Does The Method Matter?


      An atheist has made a lifelong study of the Bible in order to refute and attack it. Unexpectedly he learns that he has only three months to live. After reflecting upon his own mortality in a manner more serious than he ever has before, he decides to be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins. When asked if he has actually been converted to Christianity, he answers, “No, but the Bible teaches that this action is necessary, and at this point in my life I don’t need God (if He exists) as my enemy.”

      Some teenage boys at a summer Bible camp are swimming in the lake. One of the boys is not a Christian. Suddenly two “friends” attack him. One crouches behind him, and the other pushes him backward. After the tangled bodies surface for air, the victim shouts, “What’s the matter with you guys? What do you think you’re doing?” They reply, “Well, you’ve never obeyed the gospel; we just decided you needed a little help in being baptized.”   

      A young lady has arrived at the point of profoundly regretting the sins she has committed. She has begun reading the Bible, looking for answers. A friend tells her that she should obey God in all things. She repents of her sins and is told that Jesus has saved her. Several months later the religious group has a baptism “ceremony.” She has been taught that Jesus was baptized and that He wants others to be, also. She is among those who participate in the “ceremony” that day.

       Which of the three people in the above examples is saved? “Well, certainly not the atheist,” some would be quick to reply. “He wasn’t even sincere. He thought that engaging in the action of immersion would somehow provide some sort of magical power to save him when he doesn’t even believe.”  “But the boy in the lake cannot be considered a Christian. He may believe, but he was not baptized by his own free will. In fact, such cannot even be called baptism.” “That young woman, though--she may not have known everything about baptism, but she was sincere.”

      Such is both the battle cry and the curse of our age. Sincerity, according to the philosophy of this age, is all that is needed for salvation. Many would no doubt advocate that the following Scriptures are to be found somewhere in the Bible: “Sincerity, if it hath not truth, is credible, even if alone” (1 Misconceptions 2:17); “Not everyone who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that feeleth he is right in his heart” (2 Misconceptions 7:21); and the ever -popular “He that believeth shall be saved regardless of any actions to the contrary” (Falsemark 16:16).

      God has always yoked sincerity and truth together (Joshua 24:14, 1 Samuel 12:24, John 4:23-24), but in this generation sincerity has overpowered Truth and relegated it to an insignificant status--even among many brethren who know better. As the above Scriptures explain, the service and worship we render unto God involve two elements: sincerity and truth. The same is true of our obedience to the gospel. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17).[1] “From the heart” is another way of expressing “sincerity”; obeying “that form of doctrine” refers to man’s compliance to the Truth.

      Yet despite the “balance” that the Scriptures emphasize throughout (sincerity and truth), mankind continually insists upon de-emphasizing Truth in the vain hope that sincerity will somehow prove to be sufficient. Sincerity alone did not change Cain’s offering into a blood sacrifice (Heb. 12:24); it did not make “strange fire” acceptable (Lev. 10:1-2); and clearly it did not prevent God from striking Uzzah dead (2 Sam. 6:6). Could it be that man’s reliance upon sincerity is really nothing more than a pretext to avoid keeping commandments? Do we think that strengthening the sincerity side of the scale will somehow compensate for weakened obedience? The fact is that any time we find ourselves willing to sacrifice Truth, we have become insincere; the apostle whom Jesus loved wrote: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments” (2 John 6). Genuine love and sincerity prompt obedience to the Truth, not rationalizations for ignoring it. God’s people, like their Lord, should be just as alarmed about a lack of concern for Truth as they are about a lack of sincerity. God expects an equal emphasis upon both in obeying the gospel, in our worship, and in our service.


      As has been shown already by the examples provided at the outset (and the ensuing analysis), many people (if not most) appear to place a higher premium upon sincerity than truth. This attitude affects how brethren have viewed the subject of baptism over the years. In the 1800’s many were still trying to work themselves out of the errors adopted by the apostate church of Christ which had developed into the Roman Catholic Church. Biblical history has shown that mankind (through Satan’s influence) has always changed God’s system of worship. Jeroboam led God’s people into over two hundred years of sin in precisely that way (1 Kin. 12:25-33).

      When the Lord’s church was established, it could only be expected that there would soon be attacks upon God’s plan of salvation, acceptable worship, and the doctrine of Christ. The Judaizing teachers obliged the devil by insisting that circumcision was essential to salvation (as well as other tenets of the law). False doctrines on a variety of matters crept in, and in addition to evangelism, edification, and benevolence, Paul and the other New Testament writers found themselves also needing to defend the Truth (Jude 3-4).

      During the “Dark Ages” the Bible was not readily accessible to the average person. With the advent of the printing press around 1450, it was not long before the Bible found its way into the hands of more and more people. But so many erroneous concepts had been taught (and accepted) over the centuries that students of the Word  found it necessary to evaluate every doctrine they had ever been taught in an effort to discern truth from error.

The Early Nineteenth Century

       In the early nineteenth century (and even prior to that date) many began to see the relevance of baptism to salvation, but they did not yet understand it fully. Alexander Campbell, for example, was immersed on June 12, 1812, having become convinced that baptism cannot be accomplished by sprinkling and that one must first believe (as opposed to the practice of “infant baptism”).[2] The evidence indicates, however, that he did not understand that one was baptized in order to obtain forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) until several years later. Preparing for the 1923 McCalla debate necessitated a thorough examination of the design of baptism.  Fifteen years later Campbell wrote that the views he expressed in the debate at that time were “perfectly novel.”[3] Lloyd Cline Sears draws the same conclusion.

Not until after his debate with Mr. Walker did Campbell finally understand that baptism is “for the remission of sins,” and therefore essential for salvation. But after learning this new truth, he and the others were never “rebaptized.”[4]

        Since Campbell and others were emerging from an era of darkness, it is not difficult to understand that they required time to grow accustomed to the light. Having realized the purpose for baptism, Campbell still did not perceive that sins are remitted during the act of baptism. Hicks summarizes the next step in the progression from the McCalla debate.

