We have many friends who describe themselves as “Baptists.” They deny
baptism is essential to salvation, arguing extensively on the subject
(contra Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; etc.), but insist that
one must be baptized to become a member of the Baptist church. Indeed,
their manuals teach such things. They also teach that a person is saved
at the point of faith and from then on can never be lost (contra Galatians
5:4; 1 Corinthians 10:12; etc.). Here’s the rub, according to Baptist
doctrine it takes faith to become a child of God, but faith and baptism to
become a Baptist. Also, when a member of the Baptist church becomes
terribly immoral, he is disfellowshipped, yet still saved–kicked out of the
Baptist church but not heaven!
Steven F. Deaton
The following is a reply we received from a Baptist after running an article
in our local newspaper entitled, “It Is Easier To Go To Heaven Than To Be
A Member Of The Baptist Church.” You may read that article by clicking
here. A link to our answer is provided below.
I must say I was truly disappointed in the article you put in the Saturday
Lufkin Daily News! It seems to me as Christians we should be about the
business of reaching others for the cause of Christ and “being” a witness
to His grace and mercy by the things we say and do. I believe that
“slamming” another denomination for a difference in theology is totally
inappropriate for one who claims to be a child of God. Rather than
majoring on the differences in theology, you should look for the
similarities and attempt to reach people for Christ. When harping on our
differences, all that is accomplished is a dividing of the Church (all
believers), and nothing could please satan any more than for the Church
to be divided. We play right into satan’s hand when we seek to major on
differences in theology. John 3:16 tells us that Christ died for ALL. Not
just Church of Christ, not just Baptist, not just Methodist, not just
Lutheran, but for ALL who believe. I hope you will think about the
damage an article such as yours can do to unbelievers who read it. Why
would they want to become a Christian if all Christians do is fight among
themselves? That’s no different than non-believers.
Perhaps next time you decide to put an article in the paper you had
better think of all the ramifications it may cause.
The following is a response to a complaint received by a Baptist after we
ran an article in the local newspaper entitled, “It Is Easier To Go To
Heaven Than To Be A Member Of The Baptist Church.” You may read the
original article and the complaint by clicking here.
Dear Mr. J.F.,
I appreciate your interest in spiritual matters and reading our newspaper
article. Also, thank you for taking me up on the offer to make comments. I
took no offense in your candid remarks and trust you will take none in
mine. I appeal to you to consider the following and “search the
scriptures” to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11).
Before I get to your specific complaints, I must point out you did not say I
had misrepresented Baptist doctrine. It does teach that one can have
faith alone, never be a part of any church (including the Baptist church),
and go to heaven. It does teach that one must have faith PLUS be
baptized to be a part of the Baptist church. It does teach that a member
of the Baptist church can be turned out, disfellowshipped, and will still go
to heaven (perserverance of the saints). So, IT IS easier to go to heaven
than to be a member of the Baptist church, according to Baptist doctrine.
Oddly, according to Baptist doctrine, the Baptist church has “higher” and
“stricter” standards than God. Mr. J.F., that should cause you to question
Baptist doctrine–all of it.
You said, “I believe that ‘slamming’ another denomination for a difference
in theology is totally inappropriate for one who claims to be a child of
God.” May I point you to Christ who “slammed” the denominations of His
day. He “slammed” the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes (Matthew
22:23-33; 23:1-36). Likewise, the apostle Paul “slammed” the
circumcision denomination in his letter to the Galatians. In fact, he even
said, “Would that those who are troubling you would even mutilate
themselves” (Galatians 5:12, NASB). In Philippians, Paul described these
people as “dogs,” “evil workers,” and “the mutilation,” and said they
were “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:2, 18). Paul also
“slammed” the denominations developing at Corinth. “And I, brethren,
could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes
in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you
were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you
are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you,
are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am
of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (1
Should we respond to such actions of the Lord and Paul by saying, “I
believe that ‘slamming’ another denomination for a difference in theology
is totally inappropriate for one who claims to be a child of God. Rather
than majoring on the differences in theology, you should look for the
similarities and attempt to reach people for Christ”?
