Larry Fain
Larry H. Fain

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The Miller - Streutker Debate
September 24-25, 2001
Cincinnati, Ohio


In May of 2001, a David Steinmann challenged Tom Roberts concerning what Steinmann called "baptismal regeneration". Tom, of course, had only stood for the truth of God's word that Jesus commanded and His apostles taught water baptism for the remission of sins. Both Stan Cox, editor of Watchman Magazine and myself, as Associate Editor supported Tom and answered Mr. Steinmann through several e-mails. In an e-mail of May 26, under the subject line "Pony Up Stan" Mr. Steinmann offered a challenge to a public debate. His challenge was very weak, but did produce a serious response from Stan Cox:

    "I clearly asked you if you were willing to defend your teaching in a public debate.  Initially you ignored my post as I set forth what would be needed for a debate to take place.

    To summarize, we have the following:

    I am willing to supply half of everything:
      1) I will supply a participant (myself, or another gospel preacher).

      2) I will ensure that myself or another gospel preacher is able to travel anywhere in the United States

      3) I am willing to open the pulpit where I preach to one I believe to be a false teacher.  I do so with full confidence that I (or another gospel preacher) will be able to refute the false doctrine, and that truth will be exalted.

      4) I am confident that such an exchange will be of benefit to the brethren here, and strengthen their faith.

    You, however, are willing to supply nothing:
      1) You actually had the gall to ask for us to pay your expenses.

      2) You have indicated an unwillingness to travel to DFW.

      3) You have indicated a willingness to debate only in a Church of Christ building.

      4) You have indicated that the leadership of your congregation will not agree to endorse you in debate, nor to sponsor either half of the debate in their building, or to sponsor one of two debates in a "here and there" format.

    And then you say that I seem to be unwilling to debate. Perhaps it is good that this exchange is through email.  I can't imagine how you could say such with a straight face!

    I may add to the preceding the fact that you make the claim to be a member of no denomination.  You have continually in your posts referred to the Lord's church as a denomination.  You have done so knowing that the claim I make as a Christian is to be a member of the Lord's church.  I too deny that I am a member of a denomination. I don't fault you for the claim. I deny the truth of it.  However, you still have not told me what I was asking for, and you know it!  (Why the evasion?)

    Second, you continually disparage the contention I make that baptism is necessary for the remission of sins by saying it is " a works based teaching that merits salvation".  This I deny, and you know it.  I teach and have always taught that a man cannot earn his salvation, and is wholly dependent upon the grace of God to be saved.  While I understand you feel my position to be otherwise, you are assuming what you must prove.  It seems to me a bit unseemly for you to be baiting me in this way.

    Finally, evasion again as I asked if the leadership of your congregation would endorse you in open debate.  You did not answer the question.

    My only conclusion is that you lack the integrity to pursue this matter further.  If it your intention simply to argue with me privately via email, I have no interest in continuing.  It is obvious, as you have debated the issues, that an attempt to convert you to the truth is futile.  I have others to teach who are receptive to the pure gospel of our Lord, I will concentrate my efforts on them.

    I have no doubt that you will go chirping about, claiming that we were to afraid to discuss these issues with you.  I simply ask that if you feel that need, you share all of the correspondence with them.

    I have no qualms with anyone reading our letters. I am confident that any open minded individual would say that you have not been forthright in these matters.

    As I close our exchange, I will leave the following offer open to you in the foreseeable future.  If at anytime you truly want to debate these issues, and are willing to pony up and do your part to bring such a discussion to fruition, we will do our part."

I am confident that Stan fully characterized Mr. Steinmann in that response. I however, was curious about just how serious Mr. Steinmann might really be in this matter of a public debate, so I wrote to him and asked where he lived, and if he might be willing to stage a debate in his hometown if a Christian would be willing and able to go there. As it turned out, his home was Cincinnati, Ohio, where a good and dear friend of mine lived, namely Matt Miller. It only took one request from me to Matt to get an immediate response from him, and it was an enthusiastic affirmative. I forwarded all the correspondence I had from Mr. Steinmann and Matt was on his way.

Stan was right about Mr. Steinmann. He apparently had no intention to debate. However, to his credit, he referred Matt to another man who held to the same false doctrine as did Mr. Steinmann who accepted the challenge to debate. Kurt Streutker by name, he corresponded with Matt and the debate was finally set for September 24 - 25 in Cincinnati.

