By Larry Ray Hafley
Recently the Dallas and Cincinnati Baptist Associations, both of which are members of the Southern Baptist Convention, dumped, deposed and disfellowshipped four charismatic congregations from their Associations. Pentecostalism has invaded and permeated Baptist Churches. The Dallas Association “branded the movement as a radical departure from `historical Baptist practices.’ And the Cincinnati Baptist Association, which also kicked out two congregations, called the emphasis on tongues speaking and faith healing `unscriptural’ and `un-Baptist.’ Other leading Baptists, like Dr. W. A. Criswell of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, have charged that charismatics `border on heresy’ and that their worship experiences are `of the devil’ ” (The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky. Dec. 30, 1975, p. A6).
Some Questions Raised By These Events
Very vital and interesting inquiries are resurrected by these happenings.
First, “by what authority” does a Convention oust a local church and “who gave thee this authority?” The ouster and eviction of four charismatic churches from the Baptist premises manifests a power larger and higher than the local church, but beneath Christ, the head of the church. Where is such an institutional, ecclesiastical hierarchy to be found in the Bible? Of course, Baptist Churches are not New Testament churches, so they can devise and develop governmental structures as they desire, but supposing, as they do, that their churches are of Christ, who or what empowers any organization to “kick out” a congregation? The shades and shadows of Rome darken the Baptist horizon.
Second, have these Pentecostal Baptists “fallen from grace?” They are “branded” as a “movement” which is a “radical departure from ‘historical Baptist practices,'” to say nothing of scriptural New Testament principles. They are labelled “unscriptural” which is nearly as bad as being “un-Baptist.” Their doctrine is said to “border on heresy” and their “worship experiences are `of the devil.’ ” How much worse can people wax? So, have these Baptists been “severed from Christ?” They have been “kicked out” of the Southern Baptist society, but have they been given the boot by the Lord? Or can one be too bad to be in a Baptist Association but still good enough to go to heaven? It is a fundamental, cardinal Baptist tenet that a child of God cannot fall from grace and be lost. Will the Baptist Associations of Dallas and Cincinnati tell us whether these Baptist charismatics will be saved in their “unscriptural,” “radical departure” that is “of the devil?”
Third, these non-historical, hysterical Baptists are accepting people from “Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and Roman Catholic backgrounds” into their charismatic community. That is to be expected, but Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics: (1) Substitute sprinkling for baptism; (2) They sprinkle water on infants; (3) And they believe in infant salvation and church membership based on their sprinkling. However, the Southern Baptist and Pentecostal denominations do not believe in the above mentioned items. How will they face and deal with such matters in their integrated, charismatic churches? Does the Holy Spirit tell Baptists to immerse believing adults but to ignore screaming infants while He tells the Lutheran or Catholic charismatic to splash the baby and dunk the adult if he requests it? There is a real conflict and controversy in this regard that cannot be casually waved aside by a chorus of “Praise the Lord.”
Fourth, the Baptists are traditional “trinitarians.” They believe there are three persons in the Godhead; namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (There is a Pentecostal. Southern Baptist Church near Louisville, Kentucky, which is called the Trinity Baptist Church.) These Baptists now claim kinship with the “Pentecostal experience” of Holy Spirit baptism, tongues speaking and faith healing. But the United Pentecostal Church, “the greatest of all Oneness organizations,” teaches that there is only one person in the Deity, Jesus Christ. How will they hurdle this barrier of belief? United Pentecostals cannot tolerate the rejection of their “Oneness” or “Jesus Only” theory. Historically, the “Oneness” Pentecostals left the “trinitarian” Assembly of God denomination over that very issue. There never would have been a United Pentecostal Church if the “Oneness” versus the “Trinity” concept could have been harmonized and unionized. (See Arthur L. Clanton’s book, United We Stand, published by the Pentecostal Publishing House in Hazelwood, Missouri.) How will the “trinitarian” Baptists and the “Oneness” Pentecostals resolve this issue? Or does the Holy Spirit speak out of both sides of His mouth on this topic also?
Fifth, the Pentecostals believe that water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is “for the remission of sins.” Not even a “radical,” “unscriptural,” “of the devil” charismatic Baptist could be led to accept Acts 2:38! Again, their “Pentecost experience” has their fellowship wires crossed. What lineman among them can settle the water baptism question? Since they both claim the “gift of knowledge,” how do we determine which one is telling the truth? See Isaiah 8:20 and 1 John 4:1,6. Surely, the Spirit does not “reveal” such an important matter as how one acquires the forgiveness of sins in two different ways!
Purpose and Conclusion
Much more could be said in this muckraking article, but this is sufficient to show: (1) That acceptance of subjective experiences does not bring about unity of or in the Spirit; (2) That the charismatic movement is characterized by self contradiction and confusion; (3) That denominational, ecclesiastical organizations are toothless and unarmed in their opposition to internal (4) That there is a constant need to teach the mold, the pattern, “the form of sound words” in all areas and aspects of worship in the Lord.
Truth Magazine, XX:14, p. 12-13
April 1, 1976