Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 24, 1952
NUMBER 37, PAGE 8-9,10b

Dissolving A Few Baptist Aspirins

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

The "Baptismal Salvation" Aspirin

Some of the ingredients of this aspirin, prescribed by "Doctor" Garner for the relief of headaches among his Baptist brethren, are found also in his "faith only" and "non-essential" aspirins. He has the broken pieces thrown around in such manner that it is a little difficult to tell which aspirin the different fragments belong. But dissolving them, by using the Word of the Lord, is such an easy matter that it makes little difference as to where in his package we find the fragments located. Besides this, he has ingredients in these aspirins that actually clash with one another to such an extent that little effort is necessary to bring about their complete dissolution. About all that is necessary is just to unwrap them, lay the pieces beside each other, and let the vapors from one annul and dissolve the other. This clash between the ingredients will become manifest as I point out the self-contradictions found in the prescription written by the "Doctor's" own hand.

The chapter heading for this aspirin reads like this: "HOW DOES BAPTISM BRING OUR PRESENT SALVATION?" Is that not rather a strange label to be found on a box of tablets prescribed by a "Baptist Doctor"? If there is any one thing, as already shown in this review, that Baptist preachers do not believe, it is that baptism brings our present salvation. Since they deny that such a thing is possible, why ask "how" it is done? But the question is a further and more complete revelation of Baptist inconsistencies.

"1 Pet. 3:21 reads, 'The like figure where unto baptism doth also now save us.' Baptismal regenerationists twist this and a few similar passages from their setting and use such to assure people that one must 'be-dipped-or-be-damned." Page 10.

It is evident to any intelligent reader that if baptism "brings our present salvation," as is clearly indicated in the chapter heading, then one cannot have present salvation until he is baptized. That would mean, if language means anything at all, that one is damned until he is dipped. To conform to Baptist teaching and to give any relief whatsoever to Baptist headaches, the heading of the chapter should read: "Our Present Salvation Brings Baptism." But the "doctor" did not write it that way. I am afraid that the language used by the "Doctor" will not only fail to relieve headaches among his brethren but that it will be the cause of a bunch of headaches for them that they might have escaped had it not been for the "Doctor's" prescription. In fact, it is likely to cause the "Doctor" himself to have an epidemic of headaches before the matter is ended. Remember then, that if "baptism brings our present salvation," we are not saved till we are baptized—we are damned till we are dipped. Yet Mr. Garner says that any man who says you must "be-dipped-or-be-damned" is "twisting" the scriptures "from their setting" and places himself among those whom he calls "baptismal regenerationists." "Doctor" Garner has therefore landed right in the middle of that "heretical bunch." How much relief can his Baptist brethren expect to receive from a prescription that is so self-contradictory.

But this is not all. Let us take a look at two more fragments of these aspirins as I place them side by side.

On page five of his booklet Mr. Garner says:

"Baptists teach that baptism is essential. Baptists even teach that baptism is essential to salvation."

This language of the "Doctor" might be easily understood if he said no more about it, but on page three of his booklet he makes this statement:

"Surely baptism can be found in the means, instrumental, or agency case of the preposition if it is necessary to salvation."

In one statement he says that "baptism is essential to salvation," but in the other he says it is not "necessary to salvation." Would a "Doctor's" prescription, containing such clashing ingredients, likely be a "headache reliever" or a "headache producer" for his Baptist brethren? But take another look at his prescription. On page 10 he says:

"Do Baptists believe that baptism saves them? Indeed they do!"

But on page three we read:


These 'statements are self-contradictory—one says that baptism saves, and the other says it does not save. I am afraid the "Doctor" may prove a big disappointment to his suffering brethren. He may become as big a headache to them as "Campbellism" has been for all of these years. It is too bad to have to expose a great "Doctor" in such fashion, but if his prescription is any indication of his qualifications as a "Doctor," he should be dubbed a "quack" by his own brethren, and his license should be taken away from him. Otherwise, he may drive his suffering brethren, like many of them have done in the past, to seek relief from some other source.

These self-contradictions may seem strange and startling to people who are not accustomed to reading the rantings of a Baptist "Doctor." If so, we might take a look at another statement. It is found on page eleven of Mr. Garner's booklet and reads like this:

"Unless one is convicted of the Holy Spirit, repents of his sins, and becomes a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus before he is baptized, baptism does not save."