Campbell explicitly stated that “Paul’s sins were really pardoned when he believed” [emp. JMH] and therefore he was immersed. The blood of Christ accomplished this without the waters of baptism. However, baptism was the point at which real remission was personally assured to Paul when God gave his “formal pledge” (p. 118) to Paul that his sins had actually, even though previously, been remitted. No one is baptized, according to Campbell in the Maccalla Debate, to receive the actual or real remission of his sins, but everyone is baptized to receive or “obtain the formal remission of his sins (p. 118).[5]

      Leroy Garrett thought that Cambell never varied from this position, (“In afteryears Campbell did not say much more about this distinction between the real and formal remission...”),[6] but Hicks demonstrates how he progressed to the truth of the matter, citing two quotations that appeared in the Christian Baptist from 1828 which make it clear he had come to believe that “formal remission” now coincided with actual or real remission.[7]

He that goeth down into the water to put on Christ, in the faith that the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin, and that he has appointed immersion as the medium, and the act of ours, through and in which he actually and formally remits our sins, when immersed, the actual remission of his sins.[8]

This, then, becomes ours when we become Christ’s; and if we formally and actually become Christ’s; and if we formally and actually become Christ’s the moment we are immersed into his name, it is as clear as day that the moment a believer is immersed into the name of Christ, he obtains the forgiveness of his sins as actually and as formally as he puts him on in immersion.[9]

The following three points summarize Campbell’s progression out of error into Truth.

1.   He realized that baptism must be by immersion (not sprinkling) for those who have the ability to believe.

2.   He next understood that baptism was necessary for the remission of sins but made a distinction between actual salvation (at the point of belief) and formal salvation (at the time of immersion).

3.   Finally, he came to the knowledge that one’s sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus when one is immersed (that the actual and formal occur at one and the same time).

The Lunenburg Letter

      The above list, however, will prompt some to ask, “What about the Lunenburg letter?” In 1837 a woman from Lunenburg, Virginia wrote the following question concerning salvation.[10]

“Dear  brother Campbell--I was much surprised to-day, while reading the Harbinger, to see that you recognize all Protestant parties as Christian. You say, you ‘find in all Protestant parties Christians.’

“Dear brother, my surprise and ardent desire to do what is right, prompt me to write to you at this time. I feel well assured, from the estimate you place on the female character, that you will attend to my feeble questions in search of  knowledge.

“Will you be so good as to let me know how anyone becomes a Christian? What act of yours gave you the name of Christian? At what time had Paul the name of Christ called on him? At what time did Cornelius have Christ named on him? Is it not through this name we obtain eternal life? Does the name of Christ or Christian belong to any but those who believe the gospel, repent, and are buried by baptism into the death of Christ?”[11]

      Some may have expected Campbell to reaffirm what he had taught nine years earlier in 1828 about sins being forgiven at the point of baptism. His actual reply (recorded below) reflected, however, a steady retreat from that position . [The first paragraph of Campbell’s response will be quoted later. Excerpts from the remainder of his reply follow.]

But who is a Christian? I answer, Every one who believes in his heart that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God; repents of his sins, and obeys Him in all things according to his measure of knowledge of His will....[12]

I cannot, therefore, make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and in my heart regard all that have been sprinkled in infancy without their own knowledge and consent, as aliens from Christ and the well-grounded hope of heaven....[13]

There is no occasion, then, for making immersion, on a profession of faith, absolutely essential to a Christian--though it may be greatly essential to his sanctification and comfort. My right hand and my right eye are greatly essential to my usefulness and happiness, but not to my life; and as I could not be a perfect man without them, so I cannot be a perfect Christian without a right understanding and a cordial reception of immersion in its true and scriptural meaning and design. But he that thence infers that none are Christians but the immersed, as greatly errs as he who affirms that none are alive but those of clear and full vision.[14]

      It is obvious from this response that Campbell had backtracked from the truth he had earlier realized. Let’s note briefly some of the errors in these three paragraphs.

1.   Although belief and repentance are still deemed prerequisites to salvation, baptism is not.  If a person obeys God “according to the measure of knowledge of his will,” he might be baptized six months or six years from the time he first believed and repented--or not at all! The Bible teaches that one can not be saved without obeying the gospel ( 2 The. 1:8). The gospel, in its narrowest sense, is set forth as the death of Christ on the cross for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We obey that form of doctrine (Rom. 6:17-18) by being buried with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-5).  Campbell had climbed to the top of the Truth Hill on baptism; then he slid back down.

2.   Immersion, he says, is not essential to a Christian. He could not regard those who were only sprinkled as aliens. Then why bother to debate the subject (as Campbell had done)? Baptism cannot be the moment when one receives the forgiveness of sins, yet at the same time be non-essential. If forgiveness of sins is essential (and it is), and it occurs at baptism (which it does), then forgiveness and baptism are inseparably enmeshed. Campbell’s answer to the woman from Lunenburg contradicts his earlier conclusions.

3.   One greatly errs, says Campbell, if he thinks that only the immersed are Christians. The alternative is that those who have never been immersed are Christians. In other words, those who were even sprinkled as children are saved if they believe and repent as adults. This position is approximate to that held today by Max Lucado who, in a speech given at the 1995 Pepperdine Bible Lectures, said:

For that reason we must say with utter confidence that when we see one who with pure heart calls God father [sic], the one who with pure heart calls Jesus savior [sic], we see a brother or sister. We don’t have a vote! (applause)[15]

      Has Campbell’s position been misrepresented? Leroy Garrett points out that N. L. Rice used Campbell’s response to the woman from Lunenburg against him in their debate.[16] Rice quoted from several of Campbell’s writings as well as his debate with McCalla, which includes the comment: “Paul’s sins were REALLY pardoned when he believed” (emp. NLR).[17] Rice obviously saw Campbell’s Lunenburg position as the equivalent to that espoused in the McCalla Debate. He correctly concludes: “This admission is fatal to the doctrine of baptism in order to remission of sins.”[18] Rice simply states what should be clear to everyone: if one can be saved prior to baptism, then baptism cannot be for the forgiveness of sins. There must, of necessity, be some other means of being forgiven, of becoming a Christian, and of putting on Christ; so if another means of salvation were available (which it is not), then it reduces the role of baptism to an act of obedience, important perhaps, but not vital to salvation. Peter committed a grave error when he told the multitude to be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven; they were already forgiven; Ananias mistakenly thought that Saul still possessed his sins, if Campbell’s conclusions are true (Acts 2:38, 22:16).

      Why did he reverse his position? Louis Cochran, who wrote a biography of him, attributed the reversal to divisive attitudes that Truth was engendering among those professing to be Christians. Fictionalizing Campbell’s thoughts, Cochran records:

... Alexander found his reactions undergoing a subtle change. He no longer felt the compulsion to dip his pen in vitriol and lash out at his tormentors. All were brothers in the Lord.[19]

      One of Campbell’s initial goals had been to unite believers; he may have felt that Truth was leading them in a different and unproductive direction. It should have been no surprise, however, to discover that standing for Jesus and the Truth He delivered (John 14:6) causes division among people: Jesus had taught as much (Mat. 10:34). A second reason for the change is suggested by Campbell’s view of the broader picture. If his view of baptism was correct, then all of those who professed Christ throughout the “Dark Ages” were not saved; furthermore, the church did not exist during that era. Below is the first paragraph from his response to the woman in Lunenburg, Virginia.

