May all who have come to “All Things Baptist” have a blessed Christ filled Christmas and a Blessed-Happy New Year for 2008.
May all who have come to “All Things Baptist” have a blessed Christ filled Christmas and a Blessed-Happy New Year for 2008.
Posted by Tim A. on November 30, 2007
The following article was posted by Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist Grouplist:
Practical Ramifications of Receiving Alien Immersion
by Van Harness, Pastor, West Side Baptist Church, Greers Ferry, Arkansas
In the preceding sections Dr. W.T. Conner, a notable past Arkansas theologian and Dr. Jimmy Millikin, a present Arkansas theologian, have given the theologian’s reasons for rejecting alien immersion. Chris Hackler has given the historical precedent for rejecting alien immersion. There is one more category that should be considered. What will be the practical ramifications to us if we receive alien immersion?
1. The ease of transferring membership to and from Arkansas Southern Baptist churches will be forever lost. No longer can it be assumed Scriptural baptism has occurred.
2. Great confusion, lack of order and insult to people will occur when some Arkansas Southern Baptist churches will receive them without baptism and others will not.
3. Our practice of not allowing alien immersion from 1848-1968 by common consent and from 1968-present by bylaw requirement will mark a profound doctrinal change from our 159 years heritage. Are we better equipped to make this doctrinal assessment than our previous generations of Baptist theologians? I think not! I think those of us with some grey in our hair and years under our belts best not entrust our doctrinal heritage so easily with this wave of unproven leadership especially when it comes to our Baptist Doctrinal Distinctive. We need to step back and ask, “What are we doing and why are we doing it?”
4. For us Scriptural baptism has always been the entrance into the local church and the stop-gate for those seeking entrance from denominations that are unscriptural in some basic doctrines especially salvation and baptism itself. To change the stop-gate to a flood gate will in time flood churches with many strange doctrines that will eat away at our doctrinal roots bringing doctrinal battles and turbulent times to many churches. It will be said that other state conventions do not have bylaw restrictions concerning this. We’ve been spared many battles others have fought because our restrictions on alien immersion have kept us more doctrinally pure.
5. It puts our convention in contrast to our International Mission Board which requires all candidates whose baptism was not authorized by a church believing eternal security to present themselves to a Southern Baptist church for baptism before they are appointed as missionaries. If our IMB can do this surely the ABSC can maintain our present guideline with its members concerning baptism.
6. We all believe in the autonomy of the local church. However, the churches look to our convention for leadership and guidance in numerous areas. As important as baptism is, guidance should be there. Our very name “Baptist” identifies the most important significance and influence among our churches. Our convention leadership, until recently, has honored this guidance and protection of this cherished doctrine. If our churches can’t depend on this guidance and protection many will lose their confidence and feel abandoned. Their support and future commitment and loyalty to the convention will greatly suffer.
7. One of the reasons our Lord Jesus was baptized at the beginning of his earthly ministry was to provide an example to future believers. Scripture says (Matthew 3:15) it was to “fulfill all righteousness” . If we allow alien immersion many coming into our churches will have never been properly baptized. The righteousness that the Lord wanted fulfilled in their lives will be missing. We may be successful in changing their unscriptural doctrines but the very first act of a new Christian’s walk with the Lord will be unfulfilled. 1 Peter 3:21 indicates “baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God” with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord being symbolized. The conscience of believers with alien immersion will have a missing answer in their lives. This missing ordinance will hamper their entire life of service to the Lord. We need to make sure this does not happen.
This list has been some practical ramifications if the alien immersion clause is removed from our constitution. However, as this paper reveals throughout its content for many of us this is a heartfelt doctrinal issue. It likewise, has been for our previous generations since it is a constitutional bylaw requiring 2/3 votes for two consecutive years. They did not want it removed easily. We implore that we not abandon this historical doctrinal root that has been an Arkansas Baptist distinctive in our convention. We urge you to vote no to the proposed constitutional change. Please feel free to forward this paper to others. You may also print and pass this paper out to others in your church.
