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Resetting an Old Landmark
"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Prov. 22:28).
"One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).
Because of error, laxness, compromise, and liberalism it has always been the responsibility of Baptists to restate what they have believed through the ages. Baptists must never take it for granted that everyone understands their position on the various doctrines found in Scripture. The day in which we live is no exception.
In recent years much controversy has arisen over the most fundamental ordinance of the New Testament which is scriptural baptism. Any student of ecclesiastical history knows that the subject of baptism has always been associated with controversy and heated debate. Those whom we would today identify as Baptists have always contended that they alone have the authority to carry out the Great Commission as given by Christ in its fullness and completeness. True Baptists have always rejected the ordinances and ordinations of the Roman Catholic Church and her Protestant daughters. Individuals may preach the Gospel successfully, and teach some truth, but only true Baptist churches have authority from Jesus Christ to baptize. The responsibilities outlined by Christ in the Great Commission can only be fulfilled by the church that Jesus started during His earthly ministry and promised perpetuity too. There has been a holy succession of Baptist churches from the time of Christ up until this present day who have been "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Many have been tortured, beaten, burnt at the stake, hanged, impaled, and publicly humiliated because of their stand for "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."
Through the centuries there have always been Baptists in name only who were willing to compromise the truths of Scripture for power, prestige, or greater numbers. These apostate Baptists are much like the Israelites in Jeremiah's day who refused God's admonition to walk in the old paths as Jeremiah 6:16 reveals: "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. BUT THEY SAID, WE WILL NOT WALK THEREIN." It is the duty of all true Baptist churches and pastors to stand against the apostate Baptists of our day who seek to blaze new trails instead of following the old paths that are outlined in Scripture. Many so called Baptist churches have removed the ancient landmark of Scriptural baptism by gladly and openly receiving alien immersion into their churches. This is especially prevalent among those churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Several have made it publicly known by a vote of the church that they will receive any person applying for membership who has been baptized by immersion regardless of the denomination they are coming from. By so doing these apostate Baptists have agreed to join hands and recognize the immersions of Charismatics, Campbellites, Pentecostals, and Protestants. They have ceased to contend for "One Lord, one faith, one baptism", and in my estimation cannot be recognized as a Scriptural Baptist church. When a Baptist church knowingly receives alien immersion it's authority to administer the ordinances has been voluntarily forfeited. They have declared to all that their identity and doctrinal distinctness as Baptists has been surrendered when they allow the fortress of Scriptural baptism to fall to the ground. From that point on it becomes the solemn duty of true Baptist churches to sharply rebuke the church in error by rejecting their ordinances and regard their authority as null and void. I Timothy 5:20-21 declares: "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, THAT THOU OBSERVE THESE THINGS without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." We must stand against the evil of alien immersion and all who receive it even though it may require us to contend with our nearest relatives and dearest friends. Jesus said: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:37-38).
REQUIREMENTS OF SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM
Baptism has always been the ordinance that has distinguished true Baptists from all other groups. Through the ages Baptists are the only ones who can honestly claim to have stood for "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5). Every aspect of this verse must be viewed as an intricate part of the whole. The "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" are intricately linked together and can never be severed if a Baptist church is to maintain doctrinal purity and unity. Let me illustrate what I am saying, Jesus is the head and Lord of His kind of church. Baptists are the only group that does not trace its authority to exist back to the Roman Catholic Church or a human founder. Even Protestant historians have conceded this fact. Because Christ is the Lord and Head of His kind of church He entrusted them with the "one faith", the system of truth and doctrine that is to be taught and practiced in the Lord's churches. I Timothy 3:15 declares: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH." If the Lord's church is the pillar and ground of the truth then it must serve as a place where the truth is supported and upheld, not torn down. As true Baptists we must follow the admonition of Jude 3 which states: "...it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." One of the ways in which we contend for the faith and support the truth is to require all who come into our membership to have the "one baptism" that Paul wrote about in Ephesians 4:5. There is only one kind of baptism that meets all the Scriptural requirements, and that is Baptist baptism. All others must be rejected as null and void, otherwise we are failing to maintain our doctrinal integrity and purity. When a church begins to receive alien immersion they are dishonoring the "One Lord", and failing to contend for the "one faith" by recognizing other baptisms other than Baptist baptism as valid. They are in essence validating falsehood and error. I am afraid that many churches and pastors have failed in teaching the requirements of Scriptural baptism which has in turn resulted in doctrinal laxity.