In reply to this conscientious sister, I observe, that if  there be no Christians in the Protestant sects, there are certainly none among the Romanists, none among the Jews, Turks, Pagans; and therefore no Christians in the world except ourselves, or such of us as keep, or strive to keep, all the commandments of Jesus. Therefore, for many centuries there has been no church of Christ, no Christians in the world; and the promises concerning the everlasting kingdom of Messiah have failed, and the gates of hell have prevailed against his church! This cannot be; and therefore there are Christians among the sects.[20]

       Whether or not the church existed on earth (it could never cease to exist, period) should not be the criterion for determining the validity of Bible doctrines. Truth cannot be proven true or false by people’s willingness to obey or disobey it; consider the attitude of the world at the time of the flood or of God’s own people prior to the Babylonian captivity.

      The third reason for Campbell’s retreat may well have involved a disposition of mind with respect to a separate but related issue, often termed the reimmersion or the rebaptism issue. A decision had to be made regarding the genuineness of the baptism of those who came from denominations, desiring to be part of the church. Many had been immersed (though not for the forgiveness of sins); should they be baptized again, or was their first baptism sufficient? Campbell, on the basis of their piety and good character (in other words, sincerity), determined to accept them.

      The problem with using sincerity as the main criterion for determining another’s salvation is that it becomes increasingly difficult, in the final analysis, to exclude anyone. Protestants are sincere, charismatics are sincere, Catholics are sincere, Moslems are sincere, Buddhists are sincere, even atheists are sincere. But how many of them are walking in the light, according to the teachings of the Word of God? It was not out of Divine idleness that God linked together sincerity and truth so many times in the Scriptures (Jos. 24:14, 1 Sam. 12:24, John 4:23-24, Rom. 6:17-18).

      The spirit of this age may be “multi-culturalism,” in which all things (including various religions) are equalized, but Jesus did not come to this earth to be accommodative to mankind. He did not praise the scribes and Pharisees as sincere religious folk, and He did not  idolize “getting along” as the highest priority. Christians will be far more pleasing to God when they realize that Jesus was exclusivistic. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Not only is He the only way to the Father, but He must take precedence over all earthly relationships (Luke 14:26-27). He must also be obeyed (Luke 6:46); furthermore, He must be obeyed in all things (Mat. 7:21-27). Those who never obey the gospel are excluded from His fellowship (2 The. 1:7-9), as are those who fail to follow His teachings (whether in morality--1 Cor. 5, doctrine--2 John 9-11, or zeal--Rev. 2:5-6 and 3:14-20). The only difference is that the former group never had His fellowship while the latter lost it.

      God wants all men to be saved from their sins, and Jesus died for that purpose, but salvation is attained by complying with God’s will, not doing something one feels is more preferable, trusting that God will “understand.” Fellowship with Him can only be achieved on His terms (obeying “from the heart that form of doctrine”); likewise, fellowship must be maintained on that same basis (loving obedience). God loves all mankind, but His sense of justice will not allow Him to forgive everyone carte blanche--without conditions. He therefore instituted a means by which those who genuinely love and appreciate Him could come to Him and enjoy His blessed fellowship. That plan of salvation involves 1) faith in God and in Jesus as His Son, 2) repentance of sins, 3) confession of Jesus’ Deity, and 4) burial with Christ in baptism for the forgiveness of sins. The blood of Christ thereupon washes sins away (Acts 22:16, Rev. 1:5), and the old man is a new creation, a Christian, who now (due to the purity of his soul) has entered into fellowship with the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. [The Christian at this point has the responsibility to grow (1 Pet. 2:2) and to go “on unto perfection” (Heb. 6:1).]

      If one thousand years elapsed without even one soul obeying the gospel (as described above), such a sad reality would not negate or mitigate in the slightest God’s system of salvation. Truth cannot be reduced in value like an art object at an auction. People aren’t being immersed any more? Let’s change the Word to include “sprinkling.” Babies are being “baptized” and “confirmed” when they are older? Okay, let’s still count them as Christians anyway. With this attitude of compromise, how long would it be before God noticed that people were refusing to repent any more, either?  This excursion into absurdity demonstrates the reason that Campbell’s “about-face”  was wrong.

      The fact that the majority of people professing to be Christians in the “Dark Ages” (who were sprinkled instead of being immersed) were lost does not somehow discredit baptism for the remission of sins. If the whole world believed and practiced error, God would still have no obligation to renege on, alter, or change the Truth. God has revealed His Word and preserved it for us; we have the obligation to learn it and obey it. We must be diligent in those efforts (Heb. 11:6). For the same reason, those immersed for some purpose other than obtaining forgiveness of sins have yet to be baptized. This controversy is the focus of the next section.

The Second Wave of Controversy--Reimmersion”

      The biggest issue among those practicing baptism for the remission of sins prior to the Civil War was “the missionary society.” Afterward, that issue was joined, and eventually surpassed, by the unauthorized introduction of musical instruments into worship. The contention resulted in an officially recognized split in 1906, but all who opposed the society and the instrument were not united on other matters.

      The “reimmersion” controversy spanned several decades, beginning in the 1870’s. At issue are three crucial and related matters: 1) Must those being baptized know that the purpose for being immersed is “the remission of sins”? 2) Is baptism valid when one does so to obey Jesus? 3) Is denominational baptism legitimate when a person believes he is already saved when he submits to it?

      David Lipscomb and the Gospel Advocate, which he edited, answered in the negative on the first question and in the affirmative on the other two. The quotes below from Lipscomb will match the order of the questions listed above.[21]

The first prime design of baptism is to honor God by submitting to his appointments. The remission of sins is one of the fruits that flow from a submission to God in baptism. There are many other fruits. We have never found where it was required that a man should understand all the fruits flowing from an act of obedience in order to render it valid. If so, we fear that we have never obeyed acceptably a single command.[22]

I was baptized quite young by Brother Fanning. He asked me why I wished to be baptized. I responded “to obey God.” He explained it was to bring me into a condition that God would forgive me and accept me as a child of God. I responded, “I wish to be baptized to obey God.” I have studied the question for forty years, and I do not yet know how to improve the answer I made. [23]

Years ago in Kentucky I was preaching, and an intelligent man made the confession; he had been raised under strong prejudices in favor of Baptist teaching. After much hearing and comparing of teaching, he became satisfied he ought to obey the Lord. As I took his confession, a Baptist preacher who was present asked the privilege of a question. “Do you believe that God for Christ’s sake has pardoned your sins?” He responded, “I believe he has, so far as I have submitted, and will as I still submit to him.” It was hard to give up entirely the old idea that in believing he received forgiveness. But he wished to obey God and honor him in all his appointments, and I baptized him.[24]

Of course many brethren opposed Lipscomb and these positions.

