IN WHAT SENSE ARE WE BAPTIZED INTO THE CHURCH?
By Wayne Camp
In the December 1, 1998, issue we began a study of the question, In What Sense Are We Baptized Into The Church? By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we saw that baptism into the church is in the same sense as being baptized into Christ and into his death. It is in the same sense as the children of Israel being baptized into Moses.
I also showed that three great Landmark BaptistsJ. R. Graves, J. M. Pendleton, and A. C. Daytonheld different views on this matter but still maintained a very close working relationship. In short, they did not make the matter a test of orthodoxy or a test of fellowship. This time we will look at some other brethren and the position they held on this matter.
B. H. CARROLL
Another great and oft-quoted writer concerning the church was B. H. Carroll. B. H. Carroll was a Southern Baptist preacher, pastor and Seminary founder and President. He pastored the First Baptist church of Waco, Texas, for thirty years. He was founder and first president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas.
Eld. Carroll was a strong advocate of the local church-only doctrine. His little book called Ecclesia is considered an authority on the nature of the church. He believed the only kind of true church in existence today is local and visible in nature. He held that the church in glory will be composed of all the saved but that such a church is non-existent at the present time except as a concept in the mind of God. According to Carroll the only kind of church Christ has in the world at this time is local and visible in nature with visible ordinances, etc.
Bro. Carroll is often quoted on the church. I found that he has an interesting position on I Cor. 12:13 and what it means, or rather, meant, to be baptized into the body. He believed the baptism of I Cor. 12:13 was the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the body was the local church. He believed that Holy Spirit Baptism only happened one time, the day of Pentecost, and that its effects were temporary and were done away when the Bible was complete. According to Carroll, only those living during the New Testament period ever had the effects of the baptism that is mentioned in I Cor. 12:13 and nobody needs that today. This baptism in the Spirit was "into" or "with reference to" the church. Moreover, he held that the baptism of I Cor. 12:13 was never administered to an individual; it was only for the church and only happened one time. That was at Pentecost.
I should also point out that Carroll held that this one-time baptism in the Spirit was "with reference to" the church.
Bro. Carroll wrote,
Suppose we take the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. If you want to get muddled you should read what the commentators say on the subject. What is it? It reads in the King James Version this way: "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body." It reads in the new version, "In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." Notice the difference in the two renderings. The King James Version makes the Holy Spirit the administrator, "By one Spirit." The Holy Spirit never administers baptism. He is the element, not the administrator. The Greek preposition is en"in one Spirit." The King James Version says, "We are baptized," as if it were a present transaction, something going on now. The true version reads, "We were," putting it in the past tense.
Here then is a baptism unquestionably not water baptism. It is expressly said, "We are baptized in the Spirit," the Spirit baptism, and the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters of the First Letter to the Corinthians are devoted to the discussion of nothing else under heaven but the baptism in the Spiritnothing else. You ought to read those three chapters over when you think about the baptism in the Spirit. They discuss exclusively baptism in the Spirit, and it is in that place that Paul said that they should cease and that certain other things should abide; that the graces would stay; that faith, hope and love would continue, but this thing stop. This is for a sign, he said.
Now, what is meant by "into one body"? Notice that the baptism is in the Spirit. We have a Greek preposition, ei", "into," or "unto," the body. What does it mean that we were all baptized in the Spirit (not water) unto (with reference to) one body? That is, no man ever did receive a baptism in the Spirit to affect him as an individual only.
No man ever did receive a baptism in the Spirit except as a constituent part of the church.
Christ baptized the church, and when He baptized the church all were baptized, were baptized in the Spirit into that body. It was one baptism once for all. In other words, one might never claim that the baptism in the Spirit prompted him to set up a new order of things. He might not say, "I am guided by the baptism in the Spirit to go off at a tangent, to set up a different establishment, to defy church authority, to go off as a free lance." No, sir.
They all were baptized in the Spirit into one body, and none might dare claim Spirit guidance for separatist work. Much less do you do it now. Don't you say, when you are despising dignitaries, and speaking evil of them, and bringing about schism and disrupting and dividing the people of God, don't say the Spirit prompts you, that the baptism in the Spirit makes you do this. If you had the Spirit baptism it would be into, it would be for the church; it would be with reference to the church and not contrary to it and against it. That is what that passage means.1
Again Carroll wrote,
Here I venture to interpret a Scripture that seems to have run theorists mad. Of all the wild, divergent, and contradictory interpretations known to me, the wildest, most divergent and most contradictory have been given of this simple Scripture. I refer to I Cor. 12:13: "For in one Spirit are we all baptized into [or unto] one body." Some say this refers to water-baptism and means "With one design were we baptized into the church." Others say it refers to regeneration; that regeneration is the Spirit-baptism and the only real baptism. Bear with me therefore while I expound this passage:
From the beginning of the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians to the end of the fourteenth chapter, the Apostle is discussing miraculous spiritual gifts.
