Is anybody awake in the history forum?? Alien immersion

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by rlvaughn, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    Is anybody awake in the history forum? No one has posted here since the 22nd, so I thought I'd try to sound a wake-up call.

    In a thread in General Discussions, J. R. Graves mentioned the following:

    He also defined alien immersion in this way: "Historically alien baptism has been defined as baptism administered by a non-Baptist church. However with the demise of denominationalism, we must define what a non-Baptist church is."

    Perhaps J. R. will notice this thread and post. I'd like to hear more about this survey. Perhaps we can start from there with an historical investigation of the rise of "alien immersion" among Baptists in the southern U.S. in the 20th century (or something like that). Any takers?
     
  2. Johnv

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    A nonbaptist church is one that does not adhere to the Baptist Distinctives as a condition of faith and practice. Many may by custom, but not as mandate. The Baptist Distinctives are mandatory for Baptist churches (or at least, they're supposed to be).

    As far as alien immersion. If a baptism was performed in a nonbaptist setting, so long as it was a believer's baptism, that person should not be required to be baptized again.
     
  3. rlvaughn

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    Thanks, John. But I am trying to get a feel for how this developed/evolved in the 20th century, particularly in the Southern Baptist Convention and related bodies (e.g. ABA, BBF, WBF, etc.), rather than whether one thinks it is right or wrong.

    It seems that, based on this 1915 survey compared to present practice, the mood and theology has changed quite a bit in almost 100 years.
     
  4. Erasmus

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    Sorry, no posts from me lately. School has started and I have a big publishing deadline. Look forward to seeing you at Sam Houston State.
     
  5. Mark Osgatharp

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    Rlvaughn,

    Though there were always some among the Baptists who favoried alien immersion, I think the seed that bore fruit in the 20th century was sown at Southern Seminary in the days leading up to the Whitsitt controversy. Here is a letter from Whitsitt to John Broadus from March of 1872:

    "I regret not a little the cry that is raised about Bro. Williams' ears, and wrote to him a few days ago giving an expression of my feelings. As to 'alien immersions' there is a 'debatable land' with every case that arises, but the principle on which to decide these cases is clearly and unmistakably that which Bro. W- enunciates and maintains."

    This letter is found in the Life and Letters of John A. Broadus written by his son in law, A.T. Robertson. Robertson has a footnote to this letter which says,

    "Doctor Williams laid little stress upon the administrator of baptism."

    Though Whitsitt was removed from the seminary, his theories continued to be taught and so it was just a matter of time until the leaven spread throughout the Convention.

    The issue between the Independent Baptists and the Convention was not on matters of ecclesiology but rather on matters of Modernism vs. Fundamentalism. Therefore, the Independent Baptists have all along through their history been a mixed bag on the matter of alien baptism. Some brought Landmarkism with them out of the convention. Others adopted the interdenominationalism that has characterized Fundamentalism.

    I read somewhere just the other day (I can't remember the book offhand) where someone had inquired of Ben Bogard his opinion of a "Norrisite" church which accepted alien immersions. However, I have also known of some Independent Baptist churches which are very strong in Landmark views of the ordinances.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  6. imported_J.R. Graves

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    I looked at this 1915 survey again this afternoon. (I will try to get it typed and posted on the board in the near future.) The survey was conducted by W.P. Throgmorton, Baptist pastor and editor in Illinois and originally appeared in his Baptist state paper. Throgmorton contacted editors or leading pastors in every state in which Southern Baptists were then located and asked them what percentage of Southern Baptists in their state accepted alien baptism. To summarize the results:
    Arkansas & Texas = None
    Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee - Only a small percentage / Only a handful
    Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia - Perhaps 25%
    Maryland - 100% (There were only 68 Southern Baptist churches in Maryland in 1915)

    In my studies it was not until the 1950's that these numbers began to noticeably change. I personally think it was the liberalization of the SBC that caused this change in policy. The seminaries, colleges, state papers, Sunday School board, and state leadership were slowly filled by men who were liberal in their ecclesiology. (I can show you multitudes of examples of this taking place) These men slowly influenced many pastors and churches to adopt a more open policy of baptism (as well as the Lord's Supper)
     
  7. Major B

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    A neighboring association has lost its most productive churches over this. Our local association is in the middle of the same thing.

