"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.XI Pg.14-15
June 1944

A Baptist Preacher Rebaptized

W. Curtis Porter

Recent issues of the American Baptist, edited by D. N. Jackson, have carried reports of the rebaptizing of a Baptist preacher. The preacher concerned is Willie A. Thomas who is a student at the Jacksonville College of Jacksonville, Texas. The report of the baptizing was given by C. R. Meadows, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, and by Willie A. Thomas himself.

In preparing the way for the report Mr. Meadows said: "In the first place, it is the age-long position of Missionary Baptists that only believer's baptism is valid, sound and scriptural. Those who have been immersed before they were saved are not scripturally baptized."

And since the Baptists claim that only the saved can be Scripturally baptized they had valid grounds upon which to rebaptize Willie Thomas, for Mr. Meadows reports the circumstances as follows:

"He explained his condition and his position to this writer, Brother D. N. Jackson, and others, stating that he united with the church and was baptized when he was eleven or twelve years old. He also stated that he had no real experience of salvation from sin until he was about twenty years old. After his conversion, he felt the call to preach, later answered that call and preached for several years. However, he was never satisfied with his baptism. We advised him correctly, we think, that the scriptural thing for him to do was to tell his experience to the church, be received as a candidate for baptism and follow his Lord in the scriptural way."

The suggestion of these preachers was followed by Willie A. Thomas and he was baptized again by Elder C. R. Meadows. But even that did not settle all difficulties, for, as Pastor Meadow reports:

"Then, the question of his ordination came up. He was ordained before he was baptized so it was our opinion that he should be ordained in the proper way in order to complete the job. This was done in the presence of the church and a number of ministers present were invited to sit in the council."

But after making the report Pastor Meadows became a little concerned about the consequences of this action and said:

"Someone might raise the question-- What about all these people baptized by Bro. Thomas before he was scripturally baptized? Our answer to that briefly is: The church does the baptizing and not the preacher. If we are to press that sort of question, no one of us could easily be sure that we are scripturally baptized. I do not know that the man that baptized me was a saved man. I believe he was, but I do not know. I do know that, according to our belief, that the church that authorized my baptism was, and is, an Orthodox, Scriptural, New Testament Church."

Well, we are going "to press that sort of question." But before doing so, there are a number of interesting things in the report that I wish to call attention to. In the first place, "the age-long position of Missionary Baptists" (an age that could not be much more than 300 years long, for there were no Baptists of any kind prior to the seventeenth century) that "those who have been immersed before they were saved are not Scripturally baptized" would make necessary the rebaptizing of all who were baptized in the days of the apostles. Not one of them could qualify according to this "age-long position of Missionary Baptists." According to Acts 2:38-41 the three thousand who were baptized on the day of Pentecost were baptized "for the remission of sins." So they were baptized "before they were saved" and their baptism could not be acceptable to Baptists. Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, was baptized that his sins might be washed away. (Acts 22:16) His baptism would not be valid according to Baptist belief and practice. All the brethren at Rome were baptized prior to the walk "in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), which would be before they were saved, and they would have to do it all over again. Children of God throughout the regions of Galatia were such because they had been "baptized into Christ." (Gal. 3:27) This, of course, was before they were saved, unless they were saved out of Christ; and their baptism would be ruled out by the "age-long position of Baptists." As far as I am concerned, I would rather pay attention to the New Testament pattern than this "age-long position" Pastor Meadows talks about.

But Willie A. Thomas was baptized when he was about twelve years of age. However, his "real experience from sin" did not come till about eight years later. I suppose he had an "experience" of salvation from sin before his first baptism, but it wasn't real - the "real experience" came later. And after this real experience "he felt the call to preach." Notice that he did not hear the call --he felt it. And so he preached for several years but during this time "he was never satisfied with his baptism." I wonder why. If the Lord called him to preach, surely he was satisfied with it, and it ought to have satisfied Willie Thomas. The Lord was either satisfied with his baptism when he called him or he did not want him to preach Baptist doctrine. If the Lord wanted him to preach Baptist doctrine, he certainly would not have sent him out till he got his baptism straightened out. But since he did, according to the report, then the Lord did not seem to be much concerned about the "age-long position of Missionary Baptists."

