Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 28, 1952
NUMBER 42, PAGE 8-10

Dissolving A Few Baptist Aspirins

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

The "Plain Forgery" Aspirin

The prescription for this particular aspirin is introduced by "Doctor" Garner in the following words:

"I do not write this to insult or offend or for the particular benefit of Campbellites themselves, but to open the eyes of true Christians concerning Campbellism and her mischievous and wicked claim of a franchise on salvation and that one must be a member of their particular little sect, known to them and dubbed by them, "The church of Christ, or go to hell." Booklet, page 16.

I feel certain that no one who has read the first fifteen pages of Garner's booklet would ever decide that he prescribed his aspirins "for the particular benefit of Campbellites themselves." His fondest hope, of course, was to benefit his own brethren whose splitting headaches are produced by the arguments of "true Christians," dubbed "Campbellites" by Mr. Garner, as they expose the fallacies of Baptist doctrine. But if the "Doctor" had not written the preceding paragraph, somebody might have decided that he intended to be insulting and offensive by indulging in such dignified discourse and by using such sublime sentences and lofty language as are characteristic of the contents of his booklet. It was "mighty thoughty" of him to include that statement so that no one would be misled about the matter.

A paragraph under the heading, "CONCERNING RELIGIOUS FORGERY," is presented, and Mr. Garner presents his charge in the following fashion:

"To use the name of another for personal profits or benefit, without due legal authorization is called forgery. Campbellism has done this in this century, by assuming the name of Christ, without scriptural authorization. No local New Testament church ever wore the name of Christ or was named. "The church of Christ. The name for a local church was forged by Campbellites about fifty years ago." Page 16.

On the next page of his booklet "Doctor" Garner admits that "the local churches were called "the churches of Christ" in Rom. 16:16. In view of this admission and the New Testament statement, how can Mr. Garner contend that "no local New Testament church" was ever called "the church of Christ"? If "the local churches" were called "the churches of Christ," then certainly "the local church" would be "the church of Christ." Yet the "Doctor" would have you believe that "the name for a local church was forged by Campbellites about fifty years ago." This shows something of the nature of the ingredients that went into this "aspirin for Campbellism," for if a plural number — local churches — were divinely called

"The churches of Christ," would that not be sufficient scriptural authority for one local church to be referred to by the singular number of the same expression?

The "Doctor" declares, however, that "to use the name of another for personal profits or benefit, without due legal authorization is called forgery." By "due legal authorization" Mr. Garner means, as is shown in the next sentence of the quotation, "scriptural authorization."

Therefore, to use the name of another for personal benefit, without scriptural authorization, is plain forgery. Evidently the "Doctor" is allergic to his own pills, for he gets a very unfavorable reaction from them. Mr. Garner wears the name "Baptist." He evidently wears it for "personal profits or benefit" that he hopes to get from it. But this is a name taken from the title given to John, the forerunner of Christ — John the Baptist. To wear this name "without due legal authorization" is to be guilty to plain religious forgery. Mr. Garner says so. But does he have any "due legal authorization to wear this name? Does he have any "scriptural authorization" for it? If there is any scriptural authority — any "due legal authorization" — for any man to wear this name in religion today, let Mr. Garner produce it. If he cannot, let him call in all the "Doctors" in Baptist ranks to help him find it. On page 20 of his booklet Mr. Garner says that "the name 'Baptist' was given in derision to churches that were followers of the Lord, during the protestant reformation for the first time." Since the name "Baptist" was given "to churches," according to Mr. Garner, "for the first time during the protestant reformation," that was sixteen hundred years too late for his "due legal authorization." There is not even a statement anywhere in the Bible that would authorize, by any method of teaching, any church to wear the name of "Baptist" But "Doctor" Garner and his brethren wear it. As they wear it "without due legal authorization," the "Doctor" being the diagnostician, they are guilty of "plain religious forgery." Thus you can see how this pill reacts upon the man who prescribed it.

