Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 24, 1952
NUMBER 50, PAGE 14-15a

Baptist Answers Prove Their Doctrine False

Thomas B. Warren, Galena Park, Texas

In a recent debate with the writer, J. L. Davis, a Missionary Baptist preacher of Fort Worth, Texas, gave the following answers to questions asked him:

1. According to Mark 16:16, who is the "he" that shall be saved?

Davis' answer: "He that believeth and is baptized."

It was then shown that he thus completely gave up the proposition which he had signed to affirm: "The lost sinner is saved by faith before and without baptism." In an attempt to avoid the difficulty in which he found himself, he took the position that the "salvation" referred to in Mark 16:16 means the resurrection of the body from the grave. Thus, in seeking to avoid one difficulty, he plunged headlong into another. According to his position, no one will be raised from the dead who has not been baptized. This position was endorsed by L. S. Ballard, perhaps the ablest defender of Baptists belief alive today, in the November issue of his paper, The Independent Baptist Voice. Now who believes that baptism is essential to salvation?

2. In Acts 2:37, when the question, "What shall we do?", was asked, what did the inquirers want to know?

Davis' answer: "They wanted to know what they should do to escape physical death for laying their hands on God's anointed."

Thus it can be seen that this Baptist preacher says that baptism is for the purpose of escaping physical death. No Baptist preacher would preach this in a revival meeting, but when faced with the problem of trying to make their doctrine stand up under an examination, they many times take positions which are as ridiculous as this. Note that in answer to the first question, he has it that baptism is necessary to the resurrection of the body; then he has it that it is necessary to escape physical death. It was shown to him and the audience that the Jews were wanting to know what they must do in order to be forgiven of their sins. Mr. Davis, realizing that both repentance and baptism are pointed out as being necessary to gain that which is here promised by Peter, has sought to avoid the wrecking of his doctrine by taking the position stated above. Again, it is interesting to note that Mr. Ballard endorses the view set forth by Mr. Davis. That this contradicts his published views on the matter seems not to bother him. On page 169 of the Smith-Ballard debate, Ballard has the phrase "for the remission of sins" modifying "be baptized" and says that the verse means that men who have repented unto life are to be baptized "in order to declare" the remission of their sins. Davis said that "for remission of sins" modified "Christ"; i.e., "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus anointed for the remission of sins." Thus Davis has "for" meaning "in order to obtain" while Ballard says that it means "in order to declare." Yet Ballard commends Davis for his explanation of the verse.

3. What is the first act of faith?

Davis' answer: "After one is saved by faith, the first act is to be baptized."

Note that, in spite of the fact that he begs the question by stating that one is first saved by faith and then baptized, he says that the first act of faith is to be baptized. A more fatal admission of the falsity of one's doctrine could hardly be made. It was then shown to the audience that, according to James, faith without works is dead. Davis agreed that this was true and even went so far as to say that faith without works "is powerless." Thus, out of the mouth of a Baptist preacher, the doctrine of salvation at the point of faith, before and without baptism is heartily condemned. Note the argument:

(1) Faith is powerless until it works (Davis admits).

(2) But the first thing it does is baptism (Davis says).

(3) Therefore faith is powerless to save without baptism (the necessary conclusion to the premises which Davis himself sets up). Thus faith is powerless to save without baptism, according to J. L. Davis, Missionary Baptist preacher and debater.

4. In 1 Cor. 1:13, what two things are pointed out as being necessary to be "of Christ"?

Davis' answer: Christ's crucifixion and to be baptized in the name of Christ: But baptism has no reference to salvation."

Note carefully the admission which he makes: in order to be "of Christ" or to be able to call oneself after Christ, (or anyone else according to the passage) two things must be true: (1) the person after whom one is called must have been crucified for him, and (2) one must be baptized into (A.S.V.) his name. Paul is here showing that no one but Christ can qualify to have men call themselves after him in a religious sense. At the same time he shows that no one can say he is "of Christ" unless he has been baptized into His name. A comparison of Gal. 3:26, 27; Eph. 1:3, 7; and 2 Tim. 2:10 reveals why this is true. There is no salvation outside of Christ, and so of course no one belongs to Christ who is outside of Him. But to be in Christ, one must be baptized into Him. Thus the statement of Davis that baptism "has no reference to salvation" is shown to be false.

5. What does the expression "having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word" in Eph. 5:26 mean?

Davis' answer: "Water is used as a symbol of the cleansing by the word."

It was shown that by this method of interpretation any Bible doctrine could be denied. Whenever a certain doctrine does not please, just get rid of it by saying that it is symbolical. But this is all a Baptist preacher can do with this verse for it so plainly denies his doctrine. But Paul makes no references whatever to the washing of water (baptism) being symbolical. Rather he plainly shows that the church was cleansed from pre-Christian sins by being baptized in obedience to the commands of Christ as revealed in His word, the gospel. (cf. Rom. 6:17, 18)

6. What is the "washing of regeneration" mentioned in Titus 3:5?

Davis' answer: "It means to generate again."

Thus he did not answer the question. Possibly he foresaw the difficulty into which he would plunge himself if he did answer. The reference here is plainly to baptism. Note carefully the language of Paul: ". . . according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration ..." Whatever the washing, here referred to, is, it is easily seen to be necessary to salvation. Does anyone then wonder why Davis refused to say what that washing was? If this scribe should be faced with upholding Baptist doctrine at all costs, then perhaps he too would have refused to answer. What else could be done?