Mr. J.F., you wrote, “When harping on our differences, all that is
accomplished is a dividing of the Church (all believers), and nothing could
please satan any more than for the Church to be divided. We play right
into satan’s hand when we seek to major on differences in theology.”
This defies logic and reason, let alone Bible truth. Pointing out differences
does not divide, it shows the division which is already there! Division exist
because men have departed from the New Testament of Jesus Christ (cf.
1 John 4:1, 6). When we expose those differences we are not causing
division. Rather, we are showing the error and striving to bring people
back to the truth. Those who are honest of heart will see the truth and
cling to it (cf. Proverbs 23:23).
Denominational division is what makes Satan happy, Mr. J.F. It angers him
when it is brought to light, as we have done, because men may see the
error of denominational division and decide to return to pure Christianity.
Satan wants to keep men in the dark and thus damned (2 Corinthians
4:4; cf. John 3:19-21).
You wrote, “John 3:16 tells us that Christ died for ALL. Not just Church of
Christ, not just Baptist, not just Methodist, not just Lutheran, but for ALL
who believe.” Indeed, Christ died for all. However, the Bible also says
Christ died for the church–His church (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28). The
church belonging to Christ (the church of Christ) is not a denomination to
be compared with that which men have established–that is blasphemy.
The Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran churches are not what Jesus died
for, they are not what He established. Those churches did not come into
existence until over 1400 years after the Lord ascended back to heaven.
They were established by men upon the doctrines of men, not the
doctrine of Christ. By the way, would you include the Mormons and
“Jehovah’s Witnesses” in the “Church (all believers)”?
Mr. J.F., you assume that men in all denominations are Christians. This is
simply not so. The Holy Spirit revealed what is necessary to become a
Christian (child of God). Included in the things necessary are hearing the
word of God in order to develop faith in Jesus, confessing the Lord before
men, turning from sin, and being baptized for the remission of sins
(Romans 10:9-17; Acts 3:19; 2:38; 22:16). Men in the denominations
have not done this. Therefore, they are not Christians.
Further, you assume that Christ approves of all the denominations. As we
mentioned before, denominations have no authority from the New
Testament, thus they are sinful. They foster division, something which
Paul severely condemned (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). Also, if Christ approved of
all of the denominations, He would be a hypocrite, because they promote
different and contradictory doctrines. For example, the Methodists teach
that baptism is sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, while the Baptists teach
it is immersion only. The Methodists have bishops who oversee districts,
while the Baptists have a congregational form of church government. Do
you think Jesus supports these contradictory teachings? Rather, Jesus,
through the Holy Spirit, revealed only one mode of baptism and only one
form of church government.
I will continue to point out differences between the Bible and what men
teach, just as my Lord did (Matthew 15:7-9). And if they are disappointed,
as you were, I know I am not the first to see such results (Matthew
15:12-14; John 6:60, 66).
I would be happy to study further with you, either through email or in
person. Also, you are personally invited to attend one of our services (the
times are listed in the newspaper articles).
For The Truth,
Steven F. Deaton
A “True Baptist” Responds
Below is a response from a man who objected to our newspaper article
“It Is Easier To Go To Heaven Than To Be A Member Of The Baptist
Church.” Click here to read it. Our reply follows.
I have in hand a copy of the article which ran recently in the local paper.
Please allow me to try to correct some apparent mistakes.
First, let me say that if you want to use your criteria to decide whether it
is easier to go to heaven than be a member of the Baptist chruch, then
you are most correct. Because it certainly doesn’t take membership in any
church to get into heaven. But it does take membership to be a Baptist.
And of course if a person be born again, then he will go to heaven
regardless of what happens after the fact. You cannot undo a birth; it is
impossible. Once a son – always a son. Now as far as “faith alone” being
the Baptist “sole” tenet for gaining access to heaven, that is not a true
statement. Baptists (true ones) teach that repentance must precede
anything else! Actually you should have said, ” Repentance followed by
faith…” Next, please allow me to clarify one thought made concerning the
“specific words” that one (supposedly Baptist) person used in
complaining. I shall not go to the trouble of typing them out; I am sure
you have a copy. Those words of that person are the postition of a
Protestant (of which you are one.) They are not the words of a Baptist.