The first requirement of Scriptural baptism is that it must be administered by the proper authority. Baptism is not a Christian ordinance that can be performed by anyone, it is a church ordinance that is to be carried out by the authority of the local church. When Jesus gave the Great Commission He did not give it to the apostles as individual Christians, He gave it to His church to be carried out until He returns. If He would have given the Commission to the apostles as individual Christians then the force and validation of the command would have died out with the apostles. But Matthew 28:19-20 declares: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." The only baptism that God approves of and has authorized is John's baptism. All the members of the first church had the baptism of John including the Head and founder of the church, Jesus Christ, who walked sixty miles in order to be baptized by the proper authority. Jesus believed so strongly in Baptist baptism, He declared that those who rejected it were in reality rejecting the counsel of God in Luke 7:29-30 which states: "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." All Roman Catholics, Protestants, Campbellites, and Charismatics have rejected the counsel of God concerning Scriptural baptism. Therefore all true Baptists must consider their administration of the ordinances null and void.
Authority and power to carry out the Great Commission was given or transferred by Christ to His church before He ascended back into heaven. The parable of Mark 13:34 illustrates what I am talking about: "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." Jesus has taken a far journey by ascending to the right hand of the Father in the realm of the third Heaven. He has left the authority to carry out His work on earth to His house which is the church according to I Timothy 3:15. The servants who are in the house are to diligently carry out the Lord's commands until he returns and are commanded to watch and pray with all vigilance. No church can claim to have Scriptural authority to administer the ordinances unless they have received that authority from an already existing Baptist church. Just as Jesus transferred authority to His church, each newly organized Baptist church must receive their authority from an already existing church. This is why you read in the Book of Acts that missionaries were sent out by a local church to establish other churches of like faith and order. Each church of the Lord Jesus is likened to a body (I Cor. 12). A body is a living organism that derives its life from another body that is already in existence and fully functioning. Like begets like in every realm of God's creation, therefore every Baptist church must be organized out of an already existing Baptist church. This means that churches started by free lance preachers, evangelists, or instigators of church splits have not been properly started and are void of church authority to administer the ordinances. Without church authority no church can rightly administer the ordinances as given by Christ. Furthermore, those who knowingly receive alien immersion forfeit their authority to administer the ordinances. Where there is no church authority there can be no baptism. Since every Protestant denomination traces its authority to exist back to the Mother of Harlots or a human head their ordinances must be regarded as invalid and unscriptural by all true Baptists.
The second requirement for Scriptural baptism is that it must be done in the proper way. The only mode of baptism recorded in Scripture is that of entire immersion of the believer in water. There is not one Scripture that validates the unscriptural modes of sprinkling and pouring. In Romans six the act of baptism is portrayed as a burial. Everyone knows that when you bury an individual you don't sprinkle a few clods of dirt on them, you immerse them entirely in the ground. When John baptized Jesus the Scripture records that "...when he was baptized, went UP STRAIGHTWAY OUT OF THE WATER" (Matt. 3:16). In order for Jesus to come up out of the water he had to of necessity go down into the water. If the proper authority and mode of baptism is unimportant as many falsely contend then why did Jesus walk sixty miles to be baptized of John in the river of Jordan? If the administrator and mode of baptism are unimportant then Jesus could have had anyone sprinkle or pour some water on Him and pronounce Him baptized. Yet Jesus was baptized by the authority God had appointed and in the manner that God appointed which is why Matthew 3:17 records: "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Baptist baptism is the only baptism that God approves of and is pleased with. Every sect that defies the command of God through their unscriptural practices of sprinkling and pouring must be regarded as antichristian in regards to baptism. Therefore no true Baptist church can accept their administration of the ordinances. It should also be evident that true Baptist churches cannot receive the immersions of groups that evolved from those who practice sprinkling and pouring.
