Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 11, 1969
NUMBER 19, PAGE 3b,5b

What About Denominational Baptism?

Don McWhorter

With but one known exception (Quakers) every major religious group calling itself "Christian" practices a rite which they call "baptism". And while there is great difference among them as to both mode and meaning, they all call it by the same name.

And there are many inconsistencies as well. While many of them will insist that the act itself is non-essential they will at the same time argue that there is an essential way of doing it. And they will further demand that there is an essential man to do the job — one of their ordained ministers. Though baptism itself is worthless insofar as salvation itself is concerned it must be performed in the proper mode and be administered by the proper man or it is worthless. How inconsistent can you be? Let's take a look at denominational baptism and see just what is wrong with it.

1. Denominational Baptism Has The Wrong Authority. Back of every act is the authority that makes it possible. It was with this fact in mind that Jesus asked the Jews of his day about the baptism of John. Inasmuch as denominationalists admittedly baptize on the authority of their ordination by some denominational body they act by no higher authority. New Testament baptism puts one into a relationship with Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26,27). It also puts one into a relationship with the body of Christ, His church (I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18). Baptism by the authority of Christ and baptism by the authority of the conference, council, synod, association, etc. are as different as daylight and dark.

2. Denominational Baptism Has The Wrong Subject. Many such bodies baptize infants, children, and unbelieving subjects. And most insist that the subject was saved before and without baptism. Inasmuch as the baptism of the New Testament was for sinners desiring salvation (Acts 16:30ff) and never for those already saved denominational baptism is not even similar to the baptism of the great commission.

3. Denominational Baptism Has the Wrong Confession. I speak out of personal knowledge, having been affiliated with two different religious organizations before finding the Lord's church. The confession I was called upon to make was not the confession those seeking baptism made in New Testament times! And the confession solicited by most religious bodies would of itself invalidate baptism. To confess that God for Christ's sake had already pardoned the sins of the candidate is to immediately remove the baptism to be received from the area of scripturalness. The Bible confession is the simple but glorious proclamation that Jesus Christ is the son of God (Acts 8:35-38; Rom. 10:9-10).

4. Denominational Baptism Has The Wrong Purpose. In God's word men are baptized for the remission of sin (Acts 2:38); to be saved (Mark 16:16); to wash away sin (Acts 22:16). People who are baptized with the idea that they are already saved and that this act has no connection with their salvation except as "an outward sign of an inward grace" are not receiving what the Bible calls baptism at all.

5. Denominational Baptism Occurs in the Wrong Order. There is an essential order to the scheme of redemption. First God's word is proclaimed to produce faith (Romans 10:17). The believer is then told to repent (Acts 2:36-38). He must then confess his faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32) and be baptized to be saved. Denominational order places repentance before faith and salvation before baptism. There is the two-fold error of repentance toward a God in whom there is no faith and salvation without the remission of sins.

6. Denominational Baptism Puts One Into The Wrong Church. It is by the baptism of that denomination that one becomes a member of that denominational church. It is a rule of entrance and there is no membership without it. It is thus more difficult to get into these churches than into heaven itself, for by their own admission one could get into heaven without it. New Testament baptism puts one into the New Testament church (Acts 2:38,41,47). This church is nondenominational, bought with non-denominational blood (Acts 20:28), headed by a non-denominational ruler (Col. 1:18), saved by a non-denominational savior (Eph. 5:23-27). Denominational baptism cannot put one into the non-denominational church of the Word of God.

7. Denominational Baptism Gives One the Wrong Name. When one is baptized with a denominational baptism he wears the name of the denomination that authorized his baptism. As .a matter of fact that is why he was baptized to begin with. None who are denominationally baptized wear the simple God-given name "Christian" (Acts 11:26). They may indeed CLAIM to be Christians, but that is not the name they wear. And their "wearing" belies their "claiming."

In Acts 19 a dozen men found they had not been properly baptized and immediately they submitted to scriptural baptism. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all were that sincere and possessed of that same spirit? God forbid that we hinder the scriptural baptism of someone by deciding to accept him on the basis of his denominational baptism. God will not hold such unaccountable.

— 620 Hoke St., Gadsden, Ala. 35903