By Jarrod Jacobs
I recently heard the most interesting news on the television.
They report that some Baptist churches are either considering dropping, or have already dropped the name “Baptist” in order to keep from offending people who are unfamiliar with the Baptist Church. This news was also reported in The Tennessean, on Wednesday, January 13, on page 11A. This Associated Press report showed that there are several Baptist churches in the southern states who are jumping on the bandwagon and dropping the Baptist name. Their main concern was to attract more people as well as not “offend” those unfamiliar with the Baptists.
As I thought about what these churches were considering, I would have to agree that this is a good move. I hope they will drop the Baptist name altogether very soon. I look forward to the day when they will stop referring to themselves as “Baptists.” Why can they not simply be “Christians” as is taught in the Bible (Acts 11:26)? I realize Baptists claim to be Christians, or say, as one told me, that they are “Christians first, and Baptists second.” I am saying that they need to distance themselves completely from that name and wear no other name but Christian. I echo the sentiment of C.H. Spurgeon, a well-known Baptist, who said, “I look forward with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living. I hope they will soon be gone. I hope the Baptist name will soon perish; but let Christ’s name last forever” (Spurgeon Memorial Library I:168).
Of course, in order for them to truly wear the name Christian, some other practices must be “dropped” as well.
While they’re at it, it is necessary for the Baptists to drop their creed books. The Baptists follow such creed books as: Hiscox’s Manual, Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and others. Since they are considering dropping their name, let them also drop their practice of following men’s works and simply follow the Bible! “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” is what the apostle Peter taught (1 Pet. 4:11). Let them stop meeting in committees and other groups to “determine” their doctrine, and let them stand on the Bible alone! Paul taught that men ought to “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). This will only occur when men agree to take the words of Christ and that alone as the rule for their lives (Col. 3:17).
While the Baptists are dropping their name, let them also drop the practice of singing songs to God with the mechanical instrument! The New Testament shows that the only music that is acceptable in worship to God is vocal music! Paul told the Ephesians, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18-19). A parallel passage is seen in Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” In reading the Holy Spirit’s words to the Hebrew Christians, they were shown that vocal music and it alone was acceptable with God. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Heb. 2:12). Later, we read, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15). Notice please, that this sacrifice is “the fruit of our lips”! Certainly, this includes singing praise to God. Where, though, do we find that worship to God in the New Testament was offered with the mechanical instrument? Therefore, I hope our Baptist friends will drop this sinful practice when they drop their unauthorized name!
If the Baptists are willing to drop the Baptist name, I hope they will also drop their false teaching about “faith-only”! Baptists teach that a man is saved at the point of faith alone. They say that one must be baptized in order to be a Baptist, but not in order to be saved. (Therefore, according to their doctrine, one can be saved and not be a part of the Baptist Church!)
Of course, the problem is that there is no such doctrine as “faith-only” taught in the Bible! The only time we read the phrase “faith only” in the Bible, James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24)!
Unscriptural Organization in the Local Congregation
If some Baptists are willing to drop their name, let us encourage our Baptist friends to drop their unscriptural organization, too. In their local congregations, they have a “one-man” pastor (the preacher) who runs things for them. The Bible teaches that there are to be a plurality of elders (bishops, or pastors) overseeing every church (Acts 14:23, 20:17; Tit. 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1). Therefore, the fact that they have only one man considered the “pastor,” shows that their congregations are not organized in a Scriptural way!
At the same time, the Bible teaches that one can be a “pastor” and not be the preacher! The “pastor” is an elder, you see. Therefore, the Baptists have named the wrong man “pastor” when they call their preacher the pastor!
The Social Gospel Appeal
While I am for the Baptists dropping their unscriptural name, let the Baptists also remember to renounce their appeal to “fun, food, and frolic” rather than the gospel. The First Baptist Church here in White Bluff is known for bringing in different musical groups for “concerts” and the like. They engage in social meals, etc., in order to attract people. There is no room for this in the Lord’s church. The church the Lord established is a spiritual kingdom, not a worldly organization (John 18:36)! This kingdom “is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). The Lord’s church is in the soul-saving business, not the entertainment business. The Lord’s church engages in evangelism, edification, and benevolence to the needy saints (1 Thess. 1:8; 5:11; Acts 11:28-30; 1 Tim. 5:16). The Lord’s church has no relationship with the world, and therefore has no responsibility to the world! If the Baptists are considering dropping their name, let them also drop their appeal to the flesh, and start appealing to the souls of lost men!
In short, let us encourage our Baptist friends to drop all aspects of their religion that are man-made! They are on the right track in dropping the name “Baptist,” but now they must take Christ’s name and all that goes with it. They cannot do this simply by “claiming” it, but must do this through turning their lives around and following what the Bible says without fear or favor of any man! So long as they refuse to completely turn away from their unscriptural practices, they will remain Baptists and will remain in opposition to the will of God.
A Word To Our Brethren
Knowing that many of our brethren usually follow the denominations into their error, we must make the following comments. First of all, men who build their own churches can do with them as they please. It makes no difference. Let the Baptists take down their sectarian name for their secular purpose, but let all who name the name of Christ glory in the name of Christ when it is demeaned and debased (Rom. 1:16; Gal. 5:11; 6:14). Let us not do as they do and try to hide that despised name, but, rather, let us despise the shame and count it all joy that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his glorious name (Acts 5:40-41).
Brethren who would choose the Baptist way out and obliterate the name of Christ for fear of “offending” people are missing the point. Paul said, “Be not thou ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner” (2 Tim. 1:8). Remember, these words, along with those of Romans 1:16 (“I am not ashamed of the gospel”) were spoken when Christ’s name was greatly despised, and at a time when it was utterly discredited. If Paul and others were not ashamed of that name then, how dare we deny it now?
Brethren, let us press the cause and name of Christ and raise “no small stir,” showing that there be no gods or churches which are made with hands (Acts 19:23, 26)! Let the world say what they will, we cannot back down (John 15:18-20)! Only by standing strong for the name of Christ shall we know that truth is having an effect, that the cross is still crucifying the world and its lust. Let us not retreat and take down the banner of the name of Christ, but let us take pleasure in “reproaches . . . persecutions . . . for Christ’s sake,” for when we are weak, then are we strong (2 Cor. 12:10). Remember, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye . . . Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Pet. 4:14, 16).
2155 Sunset Dr., White Bluff, Tennessee 37187