Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 1, 1951
NUMBER 26, PAGE 10-11a

Dissolving A Few Baptist Aspirins

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

The doctor prescribes aspirins. The prescription does not call for either "Bayer's" or "St. Joseph's" aspirins but for Dr. Garner's aspirins. "Doctor Albert Garner," as he calls himself, is a young Baptist preacher of Jacksonville, Texas. Recently he published a booklet which he titled: "A Few Aspirins For Campbellism." Aspirins are pain-relieving tablets. They are often taken for headaches and other aches and pains. The aspirins prescribed by "Doctor Garner" are not for the relief of those whom he calls "Campbellites." He would in no way want to relieve them of anything they might suffer. But "Campbellism," according to the "Doctor's" diagnosis, has caused many headaches among Baptists. The "Doctor" wants to give them some relief and, accordingly, prescribes "A Few Aspirins" for his own brethren. "Doctor Garner's Aspirins" are highly recommended—by Doctor Garner. According to his advertisement of the booklet, "if Baptists will devour and assimilate these aspirins, they will have no further dread of Campbellism." There will be no danger of their joining the ranks of the "Campbellites," as so many Baptists have done, because of becoming doctrinally upset as a result of an epidemic of "Campbellism." From the way the "Doctor" advertises his aspirins, it appears that they will not only relieve "Baptist headaches" brought on by "Campbellism" but will actually make them immune to any further attacks. "Doctor Garner's aspirins" are very potent pills.

But sometimes aspirins are easily dissolved. They do not have to be dissolved in the system of the patient, but they may be dissolved before they are taken. If you dissolved a "Bayer's" or a "St. Joseph's" aspirin before the patient swallows it, the aspirin will in no way lose it effectiveness in relieving the headaches. But this is not true of "Doctor Garner's aspirins." If they are dissolved before the patient swallows them, they lose their power to give relief. Furthermore, they will likely become so bitter that the patient may refuse to swallow them at all. I wish therefore to spend some time, in a series of articles, in "dissolving a few Baptist aspirins."

Aspirins usually come in containers that have not less than a dozen tablets. However, "Doctor Garner's aspirins" come in a package of only eight tablets. According to the page of "Contents" of his booklet there are eight chapters. These chapters, though, are divided into a number of subheadings, and without the use of the "contents" page it is difficult to tell just where one chapter ends and another begins. There is no chapter division in the booklet itself. It appears, therefore, that each of these eight aspirins is broken into a number of pieces. This, I suppose, as long as they are not actually dissolved, will make it easier to swallow them. Yet with so many pieces of aspirins jumbled together it may be difficult for the patient to tell just when he has swallowed one complete aspirin. But this should not matter, as long as he actually gets relief for his headache—unless he should happen to take an overdose. With the tablets already broken into pieces the matter of dissolving them becomes an easier undertaking.

In this review of Garner's booklet I shall let him speak for himself. I shall not publish the booklet in its entirety. This would be totally unnecessary, as there is much repetition in it. Often the same point is repeated a number of times. Certainly it is not necessary to give in full all these repetitions. But I shall let him present each point in his own words. Quotations lengthy enough to give his complete arguments will be made from his booklet. In that way we shall have the "Doctor's" prescription in harmony with his own diagnosis. Let us begin the easy task of "dissolving a few Baptist aspirins."

The "Faith Only" Aspirin

The first aspirin prescribed by the "Doctor" is for the relief of that form of headache that is produced by the charge made by the "Campbellites" that Baptists teach that one can be saved by "faith only." Judging by the way the "Doctor" raves about this, I would say that the "Doctor" himself seems to have quite a headache over this matter. Perhaps it would be well for him to swallow one of his own pills. But let us hear his own words about this.

"Among the falsehoods usually circulated by Campbellites to dupe their victims and keep them from attending other churches is the falsehood that Baptists and others teach that one is saved by 'faith only.' When you hear the charge that there are those who teach that one is saved by 'faith only,' you should take special notice. They make such claims either through ignorance or dishonesty. This you will find to be true: the fellow who makes such claim will cite no representative man of any faith as having ever made such a claim. So far as I have been able to find there has never been any recognized minister of ANY RELIGIOUS FAITH OR GROUP who has ever taught that one is saved by 'faith only'."—Page 1.

