Quotes From Baptists Of The Past

The following quotations were sent via email from Ben Stratton of the group list Landmark Southern Baptist.

“God’s Word is plain.  A Baptist has only to read and obey.  He need not be a scholar, or a philosopher, though he may be both.  He has no trouble to explain away what is written.  He can read it and go by it without embarrassment.  He can afford to be plain, simple, straightforward and obedient, knowing if there is anything wrong about the teaching of the New Testament, he is not to blame for it.  I am a Baptist because John was, Jesus was, the apostles were, the first churches were, and all the world ought to be.”  J.B. Gambrell

(James Bruton Gambrell (1841-1921) was a Baptist leader around the turn of the last century. He pastored churches in Mississippi and Texas, served as President of Mercer University (1893-1895, editor of the Baptist Standard (1910-1921) and President of the SBC. (1917-1921). )

“As to the Christians commonly called Baptists, we are convinced that they have, more than their brethren, preserved the ordinances of the Lord Jesus as they were delivered unto the saints. . . the claim ought not to be filched by the church of Rome, but should be left to that community which all along has held one, Lord, one faith, and one baptism.  This body of believers has not been existed into temporal power, or decorated with worldly rank, but has dwelt for the most part in dens and caves of the earth destitute, afflicted, tormented, and has thus proved that it is of the house and lineage of the Crucified. . . . It would not be impossible to show that the first Christians who dwelt in this island were of the same faith and order as the churches now called Baptists.  The evidence supplied by ancient monuments and baptisteries still surviving, would be conclusive in our favour were it not that upon this point the minds of men are not very open to argument.”  Charles Hadden Spurgeon

(C.H. Spurgeon {1834-1892} was a noted English Baptist preacher, author, and editor.  The above quote is from his sermon “Looking For Our Spiritual Roots” delivered at the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle in London, England.  Notice that Spurgeon believed the origins of modern Baptists were found in the Anabaptists.  He also believed that Baptists / Anabaptists had existed in England since the earliest days.)

May those who call themselves Christian and Baptists be forever dependent on the Lord and His Word, and not new fangled, man made ideas that distract from Him and His Word.

-Tim A. Blankenship

L. R. Scarborough and Non-Baptist Baptism

The following is a quote from L. R. Scarborough.  I received it from the Landmark Southern Baptist Group and Ben Stratton whom I thank for sending this.

2. Another way by which the fountains of truth and life of our churches can be poisoned is by doing violence to the ordinances of Jesus Christ, in depreciating their value and emasculating their testimony. This is done when a Baptist church receives baptism administered at the hands of some other organization than a Baptist church. If a Baptist preacher admits into the fellowship of his church Christians who have received baptism at the hands of pedobaptists, without requiring them to be baptized by a Baptist church, he violates the truth of God and is guilty of a heresy in ecclesiology which will eventually ruin the testimony of the ordinances and vitiate the witness of Christ’s churches. Such practice eats at the very heart of the life of Christ’s churches. Such a practice will not only injure the life of the church practicing it, but will eventually poison the fountains of truth in all of our churches

A pastor of one of the leading churches of Texas told me recently of a member from another Baptist church in Texas seeking admittance on a letter from this church, but when questioned as to her baptism she reported that she came to this other church on the baptism from a certain Campbellite church and had not been required to be baptized by this Baptist church. This pastor tells me that he promptly refused to admit this woman into the fellowship of his church. I think he did right.

There lies at this point a great danger and we should guard the fountains of truth from the poison that will come by the emasculation of the ordinances of Jesus Christ.  L. R. Scarborough
(L.R. Scarborough [1870-1845] was president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1914-1942 and president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1938-1939.  You will notice that Scarborough believed that baptism was only valid when it was administered at the hands of a Baptist church.  The quote is from his article “Poisoning the Fountains of Truth” which was published in the January 1922 Southwestern Journal of Theology.  I am also glad to hear that this article was republished in the most recent Southwestern Journal of Theology, “Baptists and Unity.”  A special thanks to the good folks at http://sbctoday. com for making us aware of this quote.)
It is of the utmost importance in the day which we live to continue to maintain doctrinal integrity in our preaching, polity and ecclesiology
-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Baptists Are Drifting…

The word “Drift” according to the MERRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY means “to float or be driven along by wind, waves or currents 2: to pile up under the force of the wind or water”

The following is an email from Ben Stratton from the Landmark Southern Baptist list:

Baptists Are Drifting From the New Testament Pattern in Doctrine and Polity

Some Baptists are drifting from these orders because they are failing to teach believers to “observe all things whatsoever” Christ has commanded.  Luke tells us that the first church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.”
The New Testament records that believers were accepted into church members by baptism. . . Scriptural baptism is the door into the visible Church of God.  A believer coming from another denomination must be baptized to be a member of a Baptist church.  The proper way to enter a building is through the door.  Baptism symbolizes identification  with a (the) faith.  It is important that one believe in Christ; it is also important what ones believes about Christ.