This simply says that unless a man is already saved before he is baptized, baptism does not save him. Of course; according to this gem of logic from this super-intelligent "Doctor," if a man is already saved, he may then be saved by being baptized. In other words, "baptism does not save" the lost man, the unsaved man, but it saves the man who is already saved! If you can figure how a "Doctor" with such scholastic attainments that his very person reflects scholarship and brilliancy could make a statement like the preceding one, you deserve some sort of degree in higher mathematics.

Commenting on 1 Pet. 3:21 Mr. Garner makes this declaration:

"Baptists have always taught that baptism saves them, just for the world like this passage of scripture says. Baptism does NOW SAVE US, IN A FIGURE. That is, baptism paints a picture or symbolizes the crucified, buried, and risen Christ who does save." Booklet, page 10.

But it so happens that Peter in this passage does not say that "baptism saves us IN FIGURE." Baptist preachers constantly assert that Peter declares that "baptism saves us in a figure" and that "baptism is a figure of our salvation." But neither of these is even remotely hinted at in the passage. Peter says that Noah and family were saved in the ark by water and that our salvation by baptism is "the like figure," or "true likeness," of that. Noah was transported in the ark by the water from the old world to the new. So we are translated by baptism from a state of condemnation to a state of justification. One is a true likeness of the other. But nothing is said about baptism being a "figure of our salvation" or about being saved by baptism "in a figure." What if baptism does "paint a picture of the crucified, buried and risen Christ"? Does that change the language of Peter? Not in the least. That thing that "paints a picture of the crucified, buried, and risen Christ" is the thing that Peter says; "now saves us." So all this painting, figuring, and symbolizing, accomplishes nothing for my friend's false doctrine. Baptist headaches are not so easily figured away, and the "Doctor's" aspirin dissolves without any damage to the truth of God.

After asserting that, "Baptists have always taught that baptism saves them," Mr. Garner proceeds to try to prove that it is not so by discussing the matter of "FOLLOWING JESUS IN BAPTISM." Relative to this point he says:

"No one can follow Jesus in baptism unless he is first a child of God. Jesus was the Son of God first; then he was baptized to make manifest to the world that he was the Son of God (John 1:31-33), just for the world like Baptists do it today." Page 10.

This system of reasoning is very unfortunate for Baptist doctrine. When Jesus was a little child, Herod, in his effort to slay him, had all children, two years old and under, slain that were in the region of Bethlehem. But Joseph had been warned by an angel "to take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt." (Matt. 2:13) In this way the life of Jesus was protected from the vengeance of the ruler. Later, upon the death of Herod, an angel told Joseph to "take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel." (Matt. 2:20) In this return from Egypt Matthew says the prophecy was fulfilled: "Out of Egypt have I called my son." (Matt. 2:15) Since this was accomplished when Jesus was still a "young child," he was the Son of God while he was a young child. In fact, he was just as much "the Son of God" one minute after he was born as he was when he was baptized. Does this prove that we are children of God while in a state of infancy? Not according to Baptist doctrine, for Baptists say that little children are born "the children of wrath"—not children of God.

Furthermore, in order to be saved, Paul teaches us that "our old man" must be "crucified with Christ" (Rom. 6:6). This process is referred to in Gal. 2:20 as being our crucifixion—"I am crucified with Christ." And in Gal. 6:14 Paul refers to the cross of Christ "by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." As Jesus was put to death on the cross, so must we have the old man crucified, the old manner of life put to death. This is our crucifixion—in this way we are crucified with Christ. Consequently, we are to follow Jesus in crucifixion. But how can we do it, according to "Doctor" Garner? Jesus was the Son of God before he was crucified; but we must become crucified in order to become sons of God. If we must be sons of God before we are baptized, because Jesus was God's Son before his baptism, then we must, for the same reason, be sons of God before our crucifixion.

On page six of his booklet Mr. Garner makes the following statement:

"Baptists 'follow Jesus' in baptism. We teach that people should be baptized, Just for the world like Jesus was baptized. He was the Son of God first, then he was baptized to make this manifest to the world . . . Baptism did not make Jesus more righteous or wash away his sins. It only demonstrated to the world that he was the Messiah."

