Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 3, 1951

"How Many Teach The Plan Aright?"

Jesse M. Kelley, Nashville, Tennessee

In the Gospel Advocate of March 29, 1951, on page 195 brother Wayne Hargrove has an article under the above caption in which he puts forth a great deal of effort "proving" that there are some of God's children in no less than eight or nine "man-made churches," who "wear party-names, and are afflicted with various false teachings." For proof he quotes from "Religious Bodies," 1936, Volume II, published by the Bureau of the Census, United States Department of Commerce, where, he says, "are found Statistics, History, Doctrine, Organization, and Work' of each of the two hundred fifty six religious denominations listed in the last complete religious census." It seems that in this book brother Hargrove "discovered" that there were at least eight religious bodies besides the church of Christ and the Christian church that taught the truth regarding the "plan of salvation." Now I would have felt better about it had brother Hargrove "discovered" this in the New Testament, but since he has discovered it, and on the basis of what he learned, wrote a rather lengthy article informing "us" that "we" are broad but not "broad enough," in that we do not accept these "Christians" into fellowship until we baptize them, we feel that we should explain to our good brother and his disciples, if he has any, that "we" have "discovered" in the New Testament why Sectarians are not Christians, and why Christians cannot scripturally fellowship them until they become such. The article is full of glaring inconsistencies, and the reasoning and arguments, if they can be called such, are based upon the U. S. Department of Commerce instead of the New Testament.

He lists eight religious bodies besides the church of Christ and the Christian church, who, the Department of Commerce says, teach faith, repentance, confession, and baptism as the plan of salvation. He quotes this "discovery" from the 1936 edition of "Religious Bodies," then asks: "On the basis of the above information, are not many of these people children of God?" If he wants to take the authority of the Department of Commerce, they are. But the "mess" some of the "departments" in Washington have been in lately, one should be careful about quoting any of them for authority. It may lead to an investigation of some sort, which in this case it already has.

"On the basis of the above information,"—on the basis of the information gained from "Religious Bodies," and by the authority of that book we are to accept the "truth" that members of these bodies are Christians, and we must fellowship them as such! Can you imagine one who claims to be a true gospel preacher making a statement like this? I have always been taught, and have construed the Bible to teach that God's word is the only authority Christians have; that Christians only, have, nor adhere to no book but the New Testament in the things taught and practiced in the worship and doctrine of the church. But now comes one and offers us the U. S. Department of Commerce as proof there are Christians in manmade religious institutions.

He says that: "We must realize that some of God's children are lined up with man-made churches, wear party names, and are afflicted with various false teachings." (Emphasis mine. JMK) Why didn't brother Hargrove give us chapter and verse for a statement like this? It is difficult for me to understand how one who claims to be guided by the Word of God will teach that God has people in churches that are opposed to His will; who dishonor Him by wearing party names; and who teach doctrines contrary to His word, making His commands "of none effect" by their creeds and traditions. He says that "these people need to be approached as brethren, in the spirit of love and meekness;..." There is quite a difference in the compromising and "mushy" attitude of this brother and the attitude of Jesus toward the Pharisees in Matt. 15, and the attitude of Stephen in Acts 7. According to brother Hargrove Jesus should have approached the Pharisees in "meekness' and compromisingly told them, "now we are brethren, let us not be at odds with each other." He says this approach will "open avenues for teaching." It is a crying shame the Lord didn't have brother Hargrove to tell him how to "approach the people" so that he could "open avenues for teaching."

Just because the aforementioned people teach faith, repentance, confession, and baptism for the remission of sins, brother Hargrove thinks they are members of the Lord's church, but are erring brethren that need teaching. We will not deny that they need some teaching, but we will deny they are erring brethren and children of God. Jesus Christ is not in these man-made religious bodies, never was, or never will be, and if he isn't there how can one get into him by going into one of them? Our brother thinks that all that is necessary for a baptism to be scriptural is to be "for the remission of sins." The scriptures do not teach, or even seem to teach such a thing.

Paul says, "there is one baptism." (Eph. 4:4) From a study of the scriptures the student of the Bible can learn that this "one baptism" is not only "for the remission of sins," (Acts 2:38) but that it also "puts one into Christ." (Gal. 3:27) These people brother Hargrove is defending baptize people into their denominations, not into Christ. He says that makes them Christians, and fails again to give scriptural proof. The only way it could make them Christians is for the "one baptism" Paul speaks of, to put them into Christ and a man-made church simultaneously. If this be true, then scriptural baptism can make one a child of God and a religious child of the Devil in one act, and both God and Satan have a claim upon him. According to brother Hargrove they become denominational religious Christians who are "lined up with man-made churches, wear party names, and are afflicted with various false teachings," and we should fellowship them.

An illustration may help to teach us a lesson here. Every fraternal organization has its own initiatory rites. For example, the Masonic organization has its own initiatory rites that are peculiar to that organization and to no other. When one submits to the initiatory rites of the Masonic lodge he becomes a Mason, and nothing else. Now let us suppose that a group of men should come together for the purpose of forming a new fraternity. It is a different organization in name, purpose, laws, etc., but the men should decide they like the initiatory rites of the Masonic lodge, and adopt them for the new fraternity. Now, if I should go to this organization and become a member of it by submitting to its initiatory rites, would that make me a Mason also? Anyone can see the fallacy of such reasoning. The religious bodies brother Hargrove mentions were started way this side of the time the church was established and are distinct organizations from the church of the Lord, but have adopted the initiatory rites of that organization. When one submits himself to the organization and becomes a member by being baptized, does that make him a member of the Lord's church also? Again we say, not unless scriptural baptism makes one a member of a church of Satan and the church of the Lord in one act. Every other religious organization is distinct from the church of Christ, and every person baptized enters the organization by that act, which is distinct from the church of Christ. We cannot read in the New Testament of scriptural baptism making one a member of an unscriptural organization. There is no such thing in all the pages of God's word. The only example we have of people trying to serve Cod on the strength of their former baptism is recorded in Acts 19 where Paul found "certain disciples" at Ephesus who had been baptized unto John's baptism, but he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Let it be remembered that John's baptism was a baptism "for the remission of sins," (John 1:4) but this wasn't sufficient—it didn't put one into Christ. What more can be said of denominational baptism? Can it put one into Christ, even though it is for the "remission of sins?"

Since brother Hargrove is the one contending for the reception of denominationalists without baptism, he is the one to whom we are looking for the proof. Just give us chapter and verse and we will acknowledge our mistake publicly. He made the statement that "he had not said, nor did he believe, that anyone can be saved outside the Lord's church." In the light of that statement, please answer a question or two. When one becomes a member of one of these eight or nine denominations, does that make him a member of the Lord's church also? If the answer is "no," then should Christians fellowship him without baptizing him? If the answer is "yes," does not that make him a member of a church of Satan and the Lord's church simultaneously? The answer should be interesting.