This afternoon I ran across an article, the purpose of which was supposedly to review and refute the doctrines of Baptist churches. The writer starts out with his objection to the belief that the church was established by Christ during His earthly ministry and not at Pentecost.
Now, just for my own commentary on the matter: I grew up believing that the church was founded at Pentecost, but on further study of the Bible I eventually came to the opposite conclusion. I believe Christ founded His church during His ministry in Jerusalem, and I believe that that fact matters just because it is true. That being said, it is really not something that Christians need to be attacking each other about.
This gentleman, however, took great issue with this belief and began to “refute” it by stating the Baptist position that the Greek word for “church” (ekklesia) comes from the words ek for “out” and kaleo for “call,” mean indicating that Christ established the church as a called-out assembly of His followers. That’s a pretty accurate assessment of what we believe.
But then in his alleged “refutation” he goes on to list a handful of verses that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. He lists verses about Christ being the “cornerstone” and then states that the church could not have been called out yet because Christ was not yet the “cornerstone.” Even if that were the case, I fail to make the connection between the “cornerstone” issue and whether or not the disciples were called out by Christ to be His church. Then he discusses what order events, namely the Father’s validation of Jesus as the Messiah, happened. (As though Christ was not the Messiah before His baptism?)
Furthermore, he accuses us of believing that John the Baptist founded the church, acting in his authority, and even taking his name. (Huh!?) Those are outright fabrications, straw men that make it easier to savage a biblical position with which he disagrees. We rarely talk about John the Baptist compared to Christ. John baptized many people, but he came to point to Christ, and it was Christ who called people out of the world to be His church. I have spent the last 23 years in Baptist churches and have never heard a single mention, let alone invocation, of John’s authority in the church. And as far as taking his name: get serious! The “Baptist” name, which today I believe is a badge of honor for biblically faithful churches, was not originally chosen by us; it was applied to us by our Protestant and Catholic detractors. Baptist means roughly immerser. Which is what we are and was what set us apart. The same goes for John. We share characteristics, but there was no cause-and-effect relationship.
I could go on and on about my objections to this article, but a defense of Landmarkism is not my purpose. Here is my point: if Christians cannot engage in discourse and conversation with at least minimal intellectual integrity we are giving others an excuse to ignore the Word of God and to distrust its messengers.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2).
We have no right to argue (or calmly discuss) a point and make our case by recklessly throwing out Bible verses that have nothing to do with the subject at hand and forcing our ideas into the text. We would all do better to simply read and study the Bible, ask ourselves “What does it say?” and go from there. And we have no right to deceive others by intentionally or unintentionally misrepresenting others positions just to make our case. If someone’s position is false it will become evident without our sacrificing our integrity to prove it.
If we want the world to heed our message, let’s make it easier for them by being honest about the Bible and each other.