Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 16, 1955

An Urge And A Joke

L. W. Mayo, Van Nuys, California

On April 22 there was a news item in the Mirror News (a Los Angeles newspaper) headed thus: "BAPTIST MINISTERS URGE IKE TO BE BAPTIZED." In the body of the item it tells of 130 Baptist ministers and their wives who were honored with the personal greeting of our president in the White House Rose Garden. During the visit one of the spokesmen of the group suggested to Mr. Eisenhower that he be baptized. To this suggestion the president recalled a joke that Billy Graham told in the Presbyterian Church where Ike goes. It seems that a Baptist preacher and a Presbyterian friend were talking and the Presbyterian asked the Baptist if he got into water up to his ankles, would that be baptism? The answer was "no." "Up to the waist?" Again "no." "Up to the eyes?" The answer was still "no," and the Presbyterian came back, "I told you all the time it is just the water on the head that counts."

Doesn't it appear as quite foolish that such a host of Baptist preachers would even suggest that Mr. Eisenhower, busy man as he is, should go to the trouble of doing that which they preach is non-essential? Surely if he were going to be baptized right, according to Baptist doctrine, he would first have to tell a religious experience to the Baptist Church, and then be voted on by the Baptist Church and baptized by an authorized Baptist preacher. Thus if he were baptized right, per Baptist doctrine, he would become a member of the Baptist Church, which is harder to get into than heaven itself. If he were baptized according to Baptist teaching, he would have to quit the Presbyterian Church and have no fellowship with it again. He would have to accept Baptist doctrine on baptism thus coming to believe that what he had done was not necessary, and that he could have been as well off in the Presbyterian Church as he was in the Baptist Church. If Mr. Eisenhower had submitted to baptism, as surely those Baptist preachers must have meant, he would have been doing that which thousands of Baptist preachers have made fun of and have ridiculed for years. They have accused those who preach Bible doctrine on baptism of being "water soaked," "all wet" and "believers in the water hole." So, in reality, they wanted our president to be "water soaked, all wet, and believe in the water hole." In reality it sounds like the Baptists were seeking an occasion against the president.

I can see how that a group of Christians (members of the Church of Christ) could have urged our beloved president to be baptized into Christ. If he has never been immersed he has never entered into Christ, nor does he have any relationship with the Lord. If some Christians had urged him to "believe and be baptized and he would be saved" (Mark 16:16); "repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38); "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins. (Acts 22:16); "be buried in baptism and rise to walk in a new life" (Rom. 6:4); "be baptized into the body of Christ" (1 Cor. 12:13); "be baptized into Christ" (Gal. 3:27); "be buried in baptism, and have all trespasses forgiven" (Col. 2:12-13); "be baptized and it will save you" (1 Peter 3:21) there would have been some sense to the suggestion. The ones suggesting that he do as these scriptures say would have been suggesting to him a greater thing than they would have if they had given him a "cut and dried" pattern by which to settle all his problems as a president — they would have been suggesting to him that he do the absolute essential. But for Baptist preachers to make any such suggestion to the president is sheer foolishness.

If, on the other hand, they were just joking with the president, they had a proper subject, as per Baptist doctrine. The whole idea of Baptist doctrine on baptism is just one big joke. They contend that "Baptism is in order to declare the remission of sins." But when asked, "to whom does baptism declare the forgiveness of sins?" they are not able to point out even one person. It does not declare it to the candidate. He has already learned of it (per Baptist doctrine. It does not declare it to God. God already knows it, as they contend. It does not declare it to the devil. He knows about it already — he has lost a subject. It does not declare it to the church for they have already voted on him, and have heard him say that his sins had already been forgiven. So it leaves the matter like this. He declares the forgiveness of sins to no one. Yes, Baptist doctrine on baptism is just one great big joke. This writer has begged many a Baptist preacher for just one passage that teaches "Baptist" baptism. Not one has ever been supplied. So one should be joking when he urges our president to accept Baptist baptism; but I am not joking. I urge you Mr. President "BE BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS."

But Mr. Eisenhower recalls one of Billy Graham's jokes. Of course Billy told that joke to get the good will of the Presbyterian Church, and to poke a little fun at the fact that he himself had been baptized. In that he had made fun of his own baptism, showing how foolish it was and how foolish all Baptists are; but Billy Graham will do anything for popularity and to get a few more dollars and slaps on the back. He does not care a snap for the truth of the Bible upon which he pounds as he displays his master showmanship as a pulpiteer. If the passages that Graham uses are true, then the verses which he never reads and teaches on baptism are true too. But what does he care for that?

I have always liked jokes, and especially those used as illustrations, but this illustration, even though a joke, does not fit. Of course water to the ankles was not enough, but that much was absolutely essential. It is also true that water to the waist was not enough, but it was essential as could be. If one is covered up to his eyes he still is not "buried in baptism" (Rom. 6:4), but every drop of the water so far is absolutely essential. Then when the last drop IS obtained that it takes to entirely cover the head it is essential too. The fact that the last had to come did not do away with the essentiality of the first, all was important.

I have read that our president is a golfer, and a pretty good one. Then he will understand this illustration. He goes out to play golf and walks up to the tee of a par five hole. He tees up his ball, steps into position and strikes the ball. It goes straight down the fairway. He walks down the fairway, finds the ball and hits it again. This time he is within chipping distance of the green, but he has not played a hole of golf yet. The third stroke put his ball on to the edge of the green. Still he has not played a hole of golf. His fourth stroke brings the ball to within six inches of the cup. Still he has not played a hole of golf. But his par stroke sinks the ball. Now I wonder if he would say, as did the Presbyterian, "The six inch putt is all that counts any how" and then tell his caddy to mark him down a "hole in one"? If a man were commanded to play a hole of golf, he could understand how every stroke was absolutely essential to the fulfilling of the command. And when the Bible says "and Peter commanded them to be baptized" (Acts 10:48); and that baptism is a burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12) no sensible person should think that "it is just the last few drops that count." It all counts, just like every stroke counts in playing golf. Any good sportsman can understand this.