The third requirement of Scriptural baptism is that it must be performed on a proper subject. Only those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ are fit candidates for baptism. That means that the individual must already be saved before he goes into the waters of baptism. Every Catholic and Protestant that sprinkles or pours water upon an infant is making a mockery of the ordinance of baptism. Every Campbellite (Church of Christ) that baptizes sinners in order to make them believers also make a mockery of the ordinance of baptism. Only those who truly believed and were saved were baptized in the book of Acts. True Baptists have always defended the teaching of believer's baptism. An individual must be saved, justified, cleansed and forgiven through faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ before he ever enters into the waters of baptism. There is not one shred of evidence in the New Testament to support the antichristian teaching of infant baptism or its twin heresy of baptismal regeneration. Acts 8:12 declares: "But when they BELIEVED Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." It is worth noting that the Holy Spirit emphasized that believing men and women were baptized. There is no mention of unbelieving infants in this verse. After the Ethiopian eunuch was saved, Acts 8:36-37 records: And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, IF THOU BELIEVEST WITH ALL THINE HEART, THOU MAYEST..." If the eunuch would not have been a justified believer and possessor of eternal life Philip would have never baptized him. If I were to take the reader back only two hundred years in history you would find that Baptists were the only group practicing believer's baptism. Therefore all other groups that have evolved since that time who practice immersion must be regarded as unscriptural and invalid with regards to baptism.
The fourth requirement of Scriptural baptism is that it must be done for the right reason. The act of baptism is purely symbolic, it has no saving qualities, nor does it convey grace to the individual being baptized. Baptism is a declarative act on the part of the believer. Romans 6:3-6 clearly states the symbolic design of baptism by using the words "like as": "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that LIKE AS Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the LIKENESS of his death, we shall be also in the LIKENESS of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." From this passage of Scripture, baptism is a picture of our justification. We died with Christ, meaning that he paid the full penalty for our sins. It is a picture of our progressive sanctification, that we have been raised to walk in the newness of life. Finally, it is a declaration of our belief that we will be glorified in the resurrection image of Jesus Christ. Any church which believes in baptismal regeneration, or that a saved person can lose God's salvation, cannot accurately picture the Gospel and its power to save when they baptize. In fact anyone who teaches that baptism is essential to the salvation of the soul is in essence saying that faith in the blood of Jesus Christ is not enough to take away sin and completely justify the believer. They are in essence teaching a works salvation which is the worst sort of heresy.
Where any of the four requirements for Scriptural baptism are lacking the baptism must be regarded as unscriptural, invalid, and alien. All false baptisms administered by improper authorities must be rejected by Baptist churches in order to remain faithful as custodians of the ordinances. This is precisely the reason why Baptists in former ages were called Anabaptists, because they re-baptized all who came into their fellowship and by so doing declared that no other churches had the Scriptural authority to baptize.
WHAT CONSTITUTES ALIEN IMMERSION?
Alien immersion is any false baptism that does not meet all the requirements of Scriptural baptism. For example, when a Baptist church receives Free Will or Methodist immersions they are not only receiving the baptism performed by an improper authority, they are also receiving a baptism that was not done for the proper reason. Both groups believe that a believer can lose their salvation which means they could not declare in their baptism that they were justified from all things. They believe in a works salvation which must be rejected by all true Baptists.
Many Baptists are starting to regard fundamental Bible and Community churches administration of the ordinance of baptism as valid. These churches supposedly believe in salvation by grace, they baptize by immersion, and regard baptism as purely symbolic. However, they are missing the requirement of church authority which is absolutely essential to valid baptism. Every one of these so called churches trace their authority to exist back to a human founder who probably came out of a Protestant church. Job 14:4 asks: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Their origins were never valid or clean because they were not started by a Scriptural Baptist church, therefore their immersions are void of authority which is why all true Baptists must regard them as invalid. Their baptisms have been administered outside of the realm of church succession therefore they must be rejected regardless how many baptistic marks they may presently bear. The Anabaptists of old took this stand even before the mode of baptism ever became an issue. W.M. Nevins the author of Alien Baptism and the Baptists wrote on pages 49-50 the following: "In 200 A.D., one hundred and thirty years after the death of Paul, when many who were almost contemporaneous with Paul were still alive, we find, according to the historians, that the Anabaptists and heretical sects that later went to form the Roman Catholic Church were quarreling about baptism. It was not the mode of baptism that was the point of controversy. Those who opposed the Anabaptists immersed as did the Anabaptists. The controversy arose because the Anabaptists would not accept as valid the immersion administered by these heretical sects, saying they had no authority to baptize, and insisted on immersing the second time all that came to them from these heretical sects. Whereupon, these heretical sects were made angry, dubbed them Anabaptists (rebaptizers) and held some church councils about the matter."
