Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 4, 1949

The Name "Baptist"


For generations Baptist preachers have been hammering on the idea that, "We are Baptists because John was a Baptist; John baptized Christ and that made Christ a Baptist. So we are Baptists because Christ was a Baptist." This has been so thoroughly drilled into them that the following paragraph is going to come as a stunning shock to any Baptists who may read this page.

The Associated Press recently carried this item: "Speaking in Municipal Auditorium (Oklahoma City) last night, Dr. Arnold T. Ohrn, executive secretary of Baptist World Alliance, said, 'We did not choose to be called Baptists, but were so named by our adversaries."'

This treatment of the name "Baptist" by Dr. Ohm is the new approach now being taken by many Baptist preachers. They have been made to look ridiculous when contending that, "because John the Baptist baptized Christ, that made Christ a Baptist." They recognize that there is no defense in scripture for the name "Baptist" as a religious title. There is no mention of a Baptist church; there is no blessing promised in the name of John the Baptist, or any other Baptist; there is not one other man in all the record who is called a "Baptist". On the contrary, all blessings are promised only in and through the name of Christ.

At long last it would seem that the more intelligent and enlightened among our Baptist friends are coming to realize that the name "Baptist" is indefensible. But to us it seems poor sportsmanship indeed for Dr. Ohm to try to blame "our adversaries" for having saddled on the denomination that name. Does he not know that Baptist preachers for generations have gloried in that name, defended it, boasted of it, written tracts and articles and sermons trying to prove that it was scriptural? And when finally the more intelligent among them are forced to realize that it is not a scriptural name for the followers of Christ, he tried to blame it on "our adversaries"!

Why can't Dr. Ohm and other Baptist preachers who are taking this new position have the courage and the simple honesty to admit that, "We were wrong when we contended for the name Baptist?" That statement would be far more honorable, and would gain them far greater respect than to try to weasel out of their untenable position by blaming the name on "our adversaries".


Campbell On "Titles"

Alexander Campbell Great is the love for titles in this reformed republican country. All acknowledge that a love for epithets of honor and titular distinction betrays great weakness and folly, however this passion may be associated with intellectual endowments. The English statesman is not more perplexed to find out new subjects of taxation, than the good people of this country to find out and obtain honorable titles. This passion has, like the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, invaded what is here called "the church".

Hence, every thing, from a state bishop down to a class-leader, is in eager demand in this country. Our "benevolent institutions", like the different orders of monks, have created scores of titles unknown before. To find a christian professor worth three thousand dollars, without a military, civil, or a religious title, is as difficult as to find a pensioned clergyman a student of the Bible. Whenever we find a man a little elevated above providing for the wants of every day, we are prompted to inquire for his title... Never was there a church militant so rich in honorary distinctions, with so few real christians, as the church militant of America.

The world, too, not only bestows ecclesiastical titles, as in the case of religious doctorates, but salutes members of churches by their official names, as commonly as a private in the army addresses his commander by his official designation For my own part, not sustaining at this time the particular oversight of any one congregation, I cannot consent to the application of the term (bishop) to my self: and if I did, I know of no reason which should attach to my name the term bishop or overseer always and in all places, more than the term editor or farmer, My name is Alexander Campbell, and by this alone I choose to be known among men. Neither Mr. nor Rev. nor Bishop, accord with my feelings, calling, nor the cause which I plead. I am sometimes doing the work of a farmer, of an editor, of an evangelist, of a teacher, or a mechanic, a merchant, and of a post-master. No official name better than that of a public servant, could designate my various labors, and that carries with it no distinction, and is therefore useless. It will save ink, paper, labor, and time, to designate me by the name by which I expect to be addressed by the angels and by the Savior and Judge of men; and as there is no other person in this vicinity with whom I can be confounded, there is no necessity for a title or epithet of any sort whatsoever, Some of our acquaintance would, methinks, look very much abashed to be saluted in the great day with the title Reverend, Elder, Bishop, or Deacon, by him who will render to every man according to his works! And how the DOCTORS OF DIVINITY will hang their heads in the presence of that Paul whom they have so often misquoted, and of the Savior, whose command, "Be not called Rabbi," they have so often condemned; imagination cannot paint, nor ink and paper describe.

Millennial Harbinger, 1830