Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 8, 1958

"Answering A Methodist"

R. Ervin Driskill, Lewisville, Texas

Under the heading, "Some Practical Thoughts," a Methodist church bulletin recently sent to me has this statement:

"INFANTS — They are types or patterns of those who enter the kingdom. Jesus said, 'Of such is the kingdom.' It is a queer sort of reasoning that refuses the pattern (infants) and accepts those (adults) who are judged by the pattern. Suppose the army should find a young man, complete in every qualification as a perfect soldier. Then the army takes this youth as the ideal by whom every applicant must be measured. The army accepts the applicants, even those who do not quite measure up to the ideal youth, but says to the ideal youth: 'We cannot accept you!' Such logic would belong to an insane asylum."

Now, unless the "young man, complete in every qualification as a perfect soldier" is already in the army before he is inducted, the illustration does not fit. For the author of "Some Practical Thoughts" has the infant already in the kingdom before he is baptized. The infant is baptized (according to Methodist doctrine) because he is already IN the kingdom — not to induct him into it. That being the case, the young soldier would have to be inducted because he is already in the army, not to get into it.

If Methodists still taught (as their Discipline did teach before 1910) that infants were "born in sin," I could understand why they would feel it unnecessary to "sprinkle water" on them to cleanse them from that inherited sin. But the Discipline NOW teaches (as it did not teach before it was changed in 1910) that infants are "born in Christ." If they are "born in Christ," they are certainly not "born in sin." Then why sprinkle them? One who has followed Methodist teaching will either believe that infants are "born in sin" (as in days past), and so need to be "sprinkled" as a symbol of purification from that sin; or else he will believe (as of now) that the infants are "born in Christ." In which case they need no "symbol of purification." Which will it be?

But the author under review says, "But the objector to infant baptism says, 'We do accept infants as members of the kingdom, but we do not baptize them.' If infants belong to the kingdom, then they have a right to baptism, the badge of the kingdom."

If this be true, then the infant has a right to the Lord's Supper. Will our Methodist friend deny it? Or, would he have the "young man, complete in every qualification as a perfect soldier," in the army, with uniform on and gun in hand — and refuse to feed him? This is what he does when he sprinkles babies (which he believes is a badge or sign that they are in the kingdom), and then refuses to let them eat at the Lord's Supper.

Differing from the Baptists, our friend says, "It is inconsistent to, admit that one is a Christian and then refuse to commune with him. 'Other sheep I have which are not of this fold'." In this statement our friend condemns himself. If infants are indeed in the kingdom, Christians, how can he refuse to commune with them.

On the subject of baptism our friend says, "The Bible mode of baptism by sprinkling can be administered at any time, anywhere, to anyone. No matter how bitterly cold, no matter what hour, no matter what condition, sick, palsied . . . the Bible mode can be administered at any time, anywhere, to anyone. Our Lord would not command a form of baptism that time, place, or condition could make impossible." Our friend thinks that by his reasoning (?) here he has proved that baptism can not be exclusively immersion; but anyone knows that every single objection he offers to immersion can, under some circumstances, be urged against sprinkling. Are there times when (in a desert for instance) insufficient water can be available for immersion? Then there are also times when even a glass of water could not be had for sprinkling. Are there seasons when frigid weather would make immersion a severe physical ordeal? Then there are also times and places where even a few drops of water in the face would be difficult to endure.

"Finally," says our friend, "note that your Bible always speaks of baptism "with" fire, "with" water, "with" the Holy Spirit. To baptize with water, water is applied to the person, and not the person to the water. If you hit a snake WITH a stick, you apply the stick to the snake, and not the snake to the stick. If I chop a tree WITH an axe, I apply the axe to the tree, and not the tree to the axe."

Well, the Bible does not always do what our friend says in the above paragraph. For example, Acts 1:5, Matthew 3:11, say that baptism is 'IN the Holy Spirit," "IN fire" and "IN water." However, if we followed even the version (King James) exclusively as our friend does, the word "with" does not indicate how the act was performed. One can be baptized "with" fire and be immersed in the fire; one can be baptized "with" the Holy Spirit and be immersed in the Holy Spirit. The word "with" simply indicates the element used, and says nothing at all about the act performed. When clothes are washed WITH water, they are immersed IN the water. The water is applied to the clothes, and the clothes are applied to the water also. That is why John baptized "IN the river Jordan;" and that is why Philip and the eunuch went down "INTO the water." (Acts 8:38.) "If I baptize WITH water," says our friend, "I apply the water to the person, not the person to the water. That is the Bible way. Any other form of baptism reverses the Bible form and applies the water to the person."

In this amazing statement our friend goes exactly contrary to his own Methodist Discipline, which very clearly states that baptism by immersion shall be administered to all who request it. Does this "reverse the Bible form?" If so, it is contrary to the Bible, and is not to be practiced by anybody! Our friend speaks of "logic that belongs to an insane asylum." We leave our readers to judge the nature and quality of logic used by him. The Bible still teaches that baptism is a "burial" (Rom. 6:4); the very word itself means to dip, to plunge, to submerge, to immerse. No amount of "logic" (?) can make it mean to sprinkle, to pour, or to scatter in drops.