Administering the Lord’s Supper to non-Baptists is also a departure from the New Testament pattern.  The Lord’s Supper is a family affair and is to be partaken by those of the same faith and order and in good regular standing with the church.  The New Testament substantiates this stand.

Being liberal may make one popular with man, but adherence to the scripture will make you popular with God.  Let us as Baptists join with Jeremiah in seeking the old paths of doctrine, polity, and morality.  J.V. Bottoms, Sr.

(J.V. Bottoms, Sr. was the longtime pastor of the Green Street Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  He was the first person to graduate from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary once blacks were allowed to attend there.  The above quote appeared in the American Baptist” newspaper in 1978.  This paper was the official organ of the General Association of Black Baptists in Kentucky.  It is interesting to note that in the 1970’s many of the black Baptist churches in Louisville were much more doctrinally sound than their white counterparts. )

Are Southern Baptists drifting? In many ways we are. We are drifting away from sound doctrine concerning Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Leadership qualifications, and away from church discipline.
We are drifting toward a crashing falls of destruction, and God will use others who are still standing for the truth, holiness, and glorifying the name of Jesus.

Let’s stand on Jesus and the Scriptures, expose the vile and wicked acts, and language of those who would lead others astray.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Baptists Distinctives

The following is from the teaching of John A. Broadus concerning Baptists Distinctives.  Baptists have always been accused of being different, and these distinctives are what sets us apart from others.

It may be well to state briefly what I understand to be the leading distinctive views of the Baptist churches. The fact that certain of these are more or less shared by others will be remarked upon afterward.

(1) We hold that the Bible alone is a religious authority; and in regard to Christian institutions the direct authority is of course the New Testament.

 

(2) We hold that a Christian Church ought to consist only of persons making a credible profession of conversion, of faith in Christ. These may include children, even comparatively young children, for God be thanked that these do often give credible evidence of faith in Christ! But in the very nature of the case they cannot include infants. The notion that infants may be church-members because their parents are seems to us utterly alien to the genius of Christianity, not only unsupported by the New Testament, but in conflict with its essential principles; and we are not surprised to observe that our Christian brethren among whom that theory obtains are unable to carry it out consistently — unable to decide in what sense the so-called “children of the church” are really members of the church and subject to its discipline. The other notion, that infants may be church-members because so-called “sponsors” make professions and promises for them, seems to us a mere legal fiction, devised to give some basis for a practice which rose on quite other grounds. Maintaining that none should be received as church-members unless they give credible evidence of conversion, we also hold in theory that none should be retained in membership who do not lead a godly life; that if a man fails to show his faith by works, he should cease to make profession of faith. Some of our own people appear at times to forget that strict church discipline is a necessary part of the Baptist view as to church-membership.

From The Duty of Baptists To Teach Their Distinctive Views by John A. Broadus, and from the section Distinctive Views of Baptist Churches # 1 & 2

You may read this whole study at Baptists Distinctives.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The SBC & Alien Baptism In the 1950’s

The following is from Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist yahoo group list.  It expresses the reason for our refusal for accepting the “baptism” from other denominations who do not scripturally baptize.

“To accept as valid the baptism of those holding the ‘strange doctrine’ that baptism is a necessary part of salvation, or who practice a variety of modes (sprinkling, etc.) is a gross indignity to the simple ordinance given by Jesus for believers as a testimonial of their relation to Christ in His ‘death, burial, and resurrection.’  The practice of accepting as valid the baptism of churches other than Baptist is commonly known as ‘alien baptism.’  Generally, Southern Baptist churches do not accept into membership those coming from other denominations, except by baptism; but those who do are guilty of contributing to the indignity of this ordinance as sanctioned by unscriptural churches.”  John M. Snawder
 
(John M. Snawder was pastor of the Ralph Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY in the 1950’s.  The above quote is from his article “The Dignity of Baptism” which appear in the Western Recorder on August 27, 1959.  Notice that while Snawder pastored near the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which was a hotbed of liberalism in the 1950’s, he stated that the majority of Southern Baptist churches rejected alien baptism.)
Posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Southern Baptists and Alien Immersion

I received the following article from the Landmark Southern Baptist GroupList, and Ben Stratton:

 

LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, conducted a study in spring 2008 among a representative sample of 778 Southern Baptist pastors.  These pastors were asked about several doctrinal questions that often dominate Southern Baptist debates.  Particularly interesting were the results on baptism.
 
Pastors were asked about their church’s practice of receiving members who were baptized in other churches.  Some of the results include:
 
1.  If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in another church that does not believe in eternal security, 26 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
2.  If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in a church that believes baptism is required for salvation, 13 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
3.  If the prospective new member had been baptized by sprinkling or pouring after conversion, 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism prior to admittance into membership.
 
