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REVIEWED BY Pastor Douglas Brown: Dr. Sidwell has done a superb job in describing the “Churches of Christ” & their theology. Having been one who grew up for over 18 years in the “Church of Christ” & believed zealously what I was taught by the teachers & ministers of this denomination, I can testify to Dr. Sidwell’s accuracy to what he teaches in this message. As Dr. Sidwell brings out very well, the “salvation” taught by the “Churches of Christ” is extremely dangerous, due to it being so unclear. Baptism is so tenaciously held to, it causes one to conclude their “salvation” is works based.


The Pelagian Controversy

The Pelagian Controversy took place during the early part of the 5th century and it placed at odds a man by the name of Pelagius against the Bishop of Hippo who we may know today as St. Augustine. The controversy came to a focal point at the Council of Carthage where the church declared Pelagius a heretic in 418 AD.

Now to understand this controversy, we need to look into the background of Pelagius.

Pelagius is known as a moral, earnest, and zealous monk who was born on the British Isles. Sometime later in life when he traveled to Rome, he became alarmed about the godlessness he saw in the clergy and other professing Christians. It was while in Rome that he earned a reputation for the calling of Christians to the ‘attaining of virtue and righteousness’. In this way he and his followers had much in common with the Puritans in that they loved the precepts and laws of God and who were also very concerned about the moral laxity they saw in their own day.

The crisis point came, however, when Pelagius read a famous prayer written by St. Augustine and it was a statement in this prayer that troubled him greatly. The statement was, “Oh God, grant what thou dost command…” and it was this statement in that prayer which set into motion the controversy that was to ensue.

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Various Doctrinal Positions of The Campbellite Church of Christ And a Lutheran Response to Those Positions

Revised August 2006

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We use only the Bible to formulate doctrines. We do not have confessions, catechisms, creeds, or other ‘man-made’ writings to formulate doctrines.”

Leroy Brownlow, Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ (Fort Worth: Brownlow Publishing, 1945), 45-50.

Lutheran Response: This is an oft-cited claim made by the Campbellite Church of Christ. The reality is quite different. The Church of Christ, in fact, has many confessions, catechisms, and other “man-made” writings that have been used to formulate doctrines. The foremost of all doctrinal writings within the Campbellite Church of Christ used for the purpose of catechesis (indoctrination) is the five volume set of books entitled Sound Doctrine. These books were written by Charles Ready Nichol and were copyrighted by Nichol Publishing Company in Clifton, Texas. Written in the 1920’s, this set has served as the primary work of doctrinal formulation within the Campbellite Church of Christ.

Another primary text used for catechesis is the three volume set entitled Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons. Nicholas Brodie Hardeman is perhaps the most revered preacher within the history of the Church of Christ. During March and April in 1922, Hardeman delivered a series of sermons in the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. His sermons are included in this set. Two generations of Church of Christ preachers have been brought up and trained on these sermons by N.B. Hardeman.

The writings, sermons, and lectures of such men as Foy Wallace, Austin McGary, Thomas Warren, Guy Woods, and Grover Cleveland Brewer are also highly regarded within the Church of Christ and were all significant contributors to the “oral tradition” of doctrinal formulation which was handed down throughout the 20th century.

For the Campbellite Church of Christ to claim that is has used only the Bible to formulate its doctrines is patently absurd and is an egregious fabrication. The historical truth is that this church body is replete with books intended for catechsesis.

The principal creed of the Campbellite Church of Christ is the claim espoused by Thomas Campbell: “Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” Even here, the Church of Christ does not adhere to its own creed. Rather, when the Scriptures are silent, the Campbellites have done much speaking and writing. They continue to do so.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “Ours is the church you read about in the Bible particularly in Acts 2. Ours is the only true, visible church on earth. Our church began in A.D. 33. A person must be a member of our church if he hopes to go to heaven.”

Ibid., 10-20.

Lutheran Response: Again, this claim is pure sophistry. The Campbellite Church of Christ that exists today did not originate in A.D. 33 in Jerusalem on the Pentecost festival following the Lord Jesus’ resurrection and ascension as the Campbellites claim. The Campbellite Church of Christ is, in fact, of relatively recent origin having its history entirely on American soil.

The Church of Christ actually began in Brush Run, Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 4, 1811. Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell, along with two other American frontier preachers (Barton Stone and Walter Scott) began the Campbellite Church of Christ. In the memoirs of Alexander Campbell written by his son-in-law, Robert Richardson, we find the following excerpt of Thomas Campbell’s “conversion” and “calling” by God to form a new church:

“By earnest and diligent prayer, and the constant use of all the means prescribed by sympathizing and pious friends, he sought, apparently in vain, for those assurances of acceptance and those tokens of forgiveness which were regarded as necessary accompaniments of a true faith and evidence of ‘effectual calling’ While in this state, and when his mental distress had reached its highest point, he was one day walking along in the fields, when, in the midst of his prayerful anxieties and longing, he felt a divine peace suddenly diffuse itself throughout his soul, and the love of God seemed to be shed abroad in his heart as he had never realized it. His doubts, anxieties and fears were at once dissipated, as if by enchantment. He was enabled to see and to trust in the merits of a crucified Christ, and to enjoy a divine sense of reconciliation, that filled him with rapture and seemed to determine his destiny forever. From this moment he recognized himself as consecrated to God, and thought only how he might best appropriate his time and his abilities to his service.”

Robert Richardson, Memoirs of Alexander Campbell (Germantown, Tenn.: Religious Book Service, 1897), 23.

Thomas Campbell arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1807. His son, Alexander, along with the rest of his family followed in 1809. Thomas Campbell had already formed the “Christian Association of Washington County” in Brush Run, Pennsylvania in 1809. This was the first association of “Campbellites” to be organized. Thomas’s son, Alexander, upon arriving to meet his father determined later in the year that this association would be destined to further the cause of the church in America. In Alexander Campbell’s memoirs by Richardson, we find another revealing excerpt:

“He [Thomas] had, by this time [1811], become fully convinced that, on account of the continued hostility of the different parties, it was necessary that the Christian Association should assume the character of an independent Church, in order to the enjoyment of those privileges and the performance of those duties which belong to the Church relation. It was with great reluctance that he finally concluded to take this step, and to separate himself from those whom he desired to recognize as brethren. Such, nevertheless, is the usual fate of reformers. Religious reformations however they may be aided or modified by external circumstances, must always originate within the church itself. Such was the case with the Reformation of Luther, of Calvin, of Knox, of Wesley. Luther was a monk; Calvin as Romish curia; Knox a Catholic priest; Wesley an Episcopal presbyter. It commenced in a community claiming to be the purest portion of the Church, and, when proposed to its hierarchy, was rejected and denounced. Now, as before, the light shone in darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not. Hence a separation became inevitable, and this separation appeared no less grievous to the human feelings and sympathies of Thomas Campbell than similar ones had done to those of other reformers. ‘He would have lived,’ as D’Aubigné says of Calvin, ‘to see all the Church transformed, rather than set himself apart and build up a new one.’ Having found it impossible, however, to effect this transformation, he felt it to be his duty to organize an independent community.

At the next meeting of the Association, accordingly, the matter was duly considered and agreed to, as the attitude which the religious parties had assumed, seemed to leave no other alternative. Before entering into this sacred relation, Thomas Campbell deemed it proper that each member should give some personal and public evidence of a fitting knowledge of the way of salvation; and he proposed therefore that each should be required to give a satisfactory answer to the question: ‘What is the meritorious cause of a sinner’s acceptance with God?’ With most of the answers to this question he was entirely satisfied and was particularly well pleased with the views expressed on the occasion by Joseph Bryant. The answers of two of the members being unsatisfactory, their admission was postponed. Neither, however, was received, both having subsequently proved themselves unworthy. James Foster happened not to be present at the above meeting, and when, on Saturday, the 4th of May, he with the other members, assembled at Brush Run for the purpose of organization the question arose: ‘Is James Foster a member, not having been present at the time the test question was propounded?’ Some seemed to think not, but Alexander, who, it would seem, was not entirely convinced that there was any authority for such a test, immediately arose and said: ‘Certainly, James Foster is a member, having been with us from the beginning, and his religious sentiments being perfectly well known to us.’ The test question was not propounded to him, nor to anyone else afterward. As this meeting, Thomas Campbell was appointed elder, and Alexander was licensed to preach the gospel. Four deacons were also chosen.

On the following day, being the Lord’s day, the Church held its first communion service. Alexander preached from John 6:48, ‘I am the bread of life,’ and verse 58, last clause: ‘He that eateth of this bread shall live forever…’

Afterward, his father delivered a discourse from Romans 8:32: ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ Thus there was formally established a distinct religious community, based solely upon the Bible, and destined in its future history to exhibit the entire sufficiency of the basis thus chosen.”

Ibid., 365-369.

As seen from this primary source record, the first Campbellite church ever to appear on the face of the earth had its origins on Saturday, May 4, 1811. On that date, the Christian Association of Washington County in Brush Run, Pennsylvania assembled to transform itself into a church. On Sunday, May 5, 1811, the Campbellite Church of Christ had its first worship service. Thus, not on Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem but in Brush Run, Pennsylvania on May 4, 1811, the group that would later declare itself to be the only true visible church on earth was born.

Today, however, the spiritual children of the Campbellites do not care to dwell upon the early history of their fathers and the church body they began. Mention anything about the origin of the Campbellite church and Campbellites prove themselves to be great “broad-jumpers” for they are able to leap all the way from our day back to Pentecost asserting it was this day that the “Church of Christ” had its beginning. Campbellites always seek to dodge any mention of the true history of their church as it exposes the organization for the cult that it is.

