Answering a Baptist Preacher's "Unanswerable Questions"
Larry Ray Hafley


COMMON SENSE QUESTIONS A "CHURCH OF CHRIST" PREACHER CANNOT CLEARLY ANSWER

By Pastor David Martin
Solid Rock Baptist Church

David Martin is pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church, 5893 Old Brownsville Rd. E, Bartlett, TN 38135 USA; phone: 901-634-1622. He is a 1984 graduate of Pensacola Bible Institute of Florida, and was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1986. He has been in his current pastorate for eight years. His article on the Church of Christ cult is the result of in-depth personal conversation with a Church of Christ elder that led to a 3-day public debate with a Church of Christ evangelist in 1997. The debate was attended by 250 people nightly from within a 300-mile radius of Memphis, Tennessee.This is one of the most controversial articles on the church of Christ you will find anywhere. No church of Christ preacher can satisfactorily answer any of the questions posed by Pastor Martin.

If you wish to respond to this article, please click here to email Pastor David Martin.


[First, given David Martin's credentials and experience, it is apparent that we are not dealing with a novice. He is fully capable of giving "an answer" to our scriptural review and refutation of his views (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:15). Therefore, if he does not agree to further discussion, it is not because he is not qualified to do so, but because he has been answered and his doctrine cannot stand the test of open debate.

Second, the posting of Martin's material acknowledges the "controversial" nature of it. Hence, Mr. Martin surely will not object as we respond in an equally candid fashion. Note: Our replies will be enclosed in brackets beneath each of his questions.

Third, let it be understood that this review is not a defense of a "Church of Christ cult" to which Martin refers. In the New Testament, the church of Christ was referred to as "this sect" which was "every where...spoken against" (Acts 28:22). As the apostle Paul would not defend a sect or cult of men, but was "set for the defense of the gospel" and "explained...the kingdom of God," so shall we (Acts 28:23; Cf. 8:12; 19:8, 9; 20:24, 25; Phil. 1:17).

Fourth, whether one may "satisfactorily answer" Martin's questions may be subject to one's personal view. Paul answered the Judaizers, but not "satisfactorily," according to them! Stephen answered the Jews, but not, as they judged, "satisfactorily" (Acts 7:54-60). Paul gave answers to heathen, pagan, Jewish, and Roman authorities, but not "satisfactorily" (Acts 17:22-32; 22:1-22; 2 Tim. 4:16).

Let the reader be the judge. Let us, therefore, continue to debate the issues. Whether others view these efforts as being sufficient or satisfactory, is of no particular consequence (1 Cor. 4:3-5). Rather, my main concern is to provide scriptural answers, ones that are pleasing to God, if not satisfactory to men-"Study to show thyself approved unto God." "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Now, to Mr. Martin's comments and questions.]


The religious sect known as the "Church of Christ" has many peculiar and aberrant doctrines that are contrary to the word of God. It is a most deceptive and dangerous cult. Their teaching of baptismal regeneration is an age-old heresy that has damned millions to hell, and is still doing so today. The idea that they are the one, true and restored church of Jesus Christ puts them in the same league with the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches.

[It is certainly true that "baptismal regeneration is an age-old heresy." However, no Christian, no saved believer, no member of the church of the Lord teaches the doctrine. If the fact that one teaches that baptism is essential to salvation makes one a teacher of "baptismal regeneration," does the teaching that repentance is an essential condition of salvation (as Martin correctly teaches) make one a teacher of "penitential regeneration"? Mr. Martin teaches that one cannot be saved without faith in Christ (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6). Would it be fair and correct to charge him with believing in "faith regeneration," and not in regeneration by the Spirit of God? No, it would be neither fair nor correct. Why, then, is it right to charge that one believes in "baptismal regeneration" when he contends that baptism, like faith in Christ, is but one of the conditions with which the sinner must comply in order to be saved by the blood of Christ?

One must be baptized in order to become a member of a Baptist Church. Shall we charge our Baptist friends with believing in "baptismal membership," indicating that water (not faith, not the Lord) adds them to the Baptist Church?

Naaman was not healed of his leprosy until he dipped seven times in the river Jordan (2 Kgs. 5:1-15). Would Mr. Martin argue that this was a case of "seventh dip healing"? The blind man in John 9 had to "wash in the pool of Siloam" before he could be healed of his blindness. Would Martin argue that this was a case of water healing, and not a healing of blindness by the Lord? No, he would not do so in either case. Why, then, argue that if one says what Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," that he is contending for "baptismal regeneration"?