As was the case with Mr. Steinmann, Mr. Streutker could offer nothing for the debate: no reciprocal building; no real substantial audience; no visual aid or recording equipment; not even a moderator. The elders of the Lockland church in the Cincinnati, Ohio area provided the building and all the needed equipment, and this reviewer served as the sole moderator.

God has blessed this writer with the opportunity to work with several young preachers. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life in preaching. Though it is my belief that Stan Cox was and remains the most talented young preacher I ever encountered, (yes, even Stan used to be young) Matt Miller is right there with him. I was never so proud of an association as I was of Matt Miller in his defense of the truth of God's word. He was prepared, well equipped in his knowledge and plans for his presentation in both the affirmative and the negative propositions. God has certainly blessed this young man with al the tools necessary to be an effective proclaimer of God's truth.

The debate had simple propositions:

Proposition One:

    "The scriptures teach that New Testament salvation occurs before, and independent of, water baptism."

      Affirm: Kurt Streutker
      Deny: Matthew R. Miller

Proposition Two:

    "The scriptures teach that New Testament salvation occurs at the point of, and dependant upon, water baptism."

      Affirm: Matthew R. Miller
      Deny: Kurt Streutker

Mr. Streutker's position was pure Calvinism. Salvation occurs at the point of faith and that faith and repentance are both gifts from God and that the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, and Mark 16:16 is Holy Spirit baptism, also a gift from God. His repeated plea was for justification by faith only. He used that phrase 15 times in his 45 minute main affirmative speech. When challenged with the teaching of James 2, he could only say that salvation was by grace through faith only and thus no "works" could be involved no matter what the scriptures taught to the contrary.

What follows here is the working affirmative address by Matt Miller in its entirety. It is not a transcription from the tape of the debate but his written article which was the basis of his address:


Miller's Affirmative

I.  Preface.   I thank my honorable opponent, the audience, and our moderator this evening for the chance to set forth my arguments that baptism is necessary for salvation.  This is, in essence, what we are debating this evening.  All I ask of the audience is that you clear from your mind any preconceived theology or beliefs, listen to what I say, and judge what I say on the merits of the scriptures themselves.

II. Argument Number One: Salvation Is Conditional.

    A. It is generally agreed by all professing Christians that God must save man from sin.  Many disagree as to man's state both before salvation, and about the nature of salvation.  The actual process of salvation is almost always argued based on the nature of salvation instead of on the basis of the actual process.  It is my contention that my opponent and I, in terms of this debate, fundamentally disagree on the nature of salvation. That is, we have two diametrically different views as to the conditionality of salvation.  My opponent's arguments come from the view that salvation is either completely, or mostly, unconditional, whereas my arguments shall come from the view that salvation is conditional.

    B. It is my contention that my opponent's objections to baptism are not so much because he is personally against baptism, or that he truly finds the scriptures dealing with baptism to be difficult or confusing.  In fact, I think my opponent, in his heart of hearts, probably sees how clear the baptism scriptures are. It is my contention that his real objection to baptism is that he cannot reconcile the scriptures about baptism with his belief that salvation is unconditional.  In fact, I believe that this is the case with most Baptists.  It is not that they object to the individual scriptures about baptism, but instead that they approach the scriptures with the theological idea that salvation is unconditional.  Thus, they cannot reconcile certain scriptures with their theology.

    C. If salvation is indeed unconditional, then it would be a natural conclusion that it cannot be conditioned upon baptism. However, if salvation is conditional by nature, then it is not such a hard thing to accept the biblical conditions. Thus, the very first argument I wish to set forth is that of the conditionality of salvation.  If I can first convince my opponent, and those who believe like he does, that salvation is conditional, then I shall have overcome the first and greatest obstacle between us.

    D. Ephesians 2:8,9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that no one may boast."

      1. This passage is crucial to understanding the nature of salvation.  It is a passage often used by those who, like my opponent, believe that salvation is not conditional.  It is often argued that this passage means that salvation has nothing to do with works and is thus unconditional.

      2. There are two elements of this passage that are both equally important.  The verse cannot be understood properly by ignoring either part.  The passage describes the nature of salvation.

