Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 15, 1954

Bass - Manchester Debate: A Debate With The Primitive Baptists

M. F. Manchester, Comanche, Texas

Brother Wallace Layton has already written a fine report of the debate which was held in Comanche from January 18th through the 21st between Elder Jesse Bass and myself, but Mr. A. E. Richards who moderated for Elder Bass and who is also editor and publisher of "The Banner of Love," in the February 1, 1954 issue page one, makes some bad blunders in reporting the debate, and to a few of these we shall call attention.

He says in paragraph five: "The opponent practically agreed with us on the closing night of the affirmative. After Brother Jesse had persistently presented scriptures showing the existence of the church during Christ's personal ministry, and in the days of John the Baptist he admitted that the church did have its beginning with John the Baptist, and during Christ's personal ministry but was extended to all nations on the first Pentecost." Elder Bass was in the affirmative the first two nights of the discussion and his proposition was as follows: "The scriptures teach that the church of which I, Jesse Bass, am a member, known to me and my brethren as the Primitive Baptist Church of Christ is scriptural in origin, doctrine and practice."

He of course made an effort to establish the church with John and Jesus on the banks of the Jordan but failed miserably. And we never admitted as charged by Mr. Richards that the "church did have its beginning with John the Baptist during the personal ministry of Jesus." We said the church, or kingdom, was in its preparatory state at that time, but was not established until Pentecost, and this was abundantly proven when we were in the affirmative the last two nights, and to which Elder Bass never did pay his respects. Not one time, as the tape recording will show.

While in the affirmative our opponent took the position that the "new name" (of Isaiah 62:2) was the "name Baptist." We showed that this could not be true because the "new name" was not to be given according to the prophecy until the Gentiles had seen his righteousness, and that they did not see it during the days of John the Baptist, or during the personal ministry of Christ, because he would not permit the ones he sent out to go to anyone except the Jews during that time (see Matt. 10:5, 6). And even after his resurrection and the giving of the great commission (Matt. 28:18, 19) it was eight or nine years before the Gentiles saw his righteousness. (Acts 10) Soon after this opening of the door of faith unto the Gentiles the "new name" was given, and it was not Baptist, but Christian. "And the disciples were called Christian first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26) This was the new name that was given to the children of God.

We also pointed out that John was THE BAPTIST, and not a Baptist. That Jesus was THE CHRIST, and not a Christ. We pressed him to show by the word of God where any individual member of the church was ever called a Baptist, or where any church in the New Testament was called a Baptist Church, primitive or otherwise, but he failed to offer any proof from the word of God. The reason was that he could not. It seems strange indeed that anyone will fight the essentiality of baptism as hard as our Baptist friends do, but at the same time name their church after it.

Again Mr. Richards says: "The opponent set up his chart on the first affirmative and went through the usual procedure which all of you are familiar with who are acquainted with their doctrine." All that we have to say on this is that those Primitive Baptists who were not acquainted with the doctrine of the gospel became well acquainted with it before the debate was over, and we hope many of them will give it serious consideration as time goes along. And as to the chart that we hung up, Mr. Richards knows that the only passages on it that were noticed by Elder Bass were Mark 16:16 and Galatians 3:27. That chart proved to be a "NEMESIS" to him because he would take a step or two toward it, look at it, and then turn right around and say nothing about it, or the arguments that were based upon it. In fact in his closing remarks he admitted that he had not been going by the rules of debate. Mr. Richards knows this and the tape recording will prove it.

Again Mr. Richards delivers himself after this fashion: "The man would never take a position on the unbaptized believer except in the form of a written question. In answer to the question: What is the condition of the believer before and without baptism? To which he answered: He is out of Christ." He is out of Christ was our answer and that is a position, Mr. Richards to the contrary notwithstanding. To prove that the unbaptized believer is out of Christ we used Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." Elder Bass contended that the baptism of this passage was Holy Spirit baptism, and used in connection with it 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit have we all been baptized into one body." In our answer we showed that baptism could not be "by" and "with," or both the agent and the element. That the preposition "by" in the above passage shows the agency of the Holy Spirit in directing or commanding them to be baptized in water (the element) which put them in Christ. Acts 2:38, makes this plain. The Holy Spirit speaking through Peter told them "to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins."

We also proved that there is only one baptism from Ephesians 4:5, and said if it was water baptism it could not be Holy Spirit baptism because there is just one, and if it was Holy Spirit baptism there was no such thing as water baptism, and therefore the Primitive Baptist Church could not exist, because it takes a Primitive Baptist preacher, and water baptism, to make a Primitive Baptist. We also had four prepositions on the chart as follows: (1) Baptism is "BY" something. (2) Baptism is "IN" something. (3) Baptism is "FOR" something. (4) Baptism is "INTO" something. Thus "by" direction the believer is baptized "in" water, "for" the remission of sins, and 'into" Christ. These prepositions enjoyed not one single notice from Elder Bass and Mr. Richards knows it, and the tape recording will prove it.