Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 19, 1953

Answering A Baptist's Question, "Whom Do You Baptize?"

Marvine Kelley, Raymondville, Texas

In a recent debate with Dr. Albert Garner, conducted at Raymondville, this question was submitted to me. With the question there was a long list of our outstanding debaters who had signed the statement reading "I baptize a child of the devil!" We all know that such questions are not asked in good faith, but to create prejudice in the minds of the listening audience. Because we recognize this fact, it seems to me, we should be very careful not to place ourselves in the realm of the arrogant. I am of the opinion that we lose our power when we do so.

I do not suggest that I am more learned than these intelligent men who signed this statement, but I should like to render these thoughts for your consideration. In answer to the question, I suggested that I baptized one in opposition to the devil. By this, I mean, one who is turning from the devil and who is in transit to the kingdom of heaven. James 1:18 teaches that we are begotten by the word. There is always a begetting before a birth. In the case of the physical birth, the seed must first be planted — the begetting — then after a due season the results of the seed is made manifest in the form of a child. No one would doubt that the child is being born; no one would deny that the child was in the process of formation; and yet no one would say the child was yet born. I believe it would be proper to say that the child is in transit. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again if he were to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (John 3:1-5) Paul teaches that we are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son. We all agree that a man may be in the Satanic Kingdom and be in opposition to the ruler. Is this then not exactly what has happened? The sinner is in the Kingdom of Satan and has been begotten by the word. Upon hearing and believing he begins to make those necessary steps to leave this kingdom of darkness; hence is in opposition to his ruler. Faith is a twofold word. First it convicts us that we are lost and then leads to obedience. This is what James meant when he said, "Faith without works is dead." In John 12:42 it is affirmed that these men had faith, but not a saving faith. In John 8:31-44 it is said that the believers were the children of the devil. These people were convinced that they were lost, but failed to perfect their faith in obedience. When I say "in transit," I mean one who has been convicted by the word (Rom. 10:17) and who is beginning to perfect his faith in obedience. Reception of Christ begins at hearing (Rom. 10:17) and reaches its fullness in baptism and is perfected by obedience. The Bible teaches that baptism is twofold in its operation. It is a burial and a resurrection. Romans 6:3-5 teaches that we are buried with Him and that we are raised to walk in the newness of life. I believe that it is proper to say, "I baptize a dead sinner, one who is in the Satanic Kingdom but who is not serving sin, and raise a live child of God, one who has died to sin." I believe these statements are in order with the Bibles teaching and that they will create no prejudice if one is searching for the truth.

I realize some of the difficulties one might encounter with the sectarian debaters in this line of thought. I also know that many of us take one stand in order to keep out of difficulties when debating but do not daily teach so. I believe we cannot be consistent when we teach after this manner.

A question from the Baptist debaters will most likely follow: "Whose child is he if he dies on the way to the water?" H the child of God, then one is saved before baptism. If a child of the devil, then you baptize a child of the devil and ought to admit it. First of all, I have never heard of any one dying on the way to the water and neither have you. We have two instances where people had to go to the water and neither of them died (Acts 16: 33, the jailor, and Paul, Acts 22:16), so actually it is a mere supposition that says such will happen. Nearly anyone can think of a condition that will apparently work a hardship on any argument, if not interested in the truth. John 1:12 teaches that, "As many as receive him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God." I do not believe it is possible for one to die on the way to the water, if there has been no personal postponement. One might be providentially hindered and be within the watching eye of God until such hindrances by God are removed. I suppose many of the sectarians can present many cases where the believer has died on the way to the water. Let them give one iota of proof that says he was accepting Christ. I have never known one of them to teach God's truth about acceptance.