      3. The first element of the passage is that salvation is by grace. This is the Dative of Means, which indicates that salvation comes on the basis of, or by means of, grace.  That is, salvation is totally and completely based on grace.  Man could not save himself, because he was dead in sin. God either had to do something to save man, or allow us to die in sin and be separated from Him for all of eternity. Because He is a loving God, He chose to save us.  So, the basis of salvation is 100%, totally grace, with no works whatsoever. Neither I, nor any of my brethren whom I know, teach any other doctrine than that salvation is completely and utterly based on grace.  Man could not have brought about salvation based on works, because we had already sinned, and had already fallen away from God.  In fact, in all of the passages that my opponent has, or will, refer to in Romans, this is exactly what Paul is teaching, and what I believe: that salvation came about, that Christ died for sin, not based on my works, but on His grace.

      4.  Yet the main disagreement between my opponent and me seems to be this: because salvation is based completely on grace, my opponent concludes that it must therefore be completely unconditional. He either must conclude this, or be inconsistent and say that salvation is only slightly conditional, faith being the one and only condition.

      5.  However, there is another element to this passage. Salvation is through faith. The preposition dia, when used with the genitive, as in this passage, indicates the medium through which a state is reached.  In other words, salvation is reached through faith.  This means that salvation, while being based completely upon grace, is nevertheless conditioned upon faith.  In other words, according to the grammar of this passage, God has extended salvation because He is gracious.  Yet man must enter that salvation through a medium, here being faith. Salvation is conditional.

    E. Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'"
      1.  Though this passage demonstrates that works do matter, I am drawing another, more basic principle from it, in the hopes again of convincing my opponent, and those who believe like he does, that salvation is conditional.

      2.  Christ clearly teaches in this passage that some people will go to heaven, and some people will not.  "Entering the kingdom of heaven" I am sure we all understand is equivalent to "being saved."  So, some people will be saved, and some will not.  Now, the question under consideration for this debate is: Why will some be saved and some not?  What exactly is the differentiating factor between those who are saved, and those who are not?  We know that the lamb of God takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29); that Christ is the savior of all men (1 Timothy 4:10); that God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).  Yet we also know that not all men will be saved.  Thus, there must be some point at which men are saved.  Given these facts, then we may logically conclude this: If salvation is unconditional - that is, if salvation is not conditioned on anything that man does, if salvation is completely up to God and man has no part whatsoever in it - then there are only three logical options:

        a. Universal Salvation: If God desires all men to be saved, and salvation is completely unconditional, then God may save everyone, and everyone will go to heaven.

        b. Universal Damnation: If God desires all men to be saved, and salvation is completely unconditional, but all have sinned, then God may just allow everyone to go to hell.

        c. Arbitrary Predestination: If salvation is completely unconditional, yet some will go to heaven and some to hell, then it may be that God arbitrarily selects some for salvation and some for damnation, based on absolutely nothing that those people have done.  This is, in fact, exactly the Calvinistic doctrine of Unconditional Election.

      There are simply no other logical options, if salvation is unconditional.  If man has absolutely nothing that he may do in order to be saved, no condition to be met, then there is either Universal Salvation, Universal Damnation, or Arbitrary Predestination.  If my opponent believes that there is nothing man can do in order to be saved, then I ask him which of these three options he chooses.  Remember, there are no other logical options.

      3. If, however, salvation is conditional, then that does not, and cannot, contradict the fact that salvation is based upon grace. The basis and the conditionality of salvation are two different things; related, but different. An analogy would be: a man is drowning in the middle of a river.  He cannot save himself, so it cannot be said that he is saving himself by works. Another man on the bank sees him and desires to save him. The drowning man is utterly dependent on the salvation of the man on the bank.  Thus, his salvation is based 100% upon the kindness of the man on the bank.  If then the man on the bank throws the drowning man a life-raft, then are there any conditions of salvation?  Of course there are: the drowning man must 1) Reach out his hand, 2) Grasp the life-raft, and 3) Hold on to the life-raft while he is pulled to shore.  He must actually do three works or he will not be saved.  These are the conditionsof his salvation.  Yet, would this drowning man then argue that he saved himself, simply because he responded to the other man's salvation by actually doing something?  If he had refused to grab the life-raft, insisting that it was salvation by works, would he have been saved?  Does the fact that he had to reach out and grab the life-raft somehow negate or contradict the fact that he was saved by the man on the shore?  Thus, conditionality does not negate grace. Because God may have ordained certain works of obedience cannot somehow negate His grace!  Let us remember that Christ, not I, commanded baptism.