As Bob Ross correctly observes:

“What a change was wrought by the Campbells. On Friday, May 3, 1811, this group had only been an ‘association,’ but on the following day it had resolved itself into a ‘church.’ On Friday, the group would not have pretended to possess any authority for the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper nor for the ordination of ministers, but on Saturday, May 4, 1811, this ‘church’ appointed Thomas Campbell as ‘elder,’ and licensed Alexander to preach, chose four ‘deacnons,’ and on the following day, Sunday, administered ‘communion.’ The name of this unsaved, unbaptized, unscriptural, man-made ‘church’ was ‘First Church of the Christian Association of Washington County.’”

Bob R. Ross, Campbellism, Its History and Heresies, (Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim Publishing, 1981), 21.

Thus was born the “only true visible church on earth.”

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe a person must complete five steps in order to be saved. A person must: a. Hear the Word; b. Believe the Word;

c. Repent of his sins; d. Confess his sins publicly; e. Be baptized by immersion only.”

Lutheran Response: Campbellite ally, Walter Scott, who met Alexander Campbell in 1821, became absolutely convinced that he was proclaiming the “ancient Gospel” with his rationally conceived “plan of salvation” which has long been central to Church of Christ thought and undoubtedly owes its origins to Scott himself. “The plan” went through several stages of development, however. The first stage in “the plan” took place in 1827, while Scott was serving as evangelist to the Western Reserve on behalf of the Mahoning Baptist Association – the organization with which the fledgling Campbell movement was at that time affiliated. By then, Scott had enlarged “the plan” from the simple proposition that “Jesus is the Christ” to a covenantal conception involving human responsibilities and God’s benevolent response. The human duties were three – believing the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, repenting of one’s sins, and submitting to immersion for the forgiveness of sins. In return, God responded with the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. Scott was absolutely convinced that he was proclaiming “the ancient gospel” when he made this six-point “plan” the primary substance of his preaching in the Western Reserve in 1827. In order to use the mnemonic device of five fingers, Scott reduced the number of steps from six to five in publicizing his meetings. He accomplished this reduction by collapsing the last two points into one – the gift of the Holy Spirit. Scott routinely spoke to children on their way home from school and taught them what he called the “five-finger exercise.” He placed one of his five points on each of the five fingers, and then told the children to make a fist and keep it closed until their arrived home. They would then open their fists, show their parents what was “on their fingers” and explain that the man who had taught them this exercise would be preaching that very evening.

Scott’s “five-finger” exercise brand of preaching produced a significant result from the legalistic tendencies inherent in the primitivism and rationalism of both Scott and Alexander Campbell and in due time came to dominate Churches of Christ. When this happened, Scott’s heirs transformed the five – point plan from one that emphasized both the work of humankind and the gracious response of God to one that featured only the work of the individual. By the twentieth century, this five-point plan of salvation had become commonplace and was routinely featured in Church of Christ preaching. It featured five human tasks: hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of one’s sins, confess the name of Jesus, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Even more startling is the fact that this more legalistic form of Scott’s “plan” was heralded as orthodoxy as early as the 1840’s.

Richard T. Hughes, Reviving the Ancient Faith – The Story of Churches of Christ in America, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmand Publishing Company, 1996), 51-52.

The “five step plan of salvation” as is taught in the Campbellite Church of Christ is singularly the result of the era or legalistic rationalism in the early history of the United States when the power of the human mind was held in the highest regard. Nowhere in the Scriptures are these five steps spelled out as being “necessary” or “required” for salvation. Rather, the five steps are all gifts from God for the benefit of the sinner – Hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17); Faith (Hebrews 12:1,2); Repentance (Acts 5:30,31); Confessing (1 John 4:2); Baptism (Titus 3:5-7).

The five steps to heaven taught by the Church of Christ is pure salvation by works and not by grace. This is a good example of how the Campbellite Church of Christ not only confuses Law and Gospel but, in fact, turns them completely around. The Church of Christ has made the Gospel into Law and the Law into Gospel. This is another indication that the Campbellite Church of Christ is a cult.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe only five acts of worship are authorized in the Bible: 1. Acappella singing, 2. Praying, 3. Taking a collection, 4. Taking communion, 5. Preaching. To do anything else during the worship service is not authorized and is thus sinful and vain worship.

Lutheran Response: These “acts of worship” cannot be traced to any reliable historical source within the Campbellite Church of Christ. They are more likely part of the “oral tradition” originating from a preacher’s pulpit and circulating to eventually become “orthodox” teaching. Again, there is no location in the Scriptures that identifies these acts of worship as the only acts ordained by God apart from any others. This is merely more man-made rationalism coming from the strong influence upon Alexander Campbell and his dependence upon enlightenment philosophy, particularly the thought of John Locke and the perspective of the “Baconian” school of Scottish Common Sense Rationalism named after Lord Francis Bacon, father of the inductive method of reasoning and the new science.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe using “MIM” (mechanical instruments of music) during the worship service is not authorized in the Scriptures and any church that uses musical instruments is engaging in “vain” worship.

Lutheran Response: The two primary passages of Scripture upon which the Campbellite Church of Christ bases this doctrinal position are Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 both passages calling upon Christians to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” The Campbellite Church of Christ has fabricated what it calls the “law of exclusion” stating that what is not explicitly commanded is thus implicitly forbidden. This law of exclusion is simply more intellectual logic which becomes necessary for the church body to uphold its doctrinal positions. The claim is made that these two passages “authorize” only singing without the accompaniment of musical instruments. Both passages, however, include the singing of psalms with the Greek word psallo specifically meaning to sing with the accompaniment of musical instruments.

Over the years, Campbellites have attempted such elaborate arguments as to compare these passages with the command of God to Noah to build the ark only with “gopher” wood (Genesis 6:14). The Campbellite “law of exclusion” suggests that the wood God commanded Noah to use necessarily “excluded” the use of any other kind of wood. No “gopher” wood tree existed in Noah’s time. There is no such thing as a “gopher” wood tree. Rather, “gopher” is the Hebrew word simply describing indigenous wood that could be locally acquired.

Another argument frequently presented against the use of musical instruments is the account of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1,2). These two men offered “strange fire” before the Lord. They were consumed by fire and put to death for doing so. The argument is made that the two men died for doing what had not been expressly commanded. Campbellites fail to mention that Nadab and Abihu, in fact, did what God in Exodus 30:7-9 had specifically forbidden.

There is no express command of prohibition from God in the Scriptures forbidding the use of musical instruments in Christian worship. In Jesus’ telling of the parable of the lost son, He states that the older brother “heard music and dancing” when the younger brother had returned to his father. The Greek word for music is the word for a symphony (Luke 15:25). Thus, if no express command of prohibition exists forbidding the use of musical instruments, it cannot be imposed by any man or man-made church. The Campbellite Church of Christ is imposing a command of prohibition when the Scriptures make so such command. This is adding to the Scriptures something that is simply not in the text. Adding to or taking away from the Word of God is strongly condemned in Revelation 22:18,19.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe the Bible is interpreted in the following manner: 1. Direct Command, 2. Approved Example, 3. Necessary Inference (CENI)”

Lutheran Response: This three-fold method of Biblical hermeneutics is yet another example of Baconian rationalism which made up the early core of orthodoxy of the Campbellite Church of Christ in the middle nineteenth century. This hemeneutical trilogy was formulated by Moses Lard (1818-1880) and cannot be found in the Scriptures.

“In 1855 Jeremiah Jeter [Baptist critic of Alexander Campbell] launched a scathing attack on the religious principles of Alexander Campbell. Among other things, Jeter accused Campbell of confining all Christians to his own movement, and he ridiculed Campbell’s claim that he had based his movement on the Bible alone, apart from human judgment and interpretation. A graduate of Bethany College [founded by Alexander Campbell in 1840], Moses Lard took up the task of responding to Jeter at Campbell’s invitation and on Campbell’s behalf. Regarding the charge that Campbell thought his movement the true church, Lard shot back, ‘Mr. Campbell does not claim for himself and his brethren that they, as a body exhaust the meaning of the term the church.’ But Lard was quick to add, ‘so far as the body of Christ has on earth a denominational existence, they are that body.’

But it was Jeter’s other charge that struck directly at the heart of the emerging Churches of Christ. When Jeter claimed that Campbell and his followers interpreted the Bible rather than just taking the Bible at face value, he undermined the very philosophical premise of the movement. Lard therefore returned to this issue again and again as one of prime importance. In 1863, for example, he published a classic article in the literature of Church of Christ ideology entitled ‘The Reformation for Which We Are Pleading – What is it?’ Central to Lard’s understanding was the Baconian common sense principle that all persons can know a thing precisely as it is without any difference in perception whatsoever. Like Campbell, Lard applied this Baconian epistemology directly to Scripture. ‘The Bible, then, being assumed true,’ Lard declared, ‘we hold that its content may be so apprehended that the mind has…the highest possible assurance that its knowledge is correct.’ That was Lard’s starting point and, indeed, the philosophical starting point for the sectarian vision of Churches of Christ.

With this foundation, Lard was ‘prepared to answer more definitely’ the question regarding ‘our plea.’ ‘The reformation for which we are pleading consists,’ he wrote, ‘1st, In accepting the exact meaning of Holy Writ as our religious theory…2nd, In the minute conformity of our practice to the revealed will of Christ…Hence all practices having their origin in tradition, human reason, or expediency, are utterly eschewed…Thus it is proposed continually to construct the body of Christ after the Divine model.’

Several months later, Lard elaborated on these arguments in another key article, ‘Have We Not Become a Sect?’ There he argued that all Christians can see the Bible alike, ‘It is a humiliating fact [therefore]…that they will not see alike…[and] a grand lie that they cannot.’ He admitted in principle that there were individual Christians within the denominations, but he effectively read these Christians out of the true church when he argued that ‘if a man knowingly holds one false doctrine, or one which with reasonable effort he might know to be false, … it is certain that he cannot be saved if he remains in this condition.’ At the same time, he claimed that the Churches of Christ of the Campbell movement had been absolutely successful in conforming their doctrine and practice precisely to the Bible at every point. ‘Have we introduced into the church any foreign element or doctrine unsanctioned by the Bible…? If so, I shall only say that forty years watching and labor upon the part of our opponents who have lacked neither ability nor industry, have been wholly insufficient…to detect the element.’ Lard concluded that ‘we accept as the matter of our faith precisely and only what the Bible teaches, rejecting everything else.’ He left no doubt, therefore, that he believed the movement fathered by Alexander Campbell to be virtually identical with the nondenominational church of the apostolic era.

