Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 6, 1951

Dissolving A Few Baptist Aspirins

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

The "Non-Essential" Aspirin As I continue to dissolve "a few Baptist aspirins" that were prescribed by "Doctor" Albert Garner, a Baptist preacher of Jacksonville, Texas, I come next to his "Non-Essential" aspirin. This refers to the second chapter in his booklet, which makes it the second aspirin in his box, and like the one already considered, it is broken into several pieces by the "Doctor" himself. I should like for you to see the "prescription" written by the "Doctor" in his own bitter style. For the heading of the first two paragraphs in this chapter of his booklet, he asks the question: "DO BAPTISTS TEACH THAT BAPTISM IS 'NON-ESSENTIAL"? And the following are some of his dignified words as he makes his desperate attack on the people who, to him, are a bunch of despicable Campbellites."

"This article is written to answer the notorious lies that are being told on Baptists, circulated by the so called Church of Christ people, better known as Campbellites. In a recent public discussion, Mr. Charles Holt, Jr., of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, was very brazen in charging, 'Baptists hate baptism, they teach it is non-essential, they hate it. This is a plain falsehood, used to prejudice their own people against Baptists, to keep them from learning what Baptists do teach about baptism. Mr. Holt, as a young Campbellite preacher, was possibly ignorant of what Baptists teach about salvation. He was either ignorant or dishonest. If he was ignorant? he is excusable, but not worthy of leadership among their brethren. If he is dishonest, knows Baptists do not teach baptism is non-essential, then he is certainly unworthy of being a leader among his people." — A Few Aspirins For Campbellism, p. 4.

The "contemptible Campbellites," according to "Doctor" Garner's expert and elegant diagnosis, are a group of deluded ignoramuses or notorious liars. I have an idea, however, that it is not their dense stupidity or their notorious lying that is causing him so much trouble. Likely they are too well informed about Baptist teaching and are too exact in their reporting of it to allow the gentleman to have much comfort. And brother Charles Holt, Jr., it seems, has been a "pain in the neck" for Mr. Garner. The charge that brother Holt was "ignorant of what Baptists teach about salvation" or that he was dishonest in his dealing with it will have little weight with people who know brother Holt. Furthermore, I predict that the "Doctor's" headaches are not over if he has further discussions with brother Holt. He will need some one to prescribe some better aspirins for him for he will find the ones he has prescribed to be very inadequate and ineffective.

That you may get a better view of the "Doctor's" vituperative bombast I give the following quotation from his booklet:

"A Challenge To These Notorious Ignoramuses and Liars"

"Next time you hear one of these religious bigots blaze out the charge that Baptists do not believe BAPTISM IS ESSENTIAL, GET THIS ARTICLE AND STICK IT UNDER HIS NOSE. Then do this: ask the said fellow if he can show you one line or one statement where a Missionary Baptist has ever said that baptism was not essential." p. 5

Whew! The "Doctor" really seems to think that the "blazing" of "religious bigots" can be snuffed out by merely holding one of his aspirins under their noses. What pills these are to have such potency! But if either the "Doctor" or any of his patients should stick this article under your nose to prove that you are a "notorious ignoramus or liar," then you might respond by sticking the following statement under his nose:

"So then, I want to tell you that baptism is not essential. It's not essential and God says that; in what I said this morning." Mr. A. U. Nunnery in Woods-Nunnery Debate, p. 122.