To Austin McGary, baptism was only valid when the candidate so understood that it was being done for the remission of sins, which invalidated Baptist baptism since the latter baptized only to demonstrate that sins had already been forgiven in faith.[25]

However, the controversy was not to rage full force until Austin McGary founded the Firm Foundation with the main intention of giving his position on rebaptism a fuller airing. Although Lipscomb had been generous in giving McGary space in the Advocate to argue his case, McGary felt compelled to provide a stronger means to express his views. So, in 1884, McGary founded the Firm Foundation for the explicit purpose of attacking the views expressed by Lipscomb in the Advocate.[26]

      How does the Bible answer the three questions asked above? With all due respect to David Lipscomb (and a great debt is owed to him for his stand against instrumental music), his comments do not agree with the Scriptures. It is not disrespectful to point out the error someone taught since Lipscomb and all others trying to restore New Testament Christianity would undoubtedly agree that their teachings should be heeded when they are in harmony with the Scriptures and forsaken when they contradict them.

1.   Must those being baptized know that such is for the forgiveness of sins? If a person does not know the purpose for baptism, exactly what has he been taught? Was the preaching of John ambiguous? Do not the Scriptures say:
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4)? Did people come to John, saying, “We didn’t understand at all the message you presented, but we want to be baptized in order to obey you”? The people understood exactly what they were doing, and “were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5).

      If John was that articulate, can we honestly imagine that Jesus made the purpose for baptism more obscure? He told Nicodemus: “Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). A new birth implies putting to death the old man of sin (Rom. 6:3-7) and becoming a new creature (2 Cor, 5:17). Jesus and His disciples were baptizing in the land of Judea (John 3:22); eventually they baptized more disciples than John (John 4:1-2). Now where is the account of someone hearing John or Jesus preach and failing to understand the purpose for baptism? And where is the example of Jesus or His disciples telling anyone, “Hey, you don’t have to know what it’s for; just do it”?

      When Jesus gave the great commission in Mark 16:15-16, the apostles knew exactly what He meant. And even though we have had centuries of confusion between then and the present day, the careful reader should make the connection between Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, and Luke 24:47, which omits mentioning the word baptism, but states: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem.” Surely, if the three passages are considered parallel, no one could miss the fact that baptism is preached in connection with the remission of sins. How fortuitous that in the first Gospel sermon (preached on the day of Pentecost) Peter proclaims: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Saul would likewise be told years later, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

      A fair consideration of these passages should make it clear that the purpose for baptism was preached along with the command to be baptized. One must know what he is doing when he obeys the Gospel. If he does not, then either the Gospel was not presented, or it was not understood. In either case, the “baptism” was not valid. If the Gospel was not presented, how can one be said to “obey” it (2 The. 1:8)? If it was not understood, sincerity may have been present--but not Truth. Peter points out that we purify our souls “in obeying the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22). We must know the purpose for baptism; absolutely nothing in the New Testament indicates otherwise.

2.   Is baptism valid if one does so to obey Jesus? Again, the question must be asked, “Where is the passage of Scripture or the Biblical principle that would prove this idea? Jesus also commanded that we observe His body and blood (Mat. 26:26-29). In the worship assembly sits an eight-year-old visitor. He has heard that Jesus commanded it, and he sees everyone else partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine. He does so, also, “to obey Jesus.” Is such acceptable? He may be sincere, but he does not have the proper knowledge. That is precisely the reason that baptism “to obey Jesus” is not valid; it may be according to sincerity, but the proper knowledge is lacking.

3.   Does denominational baptism result in the forgiveness of sins if one believes he is already saved when he is baptized? Can anyone imagine someone coming to John, saying, “I believe I am already saved, but go ahead and baptize me anyway”? John would probably respond, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Mat. 3:7). Jesus would undoubtedly have said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Mat. 9:12). The wisdom of the man from Kentucky (cited above) sounds convincing--until one analyzes what he said. He believed he was forgiven so far as he had submitted to God. The fallacy in this thinking is threefold.

      1) Submission to God, by itself, does not forgive sins. A person who has never obeyed the Gospel may submit to God’s laws in a number of areas. He may love his neighbor and avoid stealing, lying, and committing adultery. Will these things save him? Only the blood of Christ washes sins away. Similarly, a person may believe in God, repent of his sins, and confess the name of Jesus; even though he has submitted thus far, his sins are not forgiven until baptism.

       2) If he has somehow been forgiven of his sins prior to this point, then baptism is not needed now because there must be some other means by which to be saved. 3) Forgiveness of sins comes at the point of baptism when Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sins (Acts 22:16, Rev. 1:5). To think that salvation has already occurred is to discount the blood of Jesus, which He shed for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3).

      It is difficult to understand why anyone of Lipscomb’s stature would hold such a self-contradictory position (which is the case when one teaches that baptism is “for the remission of sins” but that a person can be saved apart from that knowledge). An anonymous individual was quoted by J, T, Showalter as having said that Lipscomb “spent six months out of the year trying to prove that the Baptists were wrong and the other six months of the year trying to convince the brethren that the Baptists were right.”[27]

      Several others agreed with Lipscomb, including Harding and McGarvey. Hooper comments about this time period: “Consequently, many left the Baptist church for the Restoration Movement without rebaptism. This was the norm during the nineteenth century, not the exception.”[28] Eventually brethren came to depart from this position and began teaching (correctly) that one must know that he is being baptized for the forgiveness of his sins.