In an effort to explain the "MEANING OF THE TERM 'THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST SALUTE YOU," the author of "A Few Aspirins For Campbellism" says:

"Romans 16:16 reads, 'the churches of Christ salute you.' This is a statement of fact. Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome, from Corinth in Achaia, where there were several local churches located. The churches of Achaia and Macedonia were all churches that belonged to Christ, but none of them WORE HIS NAME, OR ASSUMED TO FORGE IT. Churches of New Testament days were named in keeping with their localities as the church of Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, Corinth, seven churches of Asia, etc., all of them belonging to God and to Christ, but never did one of them assume to forge the name of Christ to its congregation or any minister or pastor presume to name any congregation by the name 'the church of Christ'." Page 17.

This paragraph is quite revealing. If it is "a statement of fact" that "Paul wrote to the churches in Rome, from Corinth in Achaia, where there were several local churches" and that he referred to them as "the churches of Christ" in Achaia, why would it not also be "a statement of fact" to refer to the church at Corinth, where Paul was, as "the church of Christ" at Corinth in Achaia?

If it was a fact that " several local churches" were "the churches of Christ" in that region, it is also a fact that "one local church" was "the church of Christ' 'in the locality. And if Paul could call the "several local churches," as Garner admits that he did, "the churches of Christ," without forging the name of Christ and without being guilty of any form of presumption, then why could not "one local church" be called "the church of Christ," without being guilty of forgery and presumption? It would be interesting to hear the "Doctor" try to explain his inconsistency on this point. Furthermore, if "several local churches" were called "the churches of Christ" by Paul, why does Mr. Gamer say that "no local church" was ever called "the church of Christ"? It is impossible to apply the plural form of the expression to several of them without applying its singular form to one of them.

But he tells us that "churches of New Testament days were named in keeping with their localities," as the church of Ephesus, the church of Corinth, and such like. Yes, sometimes the locality was mentioned, but Mr. Gamer would not be willing to take the name of the location as the name of the institution that is located there. Besides, we remember that Paul referred to "the church of God which is at Corinth." (1 Cor. 1:2) He did not always say "the church of Corinth." And he mentioned "the church of the Lord (Acts 20:28, R.V.) at Ephesus, and not simply and always "the church of Ephesus." But if Mr. Gamer thinks he should name the church after its locality, why does he not practice what he preaches? Do Mr. Gamer and his associate "Doctors" in the Baptist ranks simply refer to their congregations as the church of Jacksonville, the church of Henderson, and such like. Absolutely not! But they often designate them as the Bethel Baptist Church, the Berean Baptist Church, the Calvary Baptist Church, the Antioch Baptist Church, the Unity Baptist Church, and such like terms. What connection do the words, Bethel, Berean, Calvary, Antioch, Unity and Baptist have with their location? Not one bit in the world. You would never get the slightest idea as to their locality by reading such names. So they go contrary to the "Doctor's" prescription. Besides, did you ever read anything in the Bible that has the slightest resemblance to the Bethel Baptist Church at Corinth, the Berean Baptist Church at Ephesus, the Calvary Baptist Church at Thessalonica, or the Antioch Baptist Church at Colosse? Neither the term "Baptist" nor any of its qualifying terms is found in the divine record as designations of the New Testament church. No Baptist Church, therefore, of any type has ever been "located" in the Book of Almighty God.

But let us listen again to the limping logic of the great Garner:

"The term 'churches of Christ salute you' indicated that these churches belonged to Christ and not that they wore the name. The term 'church of Christ' means the church that BELONGS TO CHRIST, just like 'the car of Smith' means THE CAR THAT BELONGS TO SMITH. The 'car of Smith' might be a pontiac or ford or chevrolet by name." Page 17.

In language as I have studied it, the words Pontiac, Ford, and Chevrolet should begin with capital letters, but since the brilliant "Doctor" wrote the prescription, I have just copied it as he wrote it. He tells us that "the church of Christ' 'is "just like" the other expression, "the car of Smith." One means that the church belongs to Christ; the other means the car belongs to Smith. But "the car of Smith" is not the name, he says, for Smith's car may be a "Pontiac, Ford or Chevrolet by name." So if the other is "just like" that, then "the church of Christ" may be a Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian by name. Will the "Doctor" have this? Oh, no, for in the next paragraph he says, "I believe the Baptist Church to be 'the church of Christ'." If the Baptist Church is "the church of Christ," then it cannot be "just like" the "car of Smith." To make his parallel stick, he will have to admit that the Methodist or Presbyterian may be "the church of Christ." He would not do this for he believes the "church of Christ" is the Baptist Church. I don't suppose anyone ever denied that "the church of Christ" denotes ownership — that the church belongs to Christ. But since the New Testament church was always called by such terms, why would it not be better to call it what it is called in the New Testament than to call it "Baptist Church," a term that is never found in any sense in all the Bible. If it is "the church of Christ," why would it be forgery to call it what it is?

