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Anti-Missionary Baptism
J. B. Moody (1838-1931)

      In a general way we have studied what is a valid and invalid baptism, and also some of the schisms that do not invalidate church claims and ordinances. A schism or sect is not necessarily wrong. When we withdraw from those who walk disorderly and refuse to fellowship them, but rather avoid them, we make a rent or sect or division that ought to be made. There was the sect of the Sadducees, the sect of the Pharisees, and the sect of the Nazarenes. The sect that was everywhere spoken against was the true sect. Paul boasted of his sectarianism, both as a Pharisee and as a Nazarene. Acts 26:5 and 28:22. He says in I Corinthians 11:19, that there must also be sects (not heresies) that those who are approved may be made manifest. The word hairesis is five times translated sect, and four times heresy. He says, "The way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers." The bad kind is referred to in Galatians 5:20: "Strifes, seditions, heresies," as works of the flesh, and II Peter 2:1, speaks of damnable heresies, or heresies of perdition, because they lead to destruction. Paul says in Titus 3:10: "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject."

      The word skisma is translated sect: Matthew 9:16 and Mark. 2:21. It is five times translated "division," viz.: John 7:43, 9:16, 10:19, I Corinthians 1:10 and 11:18, and in I Corinthians 12:25 it is translated schism — "that there should be no schism in the body." The first three divisions were not wrong, the last three were. All denominations are schisms or sects, and their characteristic doctrines are called heresies by the others. A real heresy is not be be determined by its difference from us, but from the Bible. There are doctrines vital and not vital. There are heresies fatal and not fatal. Some doctrines are vital to the soul, some to orthodoxy, and some to church claims. There are heresies fatal to the soul, others to orthodoxy and others to church claims. We must clearly distinguish between these things.

      The anti-missionary schism could not administer baptism, because Christ gave no authority for anti-missionaries to do anything. Did Christ, the great missionary, set up anti-missionary churches?

      Our anti-missionary brethren are sound on the objective doctrines of grace — those that bring life to the soul. They are heretical on the subjective doctrines of duty. They accept the divine side of salvation, but reject the human side. They went out from us, not for any difference on the doctrines of grace, but of duty. Up to salvation by grace, through faith, yea, and up to baptism they and we are agreed. Some depart from us before we get to the water, but these after we come up out of the water.

      They agree with us even about baptism being an ordinance of the church. We differ as to the mission of the church, and the difference is a vital one, so far as pertains to church life and duty.

      The mission of a church is to make disciples of all nations, and to preach the gospel to every creature. This is the chief corner-stone of duty. It comes first, and the duty is so plain that there is no excuse for error. The church that does not stand for world-wide missions, and world-wide education, has no right to stand. It has no standing with Christ, and He has ordained that it shall not stand, but come to desolation. What use has Christ for a church that does not seek to save the lost? He organized missionary churches, not anti-missionary. What use has He, who came to seek and to save the lost, for an anti-missionary church? He never organized or authorized such a church, and He gave such no commission to baptize. How can they baptize without making them? If such an error is not fatal to church life and church claims, then no error can be.

      Let us notice some errors fatal to church life and hence forbids our recognition of them as churches. We will begin in the middle. The immersion of a believer is necessary to church membership. Now if sprinkling be substituted for immersion, and babies for believers, there can be no church, because immersed believers are necessary to church membership. The Anti-missionaries agree with us here. They don't deny the salvation of Pedobaptists, but their baptism and church claims. But which is the greater error, pedoism or anti-missionism? Is baptism greater than salvation? Who will make the disciples for anti-missionaries to baptize? Did Christ set up one church to make disciples, and then an anti-missionary church to baptize them? Don't they say, and preach, and practice that if your missionary churches make disciples and baptize them, we will not receive them? Don't they claim the monopoly of baptizing? Don't they charge that our missionary spirit and practice invalidate our claim to be churches of Christ? Here is the issue, broad, and wide, and deep. They say our missions invalidate our church claims and we say their anti-missionism invalidates their church claims. Who is right? On this the schism came.

      They would not fellowship missions and education, and we could not fellowship anti-missions and boastful ignorance. See the literature of those days, how they exhausted billingsgate [invective language - jd] in their abuse of missions, education and Sunday schools. And they are still at it — what few there are left. "They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (I John 2:19). There must be heresies or schisms that they who are approved might be made manifest. Omissionism is bad enough. I think that often it is saturated with anti-missionism. But out-spoken anti-missionism is high-handed rebellion against high Heaven. The Lord has no use for a people and a church that He can't use. He certainly did not commission those to baptize who refuse to make disciples, and who refuse to teach to hold safely the all things whatsoever, for that would be education and work. Of all churches, so called, none have so completely forfeited all church claims.