Modern Day Departures (1984 to 1996)

      Although there were occasional rehashings of the issue after Lipscomb and McGary had passed on, the issue (for the most part) was resolved in favor of the Truth. With what appears to be a flavor of protest Jerry Gross commented in 1990: “... although the Advocate’s position was basically that of Lipscomb for seventy years or more, it appears that McGary’s view has now become that of both the Advocate and the Firm Foundation....”[29]

      During the sixties and beyond, Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett encouraged a broader base of fellowship than that of unity based on baptism for the remission of sins. Besides Ketchersides’s Mission Messenger and Garrett’s Restoration Review, there were other journals devoted to uncertain sounds, such as Mission and Integrity (a misnomer involving wishful thinking). There have always been some waiting to lead brethren across God’s boundaries of salvation and fellowship, who apparently crave their own followings. But to effect the changes that have occurred in the last fifteen years, we must begin with Rubel Shelly, who has transformed himself from “defender of the faith” to “destroyer of the faith.” Most people rejoice to leave spiritual darkness for the marvelous light of the gospel (1 Pet. 2:9), but some get blinded by it.

      “Rubel Shelly probably bears the greatest responsibility in our day for opening the floodgates of affiliation with and endorsement of the denominations...” comments Dave Miller.[30] There are at least four avenues of attack on the purpose of baptism and the exclusiveness of the Lord’s church which Shelly launched in 1984. Published in his church bulletin on February 1 of that year was an article entitled, “What Are They Saying About Baptism?” After mentioning that there are two false teachings about baptism that were bothering him, he mentioned as one of those that “Unless one expressly understands that baptism is ‘for (i.e., unto) remission of sins,’ he has not been baptized for the right reason, is still in his sins, and needs to be baptized again.”[31] Despite the fact that faithful brethren (and once-faithful brethren such as himself) had taught that doctrine for fifty years, he now reverted to the position of Campbell and Lipscomb and did not hesitate to brand the majority of brethren as false teachers.

      The second major event occurred just eight days after the date of the above bulletin. At Freed-Hardeman College’s Annual Lectureship an exchange took place between Alan Highers and Rubel Shelly. Keeping in mind the above statement from Rubel’s bulletin, marvel at what he said in the Open Forum.

I do not believe Carl Ketcherside’s doctrine of open fellowship. [32]

Only a person who has believed in Jesus Christ, turned away from every sin of which he is conscious in his life and has been immersed in Jesus’ name unto the remission of his sins is, so far as I understand the New Testament, a Christian.[33]

      This statement certainly sounds as though he thought one must know the reason given in Acts 2:38 for being baptized, but when questioned further by brother Highers, Shelly backtracked to the point of saying that baptism for a reason was sufficient, “so long as he is not repudiating some other clear New Testament teaching on the subject....”[34]

      The third and most prominent development was the publication of Shelly’s book, I Just Want to be a Christian (which would have been more appropriately titled I Just Want to be a Liberal) from which the following quotations come.

There are sincere, knowledgeable, devout Christians scattered among  the various denominations.[35]

I see no reason to think one has to understand “for the remission of sins” in order to be baptized scripturally, for I do not think there is one right reason for being baptized. I would say that one must be baptized for a right reason in order for his baptism to be acceptable....[36]

      The first quote is predicated upon the second: the only way to ascribe salvation to those in denominations is to first question and then eliminate baptism “for the remission of sins.” If baptism can be just as powerful and effective in removing sins even when people have no idea that it is serving them in that way, then the door to apostasy has not just been opened a crack; it has been ripped off its hinges.      

      The fourth event of 1984 was the Joplin Unity meeting. There were ten groups of ten people (five from the churches of Christ and five from the Independent Christian Churches). Rubel headed one of these groups, and he made it his group’s project to determine, “Who is a Christian?” At the conclusion of the conference, the definition decided upon was that a Christian is one who “accepts Christ by grace through faith, as expressed in repentance and baptism.” Notice the absence of the phrase “for the remission of sins.” It was clear from the comments of the participants in that meeting, as well as some of the materials made available (while others were confiscated), that brethren were ready to broaden the borders of the kingdom beyond the Bible’s lines of demarcation.[37]

      Shelly also published a tract titled “Christians Only,” which echoes the thoughts and sentiments of the book previously mentioned. Goebel Music reports how well some of the lesser known liberals received Shelly’s new tract.[38] Buff Scott, a kindred spirit to Carl Ketcherside and Leroy Garrett, encouraged his readers to buy the tract and then added the following comments.

Some of us have been saying for 30 years what Rubel is saying so well now. But his saying them will probably have more of an impact for he is considered to be “in fellowship” with the mainline churches. Those of us who have been saying what he is now saying have been labeled heretics.[39]

      Shelly found a number of “brethren” willing to be co-heretics. Alan Highers showed that what Shelly was now teaching not only contradicted what he had taught earlier;[40] he also demonstrated that Shelly’s “new” doctrines were the same as Ketcherside’s, Garrett’s, and Scott’s “old” ones on a variety of subjects.[41] The fire of apostasy had been lit; stoked by the fuels of cultural influence and modernist theologians, plus the desire for “change,” it would develop into a blaze and then a devouring conflagration.

      In 1985 J. M. Powell, under the banner, of “Restoration Highlights,” wrote an article in the Gospel Advocate entitled “The Baptismal Question.” Citing Lipscomb’s position on baptism “to obey God,” he erroneously concluded: “This has ever been the view of the GOSPEL ADVOCATE and most of the men connected with it.”[42] Powell neglected to offer any proof that Foy Wallace, Jr., B. C. Goodpasture,[43] or Guy N. Woods (all past editors) ever held to such a view. Instead he cited Lipscomb and Srygley (from 1927). [Quotations from Wallace and Woods will appear later.]

      Others besides Powell were swift in their desire to tear down the solid teachings about baptism, the church, and fellowship that had taken decades to build. During the eighties Max Lucado became a popular author--especially with denominational people. Not only did he neglect mentioning the Bible’s doctrine on baptism; he gave it up altogether. He praises denominational folk and counts them all brethren.

Where there is faith, repentance, and the new birth, there is a Christian. When I meet a man whose faith is in the cross and whose eyes are on the Savior, I meet a brother.[44]

I have brothers and sisters with whom I do not agree on the role of women, the meaning of baptism, the place of millennialism. But our uncommon ground is a barren island compared to the great continent of common ground we share. If we can agree on the majestic uniqueness of Christ, don’t we share enough to accept one another?[45]

      Baptism is obviously not necessary to salvation a la Lucado. In fact, brothers and sisters can disagree over its meaning, as far as he is concerned. Max has proved by his actions that what he writes does not fall in the realm of the hypothetical; he practices open fellowship with Catholics and Protestants alike. In fact, to paraphrase Will Rogers, he could probably adopt as his motto: “I never met a ‘Christian’ I couldn’t fellowship,”

      Joining the new surge toward liberalism were many of those who had been trying to explain away the Bible’s teaching on divorce and remarriage (the notable exception being James D. Bales); and they received a hearty welcome, as did those who had few , if any, objections against instruments of mechanical worship. Books began to abound that spouted forth the “new hermeneutic.” These amounted to little more than a rejection of the old methods of Biblical interpretation, which are themselves taught in the Scriptures. The myopic muttonheads leading the way have invited people to put their trust in them, though they have no clear concept of where they are headed. To ride with them is similar to being on board a runaway stagecoach in an old western movie. Imagine one of the unfortunate passengers shouting, “Say, we don't have any idea where we’re going, but isn’t this a fast and exciting ride?”

