W. Curtis Porter
A Baptist preacher recently reporting a meeting which he conducted in the Panhandle section of Texas declared there is “Not a single Baptist in the whole section that believes all they see in the Bible.” (James MacKrell in Orthodox Baptist Searchlight).
This charge, according to a later edition of the same paper, raised quite a howl among Baptist preachers of that section of Texas. But I see nothing in it that should create much disturbance, unless it is the implication that some Baptists somewhere believe all they see in the Bible. I have traveled rather extensively over the United States and have come in contact with many Baptists, including a large number of Baptist preachers, but I have the first Baptist to find yet who believes all he sees in the Bible. Since, then, this Baptist preacher implies that some Baptists believe all they see in the Bible, I am asking the question: Which Baptists believe all the Bible?
The very fact that men are Baptists is proof that they do not ‘believe all they see in the Bible, and that they believe a lot they do not see in the Bible, or they would cease to be Baptists. After all, no Baptist has ever seen in the Bible anything about a Baptist Church; nor has any one of them ever seen where the members of the New Testament Church were ever called Baptists. These are some of the things they believe that they do not see in the Bible. The only person to whom the term “Baptist” is ever applied in the Bible was John, the forerunner of Christ, and he was called “John the Baptist” (Matt. 3:1). This statement is easily seen by any Baptist, not only in this passage but in a number of other New Testament references, but what Baptist today believes it? I have never found any who believe it. Even their preachers will constantly refer to him as “a Baptist” or “a Baptist preacher,” when the Bible expressly calls him “the Baptist.” There is a vast difference between the meaning of the two statements. Baptist preachers want to refer to him in such way as to make room for a lot of other Baptist preachers. Yet they do not “see in the Bible” anything about these other Baptist preachers. And remember this: John the Baptist died before the Lord ever built the church. It was after the death of John that Jesus said: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18. (cf Matt. 14:1-12). This is a fact that any Baptist can “see in the Bible” if he will just take time to read these references. But do you know of any Baptists who believe it? Well, some Baptist preachers have been so often and mercilessly whipped from the old position that John founded the first Baptist Church on the banks of the Jordan that they won’t take the position any more, but even they do not believe what they see in Matt. 16:18. Although they can easily “see” that Jesus said “I will build my church,” they do not believe it, for they still proclaim that the church had already been built before Jesus ever made this statement. So the fact remains, which any Baptist may see, even if none of them believe it, that the only person in the Bible to whom the term “Baptist” was ever applied was never a member of the New Testament church, and that no member of the New Testament church was ever called a “Baptist.” Is that not strange, if the New Testament church was a Baptist Church ? Can you think of a Baptist Church today whose members have never been called Baptists ? It might be an eye-opener to many Baptists if they would just take time to look into the Bible to see how many members of the church were ever called Baptists. And when they make that investigation, if they would believe what “they see in the Bible” and give up what is nowhere to be seen in it, it would result in a material decrease in the population of Baptist churches.
But let us look into the Bible to find what Baptists and all others can see. In Mark 16:16, Jesus said: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” But what group of Baptists today believes that? You will hear them all saying that the man who believes will be saved whether he is ever baptized or not. Such statements clearly show that they do not believe what Jesus said. And Peter, on the day of Pentecost, told inquiring sinners “to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). I wish someone would trot out the Baptist who believes that. They all say that baptism is not for the remission of sins but because of the remission of sins. Why even if one of their preachers should start preaching it as Peter commanded it on the day of Pentecost and would tell the sinners of his audience to be baptized “for the remission of sins,” he would be turned out of the Baptist Church for preaching heresy. Even James MacKrell does not believe that baptism is “for the remission of sins,” for he is constantly claiming that sinners are saved before and without baptism. Why, then, criticize the Baptists of the Texas Panhandle for not believing all they see in the Bible? He is right in the boat with them. He does not believe this part of it any more than they do. Do you know of any Baptist who ever saw what Peter said in 1 Pet. 3:21? Yes, I know many of them have seen it, for I have shown it to them, but I have yet to find one who believes it. Peter said: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” What do Baptists say about this when you make them see it? They say that baptism is only a figure of salvation, that it does not save us at all, and that men are saved before the water ever touches them. But the fact remains that Peter says “baptism saves us.” But Baptists say it does not. Does this look like they believe what “they see in the Bible”? The statement, “baptism saves us,” is in the Bible, is it not? Oh, yes. Can Baptists see it? Certainly they can. Do they believe it? If you know of one who does, send me his name and address. That men are “baptized into Christ” is also a statement that is easily seen in the Bible (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). But all the Baptists I have ever known say that men get “into Christ” without baptism at all.
Perhaps this lack of belief in what can be seen in the Bible has caused Baptists to write creeds and manuals as declarations of their faith and practice. Mr. MacKrell further says in the same issue of the Orthodox Baptist Searchlight:
This thing makes my blood boil. I have long been a devotee of the Baptist Way Book. When I was led into Baptist ranks I first sought out Dr. Calvin B. Waller of the Convention and Dr. Ben M. Bogard and asked them for a book that set forth the distinctive doctrines of Baptists. “Dr. Wailer gave me a copy of O.S.C. Wallace’s What Baptists Believe and Dr. Bogard gave me a copy of the Baptist Way Book.
If Mr. MacKrell had “long been a devotee of the New Testament” instead of the Baptist Way Book, he would never have been “led into Baptist ranks” in the first place, for the New Testament makes no mention of “Baptist ranks.” Whenever a man is “led into Baptist ranks” he must be led by something else besides the New Testament. Certainly if a man takes “the Baptist Way Book” for his guide and follows it, he will be “led into Baptist ranks,” for that is the purpose of the Way Book. But the New Testament is the “Way Book” of Christians, and it never leads anybody to be a Baptist. In fact, there were no “Baptist ranks” to be “led into” at the time the New Testament was written. Such ranks came into being a long time-many centuries in fact-after the New Testament was written. And when Mr. MacKrell asked Dr. Waller and Dr. Bogard “for a book that set forth the distinctive doctrines of Baptists,” I wonder why the Doctors did not give him a copy of the New Testament. The fact that they did not shows that they knew that “the distinctive doctrines of Baptists” are not “set forth” in that Book. If you are going to give a man a book that sets forth the distinctive doctrines of a church, you will surely give a book that makes some mention of the church. And since the New Testament does not mention the Baptist Church or its distinctive doctrines, the Doctors gave Mr. MacKrell some books that do mention such things; one of them giving him What Baptists Believe and the other giving him the Baptist Way Book. After examining these books carefully, Mr. MacKrell says, “I settled on the Way Book and studied it day and night for weeks, checking and rechecking every statement.”
The reason for this is evident. Had he “settled on the New Testament” and had he “studied it day and night for weeks,” even to the point of “checking and rechecking every statement” found in it, he would have known no more about “the distinctive doctrines of Baptists” than he knew before he started. Since MacKrell did not believe “all he saw in the Bible,” either before or after he was “led into Baptist ranks,” it was only natural for him to settle on some other book. It was just as well that he settled on the Way Book as on What Baptists Believe. But if a man wants to be a Christian and reach heaven at last, he would better settle on the New Testament.