Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1951

Apologetics And Denominationalism

Pat Hardeman, Tampa, Florida

No one can doubt that members of denominations have produced many good works on Evidences. Nor is there any doubt that members of the church of the Lord have produced works just as good though sometimes not recognized by the denominations. In studying Evidences produced both by Christians and denominationalists it is absolutely necessary that we realize where the denominations stand with reference to the Evidences their leaders have produced.

Implications of Apologetics: The difference between the relation that the church of the Lord sustains to a proper apologetic and that sustained by denominations to apologetics lies in (1) the failure of denominationalism to accept the implications of the Evidences its leaders produce, and (2) the inconsistency between the Evidences coming from denominationalists and denominational doctrine and practice. Let us notice now some implications of apologetics which denominationalists do not accept and which they contradict by their doctrine and practice.

1. The Authority of Jesus Christ. I have in my library many volumes on Evidences written by Roman Catholic scholars. In these volumes are powerful arguments for the deity and consequent authority of Jesus Christ. No infidel can successfully challenge many of these arguments. The undeniable implication of these arguments is that the authority of Christ needs no support of a man or a group of men; yet the Roman Catholic Church denies the authority of Jesus Christ by supporting the monstrous claims of the Papacy. In a similar way the conferences, synods, and councils of Protestantism violate the arguments their leaders make for the authority of Jesus Christ.

2. The Perfection of the Bible. There are few good books on Evidences that do not emphasize, at least by implication, the inspiration and the perfection of the Bible. Yet Catholic scholars contradict their arguments for the perfection of the Bible by the "later revelations" of the Catholic Church. In like manner, Protestant scholars, though arguing conclusively for the perfection of the scriptures, deny that perfection by creeds, manuals, and disciplines that are made to be tests of fellowship. Such a powerful conservative writer as Salmon, though arguing for the perfection of the scriptures and producing a good work on Evidences, not only admitted the possibility but argued for the necessity of each church having its own form of discipline. (See Salmon's Infallibility.)

In earlier times many good apologetics were written by Methodist scholars but the Methodist discipline forever demonstrates the failure of that denomination to accept the implications of apologetics. In other words, if the Bible is perfect, it needs no support from a discipline.

If it is imperfect, the argument of the apologist falls flat, If we believe in the perfection of the Bible our doctrine and our practice should demonstrate that belief.

3. Commands of God. Another implication of apologetics is that one can not be saved without obeying the commands of God. Nearly all apologists give this as one reason that the study of apologetics is important. Yet denominational apologists nullify their Evidences by their insistence on the non-essentiality of obedience to God's commands. What outstanding man in the field of Evidences among the denominations will debate the necessity of baptism? Yet the implication of their Evidences is that such commands are essential. Such a man as Harry Rimmer has been known to "laugh off" the thought of such scriptures as Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21, teaching that baptism is essential. I repeat denominationalism rejects the logical consequences of apologetics.

4. True Worship. One can not read any good work on apologetics written by denominationalists without gaining the impression that such statements as the following one from Christ really mean what they say. "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." The implication of every good apologetic is that "They that worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth." Yet there must be no doubt but that denominationalists contravene their own logic by their many human forms of worship. The idea with most denominationalists is "just so a man is sincere, the way he worships makes no difference." Such teaching has never been true. Worship is one thing that God has always restricted. If one contends that there is no limitation on the form of worship, he could not consistently object if another introduced murder as an avenue of worship; but if we once accept the scriptural pattern of worship, all violations are sins.

Thus we have demonstrated that while denominationalism may argue effectively for the existence of God, the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and other fundamentals, they reject the implications of their arguments by their own doctrines and practices. "Faith without works is dead."