Jewish Washings, “Campellites” & Water Baptism

By Weldon E. Warnock

(Following is a letter by Cornell Howard and my response to it. Mr. Howard wrote the letter to Jeff Goodwin in reference to some statements about water baptism in a book written by Godwin and published by Chick Publications. Mr. Howard mailed me a copy of the letter to Godwin to try to gig me a little, I suppose, since we have had some written exchanges between us while I lived in the Dayton, Ohio area. Mr. Howard lists himself as Research/Librarian of the Grace Gospel Mission Research Institute. After you read his letter, it becomes obvious he has been researching the wrong library.)

Brother Godwin,

Grace and peace to you through the Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Upon examining your otherwise excellent book, The Devil’s Disciples, I must bring to your attention a statement of yours on p. 341 of the aforementioned work regarding water baptism. After careful comparison with John 6:29, Eph. 2:8-9, Acts 16:31, and Titus 3:5 I must make the dogmatic statement to you that the second paragraph of p. 341 is as Satanic as anything Gene Simmons has ever said or done in his life.

To associate being washed in Christ’s Blood through water baptism is the gross heresy of Campbellism, taught today by a cult who call themselves the “Church of Christ” (p. 323, Dancing With Demons). I am not name-calling or misrepresenting anyone as I am a former Campbellite and was saved from this anti-biblical cult.

Brother Godwin, just as you have a burden to expose the demonic origins and practices of the music industry, my burden is to expose the Satanic lie of water baptismal regeneration, which is salvation by works and is another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Page 339 of Dancing With Demons and every Chick tract I have ever examined have the statement “Obey Christ’s command and be baptized” (my emphasis). Matthew 28:19 is given as reference. Let’s examine Matthew 28:18-20 and see who is saying what and what is being said.

In Romans 15:8 and Galatians 4:4-5 we are told that the Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry was to the nation of Israel only. In Matt. 28:18-20 and Mark 16:8-20 we have the Lord giving his final instructions including informing them of the signs and wonders (Mk. 16) that the nation of Israel required (1 Cor. 1:22). In Matt. 28:20 nowhere is the revelation given that the Law had been done away with. Hence the statement by our Lord to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” That includes temple worship (Matt. 24: 1), observe the Law (Matt. 19:17), plucking out your eyes (Matt. 18:9); brother Our Lord “commanded” many things that we as Christians are not bound to obey, including water baptism.

Water baptism is part of the law: it is the Levitical washing of Exod. 28 and Lev. 8. God has promised to make Israel a “kingdom of priests, ” hence the Levitical water washing of John the Baptist (who was a Levite, Lk. 1:5). The whole nation was to submit to this Levitical washing by the Levite forerunner (Mal. 3:1) to manifest the Messiah to Israel (Jn. 1:31).

Water Baptism and the Book of Acts

In Acts 2 Peter preaches the bad news that Israel has murdered her Messiah and must take John’s Levitical baptism (washing) of repentance. Is Acts 2:38 the “plan” of salvation for today? I hope not, as I have never encountered anyone who obeys Acts 2:42-46.

Baptism and the Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul was a Jew (Acts 22:1) who was baptized (Acts 9:18) and was also an Apostle (Gal. 1:1) who possessed the signs of an Apostle (2 Cor. 12:12). What are the signs of an Apostle?

1. A preacher of the Gospel of the Millennial Kingdom (Mk. 16:15).

2. Baptizer to manifest the Messiah to Israel (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Jn. 1:31).

3. Ability to cast out devils (Mk. 16:17).

4. Ability to communicate with Jews regardless of nationality or language (1 Cor. 14:22; Acts 2:5-12; Isa. 28:11).

5. Resist venomous serpents (Mk. 16:18; Acts 28:1-6).

6. Ability to drink any poisoned water (will be fulfilled during the Tribulation, Rev. 8:8-11).

7. The ability to heal the sick (Mk. 16:18).

Another question brother: What is an Apostle?

1. Must have companied with Jesus Christ from the start of John the Baptist’s ministry (Acts 1:21,22).

2. Must have witnessed the resurrected Jesus Christ in the flesh (Acts 1:22; 9:4; 18:9-10; 22:18; 23:11).

3. Must be personally chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:24; Matt. 6; Acts 9).

Brother, the Scriptures plainly teach that only an Apostle is qualified to baptize. You may say, “Well, the man who baptized me was an Apostle.” I must ask, has he seen the resurrected Jesus? He may say “yes” (as Oral Roberts).

The holy, inspired, infallible Scriptures say “no” (2 Cor. 5:16).