      The “scholars” have confidently confounded faithful brethren with their considered and collected conclusions, which consists of little more than a cacophanus chorus of “Me, too’s.” Following the deplorable Derrida and his deceptive “deconstructionism,”[46] they are willing to change paradigms and pattern themselves after Barth, Bultmann, and Tillich.[47] Carroll Osburn has captured with precision (whether he intended to or not) the position of all those who began this departure just over a decade ago. Their ideas have culminated in the following paragraph.

There should be room in the Christian fellowship for those who differ on... whether instrumental music is used in worship. There should be room in the Christian fellowship for those who believe that Christ is the Son of God, but who differ on eschatological theories such as premillennialism, ecclesiological matters such as congregational organization, or soteriological matters such as whether baptism is “for” or “because of” the remission of sins.[48]

      Put aside for the moment that Osburn has discounted acceptable worship (John 4:23-24). Disregard the fact that he left the door ajar for the eradication of congregational autonomy. Pay no mind to the fact that doctrine is disparaged (at least as it regards the various fanciful and unscriptural millennial theories. Notice that he has given up the discussion of the purpose of baptism. For years we have debated and defeated those teaching the false doctrine of “baptism because God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven me,” but Osburn just carelessly tosses it aside as a matter of no consequence! We must realize that  the broadening of baptism’s purpose is the gateway to open fellowship.

Arguments and Refutation

      Five years ago Jimmy Allen put together a book which presented various arguments discouraging those who had been “baptized” already from doing so again. His basic arguments were: 1) Obedience is a sufficient reason to be baptized; 2) “For the remission of sins” is a promise, not a command. The first point is made repeatedly throughout  Allen’s book.

If he is convinced he was baptized to obey the Lord, I do not insist that he go to the water again.[49]

I believe the one reason which includes all the others is obedience to God. Jesus was baptized to obey the Father (Mat. 3:15-17), and no one can have a higher motive for being baptized than did he.[50]

Is the assertion that no one could have a “higher motive” Scriptural? Jesus’ motives and ours for being baptized are entirely different. The Lord’s purpose was “to fulfill all righteousness,” and ours is “for the remission of sins.” Where is the passage of Scripture in which Jesus taught, “Be baptized to obey Me”? Allen has done nothing more than offer his opinions of the matter. It has been shown previously in this chapter that people knew the reason for being baptized who were taught by John, Jesus, and the apostles. People would know the reason for baptism today also--if those who taught them spoke as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11).

      Allen makes several statements relevant to the “promise” argument, two of which are given below.

Obedience is the key. Man must obey God’s commandments but, in the nature of the case, he cannot obey what God does.[51]

Neither “remission of sins” nor  “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is part of the baptismal command. Both are consequences which follow obedience to the command. One will never find an explicit statement from the Lord saying people must know that God grants forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism or be denied either or both benefits.[52]

While it is true that man cannot obey what God does, he can obey Him for the reason that God said to do so. Trying to link “for the remission of sins” to receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is fatuous. Anyone who is not trying to prop up a false doctrine will be able to see that the verse does not read: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, whereupon you shall receive the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  That hypothetical rendering is precisely what Allen (and many others) would apparently like Acts 2:38 to say, but it never has (and never will in the hands of reliable translators).

      J. W. McGarvey, a usually outstanding scholar, also held the “promise” view; Allen takes great delight in presenting his medicine analogy, which first appeared on page 9 of the January 1885 Firm Foundation:

It is because God has not made the blessing attached to baptism dependent on our understanding the design of the ordinance. The blessing of taking proper medicine follows whether we understand it or not. So, if God promised pardon to the penitent believer, who is baptized, the blessing comes whether the sinner expects it or not.[53]

      How does McGarvey know that the blessing is totally detached from “our understanding”? No one would obtain such an impression from Acts 2:38. The comparison of baptism to medicine was not thought through very well. Suppose a person is sick. The doctor says, “Take this medicine.” The patient asks, “Why?” The doctor answers, “It will make you well.” The patient takes it on that basis, knowing that it will make him well. He does not understand everything there is to know about the disease or the ingredients that comprise the remedy, but he knows that  if he takes the medication as prescribed, he will be made well. Likewise, a person may not know everything about sin or everything about the components of salvation, but he knows that if he takes his medicine (is baptized), his soul will be made well. Now that explanation constitutes a true analogy. Naaman took his medicine when he dipped in the Jordan River seven times; he did not see any relationship between those actions and the healing of his leprosy, but he knew the purpose for doing so. For baptism to be baptism, we must know the reason for submitting to it; otherwise, we just get wet.

      Two former editors of the Gospel Advocate, contrary to Powell’s assertion (noted earlier) agree with the conclusion stated in the last sentence. The two quotations below relating to this issue were made by brother Woods in the Gospel Advocate while he was editor of the paper.

It is by some among us alleged that it is possible to “obey God” in baptism though wholly in error regarding its divinely designated purpose, and under the mistaken notion that one is in possession of salvation before and without it.[54]

Obedience requires us to do what the Lord said, in the way the Lord said do it, and for the reason or reasons that the Lord said do it.[55]

      Another former editor expressed his thoughts clearly on the same subject  in an article that appeared in the August 1938 issue of the Bible Banner. Below are some excerpts from that article.

The basic principle of all obedience is understanding. “He that heareth the word and understandeth it”--Matthew 13:23.... It is said that “to obey God is the main purpose of baptism. Then why is that purpose never stated? Is it not singular that the New Testament failed to mention the main purpose in connection with the command, but on the other hand emphasized the non-essential purpose.... It takes more than the right act to constitute valid baptism.  [It takes, gws] The right act based on the right belief: Error preached, error heard, error believed, is error obeyed. Truth preached, truth heard, truth believed, is truth obeyed.[56]

Campbell’s Argument

      Frequently a line of reasoning will seem wise until close attention is paid to it (as in the medicine analogy). The following is a synopsis by Roderick Chestnut of one of Alexander Campbell’s arguments from his “Reply to Susan,” which appeared on page 418 in the September 1835 issue of the Millennial Harbinger.