4.  If the prospective new member had been baptized as an infant by sprinkling, pouring or immersion, 1 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.
 
While this study was only of a small sample of Southern Baptist pastors (There are over 2400 Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky alone.) I was pleased with the results.  Notice that 74% of the pastors surveyed said they would reject the immersions administered by Assembly of God or Free Will Baptist Churches.  Even better 87% of pastors surveyed said they would reject the immersions administered by groups such as the Churches of Christ.  And only 1% to 3% are following the route of John Piper and allowing pedobaptists to become members of Southern Baptist churches. 
 
Overall I was very pleased with these results.  While it is true that Southern Baptists have a number of churches and especially younger pastors who are weak on church truth, this survey shows that the majority of Southern Baptist churches are still sound on the doctrine of baptism.  It also sounds how diligent we must be grounding our churches in the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints.  Jude 1:3
 
Who is coming into our churches?  Will there be any sure way to know what is believed by “Baptist” churches?  Are we just cooperating with all “evangelical” churches?  That seems to be the guideline nowadays.  Rather than Scripture.  Let’s just baptize everybody by proxy, then we can increase our numbers. :).
-Tim A. Blankenhsip

Baptism And…

The past two years in the Southern Baptist Convention churches has been alive with discussion, and sometimes with angry discussion, over the matter of Baptism; especially as it relates to the International Mission Board (IMB), and its authority to send missionaries.

Baptism is a matter concerning the Christian and the local church where they are potential members or members.  We are first of all, baptized into one body by one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).  The Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ, and because of the Christian’s desire to be near like minded believers, the Christian desires to become a part of a local church.  Becoming a part of a local congregation means identifying with that church through water baptism, giving personal testimony of one’s faith in Christ Jesus, and His death, burial and resurrection, shown in like baptism.

The point I want to make is this.  When an individual becomes a member of a local church, they should have a heart of submission; first to Christ Jesus, and secondly to the ordinances, members, and leaders of the church they are joining.  The IMB made a rule in 2005 that any missionary candidate not being baptized in a SBC church would not be affirmed for the mission field.  My personal belief is that they should accept the call of the local church that did receive them, and accepted their “alien baptism”, however, this is an agency of the SBC, and they have made this ruling.  If you are going to be a missionary through the SBC/IMB, then where is your heart? 

If I were to ever change to another belief system, another denomination, and they required me to be baptized to become a member, of their congregation, then, I would gladly do it.  If I was not prepared to submit to their ordinances, rules, covenants, and leadership, then I would not join.  I, however,  will be a Baptist until Jesus comes again, and then, there will be no more denominations.  There will be only Christ like people, with Jesus Christ as King.

What to do when a person comes wanting to join our church who has been a member of another denomination?  We will require baptism.  If they refuse to submit to that, then they can go elsewhere.  These are usually types of people who will be trouble anyway.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis

The annual meeting of the SBC this year appears to be heading for a lot of excitement, and debate.  Excitement if you like those types of things.  There are six men who are “running” for the office of President of our Convention.  They may be good, evangelical, and Christian men, but how strong are they about our Baptist heritage, and doctrines of Scripture, concerning baptism.  I am going to let Ben Stratton give you the word on this matter.  There appears to be only one man who stands by the decisions of the International Missions Board concerning Baptism and private prayer languages.

On June 10-11, 2008 the Southern Baptist Convention will meet in Indianapolis, Indiana and elect a new president. It is an unusual year as there are six men running for this office. They are Frank Cox, Wiley Drake, Johnny Hunt, Les Puryear, Bill Wagner, and Avery Willis. To help messengers to the annual meeting evaluate the candidates, Baptist Press www.bpnews.net recently asked each candidate eight questions. One of the questions read, “The IMB trustee guidelines governing baptism and private prayer language in appointing missionaries: Do you think their action was needed and appropriate?”. As our readers know in 2005 the SBC International Mission Board passed a guideline saying that potential missionaries can not have received alien immersion. It was very interesting to read the responses of the presidential candidates to the question about this guideline.

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia and one who many consider to be the front runner in the SBC presidential race said, “I am not sure that I fully understand all that the IMB trustee guidelines have said, however, if a person has received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and has been baptized by a minister who embraces the Gospel and the Scriptures as we do, their baptism should count in our churches. If James Dobson desired to become part of First Baptist Church Woodstock, I would not require him to be re-baptized.” Yet James Dobson is associated with the Evangelical Free denomination which recognizes infant baptism and sprinkling as valid baptism.

Les Puryear, pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church in North Carolina and one who many consider to be the favorite of less conservative Southern Baptists said, “I do not agree with the implementation of these policies. The SBC as a whole has not stated a position on these doctrines, therefore I view these as non-essential doctrines and as such, should not be used as doctrinal policy for any SBC board or agency. This is not surprising as earlier this year Puryear said that theologically he was somewhere “between Baptist and Presbyterian”.

Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia said, “The trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to see that the board’s objectives are being met in concert as to who we are as Southern Baptists. At any time issues arise that would be contrary or questionable to the doctrine and practice of Southern Baptists as stated through our Baptist Faith and Message 2000 or contrary to Holy Scripture, they must as trustees deal with these concerns. Therefore, I believe the trustees acted in line with their responsibility, and their action on the issues of baptism and private prayer language was appropriate in keeping with the doctrinal integrity as to who we are as Southern Baptists.”

 The office of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is a very important position because of the political appointments he makes. In light of the above statements I believe that only Frank Cox will appoint conservative sound Southern Baptists to positions of leadership in the convention. Therefore I am endorsing Frank Cox for president of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention and I encourage all Southern Baptists going to Indianapolis to vote for him.

By Ben Stratton

For further reading on Frank Cox you may go to Frank Cox .  The sad thing about this is that I am unable to attend this meeting.  I pray God will have His way in the hearts of Christian Baptists as the meeting progresses for His glory.

Baptisms Are Down???

The following article was written by Ben Straten, and it seems at a time when many “Baptists” are more concerned with numbers than they are souls salvations this article is quite meaningful.  When “Baptists” seem more concerned with going along to get along, receiving alien emersions, and doing what comes natural to the world in the drinking of the liquor, and supporting the industry of drunkenness; we need to stop and pay attention.

Why the Decline in Southern Baptist Baptisms?

 

Recently it was reported in the news that the number of Southern Baptist baptisms had declined for the third straight year. In 2007 Southern Baptist churches baptized 345,941 people. This is considerably lower then 1972 when Southern Baptist churches baptized 445,725 people, the most in their history. So the question is why the great change in the number of Southern Baptist baptisms since 1972. Some are saying that we are not as evangelistic or as committed as we were back in 1972.

While there is some truth to this answer, there is another reason that is totally ignored in the blogs and denominational papers. Back in 1972 the vast majority of Southern Baptist churches rejected alien immersions. (that is non-Baptist baptisms) Thirty-five years ago when someone wanted to join a typical Southern Baptist church from a Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Disciples of Christ, etc. church they had to be “rebaptized” in order to join the church. Yet since 1972 hundreds of Southern Baptist churches have given up this practice. Today many Southern Baptist churches that thirty-five years ago would have rebaptized these non-Baptists who wanted to join their church, will now receive them by “statement”. That is one of the biggest reasons why the number of Southern Baptist baptisms is so much lower in 2007 than it was in 1972

Let’s continue being the Southern Baptists which we should be.  Be saved and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

-T.A.

Drawing the Lines

More and more of those who profess to be followers of Jesus, and are Baptists, are leaving the Baptists distinctives in order to draw more people.  When we get away from those Baptists teachings which make us Baptists we are no longer Baptists.

If you do not want to be Baptists then go join, or become a part of a church that you can believe with them, but don’t join a Baptist Church and try to get it away from our distinctiveness.  If you don’t love us please leave us.  We will love you anyway.

The following is a quote from a former editor of the former State Baptist Paper, Word and Way,  R.K Maiden, and was posted on a group list I am part of:

“Open communion churches in the south are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and alien immersion churches are almost as scarce. Southern Baptist churches have, so far, consistently and firmly declined to enter into any kind of compromising, entangling, interdenominational alliance. But what of the future? Will the New Testament hold its grip on Southern Baptists through the next fifty or one hundred years? The rising tide of ecclesiastical liberalism will eventually reach the borders of the South and slowly overflow it. . . Fifty or a hundred years hence may show marked changes among Southern Baptists. Unless there is a strong backfire against it, ecclesiastical liberalism will eat into the South. R.K. Maiden, 1926 (R.K. Maiden was editor of “The Word and Way” Missouri Baptist newspaper from 1896 to 1929 and was a leader among Missouri Southern Baptists. In the above quote Maiden hit the nail right on the head. There have been marked doctrinal changes among Southern Baptists in the eighty-two years since he wrote these words. If we are going to see doctrinal renewal come to Southern Baptists we must stand against ecclesiastical liberalism and preach and teach Baptist distinctives to our congregations. The quote is from pages 50-51 of Maiden’s 1926 book “The Rising Tide of Ecclesiastical Apostasy”.)

Posted on the Landmark Southern Baptist Group List, by Ben Stratton

We do not need to be eccleiastically identical with other denominations to get along with them.  The best thing Baptists can do for the world and others is maintain our identity with the Bible as the Word of God, stand on our doctrines and teachings.  If we fail to do that then, we are not worth having around.  Think on these matters for a while before you begin throwing them out the door.

