Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 5, 1963
NUMBER 18, PAGE 5,13a

"Christian Church Baptism"

Donald P. Ames

In the Gospel Guardian, July 11, bro. Carol Lumpkin takes to task those who hold that "Christian Church baptism" is valid. That is, he contends that if one is converted from the error of his ways, learning the truth pertaining to instrumental music and human societies, etc., and desires salvation, he must be rebaptized, regardless of whether or not he was formerly buried in baptism for the remission of sins. With this reasoning, I do not agree. I do not know bro. Lumpkin personally, but would like to present further material for thought on this subject.

It is not my intention to defend any and all "Christian Church baptisms." I would not, and could not. Likewise, I do not believe a blanket condemnation can be upheld either. There are divisions within that group of associated brethren just like we have amongst the "churches of Christ." There are those within the ranks of the Christian Church who have gone "off the deep end." They regard themselves as a denomination, follow denominational practices, and accept denominationalists as full members. Concerning these, I make no defense. However, on the other hand, there are still those within that group who are conservative and are not in harmony with these practices. This type of division is also seen amongst those known as the "churches of Christ." Blanket acceptance or condemnation just cannot be made to fit all details in either case. Final action, I believe, will have to be faced up to by the individual himself after he has been taught the truth.

But to his arguments: Bro. Lumpkin begins by affirming that there is but one body, and that baptism is (1) for the remission of sins, (2) into Christ, and (3) into the one body, the church. With this, few brethren would disagree. But, to then contend that anyone who has been baptized by a "Christian Church preacher" is therefore not a part of that one body, is assuming the very point to be proven. I'm not saying, now, that God accepts the practices of some within the Christian Church and condemns the practices of others. That is not the point! Nor is the point whether one was baptized by a Christian Church preacher or a Roman Catholic layman. The point is: What was he taught? If he was taught Christ, the one body, scriptural baptism, the death, burial, resurrection and reign of Christ, and was baptized to become a part of that one New Testament body, God will add him to that body. (Acts 2:41,47) He is at that point a child of God. (Gal. 3:26, 27) Whether he continues to practice what the Bible teaches or not, does not render his baptism null and void. It may destroy the benefits it made available, but it cannot destroy the act itself.

But, to bro. Lumpkin's arguments to support this point: First, he charges that the Christian Church regards itself as a denomination, and all members believe they are baptized into that denomination.

He shows this by asking if they were members of that body before baptism or after baptism. However, this argument fails to take into consideration that not all Christian Churches do regard themselves as a denomination, and some firmly believe themselves to be part of the true New Testament church and preach the same simple gospel we do. Now they may not practice all that they should (or rather they may practice more than they should), but that practice does not mean they are wrong in their teaching on the one body, baptism for the remission of sins, nor baptism into that one body of Christ. We must distinguish between the two. Practice may void the effects of their teaching, but it does not void scriptural teaching. The departures came in practices engaged in after one was scripturally taught about the purpose and action of baptism and the true church. Otherwise, one will soon be forced to affirm that there is not one Christian Church preacher who can preach there is only one true church set up, ruled and bought by Christ and that entrance therein can only be had by being baptized into that one institution.

And while on this same line of thought, it might be appropriate to point out that this same logic forces one to the position that if one is converted by a liberal within the church today, and becomes a member of a "church of Christ" which is engaged in all these worldly church dinners, church recreation, supporting benevolent societies, etc., upon learning the truth of these practices, he must be rebaptized because the practices made his baptism null and void! But, as above, it is not really the act of baptism following scriptural teaching itself that will be destroyed in the end — it is the effects (a simple Christian not yet entangled in all these unscriptural practices — a simple child of God.) Is the church of our Lord two bodies today? We do not ask all liberals within the church to be rebaptized for salvation, but correctly point out they must repent and pray. So it should be when other practices are involved.

Secondly, he raises an old and familiar argument that should have been exposed for its worthlessness a long time ago — Mormon baptism. The argument is made that the Mormons baptize for the remission of sins. Therefore, if one is merely an erring Christian by obeying New Testament teaching and then becoming entangled in the practices of the Christian Church (and not an alien), then since a Mormon baptizes for the remission of sins, a Mormon is just an erring Christian — and not an alien.

This argument may sound good on the surface, but if one looks a bit deeper, he sees it is useless. Before one is baptized, he is taught Christ (Acts 8:5), the kingdom (Acts 8:12) and Jesus. (Acts 8:35) Included in this, as seen by Acts 2 and 3, would also be the finality of the authority of Christ, the nature and purpose of baptism, and the nature and purpose of the kingdom. Now, what about the Mormons? They teach that the Book of Mormon is more reliable and accurate than the Bible which is full of errors; they teach (indirectly) that Christ failed His mission and thus Joseph Smith is greater because he carried it out; they teach Joseph Smith (not Christ and the apostles) is the final word — thus making him their lord; they teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire (both simultaneously) as binding; they teach a communistic society for a kingdom; they teach living apostles and elected officials with a president over the church as a complete unit; they teach a god of flesh and bones rather than of spirit; they teach the doctrine of modern-day revelations; their works teach polygamy must still be practiced, and on and on we could go. Such is not Christ, Jesus, nor the kingdom! When one has finished learning the history (?) of the Nephites, Lamanites, Jcseph Smith and his human creations, he is no where near an understanding of the Lordship of Jesus Christ; his life, death, burial, and resurrection; nor an understanding of the kingdom in any sense. Hence they are not proper subjects for scriptural baptism regardless of the action or purpose. They are the wrong subjects! Mormon baptism does not make a Christian because it is based on the Book of Mormon and Mormon doctrine rather than Jesus Christ and the word of God. Such is not true regarding baptism amongst some of the Christian Churches — nor baptism by our liberal brethren.

Yes, let us stand firm against all error, and let us not let modern-day unscriptural practices in either work or worship of the church go unchallenged. But, let us also learn to distinguish between practices that may eventually void the effects of baptism and practices that allegedly void the act of baptism itself.

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