    Associationally, the issue is the autonomy of the local church. This is not a doctrine over which one should break fellowship. I am amazed when I see "local church men" who want local associations to act like Presbytries on this issue.

    I thought all the Landmarkers were Baptist--obviously I was mistaken.

    If a church baptises the right candidate for the right reason, in the right way, and if they are orthodox on who Jesus is, the Trinity, the Bible, and salvation by grace, what is the problem? I personally think we should be overjoyed to receive such from Bible Churches, Assemlies of God, Freewill Baptist, General Baptists, Dunker Brethren, etc., and there are some Southern Baptists we ought to take a closer look at.
     
  8. Mark Osgatharp

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    With the possible exception of some Bible churches, the denominations you mention do not teach salvation by grace. That, within itself, disqualifies them by your own minimum standard.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    Major, I don't think Baptists historically have held soul liberty to mean that a Baptist was obligated to fellowship someone he didn't want to fellowship, or that the autonomy of one Baptist Church required another Baptist Church to accept whatever they might have autonomously done. If I go too far down that road of discussion we'll be off topic, but I just wanted to address that since you brought it up.

    Concerning the discussion, I also don't think that "alien baptism" is only a southern issue, but kind of went that direction since I was using J.R.'s mention of the 1915 survey as a starting point.

    SBC: I'm looking forward to seeing the information about the survey.

    ABA: I think the ABA may be in a somewhat similar position as the 1950s SBC -- one generation is passing on and leadership roles are slowly filled by men who are more "liberal" in their ecclesiology.

    BBF, WBF: I agree with Mark's assessment. The Norris movement was primarily fundamentalist driven. It was filled with a mixed bag ecclesiologically, and has remained so to this day. I think just by default there was more landmarkism originally. The Global Independent Baptist Fellowship, a recent division of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, shows strong landmark influence in their doctrinal statement on the church -- "We believe the New Testament church is a local, visible, autonomous assembly; that Jesus Christ established His Church during His earthly ministry, prior to the events of Acts Chapter Two and the Day of Pentecost...We believe baptism is the immersion in water of a believer in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by and under the authority of a New Testament Baptist church...baptism is requisite to the place and privileges of a church membership and to the Lord's Table in which, after solemn self-examination, and by the use of unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, the members only of a given Baptist church are to commemorate together the sacrificial love of Christ."

    Concerning Ben Bogard and his opinion of the Norrisites, I have a few comments. I think he may have gone from approval to disapproval over a period of years. I have a copy of the "American Baptist" (maybe circa late 30s, I'd have to dig it out to be sure), in which Norris is pictured with a lease around Bogard's neck. D. N. Jackson was opposing any fellowship with the Norris movement and A. J. Kirkland (I'm not sure when he jumped fences) wrote a scathing article against Bogard or anyone else attempting to cater to Norris. Norris had been extremely critical of the BMA of Texas. It is my opinion that Bogard was an "empire builder". I don't assign any necessarily impure motive to this, but he definitely exhibited a desire to bring many dissident SBC movements/churches under the umbrella of the American Baptist Association. I think he initially thought that the Norris fundamentalist movement was one such possibility.
     
  10. Major B

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    With the possible exception of some Bible churches, the denominations you mention do not teach salvation by grace. That, within itself, disqualifies them by your own minimum standard.

    Mark Osgatharp
    </font>[/QUOTE]Actually, on grace, they are just one point off from your position...
     
  11. Major B

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    snipped accidental double post.
     
  12. tinytim

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    It all depends if you are landmark or not.

    It all started when Landmarkism started.
     
  13. tinytim

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  14. rlvaughn

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    Tinytim, I'm not sure to what your statements refer. Do you mean that the concept of alien immersion started with Landmarkism? Or something else? Regardless of what one believes about Landmarkism and/or alien immersion, I believe it has been and can be demonstrated that this was a concern of Baptists long before J. R. Graves, A. C. Dayton, et al.

    Thanks for the link.
     
  15. rsr

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    I would suggest that the process was brought about by internal inconsistencies within the Southern Baptist Convention. (I am not trying to slight other Baptist groups, but the SBC is the one I'm most familiar with and is the 900-pound gorilla in the room.)

    Baptists have constantly been challenged over the matter of baptism and have, in my view, had to rethink their ecclesiology based upon those circumstances.

