I united with the Disciples of Christ when I was fourteen years old, and was baptized by Rev. C.H. Allen. I am now thirty-one, and preached in the Disciples' Church, ten years. For five years, I was out of sympathy with some of their fundamental teachings, but influenced by relatives, and friends, I simply allowed myself to continue with them. But the step was taken some weeks ago, and all the bridges are burned behind me.
Therefore, I wish to set forth as briefly as possible my reasons for coming to the Baptist Church.
First, the origin of the Disciples movement. It was christened as the Restoration movement, their position being that Christ's Church had been lost for many centuries; that in 1809, Alexander Campbell and his co-laborers set themselves the task of restoring the Church that Jesus built, by returning to the New Testament faith and practice. But if Christ's word be true. His Church could not have been destroyed from the earth. For He said; "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall never overcome it." Upon this statement, and this statement alone, I am willing to base the perpetuity of the Church.
If Christ's Church could not be destroyed, then what is the need of the restoration movement? There is no need, absolutely, and this is evidenced by the divisions of the movement, by its sectarian methods and spirit, and by the feebleness with which it has advocated the union of Christendom. No one outside their own ranks has ever taken seriously their plea for Christian union.
A casual glimpse at their faith and practice will show why this is true. They deny that the Holy Spirit has any real, active part in conversion. Of course, they claim that the Holy Spirit indited the Bible, or guided the pens, of them who did the writing. And since the Holy Spirit inspired the word, to believe and obey the word is to experience the work of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Bible is the Holy Spirit - a legalism that puts to shame anything the Jews ever practiced. They never pray for the Holy Spirit to do His work in the sinner's heart. In fact, they teach that sinner, not God, must make the first step. Their position on this can be expressed in one sentence: "One hears the Gospel, believes it, is baptized and does the best he can, and that is salvation."
The doctrine of baptismal remission is the most horrible heresy that has ever cursed the world. But the Disciples take the position that there isn't anything much wrong with man, and therefore it doesn't take much to save him. Little sinner, little salvation. Conversion, as taught by them, could be accomplished just as well without the Holy Spirit as with Him.
But even more than their doctrine is their inconsistency. This is seen with regard to the Lord's Supper. They refuse church fellowship to the "pious unimmersed," and yet invite the same "pious unimmersed" to the Lord's Supper. But their contention is that the Supper is for all the Lord's children. So is the Church. The same Lord who established the Supper established the Church. Why put up the bars in the one instance and let them down in the other? If the "pious unimmersed" cannot live with them in Christ, how can he commune with them in Christ?" Paul say not to partake of the Supper if there is division amongst you, and yet the Disciples commune with other denominations from whom they are separated by an impassable gulf. "Oh consistency, thou art a jewel." They are farther wrong at this point than the Catholics. The Catholics claim that we get into Christ by baptism and that we get Christ into us by the bread and the wine. And the Disciples, to be consistent, must accept the same doctrine. If an ordinance gets us into Christ, then an ordinance must get Christ into us.
Christ gave to His Church two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's Supper. Both are to be administered by His Church and His Church alone. This is the teaching of God's word and the position of Baptist churches. The Disciples leave the administration of baptism to the individual performing it, and the Lord's Supper they leave to the individual who may desire to partake. There could not be a graver departure from the New Testament teaching and practice.
So instead of hastening the unity of God's people, they have become another stumbling block that must be gotten out of the way before the real unity of God's people can come. They have built up another false system that the Baptists must overcome in order to fulfill their God-given mission in the earth. And as Baptists we must refuse any compromise whatsoever. We cannot accept any doctrine that makes any one but Jesus the builder of His Church. If the Gospel was never preached in its fullness until the Day of Pentecost (and this, the Disciples affirm), then Jesus never preached His own glorious gospel. If the baptism of John the Baptist was not Christian baptism (Disciples teach that it was not), then Christ's Apostles and Christ Himself never received Christian baptism.
God has never had but one plan of salvation. Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness. According to the Disciples, God has had three or four ways of saving people.
To accept their position with regard to the beginning and perpetuity of the Church is to set aside the plain teaching of God's word. To accept their doctrine of conversion is to deny the real, active work of the Holy Spirit. To accept their baptism, is to swallow the mischievous doctrine of baptismal regeneration. They can argue, dodge and deny all they please, but if the only way into Christ is by baptism (and this they are absolutely agreed upon), then without baptism no one can be saved. For how can one be saved without getting into Christ?
To accept their open communion is to violate the word of God, and to stamp approval upon their unscriptural conversion and baptism, and therefore cease to be a Baptist.
This is no time for compromise. The world is being made ready for the New Testament Church. This day for which Baptists have longed is about to dawn. And let us be ready to give the old sin-cursed earth the plan, simple Gospel and the pure, sweet democracy of God. To the Baptists, God has committed this glorious task. And in this hour let us not fail Him. Let us ask men to do just what God's word requires, no more, no less, and the day is nor far distant when Christ's Church shall shine in all of her radiant beauty, the one faith, the one hope, the one Lord, the one baptism, and the one body. To have a humble part in proclaiming such a Gospel is the highest privilege that my heart covets.
[Originally Published in the Western Recorder, March 7, 1918. Republished by the J.H. Spencer Historical Society, 2014.