Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 5, 1955

A New Way To Become A Christian?

R. L. Morrison. Cottage Grove. Oregon

It is not at all unusual to see 'reports' in the 'papers' which read somewhat as the following: "One restored from the Christian Church." "One renounced the error of the Christian Church and desired fellowship." "One came from the Christian Church, confessed wrongs and desired to be identified with us." "Two came from the Christian Church and since they had already been baptized for the remission of sins, we received them into fellowship upon their confession of wrong and prayer."

I hereby confess my inability to understand such statements. However, I want to say that I can understand how a member of the body of Christ who had become so indifferent to the truth as to associate himself with the Christian Church, could be 'restored,' 'renounce error,' or confess wrong and be received back into fellowship. Certainly such a one must do so in order to be saved eternally.

But I am made to wonder if such is the case in all these reports. Are all those who renounce error, confess faults, and desire to be identified, members of the body of Christ who have wandered off into denominationalism? Or, are they just members of that denomination seeking membership in the Lord's church? If so, just how can such a one be restored? We are told that to restore is to bring back to a certain condition: in this case, to bring back into an acceptable relationship with God. But if that one has never been a member of the Lord's church or has never been in an acceptable relationship with God, just how is he to be restored or brought back into such a relationship?

Yes, I have heard it said, in fact, have been told emphatically several times, that when one is baptized for the remission of sins, God adds him to the church. I believe it too. But what church? Does the Lord add a man to the Christian Church when he is scripturally baptized for the remission of sins? Or is the body of Christ twins? Sometimes I think we are almost expected to believe that the church is a Siamese twin. God adds some of the saved to one of the bodies and some of them to the other. If so, why wouldn't it be all right for the saved to slip around from one body to the other? Why 'restore' one who has been saved? If the Lord made a mistake and added some of the converts of Christian Church preaching to the body of Christ, do you suppose he ever makes a mistake and adds some of the converts of gospel preaching to the Christian Church? Could be, if the body of Christ is as closely connected to the Christian Church as some would indicate.

But is the Christian Church the body of Christ or is it connected to it? Not according to Paul. Hear him. 1 Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we baptized into one body ...." If that body is the Christian Church, then we are fighting against God and the Spirit when we 'restore' members of that church into the body of Christ. If the one body of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is not the Christian Church then how in the name of reason can a member of that church be restored to faithful membership in the Lord's body? If the Christian Church is the body of Christ, it would be wise for all of us to get into it and remain there.

But, we are told, "They baptize for the remission of sins. When one is baptized for the remission of sins, God adds him to the church." Again we agree. But why is baptism for the remission of sins? It is because of the relationship into which it places one. It is into Christ; into his name; into his death; into his body. Correct? Now is the Christian Church any one of these relationships? If so, we ought to be in it. If not, then no one can be baptized for the remission of sins by going into the Christian Church. Baptism that they say is for the remission of sins is also the act that consummates ones actions in becoming a member of the Christian Church. Can an act that puts one into Christ also put that one into a sinful relationship? If not, then the baptism that they say puts one into Christ and into the Christian Church fails at one or the other of these points. Which one? Did the one being baptized actually become a member of the body of Christ by his act?

If a member of the Christian Church upon 'renouncing that church' can be restored and received into fellowship, why can we not also receive Mormons upon their renunciation of Mormonism? Or the Oneness Holiness upon their renouncing that sect? Why show such favoritism? We might even go further and receive the Greek Catholics and the Christadelphians. They all 'baptize for the remission of sins.' Why the distinction? Is the Christian Church a favored group for some special reason?

We talk about teaching the truth. Some, at least, of us say, "You cannot be taught wrong and baptized right." I believe the statement is true. The question that needs to be considered is: "Just how much error can one be taught and still be baptized by one Spirit into one body, or is there a new way to become a Christian?