One does not need to clearly understand everything about baptism at the point of immersion, otherwise Paul would have to rebaptize the Christians in Rome, Galatia, and Corinth, for in his letters to Christians in each of these places he had to explain the meaning of baptism.[57]

      A monstrous miscalculation was made about these books in order to draw such a conclusion. Paul never said that the Galatians misunderstood baptism; he marveled that they were so soon removed from the gospel which he had preached to them (Gal. 1:6-9). The Judaizing teachers had come in and confused them about the requirements for salvation. There is absolutely no indication that these brethren did not know what they were doing when they were baptized. Paul’s reminding them of certain facts in no way negates their initial understanding.

      A similar thing happened in Corinth. Perhaps some Sadduceean ideas about the resurrection (that there would be none) had been circulated among the members, but Paul clearly says they received and stood in the gospel (I Cor. 1 5:1). They may not have known that sanctification and justification took place when they were baptized, but they certainly knew their sins were being washed away (I Cor. 6:11).

      Romans 6:3-11 simply explains baptism more fully than they may have been taught before; in fact, everything in the book of Romans was probably more thorough than they had ever been taught before. Could someone be baptized for the remission of sins and not know he was being baptized into Christ’s death? If he did not see the parallel between Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and “that form of doctrine” delivered unto him (Rom. 6:17-18), would that make baptism any less valid? If all that is known by the penitent believer is that in this obedient act of submission his sins will be removed, he has obeyed what God said to do for the purpose God said to do it. There is nothing in the book of Romans (or any other New Testament book) to indicate that anyone was ever baptized without knowing the reason for doing so.

Ignorance Is Bliss

      That anyone would claim that a person could be saved in ignorance is incredibly incredible [just seeing if you were paying attention]; yet such has been the case over the years. Consider the sampling of statements listed below. The words in italics are highlighted for the sake of emphasis. The first quote is from David Lipscomb who was “asked by a person who was baptized at six whether he should be rebaptized because he now understood the real meaning of baptism.”[58]

We have no appreciation of the order to rebaptizing people because they learn this or that about baptism. This is putting the virtue of the saving in our knowledge, not  in our submission to God. The act of baptism is a declaration of our faith in God through Christ Jesus and of a willingness to give ourselves up to him as our guide and ruler. When a person has faith that leads to this submission to God, that submission is acceptable, no matter how much or how little else he may know of the will of God. [59]

James A. Harding: To demand that a man shall understand that baptism is for the remission of sins, and to stop at that, is the perfection of inconsistency; and worse still... it is rank sectarianism.[60]

F. F. Srygley: I am arguing that the man who believes in Christ and is baptized to obey God will be saved whether he knows the time when he is saved or not.[61]

Rubel Shelly: I see no reason to think one has to understand “for the remission of sins” in order to be baptized scripturally...[62]

Jimmy Allen: It is my belief that the New Testament teaches when a penitent believer in the crucified and risen Savior is immersed in water to fulfilll righteousness or obey God, the Lord forgives his past or alien sins (although he may not know that sins are remitted or that the Holy Spirit is given at that time.[63]

        Quotations such as these could be multiplied several times over; the common thread running throughout them all is that man does not have to know how he is saved. Never have so many gone to such lengths to educate us as to the validity of ignorance. The argument is that people can be saved and not even know when or how such a momentous deed occurred. Imagine talking with one of the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost: “Why were you baptized today? What did Peter tell you?” “Oh, uh, I can’t really say. I just did what he said; I don’t really know why.” Imagine one of these unknowledgable ones trying to follow 1 Peter 3:15. When asked a reason of the hope that is in them, he responds, “My hope resides in Jesus, even though I can’t tell you when or how He saved me. Say, would you like to be a Christian, too?” “I guess so; what do I have to do to become one?” “Well, I don’t know for sure, but start with believing in Him, and maybe somewhere down the road you’ll obey something that will wash your sins away.”

      Jesus taught that salvation was the result of knowledge, not ignorance: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Peter told brethren, “... ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth...” (1 Pet. 1:22). What truth had they obeyed? If the Bible is consistent, they must have obeyed the same truth that he taught on Pentecost: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of your sins...” (Acts 2:38). Peter also mentions that “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). Again, where is any New Testament passage that says people should be baptized to obey Christ?

      Do we have two categories of Christians: those saved by a loving obedience to the truth and those saved by accident? No rational person from Campbell onward would ever argue so illogically--if they were not trying to get people saved on the basis of sincerity alone. The problem is that even if they succeeded, they would still be excluding a number of sincere people who do not immerse: Catholics, Presbyterians, most Methodists, Lutherans, and Quakers, just to list a few.

      On the other hand, if the doctrine of accidental salvation is true, then more have entered the ranks of the saved than perhaps what were anticipated: Baptists, Pentecostals, and Mormons, for example (why are there no unity meetings with them?). Since doctrine doesn’t matter (at least, so say Osburn, Shelly, Hawley, etc.) and those baptized to obey God are brethren (per Allen’s book), these are all brethren with whom we are in fellowship. Some of them can get up and give their testimonials about when they were saved, and even though they are mistaken, so what? God forgave their sins at a time unbeknownst to them. An even greater irony is that Billy Graham and hundreds of others who have taught and assured people they were saved on the basis of “faith only” will themselves be saved, even though they have taught another gospel and are accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). Isn’t sincerity wonderful? It can nullify just about any sin (though it probably cannot do a thing for those standing for the truth).

      Why is “re-baptism” an issue in the first place? Either a person was baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, or he was not. If not, he was lowered into the water, but he was not baptized. Many people have been baptized in later years because they came to realize exactly that fact. Either their denominational baptism was not valid, or they have judged themselves to have possessed insufficient knowledge when immersed at a young age. Why are some fighting so hard to keep these souls from a Scriptural baptism? Even if their assertions of accidental salvation were correct, what harm would it do to be immersed a second time? Do they think God would take their initial salvation back? A genuinely sincere person wants to be certain that he was baptized “for the remission of sins”; he will neither fight nor resist making sure that his salvation is secure. Let us not be a stumblingblock to someone’s goal of eternal life. Let us encourage all people to obey God in the way He said to do it and for the reason He said to do it (if specified). If we really want to please God, we will obey the gospel, worship Him, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth (Rom. 6:17-18).




