Elder Beebe: - Is it according to the order of the gospel for an Old Baptist Church to receive as members those who have been baptized by any other denomination of religionists, not recognized by them as the church of Christ, without baptizing them in the fellowship of the Old Order of Baptists?
Your views on the above will oblige
An Inquirer After Truth.
Reply: - To the law, and to the testimony. Whatever is not authorized by the laws of Christ, in relation to the faith or practice of a gospel church, is forbidden. Those who dispute this proposition cannot regard the New Testament as a perfect and complete rule for the government of the kingdom of Christ. If we accept the New Testament as our rule, as the Old Order of Baptists have always professed to do, we must decide this and all other questions as that rule directs. If then a person offers to become a member with us, on condition that we accept as valid baptism administered by denominations not recognized as the church of Christ, such application must be declined, unless we can find authority for it in the New Testament; otherwise we reject that Testament as a complete and infallible rule. We have carefully examined the Scriptures on this subject, and have failed to find either precept or example for any baptism that has not been administered by a gospel administrator, to a gospel subject, in fellowship, at the time of administering, with a gospel church.
By a gospel administrator we mean a member of the church of Christ, fully recognized by the church at the time of administering, as one who is called to the work by the Holy Ghost, and duly set apart to the work of the ministry by solemn ordination to preach the gospel, administer baptism, and break bread to the church or churches of the saints. If the Scriptures authorize any others to baptize, it also authorizes them to preach and to break bread to the churches; and we cannot consistently recognize them as competent to baptize without also allowing them to preach for and break bread to the same. If there be any such rule given to the church, we have failed to find it, either expressed or implied in the precepts or examples of the apostles and usage of the primitive church.
In the Jewish ritual under the ceremonial law, the carnal Israelites had among their ordinances “divers washings,” some of which probably required immersion in water; and the pagans also probably performed similar washings; they were religious denominations. These religious denominations stood in the same relative position to the primitive church as those of modern times do to the church of Christ. Is it supposable that the primitive church would have recognized any of those Jewish or heathen ablutions as Christian baptism?
To admit to our communion any upon what other denominations call baptism is to remove one of the discriminating institutions of the church and inaugurate what is called “Open Communion.” Almost all the different denominations now practice (occasionally at least) immersion; even the Mormons; and if any one denomination of them may immerse for us, then so may all. If the precise order of the gospel, and the fellowship of the gospel church may be dispensed with in one thing, why not in all things? And if so, what use shall we have for our Bibles?
By a gospel candidate we mean one who has been born of the Spirit, and is a believer, with all his or her heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, desiring to honor and obey Christ, and to take his yoke, and follow him through evil as well as through good report. Such an one, on profession of his or her faith, and in obedience to the command of Christ, should be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by one who, like the apostles, is commanded by the Lord Jesus to baptize.
A person professing to be converted, reformed, or desirous to make a public profession of religion, but satisfied to receive what is called baptism by one who is not duly authorized to administer for the gospel church, we cannot recognize as a gospel subject. It is sometimes urged that such an one has been baptized in good faith. But how can that be good faith which has misled him and wedded him to any branch of anti-christ? Again, the candidate, it is said, was sincere: let this be admitted, and are not others sincere who are sprinkled, or poured, or who regard the ordinance as unimportant? If sincere when doing wrong, after being convinced of the error, should they not be sincere in abandoning the error, and in doing what Christ has commanded them? Saul of Tarsus was probably as sincere when persecuting the church as when feeding the flock of God. Sincerity cannot supply the place of righteousness.
By a gospel church we mean a regularly organized company of regularly baptized believers, walking in the faith and order of the gospel as laid down in the New Testament; standing apart and altogether separate from all other professed religionists on earth, supporting by their fellowship the regular ministers of Christ, as a candlestick supports and holds up a lighted candle, that it may give light to all who are in the house.
It is a fearful thing to tamper with the laws of Christ; who, in the last chapter of the New Testament, says, “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” “For I testify unto every one that heareth the words of the prophesy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.”
If any are satisfied that in having been baptized into any body or organization of anti-christ, they have done right, why do they not remain where they are? Why attempt to defile the temple of God by exacting an endorsement of their errors?
It may be argued that some have stood in the fellowship of the church as competent administrators, and have administered while so standing, but afterwards have proved to be hypocrites; and that our position if admitted, would invalidate the baptism administered by them when in good standing. This conclusion is wrong. We are to carefully avoid, so far as in us lies, receiving into the ministry unworthy characters, and to withdraw our support and fellowship from all such, as soon as they develop their true character; but we are not required, nor endued with wisdom to search the hearts, or try the reins of men. Had Judas Iscarot baptized any while he was an apostle, it would have been apostolic baptism; but when he apostatized from that standing he was no longer qualified for the work.
Now if there be any who feel disposed to dispute our position, let such ask themselves which of what we hold to be indispensable requisites for gospel baptism may be omitted, and the baptism be according to the laws of Christ and order of the gospel?
If the baptism administered by a minister of a denomination which is not in fellowship with us is valid gospel baptism, then we may with propriety call on a Mormon, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, or a New School Baptist minister to baptize for us, when candidates apply to us for baptism and membership. Is it not equally as valid when the candidate applies to our church for baptism, if we call on a minister of Satan to administer the ordinance, as when the candidate receives the ordinance at their hands, in the fellowship of some branch of anti-christ? If such a course can be regarded as gospel order, then our churches may at any time call on ministers of the various unscriptural denominations to preach, baptize and break bread; and it would be schismatic for us to organize a Baptist church in any place where there already exists a denomination of a different order, who are willing to preach, baptize and break bread for us. But if this is not the order of the gospel, and sustained by the Scriptures, it should not be allowed.
What we have written on this subject we respectfully submit, not only to the consideration of an Inquirer after Truth, but also to all who belong to the household of faith.
September 15, 1868.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 258 – 261