Baptists have always taken a strict and strong stance on baptism by rejecting all alien immersions as false and unscriptural. It was for this reason that our forefathers were hated, hounded, butchered, tortured, and killed by Catholics and Protestants alike. Those apostate Baptists who knowingly receive alien immersion are not only repudiating the faith of their forefathers with regards to baptism, they are also joining hands with unscriptural churches. We might as well say that any "gospel" or "teaching" a religious organization preaches will do as to say any "baptism" will do. True Baptists have been characterized in ages past as standing against and rejecting false teachings and false gospels. We can't very well be consistent if we reject the false teachings of other groups and not reject their unauthorized baptisms at the same time!
In my estimation when an apostate Baptist church knowingly and openly receives alien immersion they have forfeited their right to administer the ordinances. Therefore other Baptist churches must regard their ordinances as invalid because the church receiving alien immersion, even though it may have been organized correctly, has voluntarily joined hands with Protestantism and ultimately Romanism. When you receive another church's baptism you are also receiving their system of belief. They are in essence saying that they are a church of like faith and order. True Baptists must boldly stand against such falsehood and error. When a Baptist church receives baptisms administered by an apostate Baptist church that has voted to receive alien immersion they are also receiving alien immersion from an unscriptural church. When such a church receives into its membership those from churches that openly receive alien immersion they are in essence placing their stamp of approval upon the actions of the apostate church. The Bible clearly warns us not to "be partaker of other men's sins: KEEP THYSELF PURE" (I Tim. 5:22). If we are not to partake of other men's sins, then certainly we may infer that we are not to be a partaker of an apostate church's sins.
REASONS WHY BAPTISTS MUST STAND FIRMLY AGAINST ALL ALIEN IMMERSION
To knowingly receive alien immersion is to defy the principles of Scripture and risk losing the presence, power, and authority of Jesus Christ in our churches. Jesus only promised His perpetual presence to those churches who continue to teach their members to observe whatsoever He has commanded them. Jesus left the church at Loadicea because they were lukewarm and felt as though they needed nothing. They were unwilling to follow Jesus Christ which is why He was on the outside exhorting them to repent of their wickedness. It matters not how large a church may grow through the reception of alien immersion, if the presence of the Lord Jesus and His authority is not there the glory has departed and God has written Ichabod over the house. Why would any true Baptist risk losing the power and presence of God by compromising the precious truths regarding the Lord's church and baptism? Many scoff and jeer at the strictness of the position of true Baptists concerning baptism, but we are merely taking heed to the solemn warning Jesus gave in Matthew 5:19 which states: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
By receiving alien immersion a church is expressing its agreement with the faith, doctrine, and practice of the church it receives members from. When you recognize another church's administration of the ordinances you are in essence stating your agreement with them. Amos 3:3 declares: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" How can true Baptists unite and walk together with those who believe in universal church heresy, salvation by works, baptismal regeneration, women preachers, extra-Biblical revelation, and the Charismatic movement? Yet that is precisely what local churches are doing when they receive alien immersions, or receive the baptisms that apostate Baptist churches administer. You cannot separate the "one faith" from the "one baptism." If the system of faith a church holds too is impure and unscriptural then you can be sure that their so called baptism will be defiled and invalid as well.