In spite of Lard’s contention that ‘we accept as the matter of our faith precisely and only what the Bible teaches,’ he nonetheless argued that a biblical doctrine or practice might be established in one of two ways: ‘by being actually asserted [in the biblical text]’ or ‘by being necessarily implied.’ He thereby made explicit what had been implicit among Church of Christ for many years – namely, the belief that the New Testament makes its requirements clear in one of three ways: through direct command, through example, or through necessary inference. This threefold hermeneutic has characterized Churches of Christ ever since, hardening into a virtual orthodoxy by the twentieth century.

Hughes, 60-62.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe communion should be served every Sunday.”

Lutheran Response: Agreed! Acts 2:42 and Act 20:7 both indicate that Christians gathered for worship on the first day of the week and this worship gathering included a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day has been the historical practice of the Lutheran Church. Many pastors within The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are working to reclaim this proper practice within their congregations. However, what is practiced in the Campbellite Church of Christ is not the Lord’s Supper at all. The Campbellite Church of Christ uses the incorrect elements (Matthew 26:26,27). It fails to understand the words of institution spoken over the elements (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). It refuses to acknowledge the presence of the body and blood of the Christ in the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26,27; 1 Corinthians 10:14-17). It refuses to acknowledge that the Lord’s Supper is for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28). The doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Supper as it is observed in the Campbellite Church of Christ renders the supper totally invalid.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe only a person who is old enough to know what he is doing should be baptized. Infants cannot believe and thus should not be baptized.:

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We believe baptism should only be by immersion. To baptize any other way is sinful and invalid.”

Lutheran Response: These two frequent assertions by the Campbellite Church of Christ regarding baptism shall be answered together. Simply stated, baptism is not something we do for God. Baptism is something God does for us. Baptism is a special activity that occurs in the church and is a means by which God’s spirit comes to us to fill our lives with forgiveness, acceptance, and love. The Lutheran Church views baptism as a sacrament because it is a special means of grace that Christ commanded His disciples and His church to do. And it comes to us connected to the physical element of water. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read in chapter 28:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “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,

20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Even at this point, the Lutheran Church has been challenged to its referring to Holy Baptism as a sacrament. The word sacrament comes from the Latin Bible (called the Vulgate). This is the first Bible translation in which both the Old and New Testaments were translated into the same language. At first, this word described all of the saving truths of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the redemption of souls, the church, etc. Later it was narrowed to refer only to Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. It translated the Greek word in the New Testament for the mysteries of God.

God is the initiator of all the good gifts we receive in this life. God first gives us our lives and a marvelous world in which to live. We don’t ask for these gifts. They are simply given out of God’s grace. As we grow in years, God gives us the ability to discover, learn, and understand. We don’t ask for these abilities. They are simply given as part of who we are. God gives us the ability to love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God even gives us the ability to have faith and then gives us the faith itself. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). We believe in God because God gives us faith.

All of these gifts come to us freely, whether we ask for them or not. God gives. We receive. God gives air. We breathe. God gives life. We live. God’s love and acceptance are not based on our own goodness. They are gifts that come to us whether or not we deserve them.

Often, one hears this response to these affirmations. “Yes, it is true that God gives us all good things. But we have to accept those gifts. Just as we may give a gift to a person we love, that person must either choose to accept or reject the gift. The deciding responsibility lies with the receiver of the gift.” Although this may be a true assertion when we are discussing giving gifts for a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or at Christmas, it is not true when we are discussing how God gives His gifts to us. God’s gifts to us are always given in the shadow of our fallen sinfulness. God’s gifts are very precious because they can only come from Him. When we consider God’s precious gifts to us in comparison to our sinful condition, we begin to see a very different pattern of divine “gift giving.” St. Paul gives us some clues into this giving pattern of God in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 4:

4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

And whose sins are covered;

8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

St. Paul is quoting from the Old Testament, Psalm 32:1-2. He also writes in his epistle to the Colossians, chapter 2:

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

This language Paul is using is very interesting. He refers to debts, crediting accounts, charging accounts, payment of wages, forgiving of debts, and debts being recorded against us. They sound like terms an employer, an accountant, or an officer in bank would use in their account keeping. It is here we have the key to God’s method of “gift giving.”

Suppose you were issued a credit card from your bank. You now have the privilege to make “charges” on your credit card account up to a certain dollar limit. Perhaps you have been issued a “gold” card and you may charge as much as $5,000 or even $10,000 on your credit card account. Over a short period of time, let’s say you “maxed out” your credit card and you now have $10,000 of debt with interest piling up on top of it. Your monthly payment is larger than you can afford to pay and it is growing because of the accumulating interest. You are in serious trouble! You are in a position in which you can do nothing to help yourself. You face bankruptcy and financial ruin. You may even be facing criminal prosecution because of your crime of not paying your bills. The credit card bill comes each month giving you the bad news of how much you owe.

Then one month, the statement comes as usual. You cringe to see how much you owe. As you look at the statement, your fear suddenly turns to surprise. The statement tells you that your new balance is $0.00! You owe nothing! You no longer have the debt charged against you account. How can this be? What happened? You call your bank to investigate the matter. Surely, there has to be some error! After a moment, you find yourself talking to the president of the bank who tells you in a very kind voice that he had reviewed your credit card account and saw the massive debt you had accumulated. With a sense of compassion for your hopeless situation, he had decided to forgive your debt. The bank would pay your debt in your place. Indeed, this was truly a gift. This was a very generous gift. It is a very good example of what “for-giveness” really is – giving beforehand.

This gift was given to you without your having to decide whether to accept or reject it. In fact, the gift was given without your even being aware of it. The account was simply zeroed and cleared. You are now free from that terrible burden of debt.

At this point, what would you say to the bank president who had done this very generous thing for you? One response might be that you may become angry with the bank president and say to him, “I don’t need your charity! I don’t need your forgiveness! I am quite capable of paying my own debts, thank you! I demand that the account be left the way it was!” Or you could say, “Thank you for your kindness and generosity! I was so foolish to charge up my account with so much debt. I could have gone to jail over my total inability to pay my debt. Thank you. Thank you. How much more wonderful it would be for the bank president to say to you, “I hope you have learned a lesson from this episode. But it was my pleasure to help you in this way. If there is anything I can do for you in the future, I hope you will feel free to call.”

Now it is true this would be a wonderful story if it really happened. It is not at all likely that a bank president would do such a thing as the one in our story. But we do have a God like this. And this is His manner of forgiving us or giving us those things we truly need and canceling our debt even before we know to ask for it and certainly before we can decide to accept or reject it. The Scriptures state:

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

(1 Peter 1:17-19)

This is a very important key to understanding what happens in God’s precious gift of baptism. Baptism is a gift from God. It is given to us who could do nothing to receive or even to decide to accept or reject it.

In the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John, we find Jesus talking about baptism with Nicodemus. When Jesus said, “You must be born again…of water and the Spirit,” he was telling Nicodemus that baptism was essential. Baptism isn’t just a matter of pouring water over someone. It’s more than an admission that we are sinners who need God’s forgiveness. According to Jesus, the Holy Spirit is at work. Through, baptism, the Spirit gives new life and bring us into the kingdom of God.

We know God has created us and has given us the gift of life before we could prove we were worthy of it. We did nothing to initiate our own physical life. We simply received life from God. Our responsibility in life is our response of thanks and praise for the marvelous gifts God has given. Likewise, Christ died for us while we were sinners – before we even had faith. He didn’t say to us, “First be good enough and then I will love you.” By His life and death, He simply said, “I love you and want to save you regardless of who you are or what you have done.” Our responsibility in faith is not to make salvation happen. We simply respond to what God has already done for us. God gives. We receive. God acts. We react to that action. And that’s how it works in baptism.

This is the most important point to be made about what Christian baptism is: God is the active force. God is doing the giving. God is doing the accepting. As with all the rest of God’s good gifts, we do not initiate God’s gift of acceptance in baptism. We simply receive it. And later as we grow to know and understand that God has accepted us, we grow in our appreciation of His grace. First we receive. Then we believe. That is baptism.

But Why Do We Baptize Babies?

A well-meaning Campbellite friend comes up to you and tells you that you are wrong to baptize your children before they are old enough to make a choice themselves to be Christians. “Unless they know what is going on and make a conscious choice to follow Christ, baptism isn’t valid,” the friend says. How do you answer your friend?

To answer any question about baptism, it is important for us to remember that baptism is God’s gift of acceptance and forgiveness. God is the initiator of life, of love, and of faith. To assume that God cannot accept a child unless the child first accepts God is to place the responsibility for faith in the wrong court. It is, as the expression goes, “putting the cart before the horse.” God is the lover. God is the actor. We react to God’s love. God takes the responsibility for accepting us. To assume that a child should not be baptized is to assume that we do the acting in baptism and not God.

But God is the one who acts in baptism. His Spirit is at work, washing away our sins, giving us new life, and making us a part of His family. These are the gifts we want for our children as well as ourselves. Thank God He gives them even to infants.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have perfected praise’?” (Matthew 21:15,16)

The question of baptizing babies or the practice of infant baptism has been debated for hundreds of years and has divided branches of the Christian faith. Some branches of Protestantism argue that babies should not be baptized because they are too young to believe. They say that a person has to choose to follow Christ first and then be baptized. Otherwise the baptism isn’t real. The Bible’s answer to this logic is clear. God’s power is not limited by our faith – or lack of it. God’s power in baptism is not dependent on the child’s understanding or cooperation.

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42).

Even as an infant is capable of having natural trust in a mother and father, so it is capable of having spiritual trust in its creator.

