Queries and Explications

A Baptist on Jeremiah 6:16


In THE BAYTOWN SUN, 9/1/99, under the headline, "Christians must get back to the old paths," Tim Cryer, "a lay minister at Victory Baptist Church," commented as follows:

Words Of Commendation And Appreciation

As we shall kindly and candidly show in our review below, we do not agree with all of what Mr. Cryer has set forth, nor do we believe he is consistent with his own article. However, the sincere and direct nature of his remarks are to be commended. We appreciate one who will boldly set forth what he believes the Bible teaches (2 Cor. 3:12; Eph. 6:19). Men who will plainly reprove and rebuke sin and error are sorely needed (Isa. 58:1; Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2). Therefore, we commend Mr. Cryer for his strong stand and defense of what he believes is right and his condemnation of what he believes is wrong (Phil. 1:17; Jude 3).

(Is it not sad that some brethren are not as diligent and determined for the cause of truth as this man is for the course of error? Mr. Cryer earnestly contends for the Baptist faith. I have more respect for him than for those who know the truth but who are either ashamed or afraid to defend it. Mr. Cryer identifies the error he opposes and exposes it with energy and enthusiasm. Some of our brethren will not lift up their voices to fight against error as Mr. Cryer has done. How sad that such a militant spirit is lost in error while some apologetically preach a watered down, "positive mental attitude" gospel!

Will our brethren who oppose the alleged "strident, negative, quarrelsome tone" of this paper write to Mr. Cryer and protest his "angry, contentious, ungracious manner"? It is strange that those who are squeamish when they read after us and who express their disgust and disdain for our "harsh, judgmental, argumentative spirit" will not criticise our opponents. Why is that? I will not say that the reason could be that they are uncomfortable with the word of truth because they secretly are sympathetic with the errors of men.)

Too, we commend THE BAYTOWN SUN for publishing such a critical article. Though Mr. Cryer's remarks were stinging rebukes to churches who employ and utilize women preachers and who have social and recreational facilities as a major thrust of their work, the editor allowed them to appear. We commend him for this openness and pray that it will continue (Jn. 3:20, 21).

Now, we shall respond Mr. Cryer's article. We shall speak as plainly as did he and also in the same spirit of love. We ask that our readers objectively examine what is said in light of what the Bible teaches (Isa. 8: 20; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15).

Initial Observations

First, Mr. Cryer referred to "Christians" throughout his article. Not one time did he speak of being a Baptist, though the paper linked him with "Victory Baptist Church." True disciples of Christ are "Christians" (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16). The Bible does not speak of Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, or Baptists. Why, therefore, do those who claim to follow Christ wear those names today? New Testament, "old path," disciples did not do so (1 Cor. 1:10-15). Will Mr. Cryer join us in the "old path," Bible name of Christ? Will he join us in rejecting names and titles unknown to the "old paths" of the word of God, such as Presbyterian, Baptist, Mormon? Or, will he continue to follow the "new path" practice of wearing a religious name unknown to the "old paths" of the Bible?

Second, the paper identified Mr. Cryer as "a lay minister at Victory Baptist Church." Where do the "old paths" in the Bible refer to "a lay minister"? Where does the word of God make the distinction between clergy and laity, between a clergyman and "a lay minister"? Are such classes found in "the old paths"? If so, where?

Also, the Bible never refers to a Baptist Church or to Baptist Churches. Where do "the old paths" lead us to the name worn by the Baptist Church of which Mr. Cryer is a member? We do not read of the United Pentecostal Church in the "old paths" of the Bible, nor do we read of the Methodist Church, or the Lutheran Church. Is the name of the church of which you are a member a part of "the old paths" which Mr. Cryer commended, or is it a part of "the new path" which he condemned? With courtesy, we request answers to the questions posed.

Third, we note that Mr. Cryer often failed to cite Scripture for his views. Rather, he relied on what "I'm against," and "I believe." To be fair, space limitations may hinder in that regard. Still, his words would have had greater effect had they been backed up by direct appeals to "the old paths" and less to his own personal statements (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:11). We must all get back to "the old paths" of citing book, chapter, and verse and reject the "new path" of personal opinions and human traditions (Isa. 8:20; Gal. 1:8, 9; Rev. 22:18, 19).