If we say that baptism is a condition of salvation, Martin says this puts us "in the same league with the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches." Well, Catholics, the Mormons, and Martin argue that one must believe before he can be saved. Does this put him "in the same league with the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches"? If it works one way, it works the other.]

If you are a member of this "church" or have been influenced by its teachings, we challenge you to ask your preacher the questions that follow, then get your King James Bible out, open it up, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the TRUTH (John 16:13). If you have never been saved in the Bible sense, for heaven's sake, do not mistake being "washed in the baptistry of the church" for being washed in the blood of Christ.

[Where does the Bible tell us to "ask the Holy Spirit to" show us the truth? The Holy Spirit tells us to "read," and that when we do, we will understand (Eph. 3:4). When the Bereans "searched the Scriptures daily" to see whether or not they were being taught the truth, Paul did not tell them to quit studying the Scriptures "and ask the Holy Spirit" to show them the truth (Acts 17:11; Cf. 2 Tim. 2:15). Why does Martin tell us to do what no apostle ever told anyone to do?

Certainly, "If you have never been saved in the Bible sense," we would encourage you to become saved in that manner-"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 16:31; 17:30; 22:16).

Mr. Martin warns, "do not mistake being 'washed in the baptistry of the church' for being washed in the blood of Christ." How would he answer the following admonitions? (1) Do not mistake being washed at the altar in answer to a preacher's call for you to give your life to Jesus, "for being washed in the blood of Christ." (2) Do not mistake being washed from your sins by saying the sinner's prayer "for being washed in the blood of Christ." (3) Do not mistake being washed from your sins by faith "for being washed in the blood of Christ." Mr. Martin, when one comes to the altar, and as a believing penitent says the sinner's prayer and is "washed" from his sins, does that process exclude the blood of Christ? If not, your objection to baptism fails. If one may be saved by doing those things, without making void being washed from his sins by the blood of Christ, so he may also be baptized without nullifying the washing of the blood of Christ.

Baptists teach that one cannot be a member of a Baptist Church without being baptized. Does their insistence on baptism for membership mean they are trusting on membership in the water of the baptistry of the church and not in the blood of Christ?]

If you ask one of these "preachers" any of the questions in this tract, you won't get a straight answer due to their "screwball" theology. You'll have them in "hot water," "swimming in circles," trying to explain their heretical positions. They'll be "hopping all over the pond" because they can't stay too long in one spot without sinking in the mire of their false doctrines.

[Is "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" "'screwball' theology" (Mk. 16:16)? Is "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" "'screwball' theology" (Acts 2:38)? Is "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" "'screwball' theology"? Will Mr. Martin give us a "straight answer," or will he find himself "in 'hot water,' 'swimming in circles'" while "'hopping all over the pond'" and "sinking in the mire of his "heretical positions" and "false doctrines"? So, tell us, Mr. Martin, are the passages cited "'screwball' theology"? We await your "straight answer."]

Don't YOU wind up being baptized in the "Lake of Fire" by accepting a "waterworks" based plan of salvation and rejecting salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. (Matt. 3:11; Rev. 20:15; Eph. 2:8,9; Rom. 5:9; Rom. 11:6).

[Since one must be baptized to be a member of a Baptist church, are all Baptists guilty of "accepting a 'waterworks' membership in the body of Christ (Cf. 1 Cor. 12:13)? As such, are they guilt of "rejecting" membership in the body of Christ by grace through faith? Are they guilty of trusting in "'waterworks'" membership in the body of Christ and not in the "finished work of Christ"?

If they do so, might those Baptists "wind up being baptized in the 'Lake of Fire'?" No, I suppose Baptists would be in no such danger, even if they do reject the "finished work of Christ" with their "'waterworks'" membership, because Baptists believe once a man is saved, he may do "despite unto the Spirit of grace" and count "the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing," and still go to heaven (Heb. 10:29)! Let Mr. Martin deny that last charge if he will.

We trust that Mr. Martin will give us a "straight answer" to these questions. We would hate to see him refuse to answer and watch him land in "'hot water,' 'swimming in circles,' trying to explain (his) heretical positions." Watching Mr. Martin refuse to give a "straight answer" while "'hopping all over the pond'" of his "'waterworks'" membership, would not be a pretty sight.]