    F. Salvation by works:

      1. In order for salvation to be a salvation by works, people would have to be perfect.  That is the ONLY way that salvation could be by works.  For my opponent to argue that a sinner being baptized equals "salvation by works" is illogical.  The mere fact that the person is a sinner PROVES that his salvation cannot be by works - he has already sinned and can no longer be perfect. So, just because he obeys God does not, and cannot, mean "salvation by works."

      2. Luke 17:7-10: "'Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, "Come immediately and sit down to eat?"  But will he not say to him, "Prepare something for me to eat, and clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink"?  He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?  So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, "We are unworthy slaves; we have done that which we ought to have done."'"  These words of Christ PROVE that obedience does not equal a works salvation.  Just because we obey Christ in baptism, and just because salvation is conditioned upon obedience, in no way means we are saved by works or even worthy of salvation.  One can both obey, and still be saved by grace: grace and obedience are not contradictory or incompatible!  Christ's words prove it!  Let my opponent argue with Christ.

    G. The scriptures teach, however, that salvation is conditional.  Both of the passages already examined clearly offer a condition unto salvation - something that man must do in order to enter God's grace.  I would venture to guess that, if my opponent is pressed, he will agree that salvation is conditional.  His only logical options at this point are as follows:

      1. He may admit that salvation is conditional, accept the scriptural condition of baptism, and concede the proposition.

      2. He may admit that salvation is conditional, but continue to deny that baptism is a condition.

      3. He may insist that salvation is unconditional and accept one of the three logical options listed above.

      4. He may insist that salvation is unconditional and inconsistently attempt to choose another option.

      5. He may redefine words like "faith" and "grace" and "repentance" and "obedience" in order to support his doctrine.

      We will see which option he chooses.

    H.  Salvation has always been conditional upon obedience to God.  In every instance in the Bible dealing with man's relation to God, the following principles have always been involved:

      1. God, based 100% on His grace, gives man a blessing or a state of blessing.

      2. God gives a law to be obeyed, thus setting forth a condition.

      3. If man obeys that law, then he enters into, or remains in, God's grace.

      4. If man disobeys that law, then he remains outside of, or is cast out of, God's grace.

    I.  Note the following examples from throughout the Bible, all illustrating that principle:

      1. Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7:

        a. God, based 100% on His grace, created man and put him in a paradise.

        b. God gave a law forbidding eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

        c. Man could have obeyed that law and remained in paradise forever.

        d. But man broke that law, and was cast out of paradise.

      2.  Genesis 4:2-12:

        a. God, based 100% on His grace, gave Cain and Abel the blessings of life: food, work, a family, etc.

        b. God apparently had some law dealing with sacrifice and worship, because God has never, and does not, condemn people arbitrarily without having some kind of law.  God also had a law against murder.

        c. Both Cain and Abel could have obeyed those laws and remained in their state of grace.

        d. Abel obeyed those laws and remained in God's grace.

        e.  Cain disobeyed those law and was cast out of that grace, forced to become a cursed vagrant.

      3. Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1:

        a. God, based 100% on His grace, gave man the earth to live on with all the blessings of life.

        b. God gave man moral law.

        c. Man disobeyed God and became wicked.

        d. God destroyed man.

        e. Again, God, based 100% on His grace, offered man a way of escape from destruction, namely, the ark.

        f. Noah and his family obeyed, while the rest of mankind disobeyed.

        g. Noah and his family were saved, while the rest of mankind was destroyed.

      4. Leviticus 10:1,2:

        a. God, based 100% on His grace, gave Israel a law (the law of Moses) to guide them in righteousness.  He did not leave them without guidance on the world, but freely told them how to do right and go to heaven.

        b. Included in that law was the proper way to offer fire to the Lord (Leviticus 1:1-13, al.).

        c. Nadab and Abihu were priests, and thus were in God's grace and blessed by God.  But they disobeyed God by offering fire that was not from the altar.

        d. God destroyed Nadab and Abihu.

