Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 10, 1949
NUMBER 27, PAGE 1,8c

Religious Hydrophobia

J. A. McNutt

"An unnatural dread of water", is the first definition of hydrophobia as given by Webster. He further tells us that the term "hydrophobia" properly applies to this disease among men, whereas the term "rabies" is considered preferable as the name for the malady among animals. This is the most dreaded of all physical diseases among human beings, often resulting in death to its victims.

Theological Fear Of Water

There is no more unnatural and excessive fear of water than that shown by some religious teachers. They approach the subject of water baptism only when the question as to its place and purpose is thrust upon them. Most of them even resent being asked what the Lord taught as to the proper subjects, design, the action of baptism. There seems to be greater prejudice on this subject than on any other matter relative to the salvation of man.

The word "baptism" and its derivatives appear about one hundred times in the New Testament, but this is one word that is never mentioned from some pulpits except in derision. Why is there so much prejudice against this plain commandment of the Lord? Why should a preacher have such a consuming hatred of water baptism that he would spend his energy and waste his talents in such a hopeless task as for example trying to explain the water out of a passage like John 3:5, and leave the verse "bone dry"? Will someone please explain why an affable, educated, and seemingly honest preacher will labor diligently trying to prove that the eunuch was not baptized in water because this baptism took place "in the desert" (which the Bible does not say)? On the contrary, the Book says that they "came unto a certain water", and "they went down both into the water". Again, why should any preacher feel that he has been "called of God" to preach sprinkling and pouring as New Testament baptism when the Bible plainly declares that the act of baptism constitutes a burial and a resurrection? (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12)

Beware of hydrophobia among preachers. It is a dangerous disease which apparently blinds the eyes and impairs the reasoning powers of some otherwise likeable and intelligent men. There is no apparent reason why these men should have such an unnatural fear of water, but they seem to suffer an emotional spasm at the mere mention of water baptism; they reject the plain statements of the Lord Jesus on his subject.

Examples Of This Hydrophobia

One preacher recently said over the radio, "They go down into the water dry sinners, and they come out wet sinners". Such slurs and reflections as this are outstanding symptoms of this type of hydrophobia. Why should one be so biased as to make such a "statement? Is he afraid that some of his followers will learn the truth on baptism? Just suppose that some people do come out merely wet, unforgiven sinners. Does this prove that God will not fulfill his promise of salvation or remission of sins to those penitent persons who are sincere in their obedience to his word? Our Lord's command to be baptized was never addressed to unbelievers. Only a believing, penitent person who believes in Christ with all his heart can be scripturally baptized. God's promises are directed to believers, not to unbelievers.

Some preachers cry "water salvation", or "baptismal regeneration", and talk about "dry and wet sinners", but it was Jesus himself who said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:16) Will one who refuses to do what Jesus said do be saved? Will the preacher who ignores this passage, and teaches salvation by "faith only", before and without baptism, be held guiltless? (Gal 1:8, 9)

Wet Or Dry, Rested Or Tired?

Since most of these evangelists who ridicule the necessity of baptism are ardent advocates of the "mourner's bench" or "alter system" of obtaining pardon for alien sinners, before and without baptism, let them meet this challenge. We declare the New Testament does not contain, under the new covenant, the slightest suggestion or the faintest example of any alien sinner receiving forgiveness of his past sins in answer to prayer before baptism. If such a passage can be found, let it now be cited.

With reference to some going down into the waters of baptism dry sinners and coming out wet sinners, this could be true only of unbelieving and impenitent sinners. God never commanded such to be baptized. However, every alien sinner without exception who goes down to the mourner's bench seeking forgiveness of past sins in answer to prayer, before and without baptism, goes to the altar a rested sinner and comes back a tired sinner. He goes to the altar, or prays beside his radio, according to the instructions of men, not according to the commandment of God. He arises from his prayers weary and unforgiven. Why? Simply because God has never commanded such a plan of salvation to any alien sinner. Erring children of God were told to repent and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22); but alien sinners were told to "repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). These two classes of individuals must not be confused (erring children and alien sinners); neither should God's instructions to either of them be confused with what he told the other to do.

The religious world has fallen into the grave error of saying: "Children of God should be baptized", and "alien sinners should pray for pardon". This is an exact reversal of God's order. No wonder it has confused the minds of men.