For years we Baptists of this area have been hearing of Baptists in "the North and East" receiving "alien immersion and open communion." Somehow we never thought it could happen to us. We of the "Bible Belt," we seemed to assume, were safe from the onslaughts of universalism, ecumenicalism, and the few other isms which were gradually diminishing but not completely destroying "Northern Baptists."
But, all the time, we were either ignoring or underestimating the power of schools and teachers. The Professors of Northern and Eastern seminaries were studying under the "Radical German Scholars" and under the "Radical German Scholars" and other European instructors. But they couldn't affect the orthodoxy of Southern Baptists, or so we seemed to assume. However, a professor among Southern Baptists, and then another professor, and still other professors, decided the radical European scholars were right. "There is only one church," they instructed, "and all saved people are members of that church whether they know it or not, and regardless of the "kind" of baptism they have had or no baptism at all."
"Furthermore," they continued "all saved people, church members or not, should be invited to 'take the sacrament' anywhere at anytime they choose. It is not the Lord's Supper, but a fellowship of believers."
In the natural course of events, this professor - and then these professors - gained the ear, and then the confidence, and then the allegiance of their students (your sons and daughters), that is as it should be, provided they have the right professors. Without doubt it was to be expected that those students (your sons and daughters), upon graduation, should go out into the fields of labor to teach and preach what their professors had taught them. As a result, we are hearing and reading strange things today - strange, that is, to us orthodox Southern Baptists of the "Bible Belt." And why, so strange? Because we have been taught all our lives by such men as E. Y. Mullins and B. H. Carroll and George Truett and George McDaniel and many others that:
1. A New Testament church is a body of Scripturally baptized believers, banded together under the headship of Christ to carry out His commission.
2. Every New Testament church has the authority from Christ and the responsibility to preach the Gospel, not only from the pulpit but also through the administration and observance of the two church ordinances - baptism and the Lord's Supper.
3. Membership in a New Testament church and the privilege to observe these two ordinances follows salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, after "repentance toward God."
4. Regeneration (this salvation by grace) means being born into the family of God, and that it is as utterly impossible to change this spiritual relationship (sonship) as it is to change the human relationship (sonship) after physical birth. Therefore, this so-called apostasy ("falling from grace") being taught by some Baptist (?) professors is as foreign to the word of God as their universal church theory.
5. The Bible is the "infallible, inerrant" Word of God and therefore should be and is our "only and all sufficient rule of faith and practice." Hence, this talk of Genesis being a myth is strange to our ears. Oh, I know we are ignorant and need training, but never did such words fall from the lips of Jesus upon the ears of the common people, and he spoke to and fed and healed many of them.
Now, what music shall we face? That which we are "paying the fiddlers to fiddle" - that which the professor are teaching your sons and daughters, and which the sons and daughters, are now "fiddling" before the churches. We might as well come to the point.
Now a hundred miles from here is a Baptist association in a turmoil because a member church is receiving "alien baptism." And may we hasten to say that this association and this church are not the only church and association being thus affected." And why?
One of your sons and daughters who has been taught by the "professors" is now advocating and practicing what he has been taught. And, being new and a leader and a pastor, he is commanding the respect and the loyalty of enough of the members of that church to continue (so far) the practice of receiving "alien baptism," despite the turmoil being generated in the association. Encouraging this situation, or at least not discouraging it very vigorously are the other "son and daughters") - pastors and otherwise - in the association who have been taught by the same "professors."
Yes, we might as well face the music! Southern Baptists as we have known them through the years are and have been a people "of the Book," or they are not and haven't been! If they wish to survive, someone had best ascertain which is true, before it is too late. And we predict, "It is later than you think."
This article originally appeared in the "Herald," the weekly newsletter of the Baptist Bible Institute (now Mid-Continent University) in Mayfield, KY on October 18, 1962.
[Reprinted by the J. H. Spencer Historical Society.]