By Larry Ray Hafley
In The Sword of the Lord, of April 13, 1973, Baptist editor, Dr. John R. Rite, writes a lengthy “Answer To A Preacher Of the Church Of Christ.” Mr. Rice seeks to prove: (1) that “the Church of Christ is a false cult;” (2) that Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38 do not teach baptism as essential to salvation; (3) that salvation by faith excludes baptism; (4) that if one believes baptism is necessary to save, he makes “salvation by works and so men get the credit instead of God.”
A False Cult
“I think the Church of Christ is a false cult in that . . . it is wrong on the essential plan of salvation.” A church that is “wrong on the essential plan of salvation” is, according to Baptist Rice, “a false cult.” Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 10: 16 1. An apostle of Christ said, “Repent, and be baptized … for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). He also wrote, “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). But Baptist Rice says he who thinks “that God will not save him until he gets baptized” is thinking “foolishly and unscripturally. If it is foolish and unscriptural to think and believe what the sword of the Lord, the word of God, truly says, then let me be an unscriptural fool and a member of a false cult! Note, though, who is “wrong on the essential plan of salvation.” Dr. Rice says believe, be saved, get baptized, and you are still saved. In this lie contradicts Jesus and convicts the Baptist Church as being “a false cult,” for it is “wrong on the essential plan of salvation.”
(1) Mark 16:16: Dr. Rice says of Mark 16:16, “1 have never questioned ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved . . .’So all orthodox Christians believe . . . One who trusts Christ is saved. When he gets baptized lie is still saved … that same Scripture continues, . . . he that believeth not is condemned. The saving or damning factor is whether or not one trusts in Christ . . .”
All “orthodox Christians” believe Mk. 16:16. We wish Baptists, orthodox or otherwise, believed it. Baptist Rice promises salvation before Jesus did. Who shall be saved? “He that believeth and is baptized,” answers Jesus. Those who merely mentally assent or believe are not saved (Cf. Jn. 8:30-32; 12:42, 43; Jas. 2:19). The “damning factor is whether or not one trusts in Christ.” One who will not believe is automatically and immediately condemned (Cf. Jn. 3:18; 8:24). The “saving factors” in Mk. 16:16 are faith and baptism.
(2) Acts 2:38: Dr. Rice doctors Acts 2:38 but gets carried away by his Baptist anesthetic when he says “no Greek teacher in the world thinks that “for” in Acts 2:38 means “in order to” or “that one is baptized in order to be saved.” Mr. Rice wrests Greek scholarship as he does the word of God. The following are translations of Acts 2:38 done by Mr. Rice’s own Baptist brethren.
Goodspeed: “You must repent, and every one of you be baptized … in order to have your sins forgiven.”
Williams: “Let every one of you be baptized … that you may have your sins forgiven.”
Short Baptist College (1921): “Repent and be baptized every one of you for (in order that you may receive) the forgiveness of your sins.”
Further, would Mr. Rice concede that “for” in Matthew 26:28 means “in order to?” Jesus’ blood was shed “for the remission of sins.” Was the blood of Christ shed because sins were forgiven or was it shed in order to remit sins (Cf. Matt. 20:28; Acts 2:38)?
“By Faith” Excludes Baptism
Our Baptist Rice labors to show that salvation by faith “takes the emphasis off baptism.” Conversely, I wonder, “Does salvation by baptism (1Pet. 3: 21), take the emphasis off faith!” Peter says baptism saves. Does this de-emphasize faith? Paul says the gospel saves (1 Cor. 15: 1, 2). Wonder what Dr. Rice would think if I said this “takes the emphasis off the grace of God?” Or does the essentiality of repentance take the emphasis off faith? Why not?
Then there is this. It takes baptism to make a Baptist. Baptism is one of the essentials “in order to” be a Baptist. Does this requirement take the emphasis off” faith in becoming a Baptist? If it does so with respect to becoming a Christian, it would do so when becoming a Baptist. It is a poor rule that will not work both ways.
Baptism Gives Credit To Men
Dr. Rice states that if baptism is essential, this makes “salvation by works and so men get
the credit instead of God.” Faith is a work, a work of God, as Baptist Rice allows Un. 6:28, 29). Still, it is man who must believe Un. 8: 24). So, if faith is essential this makes “salvation by works and so men get the credit instead of God.” Mr. Rice needs to consider this question. Is baptism a work of men, or is it a work of God? One is passive when he is baptized; he is active when he believes and when he repents. One believes. One repents. But he is baptized; he submits to baptism. If baptism is a work of God, then it ceases to give men credit. If baptism is a work of men, it is human and not divine, and this has serious consequences and eternal ramifications for Dr. Rice and his Baptist brethren. It takes baptism to constitute one a Baptist. Does one become a Baptist by works or by grace? Does becoming a Baptist by baptism give men the credit instead of God?
Editor Rice affirms that trusting in Christ “is incompatible with relying partly on baptism.” He thinks that men get the credit “instead of God” if one relies “partly on baptism.” Well, do men get credit; is it incompatible with trusting in Christ, to make baptism essential to becoming a member of a Baptist Church? Is trusting in Christ “incompatible with relying partly on repentance?”
The answers to these questions should provide some insight to the same things with respect to becoming a Christian, a child of God. We hope these few remarks will serve to transform Baptist Rice into converted Rice.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 43, pp.12-13
September 6, 1973