For fourteen weeks now, we have been looking at the subject of God’s authority to establish and direct the doctrines of His church. How many different kinds of churches have we learned that the Lord Jesus has established? (One.) How much liberty has the Lord given to men to bend, break, relax or otherwise manipulate the principles of His church? (None.) How long did the Lord declare that His church would exist? (Until the end of the age or world.) What does it mean when one person says that immersion is the only true form of baptism, and another says that sprinkling or pouring is acceptable for baptism? What does it mean when principles or lines of Biblical church doctrine intersect the doctrines of other churches? (It means that those other doctrines are not Biblical.)
The common practice of affiliating with the various human religious societies of this age … The common practice of some Baptists to accept non-Baptist churches as evangelical churches of Christ, Such as Southern Baptist Billy Graham has done for decades – with the applause of the S.B.C… When Baptist churches receive as members, professing Christians who have not been baptized in one of the churches which came from the church Jesus started … When Baptists receive as members, professing Christians who have been immersed churches which deny the essential doctrines of the Word of God … We are witnessing the intersection of two or more different lines of doctrine, and therefore we must assume that one or both of those lines are not running straight.
In this we see inconsistencies and evil.
If a Baptist Church departed from the faith and discarded immersion and adopted sprinkling or affusion, calling it “baptism,” and if it accepted infants and unregenerate sinners for proper subjects for baptism, I would expect that every orderly Baptist Church in America would refuse to fellowship with that church and its pastor. Let this unscriptural body join a Methodist conference, or a Presbyterian presbytery, or call itself a “Community Church.” And let that church call itself “evangelical” if it would like, but don’t let it call itself “Baptist.”
If a good Baptist preacher renounced our faith and embraced or advocated fundamental and dangerous errors, I would hope that he would be promptly expelled from whatever Baptist church he attended. I would hope that he would be debarred our pulpits; Let him join himself to a Pedobaptist or Campbellite society. But that was not what happened to Billy Graham or a host of others.
Wouldn’t the most liberal Baptist, if honest, admit that Pedobaptist and Campbellite societies are not found in the Bible, and therefore, are not Biblical? How then can they justify treating them as equals with the churches that the Lord established? When they pat the ministers of those churches on the back and praise them, they are encouraging the members of the Lord’s churches to join those human societies. For this they will be severely judged by the Lord.
The most liberal Baptist in the world should be willing to admit that Hindus and Muslims do not have authority from the Lord to baptize or to administer the Lord’s Supper. They should be willing to admit that those religions have no authority from God. But they should also be willing to admit that the Lord didn’t start or authorize the ministries of the Catholics and thus of the Protestants either. At what point do those liberal Baptists want us to understand that they are telling us the truth: when they speak, or when they act? If Baptist preachers are scriptural ministers, Pedobaptists certainly are not, and vice versa, since two things unlike each other cannot be like the same thing.If two things, like immersion and sprinkling, both claim to be scriptural, one of them has to be lying.
J. R. Graves quotes Presbyterian N. L Rice, as saying, “If immersion is the only baptism, then we Pedobaptists are all unbaptized, and our societies are not churches in any sense, nor are our preachers baptized, or ordained, or authorized to preach.” Is immersion the only form of baptism? Is this Presbyterian correct in his assumption? Is it logical for “liberal” Baptists to approve of non-baptist churches and still say that immersion is the only scriptural form of baptism? Is it logical for “conservative” Baptists to say that immersion is the only scriptural form of baptism and then to accept the members of those “liberal” baptist churches?
If a Baptist Church called a Muslim as it’s pastor for one year, all true Baptists would consider that church unscriptural. If that church called a Pedobaptist or Campbellite to become it’s pastor, that too would be unscriptural for exactly the same reasons. How could that church observe the Lord’s Supper with that man as pastor? And how could that church refuse any other Protestant from joining them in the Lord’s Supper? If they couldn’t refuse other Protestants how could they refuse a Roman Catholic from whom the Protestants descended? In order for that non-Baptistic Baptist pastor to administer baptism, that church would have to give him their authority (ordain him), but if he believed and practice heresy, it would be heresy for them to give him that authority. By doing so they would be denying the authority of Christ to dictate or regulate doctrine. By doing so they would be “un-churching” themselves.