A Baptist church is likened to a bride that is espoused to her bridegroom. Paul told the church at Corinth: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. 11:2). In order for the bride to be qualified for marriage she must keep herself undefiled, spotless, and pure. In fact, the way she is to keep herself pure as she awaits the coming of her bridegroom is recorded in Ephesians 5:26-27 which states: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." She must not commit spiritual fornication by joining herself in an unholy union with unscriptural churches. She must remain true and faithful to her espoused bridegroom, Jesus Christ. If a church will not submit to the teachings of the most fundamental ordinance of the New Testament I have a hard time believing that they will be in the bride. When a church begins to receive alien immersion they are defiling themselves and disqualifying themselves from being in the bride. Such churches also defile other Baptist churches that receive their ordinances as valid. Jesus is going to marry a faithful bride who has been diligent in making herself ready and keeping herself clean.
When a Baptist church begins to knowingly receive alien immersion it will not be long before they will lose their doctrinal identity and purity as a Baptist church. Baptism is one of the things that insures doctrinal unity within a church. However when a church loosens its stand on baptism they begin to receive all manner of unscriptural doctrines into their membership. All one has to do is look at what compromise has done to the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. When they began to receive alien immersion it started a doctrinal downslide. Few today believe in the perpetuity of the church or the doctrines of grace. Many deny the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures. Many have ordained women as pastors and deacons. Most believe in the universal and invisible church heresy. When a Baptist church receives alien immersions it won't be long before she will start receiving and practicing doctrines that are alien to the Scriptures as well. If a church is willing to compromise on baptism it reveals they are willing to compromise on other doctrines as well.
When a Baptist church begins to knowingly receive alien immersion they are repudiating the faith of their forefathers and are despitefully treading underfoot the blood of Baptist martyrs. Anyone with a working knowledge of ecclesiastical history knows that the ancient Baptists were tortured, maimed, and martyred for their uncompromising stand on believer's baptism. They were willing to risk their lives in order to uphold the teachings of the Word of God. Those Baptists who receive alien immersion are dishonoring the Lord and those who shed their blood in defense of His church and Scriptural baptism. I have long been of the opinion that such churches should take the name of Baptist off their church sign and openly declare themselves to be a Protestant daughter of the Whore of Babylon. When someone is joined to a harlot in the physical realm it defiles them according to I Corinthians 6:15-16 declares: "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two saith he, shall be one flesh." What is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual and ecclesiastical realm. When a Baptist church unites with the daughters of the Roman Harlot by receiving their immersions as valid they have defiled themselves and committed spiritual fornication. The Lord's churches are no where told to unite with the Roman Whore or her harlot daughters. Rather, God's people are exhorted to separate themselves from her in Revelation 18:4 which declares: "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
THE HISTORIC BAPTIST POSITION CONCERNING ALIEN IMMERSION
Thus far I have attempted to prove from the Scriptures why it is wrong for true Baptists to receive alien immersion from unscriptural organizations. Now I would like to draw upon historical data to prove that our ancient Baptist forefathers stood with us concerning the evils of alien immersion.
In the year 200 A.D. Tertullian strongly opposed the baptisms of other sects as evidenced by his strong language"
"There is to us one, and but one baptism...Heretics, however, have no fellowship in our disciple whom the mere fact of their excommunication testifies to be outsiders. I am not bound to recognize in them a thing which is enjoined on me,...And, therefore, their baptism is not one with ours either; because it is not the same; a baptism which, since they have it not duly doubtless they have not at all; nor is that capable of being counted which is not had." (Ante Nicean Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 676).
Eusebius, the early church historian records that the churches planted by Paul and his missionary companions in Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Pontus Galatia, Bithynia, with adjoining countries, including Africa and Numidia stood united in their rejection of alien immersion up until 259 A.D.
(Eusebius, Book 7, Chapter 5, pp. 257-258).
Neander, the learned historian, relates an interesting account of a dispute over alien immersion instigated by a corrupt Roman bishop on pages 318-319 of volume one:
"But here again, it was a Roman bishop, Stephanus, who instigated by the spirit of ecclesiastical arrogance, domination, and zeal, without knowledge, attached to this point of dispute a paramount importance. hence, toward the close of the year 253, he issued a sentence of excommunication against the bishops (pastors) of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Cilicia, stigmatizing them as Anabaptists, a name, however, they could affirm they did not deserve by their principles; for it was not their wish to administer a second baptism to those who had been already baptized, but they contended that the previous baptism given by heretics could not be recognized as a true one. These induced Cyprian, the bishop (pastor), to propose the point for discussion at two synods held in Carthage in the year 255 A.D., the one composed of eighteen, and the other of seventy-one bishops (pastors); and both assemblies declared in favor of Cyprian's views, that the baptism of heretics ought not to be regarded as valid."
