Baptist History Homepage

Defects of Campbellite Repentance and Faith
By W. C. Taylor
      Campbellites hold “the Word alone” theory, which means that the gospel without the direct aid of the Spirit leads to repentance and faith. They believe that the Spirit expended His power in the inspiration of the Word and now has nothing to do in bringing sinners to repentance and faith. The defects common to both Campbellite repentance and faith are:

      1. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit.

      But the Holy Spirit grants men grace to perform these duties. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

      Paul did not ascribe the result to the truth alone, nor to his logic, nor to Apollos’ eloquence, but to God. How could this be except through the presence and power of the Spirit? Paul’s preaching was “in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). This was not in simply the words spoken by Paul. He ascribes it to the Spirit.

      “The Spirit and the bride say, Come” (Revelation 22:17). The church, by the word of salvation, addresses the mind of man. The Spirit, by His personal influence upon the heart, whispers, “Come.” The gospel conveys truth to the mind. The Spirit makes man feel it in his heart. The Word is the instrument — “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17).The instrument can do nothing without the Agent. Without the Agent, the Word is a dead letter.

      No man can savingly receive the Word until his heart is divinely opened, like Lydia’s of old (Acts 16:14). “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3). The power of the Spirit is necessary for men to trust Christ.

      Faith is the gift of God, and it is “the fruit of the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 3:5). So also the ability to repent is a divine grant (Acts 11:18). “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1 Peter 1:22). “The truth” in the case was the gospel — the Word. These people instrumentally purified their souls by obeying it. But it was not the Word without the personal influence of the Spirit which did the work. For Peter said these people obeyed the truth “through the Spirit.” Hence, Campbellite repentance and faith, being without the power of the Spirit, cannot be genuine.

      2. No redemptive blessing secured for their possessors.

      Campbellites hold that there is no salvation short of baptism. It is their dividing line between condemnation and salvation. Hence, their penitent and their believer is no more secure after his repentance and faith than before. He is still condemned and liable to eternal punishment until he reaches baptism. The sinner with Campbellite repentance and faith can as easily go to Hell with them as without them.

      The Word of God does not so teach. Genuine repentance is “unto life” (Acts 11:18). That taught by Campbellites leaves a man with no spiritual life. And Jesus says that the believer “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

      But Campbellite faith leaves a man still in spiritual death. Listen to Peter: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). “And put no difference between them and us, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). And Simon Peter plainly says that baptism is a “figure” (1 Peter 3:21). Being a symbol only, it is not conditional to salvation, but belongs only to the saved. Simon Peter uttered these three testimonies to the fact that men are saved at the point of faith. Anything which makes Peter contradict himself in some other passage shows that it is false. Campbellism does this.

      The Lord Jesus, speaking from heaven when He commissioned Paul on the Damascus road, spoke of saved people as “them which are sanctified by faith that is in me,” which, of course, carries the other two blessings mentioned, “forgiveness of sins” and “inheritance,” which are also by faith. And the great apostle wrote: “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28), which means that “God imputeth righteousness without works” (Romans 4:6-8). This same inspired witness wrote: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

      So, the true believer in Christ has, “without works” as further conditions, “eternal life,” “remission of sins,” “justification,” “forgiveness of sins,” “the salvation of your souls,” “inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith,” etc. All of these are the present blessings of believers in Christ. That Campbellite repentance and faith secure no such blessings to the sinner they contend, and I freely admit. That the repentance and faith of the gospel save immortal souls, God’s Word and Christian experience abundantly testify. That there is a vast difference between Campbellite repentance and faith and those taught in the Bible and realized in every converted soul, is apparent to all who have prayerfully and thoroughly investigated the subject.

      Let nobody be fooled by the voicing of “sound words” which do not carry their proper Bible meaning. Such words are sound only!


“Faith in Christ will save me,
Let me trust Thy weeping Son,
To His arms, Lord, help me run,
Faith in Christ will save me.”


[W.C. Taylor {1845-1889} pastored the First Baptist Churches of Auburn {1873-1882} and Mayfield {1882-1887}. At the time of his death, he was considered the greatest Baptist pulpiteer in Kentucky. He was the father of noted Baptist preachers H. Boyce Taylor and W.C. Taylor, Jr.]

[Republished by the J.H. Spencer Historical Society. The document was supplied by Ben Stratton, Farmington, KY and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

J. M. Pendleton's Article on Campbell's View of Repentance and Faith

More on Campbellism
Baptists: Various Subjects
Baptist History Homepage