-by Tim A. Blankenship

J.R. Graves – 1820

J.R. Graves was born in Vermont in 1820. In 1841 he moved south and united with the Mount Freedom Baptist Church in Jessamine County, Kentucky. In May of 1842 Graves was ordained by this church. What is interesting is that three years before J.R. Graves joined this church, they voted on two doctrinal questions related to landmarkism. The below quote is from S. J. Conkwright’s 1923 “History of the Churches of Boone’s Creek Baptist Association” , under the Mount Freedom Baptist Church section on page 98.

“In January, 1838, on a motion made by Joseph Minter, the following two questions were put to a vote.
1st Query: Is it right that a member of this church should commune with any other church that is not of the same faith and order? Answer: No.”
“2nd Query: Is it right for this church to receive a member’s baptism valid that was baptized by another society, that is not of the same faith and order with us? Answer: In the negative.”

This is just one more historical example that proves that the vast majority of Baptists in the south, as well as the north, rejected alien immersion and open communion long before J.R. Graves published the Cotton Grove Resolutions in 1851. The idea that Graves invented the doctrines of Landmarkism is proved once again to be false. A special thanks to Bro. Jim Duvall for finding this important quote – http://www.geocitie s.com/baptist_ documents/ ky.jessamine. mt.freedm. bc.html

Email post by Ben Stratton Landmark Southern Baptist Group List.

The Name ‘Baptists’

There are many churches which are Baptist, which are taking the name “Baptist” out of their name.  Does this make any difference?

I think it does, unless we simply want to be identified with “Evangelicalism” or “Ecumenism” which it does seem that many do not mind.  Being Baptist used to make a difference.  My feeling is if you are ashamed of the name then be something else, “Please”.  It is almost as bad as being ashamed of the name “Jesus”.

Why does the name make a difference?  First of all it has to do with the way we see Jesus:  He is deity; the God-Man; God incarnate, ie God made flesh.  The God-Man who died for the sins of the world.  Secondly, it has to do with your view of Scripture, ie., the Bible:  it is the inerrant, infallible, Spirit breathed word of God.  Another thing is the Priesthood of the believer:  that means that every child of God has access to the throne of God, and our only mediator is Jesus Himself, who intercedes for us; and that as a priest of God we are endowed and empowered by His Spirit to interpret the Scriptures rightly when we have a pure heart with Him.  A fourth thing is our view of Baptism: it is not for salvation, but because of salvation; it is our confession of salvation and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus;  it is done by immersion, and by another Baptist recognizing the rights and privileges of local church membership; just as the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ; immersion places us within a local body called the local church which is the representation of the body of Christ in the community.  One final thing, but not exhausted, is the Lord’s Supper: in the Supper we recognize the broken, bruised body of our Savior with the eating of the bread; and with the drinking of the fruit of the vine, His shed blood; the giving of His life for our sins; and we remember His death until He comes.  Since the Scriptures warn of not taking of the Supper “Unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:27-32) we also believe that one must have been baptized by immersion to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Who can be a member of a local Baptist Church?  All who call on the name of Jesus for salvation, are immersed in the water, and then, they will have all the rights of the Priesthood of the believer.

Though, there are many “Baptist” churches who are forsaking the Baptist distinctives, they probably should take the name “Baptist” out.  Let those of us who will remain Baptist be honest with who we are.

Alien Immersion/Baptism

The following article was posted by Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist Grouplist:

Practical Ramifications of Receiving Alien Immersion

by Van Harness, Pastor, West Side Baptist Church, Greers Ferry, Arkansas

In the preceding sections Dr. W.T. Conner, a notable past Arkansas theologian and Dr. Jimmy Millikin, a present Arkansas theologian, have given the theologian’s reasons for rejecting alien immersion. Chris Hackler has given the historical precedent for rejecting alien immersion. There is one more category that should be considered. What will be the practical ramifications to us if we receive alien immersion?

1. The ease of transferring membership to and from Arkansas Southern Baptist churches will be forever lost. No longer can it be assumed Scriptural baptism has occurred.

2. Great confusion, lack of order and insult to people will occur when some Arkansas Southern Baptist churches will receive them without baptism and others will not.

3. Our practice of not allowing alien immersion from 1848-1968 by common consent and from 1968-present by bylaw requirement will mark a profound doctrinal change from our 159 years heritage. Are we better equipped to make this doctrinal assessment than our previous generations of Baptist theologians? I think not! I think those of us with some grey in our hair and years under our belts best not entrust our doctrinal heritage so easily with this wave of unproven leadership especially when it comes to our Baptist Doctrinal Distinctive. We need to step back and ask, “What are we doing and why are we doing it?”

4. For us Scriptural baptism has always been the entrance into the local church and the stop-gate for those seeking entrance from denominations that are unscriptural in some basic doctrines especially salvation and baptism itself. To change the stop-gate to a flood gate will in time flood churches with many strange doctrines that will eat away at our doctrinal roots bringing doctrinal battles and turbulent times to many churches. It will be said that other state conventions do not have bylaw restrictions concerning this. We’ve been spared many battles others have fought because our restrictions on alien immersion have kept us more doctrinally pure.

