Vol.XIII No.X Pg.1
December 1976

Those Awful Baptists

Robert F. Turner

Antagonism between Baptists and Christians dates back to the early days of restoration in the U.S., when Alexander Campbell, publishing The Christian Baptist, broke sharply with the Calvinistic doctrines of his former religious ties. Many of the churches of Christ of those days were reformed Baptist churches; and pioneer preachers like Raccoon John Smith were reformed Baptists. One can scarcely expect objectivity and warm friendly relations to thrive in such a period.

In my early preaching days, forty years ago, most religious debates were with Baptists, with little offered to diminish hard feelings. It is not surprising that a study of differences is likely to be short on genuine understanding and long on prejudices. (Naturally the Baptist are far more prejudice than we, of course!) I wonder what it would take to make the truly basic differences (and such differences certainly do exist) clearly grasped by this generation.

Would such clarity convert the Baptists? Some of them — yes! There are Baptists who would deny election on the Calvinistic basis, and who believe in true free agency of man. There are Baptists who deny Total Depravity and its implications. There are those who know that only an obedient faith can save, and who would be baptized for the remission of sins if they could be freed of prejudices against Campbellite Pelagianism.

But what would a clear understanding of these matters do to some members of the church of Christ? Would they become Baptists? Some of them — yes! In their zeal to deny human implementation and stress the enabling power of a personally indwelling Holy Spirit, or the imputation of Christs perfect life; some have espoused positions that, carried to their logical conclusion, and freed from prejudices against those awful Baptists, would lead them straight home to Calvin. (Many have accepted the Baptist Association of Churches, in principle though not in name.)

I hope my Baptist friends and my brethren friends (and I once had some of both) wont hold this against me.