(The above article was sent to many Arkansas Southern Baptist pastors in the weeks before the 2007 annual meeting of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention. Thankfully the motion to change the bylaws of the ASBC was defeated. Yet every Baptist needs to read these seven points and understand what happens when Southern Baptist churches receive alien immersion.)
If we Baptists are not careful with our beliefs, and do not stop just accepting all the world throws at us, there will be no distinctive which has set us apart from others. Correct baptism is a vital need for Southern Baptists
Posted by Tim A. on November 15, 2007
The following is from Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist Group list:
“Several of us have been eagerly following the annual meeting of the Arkansas State Baptist Convention that was held earlier this week in Van Buren, Arkansas. Messengers were to vote on the proposed amendment to delete the phrase “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion” from the ASBC Articles of Incorporation. The amendment needed a 2/3 majority vote (67%) to pass. After discussion on Tuesday, November 6, the vote was taken on Wednesday, November 7. There were 608 total ballets cast with 383 voting for the amendment (63%) and 225 voting against the amendment (37%). By failing to get a 2/3 majority vote, the phrase “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion” will remain in the ASBC Articles of Incorporation.”
“While I am thrilled that the Articles of Incorporation were not changed, conservatives in Arkansas must be ever diligent. Those wanting to delete the phrase can bring the issue back up in two years and probably will. They came within 24 votes of getting the Articles of Incorporation changed. We must be stronger in teaching doctrine to our churches members and encouraging fellow Baptist pastors to stand for doctrinal truth. We will speak more about this important issue in the weeks to come on the LSB.”
Should things like this come about Baptists would quickly begin losing the things which set us apart and identify us as Bible believing Baptists Christians. The Bible would be the thing which will come into question, yet again.
Posted by Tim A. on November 10, 2007
There is an age old controversy in Christianity waging over the issue of beverage alcohol. Is it proper or allowable for Christians to drink socially, as long as they do not get drunk? Does Scripture say anything against the drinking of beverage alcohol? These are questions that are being asked by many Christians, and even Baptists Christians.
For many years Baptists have been known to be “Tea-totalers”. Personally, I do not think that to be a bad thing. In recent months and years the idea of Baptists being temperant concerning beverage alcohol has come into question. It has been a source of controversy at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting and recently at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
To my point of view it has become a question due to the fact that many younger pastors are saying that the Bible says nothing against a social drink of beverage alcohol. There are several of us, young and old, who disagree with that assessment. There is example after example in Scripture of the danger or the drink. In articles I have written at Fire and Hammer I have written of two examples. The first is of Noah who having come off the ark, grows a vineyard, drinks too heavily of its fruit, and becomes drunkened by it, and brings a curse on a member of the family. The second is of Lot, after being delivered with his two daughters from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is given wine to make him drunk, by his daughers for the purpose of incestual impregnation; another evidence of moral decay, and Lot goes along by allowing himself to become drunk.
There are also verses which argue against the drink of beverage alcohol. For example Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35; and 31:1-6. Every time these verses are presented the one’s who are in favor of “License” or “Freedom in Christ” as they want to call it, will run circles around these and do everything they can to explain them away. There are also some New Testament Scriptures concerning a “sound mind” which needs to be taken into consideration concerning beverage alcohol (Ephesians 5:18; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13). At what point does one become drunk? At what point does the alcohol begin to take your mind? Does anyone know the answer to these questions? If the answer to these questions cannot be known, then, in my thinking that is another reason to remain abstinent from beverage alcohol.
I will agree with my brother in Christ David Tolliver who is the Interim Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention; that there is no place in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not drink beverage alcohol”, however, there are many which speak of its dangers. It is my conviction when the Bible doesn’t say “Thou shalt not…”, but our tradition says “Let’s not…”, then, I will stand with the tradition rather than try to allow loose living and morality. That is where this debate over the alcohol issue will lead us if we lower our standards.