5. It puts our convention in contrast to our International Mission Board which requires all candidates whose baptism was not authorized by a church believing eternal security to present themselves to a Southern Baptist church for baptism before they are appointed as missionaries. If our IMB can do this surely the ABSC can maintain our present guideline with its members concerning baptism.

6. We all believe in the autonomy of the local church. However, the churches look to our convention for leadership and guidance in numerous areas. As important as baptism is, guidance should be there. Our very name “Baptist” identifies the most important significance and influence among our churches. Our convention leadership, until recently, has honored this guidance and protection of this cherished doctrine. If our churches can’t depend on this guidance and protection many will lose their confidence and feel abandoned. Their support and future commitment and loyalty to the convention will greatly suffer.

7. One of the reasons our Lord Jesus was baptized at the beginning of his earthly ministry was to provide an example to future believers. Scripture says (Matthew 3:15) it was to “fulfill all righteousness” . If we allow alien immersion many coming into our churches will have never been properly baptized. The righteousness that the Lord wanted fulfilled in their lives will be missing. We may be successful in changing their unscriptural doctrines but the very first act of a new Christian’s walk with the Lord will be unfulfilled. 1 Peter 3:21 indicates “baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God” with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord being symbolized. The conscience of believers with alien immersion will have a missing answer in their lives. This missing ordinance will hamper their entire life of service to the Lord. We need to make sure this does not happen.

This list has been some practical ramifications if the alien immersion clause is removed from our constitution. However, as this paper reveals throughout its content for many of us this is a heartfelt doctrinal issue. It likewise, has been for our previous generations since it is a constitutional bylaw requiring 2/3 votes for two consecutive years. They did not want it removed easily. We implore that we not abandon this historical doctrinal root that has been an Arkansas Baptist distinctive in our convention. We urge you to vote no to the proposed constitutional change. Please feel free to forward this paper to others. You may also print and pass this paper out to others in your church.

(The above article was sent to many Arkansas Southern Baptist pastors in the weeks before the 2007 annual meeting of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention. Thankfully the motion to change the bylaws of the ASBC was defeated. Yet every Baptist needs to read these seven points and understand what happens when Southern Baptist churches receive alien immersion.)

If we Baptists are not careful with our beliefs, and do not stop just accepting all the world throws at us, there will be no distinctive which has set us apart from others.  Correct baptism is a vital need for Southern Baptists

Arkansas Baptist Convention – Update

The following is from Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist Group list:

“Several of us have been eagerly following the annual meeting of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention that was held earlier this week in Van Buren, Arkansas.  Messengers were to vote on the proposed amendment to delete the phrase “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion” from the ASBC Articles of Incorporation.  The amendment needed a 2/3 majority vote (67%) to pass.  After discussion on Tuesday, November 6, the vote was taken on Wednesday, November 7.  There were 608 total ballets cast with 383 voting for the amendment (63%) and 225 voting against the amendment (37%).   By failing to get a 2/3 majority vote, the phrase “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion” will remain in the ASBC Articles of Incorporation.”

“While I am thrilled that the Articles of Incorporation were not changed, conservatives in Arkansas must be ever diligent.  Those wanting to delete the phrase can bring the issue back up in two years and probably will.  They came within 24 votes of getting the Articles of Incorporation changed.  We must be stronger in teaching doctrine to our churches members and encouraging fellow Baptist pastors to stand for doctrinal truth.  We will speak more about this important issue in the weeks to come on the LSB.” 

Should things like this come about Baptists would quickly begin losing the things which set us apart and identify us as Bible believing Baptists Christians.  The Bible would be the thing which will come into question, yet again.

Arkansas Baptist Convention

The following was posted by Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist yahoo Group List.  Baptists pay attention:

(The Arkansas State Baptist Convention will meet in Van Buren, Arkansas this Tuesday, November 6, 2007 to decide whether to keep or delete the words “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and / or alien immersion” from the ASBC articles of incorporation. Be sure to read and forward the below article and to pray for Arkansas Baptists on Tuesday.)