[1] All Scriptures quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.


[2] Earl Irvin West,  The Search for the Ancient Order,Vol.1 (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co., 1986), p. 60.


[3] John Mark Hicks, “The Recovery of the Ancient Gospel: Alexander Campbell and the Design of Baptism,” in Baptism and the Remission of Sins, ed. David W. Fletcher (Joplin, MO:College Press, 1990), pp. 128-29. Campbell made this statement on page 468 in the 1838 volume of The Millennial Harbinger (163).


[4] Lloyd Cline Sears, The Eyes of Jehovah (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Co., 1970), p. 178.


[5] Hicks, pp. 132-33.


[6] Leroy Garrett, The Stone-Campbell Movement (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1981), p. 193.


[7] Hicks, pp. 137-38. These are the page numbers in which the quotes appear in the Hicks’ article. The next two footnotes will give the location of the original quotations.


[8] Christian Baptist, 9 (1828), p. 222.


[9] Ibid., p. 256.


[10] Actually, Campbell had already backtracked as early as 1830, but the Lunenburg letter has been cited frequently by Ketcherside and Garrett. See Roderick Chestnut’s chapter, “John Thomas and the Rebaptism Controversy” in Baptism and the Remission of Sins ed. David W. Fletcher (Joplin, MO:College Press, 1990), pp. 203-239.


[11] Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger (Joplin, MO: College Press, n.d., reprint 1837), p. 411.


[12] Ibid., p. 411.


[13] Ibid., p. 412.


[14] Ibid., p. 414.


[15] Dave Miller, Piloting the Strait (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications, 1996), p. 320.


[16] Garrett, p. 346.


[17] The Campbell-Rice Debate on Christian Baptism (Indianapolis, IN: Religious Book Service, n.d.), pp. 516-17.


[18] Ibid., p. 516.


[19] Louis Cochran, The Fool of God (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing CO., 1958), p. 308.


[20] Campbell, p. 411.


[21] The three quotes given below are all cited in a chapter by Jerry Gross, entitled “The Rebaptism Controversy Among Churches of Christ,” which appears in Baptism and the Remission of Sins (see footnote #3 above). They are found on pages 301, 300, and 313 respectively. Below, footnotes 21, 22, and 23 will cite the original sources, as they appear in the endnotes of Gross’ chapter on pages 330-31.


[22] David Lipscomb, (reply), Gospel Advocate XI (May 13, 1869), pp. 447f.


[23] David Lipscomb, “Rebaptizing Baptists,” Gospel Advocate XXV (April 23, 1883), p. 1.


[24] Ibid.


[25] Earl Irvin West, The Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 3 (Indianapolis, IN: Religious Book Service, 1979), p. 70.


[26] Jerry Gross, “The Rebaptism Controversy Among Churches of Christ,” in Baptism and the Remission of Sins ed. David W. Fletcher (Joplin, MO:College Press, 1990), pp. 302-303.


[27] J. T. Showalter, “Baptism and Rebaptism,” Firm Foundation XXVII (Mar. 21, 1911), 7, as quoted by Earl West (see footnote 25).



[28] Robert E Hooper, Crying in the Wilderness: A Biography of David Lipscomb (Nasville, TN: David Lipscomb College, 1979), p. 211.


[29] Gross, p. 325.


[30] Miller, p. 323.


[31] Rubel Shelly, “What Are They Saying about Baptism?” The Ashwood Leaves (Feb. 1, 1984).


[32] “Word for Word Transcription...” Contending for the Faith XV (March 1984), p. 4.


[33] Ibid.


[34] Ibid., p. 7.


[35] Rubel Shelly, I Just Want To Be a Christian (Nashville, TN: 20th Century Christian, 1984), p. 132.


[36] Ibid., p. 144.


[37] See more information on this subject in Denominationalism Versus the Bible, edited by Terry Hightower (Pensacola, FL: Austin McGary and Company, 1992), pp. 508-510.


[38] Goebel Music, Behold the Pattern (Pensacola, FL: Austin McGary and Company, 1991), pp. 268-69.


[39] Buff Scott, The Reformer I (Sept. 1985), p. 3.


[40] Alan Highers, “” Contending for the Faith XV (March 1984), pp. 1, 3-5.


[41] Alan Highers, How Do You Spell (F)(f)ELLOWSHIP? (Henderson, TN: Alan E. Highers, 1985).


[42] J. M. Powell, Gospel Advocate CXXVII (Sept. 19, 1985), p. 564.


[43] Powell does cited an article by McGarvey which Goodpasture published in 1941, but he also published one by Thomas Rook in 1976 championing the exact opposite philosophy (229).


[44] Max Lucado, “A Dream Worth Keeping Alive,” Image (Jan.-Feb. 1993), p. 20.


[45] Ibid.


[46] See J. E. Choate’s chapter, “Shifting Theolgical Paradigms,” in Isaiah Volume II: Chapters 40-66, edited by David Brown (Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Co., 1996), pp. 398-415.


[47] See J. E. Choate’s chapter, “Trouble in the ChurchToday #2,” in Good News That Troubles the World, edited by Bob McAnally (Pulaski, TN: Sain Publications, 1995), pp. 487-96).


[48] Carroll D. Osburn, The Peaceable Kingdom (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives, 1993), pp. 91-92,


[49] Jimmy Allen, Re-baptism? What One Must Know To Be Born Again (West Monroem LA: Howard Publishing Co., 1991), p. 4.


[50] Ibid., p. 173.


[51] Ibid., p. 6.


[52] Ibid., p. 41.


[53] Ibid., p. 98.


[54] Guy N. Woods, “What Must One Do To ‘Obey God’?” Gospel Advocate CXXVI (August 16, 1984), p. 482.


[55] Ibid,


[56] Foy E. Wallace, “Bible Baptism,” reprinted in The Handley Herald, edited by Tommy J. Hicks XIV (October 8, 1985), p. 2.


[57] Roderick Chestnut, “John Thomas and the Rebaptism Controversy (1835-1838) Baptism and the Remission of Sins ed. David W. Fletcher (Joplin, MO:College Press, 1990), pp. 302-303.


[58] Gross, p. 328.


[59] Lipscomb, “Rebaptism,” Gospel Advocate, XLVIII (November 15, 1906), p. 793.


[60] Sears, p. 179.


[61] F. B. Srygley, Gospel Advocate LXVI (Jan. 3, 1924), p. 5 (found in Allen, p. 121).


[62] Shelly, footnote #36.


[63] Allen, p. 39.