      5. Joshua 6:1-5,20:

      a. God, based 100% on His grace, agreed to give Jericho into the hands of Israel so that they could conquer Canaan and live there. Note that God specifically said, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand."  It was GOD, not man, who was the basis of this victory.

      b. God gave Israel a specific commandment to obey. They were to march around Jericho once a day for six days.  On the seventh day they were to march around the city seven times and the priests were to blow the horns.  Then, and only then, were the walls to fall down.

      c. Israel did exactly what God commanded them, and God destroyed the walls of Jericho.

    6. Acts 5:1-6:

      a. God, based 100% on His grace, saved Ananias and Sapphira through the gospel.

      b. God had clearly commanded that lying and greed were sinful.

      c. Ananias and Sapphira disobeyed God.

      d. God destroyed Ananias and Sapphira.

    7. 2 Kings 5:1,10-14:

      a. God, based 100% on His grace, agreed to miraculously heal Naaman of his leprosy.

      b. God commanded Naaman to dip in the Jordan River seven times.

      c. At first, Naaman refused and God did not heal him.

      d. When Naaman finally obeyed, God healed him. Did Naaman heal himself? No!  Was God's healing conditioned upon obedience?  Yes!

      e. What is the difference between God's healing of Naaman through baptism, and God's saving of sinners through baptism?  If He did it once, what prevents Him from doing it again?

    The theme and point of all of these examples, and the dozens of others that could be found in the Old and New Testaments, is this: Salvation has always been conditioned upon obedience, from the beginning. God has never, does not, and never will save people who refuse to obey Him.  Thus, salvation is conditional.

    J.  Because salvation is conditional, it is now not such a great leap to see baptism as a condition.  Baptism is not "works salvation," but a condition of entering into God's grace.

III. Argument Number Two: The New Testament Christians Practiced Baptism.

    A. There are two models being offered in this debate about baptism, each of which predicts certain things.

      1. My opponent's model is that baptism is not necessary to salvation, is optional, and if performed, comes after salvation. He is arguing that "salvation is independent of baptism."  Thus, according to his proposition, baptism is entirely optional.  There is no urgency or rush to preach or to practice baptism.  According to this model, certain things would be expected to be found in the New Testament records of First Century conversion:

        a. Baptism would not be a part of preaching the gospel. Baptists in general, and probably my opponent, do not include baptism in their gospel preaching, at least not at first. If grace alone matters, and baptism does not matter for salvation, then there is no need to preach baptism in gospel preaching: it would be a waste of time.

        b. Baptism would not be practiced at conversion, except as a nicety.  It would be relegated to several weeks later, if that, which is exactly what Baptist practice today.

        c. No great urgency or rush would be placed on baptism.  If it could be done later, more conveniently, then there would be no sense in doing it right away, at an inconvenient time.  If, as Baptists teach, baptism is not necessary, but is only "an outward sign of an inward grace," then it would be preferable to baptize in front of as many people as possible, and baptizing late at night with only one or two people there would be inconsistent.

        d. Baptism would never be given as a condition of salvation.

      2. My model is that baptism is not optional, but is necessary to salvation, and must be performed at the moment of conversion. No conversion can take place without baptism.  According to this model, certain things would be expected to be found in the New Testament records of First Century conversion:

        a. Baptism would be a part of preaching the gospel. Baptism would be taught in every case of preaching the gospel.

        b. Baptism would be practiced in every single instance of conversion.  Every record of conversion would somehow explicitly, or implicitly, include baptism.

        c. A great urgency and rush would be placed upon baptism.  People would be baptized immediately, no matter what the hour, no matter who is there, and no matter how great the inconvenience.

        d. Baptism would be given as a condition of salvation.

    B. When the New Testament is examined, and especially the book of Acts (which is a historical record of the early church), we find that the following factors exist:

      1. Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; et al.: Baptism is indeed a part of preaching the gospel.  When Philip "preached Jesus" to the eunuch, the eunuch immediately wanted to be baptized.  Thus, we must conclude that preaching baptism was a part of "preaching Jesus." On Pentecost, in the first gospel sermon after the Resurrection, Peter was asked what to do to be saved, and he answered to repent and be baptized.  In fact, in every single conversion in the book of Acts we find that baptism is either explicitly preached, or implied because the converts were immediately baptized.

      2. There are no less than at least eight specific conversions recorded in the book of Acts.  One would be enough to establish a principle, two to establish a pattern, but eight examples are irrefutable.  They are: Acts 2; Acts 8; Acts 9; Acts 10; Acts 16 (2 examples); Acts 22; and Acts 18.  Note: In every one of these eight examples the converts are immediately baptized.  Not one of these conversions leaves out baptism.