WHY WE SHOULD VOTE TO SUSTAIN ARTICLE III,
SECTION 1 OF THE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

by
Jimmy A. Millikin
former President of Williams Baptist College

At the 2007 annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist Convention a study committee will recommend an amendment of Article III, Section 1 of the constitution and by-laws of the state convention called the Articles of Incorporation. The recommended amendment calls for the elimination of the phrase: “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion.” In other words, this proposed amendment wants to open the door to allow cooperating churches to accept any baptism regardless from what source it comes as long as it is immersion, and would technically open the Lord’s table to anyone and everyone, even to the unregenerate.
The question that needs answering is, Why change this article of doctrinal belief? The truth of the matter is that there has been very little debate over this issue. The Newsmagazine has been strangely silent about this important matter in Arkansas Baptist life. The only thing that I can remember reading is the reason given for the change. As I recollect three arguments have been advanced for the change. Perhaps the foremost one that has been presented by the Study Committee itself is that the article violates the autonomy of the local church. This argument has been used for years by those who object to using any kind of confession of faith as a basis of cooperation and fellowship among Southern Baptists. If this argument is followed then the entire second paragraph of Article III should be eliminated. To set forth a doctrinal requirement as a basic of cooperation and fellowship among churches does not violate the autonomy of a local church at all. No Convention or Association can tell a local church what it can believe or practice, but a Convention or an Association can define the doctrinal parameters of its body. A local church can decide whether it wants to abide by those guidelines or not. If this were not so, then we are not a convention of Baptist churches, but simply an ecumenical organization composed of all different kind of churches.
Another argument I have seen stated is that many churches in the Convention, especially many of the larger churches, are already violating the article. Sadly, that is true. But I would hope that anyone with a clear mind is able to see the wrong thinking of such an argument. Suppose some of these churches begin to accept other forms of baptism than immersion. Are we to conform our articles of faith to accommodate those who are violating them, or should those who are violating the article be held accountable and asked to cease? I believe the answer to this question is clear.
Another argument I hear is that the restricted view of baptism impedes evangelism and church growth. Can anyone honestly contend that the historic Arkansas Baptist view of alien immersion impedes our evangelistic mission? Let me put in another way, Does accepting alien immersion enable Baptists to make converts more rapidly? Again, I believe the answer to these questions is obvious. The article against alien immersion may indeed impede the proselyting of members from other denominations, but it does not impede winning the lost to Christ.
Now, to deal with this issue in a positive manner, I will advance only one argument for retaining the statement about alien immersion. That is not to say that there are not others, but it is, in my judgment, the most crucial one. One significance of baptism is that it is an identification act. It is an act of identification with Christ, and it is an act of identification with a people. Those who received baptism from other denominations have identified with those bodies from which they come. To require such to be baptized and their willingness to do so indicates that they have broken with their former denomination and now have publically committed themselves to being Baptists. On the other hand, people who desire to join a Baptist church but is unwilling to submit to baptism is a strong indication that they want to join a Baptist church without becoming a Baptist.
It is the ordinance of baptism that protects and preserves our distinctive as Baptists. Here is the question that every messenger to the Arkansas Baptist Convention must answer in his mind and conscience, Will eliminating the statement concerning alien immersion prosper and perpetuate Baptist churches? Or will opening the door to alien immersion eventually erode our Baptist distinctive to the point that many Baptist churches cease to be Baptist churches and become non-denominational churches? As a member of an Arkansas Baptist church for forty-eight of the fifty-seven years of my Christian life, I urge the messengers of the 2007 annual convention to vote to sustain the present reading of the Articles of Incorportation.

(Jimmy Millikin is the Dean of the Master’s and Associate Programs and Chairman and Professor of the Department of Theology at Mid-America Baptist Seminary in Memphis, TN.)

Let’s be in prayer for our fellow Baptists in Arkansas as they meet.  Pray first for the Holy Spirit to move in power and for God’s will to be done.  Let’s hold to our Baptist distinctives.

Baptism and Church Membership

 The following was posted on the LANDMARK SOUTHERN BAPTIST email group list.  You will notice that it is a quote from an Southern Baptist Convention tract published  by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1970’s –

“A person must repent of his sin and profess faith in Christ as his Saviour in order to become a child of God. Then he attests his salvation by being baptized – immersed in water – by one who is authorized by a church to baptize him. This establishes initially his identity with a fellowship of children of God. Should he seek to join another Baptist church, the church which initially authorized his baptism verifies to the receiving church that the person has professed faith in Christ, and has been baptized. Subsequently, each Baptist church which one might seek to join receives verification to its satisfaction from the church where the person was a member just previously. J. Carey Wood

(The above is from a Southern Baptist tract entitled “What Is a Baptist Church?”. This small tract was published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1970’s. Notice the author of the tract teaches that baptism is an ordinance of the local church and that baptism identifies an individual with the church that baptized him. This is the reason the vast majority of Southern Baptists have always rejected alien {non-Baptist} immersions. This tract also shows where the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention stood on this issue even in the 1970’s.)

Water baptism [immersion], is the public testimony of the believer in Christ to his trusting faith in Jesus Christ as His crucified, buried, and risen Savior. This public testimony by immersion makes him the member of the local church. It is a picture of what Jesus has already done, baptizing each one who has trusted Him into His Spirit, making us a member of the body of Christ. The local church is the physical representation of the body of Christ.