Suppose a young woman just gave birth to a baby. The new mother and father are excited and happy about the new gift from God. However, their happiness quickly turns to anxiety when the doctor informs the young couple that the baby has a heart defect. The doctor goes on to explain to the couple that an outstanding heart surgeon is on his way to the hospital. The heart defect which the baby has is life threatening and surgery is absolutely essential. The doctor, however, assures the couple of the competence of the heart surgeon and his experience in doing this surgery many times. The doctor tells the new mother and father that the chances of the surgery being successful are excellent. The baby would have a full recovery and live a very normal and healthy life.

Of course, the parents give their consent to the surgery and are relieved and overjoyed that the outcome was just as the doctor had said. The surgery is a complete success and their new baby would be fine. Using this same scenario, it would have been nothing short of ludicrous for the doctor to have told the parents about the serious situation with their newborn baby and then to have told them, “but I would recommend to you that we postpone this surgery until the child is old enough to understand the nature of the heart defect, to understand the basic aspects of the necessary surgical procedure, and to decide for himself whether or not to have the surgery performed.” The effectiveness and successful outcome of the surgery rested in the hands of the skillful surgeon and not with the newborn child. This the way with God in baptism. God’s power creates faith in all of us whether young or old.

A very reasonable questions that follows from this position might be, “but can God create faith in a child or infant?” Rational logic might find this difficult to accept. However, rationalizations and logic must give way to the Scriptures. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read in chapter 18:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

6 “ But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (vv.1-6).

The Greek text of the New Testament (the language in which the New Testament was originally written uses the word micron which is translated as “little ones” in the final verse. A micron is the smallest unit of measurement in the metric system. It indicates that Jesus is referring and including children even when they are their smallest size. And it is these “microns” who believe in Him. Jesus indicted that little children really did believe in Him. Their faith was precious in His sight. He used a child’s faith as a model for the faith that adults should have.

In Luke 1:41-44, the Holy Spirit was working in John the Baptist’s life even before he was born:

1 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 “For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.”

Daniel Preus tells a very eloquent and winsome story about how a child can have faith. He writes:

“How the Spirit shows us Jesus may be better understood if we consider the nature of faith. Because many people misunderstand what faith is, they have concluded that we decide to become Christians, that we make a decision for Jesus and that this decision is instrumental in becoming a child of God. But if this is so and if it is also true that we are justified by faith, those who teach these things also are teaching that we are at least partially responsible for our own justification. But what exactly is faith? Lutherans frequently use the word trust to describe the nature of faith or as a synonym for the word faith. Who creates trust? The one who trusts or the one who is trusted?

Many years ago, my 4-month old son Dirk was lying on the couch when his oldest brother, Seth, began to play with him. Seth hugged and kissed Dirk, who cooed and smiled. Then Seth left. A few moments later, my daughter Kirsten walked up to the sofa to spend time with her little brother. Before Kirsten even touched Dirk, he began to whine and whimper. Kirsten, who was 3 years old, hadn’t yet learned how to be gentle with a baby. Dirk didn’t enjoy being rolled over or dragged around by the arm. Although Kirsten had no desire to hurt him, Dirk didn’t trust Kirsten. Dirk cooed and smiled for Seth because he trusted Seth to treat him gently and carefully. Did Dirk make a decision to trust Seth and not Kirsten? Did he decide to trust boys and not girls? Did he decide to trust 9-year-olds but not 3-year-olds? No, trust in his brother was created in Dirk by Seth’s behavior and distrust in Kirsten was caused by her behavior.

As another example, how would you react if a politician who has not shared his platform with you says, ‘I only have your best interests at heart. Trust me.’ Would you trust him immediately? No, he needs to earn your trust, which he does on the basis of the way he acts. If you come to trust this politician, it will be because he has acted in a trustworthy fashion. It is the nature of trust that it can be crated only the one who is trusted.

The same is true of faith. It can be created only by the one who is believed. The message about Jesus – who He is, what He has done for us – is the message that brings us to faith in God. The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus, how much He loved us, how He sacrificed Himself for us, how His passion for His wandering sheep was so great that He , the Good Shepherd, gave up His life for the sheep. The Holy Spirit shows us how trustworthy the Savior is, and faith is the result. Thus faith is created by the Spirit through His Word. Because of faith, we are justified, we enter the kingdom of God, and we enter the church. This is how we come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is how we come into fellowship with an uncountable company of angels, with those whose names are written in the Book of Life, and with God our Father and with Jesus, His Son.”

Daniel Preus, Why I Am a Lutheran, Jesus at the Center, (St. Louis:

Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 72-74.

God told the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament:

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

And some say that God cannot work in the life of a child and give that child faith! There is good news for these folks. The Bible teaches that God can and does work faith in the heart of even the smallest children.

Shoe Me Just One Place in the Bible Where it Says Babies Should be Baptized!

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “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.

39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’

The promise of the forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit is for all people including children. Again, referring to the Greek text of the New Testament, the word used for children is teknois. It is a noun which is derived from the Greek verb tikto which means “to give birth.” Teknois is the best Greek word referring to children because it includes children of all ages from infancy on up. Bear in mind that the practice of the Lutheran Church is to baptize children of any age. It is not restricted to baptizing infants only.

In Summary – Who’s Doing What in Baptism?

If Christian baptism is only for those who have enough faith to repent and believe, we are wrong and hypocritical to baptize anyone who is too young to exhibit these qualities. But the Bible clearly shows that God is the creator of faith. Since faith, forgiveness, and acceptance are the work of God, we simply follow Christ’s command to baptize and teach all people. We must not put limits on God or try to dictate what God can or cannot do. Or whom God can love and accept as a child of the kingdom. We simply do as Christ commanded and trust in Him for the rest.

Can our Creator plant the seeds of faith in a child? If the answer is yes, it is a wonderful miracle of grace. If the answer is no, then God is not as powerful as the Bible indicates. However, the final, joyous conclusion is a triumphant yet. What God is able to do in the life and heart of an adult, He is quite capable of doing in the heart of even the youngest child.

Perhaps no single question is asked more often than this one. This question has been deliberated for centuries within Christendom. It is a valid question worthy of consideration. However, the answer offered here is entirely from the Lutheran perspective. Not all churches that baptize children and practice some form of effusive baptism teach the same theology or doctrine regarding such practices. Thus, the answer offered for this most commonly asked question does not attempt to speak for all such churches. It is only to speak from the Lutheran perspective.

Of infant baptism, Luther wrote:

“Let us look to the reason why they hold that children do not believe. They say: Since they have as yet not come to use their reason, they cannot hear God’s Word; but where God’s Word cannot be heard, there can be no faith; Romans 10:17: ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” etc. Tell me, is one who judges God’s works in this way, according to our ideas, speaking like a Christian? Children have not come to the use of their reason, you say, therefore they cannot believe? What if you have already fallen from faith through this reason and the children have come to faith through their unreason? My friends, what does reason do when faith and God’s Word are concerned? Is it not a fact that reason most violently resists faith and the Word of God so that because of it, no one can come to faith or put up with God’s Word unless reason is blinded and put to shame? A man must die to reason and become a fool, so to speak, yes, and must become more unreasoning and irrational than any young child if he is to come to faith and accept God’s grace, as Christ says Matt. 18:3: “Except yet be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” How often Christ points out to us that we must become children and fools and how often He condemns reason!

Again, tell me, what sort of reason did little children have whom Christ caressed and blessed and assigned to heaven? Surely they, too, were as yet without reason. Why, then does He order that they be brought to Him, and why does He bless them? Where did they get the faith that made them children of the kingdom of heaven? The fact is that just because they are unreasoning and foolish, they are better fitted to come to faith than the old and reasoning people whose way is blocked by reason, which does not want to force its big head through the narrow door…

But since their reason so besets me, we must attack them with their own wisdom. Tell me, why do you baptize a man after he has come to the use of his reason? You reply: He hears the Word of God and believes. I ask: How do you know? You say: He confesses as much with his mouth. Should I say: What if he is lying or deceiving? After all, you cannot see his heart. Well then if in this instance you baptize only because a man has outwardly professed faith but are uncertain of his faith and must wonder whether he has more within his heart than you can observe, then neither his hearing nor confessing nor faith is of any avail; for it may be a delusion and not a real faith. Who, then, are you to say that outward hearing and confessing are necessary for Baptism, that where these are not present we should not baptize and that where they are present we should?… Is it not true that you must admit: You have no right to do to know more than that the person to be baptized be brought to you and that you are asked to administer Baptism; and you must believe, or rather, simply commit to God where or not he really believes in his heart. Thereby you are excused, and you baptize correctly…

Beside, tell me, where is the reason of the Christian believer while he is asleep, since his faith and God’s grace admittedly never leave him? If, then, faith can continue without the co-operation and awareness of reason, why should it not also being in children before reason is aware of it?…

Commit the faith to Him who commands them to be brought and baptize them at His command, saying: Lord, Thou dost bring them here and dost command them to be baptized. Therefore Thou wilt surely answer for them; on this I depend. I dare not drive them away or forbid them Baptism.:

Edward M. Plass, What Luther Says – A Practical In-Home Anthology for the Active Christian, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 51,52.

Scriptural Examples Commonly Cited to Support Immersive Baptism

Frequently, two Scriptures passages are held as definitive evidence that immersive baptism is the only valid mode of baptism. Both passages are frequently cited from the King James Version of the Bible.

The first passage comes from the Gospel of St, Matthew:

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him…(Matthew 3:16)

The second passage frequently cited is found in the Acts of the Apostles:

38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. (Acts 8:38-39)

In the first verse cited in Matthew 3:16, excessive emphasis is placed on the King James wording that Jesus “went up straightway out of the water.” The implication is made that if Jesus came out of the water in a straightway manner, then it must be understood He was below or under the water for Him to be able to emerge in such a straightway manner.