It appears to me that the man guilty of forgery is the man that tries to forge for the church a designation that is never mentioned in the divine record. Can we be guilty of forgery if we call it just what the New Testament called it? If so, why were not the writers of the New Testament guilty of "plain forgery" when they used such terms to describe it?

Mr. Garner undertakes to answer the question,

"WHAT IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST?" It is interesting and amusing, if not amazing, to read what he says:

"What church today is the church of Christ, the one that belongs to Him? I believe the Baptist Church to be the church of Christ,' and the local congregations 'the churches of Christ,' the churches that BELONG TO CHRIST. Then why don't Baptists wear the name, 'the church of Christ'? you ask. The answer is WE DO NOT WEAR THE NAME OF CHRIST BECAUSE AS A CHURCH, AS AN INSTITUTION, WE ARE NOT MARRIED TO CHRIST!...It is forgery for an unmarried young lady to wear the name of one to whom she is not married. Whatever the New Testament church should be named, one thing is certain, and that is it should not wear the name of Christ, which neither He nor any of the apostles ever gave to any local congregation. The New Testament church is referred to as the bride of Christ, the marriage of which is to be in the future, at the second coming of Christ. Today the church is engaged to Christ, espoused, and is to be married to him in the future." P. 17.

In the first place, I would have you to notice Mr. Garner's use of the expression, "the church of Christ," in the universal sense. This is contrary to the general teaching of Baptist preachers. They often say that the word "church" is used only in the local sense — that you can say "the churches of Christ," referring to local congregations, but you cannot say "the church of Christ" and mean the church universally. But "Doctor" Garner has prescribed a new aspirin for them that may change all of that — it is guaranteed to ease their headaches, or make them worse. You will notice that he speaks of "the Baptist Church" as being "the church of Christ" in contrast with "the local congregations, the churches of Christ." So he uses "churches of Christ" to refer to "local congregations" but he uses "the church of Christ" to mean "the Baptist Church" in a sense that is not local. We shall let him and the rest of the Baptist "Doctors" fight it out on this line. And, actually, if he believes the Baptist Church to be the church of Christ, he should call it that, unless he thinks he should not call it what it is.

He tells us why the Baptist Church, which he believes to be the church of Christ, does not wear the name of Christ. It is "because as a church, as an institution," they "are not married to Christ." The marriage ceremony, according to the "Doctor," is to take place in the future when Christ comes. During the present age the church is only engaged to Christ. No woman has the right, during the period of engagement, to wear the name of her prospective husband. Hence, Mr. Gamer says, "It is forgery for an unmarried young lady to wear the name of one to whom she is not married." I would have to agree, as far as ages of churches are concerned, that the Baptist Church is just a "young lady," with emphasis on the word "young." She was never heard of till sixteen hundred years this side of Christ. No Baptist Church can be found in the history of the world till the seventeenth century. And every one knows she is not mentioned in the Bible. Hence, she fits "Doctor" Garner's description — "an unmarried young lady."

But that does not prove that the New Testament church is an "unmarried young lady." Paul, in Eph. 5:23, said: "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." Now, if Christ is the head of the church "even as" the husband is the head of the wife, the marriage relationship does exist — Christ is the husband and the church is the wife. They are married now. Consequently, the New Testament church has the right to wear the name of Christ now, even if the "unmarried young lady," the Baptist Church, does not have that right.

