Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 30, 1963
NUMBER 5, PAGE 3,10b

Hath He Done What He Could?

Warren R. Cheatham

The following is in reply to an article appearing in "The Landmark Journal," March 1963. entitled "She Hath Done What She Could." The paper originates in Lockland, Ohio, and the editor is John W. Rawlings. The author of the article is Peter Ruckman, from Pensacola, Florida. In his article, Mr. Ruckman makes a vicious attack on a gospel preacher, referring to him and those who believe as he does, as "church of Christ people," "Campbellites," "crazy idiots," and accuses them of refusing to tell a dying man what to do, or in his own words, "Tell the poor devil how to get saved."

Three brethren and I went to a meeting of the Baptist church recently and tried to reason with Mr. Ruckman and Mr. Rawlings over this article. A formal challenge was made to discuss publicly our differences and views concerning the scriptures. First, Mr. Ruckman refused, then Mr. Rawlings. The issue was pressed with them for nearly an hour after their service. They finally just walked off. They were informed that we intended to answer the article. I wish to set forth some of their statements and show how far afield they are according to the Bible. I call this article "Hath He Done What He Could?

The first thing we notice is the accusation "none of them had tried to win him to Christ: They had only tried to get him baptized." (Page 3, Landmark Journal, March 1963) After talking with Mr. Ruckman, I do not believe he is ignorant as to a gospel preacher's view on the subject of salvation. I never knew of anyone "trying to get him baptized" without first having taught him the truth of Jesus. And before one is permitted to be baptized he must make the same confession the eunuch made, namely: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." (Acts 8:37) If I understand Mr. Ruckman and his article, he believes that faith or "trust in Christ" is all that is necessary to salvation. And I know I have not misunderstood for on page 4 he states "If you have come to Jesus as a sinner and trusted His atonement for your sins you have done all you can do. You can't do any more. No one can do any more. If that won't save you, nothing will." (Emphasis mine, WRC) Now can any person name just one gospel preacher who has ever baptized a person (just one) who did not believe in and trust Jesus Christ to be "the Saviour of all men!" (1 Tim. 4:10) If Mr. Ruckman cannot do this, then why the vicious article? and if he can show even one case, why not discuss this proposition publicly? Unless he can produce proof that "none of them had tried to win him to Christ," he is guilty of willful misrepresentation.

Notice next, "They had only tried to get him baptized." Mr. Ruckman said he believes in baptism. Why then ridicule the idea of men trying to get one baptized? Mr. Ruckman told me that he preaches baptism. He told me he tried to get people baptized. Why? What for? Does he preach baptism for the remission of sins? He says "no." Does he preach it in order to salvation? No. Does he preach it in order to get to heaven? No, again. Does he preach baptism in order to live a better life? In order to change the state of one being baptized? No, No, No! According to Baptist doctrine a person doesn't need it for any of the above reasons — then why do Baptists preach Baptism? A person (any one) can be saved and go to heaven (according to Baptist doctrine) without baptism. Mr. Ruckman says his "dying friend, Alton," was saved and he further states that every one will get to heaven just like Alton did or he won't make it. (Page 4) But Sir: Alton wasn't baptized, and you say you were; so if you make it, you will be different from Alton. You did more than Alton. Have you done all you could? Did Alton do all he could. What did Alton do with the first 25 years of his life? In your article you say he suffered for the last five years of his life. Thirty-one years of life with his folks, all of them members of the church, and you say he never heard the story of Jesus! Really, Mr. Ruckman! I read of some folks who "Rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." (Luke 7:30)

Mr. Ruckman continues to be unkind by calling a gospel preacher, a member of the church of Christ, "the Campbellite." I know one cannot stop people from mis-representation; but a little food for thought: name one thing that is taught by a gospel preacher that originated with Campbell. We shall be waiting for an answer. Christians follow nothing that originated with Campbell.

"I heard the Campbellite pray. It went like this," says Mr. Ruckman: "0, God, we thank Thee that Thou hast given us Thy commandments and shown us how to live so that when we come to this hour we may face it confidently; knowing that if we have lived the life You commanded us, in heaven we shall be rewarded with life everlasting." Gentle reader, what is wrong with this prayer. Do you say nothing? So do we, It is a good prayer; it is according to His will. And John said that "If we pray according to His will, He heareth us." (John 5:14) However, Mr. Ruckman ridicules the prayer also. He makes light of it, even makes fun of it in a most belittling manner. Look to his own words. "An anger welled up within me. I kept muttering to myself, you crazy idiot; tell the poor devil how to get saved." We do not mis-represent him for these are his very words. He was angry, so angry that he calls the praying man an idiot. These are the words of a man who will not discuss God's word publicly. He can call a man an idiot, a "crazy idiot" in his paper (sort of hit-and-run) but he won't discuss with him God's word! Hath he done what he could? We do not stoop to calling our fellow man an idiot but we will stop to "debate thy cause with thy neighbor." (Prov. 25:9) How about it, Mr. Peter Ruckman and Mr John W. Rawlings, will you do as the scriptures say and "debate thy cause with thy neighbor?" You haven't "done what you could" until you do.

One point of interest: page 4 of Mr. Rawling's paper shows about a dozen people were baptized. Page 3, same paper, same day, shows some of these people being "added" to that church. Either of these Baptist preachers will tell you that baptism is "non-essential" and that you can get to heaven without being baptized. But there is not a Baptist preacher anywhere who will give you full fellowship without baptism. You must receive baptism at the hand of a Baptist preacher in order to get into the Baptist Church. If you do not receive baptism, you may not eat the Lord's Supper with the Baptist church. (And any one who eats not the Lord's Supper cannot show forth the Lord's death. 1 Cor. 11:26) Friends, it takes more to get into the Baptist Church than it does to go to heaven, according to their teaching. Concerning our friend Alton in Pensacola — our Mr. Buckman says "If he isn't saved, no one is." But, Mr. Buckman, he wasn't baptized so he wasn't a Baptist. He wasn't a member of any church! Lucky for Mr. Peter Buckman and Mr. John W. Rawlings that all Baptists don't believe as they do. There wouldn't be any Baptist members left and they'd both be out of a job. Have they done all they could? They could meet with us in public discussion.

— 10807 Willfleet Drive, Cincinnati 41, Ohio