Vol.I No.X Pg.6
October 1964

Yes Mother, I Have Changed!

Robert F. Turner

John Smith, born 1784, nicknamed "Racoon", was a Calvinistic Baptist preacher of pioneer days. For years he preached the creed-bound Baptist dogmas of that day, and affiliated with regular Baptist Associations.

But John Smith was an independent and critical thinker. Reading the Scriptures, and discoursing with a group of Baptists called "reformers", Smith began to study his way out of creedalism, and to preach the pure, undenominational gospel of Christ. This led to his rejection by the more "orthodox" Baptists, and expulsion from some Baptist Associations.

Then, after many years away from home, he returned to visit his aged mother. The following is a touching account of their reunion, as taken from "LIFE OF ELDER JOHN SMITH" by John A. Williams; publ. April 1870.


"They tell me, John, that you have left us! They say that you deny the good Spirit that once gave you peace, and that you tell poor sinners that water can wash away their sins! For a long time I would not believe them; but why didn't you wait till your poor old mother was dead and gone?"

"Mother," said he, "I confess that my mind has undergone some change in reference to the doctrines that I once held as true; but many of the things that you have heard about me are idle tales. I do not teach nor believe such things. I have never denied the Spirit, nor taught that water can wash away sins." "But, if you had only lived and preached as you once did, a few years longer, John, it would not have hurt me; I could have died so much happier;" and she burst into a flood of complaining tears.

He tried, with all his art, to assuage her grief, but his words were powerless. He continued to sit by her side in silence, painfully conscious that he had not the address to wipe away her tears.

"Mother, on your account," said he at length, "I would be glad if I were still a Baptist; but I could not then be true to my convictions of duty. It pains me, beyond expression, to wound the feelings of my mother; and I will now make you, as I regard it, a fair proposition: I will turn back and preach Calvinism as faithfully as ever I did, so long as you live, should I survive you, provided you will agree to answer for me, in the day of judgement, should I be found wrong in so doing."

"Ah, John," she replied, "I can't do that. I shall have to answer for myself in that day, and so must you, my poor boy!"

"Well," said he, "if I must answer for myself then, do you not think, mother, that I ought to believe and act for myself now?"

She mused for some time, and then, wiping her eyes, replied: "I suppose you are right, Johnny; you ought to think for yourself. But you will have to account for it in the great day."

- - - -