Another thing I would like for you to notice is that Mr. Garner reasons that it is forgery for a young lady to wear the name of a man to whom she is not married. But what name does the "young Baptist lady" wear? She wears the name "Baptist." Where does she get this name? It is derived from the designation given to John — John the Baptist. Therefore, one of two things must be true: The Baptist Church is married to John, or she is guilty of "forgery" for wearing the name of a man to whom she is not married. I wonder which of these the "Doctor of Aspirins" will accept. Will he say that she is married to John? If so, then she is not "an unmarried young lady." Furthermore, she would be married to one man and engaged to another — married to John and engaged to Christ — at the same time. (No Baptist headache will ever be relieved by this aspirin.) If the church is married to John now but will be married to Christ when he comes, when will the first marriage relationship give way to make room for the second? Will the church be forced to divorce John, the first husband, and become a "grass widow" that she might be married to Christ when he comes? If the marriage is not severed before the second takes place, there will be a case of bigamy of eternal duration — the church will have two husbands throughout eternity, John and Jesus. The whole thing, therefore, will be an eternal relationship of spiritual adultery. And furthermore, before this second marriage takes place, I would like to know what right a woman has to be engaged to a second husband while married to a first husband. What estimate would "Doctor Garner place upon a young lady who would tolerate such an arrangement? But that is the very course he has mapped out for the church if she is married to John now.

Very likely, then, Mr. Garner will be forced back to his original position that the Baptist Church is not married to John — that she is "an unmarried young lady." Then I want to know what right she has to wear the name "Baptist." Remember that Mr. Garner says, "It is forgery for an unmarried young lady to wear the name of one to whom she is not married." The Baptist Church — not the people dubbed "Campbellites" by the "Doctor" — is the one, therefore, who is guilty of forgery. I wonder how his Baptist brethren like the "smell" of this dissolving aspirin.

In view of Mr. Garner's claim that an unmarried lady has no right to wear the name of a man to whom she is only engaged (and I shall indorse that claim as legitimate), I want to know if she has the right to wear the name of a friend of the prospective husband during her period of engagement. John declared that he was not the bridegroom but "the friend of the bridegroom." (John 3:29)

Does the church, during the time she is engaged to Christ, have a right to wear the name of his friend? Would Mr. Garner permit his fiance, or if he is already married, would he have permitted his fiance, to wear the name of a friend of his during her engagement to him. I wonder if, under such arrangements, the ceremony would ever take place.

But let us look at some more of the mixed meanderings of "Doctor" Garner with reference to the marriage question:

"As individuals we are now married to Christ and should produce spiritual fruit for Him. (Rom. 7:4) But the church of Christ is not married to Him, has no right to forge His name, as an institution. We are not warranted as individuals to wear the name of Christ, be called Christians, followers of Christ, BUT THE CHURCH IS NEVER REFERRED TO AS BEING NOW MARRIED TO CHRIST, NOT AUTHORIZED TO BE CALLED, AS A CHURCH, BY HIS NAME...Until we are married to Christ, as a church, it is well that we be called Baptists as a church and Christians as individuals. To demand that our church wear the name 'the church of Christ,' and that before marriage, is engaging in spiritual fornication. Baptists and others beg to be excused. We refrain from religious forgery and such fornication." Page 18.

If Baptists "beg to be excused from such fornication" as to wear the name of Christ before they are married to him, I wonder why they don't "beg to be excused" from wearing the name of John. They will have to admit that they are not "refraining" from "such fornication" or they will have to admit that they are married to John. I am afraid the "Doctor" will be unable to help them any in deciding which position to take.

Yet we are told that "as individuals we are married to Christ," but as a church we are "not married to Him." Then it must be purely an individual relationship, and each Christian is the "individual wife" of Christ. Consequently, Christ has as many wives now as there are Christians. If there are a million Christians in the world, Christ has a million wives. This would be polygamy with a vengeance. Furthermore, if ten million individuals have become Christians during this age, then when Jesus comes to marry the church he will have clinging to him ten million wives as he marches to the altar to take the church as his bride. Then throughout eternity He will live in spiritual adultery with ten million wives plus one. I think the Baptists would be in much better condition if they "beg to be excused" from swallowing such an aspirin prescribed by "Doctor Garner. In fact, I doubt if an honest person among them could be forced to swallow this aspirin after it has been dissolved so they can actually see its contents.