According to Mosheim, the Lutheran historian, the Novations arose about 250 A.D. On account of the purity of their lives, they were called the Cathari, the pure. They rebaptized all that came to them from the Catholics (Mosheim, Volume 1, p. 203). They would later be called Anabaptists by their foes. In fact, they angered the Catholics so much by rebaptizing all who came to them from Catholicism that an edict was signed into law against them in 413 A.D. The edict stated that all persons who were rebaptized and all those who rebaptized them should both be punished by death. Because of this severe persecution the Novations fled to southern France where they later became known as the Waldenses.
It is interesting to note that the above positions were taken by the ancient churches before the mode of baptism was ever a point of controversy. It was the authority and validity of the baptism which was in question. The early churches absolutely refused to accept the immersions of those groups that did not line up with them in faith and practice. Those churches that did begin to receive alien immersion became what is now known as the Roman Catholic Church. Oh, that modern day Baptists who receive alien immersion would only see the folly and severity of their compromise with error in light of history! I guess the old saying still rings true: "The one thing that men never learn from history is that men never learn from history."
W.M. Nevins, in his masterful work entitled Alien Baptism and the Baptists, wrote concerning the ancient Baptist group known as the Donatists on page 69:
"The Donatists arose in Numida in 311 A.D., and spread over Africa. The Donatists and Novations were very nearly identical in doctrine and discipline. Crispin, the French historian, says of them that they stood together: 'First for the purity of church members, by asserting that none ought to be admitted into the church but such as are true believers and real saints. Secondly, for purity of church discipline. Thirdly, for independence of each church. Fourthly, they baptized again those whose first baptisms they had reason to doubt.' They were consequently termed Rebaptizers and Anabaptists."
The Paulicians were another ancient Baptist group who rejected all alien immersions as false and took a stand for the Lord's church prior to the Protestant Reformation. They did not regard those who belonged to other groups as belonging to the true church. They immersed all who came into their fellowship from other groups. Many church historians regard the Paulicians to be one in the same with the Albigenses another ancient Baptist group.
The Albegenses and Waldenses were both ancient Baptist groups who dwelt in the South of France. They were severely persecuted by Roman Catholics because of their fierce stand for the truth. They existed long before the Protestant Reformation came about and stood firmly upon the principle of believer's baptism. They rebaptized all who came into their communion from the Catholics. They were regarded as the Anabaptists of their day by church historians because of their strict stand for Baptist baptism.
J.R. Graves in an article entitled "A Landmark our Fathers Set", wrote:
"Bullinger, a distinguished Protestant historian, in the year 1540, tells us what Baptists considered as OUTWARDLY DEPARTING FROM ANTICHRIST. He says:
'The Anabaptists think themselves to be THE ONLY TRUE CHURCH OF CHRIST, and acceptable to God; and teach that they who by baptism are received into their churches OUGHT NOT TO HAVE ANY COMMUNION (fellowship) with (those called) evangelical, or any other, whatsoever for that our (i.e. evangelical Protestant or reformed) churches ARE NOT TRUE CHURCHES ANY MORE THAN THE CHURCHES OF THE PAPISTS." (Landmarkism, p. 48).
Time and space do not allow me to record the testimonies of the Bogomils, the Mennonites, the Arnoldists, the Lollards, and the Petrobrussians who stood firmly upon the truths of believers baptism and baptized all who came into their communion from other groups whether sprinkled or immersed. I must hasten on to the testimony of the English Baptists after the Protestant Reformation.
The English Baptists did not regard the Church of England as a church of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believed it to be a daughter of the Roman Catholic Harlot even though the Church of England baptized by immersion for one hundred years after the Protestant Reformation. The English Anabaptists, as they were falsely called, refused the baptisms of the church of England.