Investigating this text in the original Greek language, the word translated in the King James Version for “straightway” is euthus. This is not a word which carries the idea of a straightway direction. It is not a word that implies direction at all. Rather, the word has the meaning of rapidity in speed and deliberateness of intent. It is more properly translated with the word “immediately” which is a theme running throughout St. Matthew’s Gospel. In examining the sentence construction of the verse, we likewise find this applies not to the direction in which Jesus came forth from the water but in the rapid manner in which He did so. He came forth from the water immediately. The adverb also applies to the immediate opening of the heavens and the descent of the Spirit of God as a dove upon Jesus after His baptism rather than before.

The second verse from the book of Acts must also be carefully considered by the fact the text states both Philip and the eunuch went into the water and both emerged from the water. Must this then imply that both the baptizer and baptized should be immersed so as to afford a proper administration of baptism? Even immersionists would concede this places undue stress upon the activity reported in this Scripture passage.

The Greek Word for Baptism (baptizo) Means “Immerse”

This statement is correct. The Greek word for baptism (and its other cognates) does mean “to immerse.” The Lutheran Church does not oppose the practice of immersive baptism. It is a perfectly valid and proper mode of administering baptism. However, the Lutheran Church does oppose the assertion that such administration of baptism is the only proper method and further opposes the assertion that any other form of administration is thus consequentially invalid or defective in some manner.

More needs to be included regarding this oft-stated argument. When consulting an authoritative Greek Lexicon, the student discovers more than one definition for the Greek verb baptize. In the highly authoritative Greek Lexicon of Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and revised by William Danker (2000), the following citation is found for the word baptizo:


wash ceremonially for purpose of purification, wash, purify

to use water in a rite for purpose of renewing or establishing a relationship w.
God, plunge, dip, wash, baptize

“The transliteration “baptize” signifies the ceremonial character that NT narratives accord such cleansing, but the need of qualifying statements or contextual coloring in the documents indicates that the term β. was not nearly so technical as the transliteration suggests” (p.164).

As shall be discussed, the Holy Scriptures seem to prefer using “wash” as the definition in association with baptism. Four passages of Scripture are offered for consideration.

In the Gospel of St. Mark, chapter 7, the text reads:

4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.

The Greek New Testament text renders the word baptison in this verse that is translated with the word wash. Clearly, however, the Gospel writer is not referring to Christian baptism in this citation. Rather, he speaks of the Jewish ceremonial washing regulations that were being practiced by the Pharisees and Scribes in Jesus’ day and of which St. Mark mentions in an account of the Pharisees charging Jesus that neither He nor His disciples were complying with these ceremonial rules.

Also in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 11:

37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.

Again, the Greek New Testament text renders the word baptizo which is translated with the word, wash.

A third passage of Scripture is offered for consideration. From St. Paul’s epistle to Titus, chapter 3:

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

In this passage, St. Paul is clearly writing of the regenerative nature of Christian baptism. But he does not use the word baptize. Rather, St. Paul uses the word loutron in emphasizing the washing nature of baptism.

A final passage of Scripture indicates the same technique used again by St. Paul. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 6:

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

St. Paul is again clearly writing of the regenerative nature of baptism. However, he uses the word form apelousasthe rather than the aorist form ebaptisthen.

The assertions made with this evidence are threefold:

The New Testament does not command the mode of Christian baptism to be singularly that of immersion. If it is not commanded in the Holy Scriptures, men cannot command it.

The Greek word baptizo is not always used to refer to Christian baptism in the New Testament and is sometimes used with its other meaning (wash) intended.

Christian baptism is not always intended exclusively with the word baptizo. On occasion, other words are used to denote Christian baptism.

The Early Church Practiced Baptism By Immersion

Again, this statement is correct. However, it is not a complete assertion as is usually held. The early church had other practices which related to baptism and early Christian literature sheds light on these facts. In his book, The Church of the Catacombs, The Early Church, From the Apostles to AD 250, Walter Oetting writes:

“Justin described the baptismal rite: ‘Those who believe what we teach and are willing to live accordingly are instructed to ask God in prayers and fastings to forgive their past sins. We pray and fast with them. They are brought to a place where there is water and bathed in the name of God the Father and Lord of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit,’ (1 Apology, 61).

A manual of instruction and liturgical rules called the Didache, probably originating in Syria in the late first or early second century, adds: ‘If you do not have living [running] water, baptize with any other water; and if you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times. (Didache, 7). The Didache, Justin Martyr, and Hippolytus make it clear that the common form of baptism in the early church was immersion. This symbolized dying and rising again with Christ. But immersion was not the only mode of baptism being used. Pictures from the Roman catacombs depict the initiate being drenched with water poured on him with a seashell. Cyprian, the bishop at Carthage in the middle of the third century, wrote that the method of sprinklng was also used. He went on to assert that the manner in which the water was applied was of minor importance as long as it is done by a priest of the true church. (Letter 69,7-11).”

Exactly How Do You Baptize in the Lutheran Church?

The method of administering holy baptism employed in many Lutheran congregations is not at all unusual. We do not baptize only infant children. We will baptize a person of any age. We have on occasion baptized and entire “household” of husband, wife, and children. Such a practice is taught in the Scriptures such as Acts 16:14,15 and Acts 16:29-31.

In our Lutheran congregation, the water is applied with a brass metallic “seashell” symbolizing the same seashells which were used by the early Christians. Water is scooped form the baptismal font and it poured over the forehead of the candidate three times – each in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

A Question For the Immersionists

Early Chrisitan literature indicates that the immersion of the baptismal candidate was indeed a common practice. However, the literature also indicates that the baptismal candidate was immersed three times. As the proper mode of administering the water is the crucial component in baptism in immersionist churches, why is this not practiced today?


It may be reasonably asked that if the manner in which the water is applied is not necessarily of primary importance in the Lutheran Church, then why not immerse the baptismal candidate in water alongside the same principal as pouring the water? The answer involves the matter of our confessional witness to the world and to the other churches in the local area. For Lutherans, the matter of the mode of baptism is a matter of adiaphora which means the mode of baptism is not specifically commanded in the Scriptures nor is any mode specifically forbidden.

Thus, for any church to teach that only one mode of baptism is valid and all other modes invalid is to violate Scripture. It is to do nothing less than add to the Word of God when no such word is given. When a Lutheran congregation finds itself (as it often does in the southern United States) in the midst of immersionist church bodies that make such claims, it must in Christian love and gentle faithfulness stand up to such assertions and give a clear witness that it will not be bound by nor pressured into these positions when they are brought to bear on the Lutheran congregation or on any of its members. When a clear witness is called for in the face of opposition, a practice which should rightly be a matter of adiaphora can no longer be such. The mode of baptism is a matter of Christian freedom. It should remain as such.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We reject the doctrine of original sin. Babies are born ‘safe’ and ‘innocent.’ Thus they do not have any sin needing forgiveness.

Lutheran Response: The Scripture passages the Campbellite Church of Christ holds up to support this absurd position are Ezekiel 28:15 and Ezekiel 18:20.

15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Both passages are Hebrew poetry in which literalistic meaning cannot be derived. Even if this were not the case, both passages of Scriptures pertain to actual sins which had been outwardly committed and say nothing about the spiritual nature in which a child is born. In Ezekiel 18:20, the passage states that “the son will not share in the guilt of the father, not will the father share in the guilt of the son.” This passage is correct. All persons are held accountable to God for their own sins and not the sin of another person including parents or offspring.

In contrast, Psalm 51:5 reads:

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.

Also, Psalm 58:3 reads:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

In John 3:5,6, Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus reveals that the necessity of one being born again (baptism) is due to the fact that flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Jesus’ usage of the word “flesh” always indicates sinful flesh. Sinful parents can only give birth to sinful children. Thus, the need for them to be born again in baptism.

Another argument that is made comes from the question of why babies and children die? The only reason for anyone dying is because of sin. Romans 6:23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

However, a more important question needs to be raised here. What is the eternal disposition of the child’s soul after death? The answer which has been offered to this writer is “children go immediately to heaven” because they are “safe” and ostensibly because they have no sin needing forgiveness. This must then mean children go to heaven without the need of a Savior since they have nothing from which they need to be saved. Consequently, they have no need for Jesus Christ who is the only Savior of the world and the only way to eternal life in heaven. Finally, if children have no need for Jesus Christ as their Savior because they have no sin needing forgiveness, then it must mean (albeit only for infants and children) that there is more than one way to heaven.

St. Luke writes in Acts 4:12:

2 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is only one way to heaven and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Infants, children, and adults all get to heaven the same way.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach the ‘age of accountability’ doctrine that states a person’s sins are not held against him by God until he is ‘old enough’ to know he is doing wrong.”

Lutheran Response: The doctrine of an “age of accountability” is a doctrine of subterfuge within the Campbellite Church of Christ. It is a doctrine which was created out of necessity to reconcile the paradox the Campbellites created for themselves between the doctrine of the essentiality of baptism in order to be saved and their denial of the doctrine of original sin. On the one hand, Campbellites teach the absolute necessity for any person to be baptized in order to be saved. On the other hand, they must reject the doctrine of original sin otherwise they would be forced to acknowledge the necessity of baptism for infants and children. Thus, the doctrine of “the age of accountability” was created.

This doctrine states that a child is only held accountable by God for his sins once he reaches the age of his being cognitively aware of his sins. The Scripture passage held out to support this doctrinal position is Isaiah 7:16:

16 “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.”

It is interesting how a church body that so vehemently rejects the binding nature of the Old Testament must subsequently depend on it so heavily in its attempts to support such strange doctrines.

A quick review of this passage of Scripture shows the context which is offered here in the prophet’s writing. The paragraph of text for this section begins with verse 13:

13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 15 “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

This is a clear passage of Messianic prophecy pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Certainly Jesus Christ was the only child who was born perfect.

