Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 22, 1956
NUMBER 29, PAGE 10-11

Christian Church Baptism -- Again

Robert H. West, Oceanside, California

In the September 27th issue of this paper, Brother Jerry Culley makes an attempt to "reply" to my article, "Is Christian Church Baptism Valid," of August 9th. It is fairly obvious that Brother Culley did not meet my arguments. In fact he never mentioned some of them. Since he has not successfully refuted my article, I want to hardily reaffirm my position and arguments and point out "some very interesting reasoning" of Brother Culley.

Our good brother seems to be under the impression that it was I who originally made the statement, "For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body." If that is the case, I respectfully submit to Brother Culley that the statement was originally made by the apostle Paul and may be read today in the New Testament. (1 Cor. 12:13.) This same apostle also stated that this one body is the church. (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18.)

Brother Culley poses a very interesting question: "Does the fact that two groups exist mean that only one of them can compose the body of Christ?". He asks this question in connection to his "reply" to first argument. But why didn't he notice the rest of my argument, "... if it is still held that members of the Christian Church are brethren,' baptized into the one body, then the 'one body' is either a divided body or 1 Corinthians 12:13 is wrong. Either horn of this dilemma is fatal." Brother Culley admits that two bodies can "Compose the body of Christ." My Bible condemns this denominational concept of the church. Since the church (the body) is "the fulness of him that filleth all in all," (Eph. 1:23) then Christ and the church are inseparable. To assert that the church is divided would be to say Christ is divided. In 1 Corinthians 1:13 the apostle asked the question, "Is Christ divided?". Brother Culley evidently thinks the answer to be in the affirmative. Christ is not and cannot be divided!

Concerning the sin in the various congregations of the church, our brother, like many others, fails to understand the difference between a sinful body and sin in the one body. I think perhaps an analogy may be drawn with scriptural and unscriptural marriage. My wife and I are scripturally married. Our marriage itself is not sinful, but if I strike my wife or tell her a lie, then sin occurs in a scriptural relationship. Now there are some marriages which are sinful in themselves because of unscriptural remarriage, etc. We can all see the difference in sin in a scriptural marriage and a sinful marriage in itself. Now take the church. The body of Christ is a scriptural body. The body itself is not sinful but if members of this body commit fornication, murder or division, then sin occurs in a scriptural body. But the Christian Church and all other denominations are sinful in themselves because they are unscriptural in origin, name, organization, doctrine and work.

Let us extend this parallel a little further. We have two marriages. One is scriptural, the other unscriptural. Both couples have a child. The one born into the scriptural relationship is a legitimate child while the one born into the sinful relationship is an illegitimate child. Why did the same physical birth make one child legitimate and the other illegitimate? Obviously because one was born into a scriptural relationship while the other was born into an unscriptural relationship. Now in the spiritual realm, baptism is the act whereby we gain admission to the one body. We have two bodies, the church of Christ and the Christian Church. One is scriptural while the other is unscriptural. An individual is baptized into each of these bodies. The one born or baptized into the church of Christ is saved while the one baptized into the Christian Church is lost. Why did the same act make one a child of God while it left the other a child of the devil? Simply because one was baptized into a scriptural relationship while the other was baptized into an unscriptural relationship. (Note: There can be illegitimate children in the spiritual realm — Heb. 12:8.) Certainly there is a difference in sin in a scriptural relationship and a sinful relationship in itself!

I was rather shocked when I read Brother Culley's statement, "Doctrinal misunderstanding cannot invalidate baptism." I knew a tremendous compromise was required to defend his position but not until now did I realize just how far these brethren are forced to go. If his statement is true then what about one who is baptized thinking baptism is "because of" the remission of sins? Is this not "doctrinal misunderstanding"? Of course! Would it invalidate the baptism? Brother Culley says no! Then our brother must fellowship our Baptist friends declaring, "they are our brethren in Christ Jesus."

Brother Culley says, "Baptism puts one into Christ and nothing more." Well, again, my Bible says it also puts one into the one body which is the church! But suppose for a moment that an individual was baptized without knowing he was being baptized into Christ. Would this "doctrinal misunderstanding" invalidate his baptism? We'll let our good brother answer that.