Mr. Garner claims that any man is a "notorious ignoramus or liar" who charges that any "Missionary Baptist has ever said that baptism was not essential." He calls for "one line or one statement" ever uttered by a Missionary Baptist to that effect. Well, we have accommodated the "Doctor." Mr. A. U. Nunnery is a Missionary Baptist. Furthermore, he is a Missionary Baptist preacher and debater. He has had many debates with our brethren. His debate with brother Guy N. Woods, held near Parsons, Tennessee, in 1946, was published in book form. The above quotation is taken from that debate. So I have given both the "line" and the "statement" in which a Missionary Baptist preacher and debater said that "baptism is not essential." When, therefore, the "horrid Campbellites," who seem to be such a nightmare to "Doctor" Garner, say that Baptists have taught that "baptism is not essential" they are neither ignorant nor lying. So this fragment of the "Doctor's" aspirin dissolves into thin air. And, incidentally, I wonder if Mr. Garner knew that A. U. Nunnery had made the above statement. If he did not know it, then perhaps he is the one who is the "ignoramus." If he did know that Nunnery made that statement, yet claimed that no Missionary Baptist ever did, who would be proven to be the "notorious liar" in that case? So if some Missionary Baptist sticks Garner's article "under your nose," you have nothing to fear. All the vapors of that dissolving aspirin can be inhaled without any danger whatsoever. But Mr. Garner may claim that Mr. Nunnery simply meant that "baptism is not essential to salvation." The fact remains that Mr. Nunnery said that "baptism is not essential" and used no qualifying terms. Mr. Garner says that no Baptist, that, no Missionary Baptist, ever made such a statement. Therefore, following his own line of reasoning, he is proven to be either ignorant or dishonest. And using his own words, "If he was ignorant, he is excusable, but not worthy of leadership among their brethren. If he is dishonest"—knowing that a Baptist did say that baptism is not essential—"then he is certainly unworthy of being a leader among the people." No one would dispute, of course, that Mr. Nunnery meant that "baptism is not essential to salvation." But when the people of the church of Christ, considered by Mr. Garner to be "ignorant and dishonest Campbellites," make that statement about Baptists, they mean the same thing.

The following quotation from Mr. Garner's booklet will give you what he thinks Baptists actually teach about baptism. Read it and marvel.

"Baptists teach that baptism is essential. Baptists even teach that baptism is essential to salvation. Baptists do not teach that baptism is essential to acquire salvation, but they do teach that BAPTISM IS ESSENTIAL to demonstrate salvation." P. 5.

Now, how does that look for a "Baptist Doctor" who is able to prescribe "Baptist aspirins" for a "Baptist headache"? Notice that he says that "Baptists teach that baptism is essential" with emphasis on the last two words.

Not only so, but he actually says that "Baptists teach that baptism is essential to salvation." If this is so, then he could not interpret Mr. Nunnery's statement to mean that "baptism is not essential to salvation." for in that case, he would not be teaching that "baptism is essential to salvation." In view of what Mr. Garner says about it, for any one to charge that Baptists teach that "baptism is not essential to salvation" is to be guilty of inexcusable ignorance or downright dishonesty. Could it be, after all, that Baptists have always taught that "baptism is not essential to salvation" and that the "Doctor" is the one who is lying about it? I use the words "ignorance" and "lying" because they are standard equipment in the

"Doctor's" pill bag. The use of these terms seems to be his weakness, and they have become some of the fundamental ingredients of his powerful aspirins. But let us see what some other Baptist preachers have said about this matter. Before giving the quotations, however, let us remember that the two words "essential" and "necessary" are synonyms. If a thing is "essential," it is "necessary;"

if it is not "necessary," it is not "essential."

The first witness will be the late Mr. Ben M. Bogard. Mr. Garner will certainly recognize him, for it was in Bogard's school that Garner became a "Doctor" and got his authority to prescribe aspirins. Read the following statements by Mr. Bogard:

"I object to the idea that baptism is necessary to salvation because, if true, it makes God dishonest." Bogard-Warlick Debate, p. 45.

"Either way you take it, we see that baptism is not necessary to salvation." (Bogard-Warlick Debate, p. 136.

"The doctrine you are preaching that baptism is

is necessary to salvation is Roman Catholicism, and you borrowed it from Rome." Hardeman-Bogard Debate, p. 136.

Now, compare this with Garner's statement. He says that Baptists teach that baptism "is essential to salvation."

But Bogard says 'baptism is not necessary to salvation." Furthermore, to preach that it is, he says, "makes God dishonest" and "is Roman Catholicism." "Doctor" Garner, therefore, got some of the ingredients for his aspirins from Rome!