It is true that children have a continuing progression of developing reason and discernment in their lives that continues throughout adulthood. But discernment and “accountability” are two very different things. There is no point in a person’s lifetime here on earth when he is not accountable to God for that life and the conduct of his life. Romans 14:11,12 states:

11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach that baptism is for the remission of sins. But only for a person’s past sins.”

Lutheran Response: This is a doctrinal position not well know even among members of the Campbellite Church of Christ. However, two sources bear this out:

“Churches of Christ have stood almost alone in the religious world on the subject of water baptism. We have insisted that immersion of a penitent believer is essential to salvation from past sins.”

Alan Highers, ed., The Spiritual Sword, no. 2 (January 1994) : 1.

“Though in becoming a child of God, one is commanded to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, it is, and can be, only for the sins committed before becoming a child of God, for he is guilty of no other sins before that time.”

Charles Ready Nichol, Sound Doctrine, vol. 5, (Clifton, Tex.: Nichol Publishing Company, 1920), 65.

As the Campbellite Church of Christ stresses the absolute necessity of being baptized, rejects the biblical doctrine of original sin, and yet affirms an “age of accountability,’ baptism in the Church of Christ, by definition, must cover only a very small portion of a person’s sins during his lifetime. Only those sins having been committed from the moment the person reaches the “age of accountability” [and who decides when that age is reached?] until the moment he is baptized are remitted in the baptism. Any sins that have been committed before the “age of accountability” and any sins committed after the person is baptized must be absolved somehow by the person himself as his baptism is not efficacious outside this very narrow window of remission. Rather, baptism is for the forgiveness of all sins.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We teach that observing Christmas, Easter, and other “religious” holidays in the church is sinful. Worship on Sunday should be the same every week.

Lutheran Response: The Scripture passage that is held up as supporting this position is Romans 14:5:

5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

Stated simply, a careful reading of the entire chapter of Romans as well as Colossians 2:16,17 –

16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,

17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

will reveal that the passages of Scripture purported by the Campbellite Church of Christ to prohibit festivals in the church are the very passages that support the church’s freedom to celebrate the significant events in the life of our Lord and of His church.

Campbellite Church of Christ Position: “We reject that Christ descended into hell between the time of His crucifixion and resurrection.”

Lutheran Response: Again, most members of the Campbellite Church of Christ are not aware of this doctrinal discrepancy. In an oral presentation made on December 13, 1998, Campbellite Stephen Wiggins stated that Jesus Christ descended into the “realm of the dead” [Hades] but that He did not descend into hell itself. Mr. Wiggins states that he believed there were four eternal destinations. Paradise and heaven and well as Hades and hell. The Scriptures teach that only two eternal destinations exist – heaven and hell.

1 Peter 3:18-20 reads:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

The Greek word used for “prison” is phylake which is an eternal place of punishment from which there is not escape.

Concluding Comments: The Campbellite Church of Christ has existed for almost 200 years (est. 1811). Its doctrines and paralogistic methods of argumentation place it in the same category as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Watchtower Society. It consistently lies about its true history and rejects any attempt to the contrary.

In its more recent history, this organization has spawned an even more bizarre sect known as the “Boston Movement” or more recently as the “International Churches of Christ” led by Kip McKean. This very strict cult focuses its recruiting and proselytizing efforts on young college students most of whom are away from home for the first time.

The well known author, Max Lucado, is a member of this organization preaching in a large congregation in San Antonio, Texas. Also the much publicized special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, is a member of the this group.

The position of this writer is one that claims the Campbellite Church of Christ to be a cult. It has throughout its history lied and distorted the facts concerning its origins and many of its aberrant doctrines.




Today, the Campbellite Church of Christ is a seriously divided fellowship. It is comprised basically of two groups – the “(a)historical hardliners” who continue to deny the Campbellian origins of their fellowship and the “contemporary conservatives” who have recently made outward overtures to unite with the Disciples of Christ which is another branch of Campbellite history. Members of the Church of Christ should be encouraged to abandon thus spurious organization and begin catechesis with a conservative congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

For anyone reading this document, please do not misconstrue its polemical character with any personal animosity toward anyone who may be associated with the Campbellite Church of Christ. Many people within the Church of Christ maintain their membership on the basis of familial loyalty and a genuine fear that to depart the fellowship means forfeiture of one’s eternal salvation.

However, the doctrinal matters discussed in this documents are of the highest importance and should be regarded in a serious manner. Indeed, the eternal souls of many people are at stake.

Dr. Keith W. Schweitzer

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church

505 NE Dodge Street

Greenfield, Iowa 50849




Church of Christ Cult

by David J. Stewart

The Church of Christ is a false religion because it is wrong on the essential Biblical plan of salvation. In fact, many Church of Christ ministers have taught that the Church of Christ group is the true church of Christ, and no one else is. They even go as far as to claim that people who haven’t been baptized by a Church of Christ preacher will go to Hell. I distinctly recall a discussion I once had with a Church of Christ minister. He was arrogant, doctrinally corrupt, and unsaved. He believed that for a person to be saved, they had to have faith, repent of sins, and be baptized. Well, that’s two items too many! The only thing that God requires of men to be saved is faith alone in Christ.

“Repent” in the Bible, concerning salvation, simply means “a change of mind,” not the forsaking of one’s sins. The forsaking of one’s sins is a result of growing in grace, which often takes many years, as a believer grows in the Lord. One does not have to surrender anything to the Lord to be saved, BUT, simply believe upon the Lord (Acts 16:31). The only thing that a person needs to repent of to be saved is their unbelief. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 5:15). A “gift” has no strings attached. Many preachers have developed the bad habit of requiring people to walk down to the front of the church to be saved; BUT, that is a work not required by God. Why does a person need to walk down to the front of the church? Can’t they be saved in their pew? Of course they can! If you’ll simply believe upon Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and save you, then you will go to Heaven when you die (John 14:6; Romans 10:13).

2nd Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Carefully notice the phrase, “if any man be in Christ…” The change comes AFTER a person is saved, not as a requirement to be saved. Salvation is like picking an old soda can out of the garbage. You’ve saved it, but it hasn’t been recycled (converted) yet. Likewise, God pulls us out of the garbage when He saves us; BUT, now He must recycle us into His image. Christian growth in grace is not required to go to Heaven. I know this shocks many self-righteous religious people; but it’s Biblical (John 3:3; Romans 4:3-5; Ephesians 2:8,9). If you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you’re going to Heaven, whether you grow in the Lord or not while on earth. There are some lousy Christians in this world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not saved. King David was an adulterer, murderer, and crook; BUT, he only lost the joy of salvation, not salvation itself. Such rebellious believers will give account at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

‘Baptismal Regeneration’ is Unbiblical

Church of Christ members teach that baptism is required for salvation, but it is not. They believe that obedience is a part of salvation. However, the only thing which we must obey to be saved is the Gospel, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There is nothing in the Bible which requires a person to be baptized in order to be saved. On the contrary, we read in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” One who has trusted in Christ is saved, not condemned, whether he has been baptized or not. John 11:25, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” There is no mention in this verse concerning baptism. Or what about John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Again, there is no mention of being baptized to be saved. There are hundreds of New Testament references which mention faith in Christ, without baptism being mentioned. Clearly, it is faith alone in Christ which saves a person, without baptism. The Church of Christ cult teaches damnable heresies by ADDING requirements which God didn’t add.

A careful study of the Scriptures with an honest heart makes it quite clear that works CANNOT save a person, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified IN HIS SIGHT: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” One cannot be justified in the sight of God by WORKS. When James spoke of being justified by works, he clearly stated…

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: SHEW ME thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.








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James was speaking about being justified in the SIGHT OF MEN. 1st Samuel 16:7 tells us why, “…for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” Man cannot see our heart’s faith, so he looks at our works instead. However, God can see our heart, and it is all that He looks at. It is true that faith without works is dead; BUT, it is equally true that salvation (justification in the sight of God), comes by faith, without works. Romans 4:6 states, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” Baptism is a work, that if added to faith in Christ, will send a man to Hell forever.

Faith + any work = NO faith at all

“Baptismal regeneration” is simply the heretical teaching that one must be baptised in order to be saved. It is a Satanic doctrine, which is responsible for sending billions to Hell. The Catholic Church REQUIRES it’s members to be baptized in order to go to Heaven. So does the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, etc. Jesus NEVER told anyone to get baptized to be saved. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized; yet, we read that Abraham was justified by faith, without works (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3-5).


Please leave the Church of Christ cult if you’ve been entangled in their doctrinal trap. They also deny the existence of a literal Heaven, the millennial reign of Christ, the Rapture, and many other fundamental Bible teachings. The Church of Christ is bad news!!! They focus on baptism so much that the plain Biblical plan of salvation is obscured; thus, they have churchianity without Christianity. So many people go through the rituals and ceremonies of religion, but they never become born-again believers. They join a church, get baptized, sing in a choir, tithe, go through the motions; BUT, they don’t know Jesus Christ as Saviour. They go through the outward form of religion, thinking that they are obeying God’s plan of salvation; BUT, they do not have the change of heart, because they are trusting the church and the form and the ceremony and holding out faithful and many other works of men, instead of depending solely on Jesus Christ. Psalm 118:8 declares, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” I say to the Church of Christ the same thing which the Apostle Paul said to the church at Galatia, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth”? (Galatians 3:1). O foolish Church of Christ, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? You have erred after another Gospel (Galatians 1:6). The Biblical Gospel does NOT require baptism to be saved, nor does it require a person to forsake their sins. Such actions are “works,” and then God would owe us salvation, which is unbiblical (Romans 4:4-5). Salvation is of God, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus. Our responsibility is to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31)–and that’s it!







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Church of Christ Heresies! DANGER: Wolves in the Sheep Pen!

by David J. Stewart

Baptismal Regeneration?

