Indiana Baptists Advance Toward The Truth
Recently a small tract dealing with the new birth was given to me by a friend who requested that I review the same. The tract, entitled YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN IF YOU GO TO HEAVEN, was written by one Harry A. McGimsey. Mr. McGimsey is not an acquaintance of this writer; neither do we know which religious group he is identified with. In that the tract is being circulated by the Plainfield, Indiana Baptist Church, we feel justified in identifying this group with the doctrine therein espoused until it is by them repudiated. It is unthinkable to this writer that any group possessing a regard for the truth would disseminate that which it conceives to be error, whether by tract or otherwise.
Most of the statements contained in the tract which are definite and tangible are either irrelevant to the issue as to how we are born again or define the position that I take regarding the subject at hand. Briefly, more truth is taught in the tract than Baptist doctrine. It is in light of this evident fact that I am inquisitive as to their motive in distributing it. I commit myself to refrain from dealing with that which is not clearly defined lest I misrepresent him whose views engage our attention. It is not my purpose to misrepresent any person or any cause. Neither do I have the ambition to disagree in this review with any statement that I endorse.
Points Of Agreement
Mr. McGimsey and I are in perfect concord relative to (1) the absolute necessity of the new birth; (2) the essentiality of faith in affecting it; and (3) the fact that we experience the new birth at the same time we enter the church.
Salvation By Faith
I believe and teach just as strongly as Mr. McGimsey dare express it that the new birth is accomplished by faith. A number of passages such as Romans 5:1 are quoted which show beyond any shadow of doubt that the new birth is by faith. There is no issue between Baptists and Christians on this score. The issue is as to WHEN we are saved or born again by faith. Baptist doctrine teaches that we are saved by faith alone. (Pendleton's Manual, p. 48.) The Bible, in the only passage on the pages of inspiration that mentions "faith alone" or "faith only," says: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith only." James 2:24. (Emphasis mine, G.F.R.) This passage represents the difference between the Bible and Baptist belief! The two statements are absolutely irreconcilable. To believe the Bible is to deny Baptist doctrine, while to believe Baptist doctrine is to deny the Bible! Though the new birth is by faith, it is by a living, acting faith that works by love. Paul said while guided by infallible inspiration: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Gal. 6:6.
There is not one instance in all the book of God from the first word in Genesis to the "amen" in Revelation in which any person received any blessing on account of his faith until that faith had manifested itself in overt acts. Salvation is dependent upon all conditions upon which it is promised. Though there might be more conditions implied than are found in any one verse, salvation can never be granted on fewer conditions than those mentionedin any one verse. Baptists are prone to quote the passages which mention faith as being essential to salvation in behalf of their erroneous doctrine of "faith only." They contend that because some passages mention faith as being essential, but fail to mention other acts of obedience that other acts are not necessary; hence salvation must be by faith only. But there are passages in the Bible that predicate salvation upon baptism without mentioning other acts of obedience. Ananias said to Saul of Tarsus: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16. By the same rule of logic that our Baptist friends contend for the doctrine of faith only, we could contend for " baptism only" in that the essentiality of it is stressed in a passage which doesn't even mention faith. Shall we thence conclude that Saul was saved without faith???
I am not contending that Mr. McGimsey believes that we are saved by faith only. He doesn't say so. If he does, he is in error as the passages above cited clearly demonstrate. If he doesn't he is a poor witness for the Baptist cause!
The New Birth And Church Membership Simultaneous
Mr. McGimsey says:
"The same time you are born again you become a member of The Church,' which is composed of Christ as the head (Eph. 1:22, 23) and all born again believers as the body. (I Cor. 12:27.)"
I agree with the above affirmation. The Bible is clear regarding it. But do our Baptist friends who are so energetically distributing the tract also accept the conclusion which the author has deduced? If not, why circulate the tract? If so, why not preach that all the means whereby the Baptist church is entered are essential to the new birth? Certainly, if salvation is enjoyed at the same time that we enter the church, it is not enjoyed sooner or upon fewer conditions than the conditions of church membership. But a person must be baptized to enter the Baptist Church, therefore, a person must be baptized in order to experience the new birth! The Plainfield congregation believes the new birth to be essential. They do not believe, however, that Baptism is essential to the new birth; yet they are distributing a tract which forces them to accept a conclusion which they repudiate as vehemenently as the devil himself. 0 consistency thou are a jewel! Verily, the legs of the lame are unequal! The Bible clearly and plainly teaches that we are baptized into the church ( 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:22, 23) and that by this one baptism (Eph. 4:5) we experience the new birth. (John 3:5) The inspired penmen, however, in teaching that we are born again at the time we enter the church, had no reference to the Baptist Church, but to the church of the New Testament. The Baptist Church was built at the wrong time, by the wrong man, and in the wrong place to be the church into which we are born again. Benedict, an eminent Baptist historian, says:
"The first regularly organized Baptist Church of which we now possess any account, is dated from 1607, and was formed in London by a Mr. Smith who had been a clergyman in the Church of England." (History of the Baptists, P. 304.)
The church of the New Testament was established by Jesus Christ on the first Pentecost after the resurrection in the city of Jerusalem. (Matt. 16:18; Psa. 127:1;1 Tim. 3:15; Acts 2:47; Zech. 1:16) As there is but one true church and as it was established at a different time and place and by a different founder to that of the Baptist Church, it follows clearly, plainly, and decisively that the Baptist Church is not and neither indeed can be the New Testament church — the true church in which we are born again! (Ephesians 4:4; Col. 1:18) The congregations of the church Christ established were called "churches of Christ." — Romans 16:16. They were never called Baptist churches or anything to the equivalent. Baptists now admit that the only person in the New Testament who was called a Baptist was never a member of the New Testament church, and that none of those who were members were ever called that! (PORTER-BOGARD DEBATE, P. 23, 24) But the fact we must not fail to overlook is that the particular Baptist group which is circulating Mr. McGimsey's tract, unless they repudiate what they have been ambitious to disseminate, must either (1) agree that baptism is essential to the new birth or (2) deny that baptism is necessary to church membership! If they accept the former horn of the dilemma they deny Baptist doctrine and accept the truth. If they take the latter alternative, they deny that which they have taught for lo, these many years and which is set forth in Baptist manuals. On the basis of such a denial, they would certainly sever any claim of connection with the church of the Bible, for it could not be entered without baptism. (1 Cor. 12:13)
I respectfully challenge any soul beneath the shining stars of heaven's canopy to deal with the following argument and show that the conclusion is invalid:
- To enter the kingdom equals remission of sins. — Col. 1:13, 14.
- But to believe and be baptized equals the remission of sins — Mark 16:16.
- Therefore, to believe and be baptized equals entering the kingdom.
- To believe and be baptized equals entering the kingdom — proved.
- But we enter the kingdom by being born again — John 3:3-7.
- Therefore, we are born again by BELIEVING AND BEING BAPTIZED for things that equal the same thing equal each other.
May God help us all to see, believe, and obey the truth that we might be crowned with glory, honor, and immortality at last.