Some liberal Baptists say that it is only the matter of immersion which separates them from all other “evangelical churches.” To be consistent with themselves they should invite all who have been immersed to join them in the Lord’s Supper, including the Greek Catholics, Campbellites and even Mormons. An anti-Landmark position swings wide open the doors of the Lord’s Supper. It is not just immersion which separates false churches from the true; it is that they are living in rebellion to God’s authority.
How can Baptist churches restrict the Lord’s Table to only Baptists when those same churches open their pulpits to non-Baptists? How can Baptist churches restrict the Lord’s Table to anyone wearing the Baptist name, when so many of those Baptists have already opened their doors and memberships to non-Baptists. Consistency demands restricting the Lord’s Table to that churches’ own membership.
How true was J. R. Graves prediction made one hundred and fifty years ago: “Though not a prophet, yet my personal conviction is that, fifty years from this writing, the Baptists of America will be either Old Landmarkers or Open Communists”?
How consistent is it for liberal Baptists today to take up doctrines which our forefathers condemned 200 years ago? How consistent are the liberal Baptists of today when they show love and courtesy towards those who once persecuted our forefathers, and they attack and criticize those Baptists who believe and practice what our Baptist forefathers believed? In nine cases out of ten, if there were Landmark Baptist preachers and a Pedobaptist minister present, the liberal Baptist will pass by his own brethren, and invite the unbaptized preacher and public opposer of Baptists into his pulpit, or call upon him to close with prayer. Is this consistent?
If Pedobaptist societies and cults are not scriptural churches, and if they teach fundamental and dangerous errors, and every Baptist will admit these facts, then it is a fact, that by associating with them as churches, and recognizing their ordinations and immersions as valid, and, by calling them “evangelical churches” and “evangelical ministers” before the world, we do, by all our influence, indorse their false claims, sanction their errors, and aid them in deceiving the multitude to unite with them as churches of Christ. And whenever we admit them to be evangelical, we impliedly admit that there is no real necessity for Baptist Churches. We are, in fact, not churches at all, but sectaries, and are guilty of dividing the body of Christ.
If Pedobaptist congregations are unscriptural, by ministerial and ecclesiastical affiliations with them, we do accredit them as the true ministers and churches of Christ, and bid them “Godspeed,” and become partakers of their evil deeds.
By indorsing human societies, as most Protestants and Campbellites admit theirs to be – originated and set up by men – We say that men may invent and set up evangelical churches equal in all respects to the divine institution which Christ set up, and we degrade the authority of Christ to that of wicked men, and teach the world to give equal respect to man’s work as to that of Christ. It is a sad fact, that Baptist approval of unscriptural churches is partially responsible for the success of those denominations.
As history proves in Virginia and elsewhere, in the 18th century, when Baptists are preaching the truth as they should, and when they give no credence to the churches of men, those other churches virtually die away.
To quote Johann Onken: “The Baptists of America have done and are now doing more to give success and spread to Pedobaptist sects than those sects could do for themselves without Baptist assistance. You Baptists here are like crutches under the armpits of these societies, upholding them and saying, by all the influence of your acts, these be the true churches of Christ – ”evangelical churches.” If Baptists would only put forth the whole weight of their united influence against Pedobaptism, it could not live through the century in America, where it is unsupported by the State.” And after a pause: “And I believe God will not be left without a body of witnesses in this land who will bear a faithful testimony against the whole family of the vile woman of the apocalypse.”
Our liberal brethren disobey – and teach others to disobey – the plain commands of the Holy Spirit concerning the attitude they should occupy toward the teachers of acknowledged errors and false doctrine. We are commanded “to avoid them” – to have no company with them, that “they may be ashamed.”