This miraculous endowment he calls "baptism in the Spirit," and this is the only baptism he mentions in the whole context.
This baptism of miraculous power these Corinthians were so using as to depreciate regeneration, and for self-glorification, and to the positive damage of the church.
This evil he corrects in part in the thirteenth chapter by showing the inferiority of these temporary gifts to the enduring graces of regeneration, that they were temporarywere for a sign, that is, to accredit the church and would then cease: "Whether there, be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge [supernatural], it shall vanish away."
And here in this very text he assured them that this very "baptism in the Spirit" was "into the one body," the churchnot out of it, not against it, not to its detriment, but for it; not to its confusion, but to its order; not to its shame, but to its glory; not unto its destruction, but unto its upbuilding. The whole context shows, as other Scriptures abundantly confirm, that the baptism in the Spirit was a baptism in miraculous power, for a temporary purpose, but that baptism, while it lasted, was to give credentials unto the church. Hence the baptism in the Spirit was a baptism unto, or into, the church.
Believing as I do, that in Apostolic times the church was thoroughly and sufficiently accredited, to my mind there is now no need for this baptism in the Spirit, and as the Scriptures were completed, inspiration ceased with John. So Daniel foretold: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon the holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy" (Dan. 9:24).
What then does remain of the new enduement received on the Day of Pentecost? The Spirit did not occupy the house of Jesus merely to accredit it by miracles but to fill it with ability to do the work assigned it, to enable it to carry out all its mission. This is our everlasting heritage.
Do understand me here. When I say the Spirit fills the church today, I do not refer:
To that mere concept of the mindall the elect as they are or shall be in heaven. I refer to no invisible church.
Nor do I refer to any provincial, national, or world-wide organization of professed believers.
I do refer to an independent, local, visible organization of baptized believers. There was one such organization at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. That was the church. There was afterwards one such in Corinth, to which Paul wrote, and he called that one a temple of the Holy Ghost. There was one such at Ephesus, and he wrote to that one and called it a temple of the Holy Ghost. And wherever elsewhere one was organized, it became a temple of the Holy Ghost. They were all visible and had visible ordinances. All of them were working bodies here on earth. To such a one, and only to such, could our Savior's precept apply: "Tell it to the church." These were the organizations that received, educated, disciplined, and, if need be, excluded members. These preached the gospel. Each was the house of God, the church of the living God, and pillar and ground of the truth.
The Holy Ghost does not inhabit a denomination. He inhabits a church. The Holy Ghost does not inhabit a nation. He inhabits a churcha local church.
This was the new thing at Pentecost. Christ built the first one. It was designed not only to perpetuate itself but to multiply itself.2
In another place, Carroll said almost the same thing. He wrote,
In other words, it is partly a discussion of the baptism in the Holy spirit, and I take for the text 1 Corinthians 12:13, following the revised version: "for in one Spirit [that is the element of the baptism, showing it was not a water baptism] were we all baptized into one body. I prefer to say "unto"; it makes better sense. Almost entirely throughout the New Testament the prepositionei", with the verb baptizw, is read "unto," not altogether, but in almost all cases. Let us read the text again: "for in one Spirit were we all [past tense, referring to Paul's baptism in the Spirit and the Corinthians' baptism in the Spirit] baptized unto one body," that is, baptism in the Spirit did not refer to any man individually, though the baptism in his case was individual and in power. The baptism had reference to the church, the one body. That is the text.3
While Carroll did not believe the Baptism of I Cor. 12:13 was water baptism, he did, in yet another place, say that he understood why some say water baptism is the door to the church. He wrote,
Our baptism is a profession or declaration, public and visible, of our faith in Jesus, as the Sent of the Father and the Anointed of the Spirit, to be our Prophet, Priest, and King. Hence, the prescribed formula: "Baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Mat. 28:19). As has been shown, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all present, and their respective offices suggestively indicated at the baptism in Jordan (Mat. 3:16, 17). From all which it is conclusive that baptism must be the personal, individual, and voluntary act of one who has heard and believed the gospel, otherwise there is nothing to profess or declare. And as we should speedily and candidly profess what we honestly and heartily believe, we are not surprised to find baptism so closely associated in time with the faith which it professes. In apostolic days there was nothing like the modern interval between them. Baptism was at the threshold of religious life. It preceded every other obligation enjoined on the converted. The candle being lighted it was put on the candlestick. We can thus understand why some called it the "initiatory" ordinance, and others "the door" into the church, so interpreting I Corinthians 12:13: "For by one Spirit are we all, baptized into one body; whether we be Jews or Gentiles; whether we be bond or free."4
It is obvious that this was not the position of Bro. Carroll, but he readily understood why some did hold that position. In other words, if he had held that the baptism of I Cor. 12:13 was water baptism, he very possibly would have made water baptism the door to the church. I would point out that he interpreted ei" in the same sense in this verse as in Matthew 28:19. "Baptizing them into [ei"] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This would be in the same sense as we are said to be "baptized into [ei"] Christ" and "baptized into his death." Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into [ei"] Christ have put on Christ. Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into [ei"] Jesus Christ were baptized into [ei"] his death?