      3. Acts 16:28-33: In every single case of conversion in the book of Acts, baptism is always immediate, and done despite who is there, or despite how inconvenient.  The Philippian jailer was baptized in the middle of the night by wounded preachers.  The eunuch got his clothes wet.  This is the opposite of what one would expect if baptism were optional, and exactly the opposite of what Baptists practice.  There would be no explanation of the urgency and immediacy of baptism in Acts if baptism were "independent of" baptism.

      4. Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; et al.: Finally, baptism is indeed given as a condition of salvation in the book of Acts. My fourth argument will examine some of these passage more specifically, but a child can understand that these and other passages clearly teach that baptism is a condition of salvation.

    C.    Not only in Acts, but in the rest of the New Testament, the writers either explicitly state, or implicitly state, that baptism is a part of conversion.

      1. Romans 6:1-4: Christians are baptized into the death of Christ.  Paul implies that baptism is where one meets the death of Christ.

      2. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: The Corinthians had been sinners, but they were saved because they had been washed, sanctified, and justified.  What could washed mean but baptism?

      3. Galatians 3:26,27: This verse equates faith with baptism.  My opponent argues that faith is separate from baptism, but it has already been scripturally established that saving faith has always been conditioned upon obedience.  It was understood that the Galatians had all been baptized in order to clothe themselves with Christ, i.e. to be saved.

      4. Ephesians 4:5: There is one baptism.  Which is it?  It must be the same baptism that was practiced by the apostles and evangelists in every conversion in the book of Acts.  Paul here equates baptism with the body, the Spirit, the hope, the Lord, God, and the faith!  If salvation were "independent of baptism," then baptism would be the one and only item here that had nothing to do with salvation.

      5. Colossians 2:12: The spiritual death, burial, and resurrection of the Christian with Christ (i.e. conversion), occurs at baptism.

    D. Therefore, in every single instance of conversion in the book of Acts, and in multiple references in the epistles, baptism is associated with conversion.  If baptism were "independent of" salvation, then it would not be included in these instances.  It has thus already been proven that salvation cannot be "independent of" baptism.  The fact stands that, if baptism is "independent of" salvation, then the New Testament Christians and apostles sure did not know it. Instead, they acted as if salvation were "dependent upon" baptism.

IV. Argument Number Three: Jesus Christ Commanded Baptism.

    A. My opponent has spoken much about Jesus Christ and His propitiation for salvation.  He obviously places much weight on Jesus and who He is, as is right. But I would like to ask my opponent if he will place as much emphasis on what Jesus said and did?  I have thus far given much evidence that baptism is a part of salvation, and will give more evidence still.  Yet, even if every other argument that I have proposed this evening disappeared, and nothing else mattered, we would still have the example and words of Christ Himself.  This is a very simple argument: Christ commanded baptism: why then is my opponent arguing against it?  Should we not simply obey Christ and not question Him?

    B. Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16: Christ specifically commanded His apostles to go into the world, preach the gospel, and baptize.  Christ specifically stated that "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." Now my opponent will probably argue that the second half of this statement somehow contradicts or negates the first, and thus accuse Christ of lying.  But the simple fact is that Christ commanded baptism, and was Himself baptized.

    C. Christ commanded baptism, and He stated that belief plus baptism equals baptism.  My opponent argues that baptism is not necessary. Who is right?  Christ, or my opponent?

V. Argument Number Four: Specific Scriptures Teach that Baptism Is Necessary to Salvation.

    A.    Besides the arguments of principle and example that I have thus far set forth, all being necessary to lay a foundation, now we will examine specific scriptures which clearly teach that "New Testament salvation occurs at the point of, and dependant upon, water baptism."  Just to remind ourselves, let us bring to memory the following summary points:

      1. Salvation is based 100% on God's grace.

      2. Salvation has always been, and still is, conditioned upon obedience.  Conditionality does not negate or contradict grace.

      3. New Testament Christians, including apostles, practiced baptism at every recorded example of conversion in the book of Acts, and wrote about it in the epistles.

