Friday, February 24, 2006

Who Is My Brother?

My comments in the Christian Chronicle have spurred a bit of controversy that put me out of favor with some of our more conservative brethren. Some have already seen fit to judge me as a "liberal" and a "compromiser."

I believe that those who are baptized (immersed) in the name of Jesus as penitent believers so that their
sins can be washed away are my brethren. I believe that the cause of their new birth was their obedience to the Truth of the Gospel (1 Pet. 1:22-25). It is the imperishable seed that causes one to be born again, not human judgments on the matter.

While there are independent Chrisitan churches that may have divergent views, those with whom I have had contact taught the gospel of Christ and have asked people to respond scripturally. If indeed one has responded scripturally, then I regard that person as my brother, regardless of who did the baptizing. I believe that it is the Gospel that produces the salvation (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:22-25), not who does the baptizing. I do not regard the independent Christian churches as a denomination. I believe they are brethren who are in error over the instrument and other issues.

I know the young man who spoke up to Ralph Gilmore at FHU's open forum. He has been one of my students, and I admire him for many things. I believe that day he was out of place. The "all things" of Matt. 28:20 comes after baptism, not before. I have never held the view that one must know everything first to become a Christian. I do believe there are some things necessary to know.

I do not believe men have a right to annul what God says. When a person has scripturally obeyed the gospel, they are born again of that imperishable seed, brothers in Christ. Only the Word has a right to determine the boundaries of who is and is not a brother. No human can presume to do that.


Bobby G. Wheat said...

Thanks for commenting on this. Frankly, some who we think of as "conservative" brethren are more "denominational" in their attitudes than those we typically describe with that word. I too am convinced that the effectiveness of baptism lies in the obedience prompted, by the faith, of the one who is baptized.
Keep up the good work!
Bobby Wheat

Peggy said...

Only the Word has a right to determine the boundaries of who is and is not a brother. No human can presume to do that.

Phil, this comment says it all! Thanks for your thoughts.

Peggy Coulter