Fourth, his comments concerning women preachers are in harmony with the word of God (1 Tim. 2:11, 12; 1 Cor. 14:34, 35). He was correct in his assessment of the social gospel and his caustic words against those who would substitute the "positive thinking" philosophy of this world for plain Bible teaching (Rom. 1:16; Col. 2:8; 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:7-10, 13; 4:2-4). Mr. Cryer decried the "new path" and the humanistic "songs they play." In the New Testament, of course, songs were sung, not played (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We shall pass that by and concur with the tenor of his remarks along that line. Likewise, Mr. Cryer's rebuke of Christians who "dress and act" like the world was according to the "old paths" (Rom. 12:1, 2; Titus 2:11-14). We commend his appeal to Christians to be "separate" from the world (2 Cor. 6:18; 7:1; 1 Jn. 2:15-17).

However, his impassioned plea for Christians to "look and act differently from the rest of the world" is blunted and dulled by the fact that he does not believe a child of God who lives like the world will be lost (Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7, 8). Mr. Cryer acknowledges that a Christian may wear immodest clothing. He said, "Shame on you if you are a Christian that smokes, drinks or cusses." So, he believes a Christian do those things; yet, he believes they will be saved even if they do! If Mr. Cryer denies this, he will truly stand in "the old paths," and he will also contradict Baptist doctrine which says that a Christian may not fall away and be lost in hell.

Fifth, Mr. Cryer did not cite Jeremiah 6:16 in its entirety. He left off the last segment. The text says, "Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk therein." The italicized portion was omitted by Mr. Cryer. Again, space limitations could have been the reason for this omission. However, the text conflicts with Mr. Cryer's stated views. Jeremiah's words show that in order to find "rest," one must "walk" in the "old paths." This, however, conflicts with Mr. Cryer's view. He does not believe that one must "walk" in the "old paths" in order to be saved. He says to so contend is a "wicked path" which is "sending people to Hell every day." As we shall see later, Mr. Cryer's Baptist doctrine does not allow him to teach that one must be faithful in order to find rest for his soul, for he believes that once one is saved, he is forever saved and cannot fall from grace.

"Reaping What We Have Been Sowing"

Mr. Cryer is correct. We do reap what we sow--"whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). This is true of nations, as Mr. Cryer correctly notes (Prov. 14:34). It is also true of individuals. "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:8). Does Mr. Cryer believe that a child of God who sows to the flesh shall reap corruption? Does he believe that a child of God must sow to the Spirit before he can "reap life everlasting"? Let him tell us plainly. "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, (God will render) eternal life" (Rom. 2:6, 7). What if a child of God does not patiently continue doing well? What if he ceases to "seek for glory and honor and immortality"? Will he receive "eternal life" even though he fails to patiently continue "in well doing" (Col. 1:23)?

Mr. Cryer may find it hard to answer such simple questions because his Baptist faith teaches that once one is saved he cannot ever fall away and be lost. Indeed, one of his Baptist brethren, Sam Morris, wrote the following words in a tract:

While we applaud Mr. Cryer's strong moral stand, the consequence of the Baptist doctrine of "once saved, always saved" is not only inconsistent with his call for purity of life, but it is also contrary to "the old paths" of the Bible. Fleshly lusts do "war against the soul" (1 Pet. 2:11). However, the consequence of Baptist doctrine is that "all the sins (one) may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger." The old paths" say, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 Jn. 3:15). "Whosoever" includes Christians. Christians may commit murder. Those who do so do not have "eternal life abiding" in them. Mr. Cryer, if a Christian dies guilty of murder, does he have eternal life abiding in him?

Mr. Cryer spoke of those people who "go to church on Sunday and still live like the devil during the week." Does Mr. Cryer believe that Christians who "live like the devil during the week" will be saved in heaven at last, or does he believe they will be lost because of their sinful, ungodly behavior? Again, we see that Mr. Cryer's sincere appeal to holy living is muted by his Baptist doctrine which says that a saved person cannot fall from grace.