Here are Questions for Campbellites

1. According to the history of the "Church of Christ," God used certain men to "restore" the New Testament Church in the early 1800's. Where was the true New Testament church before then? Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18). What happened to the church and where was the truth it was responsible for preaching before God restored it.

["Although no Christian today is a member of the congregation which was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Christ's resurrection, all Christians of all times are members of the same church of the Lord which was established on that day. (Cf. 1 Cor. 1:2b; 12:13; Eph. 2:16; 3:6-LRH).

"The church was established once for all. It had but one birthday, it is not born again and again each century, or after periods of apostasy. Christ was made head of the church once for all. He does not ascend each generation, make purification for our sins, and sit down at God's right hand (Heb. 1:3, 13; Eph. 1:19-23; Acts 2:30-36). His reign is not started anew each generation. He was not de-throned by the apostasy and re-enthroned by any restoration movement. Peter did not say Christ would reign until His enemies conquered his kingdom and brought to an end His reign as king. He did not say that after this had taken place, centuries later a group of men would or could re-enthrone Christ. Peter said Christ would reign until all enemies are conquered, and Paul said that when this is done, the kingdom will be delivered to the Father (Acts 2:34-36; 1 Cor. 15:24-28). The last days dispensation started once for all and will not be started again, for this dispensation and covenant is the eternal covenant (Acts 2:16, 17; Heb. 1:1, 2; 2:3, 4; 13:20).

"....Congregations in various cities and regions can depart from the faith and individuals can depart from the faith. A congregation in a given locality can be destroyed, and, when such happens, there is a need for a congregation to be established there, and in this sense for the church to be restored there. However, the reign of Christ cannot be destroyed or restored. It continues until the end of time. Men need to accept Christ, but, whether they accept Him or not, He still reigns" (James D. Bales, Restoration, Reformation, Or Revelation?, 18-20).]

2. If a "Church of Christ" elder refuses to baptize me, will I be lost until I can find one who will? Do I need Jesus AND a Campbellite "preacher" in order to be saved? If I do, then Jesus Christ is not the only Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and the Holy Spirit is not the only Administrator (1 Cor. 12:13) of salvation - the "Church of Christ" preacher is necessary to salvation for he is performing a saving act on me when he baptizes me! Is this not blasphemy against Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost?

[Author's Note: This same question was answered in an earlier article. At that time, I did not know that Mr. Martin was the one who had framed the question, hence, you will see no direct references to him in the answer below-LRH

No New Testament Christian would refuse to baptize a penitent believer in Christ. One need not be baptized by an elder in the Lord's church in order to be saved. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;" he did not say, "He that believeth and is baptized by an elder shall be saved." Yes, one is lost until he does what the Lord said do; namely, believe and be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Before replying to the remaining question, let me say a word about the term, "Campbellite." First, it is a name which I do not wear. I would not call a man a "Baptist" if he rejected the term. Second, there is nothing which I believe, teach, and practice which began with the teaching of a man named Campbell. If so, what is it? (1) Is it baptism "for the remission of sins?" No, Acts 2:38. (2) Is it the fact that I am a member of a local church of Christ? No, Romans 16:16, "the churches of Christ salute you." (3) Is it because disciples come together "upon the first day of the week" to break bread? No, Acts 20:7. (4) Is it because members of the church "lay by in store" upon every "first day of the week" ? No, 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2. (5) Is it because members of the church refuse to wear human names and are referred to as "Christians," "disciples," "saints," "brethren," "children of God" ? No, Acts 11:26; 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:1; Gal. 3:26.

Again, our querist needs to cite one item that I believe, teach, or practice that originated with a man named Campbell. Can he do it? If not, let him not call me a "Campbellite," for I reject anything and everything in religion for which I cannot find a "Thus saith the Lord" (1 Pet. 4:11).

Further, regarding the term, "Campbellite," from the Encyclopedia Of Religion, edited by Vergilius Fern, we note the following: "A term applied to the Disciples of Christ; (1) Whimsically by themselves; (2) Ignorantly by the non-church public; (3) Viciously, as well as ignorantly by the less enlightened sects. Obsolescent, with the general advance of religious intelligence and interdenominational courtesy."

Perhaps, our Baptist friend has used the term, "Campbellite," in ignorance. If he continues to do so, we shall let Mr. Fern's description define why.

Next, our Baptist challenger argues that if baptism is essential to salvation, then it makes the baptizer a mediator of another's salvation. Therefore, Christ is not the only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).

