D. Ellis Walker
The church of Christ is that institution which has the divine creed. The creed of the church is Jesus Christ. Our faith is centered in the living, reigning Christ, God’s Son. We do not say that we know what creed we have believed, but, like Paul, that we know Whom we have believed, and are persuaded that He is able to guard that which we have committed unto Him against that day (2 Tim. 1:12). Peter’s statement in Matthew 16:16—“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is our creed.
When a believing penitent comes to us and says that he believes that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, we neither vote upon him nor require him to recite a human creed, but baptize him in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is all that Christ requires of a believing penitent, so why should anyone else require more of him?
Once I saw a little girl march down an aisle and give a Baptist preacher her hand. Do you know that her confession of her faith in Christ was not enough to satisfy that Baptist preacher? He turned and asked the Baptist Church to vote upon that little girl in order to find out if it wanted her. My friends, if every Baptist preacher in the world had voted against that little girl, it would not have stood in God’s sight! Jesus said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14 ASV). Jesus Christ has already voted in favor of everyone who wants to come to Him, so I appeal to my Baptist friends to give up this and other human doctrines. Your own preachers admit that they are calling upon you to do something for which they can find neither precept nor precedent in the Scriptures.
It is most likely that in the apostolic age, when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism,’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.’ Now it is different; and while churches are desirous of receiving members, they are wary and cautious that they do not receive unworthy persons. The churches, therefore, have candidates come before them, make their statement, give their experience, and their reception is decided by a vote of the members. And while they cannot become members without baptism, yet it is the vote of the body which admits them to its fellowship on receiving baptism (Edward T. Hiscox, The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, p. 22).
This certainly does not sound like the case of the Eunuch found in Acts 8. The Eunuch recited no experience, and no one voted on him. The Eunuch wanted to be baptized, and Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:36-37). And that is all the creed the Eunuch had to subscribe to in order to be baptized.
Well, it seems that if a man were a terrible sinner, the Baptist preachers might vote against him. Jesus said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). It seems that Baptist preachers have made it harder for people to become Baptists than Christ made it for them to become Christians. Baptist preachers should defend their doctrine or quit imposing it on their members. They admit that it is not in the Bible, so they ought to give it up.
So, let us say to sinners, “Come to Christ!” Yes, let them come, but do not carry babies to preachers when they are too young to know what is being done to them. The Bible makes provision for people who have not reached the age of accountability—they are safe. But every sinner has to believe and confess Christ for himself. Paul said, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). My friends, you who “baptize” infants, how would you feel if someone far larger than you held you while someone else poured water in your face—especially when you had not asked for it? So, my friends, quit imposing on babies and get back to Christ. Christ said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16). Jesus speaks to the individual. Each person must believe and obey for himself.
Our creed, Jesus Christ, will never need changing. The Hebrews writer says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Now here is a creed that needs no revising. Modern denominations constantly must revise their creeds and do so. In 1938 the Southern Presbyterian Church removed the doctrine of Calvinistic Predestination from its creed after it had been there for 300 years. They got that doctrine from John Calvin who got it from Augustine, who got it from the fatalists. Jesus Christ does not teach it. Jesus Christ died for all who will come to Him (Read John 3:16; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 10:34-35; Rom. 1:16-17).
The Methodists used to have the statement in their creed to the effect that babies were born sinners. Well, they saw their mistake and took that false doctrine out. Now, I’m glad to see people getting nearer to the truth, but it is my conviction that if they had had the right creed all the time they would not have needed to revise it. You do not need to revise Christ—He is perfect.
My friends, call upon your preacher to prove the doctrine he preaches by the Bible—God’s word. Your salvation and the salvation of your children are at stake. Let each one of us cling to the divine creed and say with Paul, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).