Evidently the "Doctor" has a nervous headache from an upset nervous system caused by "the falsehoods usually circulated by Campbellites." Of course, when you come down to facts there is no such thing as "Campbellism." It exists only in the distorted imagination of sectarian preachers like Mr. Albert Garner. A "Campbellite Church" is unknown anywhere in the world. But the thing that he calls "Campbellism" does exist. In fact, it existed for about 1600 years before anyone ever heard of a Baptist Church. This nickname is given to the New Testament church and to the gospel system revealed in the New Testament. People who refuse to accept anything else have given the Baptists a lot of trouble. And "Doctor" Garner is having his share of it. To charge "that Baptists and others teach that one is saved by faith only" is declared by Mr. Garner to be a "falsehood." He even declares that such claims are made "either through ignorance or dishonesty." This would make the "Campbellites" a disreputable set. They are either too "ignorant" to know that neither Baptists nor others teach salvation by faith only, or they are too "dishonest" to tell the truth about it. But I wonder if the "ignorance" and "dishonesty" can truly be charged against the "Campbellites" in this case. Perhaps, it is somebody else that is "ignorant or dishonest." Could it be that the "Doctor" is the guilty man? He states that as far as he has "been able to find there has never been any recognized minister of ANY RELIGIOUS FAITH OR GROUP who has ever taught that one is saved by faith only." Maybe his "research" has not been exhaustive enough. If he had made even a small percent of the research that he claimed to make in his tract on Instrumental Music (which, for the most part, was copied from 0. E. Payne's book), he might have "been able to find" a "recognized minister" of some "religious faith or group" who has taught this theory of salvation by "faith only." And he might have saved himself the embarrassment of having to take the role of being "either ignorant or dishonest." This statement made by Mr. Garner simply shows how reckless a "Doctor" can become when he starts prescribing "a few aspirins" for Baptist headaches.

Forgetting for the time what Baptist preachers have said about the matter, let us see if "any religious faith or group has ever taught" this theory. A little later I shall present what Baptist preachers themselves have said about it. I wonder if the Methodist Church would qualify as a "religious faith or group"? Can any "representative man" of this faith be cited who has "ever made such a claim"? In the Methodist Discipline can be found twenty five "Articles of Religion." These can be found in any Methodist Discipline. Not only is this true of the Discipline of the present united Methodist Church, but it is true of the Disciplines of the various groups of Methodists before the union was consummated. I have before me the Methodist Discipline of the year 1896 of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Also the 1914 edition of the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The first of these has attached the names of eighteen outstanding ministers of that group. The latter has attached the names of twelve outstanding ministers of that group. Surely these were "representative men." But what does the Methodist Discipline say about salvation by "faith only"? The ninth Article of Religion reads like this: "We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort."

Notice how definite this statement of doctrine is—"that justification by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort." Therefore, when "Campbellites" say that this "religious group" teaches salvation by "faith only" they are neither "ignorant" nor "dishonest." They are simply stating what the Methodists have plainly said in their own Disciplines for many, many years. So if there is any "ignorance" or "dishonesty" about this matter, it cannot be charged to the people Garner calls "Campbellites." How can Mr. Garner, in the face of this Article of Religion in the Methodist Discipline, say "no representative man of any faith" has "ever made such a claim?" Is he so "ignorant" that he did not know this is published in the Methodist Discipline? Is it true that in all his research that he has not "been able to find" a copy of the Methodist Discipline? When he charged "Campbellites" with "duping their victims" with "falsehoods" when they say that some religious groups teach salvation by "faith only," the "Doctor" simply displayed his own ignorance. He will have to admit that he was so ignorant that he did not know that this statement about "justification by faith only" is in the Methodist Discipline, or he will have to say he was downright dishonest when he made the charge. If he fails to admit such, the reader will know it anyway.

But that is not all. In 1947 I engaged Mr. Glenn V. Tingley in a six nights' debate in Birmingham, Alabama. This debate was recorded and has been in book form about four years. Mr. Tingley represented the "religious group" known as "The Christian and Missionary Alliance." The last proposition of this debate, which Mr. Tingley affirmed the last two nights of the discussion, reads: "The scriptures teach that alien sinners are saved by faith alone before and without water baptism." Can it be that Mr. Garner did not know that this book is in print? I do know that he has been in audiences where the book was advertised for sale. Mr. Tingley definitely affirmed that "sinners are saved by faith alone." Was Mr. Tingley a "representative man" of this "religious group"? If not, then they have no representative men. But if he was, then Mr. Garner was woefully ignorant when he said that no "recognized minister" ever "made such a claim." If he was not ignorant, then he was dishonest when he prescribed his "faith alone" aspirin for the relief of Baptist headaches.

(To be continued)