The Death of the Water Gospel Doctrine

Brother Godwin, I must ask you one final question: Is water baptism a work of righteousness? Yes, it must be; if not, then it is a work of unrighteousness and unrighteousness is sin (1 Jn. 5:17). Since our Lord knew no sin (Heb. 4:15) and he was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15; Isa. 53:12) baptism is not an act of unrighteousness. If water baptism saves what shall we do with Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration (NOT WATER), and renewing (Eph. 4:23; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16 of the Holy Ghost”?

Brother Godwin I implore you to study this problem out (2 Tim. 2:15) and to correct this passage in this book, as I cannot with good conscience give this book to some poor drug ravaged teen without blacking the entire portion out or tearing the whole page out. I communicate this to you in the spirit of Galatians 6:1 and pray that you receive it in that spirit.

Your brother in Christ,

Cornell Howard (signed)

Unscrambling Cornell Howard

In Mr. Howard’s above letter to Jeff Godwin he said he was not name-calling, but then proceeded to call names, viz., “Campbellite” and the church of Christ, an “anti-biblical cult.” Such epithets show maliciousness and malignity! He knows there is not a “Campbellite church” in existence and that he was never a “Campbellite” because there ain’t any. We are not more cultic than he is, but to prejudice the minds of people, he fabricates these derisive terms. It would be interesting to see Howard define “cult” that by definition included us but excluded him.

His letter to Godwin reflects the most warped and convoluted reasoning I have ever witnessed. He reminds me of the preacher who attempted to prove his ability as a Bible student and told the story of the Good Samaritan as follows:

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among thieves. And they beat him and they kick him and leave him on the roadside half-dead.

Then the Queen of Sheba, she come by, and give him a hundred changes of rainment and a thousand talents of gold.

So he jump in her chariot and go sky-larking off through the woods until he run under a big oak tree and catch his hair in the limbs and there he hung. After awhile three wise men come by and they cut him down. So he fell upon stony ground. And then it rain forty days and forty nights, and he went and hid himself in a cave. Then the ravens come and feed him locust and wild honey.

And when it quit raining he come out and a man say to him, “Come with me to supper.” And he said, “I can’t. I done married a wife and we need to go look at the field we bought before it gets dark because the five foolish virgins done burnt all the oil.”

So he went out into the highways and byways and he found Daniel in the lion’s den. And he say to Daniel, “Daniel, you put on your coat of many colors and let’s go on up to Jerusalem.”

So Daniel did, and they went. Then up in Jerusalem he saw Queen Jezebel setting high in a winder. And she laugh at him which make him mad, so he say, “Throw down Jezebel,” and they throwed her down seven times. Then she laugh at him again, and he say, “Throw down Jezebel seven times seventy” and they took up of the fragments twelve baskets full.

Now which one do you think was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers? So, brethren, go, and do what thou doest quickly!

There is Scripture in the illiterate preacher’s rendition of the Good Samaritan, but it is all garbled and scrambled. That is the way Howard’s letter is to Godwin – all jumbled together.

“Levitical Washings”

Concerning baptism, who said John’s baptism and the baptism of the Great Commission were simply “Levitical washings”? Not the Bible, not the Lord, but a man who is uninspired by the name of Cornell Howard. That is the authority for it. Where in the Bible does it say that New Testament water baptism is the Levitical washing of Exodus and Leviticus? I’ll give Howard the keys to my car if he will find the passage. Let him get busy and find it!

The apostle Peter said clearly and succinctly that baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh – a ceremonial washing (1 Pet. 3:21). However, Cornell Howard says it is the putting away of the filth of the flesh (Levitical washings), while Peter says it isn’t. R.C.H. Lenski wrote, “There were, indeed, ceremonial lustrations; the Jews had them, for instance the washing which the high priest had to undergo before officiating . . . Peter denies that baptism is such a minor rite” (Commentary on 1 Peter, p. 171).

R.C. Trench, the noted Greek scholar, said, “By Baptismos in the usage of the N.T. we must understand any ceremonial washing or lustration, such either has been ordained of God (Heb. 9:10), or invented by men (Mk. 8:4 , 8). . . . while by Baptisma we understand baptism in our Christian sense of the word (Rom. 6:4; 1 Pet. 3:21; Eph. 4:5); yet not so strictly as to exclude the baptism of John (Lk. 7:29; Acts 10:37; 19:3). This distinction is in the main preserved by the Greek ecclesiastical writers” (p. 371). In view of what Trench said, find Mr. Howard where baptisma refers to Jewish washings or baptismos is used in reference to New Testament baptism. The baptism of John and Jesus’ baptism is baptisma, not baptismos (Jewish washings). We read, “The baptism (baptisma) of John, whence was it” (Matt. 21:25)? “We are buried with him by baptism (baptisma)” (Rom. 6:4). But notice how baptismos is used. “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings (baptismos) and carnal ordinances (Heb. 9:10). “Divers washings” are the Jewish washings or ceremonial washings of the Old Covenant. Also, in Hebrews 6:2, “doctrine of baptisms” (baptismos).