True Baptists are not trying to get the whole religious world together. The
ecumenical movement is not espoused by true Baptists.
Next, the “slamming” paragraph which you authored is right on! Christ did
it and true Baptists will also. This may be the only area in which we can
agree I have two good friends who are also Campbellites; neither of
them like to talk about water baptism being essential to salvation. The
reason is that both know Jesus and and that being born from above is all
that is essential to be an heir to heaven. My brother-in-law, who has a
been an elder in the C of C for many years, just recently joined a Baptist
church due to the incorrect tachings of the C of C. Notice, it is A Baptist
church, not THE Baptist church: there is no universal, invisible church. That
type of teaching is laying the ground floor for the coming one-world
church (and you will be part of it.)
Did you not get enough of R.L Vaughn in October of 1998? Some of us
have not forgotten the outcome of that debate. And if it is a debate that
you are interested in, let me call your attention to that upcoming one
between Bro. Bobby Sparks of Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church of
Greenville and Tom Wacaster, minister of a C of C in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.
The dates are November 26, 27, 29, & 30, 2001. This will be held in the
Titus County Convention Center in Mt. Peasant. Maybe you could take all
your aspiring leaders up there for an education.
Thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity to try to clarify
matters. Remember everybody that tried to get to the Ark thorugh the
A true Baptist. Sincerely, Ddd Hhhh ( I will respond no further due to the
fact that I have never known a Campbellite, or a Baptist, that changed his
mind due to a discussion such as this.)
August 14, 2001
Thank you for taking the time to write me, even though it was to belittle,
criticize, and insult me. I assume, however, that the reason you wrote is
because our articles have touched a nerve with you (and others); you
have been pricked in the heart. Though you stated your refusal to write
again, and implied that I am dishonest, I will hold out hope that you will
change your mind and give me the benefit of the doubt (1 Corinthians
You said, “Because it certainly doesn’t take membership in any church to
get into heaven.” Mr. Hhhh, your belief is not in harmony with the Bible.
Jesus died for the church, purchased it with His blood (Ephesians 5:25;
Acts 20:28). Those who are Christ’s have been purchased with His blood
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20). When people are saved, they are added to the
church by the Lord (Acts 2:47). Therefore, it is necessary to be a part of
the Lord’s church. His church is called the “church of God” (1 Corinthians
1:2); the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27); the church of Christ,
singular of “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16); the “house of God” (1
Timothy 3:15). All of these terms describe the body, or group, of
redeemed who belong to the Lord and Savior. Anyone who is saved is a
part of the church–you must be a member of the church to go to heaven.
Further, you will note the church is the body, and there is only ONE body
(Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). Just as surely as there is only ONE Spirit, Lord,
and Father, there is only ONE body (Ephesians 4:4-6). Just as surely as
men are reconciled to God through the cross, they are reconciled in ONE
body, the church (Ephesians 2:16). This ONE body, the church, is the one
and only that will be presented to Christ (Ephesians 5:26-27). Try as you
may, you will never get those passages out of the Bible.
You said, “But it does take membership to be a Baptist.” Thank you for
conceding the point that it is easier to go to heaven than to be a member
of the Baptist church! You say it takes repentance and faith to go to
heaven, but something else to be a Baptist, namely baptism. You have
just affirmed the point of our article–according to Baptist doctrine,
Baptists require more of man than God.
You wrote, “And of course if a person be born again, then he will go to
heaven regardless of what happens after the fact. You cannot undo a
birth; it is impossible. Once a son – always a son.” Again, you contradict
the Scripture. Paul said to take heed lest you fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
He also said that those who turned to the Old Covenant were severed
from Christ and had fallen from grace (Galatians 5:1-4). You cannot be
severed from that to which you were never joined. You cannot fall from a
position which you never attained. Likewise, the apostle said he could
become disqualified from the “race” in which he ran (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Peter said, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world
through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are
again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them
than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). People had escaped the world, been
set free from sin, but turned back. As for being “unborn” what do you
make of Galatians 4:19, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again
until Christ is formed in you”?
