Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 21, 1951

"A Baptist Preacher Shells Down The Corn"

Leonard Mullens, Dallas, Texas

The Evangelist and Bible Teacher is "an independent religious weekly for the purpose of promoting world-wide revival, soul-winning and evangelism,' to quote its masthead. The editor and publisher is Dr. Luther C. Peak, pastor of the Central Baptist Church here in Dallas, Texas. In the April 12, 1951, issue is an article written by Dr. J. Frank Norris of Fort Worth, Texas, bearing the title "Baptist Barnacles Slowing Up the Ship.' Now, about that there is nothing unusual, but certainly in this article are some things, which coming from a Baptist preacher, are interesting indeed. Let us notice some of the matters discussed in this article by Dr. Norris.

In the introduction to this piece, Dr. Norris says: "Barnacles are a peculiar growth. They fasten themselves on a ship and unless scraped off, the speed of the ship is slowed down. At Seattle there is a deep fresh water port, and when ships are anchored there the barnacles slough off, but they have to be scraped off in salt-water ports. Barnacles are of unknown origin and character. They come gradually and slowly, but they cost shippers millions upon millions of dollars. They are not only therefore unnecessary but costly. Through the ages a lot of barnacles have fastened themselves on the Baptist ship. Perhaps it would be in order to name a few."

Now, we are not concerned in all these "Baptist Barnacles' of Dr. Norris, but some of them are too good to miss! In paragraph 4, Mr. Norris says, "Another barnacle is the term The Baptist Church. Do not be shocked, some of you hidebound traditionalists—but there ain't no such animal as the term, The Baptist Church in the New Testament. Now do not grab the smelling salts too soon. Just be calm.' This is quite an admission coming from a Baptist preacher, but of course, it is the truth. There is no such thing as any denomination set forth in the New Testament. All we read about there is the Lord's church, which was built by the Master. We would that all earnest Bible students would turn away from all such denominational names for churches, and that men would be content to belong to the Lord's church. In this way only can the unity for which Jesus prayed become a reality. All sectarian names and denominational designations must be laid aside. This must be done by all the sects, and not just by the Baptists alone.

In paragraph 5, Mr. Norris mentions another barnacle. His words follow: "The Baptist Church is the Bride of Christ. Again, do not be shocked. What is the Bride of Christ? Who composes the Bride of Christ? The Bride and Body of Christ are synonymous, and it is composed of every born-again soul from the time the first believer was regenerated until the last soul shall be borne into the kingdom of God.' Again, we cannot but agree with this conclusion. Truly this is a step in the right direction, but how many other Baptist preachers will agree to it with their whole hearts?

The sixth barnacle which Mr. Norris "scrapes off' the Baptist Church is this one: "Baptist Church succession or perpetuity. It is called many terms The traditionalists who hold to the view of the unbroken, historic succession claim that there has never been a time when there was not found on the earth 'The Baptist Church' or 'A Baptist Church' or 'Baptist Churches!' It is true that there have been companies of believers throughout the ages that have held consistently and continuously the same like precious faith as the New Testament churches. That cannot be questioned, but to attempt to prove what is certainly contrary to history, that 'The Baptist Church' has come down through the ages with unbroken succession—well a man brands himself as both narrow and ignorant who takes that position. That is unscriptural traditionalism, and the Romanists have a corner on this kind and character of traditional succession.' There are many Baptists who would try to challenge Mr. Norris on this point, but the truth of his statement is beyond doubt. Why should a man spend a great deal of time trying to prove an unbroken line of succession in church perpetuity anyway? Jesus has taught us that the seed of the kingdom is the Word of God. (Luke 8:11) Since it is God's law that seeds produce after their kind, all we need do to produce the Lord's church on earth today is to plant that seed in the hearts of men and women. Such gospel preaching will destroy the Baptist churches of America, as well as all other sectarian institutions, when the Word is accepted and obeyed. This is the point to which the reasoning of Dr. Norris will lead him, if followed. I sincerely doubt that he is prepared to accept the conclusions of his own logic.

The seventh barnacle mentioned by the Doctor is: "That every instance of baptizing a believer is done by special vote of the church." In commenting on this point, Mr. Norris says, "If the traditionalists insist that every example of New Testament baptism was done by specific vote of a church—well, it is all nonsense. Take the example of Lydia when Paul and Silas preached to her, and she was saved. They did not send back to Antioch and have the church vote to receive her. But it says, Whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of by Paul. And then she was baptized, and her household.' Now there wasn't any church there. She was saved and Paul baptized her.' We have often wondered where the Baptist Church received authority to vote people into the church, and now we are told that there is no such thing necessary as the vote of the church. Naturally, Mr. Norris does not believe that baptism has anything to do with salvation, for he says, in reference to Lydia, "She was saved and Paul baptized her.' Why did Paul baptize her? If it was not into Christ, and therefore into salvation, then was it into the Baptist Church? But, the Doctor has already told us that "there ain't no such animal in the New Testament." The Bible teaches that baptism is "unto the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) We are content to abide by the Word of God.

The tenth barnacle is really a good one, but I am afraid that to remove it from the Baptist Church will take a little more scraping than the Doctor has either time or inclination to do! It follows: "The Baptist denomination. Again there 'ain't no such animal' in the New Testament. Of course a lot of these little marcelled hair Seminary sprouts think there is. They still believe in Santa Claus." And again, we quote the pastor, "Name the chapter and verse that even intimates that there is such a thing as The Baptist Denomination in the New Testament, or any other denomination.' How true is it that the Word of God makes no provision for denominations, except their uprooting. Jesus said, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." (Matt. 15:13)

And Mr. Norris names other barnacles, such as "our leaders," "denominational headquarters," "board of directors." "our causes," "co-operative program," "seventy-five million campaign," and "multiplicity of inside organizations." For some reason or other, brethren, some of these barnacles strike a strangely familiar tune. It is possible that the Baptist Church is not the only church that could do with a little "barnacle scraping."

In drawing his conclusion, after having had a field day of scraping off the barnacles, Mr. Norris says: "What is needed is just plain old-fashioned, orthodox Bible Baptist churches." Evidently there is something wrong with the Doctor's barnacle-scraper! He has already assured us that "there ain't no such animal as the term The Baptist Church in the New Testament." We are equally certain that the term "Baptist Church" is not in the Old Testament. Since this is true, how could we have any BIBLE BAPTIST churches?

Yes, this Baptist preacher has shelled down the corns but he left too much on the cob!