Bro. Jarrel Huffman was a very dear friend to this editor. I knew him for most of our years of pastoring. He served as the full-time Dean of the Illinois Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary for several years while I was President of the school and pastor of Beverly Manor Baptist Church. He has preached meetings and in conferences where I pastored and I have preached in his church. He was a scholar and a Christian gentleman. I printed his book on the church. In a yet unpublished work written by Bro. Jarrel Huffman on the church, he wrote,
"Special attention needs to be given to a very important verse in this discussionI Corinthians 12:13. The verse says, 'For by one Spirit are we all baptized into ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.' Let us make the following deductions:
The ONE BODY spoken of in this verse is the assembly at Corinth (I Cor. 1:2; 12:27).
The subject matter here is SPIRITUAL GIFTS. Paul is proving that the ONE SPIRIT gave the various spiritual gifts to the members of the ONE BODY (the assembly at Corinth).
The subject matter here IS NOT HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM. Many erroneously teach that Paul here means that all believers are spiritually baptized into the universal, mystical "church." Paul had nothing like this in mind.
The baptism under consideration here is WATER BAPTISM. John the Baptist baptized in water; he baptized Jesus in the Jordan; Paul himself was baptized by Ananias (Acts 9:14). Scriptural baptism is water baptism. No one can be a member of one of the Lord's assemblies without water baptism."5
J. P. BOYCE
In his short work on the church, J. P. Boyce mentions briefly the subject at hand and says, "The church, as the body of Christ, is an external, visible organization, and the condition or medium of admission must, in the nature of things, be in part external also. The leading design of baptism was to serve as a part of this condition. 'We are all baptized into one body'- I Cor. 12:13."6
I would disagree with Boyce slightly on his statement that the "leading design of baptism was to serve as a part of this condition." The leading design of baptism, as others whom I will quote affirm, was to show forth the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul, as well as other Baptist writers, repeatedly set forth the design of baptism to be to show forth the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.
ELD. D. N. JACKSON
D. N. Jackson, once a leader in the ABA and then in the NABA wrote, "Baptism is one way of making a confession of faith in Christ. Scriptural baptism is performed by the authority of the triune God (Matthew 28:19-20). No one without baptism is qualified for membership in a church, but baptism does not wholly qualify him. It is the ceremonial qualification he is required to meet. It is the first act of Christian obedience after one's profession, although one may have the opportunity to witness for Christ as Saviour before he is baptized."7
Again Bro. Jackson said, "The rite of water baptism, as a mode, is a condition of membership. It is a primary condition, as membership cannot be Scripturally obtained without it. It is a condition and not the door into a church. The "door" is the voice of the church by which members may be received and by which they may be dismissed. Any act that is made the door of admission must of necessity be made the door of dismission. Baptism, therefore, cannot meet that requirement, as it would be impossible to "unbaptize" a person! In New Testament cases baptism always preceded one's initial church membership (Acts 2:41; 10:47). Baptism is a primary condition of church membership only as it presupposes the subject's regeneration and profession of faith in Christ."8
Bro. Jackson makes a very interesting point. He argues that if baptism is the door into the church, would it not also be the door out. He says that the "door" is the voice of the church by which members are to be received and by which they are dismissed.
Churches receive and dismiss members by some form of action, usually. It may be a negative vote wherein the moderator simply asks if any object to the reception. When one comes from another church by letter or statement, it is the action of the church or the voice of the church that receives him into the fellowship.
Members are dismissed by church action. If it be by withdrawing of fellowship it is church action that does this (See Matt. 18:15-18; I Cor. 5:1-11). If one is dismissed by letter, that is done by church action. Of course, if one dies, the church takes no action for they have no say in the death of a member. In every other case, the way in or the way out of the church is by the voice of the church, the action of the body.
Is baptism the only door to the church? Read what another wrote on the subject.
John R. Gilpin
In a message on baptism Eld. John Gilpin relates an event in which a woman baptized by a Campbellite church sought membership in the church he pastored. She sought to come on the basis of her baptism. Among other things, Bro. Gilpin said,
I told her that it would be necessary to rebaptize her, as Baptist baptism was the only door into a Baptist Church.9 Note that he said that baptism was the "only door" into a Baptist church. Gilpin held baptism was not only the door, it was the only door into a Baptist Church.
I will quote only one more late Baptist Brother at this time.