Church of God followers do NOT believe in simple FAITH in Jesus Christ to be saved; on the contrary, they most definitely demand that BAPTISM be added for one to be saved. I spoke at length recently with a Church of God minister who earned his degree from the Dallas Christian College. Dallas Christian College DOESN’T make it clear at all that they are indeed a Church of Christ college. Why are they deceptive about who they really are? What are they afraid to tell people? Click on their “Our Mission” link and see if Church of Christ is mentioned. It is NOT! By all indications, many Christian people would ignorantly think this was a great college to attend, but it certainly is NOT! It looks innocent enough on the surface doesn’t it? That’s the disguise they want you to see. I went to visit their website to read their statement of faith; as I suspected, it was vague. But as clever as the person tried to be who devised this statement of faith, it couldn’t escape the discernment of a spirit-filled believer, knowledgeable in the Word of God. The following quote is taken from their statement of faith:

“…the Church of the New Testament ought everywhere to be restored with its divine plan of admission: faith, repentance, and baptism…”

Did you read that? Did you see the heresy? Is baptism necessary for admission into the Church? No sir! The very moment you trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, asking Him to forgive your sins and come into your heart, you have been born-again and are a member of the body of Christ. Any fool who tells you that you have to be baptized to become a member of the church is LYING to you! Isn’t it something how misguided ministers will force you to get baptized to join THEIR church, but God accepts ANY repentant sinner into heaven. You do NOT have to be affiliated with any church, religious group or denomination to go to heaven -You just need Jesus! Jesus Himself proclaimed in John 14:6 that He was the ONLY way to the Father. John 10:9 clearly declares that Jesus Christ is the DOOR by which men and women enter into heaven. John 6:40 teaches that the will of God is to believe upon Christ.

As I spoke with this sincerely misguided minister, he explained the following order to me as being necessary for salvation:





BAPTISM (uh oh! This is damnable heresy!)

I would agree with him up to the confession part, but not baptism!

“Repentance” is a turnaround (a change of mind about sin and God), not necessarily the departing from one’s sins. You DON’T have to give up your sins to be saved, you need to give up your unbelief. If we did have to give up our sins to be saved, then NO one could ever be saved because we are all sinners. Howbeit, the “godly sorrow” which brings repentance should result in a sincere desire to clean up our life with God’s help (2nd Corinthians 7:10).

“Confess” simply means “to admit the same thing as God.” God says we are sinners, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says we deserve to go to hell, and we must agree with that to be saved. God says that He sent His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) into the world to pay for our sins, and we must agree with this to be saved.

But the baptism issue was an insurmountable barrier in our conversation, a Pandora’s box. He was adamant that Baptism was essential for a person to enter heaven. This of course is a lie of the devil, pure heresy! Though he condemns the Catholic religion for their teaching of “works” salvation through the keeping of the Seven Sacraments, he is utterly blinded to his own foolish perceptions about baptism. I flat out asked him what would happen to a person who made it to step 4, but didn’t get baptized at step 5? He honestly replied that he did NOT know! He stressed the fact that he felt SAFER by ADDING that extra step of baptism to his faith. Unfortunately, that is a sure road to hell-fire and destruction.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” -Proverb 14:12

Faith in Christ ALONE equals salvation!

Faith in Christ PLUS anything equals hell!

If I said that I believed I could trust you with my money, that would NOT be faith (that would be optimism). If I entrust you with my money and ask someone to follow you (to keep an eye on you), that is NOT faith either. If I entrust you with my money and don’t take ANY precautions whatsoever, that is 100% faith. To add baptism to faith is to add a “work” to faith; consequently, it is NO faith at all. You don’t need much faith to be saved, you need “just enough” faith. You need JUST ENOUGH faith to obey Romans 10:13 and “call upon the name of the Lord.” If you have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed (a VERY small seed indeed), that is all the faith you need. The AMOUNT of one’s faith is not of importance for salvation, what is important is that you simply HAVE FAITH. Either you have 100% faith or you do not. The Church of Christ minister I was speaking with told me that he felt much safer by adding that extra step of baptism to his faith and repentance. How stupid! How foolish! How woefully ignorant is he of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:17 declared…

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” -1st Corinthians 1:17

According to the Church of Christ minister, Paul was sent by Christ to TEACH the gospel, but not to actually do any of the REQUIRED baptism to be saved. He claims this was done to prevent division in the church. True, Paul didn’t want to baptize any of them because of their immature quarreling; however, this had absolutely nothing to do with their salvation. Some of the believers in the Corinthian church were actually fighting over who baptized them. They were making an issue of a non-issue. Paul lays the issue to rest by proclaiming that CHRIST did NOT send him to baptize, but to preach the gospel. It is our FAITH in the gospel of Jesus that saves us, NOT baptism.

I could go on and on about why baptism is NOT necessary for salvation. No one in the Old Testament was ever baptized. These people who claim that the Old Testament is invalid are idiots. Of course, the law which was against us was indeed nailed to the cross. Yes, the Jewish ceremonial laws are gone. However, we are still expected by God to obey the Nine Commandments (NOT to be saved, but because we are saved and love Jesus). People in the Old Testament (old contract) were saved the SAME way people are saved today, BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:8, 9). There is NO other way to be saved! It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn friend!

Don’t let some misguided individual trick you into believing that baptism is essential for salvation. The Church of Christ minister claimed that since the New Testament didn’t actually begin until Jesus died, that the thief on the cross didn’t have to be baptized. He is trying to say that there are TWO different plans of salvation (one for the OT and one for the NT). He believes that baptism was NOT required for Old Testament saints, but IS required for all New Testament saints. This is ludicrous and preposterous!!!! There is NO such teaching in the Bible. There has always been ONE and only one plan of salvation, and that is through the precious shed blood of our Dear Lord Jesus Christ! Do you want to be saved? Then look upon Jesus ye ends of the earth and be ye saved (Isaiah 45:22).

I asked the minister what would happen if an astronaut placed his faith in Christ while in outer space? Obviously he couldn’t get baptized in space! His answer was another mere, “I don’t know.” How pathetic!!! How can a man go to a supposed Bible college for four years and earn a degree in theology, just to tell me that he doesn’t know how a person in outer space could be saved! I’ll tell you why! Because the whole doctrine of baptismal regeneration is flawed and makes no Biblical sense. He might as well become a Lutheran or a Catholic to believe that garbage. Baptismal regeneration is of the devil. Jesus didn’t baptize (John 4:2). In the book of Romans, baptism is only mentioned briefly in chapter six. Paul NEVER makes any direct command to be baptized! Yet, Paul expresses in Romans 10:1 that it is his “HEARTS DESIRE” for the people to be saved. Paul wanted people to be saved, that is why he went publicly from house-to-house in Acts 20:20 to witness to people. We soul-winners call this the “Acts 20/20 vision.” In other words, if your consumed about winning souls to Christ, then your seeing 20/20 as a Christian. Most believers are wearing blinders.

No Rapture or Millennium?

The Church of Christ minister also said he DIDN’T believe in any type of rapture, but that the Lord would simply return and part the righteous from the wicked. We are clearly taught in God’s Word that there will be a “departure” of the saints from this world; hence, the word rapture (which is not itself found in the Bible). The words of the Apostle Paul in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 are as clear as can be. In the twinkling of an eye, the Lord WILL return. Read it for yourself. Why can’t people just take the Bible at face value? Why do they persist to read in-between the lines? Why do they seek for things that God has NOT placed in the Bible? Luke 17:36 is still in the King James Bible folks! Matthew 24:41 is still in the Bible! Two shall be, and one shall remain! This foolish minister also said he didn’t believe there would be a Millennial reign of Christ. Revelation 20:1-6 speaks of the 1,000 year millennium. The purpose of this article is NOT to get into depth of these individual Bible doctrines, but rather to expose the heretical teachings of the Church of Christ. A study of Biblical prophecy is beyond the scope of this article. The Bible is very clear concerning the departure of the saints from this world (the rapture) and of the Millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem over the earth. Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:3).

No Eternal Security?

The Church of Christ minister also said that he believed a saved person COULD lose their salvation if they got away from fellowship with the Lord. I asked him if all Church of Christ followers believed the same doctrines he did and he affirmed, YES. He laughed in my face when I told him that the Bible was clear that a saved person could NEVER lose their salvation. I mean, Jesus told Nicodemus to be “born again,” NOT born again and again and again and again! Revelation 3:20 is an invitation for us to open the door of our heart to allow the Lord Jesus to come in (John 14:23). Church of Christ folks evidently have a problem with Christians who are less than perfect. The minister was perplexed when I told him that a Christian could commit murder and still be saved. He almost became angry. His problem is that he has a WRONG view of salvation (which is why I believe he is NOT really saved). The Church of Christ has a wrong view of salvation! The truth is that we DO NOTHING to earn salvation! If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved? I like that statement so I’ll say it again…

If we can’t do any good works to get saved, then why would doing any bad works make us unsaved?

I did nothing to get saved of my own merit. All I did was place my faith in the Lord’s work of atonement. It is Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for my sins that gets me into heaven, I had nothing to do with that. Salvation is OF GOD, not man! So then why in the world would anyone conclude that a person has to maintain a certain level of fellowship or righteousness with God to keep one’s salvation? It is no less than a WORKS religion! The Church of Christ is ADDING works to simple faith in Christ! They teach that you MUST be baptized to be saved! They teach that you MUST keep coming back to the Lord (to get your salvation back) every time you get away from the Lord. Listen folks, there is NOTHING in the Bible which teaches that we can fall from grace as believers. When the Bible speaks of “falling from grace” it is simply talking about unsaved people who have rejected Christ. Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven! If you reject Jesus, then you have missed your ONLY buss ticket to heaven. This is the only way to fall from God’s grace.

You CANNOT lose your salvation!!! If someone is not saved now, then they never were to begin with. As a perfect analogy, I cannot change the relationship between my and my own child. I could disown my child (which I think is a horrible thing for ANY parent to do), but they would still be my child. Even if my child killed someone, the relationship doesn’t change one bit -that is still my child and I am still their parent. Such is this case with God! No matter what we do, we are God’s children. If you would like to KNOW your saved, Click Here.

