By Milburn Cockrell, Editor The Berea Baptist Banner
I continue to be elated at the progress we are making in this debate. Mr. Donahue has not denied thus far that before Mark 16:16 people were saved by repentance and faith, as the Bible teaches and Baptists believe. He did mention “preparatory teaching,” but none of the verses he cited was any to which I had referred. In his second speech he also conceded that an erring Christian who loses his salvation regains it by repentance and faith. Thus to a very large degree he has come around to my position. But as to the initial salvation experience from Mark 16:16 to now he continues to hold to his “be dipped or damned” theory, a theory not taught in the Bible, but in The Christian System written by Alexander Campbell. I commend him for the concessions he has thus made. His honesty is commend-able.
He complains that I did not respond to his arguments, but I did. He failed to try to explain any of my verses, save Luke 7:48,50. He only went off on synecdoches. He did not respond to my proof texts because he knows the verses I cited plainly teach salvation at the point of faith. He says he agrees with me that faith saves, but then he says the believer is still a child of the Devil! Any person knows a child of the Devil is not saved! In his last speech he failed to tell us more about the grotesque creature who is still a Christian but “separated from God” and “fallen from grace.” He did not say a word about Papa Campbell’s words on Acts 22:16, nor a word about 1 Corinthians 1:14-17; 4:15. He did not examine any of the verses in my arguments 8 to 14 in his last speech. “Physician, heal thyself ” (Luke 4:23). Maybe I should call him Mr. Dodge instead of Mr. Donahue.
He is hung up on a synecdoche. He tries to make me say repentance and faith are not necessary to salvation, yet he knows that I do not believe such foolishness. His synecdoche argument is essentially this: If something is mentioned after something elsesuch as baptism after faith then it proves that whatever is said to happen cannot occur until the last thing mentioned. This is his rule, not mine. But let me use his rule on his own arguments about baptismal regeneration. In Matthew 10:22 Christ said: “But he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Here salvation is said to come after perseverance to the end of natural life. Endurance comes after baptism. Hence, according to Mr. Donahue’s rule, a man is saved at death, a very long time after his baptism. His logic has now proved that a man is not saved at the point of baptism. Remember that he said: “…because salvation is predicated upon a condition doesn’t mean salvation happens at the point of that condition being met.”
In truth Mr. Donahue does not believe that a man is saved at the point of baptism. He believes that he may be saved, provided he can outrun the Devil from the creek to Heaven. He believes that a man can be saved by baptismal regeneration, then go and join a Baptist church, and end up in Hell. If he joined a Catholic or Protestant church, which teaches baptismal regeneration, he can still get to Heaven second class. In his view there is hope for all Christendom, except the Baptists!
I continue to be amazed at his proof of baptismal regeneration in the O.T. He believes that the flood waters saved Noah. The Bible teaches that the ark saved Noah and the waters of the flood destroyed the ungodly. Then he goes off on the walls of Jericho that fell down after the Israelites marched around the city seven days. Mr. Donahue, they fell down by faith, not baptism. Nobody was baptized at Jericho. Most of the people in the city were not saved. They perished in the battle. My friend tries to get his doctrine from inferences about the flood, the walls of Jericho, and some statement of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1. He seems to be hard pressed for plain scriptures.
Upward of 100 verses in the New Testament condition salvation on faith in Jesus Christ. 1 John 5:1 says: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Notice that it said the believer “is” (not going to be) born of God. Mr. Donahue does not believe this verse. He thinks the believer is still a child of the Devil. According to him, a person can repent, believe, hear, confess, but these things are not sufficient. Such a person is still a child of the Devil. Mr. Donahue ignores the many verses which say that faith causes a person to be saved the person is saved the moment he believes. He goes to about six verses (Mk. 16:16; John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21) and in these he thinks the word “saved” means what it says. He believes that in more than 100 verses “saved” does not mean “saved,” but in the six he cites “saved” means “saved”! Such reasoning is about as logical as putting a screen door in a submarine!
He ignores my verses, but I will consider his, such as Mark 16:16. The verse teaches that men are damned for want of faith, not baptism. Belief is the key here, not baptism. I might also say: “He that believeth and takes the Lord’s supper shall be saved.” We might add any duty required of a Christian. Unbelief is the cause of condemnation (John 3:18). When a person ceases to be an unbeliever, he is not condemned.
1 Peter 3:21. He ignores the word “figure.” Baptism is a figure or picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the means of our salvation. Mr. Donahue does not know the difference between a picture and the real thing.