But let us hear some other Baptist preachers speak. Mr. J. W. Keener of Fort Smith, Arkansas, made the following statements:

"I believe Mark 16:16 just as strong as my friend believes it, but BAPTISM IS NOT essential to salvation." Hogland-Kesner Debate, p. 39. "Now my friends if baptism IS ESSENTIAL to salvation, as we have been debating the four nights, it CONTRADICTS A GREAT BODY OF SCRIPTURES." Hogland-Kesner Debate, p. 127. Next we will read from D. N. Jackson:

"Paul said . . . I have begotten you through the gospel, and since he did it, and yet didn't baptize them, therefore, baptism is not essential to being brought into life." Cogdill-Jackson Debate, p. 81. "The fact that there are New Testament cases of people being saved apart from baptism shows that baptism is not essential to salvation." Supplement to Jackson-Cogdill Debate, p. 99.

G. E. Jones may speak next:

"Baptists do teach not that baptism is a nonessential. It is not essential to salvation, but like the Lord's supper it is essential to declaring some things." Jones-Wilhite Discussion, p. 60.

The next statements will be from J. E. Cobb: "Without entering into an extended discussion of this passage we say Acts 2:38 does not teach that baptism is, in any sense, essential to the salvation of a soul." A New Manual For Baptist Churches, pp. 44 and 45.

"Baptism is the performance of a good work, therefore, it is not essential to salvation." A New Manual For Baptist Churches, p. 45.

In the foregoing statements these Baptist preachers and debaters, Ben M. Bogard, J. W. Kesner, D. N. Jackson, G. E. Jones and J. E. Cobb, declare plainly that Baptists teach that "Baptism is not essential to salvation." But

"Doctor" Garner, probably because he was in a tight spot, says that "Baptists even teach that baptism is essential to salvation." Well, it is Garner against all the rest of them. When, therefore, the poor wretched "Campbellites" state that Baptists teach that baptism is not essential to salvation they are neither ignorant nor lying but are stating what Baptist preachers have always taught. It will not do Mr. Garner any good to reject the testimony of D. N. Jackson, G. E. Jones and J. E. Cobb on the ground that a split has come within Baptist ranks, a new Association has been formed, and that these men are identified with one Association while Garner and others are with another Association. The statements quoted from these men were made before the division ever came. They were all lined up in the same Association with Garner, Bogard and Kesner. And they simply stated what Baptists have always taught—that baptism is not essential to salvation. We would have to decide, from reading Garner's booklet, that they were all out of step except the "Doctor."

But even Mr. Garner reveals his inconsistency—if not his ignorance—in the matter. You will notice that he said that "Baptists even teach that baptism is essential to salvation." But he went on to explain that it is not essential to secure salvation but that "baptism is essential to demonstrate salvation." A "Doctor" who does not know that the two statements, "Baptism is essential to salvation" and "Baptism is essential to demonstrate salvation," are not identical is not qualified to pass on the Intelligence or ignorance of any man. How can a man who thinks that these two expressions mean the same boldly pronounce any man an ignoramus? If "baptism is essential to salvation" means it is "essential to demonstrate salvation," then when the "Doctor" teaches that repentance and faith are necessary, or essential, to salvation, he simply means they are "essential to demonstrate salvation." And thus he would have salvation before repentance and faith, without any conditions at all, and that would be worse even than the doctrine of "salvation by faith only."

But if "baptism is essential to demonstrate salvation," what is essential about such a demonstration? Will a man's Christian security in this world be any greater or his eternal life in the world to come be any more certain because he demonstrates" his salvation in baptism? Just what is essential in such a demonstration anyway? The matter resolves itself into this: The only way in which Baptists teach that "baptism is essential," according to the great "Doctor" Garner, is that it is essential to a nonessential. No wonder that he has a case of hyper-acidity and endeavors to vent his spleen on the poor deluded "Campbellites."

(To be continued)