Do we want to lower our standards to allow a few to come in? I choose to remain faithful to the Bible and the tradition which does not allow loose living. This is not a matter of salvation, but of sanctification and holiness.
edited the links given above on Noah and Lot because of the deletion of THE WATCHMAN’S TRUMPET. 01/09/10
Posted by T. A. Blankenship on November 8, 2007
If all Baptists and their churches were like a certain F.P. from Topeka, Kansas, then I could understand why Baptists have been hated before. Generally we Baptists are kind hearted, willing to fight for your right to believe what you want to believe; even if we believe you are wrong.
We have done that before. We will do it today, and tomorrow when the need arises. The Phelps character of Kansas is no Baptists, nor a Christian, unless he is sorely deceived. He very much needs to fall on his knees, along with his deceived congregation and seek God’s forgiveness for using the name of God and His Son to defame, disgrace, and protest the burial ceremonies of our soldiers who have died in the war with Iraq.
I guess you could say he and the “church” he pastors has a right to do what they please; but the people they harm emotionally, or physically also have the right to sue and win a legal judgment against them. The last family that has made the news due to the ill presence of F. P. and his “church” sued and won an 11 million dollar judgment against them. I am not in favor of law suits, but if one was ever deserved this group who falsely call themselves “Baptists” and “Christian” could stand a bit more humiliation, and humility, and realize that save for the grace of God they themselves could be the one’s lying in those graves.
I pray for the families they have harmed. I also pray for the families of this group, and for the false teacher who is more interested in harming than helping the weak and the weary.
How can I so clearly declare that Fred Phelps and this group is not Baptists or Christian? Because, if they were they would know that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. God does not hate sinners; He loved us so much He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. That is how I know he has not experienced that grace. If he had he would be giving rather than stealing the souls away from God.
Posted by Tim A. on November 5, 2007
The following was posted by Ben Stratton of the Landmark Southern Baptist yahoo Group List. Baptists pay attention:
(The Arkansas State Baptist Convention will meet in Van Buren, Arkansas this Tuesday, November 6, 2007 to decide whether to keep or delete the words “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and / or alien immersion” from the ASBC articles of incorporation. Be sure to read and forward the below article and to pray for Arkansas Baptists on Tuesday.)
WHY WE SHOULD VOTE TO SUSTAIN ARTICLE III,
SECTION 1 OF THE ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
Jimmy A. Millikin
former President of Williams Baptist College
At the 2007 annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist Convention a study committee will recommend an amendment of Article III, Section 1 of the constitution and by-laws of the state convention called the Articles of Incorporation. The recommended amendment calls for the elimination of the phrase: “The Baptist Faith and Message shall not be interpreted as to permit open communion and/or alien immersion.” In other words, this proposed amendment wants to open the door to allow cooperating churches to accept any baptism regardless from what source it comes as long as it is immersion, and would technically open the Lord’s table to anyone and everyone, even to the unregenerate.
The question that needs answering is, Why change this article of doctrinal belief? The truth of the matter is that there has been very little debate over this issue. The Newsmagazine has been strangely silent about this important matter in Arkansas Baptist life. The only thing that I can remember reading is the reason given for the change. As I recollect three arguments have been advanced for the change. Perhaps the foremost one that has been presented by the Study Committee itself is that the article violates the autonomy of the local church. This argument has been used for years by those who object to using any kind of confession of faith as a basis of cooperation and fellowship among Southern Baptists. If this argument is followed then the entire second paragraph of Article III should be eliminated. To set forth a doctrinal requirement as a basic of cooperation and fellowship among churches does not violate the autonomy of a local church at all. No Convention or Association can tell a local church what it can believe or practice, but a Convention or an Association can define the doctrinal parameters of its body. A local church can decide whether it wants to abide by those guidelines or not. If this were not so, then we are not a convention of Baptist churches, but simply an ecumenical organization composed of all different kind of churches.
Another argument I have seen stated is that many churches in the Convention, especially many of the larger churches, are already violating the article. Sadly, that is true. But I would hope that anyone with a clear mind is able to see the wrong thinking of such an argument. Suppose some of these churches begin to accept other forms of baptism than immersion. Are we to conform our articles of faith to accommodate those who are violating them, or should those who are violating the article be held accountable and asked to cease? I believe the answer to this question is clear.