The "old paths" teach that we must be "faithful unto death" (Rev. 2:10). Godly living does not earn or merit salvation (Lk. 17:10). However, one cannot be saved if he turns back to the way of the world (Lk. 12:42-48; Heb. 3:12, 13; 4:1, 11; 12:15; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; 1 Jn. 2:15-17).

Since, according to Mr. Cryer, "the new paths are wicked and evil," will Christians who follow those "new paths" fall from grace and be lost? If not, may they accept "the new paths," preach "a lie straight from the pits of Hell" and be guilty of "poisoning our churches," and still be saved in heaven at last?

The word of God says of some who had been saved by grace, "ye are fallen from grace" (Gal. 1:6; 3:1; 5:1-4, 7). Baptist doctrine says, "Ye cannot fall from grace." Which does Mr. Cryer believe? Does he believe "the old path" of Scripture, or the "new path" of error?

"The Water Baptism Path"

Mr. Cryer has some very harsh words for those who advocate the "water baptism path." Of course, Baptists practice water baptism. Even their name, "Baptist," acknowledges that. Thus, Mr. Cryer does not oppose baptism. Indeed, one cannot be a Baptist without being baptized. The Bible contains "the old paths" for which Mr. Cryer says he contends. The traditions of men constitutes the "new paths" which he opposes. Let us compare "the old paths" of the word of God with the "new paths" of the words of men.

Old Path Of God: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mk. 16:16).

New Path Of Men: "He that believeth is saved and then should be baptized; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Which of those statements does Mr. Cryer believe? Which one does he preach? If the Lord had said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall receive a new car," would Mr. Cryer say, "He that believeth shall receive a new car and afterward he may be baptized"? We could all understand the Lord if he had said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall receive a million dollars," so why can we not understand him when he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"?

Old Path Of God: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

New Path Of Men: "Repent for the remission of sins and later be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Which of those statements does Mr. Cryer believe? Which one does he preach? Which "path" represents Baptist doctrine?

Old Path Of God: "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).

New Path Of Men: "And now why tarriest thou? Call on the name of the Lord, have yours sins washed away, and then arise and be baptized."

Which of those statements does Mr. Cryer believe? Which one does he preach? Which one of those statements is most like what a Baptist preacher might say?

"Straight From The Pits Of Hell"

As noted earlier, Mr. Cryer said, "Some are telling folks that if they get baptized they are saved. The 'water baptism path' is a lie straight from the pits of Hell." Mr. Cryer, if a Baptist preacher were to preach the very words of Jesus, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," would it be "a lie straight from the pits of Hell"? If not, what would it be?

If a Baptist preacher told sinners to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins," would that be "a lie straight from the pits of Hell"? If not, what would it be?

If a Baptist preacher told a man to "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," would that be "a lie straight from the pits of Hell"? If not, what would it be? It certainly would not be Baptist doctrine! Therefore, what would it be?

If the words of Mark 16:16 ("He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved") are not "a lie straight from the pits of Hell," to what then were you referring when you said, "The 'water baptism path' is a lie straight from the pits of Hell"? If those words are not "a lie straight from the pits of Hell," what "'water baptism path'" did you have in mind that constitutes "a lie straight from the pits of Hell"? Surely, you know what it is, for you condemned it in the strongest of terms. So, again, if you were to preach "the water baptism path" of, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," and the "water baptism path" of, "Repent, and be baptized...for the remission of sins," and "the water baptism path" of "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," would you then be preaching "a lie straight from the pits of Hell"?

Concluding Comments

Surely, none will find fault with the militant, aggressive nature of Mr. Cryer's article. As noted, we appreciate his frank and forthright manner. Likewise, we trust that all will view our response in the same light. We have asked very pointed and challenging questions. They deserve an answer. If any want to ignore the questions and refuse to answer directly, that is their choice. For us, the issues are too serious and the consequences too great to engage in verbal brawls. We have stated our case and invite Mr. Cryer and others to do likewise. Truth does not fear honest and honorable investigation (Acts 17:11). Error flinches and flees from examination (Jn. 3:20, 21).

We are sending a copy of this review to Mr. Cryer. We invite him to accept our invitation to speak to us in our meetinghouse concerning the topics we have addressed. Our minds, Bibles, and pulpit are open to a study of "the old paths." "Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isa. 1:18).

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