And so that brings up the question that Pastor Meadows was afraid would arise - What about all those people that Willie A. Thomas baptized before he was scripturally baptized? What did their baptism do for them or make out of them anyway? People generally know that it is "the age-long position of Missionary Baptists" that a man cannot be a Baptist, or a member of the Missionary Baptist Church, unless he is baptized "by a regularly ordained Baptist preacher, who was baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist preacher, who was baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist preacher," with this method followed right back to the apostles themselves. So all those people Willie A. Thomas baptized during those several years he was preaching could not be Baptists, for Willie Thomas was not a Baptist himself. It takes what Baptists call "Scriptural baptism," which must be administered "after a man is saved," to make one a member of the Baptist Church. But Willie Thomas did not have that. So he was not a Baptist. And since he was not a Baptist, of course, he could not be a Baptist preacher. And those baptized by him were not even baptized by a Baptist preacher. After he was rebaptized it was decided that his former ordaining was no good and the thing for him to do was to "be ordained in the proper way in order to complete the job." So prior to his rebaptism and his being reordained he was not a "regularly ordained Baptist preacher" and could not baptize anybody according to the "age-long position of Missionary Baptists." Consequently "all those people" were not baptized by a "regularly ordained Baptist preacher," nor even by a Baptist preacher; no, not even by a Baptist, for Willie Thomas was not any of these things during that time. Not one of those people, therefore, could be a Baptist or a member of the Missionary Baptist Church. The baptism of every one of them was un-Baptistic, and the whole bunch should be rebaptized just like Willie Thomas was if they ever expect to share the glory of Baptists.

Pastor Meadows thinks their baptism might be valid, for if we were to "press that sort of question," his own baptism might be invalidated, as well as the baptism of all the rest of his brethren. Since "the church does the baptizing and not the preacher" he hopes theirs will be all right. But I wonder if the church did not authorize the first baptism of Willie Thomas. If the mere fact that the church authorized it, makes it Scriptural, then his would have to be Scriptural, too. But Meadows might insist that his was invalidated because he had not had that "real experience of salvation." Do you suppose for a moment that the Baptist Church that authorized his first baptism did so without hearing his "experience of grace"? They would certainly demand that he give such experience before they would vote upon him as a candidate for baptism. In view of "the age-long position of Missionary Baptists" we could not expect anything else. They would have refused baptism to him unless he told them he had had an experience of salvation. Well, if he told them he had such an experience, when he did not, as he now says, then he was baptized upon an empty profession - a statement that he knew was not true. And if he told that church he had been saved, when he knew he had not, how can the Jacksonville church now accept his testimony? Perhaps he has not been saved yet and this second baptism is of no more value than the first. If it be said that he did not willfully misrepresent his experience in the first case but was only mistaken about it, then how can they tell that he is not mistaken again? If he was mistaken about it the first time, he may be the same this time, and the whole thing may have to be done over again.

The questioning that Pastor Meadows feared evidently started, for in a later issue of the American Baptist the "College Student" himself made a defense of his member ship. A bunch of his preacher brethren began to write him about his action. And Willie Thomas got all "het up" about it and told them it was none of their business and to "keep the big mouths shut about it." In his explanation of his action he says:

"I want you all to know that I was saved years ago, but I was not satisfied with my baptism as I wanted to be. The baptism that I had when I was a child might have been all right, but I was not as sure of it as I wanted to be is the only reason that I went under the water again. I am very much satisfied now, and happy on my way to heaven, and just can't help what you think or say."

There you have the whole thing in a nutshell. The "only reason" that Willie Thomas "went under the water again" is given in his own words. He was "not as sure of" his first baptism as he "wanted to be." Of course, he had no doubt about his salvation, for he wanted all of them to know that he "was saved years ago." So that was not the disturbing element at all. He knew he was on his way to heaven, could not lose his way, nor even turn from it if he wanted to, according to "the age-long position of Missionary Baptists." There were no misgivings about any of this that caused him to be rebaptized. Furthermore, he was preaching right along and baptizing others upon a profession of their salvation. Through his efforts many were thus being taken to heaven with him. He had no doubt about any of this and was not rebaptized to make his work in saving souls any more effective. The only reason he was baptized was that he was "not sure" about his first baptism. In other words, he was "not sure" whether he was a Baptist, a member of the Baptist Church, for the only thing his baptism would do for him would be to make a Baptist out of him. He was sure he was a Christian, a member of the family of God; he was sure he would go to heaven; he was sure that he was leading other souls to heaven: but he was not sure that he was a Baptist. He wanted to be sure about that. So he "went under the water again." And after he did so he said: "I am very much satisfied now, and happy on my way to heaven." Now, don't misunderstand him. He was already on his way to heaven and had been for years, but he wasn't happy about it. In order to be happy about it, he had to be sure that he was a Baptist. The thing that brought peace and joy to Willie Thomas was not the knowledge that he was saved from his sins and unalterably on his way to eternal glory, but it was the knowledge that he was a Baptist. That would not increase his chances of eternal joy and glory, but it enabled him to be happy while he was on his way to eternal bliss. He couldn't be happy without that. Of course, the Lord never even one time mentioned any such thing as the Baptist Church, nor did he ever invite or admonish any one to be a Baptist, but Willie Thomas just couldn't be happy till he was sure he was a member of the Baptist Church. So I am glad to know that he found happiness at last. I would hate to know that he had made the long journey to heaven without ever being happy about it.