According to Howard, Acts 2:38 must be a Levitical washing and not the “plan” of salvation for today because he has never “encountered anyone who obeys Acts 2:42-46. ” Let’s see what the Jerusalem church did in Acts 2:42-46. They were loyal (v. 42), reverent (v. 43), unified (v. 44), generous (v. 45), active (v. 46), happy (v. 46) and growing (v. 47). Isn’t it strange that Howard never encountered anyone like this? Maybe his statement tells us what kind of a crowd he has been running with.

Repentance and baptism in Acts 2:38 were to be done in the name of Jesus Christ – not the name of Moses. The promise of salvation was to those on Pentecost, their children and those afar off (Gentiles, Eph. 2:13). Acts 2:38 does not sound like a Jewish washing to me!

It is obvious that Howard does not know when the law of Moses ceased and the New Covenant began. Clearly, the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16; Lk . 24:47) was not a part of the law of Moses. Jesus said, “teach all nations” and “preach the gospel to every creature” in the Commission, This was universal in scope (including Jew and Gentile), while the law of Moses was national – to Israel only (Exod. 20:1-2; 31:12-17; 34:27,28; Deut. 5:1-6).

The Mosaical law was taken out of the way when Jesus died on the cross (Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 2:14-17; Rom. 7:14), and the New Covenant inaugurated after the death of the Testator, Christ (Heb. 9:16-17; cf. Heb. 8:6; 10:9-10).

Who Is Qualified To Baptize?

Howard says, “Only an Apostle is qualified to baptize.” If this was the case, why was Phillip baptizing the Samaritans (Acts 8:12-13), and later the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38)?

I don’t remember Philip being one of the apostles of Christ. Was he an apostle of Christ, Mr. Howard? He said, “only an Apostle is qualified to baptize.” Was Philip doing something he wasn’t qualified to do, although an angel and the Holy Spirit sent him to preach to and baptize the eunuch? What about Ananias baptizing Paul (Acts 9:18; 22:16)? Was Ananias an apostle? What Howard is attempting to say is that since only apostles may baptize, as he claims, and we have no living apostles today, therefore, baptism has no place in the scheme of things. Mr. Howard, perhaps you ought to do some research in the Bible instead of your library. He claims to be Research/Librarian of Research Institute.

Howard gives his signs of an apostle, and yet Philip qualified for most of them (Acts 8). He had to carry one of the signs clear over to his Tribulation (Rev. 8:8-11). The Millennialists say this happens when the church is raptured and that the church will miss the so-called Tribulation. Is this what he meant by Tribulation? If so, there won’t be any apostles here to drink the poison water he speaks of. Anyway, Jesus was talking to his apostles in Mark 16:15-18, and said, “And these signs shall follow them (emp. mine, wew) that believe. In my name shall they” (emp. mine, wew) . . . not “you. ” These signs followed believers, not just the apostles, exclusively. Isn’t there a difference between you (2nd person pronoun) and they (3rd person pronoun)?

I must ask one final question, similar to the one Mr. Howard asked Jeff Godwin: Are repentance and confession works of righteousness? As Howard would put it, “Yes, they must be, if not, then they are works of unrighteousness and unrighteousness is sin (I Jn. 5:17). If repentance and confession save, what shall we do with Titus 3:5 -not by works of righteousness which we have done. Howard’s illogical and prejudicial argument presented to Mr. Godwin against baptism has also eliminated repentance and confession, and, for that matter, faith.

Howard does not know the difference between works of man’s righteousness and works of God’s righteousness. Works in Titus 3:5, Ephesians 2:9, and Romans 11:6 are meritorious works, works of perfect obedience to law, but works of God’s righteousness are works of obedience to his will (Jn. 6:28-29; Acts 10:35). Faith, repentance, confession and baptism are not meritorious works but acts of obedience to the Lord. When we obey the Lord to be saved, are we earning salvation? Of course not!

Again, Howard shows his misunderstanding of Scripture by saying that “washing of regeneration” in Titus 3:5 is not water baptism. “Washing” is a translation of loutron, which Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon says, “used in the N.T. and in eccles. writ. of baptism” (p. 382). Ardnt-Gingrich say, “bath, washing of baptism . . . the bath that brings about regeneration (Tit. 3:5)” (p. 481), Vincent states, “The phrase laver of regeneration distinctly refers to baptism” (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vol. 4, p. 345). But Cornell Howard says, “NOT WATER,- putting it in CAPS.

Well, enough said. I rest my case!

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 9, pp. 266-268
May 3, 1990