      When they went out from us, they had valid baptism, but those who received baptism from an anti-missionary schism, have no baptism, for the Lord authorized none such.

      Again, the anti-missionaries agree with us in refusing recognition of church claims to those who err on the third part of the commission. When men set up churches differently defined and constituted; with church governments of their own invention, and church officers of their own liking; when they substitute the doctrines of men for those of Christ, they forfeit all claim to be churches of Christ. I say, when our anti-mission brethren stand with us in condemning errors in baptism, church government and officers, etc., how can it be wrong in us for condemning in them the error that is more grievous than all the others together? Life is more than light; salvation is more than works. Which is worse to cut off life or light? Salvation or works? The anti-missionaries cut off the life and salvation by refusing to preach the gospel to the lost. How are men to be saved, except through the preaching of the gospel to them? We agree with our anti-brethren on more doctrines than with any other people, but we differ from them on one doctrine that is more important than all the others. This difference puts us further from them than from other people. They can't, nor do they, blame us for refusing to recognize their church claims. They have always, be it said to their praise, baptized our members who went to them. They never censure us for doing the same. We have been getting on finely on that question and our churches are at peace, so far as that is concerned.

      But here of late have risen an infinitesimal minority on both sides, who seek to change times and customs, and it means trouble. On neither side will the churches represented change. The unbaptized preacher, and hence unordained, will not be recognized by our churches, nor will such be received into their membership. They can't do it and keep the ordinances as delivered. And mark the prediction - those introducing this new custom will be compelled sooner or later to deny that baptism belongs to the church. If anti-missionaries are churches of Christ, then ours are not, and vice versa. And why? Not because we don't agree on many doctrines, but because we differ on one, absolutely essential to church life. Those who make disciples, but don't baptize them, are one-sided, but those who seek to baptize and not make disciples are no-sided, as the baptism would be a blasted nut. They don't make disciples themselves, but they want to baptize those that others make. If others baptize them, they won't receive them and if they make the disciples then they are heretics, according to their own creed, as they don't believe in preaching the gospel to the lost. I put my thundering protest on recognizing anti-missionaries as churches of Christ, and if not churches of Christ, have they any authority from Him to baptize? Can a Baptist church make valid that which is invalid? Not all the Baptist churches in the world can do it. Valid means, according to the Scriptures. Was that an anti-mission church that Christ told to make disciples of all nations and to preach the gospel to every creature? Was that an anti-missionary church that preached the gospel at Pentecost, to the murderers of Christ and also "to men out of every nation under heaven?" When those who were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word, do you suppose they were seeking only the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Was Philip who went down to Samaria and preached Christ unto them, an anti-missionary preacher? Did they not believe and were baptized? Was Paul an anti-missionary preacher? Did he not preach Christ in the synagogues and prove that He was the very Christ? And did not some believe and some mocked and tried to kill him? Was Peter an anti-missionary when he went to a Gentile house and spoke words whereby the household could be saved?

      Was not Paul acting the missionary when he preached to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Paphos, and so preached that he believed? When Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit and set his eyes on that anti-missionary, Bar-Jesus, saying, "Oh, full of all subtility, and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord" — was he not a missionary in dead earnest? When the Gentiles besought Paul to preach to them on the next Sabbath, and when on the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the Word of God, think you they would have heard it from Hardshell Baptists? When Paul went to Iconium and Lystra and Derbe, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles, was he not doing mission work? When they went back to Antioch and reported how God had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles, were they reporting to an anti-missionary church? Were there any anti-missionary churches in those days? Were there any in this old wicked world 'till the nineteenth century, when so many schisms and sects started and spread? Did Christ tell His church to make disciples but not baptize them? Did He tell it to baptize, but not make disciples? If He told it to make disciples, then it was a missionary church; if He told it to make disciples and baptize them, then it was a missionary Baptist church; if, leaving off baptism would debar it from church claims, then certainly, leaving off the greater work of making disciples would debar it from church claims. Can a Baptist church validate anti-missionism? Could all Baptist churches do it? Then why this effort to put this honor upon the greatest error of all time? Why this effort, knowing that it will also introduce strife in our churches?

