men must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in him for salvation, are they not sending all the souls to hell who refuse to believe? Might a Campbellite not charge that Baptists are sending every Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu to hell? Baptists demand faith in Christ, and teach that everyone who does not subscribe to their doctrine about belief in Christ is bound for hell. Thus, a wily Campbellite might just charge them with sending folks to hell, too!
(Addendum: Let none think that because we declare what the Lord said--"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"--that we are denying that salvation is by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8, 9]. We are not. In fact, we accept the Baptist gentleman's statement "that we put on Christ the moment we are saved by grace through faith." If that last remark puzzles our readers, particularly our Baptist friends, let them write for explanation and clarification. See Romans 5:1; 6:3, 4, 17, 18; Galatians 3:26, 27; Cf. Acts 19:5 & 2:38 with Ephesians 2:8, 9.)
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