      4. Jesus Christ commanded baptism for salvation.

    B. Mark 16:15,16:

      1. Christ stated that he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.  He stated that belief plus baptism equals salvation.  My opponent teaches that he who believes shall be saved, and may opt to later be baptized.  I teach that he who believes and is baptized shall be saved.  Which is correct?

      2. Now my opponent may deal with this passage by arguing that the second half of the clause, "He who disbelieves shall be condemned," somehow contradicts or negates the first half.  It cannot, for that would make Christ a liar.  What it means is: salvation requires belief plus baptism. Condemnation only requires disbelief, for one who does not believe will of course not be baptized.  Disbelief alone is all that is required for condemnation, but belief plus baptism equals salvation.

    C. Acts 2:36-38:

      1. Peter preached a gospel sermon.  He presented Christ as the Messiah who died for sin, and whom the Jews killed.  The people to whom he was speaking obviously believed what he said, for they were repentant, and asked Peter, "What shall we do?"  My opponent would have answered, "Do nothing, for you are already saved, because you are saved by grace alone."  But Peter, an inspired apostle, answered: "Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Whom will you believe?  Kurt Streutker or Peter the apostle?

      2. It may be that my opponent will argue against this scripture by arguing that the Greek preposition translated for (eis) means because of.  However, I will pre-answer that argument by stating that this preposition simply does not, and cannot, mean because of in Greek.  Anyone who knows Greek knows this.  It is an accusative preposition, and no reputable scholar in the world translates it because of.  There is another Greek preposition, hoti, that means because of.  No English translation in the world to my knowledge translates this "because of the remission of your sins."  Moreover, even my opponent believes that repentance is a condition of salvation.  In this passage, whatever repentance's role is also baptism's role, because of the construction ("repent and be baptized").

    D. Acts 22:16:

      1. When Paul the apostle himself was told what to do in order to be saved, he was told to be baptized and wash away his sins. Clearly then, his sins were still with him until he was baptized.  It thus had to be that his salvation occurred at the moment of baptism, and contingent upon it, not unrelated to it and before it!  If Paul were already saved, then Ananias, God's messenger, lied.

      2. There is really no argument my opponent can make against this verse except to twist the grammar of it or to ignore it.

    E. Romans 6:3,4:

      1. Paul states that Christians have been buried with Christ through baptism into His death.  One cannot be saved without the death of Christ (something my opponent strongly argued last night).  Well, Paul says that it is through baptism that we enter into that death.  Note: Christ died for the sin of the world, but not the entire world will be saved.  Thus, here is the condition of salvation: baptism.  How can anyone argue against Paul?

      2. The only argument my opponent can make against this passage is to either argue that Paul is not really talking about water baptism (but remember in Ephesians 4 that there is only one baptism); or to argue that the baptism here is only figurative. But note that Paul clearly states that we enter into Christ's death - His blood - through baptism.  Let my opponent argue with the apostle Paul.

    F. Galatians 3:26,27:

      1. Paul clearly states that a person is a son of God not only through faith, but also baptism.  To "put on Christ" or "clothe oneself with Christ," depending on the translation, is to be saved, for we cannot be saved without Christ.  Paul clearly teaches that those who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, meaning that those who are baptized are saved. Could it be any clearer?

      2. My opponent has argued that baptism is a work that somehow negates grace and faith.  Yet Paul the apostle equates faith and baptism.  Paul uses the two words in the very same meaning and context. Thus, apparently Paul saw no problem with baptism somehow negating faith or grace.  Again, let my opponent argue with the apostle Paul.

    G. Colossians 2:12:

      1. Paul teaches that Christians were buried with Christ in baptism.  A person cannot be saved without being buried with Christ.  Therefore, a person cannot be saved without baptism.

      2. My opponent may argue that this baptism is not really water baptism, or is only symbolic.  But let us again remember that there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4).

    H. 1 Peter 3:20,21:

      1. Peter states that Noah and his family were saved through water.  Now, no matter how my opponent may try to argue that Noah was not really saved through water because he was floating above it, the inspired apostle Peter says that Noah was saved through water.  I will let my opponent argue with the apostle Peter.  Then, Peter states that there is a modern antitype, meaning something today that is related to salvation through water. What is it?  Peter says it is baptism, and that it now saves you. Clearly, Peter taught that New Testament salvation was indeed dependent upon, and at the point of, baptism.