Another argument I hear is that the restricted view of baptism impedes evangelism and church growth. Can anyone honestly contend that the historic Arkansas Baptist view of alien immersion impedes our evangelistic mission? Let me put in another way, Does accepting alien immersion enable Baptists to make converts more rapidly? Again, I believe the answer to these questions is obvious. The article against alien immersion may indeed impede the proselyting of members from other denominations, but it does not impede winning the lost to Christ.
Now, to deal with this issue in a positive manner, I will advance only one argument for retaining the statement about alien immersion. That is not to say that there are not others, but it is, in my judgment, the most crucial one. One significance of baptism is that it is an identification act. It is an act of identification with Christ, and it is an act of identification with a people. Those who received baptism from other denominations have identified with those bodies from which they come. To require such to be baptized and their willingness to do so indicates that they have broken with their former denomination and now have publically committed themselves to being Baptists. On the other hand, people who desire to join a Baptist church but is unwilling to submit to baptism is a strong indication that they want to join a Baptist church without becoming a Baptist.
It is the ordinance of baptism that protects and preserves our distinctive as Baptists. Here is the question that every messenger to the Arkansas Baptist Convention must answer in his mind and conscience, Will eliminating the statement concerning alien immersion prosper and perpetuate Baptist churches? Or will opening the door to alien immersion eventually erode our Baptist distinctive to the point that many Baptist churches cease to be Baptist churches and become non-denominational churches? As a member of an Arkansas Baptist church for forty-eight of the fifty-seven years of my Christian life, I urge the messengers of the 2007 annual convention to vote to sustain the present reading of the Articles of Incorportation.
(Jimmy Millikin is the Dean of the Master’s and Associate Programs and Chairman and Professor of the Department of Theology at Mid-America Baptist Seminary in Memphis, TN.)
Let’s be in prayer for our fellow Baptists in Arkansas as they meet. Pray first for the Holy Spirit to move in power and for God’s will to be done. Let’s hold to our Baptist distinctives.
Posted by T. A. Blankenship on November 5, 2007
Baptist people love getting together for worship, fellowship, and Baptists meetings. We are blessed by great singing and good preaching. I don’t say great preaching because that is a matter of opinion. Any preaching that faithfully expounds the Word of God is great preaching. It is the Word of God which is central, not the style, or whether the preacher is loud, or soft.
The MBC was a good meeting this year, but to me it was disappointing. With some controversy going on in the MBC over alcohol, the variance of opinion of what Christian freedom and legalism is is responsible for the diversity in the meetings. The meetings were all done with Christian accord to one another. There was no fighting, no shouting in disagreement with one another, and I can whole-heartedly say that I believe the Lord was glorified in the demeanor of the people at the meetings.
Now what went on behind the scenes may be a different story. I heard none of it, nor did I care to hear any of it. Others, however, evidently did. I know this only by the comments on “caution we should take while speaking in the hallways”.
I do want to add to this that the people for which I voted for the officers of the Convention were not elected. None of them. According to Baptists polity the majority rules, and the majority of the messengers present and voting had their way. I accept the four men who were elected, and they have my prayers and support for the will of the Lord to be done.
There was a resolution against the sale, and use of, etc. of alcohol as a beverage. I am thrilled to say that this resolution passed, though there was discussion, and though the president ruled it passed after a show of ballots, there was a call for a vote by ballot, and it still passed. We Baptists have stood opposed to alcohol for years, and in my opinion it is even more important that we do so today. Rather then giving in to our society and the world in which we live, we must stand on the principles of Scripture and never approve of anything which destroys homes, children and peoples lives. Not only does beverage alcohol do that; it also destroys the mind of clear and able thought.
The alcohol resolution which passed was word for word the same which passed at this past June’s Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, Texas; with exceptions being the State Convention [MBC], and the time and place. With the passing of this resolution I could leave the annual meeting rejoicing in this at least: that the majority of Baptists that were present at this meeting were still opposed to beverage alcohol, and its detriment to people, their marriages, children, homes and communities. Let’s pray that God will truly be glorified in the people who call themselves Baptists.
Posted by T. A. Blankenship on November 1, 2007