The "Doctor" claims in this statement that we should be baptized "just for the world like Jesus was." Since he was "the Son of God first" and then was baptized "to make this manifest to the world," he reasons that we must be the sons of God first and then be baptized to manifest it to the world. Of course, there is a vast difference between his being "the Son of God" and our being "sons of God." But to allow the "Doctor" to have every advantage possible we will let him assume that they mean the same thing. But you must not forget, as Mr. Garner himself admits, that Jesus was not only baptized "to make manifest to the world that he was the Son of God" but also in baptism he "demonstrated to the world that he was the Messiah." Now, following Mr. Garner's method of reasoning, we must have to say: 1. Jesus was baptized to "demonstrate to the world that he was the Messiah." 2. We must be baptized "just for the world like Jesus was baptized." 3. Therefore, we must be baptized to "demonstrate to the world" that we are Messiahs. This argument furnishes quite a promotion for Mr. Garner—it lifts him from the position of "Doctor" and makes a "Messiah"—a Savior—out of him. Perhaps in this new role he may be able to give greater relief to Baptist headaches.

In an effort to get baptism out of the plan of salvation and to bring relief to his suffering brethren, Mr. Garner makes an argument concerning the "MEANS AND INSTRUMENTS OF SALVATION." Under this heading his prescription or this aspirin reads this way:

"There are prepositions of 'means' and 'instrument' in our English language. The most common are 'by' and 'through.' These two prepositions of 'means' or 'instrument' are used in showing how people are saved ... 'Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.' (Gal. 3:26) Faith is an instrument or means of salvation. 'In whom we have redemption through his blood.' (Eph. 1:7) Then his blood is an instrument or means of salvation. 'For by grace are ye saved through faith.' (Eph. 2:8) Then both faith and grace are instruments or means of salvation.

"BAPTISM IS NEVER USED IN THE 'Instrumental,' 'Means; or 'Agency' case as a means of procuring salvation. Let the honest, the sincere, the investigating consider well. If the Lord had meant for people to understand that the only way people could be saved was by or through baptism, WHY DID HE NOT USE BAPTISM IN THE INSTRUMENTAL, OR MEANS CASE EVEN ONE TIME when speaking on how to be saved?" Page 11.

Here again we find the "Doctor" woefully lost in the fog of Baptist doctrine, for he had just used his "baptism in a figure" argument, which he based on 1 Peter 3:21, to prove that men are both saved and not saved by baptism. In verse 20 of this chapter Peter referred to the ark built by Noah "wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." Since Peter says they were saved "by water," I wonder if this was the "instrument, means, or agency case" that Mr. Garner talks about. The word "by" is one of the specific prepositions mentioned by the "Doctor" to prove his "agency case." Very well, then, verse 21 tells us: "The like figure whereunto," or as some translations give it, "After a true likeness, baptism now saves us." Since "water" was a "means" by which Noah and family were saved, and since baptism saves us "after a true likeness," I wonder how he will manage to rule out baptism as a "means" of our salvation.

While Mr. Garner says that "baptism is never used in the 'instrumental; 'means; or 'agency' case as a means of procuring salvation," we have two passages in the New Testament that definitely put baptism in that case. Read them: "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." (Eph. 6:26) "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Tit. 3:5) Here we are said to be cleansed "with" the washing of water and saved "by" the washing of regeneration. These are the prepositions that are never used, according to the "Doctor," to precede baptism. These passages definitely refer to baptism, for it is only in baptism that "water" has any relation to the church of the Lord. Chas. B. Williams, Baptist, in his New Testament translation, renders the words in Eph. 5:26, "In the water bath." And in a footnote he says, "Referring to water baptism." Tit. 3:5 he renders, "through the bath of regeneration." Edgar J. Goodspeed, Baptist, in his translation, renders the first passage, "with the bath in water," and the second passage, "through the bath of regeneration." The Bible Union Version, a translation made by T. J. Conant, H. B. Hackett and A. C. Kendrick, all Baptist scholars, renders the first passage, "by the bathing of water," and the second passage, "through the bathing of regeneration." In both of these passages the word "washing" of the King James Version is translated from the Greek "loutron." Thayer's Lexicon defines this word, "a bathing, bath," and he says that it is "used in the New Testament and in ecclesiastical writers of baptism." Page 382. He refers to Eph. 5:26 and Tit. 3:5 as uses in the New Testament. In facts, there are the only two instances of its use in the New Testament. There is nothing beneath the stars to which these passages can refer but to baptism. Since one of them says we are cleansed "with the washing of water," and the other says we are saved "by the washing of regeneration," we have both the prepositions "with" and "by" that show baptism to be a "means" of salvation. The "Doctor" is wrong, his aspirin is gone, and his brethren must continue to suffer their headaches caused by New Testament teaching on baptism.