A Publication of the J. H. Spencer Historical Society

Did They Join the Baptists?

By W. W. Horner
The Western Recorder, 1939
      Several years ago in a neighboring community a small church of another denomination decided to quit having service, and some of its members agreed to unite with a Baptist church nearby upon the condition that the Baptists would receive them on their baptism. They were members of an organization which had practiced immersion as essential to salvation since its beginning a little more than one hundred years before.

      While there were some members of the Baptist church in question who objected to the reception of those who offered themselves on their alien immersion, the majority of the members present voted in their affirmative, and the Campbellites were received as members in good standing with the Baptists. So far as the writer knows, this unscriptural condition remains to this day.

Did they join the Baptists?

     It is taken for granted that these Campbellites were perfectly sincere and satisfied with their baptism, which might also be said of the majority of Pedobaptists with regard to theirs. But, though sincerity and satisfaction are to be desired in every step of the Christian life, they do not of themselves qualify to validate Scriptural baptism.

      However sincere and satisfied a person may be with sprinkling and pouring for baptism, the scholarship of the world still says that immersion was the original mode of the ordinance. However sincere and satisfied a Campbellite may be with his doctrine of baptism regeneration, the New Testament still teaches only the baptism of believers.

      Did the folks in that small church join the Baptists? The one true answer to this question is: They did not. This Baptist church joined the Campbellites, as do all Baptist churches that receive believers in baptismal regeneration on a baptism performed as a witness to it.

      "What's the difference?" "One church is as good as another." "We are all working to get to heaven," "You are going your way and I'm going mine." Such are the catch phrases of the church branch theory. The practice of some Baptist churches in receiving has lowered the standing of such churches, and for the most part has destroyed the spiritual life of their members.

      Believer's baptism, as taught and practiced by Baptists, is the chief reason why Baptists cannot participate with other denominations in open communion. Because of their contention of believer's baptism, Baptists have been called narrow, selfish and bigoted, while the simple truth is that their course is due to their acceptance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, as "head over all things to the church." This is the real barrier between Baptists and all other denominations. If other Christian people would submit to believer's baptism, open communion would become only an unpleasant memory and the people of God would have removed one deterrent at least to outward uniformity.

      Any Baptist church that receives members of other denominations on their baptism has become a partaker with the teachers of error. This is a severe criticism, but is sustained by the Word of God, as shown in the following scriptural reference: Ephesians 5:6, 7:2, John 9-11, Revelation 18:4.

      Like the surgeon's knife, these words should cut to the quick every Baptist church which has allowed the spirit of compliance with the views of the world to seduce it from the truth and to wed it to the doctrines of men. This is in the Scriptures called spiritual adultery and those who practiced it are under the condemnation of God.


W. W. Horner was pastor of Baptist churches in Mayslick, Louisville, Campbellsville, and Shelbyville, KY. Published in the Western Recorder, July 20, 1939; reprinted by the J. H. Spencer Historical Society.