By Earl E. Robertson
Leroy Garrett of Dallas, Texas has been in print before the brotherhood for many years. About all of his writings have been through his own papers. In all of these years, Leroy has been wrong on about every thing he has written about. He swings from one extreme to another, missing the truth in every swing. Yet, in spite of this he feels that he should be heard and accepted to the salvation of our souls and unity of the brotherhood. The Lord talked about blind leaders of the blind, saying, “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14).
Now Leroy proposes to lead us all to the conclusion that baptism in water is not essential for salvation. He tells us of Ralph Reed who is involved in the work of the Wycliffe translators. Ralph told Leroy “that the Wycliffe program is not open to anyone who believes that anything more than faith in Christ is essential to salvation.” Leroy responds, “I am not disturbed over the position taken by Wycliffe, but over the impression people have of our doctrine of baptism.” Leroy says that if anyone should ask us if we believe that baptism is essential to salvation, “We should say no because we speak as the scriptures speak, and the Bible nowhere says that baptism is essential.” Leroy further assumes, “There is not one person in a thousand among us in Churches of Christ – Christian Churches who believes that such a person will go to hell for not being baptized. This being the case, we do not believe absolutely, that one must be baptized to be saved . . . . It is a very vulnerable, judgmental religion that consigns them all to hell. I am convinced that the vast majority in the Church of Christ do not hold such a legalistic position.” Again, he says, “Too, if baptism is an absolute must for going to heaven, even the hands of almighty God are tied.” And, “God can fill heaven with unbaptized people if he chooses to do so.” After all of this foolishness expressed by Leroy, he says we should just read the passages in which baptism is discussed with “no explanations” on our part. He says there is nothing holy about our interpretations and that “we have yet to demonstrate that we really believe that the Bible itself is sufficient.”
Leroy has more respect for the unbelief of the Wycliffe people than he does for the very word of God itself! While they say only faith in Christ is necessary for salvation, the word of God says baptism is “for the remission of sins”; but Leroy says, “I’m not disturbed over their position!” It is obvious that there is a difference between “their position” and the Lord’s position of this subject! Leroy sees the difference but likes what the Wycliffe people say about it in preference to what the Lord Himself says about it.
With this attitude toward the sacred writings, he has the nerve to set himself forth as a leader of God’s people! Again, we call to your attention the statement of the Lord: “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
For him to say that “we have yet to demonstrate that we really believe that the Bible itself is sufficient” is a mere effort to cause the people to think as he is acting: the Bible really isn’t sufficient. The Bible isn’t absolute with Leroy and that is the reason he isn’t “disturbed” over the denials the Wycliffe people make concerning the essentially of baptism. Leroy, if baptism is not absolutely essential to one’s salvation, is any thing at all absolutely essential? If so, what? How do you know it is absolutely essential? Are the answers to the absolutes of salvation found only within each individuals own particular situation? This is the way he determined that baptism was essential for himself! What bombastic presumption of a blind guide!
We have no hesitation in saying that the word of God is alive and active (Heb. 4:12), and that it is the voice of God to man. It is the final authority pertaining to man’s salvation. It will stand when all else passes (Matt. 24:35) and be the standard of judgment (John 12:48; Rom. 2:16). We have no appeal from it; it is absolute. It definitely teaches that baptism is essential to salvation. Do not the Master’s own words make baptism absolutely necessary for salvation? He declared, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15, 16). Every false teacher will make “believeth” absolutely necessary but deny the same for baptism in this verse. Does the copulative conjunction “and” not properly function here in Jesus’ statement? Leroy holds a Phd., but watch him rip the Saviour’s statement apart and categorize the commandments. Though Jesus makes “believeth” and “baptized” essential to “he shall be saved,” the blind guide rapes the sentence and comes out with only “believeth.” For one to take the alternative to this destructive course, Leroy declares it to be “a very vulnerable, judgmental religion” and “legalistic.” We call it belief, receiving the word of God (cf. 1 Thess. 2:13).
The apostles of Christ were chosen by Him (John 6:70), empowered by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Lk. 24:49; John 15:26; 16:13; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4), and sent into all the world to preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15, 16; Mt. 28:18-20). Their work in this matter started at Pentecost of Acts two. They did speak as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4). When the audience heard (Acts 2:37) what they preached, the cry was made: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” It is obvious that the apostle Peter understood that question. He answered: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Did the Holy Spirit really “guide” the apostle in this answer making his words “truth” (John 16:13)? Did Peter tell these sinners the truth? Was this truth absolute? All Bible believing people fully accept Peter’s statement as truth, final and absolute! We fully accept the statement that “remission of sins” depends upon both verbs: repent and be baptized. Though Leroy says, “I am convinced that the vast majority in the Church of Christ do not hold such a legalistic position” as making baptism absolutely essential to salvation, I have no hesitancy whatsoever in telling the world that the Bible teaches baptism is essential for salvation. I don’t know how this man knows what the majority in the church believes about this subject and I don’t really care and will not try to find out; it wouldn’t make any difference if every person in the world disbelieved it, because the word of Christ is absolute. Jesus did say, “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Does the disbelief of the majority give credence to the position that baptism is not absolutely necessary for salvation? Does truth really have nothing to do with being saved? Is it really within man, after all, to guide his own steps (Jer. 10:23)? These blatant voices are utterly offensive to me. Like the Psalmist we say, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psa. 19:7-10).
Guardian of Truth XXV: 17, pp. 265-266
April 23, 1981