    (I am not being flippant or suggesting they just "make up their theology as they go along." People are faced with problems and have to respond; so long as a problem does not rear its head, it tends to be ignored. We can't blame the Founders, for example, for not anticipating the moral implications of stem stell research. This has been reflected in Baptist confessions through the centuries. The first two London Confessions, for example, explicitly condemn popery because those Baptists, with good reason, thought it to be a chief danger. The 2000 Baptist Faith & Message maintains that marriage is the union of a man and a woman; the author of the New Hampshire Confession would not dreamed anyone could have thought otherwise.)

    Originally, the fight was fairly restricted. Should paedobaptism be recognized? Baptists were, by and large, the only significant immersionist churches. The line could be drawn finely.

    Then, however, Baptists were joined by other immersionists — Campbellites, ambibaptismal Methodists, etc. Were their baptisms valid? The line was drawn again.

    In the 20th century, the convention — like others — was drawn into the modernist-fundamental controversy. It stayed together, for the most part, by deciding that its chief mission was missions/evangelism. The SBC became, in short, the Cooperative Program with a convention attached.

    In order to fulfill its mission, the convention de-emphasized soteriology and ecclesiology, all while maintaining the autonomy of the local church. Thus it could tolerate differences of opinion at the local level and still maintain its prime mission.

    Ecclesiology (excepting autonomy), thus, was downgraded. Not explicitly, but tacitly. First Baptist Church could reject alien immersion; Faith Baptist Church down the street could accept alien immersion under certain circumstances; Bible Baptist Church on the edge of town could accept any immersion. Yet all were SBC churches.

    And, from my experience, this lack of emphasis on ecclesiology would have to bear fruit. Even in those churches that rejected alien baptism, the doctrine was not always explained and taught, but rather assumed.

    (I would add here that the demise of the old SBC Training Union program was a great loss for the convention. Formerly, Sunday School was for evangelism and the teaching of the basics of the Bible. TU was supposed to equip Baptists to serve, to evangelize and to understand what Baptists believe. I still treasure a certain TU course that explained other religions and told why Baptists didn't share their beliefs. But I digress.)

    Without a sound grounding in ecclesiology, churches became free to adopt what they saw fit, under the rubric of autonomy. And, of course, in recent years Baptists have had to confront more and more would-be members who have had immersion in other traditions — particularly Pentecostalism, which is immersionist.

    When the fight within the SBC was over other things, these issues could be papered over. The new SBC leadership has, for the most part, won on the issues, such as inerrancy, it considered most important. Now it is turning its attention to ecclesiology and is finding that SBC churches have, much to their surprise, been all over the map on ecclesiology.
     
  16. EdSutton

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    rlvaughn wrote;

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Ed
     
  17. rsr

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    While not entirely on topic, I would recommend an article by Gregory Wills in Baptist History and Heritage, Fall 1999.

    While the article deals mostly with Spurgeon, it asserts that Spurgeon's emphasis on orthodoxy, and not ecclesiology, is reflected in American Baptist life of the 20th century because so many Baptists believed that defeating threats to orthodoxy outweighed adherence to ecclesiology.

    ECCLESIOLOGY OF SPURGEON
     
  18. rsr

    rsr
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    While not entirely on topic, I would recommend an article by Gregory Wills in Baptist History and Heritage, Fall 1999.

    While the article deals mostly with Spurgeon, it asserts that Spurgeon's emphasis on orthodoxy, and not ecclesiology, is reflected in American Baptist life of the 20th century because so many Baptists believed that defeating threats to orthodoxy outweighed adherence to ecclesiology.

    ECCLESIOLOGY OF SPURGEON
     
  19. Bro. James

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    Ecclesiologies(sic?) of men will come and go.

    Whatever happened to the Church that Jesus is building? Ref. Matt. 16:18, 28:20, Eph. 3:21.

    He promised to never leave her nor forsake her.

    Perhaps she is hard to discern standing behind all the man-made church-plants.

    Selah,

    Bro. James

    P.S. Sorry, alien imersion: if you have been "baptized" by someone without scriptural authority, you have not been scripturally baptized which is no baptism at all. That authority is vested in the New Testament Assembly, see Mt. 28:20. Anything else is usurped, which is no authority at all. Now what?
     
  20. rsr

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    Please stay on topic. This thread is not to defend or oppose alien baptism but to explore its history.
     

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