Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 18, 1952
NUMBER 20, PAGE 8-9a

Accepting Sectarian Baptism -- No. 2

Frank Driver, Tatum, New Mexico

This brief series of articles is intended as a review of the position taken by brother Wayne Hargrove of the Central church in Houston, published in the Firm Foundation of June 12, 1951, and. January 1, 1952, under the title, "How Many Teach the Plan. Aright?" He taught in those articles that Mormons, Christadelphians, Baptists (some), holiness people, and others are erring Christians, just because they believe baptism for the remission of sins. The Firm Foundation printed both his articles, but refused my last reply, in which I proved that I had not misrepresented him as he charged. As you study this review, you will remember that the Firm Foundation is giving free publicity to this false doctrine, and refusing a reply to it.

In this article, we will deal with the quotations brother Hargrove offers, and endorses as Bible truth. We know there is truth in these statements, just as there is truth in the doctrines of all denominations, but we are dealing with the part that is false. Aside from teaching baptism for the remission of sins that these creeds include, we call attention to other items also that brother Hargrove believes an alien sinner can believe and do and become a Christian, just because a sectarian creed teaches him to be baptized for the remission of sins. The church of God (Oregon, Illinois) teaches, "Obedience to the commandments of God is obligatory upon all Christians, the first act necessary being baptism for the remission of sins .. . those who believe the gospel message, repent of their sins, and are baptized, have entered into covenant relationship with God . . . Candidates for admission into the churches are required to confess faith in God and the promises of the gospel; to accept Jesus Christ .. . and to covenant to live Christian lives. On this confession candidates are baptized by immersion." Now, brother H., if a person does all this, is he a Christian, or a member of the Church of God church in Oregon, Illinois, or both? Don't forget this is the statement of a denominational creed, even if some of it is truth. The first sentence indicates that baptism for the remission of sins is required of Christians, not sinners. That is one point of false doctrine. Then, "Candidates for admission into the churches are required to confess faith in God and the promises of the gospel." Now, this talk about admission into the churches (plural) is not New Testament language. And where does the Bible require us to confess faith in God and in the promises of the gospel? I thought we were to confess Christ, and I think I know the Bible teaches it, and I know too that I have been hearing gospel preachers preaching it ever since I can remember, but these requirements of brother Hargrove's sectarian authority is foreign language to the word of God.

Then he quotes from the Church of God (New Dunkers): "Baptism is administered to those who profess faith in Christ and experience sorrow for sin that they may receive the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost." So sorrowing for sin is part of the plan! The Bible teaches that godly sorrow worketh repentance, but these Dunkers are satisfied with simple sorrow for sin, even if repentance doesn't follow, and brother H. thinks it's alright.

But here is the one to top them all! The Church of God (Salem, W. Va.) teaches, "Religion personally experienced by the one regenerated by its power is the only safe one to trust in; repentance must be preached; conversion is essential to salvation . . . immersion is for the remission of sins." Brother H. said plainly "I believe this." So let him not come back and charge me with misrepresenting him as he did before. The creed said it is safe for you to trust in a religion that regenerates you, one you personally experience. And brother Hargrove believes this. Of course, each individual is personally responsible for his own salvation, but there is no personal experience involved in becoming a Christian, else there would be no two Christians with the same experience, being personal as the creed teaches it, and therefore there could be no unity of faith. The Bible speaks of a "common" faith, Titus 1:4, and a "common" salvation, Jude 3. But the Dunker creed and brother H. believe it is personal. A faith, or salvation cannot be common and personal at the same time. I was shocked when brother H. Said "I believe this." It is sectarian talk and holy roller practice. To be charitable, I am sure brother H. did not realize the significance and consequences of the statement he was making and endorsing, and to be plain, I think he didn't know what he was talking about!

The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites) say "We believe . . . that faith, repentance, baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands, are necessary for salvation." He quotes a similar statement from the Mormons, and comments, "laying on of hands has been added but nothing has been subtracted." Evidently, brother Hargrove thinks it is a greater sin to subtract than to add. I asked him to tell us plainly, but he never would.

Brother Hargrove believes we may be just as much in error as our "denominational brethren" as he styles them, yet he wants us to lead them out of their error. Why brother, how can we lead them out if we are in error also? He has the blind leading the blind.

He claims he is trying to restore New Testament Christianity, in propagating his position, and that anybody is trying to establish a sect who disagrees with him. He wants us to be careful not to judge others. This is not only an old sectarian argument, but it is the course followed by nearly everyone who has forsaken the church for digression and sectarianism. It is the course pursued by Etter and Reedy, by Earnest Beam, and all the rest. It is the scarecrow and the war cry of all who become dissatisfied with the exclusiveness of the church, and the integrity of the plan of salvation.

In his first article, he quoted eight creeds which he endorsed as teaching the plan of salvation, and when I said that not a single denomination in existence teaches the plan aright, he came back and quoted two. Well, what about the other six? Has he repudiated them? I verily believe that after a study of his first article, he began to see objectionable features in the quotations he endorsed and didn't have the courage to use them again. However, he has not renounced them.

He thinks Acts 15:1-ff justifies his position. Of course some erring Christians taught circumcision as a condition of salvation, but how does he know they were circumcised themselves in order to salvation? In fact, they were circumcised as Jews in infancy, then were baptized for the remission of sins, then began teaching this doctrine after- wards. If he could find a case where a man was baptized for the remission of sins and circumcised in order to get into something besides the church, he would have an argument, but he can't find it. We find Paul baptizing the Ephesians in Acts 19, after they had been baptized by John's baptism for the remission of sins. Brother H. would have said they were erring Christians and only needed to be taught. Paul considered them alien sinners and baptized them in order to salvation.

This is all I have in mind, at the present time, to do with the present review. However, I may write another article later, dealing with this controversy, in a general way. In my humble judgment, the elders of the Central church in Houston would do well to take their assistant minister (brother H.) aside and give him a few straight lessons on the plan of salvation and the undenominational character of the church. It may be their business, but I am sure if I were an elder of a church whose preacher had published a position like that as his own views, I would be rather hasty in dealing with him, and publicizing the fact that his views did not represent the views of the church he was working with, and if he didn't change views shortly, he would have to change churches! Brother H. says that many preachers share his views, and I am not surprised. I discovered long ago, that we have preachers who will share about anything! You readers can do as you please, but I expect that if one of "brother H.'s converts" ever comes to place membership where I preach, I will be a bit curious to find out if he took a detour around to salvation via the Mormon, Holiness, or Baptist church.

Brethren, these are serious considerations. Their consequences find their application in the practical problem of determining whether a person is a sinner or a Christian. Brother H.'s position is only a step to the open membership practice of the digressive church. I do not believe in cross examining every person who claims to be a Christian, but when we positively know they were under the influence of false teaching, and in all likelihood have not obeyed the gospel, why carelessly accept them as Christians just to be nice and broadminded, when they probably are not? A preacher can cause a person to lose his soul that way. It will do no harm to take him aside and invite him to review his case in the light of the Bible. Many have at first desired to "come into the church on their baptism" not knowing they were in it already, if they had obeyed the gospel, but after being taken aside and taught the truth, changed their minds and wanted to be baptized for the remission of sins. Lots of people think they have been baptized for the remission of sins, when they discover, after being taught, that they have not. This should be a warning to us in dealing with this problem.

Brother Hargrove said he was ready to be corrected if he were wrong, and he has an opportunity to continue this study if he wants it. I sent him a copy of my reply which the Firm Foundation refused to print, and I am notifying him now that these articles are being printed, so he will have a chance to answer if he desires.