You next said, “Now as far as ‘faith alone’ being the Baptist ‘sole’ tenet
for gaining access to heaven, that is not a true statement. Baptists (true
ones) teach that repentance must precede anything else! Actually you
should have said, ‘Repentance followed by faith…'” Mr. Hhhh, are you
saying there is some work required of man in order to obtain his
salvation? You are in disagreement with most of your Baptist brethren. As
the Baptist Church Manual by J.M. Pendleton states, they believe
justification is “solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood” (p. 48). Yet,
if your belief is that repentance plus faith is necessary to salvation, you
still fall short of what the Bible declares. The Holy Spirit revealed that a
man must not only have faith and repent of his sins, but also confess
Christ with his mouth and be baptized for the remission of sins (Romans
10:9-13; Acts 2:38). Saul of Tarsus had faith and repented of his sins
(Acts 9:9-11), yet when Ananias arrived, he said, “And now why are you
waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the
name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
You accused me of being a “Protestant” and “Campbellite.” I deny being
either, and to charge me with such from this point on is dishonest and
slanderous. I am a Christian, nothing more, nothing less (Acts 11:26; 1
Peter 4:16). You, on the other hand, do gladly accept the name of
“Baptist.” This term is never applied as a title of a church or follower of
Christ. John is the only one called the “Baptist” not because of any church
affiliation, for there was no church during his day, but because of what he
introduced to the people–baptism.
You said, “True Baptists are not trying to get the whole religious world
together. The ecumenical movement is not espoused by true Baptists.”
You also closed your letter with “A true Baptist. Sincerely, Don Hhhh.” Mr.
Hhhh, what do “true Baptists” espouse? Are you and those with whom
you associate the ONLY true Baptists? Are you the ONLY ones going to
heaven? Are you narrow-minded? Are there false Baptists?
You mentioned two of your friends being “Campbellites” and “neither of
them like to talk about water baptism being essential to salvation. The
reason is that both know Jesus and and (sic) that being born from above
is all that is essential to be an heir to heaven.” Well, Mr. Hhhh, I am sorry
to hear about your two friends, their membership in the church of
Campbell, and their cowardice. You have heard the arguments for the
necessity of water baptism before, but here are a few of them again. “Go
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew
28:19). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does
not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “Repent, and let every one
of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “And now why
are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling
on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “Or do you not know that as many
of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just
as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we
also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). “For as many of you
as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). “There
is also an antitype which now saves us–baptism (not the removal of the
filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
You asked, “Did you not get enough of R.L. Vaughn in October of 1998?
Some of us have not forgotten the outcome of that debate.” Are you
serious? What outcome was there? Mr. Vaughn and I had an agreement
to debate the issue of salvation. After I sent him my first proposition, he
never wrote back. I followed up and he still failed to honor his agreement.
It seems to me Mr. Vaughn, and others, know what the outcome of the
depravity debate was.
In closing, you said, “Remember everybody tried to get to the Ark thorugh
(sic) the water drowned!” Thank you for declaring the necessity of being
a member of the Ark in order to be delivered from judgment! Too, the
water saved as well as condemned, as it separated the righteous from
the unrighteous. It saved Noah and his family as they followed God’s
commands in reference to the water, and it condemned all who disobeyed
God’s commands. The same is true with water baptism–it separates the
righteous from the unrighteous. Those who submit to God’s command to
be baptized for the remission of sins are delivered from judgment. Those
who reject God’s command to be baptized for the remission of sins are
condemned. 1 Peter 3:21!
Mr. Hhhh, as for a debate, we seek one to be held locally and endorsed
by a local Baptist church. It needs to be held in their building as well as
ours. One in Mt. Pleasant will not do any good for our community. Do I
assume too much by believing you are interested in our community?
I hope you will change your mind about further correspondence. If you
can find a “true Baptist” man who is willing to defend his beliefs in a
public debate, let us know.
In The Interest Of Truth,