John Owen, the learned Puritan writer, said of the English Baptists in Volume 13, page 184, of his works:
"The Donatists rebaptized those who came to their societies(churches) because they professed themselves to believe that all administration of the ordinances not in their assemblies was null, and that they were looked upon as no such thing. Our English Anabaptists do the same thing."
The English Baptists were so staunch that they would not allow their members to be buried in graveyards that belonged to the Church of England. They regarded the preachers of the Church of England as unbaptized heretics and would not go to hear them lest they be guilty of committing spiritual adultery. Nor would they allow these descendants of popery preach in their churches. They firmly stood not only against alien immersion, but against all error in doctrine and practice as well.
It is well documented by historical facts that the Baptists on American soil stood firmly against alien immersion long before the heroic efforts of J.R. Graves and J.M. Pendleton were ever exerted.
J.H. Grime, in his excellent book History of Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism, on pages 28-29 writes concerning a church which belonged to the Philadelphia Association:
"In their minutes, 1787, the First church of New York presented the following query (question): 'Whether a person applying to one of our churches for admission as a member, and satisfies the church that he has been previously baptized by immersion, on a profession of his faith in Christ, but at the same time confesses the person who administered the ordinance was, at the time, neither ordained to the work of the ministry, nor baptized himself by immersion, but only chose and called by a religious society to officiate as their teacher or minister, should be received?'
This matter was laid over until the next sitting of the Association, that they might have a whole year to deliberate on it; that their action might be the result of mature thought. At the next meeting of the body (1788) they give the following reply: 'We deem such baptism null and void.'
'First-Because a person that has not been baptized must be disqualified to administer baptism to others, and especially if he be also unordained.
'Second-Because to admit such baptism as valid, would make VOID THE ORDINANCES OF CHRIST, THROW CONTEMPT ON HIS AUTHORITY, AND TEND TO CONFUSION...
'Third-Of this opinion we find were our Associations in times past; who put a negative on such baptisms in 1729, 1732, 1744, 1749, and 1768.
'Fourth-Because such administrator has no commission to baptize, for the words of the Commission were addressed to the apostles, AND THEIR SUCCESSORS IN THE MINISTRY, TO THE END OF THE WORLD, AND THESE ARE SUCH WHOM THE CHURCH OF CHRIST APPOINTS TO THE WHOLE WORK OF THE MINISTRY."
From the above quote it becomes quite obvious that the oldest Baptist association consistently condemned as unscriptural the reception of alien immersion in any form.
In 1839 a question involving alien immersion came before the Sandy Creek Association of North Carolina from the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. The following is the excerpt from Purefoy's History of the Sandy Creek Association, pages 122 and 179:
"Is it consistent with the spirit of the gospel, and according to the Scriptures, for any regular Baptist church to receive into her fellowship any member or members of another denomination, who have been baptized by immersion, without baptizing them again?
"Answer: We think it is not. The vote on this query was unanimous. The Baptist is the only denomination that is not guilty of schism-of making a division when it came into existence. They existed prior to any Pedo-Baptist denomination now in existence. Baptists have never seceded from any other denomination. All other denominations have either seceded from Rome or one another; they make a division when they came into existence, instead of receiving their baptisms as valid, they are to be marked and avoided for causing divisions. Rom. 16:17.
"We cannot admit the validity of their baptisms without admitting that they are true and Scriptural gospel churches, if we do this we unchurch ourselves, for God never set up or authorized but one Christian denomination. He is not the author of confusion or antagonistic denominations... Ordinances cannot be validly administered by both Baptists and Pedo-baptists. God is not the author of but one of them, consequently we cannot receive members upon baptism administered by them, without repudiating the ordinances administered by ourselves."
Jesse Mercer, a Georgia Baptist, wrote a circular letter to the members of the Georgia Association in 1811. The following is an excerpt regarding his position on alien immersion taken from his memoirs:
"Our Reasons therefore for rejecting baptism by immersion, when administered by Pedo-baptist ministers, are:
'I- That they are connected with "churches" clearly out of the apostolic succession: and, therefore, clearly out of the apostolic commission.
