By James W. Adams
Brother Willis has called attention to the fact that there has been and will be breaks in the continuity of appearance of these articles in Truth Magazine. Since beginning the series, I have been engaged in meetings, which have taken me from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Seaboard-in California, Arizona, New Jersey, and South Carolina. On these trips, circumstances were such that I could do little more than read and make notes on background material and do some thinking on accumulated data. Jet travel is wonderful, but it does not permit one to transport necessary books and other materials, which are essential to the preparation of such articles as are involved in our current series. We shall do our utmost to keep these breaks at an absolute minimum.
In our last article, attention was directed to the fact that Brother Ketcherside predicates New Testament fellowship on the belief of one fact and the obedience of one act.
“The proper response to the Good News introduces us to the fellowship of the Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit. And that response is made by the belief of one fact and the obedience of one act. That fact is the noblest proposition ever affirmed in a universe defiled by sin, that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God. The act, validating his lordship over the whole scope of surrendered existence is immersion in water” (Restoration Review, article on “Fellowship; ” February 1973, p. 23).
We have discussed at some length “the belief of one fact.” We should like now to direct attention to Ketcherside’s “obedience of one act.”
The Obedience of One Act
Immersion in water-baptism-gives both Ketcherside and many of those who have been influenced by his teaching considerable trouble. Accepting, as they have, a neo-Calvinistic concept of salvation by grace through faith – “sola gratia, sola fide,” baptism constitutes a proverbial “thorn in their sides.” Brother Randall Mark Trainer of “Theological Liberalism at Abilene Christian College” notoriety and author of a number of other literary gems which has been circulated in mimeographed form rather widely by other precocious neo-phytes have favored the brethren generally with his mature (?) and scholarly reflections on the subject of salvation by grace versus current legalism among conservative brethren. He admits in private discussions with friends “baptism gives him trouble.”
Brother Edward Fudge, a somewhat older and more experienced young man, associate editor of the Gospel Guardian, was probably the first person to introduce, in a favorable way, the views of W. Carl Ketcberside to the student preachers at Florida College. I have it on good authority from a reliable young man, who was a schoolmate at Florida College of Brother Fudge, that Fudge sold Bibles in St. Louis one summer between sessions at the college and returned enamored of and excited by Ketcherside’s views and that he circulated the Mission Messenger and pressed its teaching among his fellow-students resulting in a number of these young men adopting Ketcherside’s views in one degree or another.
Brother Fudge has written a tract, which he has entitled, “The Grace of God,” and which he recommends highly as a source of enlightenment and correction for legalistic conservatism among the brethren. Incidentally, how well do we remember others such as Roy Key who made the same discovery which Brother Fudge has concerning the brethren, legalism, and the grace of God and who finally “went out from us because they were not of us”. Fudge’s tract, in addition to featuring a quasi-Calvinistic concept of the imputation of Christ’s personal righteousness to the believer (a pernicious fallacy), is noteworthy for its mistreatment of New Testament baptism.
The tract is five and one-half inches by seven and one-half inches and consists of twenty-six pages. Much that it says, I can heartily endorse. With its conclusion that salvation is not “merited” by “perfect obedience to law,” I am and always have been in perfect accord, as have all other faithful gospel preachers known to me. However, its treatment of baptism is temporizing, compromising, and misleading. Can you imagine a tract written on the general subject of salvation of this size and by a professed preacher of the gospel, which does not mention baptism until the last two sentences, of the last small paragraph, on the last page? Can you imagine a statement such as that which follows constituting that reference?
“If you do believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son; if you do trust His perfect life and atoning death for your salvation; if you do rely on Him and intend to please Him as long as you live and as best you are able in all things–then you will want to be ‘buried with Him in baptism’ and ‘raised with Him’ to ‘newness of life’ (Rom. 6:3-4). You will want to be baptized ‘into Christ’ and ‘put on Christ’ ” (Gal. 3:27). (The Grace of God, p. 26.)