Many Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptists trace their history through the Philadelphia Association. In the 1808 minutes of that Association Thomas Montanye says,
If baptism were an initiating ordinance into the Church, those who were baptized by John, and those who believed and were baptized in Samaria, were made members of the Church."10 Bro. Montanye makes a great point. For the purpose of making us all think, let me ask some questions:
If baptism, as some insist, always puts one into the body of Christ, a local church, what of those folks who were baptized by John the Baptist?
Into what body were they baptized?
Was John's baptism invalid because it did not put those baptized into a church?
Or, did it put them in a church?
Was John's baptism from heaven or of men?
Was John's baptism scriptural baptism?
Was John the Baptist ever baptized? When and by whom?
If someone who had been baptized by John the Baptist applied to your church for membership, would you accept him on that baptism even though no church existed into which he could be baptized?
Did John the Baptist baptize folks with the prospect of there being a church organized or did his baptism put them in some church many miles away?
Is the pattern followed in gathering the materials and organizing the first church on earth a good pattern or is it faulty?
If baptism is literally "the door" to the local church, is it the only door?
What of Scripturally baptized folks whose church goes out of existence and they desire membership in another church?
If baptism is "the" door to the local church, how may these enter?
Where in Scripture is baptism ever called or likened to a literal door?
Baptism is likened to a burial and resurrection. It is likened to planting. Romans 6:3-5 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.
I raise these questions to illustrate what I have said before. Our Baptist brethren of the past have not always agreed on baptism being the literal door to the church or otherwise. Yet, they, like J. R. Graves and A. C. Dayton, were able to be in very close fellowship. As I pointed out last month, Graves wrote an introduction to Dayton's book on baptism even though Dayton took a position different to that of Graves on this question.
There is also another reason for asking the questions above. I have before me the following statement which was written in a rebuke of any who might advocate freelance baptism.
"The fact that every New Testament baptism about which the facts are known was administered by: (1) a man, (2) a baptized man, (3) an ordained man, (4) a man in good standing with a previously existing Church . . ."A little later the same author writes, "Baptism cannot exist without Church connection!"11
We have some detail about the baptisms administered by John the Baptist, especially the baptism of Jesus. I have always heard that John was never baptized, yet the writer says that "every New Testament baptism about which the facts are known was administered by . . . a baptized man." The writer further alleges that "every New Testament baptism about which the facts are known was administered by . . . a man in good standing with a previously existing Church. With what "previously existing Church" was John the Baptist in good standing? It has always been contended by Baptists with whom I have had fellowship that John the Baptist was never a member of any church. Rather, he prepared the material for the first church. These assertions concerning "every New Testament baptism about which the facts are known" contradict all that I have been taught and all that I have read about John the Baptist. If "every New Testament baptism about which the facts are known" was administered by a baptized man who was in good standing with a previously existing church John the Baptist must have been baptized and there must have been a church already in existence when he came on the scene.
Consider another statement made by the cited writer. "Baptism cannot exist without Church connection!" This suggests there must have been a church into which John the Baptist was baptizing or his baptism did not literally exist.
If, as is claimed, "Baptism cannot exist without Church connection!" there is no such thing as unscriptural baptism and no such thing as "freelance" baptisms which the writer decried. I have always understood and taught that "freelance baptisms" were baptisms administered since John the Baptist's ministry which were administered by some self-ordained, self-sent, churchless person. I call them "bootlegged" baptisms. But, how can one decry and condemn such baptisms if indeed they cannot exist without a church connection?
When one starts reading into Scripture things that are not really there, there is no end to the extremes it may take him. These statements cited clearly prove that.
Liberty of conscience has always been a "landmark" among true Baptists. In things such as I am discussing in these articles, fellowship was apparently not disturbed by these differences. It should not be now. If I insist that you must agree with my interpretation on such matters or we cannot fellowship, my position has the stench of popish claims of infallibility all over it. I beg to be excused.
1The Holy Spirit,B. H. Carroll, Pp. 44, 45.
2Ibid., Pp. 58-60
3Commentary on the English Bible, B. H. Carroll, P.
4"Baptism in Water", The Baptist Examiner, Vol. 26, No. 24, July 2, 1977, P. 6.
5 Unpublished Work on the Church, Jarrel E. Huffman
6The Local, Visible Ekklesia, Dr. J. P. Boyce Charleston: Smith & Whilden, 229 King Street, 1857, Scanned Copy without original page numbers.
7Baptist Doctrines and History, D. N. Jackson, Baptist Publications Committee, Little Rock, AR, P. 34
8 Ibid., P. 35
9"The Bible and Water Baptism", The Baptist Examiner, Vol. 43, No. 46, December 6, 1965, P. 5.
10Minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association, Vol. II, Thomas Montanye, Minutes of 1808, pp. 6-10.)
11Berea Baptist Banner, January 5, 1999, P. 15).
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