      2. My opponent cannot argue that Peter did not really mean water baptism, because Peter clearly calls baptism an antitype of souls being saved through water.  He cannot argue that Noah was not really saved through water, because Peter says he was.  What he may do is to argue that, because Peter says that baptism is not a washing of dirt from the body, that this somehow negates what Peter had already said. Not so.  Peter is stating that baptism does not save because the water somehow has mystical properties, or that the dirt on one's body is sin.  Nor is it a common bath.  It is a spiritual thing.  Yet Peter clearly states that BAPTISM NOW SAVES YOU.  Again, I leave my opponent to argue with the apostle Peter.

    I. These seven specific scriptures each clearly teach that baptism is a condition of salvation.  They are easily understood unless their obvious meaning is twisted. Seven different times, baptism is taught as being necessary to salvation, and thus salvation is dependent upon baptism.  Let my opponent demonstrate to the audience why these passages do not really mean what they so obviously say!

VI. Summary Argument.

    A. The following summarizes my affirmative argument, supporting the proposition that "The scriptures teach that New Testament salvation occurs at the point of, and dependant upon, water baptism."  I have made four distinct arguments, and I ask my opponent, in his negative arguments, to demonstrate to the audience where he finds fault in the scriptures I used, and the arguments that I made.  His job in the negative is not to offer new affirmative arguments, but to logically demonstrate why my affirmative arguments are in error.

      1. Salvation has always been based on God's grace, but conditioned upon man's obedience.  New Testament salvation, like all of God's salvation, is conditional. 

      2. The New Testament Christians, including apostles and evangelists, all taught and practiced baptism for the remission of sins. Moreover, when they baptized people, it was always at every conversion, it was always urgent, and it was always done immediately.

      3. Jesus Christ commanded baptism.  He specifically commanded his apostles to preach the gospel and baptize people, and that "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved."

      4. Finally, I listed seven specific passages which each teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.

    B. It was agreed before the debate that any specific questions to one's opponent may not total more than ten, and must be presented before each speech begins.  I have handed my opponent a list of the following questions before this speech. These are the things I challenge my opponent to do in his negative speeches this evening

      1. Negate my arguments: show why they are in error. Negate ALL FOUR, not ignoring any.

      2. Answer this: If salvation is unconditional, then which of the three logical options I presented do you believe: Universal Salvation, Universal Damnation, or Calvinistic Predestination?

      3. Answer this: If a person refused to obey Christ's commandment to be baptized, then would he be saved?

      4. If not, then aren't you really agreeing that baptism is necessary for salvation?

      5. If baptism is completely independent of salvation, then why did the New Testament Christians and apostles always baptize people at every conversion, with immediacy and urgency?

      6. If a group of people who believed in Christ and were repentant asked you, "What shall we do?", what would your answer be?

      7. If your answer is different than that of Peter the apostle, then please explain to the audience why?

    C. This is all I have.  I do not want to flood my opponent with questions to throw him off, because that is dishonest.  I only ask him to answer as many as he has time for, and to concentrate on negating my arguments, and not introducing new affirmative material, for this is what we agreed to.  I thank my opponent, the audience, and the moderator.


The interesting thing about this affirmative address, beyond the fact that it accomplished everything Matt intended it to accomplish, is that Mr. Streutker could not and did not really even attempt to answer any of Matt's challenges. In fact, after the first negative speech, which was full of new material and new false charges, the moderator was forced to chastise Mr. Streutker for dishonoring his signed agreement which specifically prohibited the presentation of any new material in the negative. He further refused to answer the specific questions presented in writing by Matt to Mr. Streutker, under the rules of the debate, further manifesting his own lack of integrity and honor.

It was obvious that between Mr. Steinmann, who never made his presence known at the debate, if he was even there, and Mr. Streutker, that they had one and only one item on their agenda, and that was to gain an audience to further their false doctrine. In their dishonor, though, all they accomplished was the building up of the faith of a talented young preacher and the sound refutation of evil before a large assembly of true Christians and a relative few Baptists.

My personal thanks are extended to the elders of the Lockland church for the use of their facilities for this debate, to Paul Smithson, the preacher for the Lockland church, who served as Matt's debate partner, and to the members of the Lockland church, the Fairfax church, where Matt preaches and several others who came from quite a distance to support the defense of the truth of the Word of God. To God be the glory in every defense of His truth.

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