First, the Bible says that God saves men through the preaching of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:21). One cannot believe and be saved until he first "hears" the gospel, "and how shall they hear without a preacher" (Rom. 10:14)? Now, our Baptist friend is in the same position in which he attempted to place us. A preacher is required before one can hear, believe, and be saved (1 Cor. 15:1, 2, 11). Let our Baptist respondent tell us if that makes a preacher a "mediator" and an administrator of salvation in addition to Christ. Since he says that one who baptizes another becomes another mediator, another besides Christ, why does that not also make a preacher another mediator, in addition to Christ, since the preaching of the gospel is essential to one's being saved?

Since he said a baptizer "is performing a saving act on me when he baptizes me!" we shall now ask him if a preacher "is performing a saving act on the sinner when he preaches to him so he can be saved"? If he can understand how that a preacher is not a mediator and is not usurping the role of Christ even though he must preach in order for me to hear, believe, and be saved, then he ought to be able to see how men may baptize others without becoming mediators along with Christ.

Second, one must do the believing which saves him-"except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (Jn. 8:24). Does the fact that one must, himself, do the believing make one a Savior of himself? No, and the same is true of baptism. Further, one must, himself, repent-"Except Ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3). Does the fact that one must do the repenting make one his own co-Savior? No, and our Baptist friend, who believes in the essentiality of both faith and repentance, agrees with us. If, then, the fact that one must believe and repent to be saved does not make him his own Savior, then he ought to see the same with respect to one's being baptized.

Our Baptist gentleman asks if someone other than the Holy Spirit is the administrator of baptism. No, men are the administrators of water baptism. Jesus told men, not the Holy Spirit, to teach and baptize all nations (Matt. 28:19). It was men who performed water baptism in the New Testament-"he (Philip) baptized him" (Acts 8:38).

If our questioner thinks the Holy Spirit is the administrator of the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13, let him tell us what the element is. Into what element does the Spirit baptize one? The Spirit cannot be both the administrator and the element into which one is baptized.

Observe that the baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 places one "into one body," that is, into the church. Since Baptists acknowledge that water baptism places one into the church, can they not see that the baptism which puts one "into (that) one body," the church, is water baptism?

Again, though, our Baptist friend has crossed himself up with respect to how many baptisms there are. He speaks of one here which he says is administered by the Holy Spirit. That is one baptism. Then, he also admits the practice of water baptism which is administered by men-two administrators equals two baptisms. Two baptisms is one baptism too many, for the Spirit says, "There is...one baptism." Let our Baptist friend tell us how he can hold to two administrators and two baptisms while the Bible says there is "one baptism."

In view of the above facts, who is it that is guilty of "blaspheming" Jesus Christ? (This is the conclusion of the insertion of a previous answer to the same question. Below are additional remarks directed to Mr. Martin-LRH).

In accordance with Scripture, Mr. Martin correctly believes that one must "call on the name of the Lord" in order to be saved (Rom. 10:13). However, before people can call on the Lord and be saved, they must hear the word of God, "and how shall they hear without a preacher" (Rom. 10:14)? Since one cannot call on the Lord without faith, and since one cannot believe until he hears the word, and since he cannot hear "without a preacher," then preachers must preach the gospel (Rom. 10:13-17). Now, in view of that fact, let us ask Mr. Martin:

"If a 'Baptist' elder refuses to preach to me, will I be lost until I can find one who will? Do I need Jesus AND a 'Baptist' preacher in order to be saved? If I do, then Jesus Christ is not the only Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and the Holy Spirit is not the only Administrator (1 Cor. 12:13) of salvation-the "Baptist Church' preacher is necessary to salvation for he is performing a saving act on me when he preaches to me! Is this not blasphemy against Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost?"

Note, that Mr. Martin argued that if another person is needed to baptize one "into Christ," that proves that Jesus is not our all sufficient Mediator and Savior. Well, why is not the same thing true with respect to necessity of having a preacher preach the gospel? Romans 10:13, 14 clearly shows that folks cannot hear, believe, and call on the name of the Lord and be saved until preachers preach the gospel (Rom. 10:13-17). Now, if the fact that another person is needed to baptize one into Christ nullifies Jesus as our only Mediator and Redeemer, does not the necessity of a preacher do the same? We shall await Mr. Martin's "straight answer" to this question.

Since Mr. Martin agrees that a preacher is necessary in order for one to hear and be saved, yet this does not make void the fact that Jesus is our Savior, why does he not see that the same is true regarding the position of one who baptizes another?]

(this article continued...)


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