The question is asked, "How much must one know?" Then he quotes Mark 16:16 and apparently means that this is all one needs to know since he states," Who dares to add to the divine requirements?"! Now Brother Culley, if I have "added to the divine requirements" by saying one has to know he is baptized into the one body, then you have done the same thing by inferring one must know "Baptism puts one into Christ." What is that little ditty about sauce for the goose?

In connection with this argument he alleges, in relation to the body of Christ, "For Brother West this means 'The Church of Christ' — God's 'favorite folk'." I'll humbly plead guilty to this charge. Since the time I obeyed the gospel of Christ have understood the body of Christ and the church of Christ to be one in the same. I also admit that I believe with all of my heart that the body of Christ, the church, is "God's favorite folk." But I submit to the conscientious reader, if Brother Culley's satirical and sarcastic charges convict me of error, then the same accusing finger falls on the inspired apostles of our Lord. Paul definitely affirms that the body and the church is the same thing. (Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18.) Peter also succumbs to our brother's slurring charges since he believed sand taught that the church was "God's favorite folk." (1 Peter 2:9.)

Another question is raised, "... where in that book (Acts) is there one instance of the church even being mentioned until after one is baptized?" Does not our critical brother know that the kingdom of God and the church are the same thing? (Isa. 2; Acts 2.) And doesn't he recall that the first gospel sermon ever preached set forth the fact of Christ's ascension to David's throne thereby receiving the kingdom? Those Pentecostians did know about the kingdom of God, the church of our Lord and before they were baptized!

Over in the 8th chapter of Acts we read that Philip "preached Christ" to the Samaritans. In the 12th verse we learn that this consisted of "preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." The record says, ". . . they were baptized." This was after they heard about the kingdom of God which is the church. In the case of the Eunuch Philip preached Jesus unto him. (Vs. 35.) Now if preaching Christ to the Samaritans meant preaching about the kingdom of God, wouldn't preaching Jesus to the Eunuch mean the same thing? These are only a few of the instances where the kingdom of God, the church of Christ, was made known to the people before they were baptized!

I am always happy for someone to show me where I have misapplied a scripture. But I deny having misapplied 2 John 10,11. In the first place, I didn't apply it as Brother Culley alleges. In the second place, I have checked several commentaries and find only one, Clark's which agrees with Brother Culley's application of this scripture. I want to quote from my previous article my application of 2 John 10, 11. I'll let the reader be the judge of the accuracy of my application.

"Notice that the point at which one 'is a partaker' of another's 'evil deeds,' is when 'he biddeth him God speed.' From this we can assuredly say that the act which associates one with 'evil deeds' or sin, is the point of sin."

There is my application. I showed that Christian Church baptism makes one a member of that sinful body. This is conceded generally by the Christian Church. I don't know a member of the Christian Church who will deny the act of baptism made him a member of that denomination. But when some of my brethren become hard pressed on this point they then become expounders of Christian Church doctrine.

Brother Culley goes even further, though, and states that one may "join" any one of the denominations (the church of 'Christ is also a denomination to 'Brother Culley) "but he is not baptized into them." I don't find any place in the Bible where one "joined" the church. But I do find where they were baptized into it. (1 Cor. 12:13.) The continued use of denominational phrases and arguments should be enough to show that Brother Culley's position originated in the sects and not in the Bible!

The following are the positions Brother Culley has embraced:

1. Many bodies can "compose the church of Christ."

2. Christ is divided.

3. One "joins" the church.

4. All baptized for justification are brethren.

Note: This would make the following our "brethren in Christ Jesus":

a. Christian Church

b. Both Mormon churches

c. Eastern Orthodox Church

d. United Pentecostal Church

e. Plus many others.

Chart Goes Here

(Note Similarity)

Culley's Denominational


One Body One Body

Church of Christ Baptist

Christian Church Methodist Mormon Church Catholic Eastern Orthodox Church Lutheran

United Pentecostal Church Presbyterian

Many Others Many Others Yes, if I truly believed what Brother Culley teaches I would have to term it the 'so-called church of Christ." But as long as we have God's word to expose such insidious error, I trust that brethren will prayerfully study this problem keeping in mind at all times the fatal compromise required to sustain denominational baptism.