      Who dares disturb the unity for which Christ prayed? Is there any fellowship between missions and anti-missions? Do both these constitute the one body, one spirit, one faith and one baptism? Did not the Hardshells cause the division and offenses contrary to the doctrine we learned from Christ? Did not Paul beseech us to mark them and avoid them? Have they not given us trouble? Did not Paul say, "I would they were cut off that trouble you?" Did he not charge us in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother that walketh disorderly and not after the tradition received of him? Did he not tell us to note them and have no company with them, that they may be ashamed? Did he not tell us to reject the heretic after the first and second admonition? Did not John say, "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, nor bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds?" Did not Christ commend the church at Ephesus for hating the doctrine that he hated, and does he not hate anti-missionism? Hear His last words: I, Jesus, say come, and the Spirit says come, and the bride, composed of all the churches, says come, and let him that heareth say come, and let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. And did He not add a curse to those who would take from these words or add to them? Was it to Hardshells that he said: "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem?" Was it to Hardshells he said: "As My Father hath sent me, so send I you. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they have been remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they have been retained." Was it to them he said: "Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth?" When He said that this gospel shall be preached among all nations for a witness and then the end would come, would the end ever come if He depended on the Hardshells to do it? This anti-missionary and anti-education and anti-Sunday school schism is founded on a vital doctrine — a doctrine vital to church life and fatal to church claims. What use has Christ for an anti-missionary church? What could He do with them, but as He has done, give them up to a dry rot, and over to a wasting consumption? The time and places that know them now, will soon know them no more forever. Come out of her, ye deceived people of God, that ye receive not her doom.

      I don't mean to question their salvation as individuals, for they were individually saved before the time came for mission work. But why be content to be saved and all your works burned? Will you not suffer great loss? Why stay in a church, socalled, on which is plainly written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. Nor does it take a Daniel to read and interpret this handwriting on the wall. Your house is left unto you desolate, because you will not hearken unto the Lord, in becoming all things to all men, if by all means you might save some.

      If their baptism is good, their church is good, and if we pronounce both good, we say to all, why change? Stay where you are. But those who leave that sinking ship and come to us don't think they are leaving the church of Christ, but are seeking it. Then by all means seek her baptism. Both can't be churches of Christ, and both can't be the baptism of Christ. Take your choice and its consequences. If God be God, serve Him; if Baal, serve him: don't mix them. Two opposite principles will not coalesce. We are perfectly agreed in this, viz: We are not one people, but two; not one church or denomination, but two. We do not recognize each other's church claims, and can't. We do not recognize each other's baptism, and can't. We don't and can't invite each other to the communion, for that would be neither church nor denominational communion. We don't invite each other to preach, for this cannot be done without recognizing the other's church baptism and ordinations. We both try to be honest and consistent, and we commend each other's position most heartily because it makes our practice and faith consistent. Neither side loves hypocrisy. We honor their consistency. We fellowship them in the doctrines of grace and in heart-felt religion. Yea, we endorse their ideas about the church being composed of the saved and of baptized believers and scriptural government and officers, but we deny that Christ organized or authorized an anti-missionary, church. They rightly believe about the church in most things, but they are not the church. They are right in most things, but wrong on one thing, and that one thing is of greater importance than all the rest. They agree with us that the other things not believed and practiced invalidate church claims. Yea, they believe with us that this issue on missions invalidates church claims. They say missions invalidate church claims, and we say anti-missions invalidate church claims. So we honor each other's position and are getting on in peace, so far as social and Christian fellowship is concerned. But there is a division and we scrupulously avoid endorsement of each other's division. Let peace and brotherly love continue. How can two walk together unless they be agreed?

      In these days of church making, a man can find one to suit his taste. They all have their characteristics. The characteristic of this church is anti-missionism, so when one wants to be an anti-missionary he is baptized unto that faith. That is the what unto what he is baptized. Not the doctrines of grace, for we and many others hold to these. Not Congregationalism, for we and others hold to that. When they go there for membership they are baptized unto that peculiar what. Should one be convinced in after years that missions is the right faith and practice, and he wants to change to that kind of life, let him be baptized unto the missionary what. If the twelve disciples at Ephesus so readily yielded to a correction of a little irregularity in their baptism, why should not a great preacher changing his views of doctrine and life, do likewise? That brother will never be useful and happy. He went a long way to get a church to receive him to membership and he will have also to travel long distances to get churches to receive him for service. If he had come rightly, we all with open hearts and hands would have welcomed him to all our churches and denominational fellowship. His latitude for usefulness is perhaps no greater now than before, as nine-tenths or nineteen-twentieths, or ninety-nine-hundredths of our churches still regard him as unbaptized and unordained and they cannot and will not receive him. What a pity he should have been led into such a mistake and how easy and orderly would it be for him to correct it. May the Lord show it to him, that he may walk orderly among us and after the traditions which we have received. The ordinances must be kept as delivered.


[From Milburn Cockrell, editor, The Berea Baptist Banner, February, 1986, pp. 1, 7-9. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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