"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.XII Pg.11
July 1944

Sectarian Phraseology

P. W. Stonestreet

The Gospel Advocate of July 8, 1943, carries an article by E. W. Stovall under the caption, "Who Baptizes in the Name?" In contrast with some highly commendable teaching of the article, Brother Stovall says-- "Most all of the religious world believes in some form of baptism, the Quakers excepted."

Knowing Brother Stovall quite favorably, I feel perfectly sure that he conceives the truth on the subject in spite of what he says. I am therefore not dealing with his conception, nor with what he may have meant, nor with his evident good intentions; instead, I am dealing with what he said. If, as he claims, so great a part of "the religious world believes in some form of baptism," why be a stickler for a mere "form of baptism"? If sprinkling, pouring and immersion are forms of baptism, then what is baptism? The truth is, sprinkling and pouring are not "forms of baptism" at all, except in a purely sectarian sense. Biblically they constitute entirely different acts to that of baptism. True, much of the religious world believes in something that it erroneously calls baptism, but that is the width of the poles from the above quotation.

Another statement in the article is: "My observation of every baptism, regardless of the mode or method, is that the preacher pretends to do it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost'."

Yes, and such preachers perform such acts "in the name of the" trinity in precisely the same sense that Brother Stovall refers to such acts as a "form," a "mode," and a "method" of baptism; and that is, the sectarian sense. All who practice sprinkling and pouring are in perfect agreement with such phraseology; "it is right down their alley."

The following statement in the article is highly commendable: "The definition of the expression in the name of as given by the dictionary is by the authority of'." Also: "To baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' will necessitate that all who do so find the thing they practice authorized by the sacred three. Any failure to do this will necessarily void the act, and it cannot be in the name of'."

The foregoing scriptural and timely observations show plainly that the author of that article conceives the truth on what it is to truthfully baptize in the name of the sacred three. Hence the surprise is, in the first place, that one so well informed would resort to sectarian terms to explain that truth; and in the second place, that the vigilant editor of the Gospel Advocate did not notice it with a clarifying editor's note, especially since it is published on the editorial page. Divine truth is not dependent upon purely sectarian terms to explain it; it is worthy of better treatment. Besides, sectarianism can never be corrected in speech that is peculiar to sectarianism; it thrives on such speech.

There is an important distinction to be made between the application of terms that originated with sectarians for purely sectarian ends on the one hand, and phraseology that is not peculiar to sectarians on the other. For example, since several local churches exist in the same city or area, the expression, "My church," is not necessarily sectarian. Even when a sectarian says "my church" without local church significance, but simply to indicate identification with a denomination, it means no more than such identity. The sin of sectarianism, then, is not in politely informing another of that fact, but in the fact itself. So the usual reply to that statement that, "I have no church," is not only wide of the mark, but is often considered rude, depending on one's audience.

In neither case does the expression "my church" indicate ownership any more than "my country," "my state," "my city," or "my neighborhood" indicates it. So far as the meaning of that expression is concerned, it would be perfectly in order for a Christian to reply: "My church is the one of which Christ is head." Hence, let us attack sectarianism itself, not the harmless figure of speech in which some identify themselves religiously. And may we thus distinguish between an unfortunate religious condition on the one hand, and a harmless statement of that condition on the other. And above all, may we refrain from applying approvingly the terms "mode" and "form" to baptism, for that application originated with pseudoBaptists for purely sectarian ends. They needed just such phraseology to prevent people from realizing that sprinkling and pouring are not the act commanded by Inspiration.