'II-That they have derived their authority by ordination from the bishops of Rome, or from individuals who have taken it upon themselves to give it...
"Now, as we know of none implicated in this case, but, are in some or all of the Above defects, either of which we deem sufficient to disqualify for meet gospel administration, therefore we hold their administrations invalid."
The Red River Association of Louisiana was constituted in 1848, and embodied in their articles of faith the following:
"Resolved--that the authority of an orderly Baptist church is an essential qualification to authorize one to administer baptism.
"Resolved--That immersions performed by administrators not authorized by such a church should not be received by Baptists." (Alien Baptism and the Baptists, by W.M. Nevins, p. 131).
What is significant about all the above quotations is not only the consistent stand of American Baptists against all alien immersion, but that these statements were recorded before J.R. Graves began to write on the old landmarks of the Baptist faith. Our opponents falsely say that the principles of Landmarkism did not begin until J.R. Graves and J.M. Pendleton came on the scene. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The principles of Landmarkism were embraced by the ancient Baptists as has been evidently set forth. Graves and Pendleton merely were used of God to call true Baptists back to the Biblical position of their forefathers.
I am in full agreement with the stand that the Greenup Association of Kentucky took in 1880 when it stated the following:
"Resolved, that we will not correspond with other Associations who will recieve alien immersions." (Alien Baptism and the Baptists, by W.M. Nevins, p. 133).
Our forefathers were willing to stand against the evils of alien immersion regardless of the consequences. Baptists today must stand firmly and united against the heresy of alien immersion in all its forms. We must not fear what others may say or do. We must take our stand with the ancient Baptist martyrs and "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints."
While writing this treatise I have constantly had to check my motives for writing against alien immersion. I believe that I have tried to honor God by simply stating the truths of Baptist baptism and the reasons why we must stand against alien immersion in all its forms. My desire has been to set forth the truth in love. This treatise was written with malice toward none, but with a sincere desire to see erring Baptists turn from their compromising ways.
I have tried to understand why Baptists would begin to compromise with Romanism, Protestantism, and the Charismatic movement by receiving alien immersions. The only conclusions that I have come up with are the following. First, that they have been willing to sacrifice truth on the alter of compromise for the sake of numbers. They have sold their birthright for a mess of Protestant and Ecumenical pottage which is a bad deal indeed. Secondly, They desire to look more like their Protestant counterparts for the sake of scholarship and appeal. They are willing to lose their identity in order to conform to false churches. Thirdly, they have exalted what they call "love" over truth. Charity rejoices in the truth, but never sacrifices truth.
For those who are openly receiving alien immersion either directly or indirectly please answer the following questions. What do you hope to accomplish by letting down the sacred doctrine of baptism? How will it profit you to receive members from churches that do not stand upon the same principles which you profess to stand upon? If your church is truly Spirit-filled, don't you think that those applying for membership would gladly submit to Scriptural baptism to be a member of the Lord's church? If you must persist in receiving alien immersion, then why don't you do the honorable thing and take the name Baptist off your church sign so you won't deceive true Baptists who are trying to stand for the truth?
Finally, I pray that all true Baptists will beware of the Trojan horse in our midst. Many are compromising like never before. Those who have stood for years are faltering. May God be pleased to raise up a holy band of Baptist churches who will refuse to allow the inroads of alien immersion to come into their churches whether directly or indirectly. May God give all true Baptists the grace to obey the admonitions of the apostle Paul who wrote the following:
"NOW I BESEECH YOU, BRETHREN, MARK THEM WHICH CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENCES CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH YE HAVE LEARNED; AND AVOID THEM" (Rom. 16:17).
"THEREFORE, BRETHREN, STAND FAST, AND HOLD THE TRADITIONS WHICH YE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, WHETHER BY WORD, OR OUR EPISTLE" (II Thess. 2:15).
"NOW WE COMMAND YOU, BRETHREN, IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT YE WITHDRAW YOURSELVES FROM EVERY BROTHER THAT WALKETH DISORDERLY, AND NOT AFTER THE TRADITION WHICH HE RECEIVED OF ME" (II Thess. 3:6).
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