The capitals within the sentences and the words emphasized are Fudge’s. Please note that Brother Fudge does not present baptism as an appropriating condition of the personal enjoyment of the saving grace of God and the atoning blood of Jesus as is commonly done when faithful gospel preachers write on this theme. If it were insisted that such is implicit in his scripture citations, I categorically deny it. Millions do not place the construction upon these scriptures that a faithful member of the Lord’s church would. They can accept Fudge’s statements as written completely and yet deny the essentiality of baptism and do!
I have personally participated either as disputant or moderator in eleven debates with representative Baptists. I have heard equally as many as those in which I have participated. I have read probably twice as many as I have participated in or attended. My library shelves are well stocked with the works of the leading Baptist scholars of the ages, and I have studiously examined these volumes for many years. With this background and on its basis, I affirm without fear of successful contradiction that there is not a representative Baptist scholar or preacher on earth who will not endorse Fudge’s statements concerning baptism as written one hundred percent, or as concerning the grace of God for that matter. As concrete evidence of my contention, a recent, very prominent convert from among the Baptists was sent a copy of Fudge’s tract by the man who converted him. After reading it, he remarked to a mutual acquaintance of his and mine, “I wonder why-sent me this tract, I left the Baptists to get away from this stuff.”
Ben M. Bogard, though he could not correctly be classed a scholar, was eminently representative of Baptist doctrine. He defended it in over three hundred debates, more than one hundred of them with our brethren in the Lord. Hear him concerning baptism:
“Crossing the Red Sea was typical of baptism. 1 Cor. 10: 4. Those who claim to be led by the Spirit and refuse to be baptized show that it is not the Spirit of God who is leading. If the Spirit leads, He will lead to obedience. The cloud led them to the water, and one who is led by the Spirit will want to be baptized” (The Golden Key, p. 39).
Brother Fudge says: “If you do believe … if you do trust … then you will want to be buried with Him in baptism.”
Ben M. Bogard says: “One who is led by the Spirit will want to he baptized … to refuse to be baptized is to show that it is not the Spirit of God who is leading.” Bogard had previously quoted: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” What is the essential difference in Fudge’s statement and Bogard’s? Absolutely none! But, did Bogard believe baptism to be essential to salvation? No, indeed! Hear him: “First, we are saved by the blood and then led by the spirit and after that baptism” (op. cit., p. 40). 1 repeat: any Baptist on earth can accept Fudge’s tract on “The Grace of God” and not bat an eye or change a single item of his faith. An old debate has been on the proposition: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I wonder which came first, Fudge’s views on grace, which made Ketcherside’s views attractive to him, or Ketcherside’s views influencing Fudge to embrace his current view of salvation by grace?
Another example from Baptists corroborative of my contention in this matter involves a scholar, Edward T. Hiscox, D.D. In his J “Standard Manual for Baptist Churches”, which was published by The American Baptist Publication Society, he says:
“Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration’; but it is essential to obedience, since Christ has commanded it. It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church, which is his body. And no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience and tokens of affection” (pp. 20, 21). (Emphasis mine JWA.)
Under “Articles of Faith,” Mr. Hiscox further says:
“We believe the Scriptures teach that Christian baptism is the immersion in water of a believer in Christ, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost; to show forth in a solemn and beautiful emblem his faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect, in his death to sin and resurrection to a new life; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation, and to the Lord’s Supper.” (Article XIV, Christian Baptism, pp. 69, 70.)
Incidentally, Mr. Hiscox gives as Scripture references under this article the same passages which Brother Fudge quotes in his tract; namely, Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; and Gal. 3:26,27. Ketcherside and Fudge both profess to believe that baptism is essential to salvation and to fellowship as Christians, yet what they say and write about salvation by grace differs little, at all, from what a pure Calvinist would say d write. Well did our Lord say, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Paul expressed a worthwhile consideration also when he said, “Happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves” (Rom. 14:22 RSV).
The major part of this article has been spent discussing those who have come under the influence of Ketcherside. In the next article, I shall be discussing Ketcherside’s predicament relative to New Testament baptism under the title: “The Achilles Heel of The New Unity Cult.”
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 32, pp. 9-11
June 14, 1973