BF&M – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

As Baptists we do not consider Baptism or the Lord’s Supper as sacraments – or as being necessary for one’s salvation – that would be an addition to grace.  Baptism is a command of Scripture, but if it is not obeyed from a heart of love for Christ, then it would be without meaning and purpose.  The following is the Statement of Faith concerning these ordinances:

VII. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.Matthew 3:13-17; 26:26-30; 28:19-20; Mark 1:9-11; 14:22-26; Luke 3:21-22; 22:19-20; John 3:23; Acts 2:41-42; 8:35-39; 16:30-33; 20:7; Romans 6:3-5; 1 Corinthians 10:16,21; 11:23-29; Colossians 2:12.

Baptism is also the confession of our faith in Christ, His death, burial and resurrection.  It is symbolized by the putting under the water – the death and burial, and the resurrection by coming up from the water.  The celebration of Baptism should be just that a Celebration of one’s faith in Christ.  When you are baptised invite your saved and lost friends to declare unto them your faith in Jesus Christ, and proclaim it by the baptism into Christ Jesus and the local church.

The Lord’s Supper can only legitimately be received by those who have followed the Lord faithfully into the baptismal waters.  Jesus Himself, commanded us to partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembranc of Him until He comes again.  Every time we take the bread which reminds us of his body, bruised from the beatings, broken, and bleeding we are to do it with the expectation of His soon return.  We take the cup of the ‘fruit of the vine’, we are reminded of that precious blood that was shed for our salvation.  “The life of the flesh is in the blood”, and “it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul” (Leviticul 17:11).

The blood of Jesus Christ sufficient to save the whole world, but only efficient enough to save those who will believe.

Baptists and Baptism

Below, you will find some quotes taken from one who is now the First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and another from  a quote of a Regular Baptist who lived from 1788 – 1866.  These are and were devout Baptist preachers.

I received these from the Landmark Southern Baptist discussion group.  The parenthesis at the end of each quote is of the moderator of that group – Ben Stratton.

“I believe you have to have certain things in order to be a New Testament Church.    First of all you must preach, believe, adhere to as a congregation that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone including security of the believer.  I had a mega-church pastor chide me because I said that this was a qualifier for a New Testament church.  He said you’re ruling out a whole bunch of people when you add that security of believer.  I said that’s ok.  They may be fine Christian people and they may be going to heaven and may have a great time when they get together but they’re not a New Testament church because a New Testament church teaches salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone including security of the believer.  (This) makes it a New Testament Church.   Doesn’t have to have Baptist over the door but it does have to have Bible in its doctrine.  So that means also baptism by immersion of believers only.  You can’t sprinkle or pour and be a New Testament Church.   I’m not talking about getting to heaven, I’m talking about being faithful to the Word of God.”  Jim Richards

(The above quote is from a sermon Jim Richards preached in the chapel at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas on November 01, 2006.  Richards is the executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas state Convention {SBTC}.  Notice that Richards contends that eternal security and believer’s immersion are two of the requirements for a group to be a true New Testament Church.  This is one of the reasons that Baptists reject the immersions of these groups.)  

“A considerable congregation had gathered, and I delivered as plain and pointed a discourse, and as definite as I could.  I then explained the circumstances which had led to that appointment, and that I was authorized by the Bethel Church, of which I was a member, and which was located in the district of Cape Girardeau, to give an invitation to any persons wishing to be baptized and become members of the Bethel Regular Baptist Church.  I added that if they could give full and satisfactory evidence of the hope that was in them, I was ready and willing to baptize.  But I would wish all to understand, that the Baptists alone were by us considered a gospel church, and therefore they received none into their fellowship or communion, except on public profession of their faith in Christ, according to the doctrine of His grace. . . No probationers of six months, no infants who were sprinkled on the profession of their parents, nor any others but believers in Jesus Christ were received.  Therefore, all who joined this church must renounce alliance with all other denominations.  They should treat all men friendly as men, but have no communion or fellowship with any but the Baptist Church of Christ; for they should look upon all others as the daughters of mystic Babylon.  ‘I have been thus particular, as I wish to deceive no one,’ said I.  ‘We wish to be understood to say, as did the Lord in reference to this “Mystery, Babylon” (if any of God’s people be ensnared by her), Come out of her my people, and be ye separated from her.”  Wilson Thompson

(Wilson Thompson (1788-1866) was a Regular Baptist preacher in Illinois.    The above quote is from pages 152-154 of “The Autobiography of Elder Wilson Thompson” published in 1867.  The time period for the quote is during the War of 1812.   Thompson like the majority of Baptists during that time believed that the Baptists alone were the only true church and that Baptists should not have any alliances with other denominations.   Because Thompson identified with the Primitive Baptists after the missions controversy (circa 1830) most Southern and Missionary Baptist historians have missed this source.  A special thanks to my good friend R. L. Vaughn of Texas for pointing it out to me.  He has an excellent website – Ministry and Music – Seeking the Old Paths http://baptistsearch.blogspot. com/ )