1 Corinthians 1:12-13. There is nothing in the words of Paul here about salvation. Paul did not baptize in his own name; he baptized in the name of Christ. Note that verse 14 says: “I thank God that! baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius.” Mr. Donahue would never had said such, for he would be thanking God that he saved so few.
Acts 2:38. “For the remission of sins” means “with reference to the remission of sins already obtained” one is baptized. The Greek eis does not mean “in order to.” In Matthew 12:41: “They repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas,” not in order to obtain his preaching.
Look carefully at Mr. Donahue’s statement: “Anybody not baptized `for the remission of sins’ will be lost.” This is the same thing that the pope of Rome believes. Pope Paul said on February 6, 1974, to a general audience: “The real birthday of a Christian is the day of his baptism” (1975 Catholic Almanac 62).
For the first 4,000 years of human history baptismal regeneration was not known among the fellowship of God’s children. The error originated among the Devil worshippers of Chaldea many centuries before Christ. Alexander Hislop relates of the priests of Babylon: “They led their votaries to believe that, if they only passed through the baptismal waters, and the penances therewith connected, that of itself would make them. . . twice born or regenerate. . . and give them the new birth” (The Two Babylons 137). This idea passed through false Judaism into the church at Pergamos and finally into the Mother of Harlots, the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Donahue and his people got this dogma from one of the daughters of the Whore. It came from the Presbyterians by means of Alexander Campbell into the Restoration Movement.
I charge this hoary, old, bewhiskered patriarch (baptismal regeneration) with being not a patriarch of Scripture at all, but just an ignoble old Chaldean vagabond. I charge baptismal regeneration with being the most destructive heresy that ever raised its Hydra-head out of the pit of Hell. It was not planned in the councils of God from eternity. It was instigated in the councils of Hell, the Devil being the father thereof, and the Whore by Babylon the Great being the mother thereof. This accursed lie has dragged millions down to Hell by deceiving them as to the new birth.
Thank you, Mr. Donahue, for answering my third question in my last speech so as to show that Baptists are different from Catholics and Protestants. As I have just pointed out, Mr. Donahue and his people are like Catholics, Protestants, and pagans, for they all believe in human works for salvation. We believe in salvation by free grace even repentance and faith are gifts of God’s grace. Grace, the free grace of God, does all the work of salvation. It works in the sinner all his good will and all his good works, so that the sinner shall go at last into the divine presence as a poor, helpless beggar, saved by grace from first to last, and be prepared to give God all the glory of his salvation.
Evils of Baptismal Regeneration
1. It makes the preacher who baptizes a person his savior. If Mr. Donahue’s position is correct, Jesus Christ never saved one soul. John 4:2 says: “Jesus baptized not, but his disciples.”
2. The “be dipped or damned” idea is out of character with the spiritual religion which Christ came to teach. If salvation was in ceremony, then the ordinances of Judaism were just as good. 1 Peter 3:21 declares that baptism does not put away the filth of the flesh.
3. Some persons received the Spirit before baptism (Acts 10:44-48). The receiving of the Spirit presupposes regeneration and furnishes evidence of it. Hence they were said to justify baptism.
4. Baptism is described by Peter as “the answer of a good conscience” (1 Pet. 3:21), but a good conscience is the fruit of regeneration (Heb. 9:14) and is joined to faith (1 Tim. 1:5,19; 3:9).
5. In the First Epistle of John he uses the word “begat” one time and “begotten” three times, yet he never mentions baptism in the whole book! This is strange if a person is regenerated by baptism as Mr. Donahue says. Unlike him, John saw no connection between baptism and regeneration.
6. Is a man led to baptism by the Spirit of God, or the spirit of the Devil? If he is led by the devil, we must praise the Devil for his work of evangelism. If he is led by the Spirit of God, then he is saved before baptism, for “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
Answers to Mr. Donahue’s Questions
1. Repentance and faith occur very much at the same time, and so salvation may be predicated upon either. There is a time lapse between faith and baptism.
2. The answer to his second question is “No!”
3. No. The grammar is plain, for it shows the baptized ones in verse 27 were the ones already saved by faith. The antecedent of the personal pronoun “you” in verse 27 is “the children of God” in verse 26.
Mr. Donahue, give up the dogma of baptismal regeneration which is from Babylon and Rome. Trust in a whole Christ for the whole of your salvation.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 5, p. 24-25
March 3, 1994