No Tears in Heaven?

More heresy! This Church of Christ minister said there will be no tears in heaven. Well, he is wrong! Over and over we are warned in the Bible to be careful how we live as believers because we each shall give account to God. We are commanded to defraud not thy brother. There will be tears in heaven for those believers who lived for SELF and hurt other people while upon the earth. The blood of our loved ones will be upon our hands if we have failed to witness to them. We can’t force them to accept the truth, but we CAN love them and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. There will be tears throughout the Millennium, but all tears shall be wiped away at the end, after the Great White Throne of Judgment. All former things will be passed away (Revelation 21:4). Being a Christian DOESN’T give us a license to sin. Though our sins are under the blood and all is well between us and God as far as our sin debt, we must still make things right with those we have wronged. Salvation balances the scale of justice between us and God, but the scales of justice must also be balanced between us and those we have victimized or hurt in ant way (Romans 12:19). The Judgment Seat of Christ is going to be a JUDGMENT only for believers, it is not going to be a joyous time for most believers. There WILL be many tears.

Heaven is Not a Physical Place?

I was really surprised when the Church of Christ minister told me that he didn’t believe in heaven as a place. He believed that heaven was only a spiritual existence, NOT a literal place. I asked him about the streets of gold and the gates of pearl, he didn’t believe they were literal. I asked him about the mansions which Jesus spoke of in John 14:1-2, he denied those also as being physical homes. I don’t know what he’s been smoking, but he sure needs to get with the program. He has been blinded by a false religion, sad but true.

In conclusion, I firmly DOUBT anyone’s salvation who ADDS baptism to a childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! I also sincerely doubt the salvation of any person who feels they have to live a certain way to keep their salvation (which is a big lie). The entire MINDSET is very different when you believe you are not eternally secure. Just as the Muslims have no assurance of salvation, neither does the Church of Christ. I KNOW I am saved and NOTHING can take that from me. I CANNOT lose my salvation. So do I have a license to sin? Of course not! I don’t want to sin because I still have to give account to God someday and I already have enough to answer for. I love God and want to please Him, but I fear Him equally so. I became a new creature when I was born-again. I don’t live right to get saved, I live right because I am saved and God’s Holy Spirit lives in my heart. My Bible says that I am saved and sure! Your not just being safe by adding baptism to faith, your being stupid! I can say this because we are clearly warned throughout the Bible against adding anything to faith. Baptism is useless to get anyone saved. See Romans 11:6, Titus 3:5, and Romans 4:2. The bottom line is that Jesus Christ Himself did not make an issue of baptism! Read through the book of John and you’ll discover that Jesus is the door, the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection, the light, the Good Shepherd…but not one mention is made of baptism! Not one! The Church of Christ is a false religion, just as are the Lutherans and the Seventh-Day Adventists! ONLY through simple faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ can any person go to heaven. It’s Jesus or hell, turn or burn! God loves you, and so do I. I welcome any further information or comments.

Kindest regards, Dave




I posted this article in a MSN group that I visit. The “Church of Christ” is not the “one true church”! It is a Cult. By Damon WhitsellI was asked this question,,, “Why does the CoC rate the label “cult” over “heretical”?”, then the questionnaire ask a series of questions voicing his concerns about me referring to the “Church of Christ” as a cult.

What follows is my response.

I would be happy to help out. You said,

QUESTION: “Usually these revelations are presented as truth by a leader who is proclaimed to be a prophet of some kind and whose teachings and writings are considered to be an addition to Scripture and of equal or near equal authority.”


Responce: The COC claims that all individual congregations are autonomous but in reality they have many “Scholars” that write manuals for them. That is why no matter where you go you here the same arguments and rhetoric from the majority of them. They do not have any extra biblical books such as the Mormons book of Mormon, Doctrine and covenants and the Pearl of great price. They do not have a “prophetical figure“ dispensing “new revelation from God”. But these manuals by COC scholars are considered a “New way” of understanding biblical truth.


QUESTION: Usually said groups practice one form or another of shunning.


Responce: The COC is authoritarian in that they claim to be the “only true Christ of Jesus” and only they have the way of salvation. The claim is made that the NT church of Jesus and the apostles ceased to exist and had to be “restored”. They are a part of the restoration movement. You can read more HERE.

If your not of the COC your shunned as not a real Christian. If you are COC and leave to go to another denomination you are shunned as having left the one true church and forfeited your salvation. This is demonstrated in Sissy’s thread The Church and the doctrine of Christ and many other threads and a considerable number of her post in other thread topics. Can we count the number of threads that have been hijacked by Sissy and her claim to be sinless and her claims that we too must be sinless to be saved?


QUESTION: Usually said groups reject that salvation is possible by any other means than a strict embracing and adherence of/to their extra-biblical doctrines.


Responce: This is the case with the COC. Their doctrine of baptismal regeneration (salvation by baptism as opposed to Grace) is thoroughly non-biblical. And so is their claim to be the “one true” or restored church. Their denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit rejects the biblical triune nature of God. I am glad you asked the next question.


QUESTION: Usually said groups are legalistic and have strict codes of compliance.


Responce; 2 COC members here have started at least a dozen threads promoting their doctrine of sinless perfection. According to them your not saved unless you sinless. The sinless perfection (or entire sanctification) is not exclusive to the COC. Many Christian pseudo-cults employ and advocate it. At the same time not many COC churches and believers adhere to it. But they do employ an overbearing attitude and practice of legalism. The practice of legalism is employed in all Christian cults. See my article CULT UNITY ? By Damon Whitsell


Cult apologetics pioneer Walter Martin defined a cult as follows,, In his 1955 book The Rise of the Cults: An Introductory Guide to the Non-Christian Cults, Martin gave the following definition of a cult: “By cultism we mean the adherence to doctrines which are pointedly contradictory to orthodox Christianity and which yet claim the distinction of either tracing their origin to orthodox sources or of being in essential harmony with those sources. Cultism, in short, is any major deviation from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.”

These “essential Christian doctrines” are alomost universally agreed among cult apologetics ministries to be 1. the Trinity 2. the full deity and humanity of Christ 3. the spiritual lostness (need for salvation) of the human race 4. the substitution atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ 5. salvation by faith alone in Christ alone

Link here— >>>>Watchman Fellowship’s 2001 Index of Cults and Religions (which list well over a hundred cult entries) states that a cult is Cult= “By its primary dictionary definition, the term cult just means a system of religious beliefs or rituals. It is based on a farming term in Latin meaning cultivation. Sociologists and anthropologists sometimes use the term cult to describe religious structure or belief patterns with meanings (usually non-pejorative) unique to their disciplines. In modern usage, the term cult is often used by the general public to describe any religious group they view as strange or dangerous. Thus, cult can describe religious leaders or organizations that employ abusive, manipulative, or illegal control over their followers’ lives. In addition to these usages, Christians generally have a doctrinal component to their use of the word. Cult in this sense, is a counterfeit or serious deviation from the doctrines of classical Christianity. Watchman Fellowship usually uses the term cult with a Christian or doctrinal definition in mind. In most cases the group claims to be Christian, but because of their aberrant beliefs on central doctrines of the faith (God, Jesus, and salvation), the organization is not considered by Watchman Fellowship to be part of orthodox, biblical Christianity. Research material and Profile are available.”
This is their entry for the COC.

“Churches of Christ: The independent Churches of Christ movement was one of several associations and denominations that developed from Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott and Barton W. Stone’s restoration movement of the early 19th century, which was designed to promote unity among Protestants. Many (but not all) Churches of Christ today, however, differ from traditional Protestant doctrine in two key areas. Many maintain that water baptism and/or other commandments (rather than salvation by grace through faith alone) are a requirement for salvation (see Baptismal regeneration, Salvation by works). Some also believe that today’s Churches of Christ are the only true churches on earth and that they can literally trace their history to the first century church in Jerusalem. “

Not all COC congregations and COC members are aberrant or heretical to the point of apostasy that they are labeled a cult or cult members. From my reading of (“members who have left the COC”) these figures are stated between 20% and 70%.

From my article,,, Unity Within Diversity UNITY IN ESSENTIALS link HERE


A few months ago I was engaged in debates at factnet ( a cult watch ministry ) with followers of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s Chapel. They can be called a Christian cult because they do not hold to essential doctrine. They cannot be called a denomination or a true church. They have nothing in common with others that call themselves Christian except for the name Christian. They hold an unorthodox view concerning the nature of God, man, sin and salvation. From non essentials such as the heresy of pre-existence to the heresy of anglo-Isrealism, to the essentials of God, man and salvation by grace not works or genetics, they are unorthodox to the core. They are not unified within diversity as real Christians are. They are isolated and don’t have unity with those who hold to essential doctrines. Let me explain what I mean by unity with in diversity.

My phone book list about 20 different local Christian churches. Among them are denominations and non denoms and Christian cults. I can go to most of those churches and have much unity in beliefs with them, especially concerning Jesus. In essentials unity, in non essentials liberty and in all things love. Some I could not attend at all because they are diametrically opposed to essential orthodox Christian beliefs, but we must remember that they are cults by virtue of their unorthodox teachings.

Christians churches and denominations enjoy a shared unity within diversity about beliefs concerning God, man, sin and salvation amongst all non cult denominations and non denominational churches. But a follower of Arnold Murray and the Shepard’s chapel cannot enjoy that same unity with other local churches. To fellowship they have to travel to Arkansas or do their fellowshipping online with other Shepard Chapelers. They are isolated, exclusive and authoritarianistic because of their beliefs.

There are beliefs that are essential to orthodox Christianity. There are beliefs that are important but not essential. And there are beliefs that have no relevance at all concerning orthodoxy such as eschatology. Because most of these churches hold to essential doctrines they could be called essentially Christian but some would have to be called Christian cults because they are not Christian by virtue of the essence of their beliefs about Jesus Christ yet still apply the term Christian to themselves.




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