Maxey - Martin Dialogue

An Email Exchange Between

Al Maxey, Minister/Elder
Cuba Avenue Church of Christ
Alamogordo, New Mexico


David Martin, Pastor
Solid Rock Baptist Church
Bartlett, Tennessee

Comments by David Martin

Monday, August 19, 2002

Al, Here are some more thoughts and comments on your response to my article.

In his introductory remarks Al says that there are "those within the churches of Christ who hold to the positions asserted by Pastor Martin." As a matter of fact, many of his answers to my questions conclude with his saying that there are those within the CoC fellowship who are guilty of holding the views that I am critical of. He then qualifies his own position by saying that "the views which David believes characterize our movement are for the most part characteristic only of a few that constitute a radical, extreme segment of our fellowship." Al goes on to say that there are those within the churches of Christ that do believe that they, and they alone, are exclusively the One Body universal on the face of the earth, and that all saved persons on the planet will, and must, assemble for worship in a building that reads Church of Christ on the sign above the door. He goes on to say that view is biblically incorrect, radical, abhorrent, held by the ultra-conservative faction of the churches of Christ fellowship, and needs to be exposed as wrong.

That is exactly what I am doing in my tract. Al, if you are not of that persuasion, then great. You have said that you would be labeled as an ultra-liberal and the people that I am aiming at as ultra-conservative among the church of Christ fellowship. What proof is there that your views are the mainstream? You sound like an ecumencist to me, and I am sure the ultra-conservatives of your CoC fellowship consider you a compromiser and question your salvation.

Al says "I do not personally know of anyone within the churches of Christ who confuses those two" referring to my statement that the CoC equates being immersed in the baptismal waters with being washed in the blood of Christ.

I find this hard to believe, Al. I have sermons, articles and tracts by CoC preachers that state that very thing. I have talked with CoC people who believe it. The CoC people that I have talked to say that the alien sinner comes into contact with the blood of Christ through the waters of baptism. Is this a false teaching, Al? Do you DENY that the sinner is washed in the blood of Christ when he is baptized in water? It sounds like it to me. If that is the case you are not much of a CoC preacher, are you?

Al says, after quoting Ephesians 2:8-9, "we do not teach a 'works based' plan of salvation."

Al believes that a sinner is saved apart from works, but that salvation must be maintained by works. He is saying that God saves you apart from any works initially, but believes that AFTER THAT you have to "outrun the devil" if you want to eventually be saved. He believes a person is saved by grace, but kept by his works. This makes NO SENSE whatsoever. Why would God save you by grace initially, then damn you later because of your works or lack thereof? A person is either saved by faith without works and kept by faith without works, or else he/she is saved by works and kept by works. You cannot have it both ways.

Al says in response to Question #2, regarding the authorized baptizer being a Church of Christ preacher, that no one needs a Church of Christ preacher to baptize them for it to be efficacious. Al says that "one's salvation and relationship with the Lord is in no way determined by the qualities or the qualifications of the one administering baptism. Immersion is a personal response of faith between a penitent believer and his/her Lord. Whether the one performing the immersion is a Baptist preacher or a Church of Christ preacher is entirely irrelevant."

This is interesting. Of course, we know that Alexander Campbell was baptized by a Baptist preacher, and then later on founded (or "found") the "church of Christ" and brought about the so-called "restoration" without being re-baptized. For this reason, no church of Christ preacher can say that only a CoC preacher must do the baptizing. Well, how scriptural is that?! No where in the Bible do I find where an unsaved preacher baptized anybody. All that I read in the Bible shows me that the apostles and disciples did the baptizing. Al says that the baptizer makes no difference, yet he says that the "church of Christ" he belongs to is the church founded at Pentecost. If that is so, then all who baptized in the Bible record were "church of Christ" elders, not Baptists. So according to the Bible in accordance with Al's interpretation, the only authorized baptizers were true believers, and the example of the New Testament (see the book of Acts) shows the same. For any CoC preacher to teach that the one performing the baptism in "entirely irrelevant" is not supported by the Bible record. Al's logic is "illogical," as well as unscriptural.

Al says regarding Question #3 about the necessity of baptism for salvation that if he understands "the intent of Scripture correctly, God is far more concerned with the state of one's heart than matters of external regulation and ritual. In other words, if one has genuinely believed the gospel message and has sincerely chosen in their heart and mind to commit themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are intent upon submitting to baptism in obedience to His will, but die prior to that immersion due to circumstances beyond their control, then I have no doubt in my mind that God will judge the intent of their heart as sufficient unto salvation ... I firmly believe the grace of God will mercifully embrace those who may not have had, through no fault of their own, the opportunity to fully demonstrate that faith (IF the resolve and intent to do so was present in their heart)."

It sounds to me that according to what Al says is the "mainstream" thinking of the CoC that water baptism is only necessary where there is opportunity to be baptized, and that where that opportunity is not available, it is NOT REQUIRED in order to be saved and have one's sins forgiven! But Al's theology flies in the face of the CoC's doctrinal teaching of baptismal remission based upon Acts 2:38. That verse, as we all know, is interpreted by the CoC to mean that one's sins are forgiven when one is baptized in water. For Al to teach that the intent of the heart is sufficient unto salvation is a glaring contradiction of the very verses Al uses to teach his plan of salvation. Al has just "thrown his doctrine out the window." Out goes Acts 2:38! Out goes Acts 22:16! Out goes Mark 16:16! It is interesting how Al claims to believe the Bible as he understands it, and then finds a way to explain away what he believes it teaches in order not to sound judgmental. The old saying is that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." According to Al, God makes exceptions for those who have good intentions.

Al says in regards to Question #4 about the possibility of "losing salvation" that "our hope of Heaven is to be found IN HIM, who is our Advocate, and who is the source of our continual cleansing from all sin as we walk with Him in the light (1 John 1:7-10). Our best effort will only be "filthy rags" in the sight of God, but clothed with Christ Jesus we shall be regarded as wrapped around with spotless garments. "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27). What a wonderful thought to come daily before our Father clothed with His Son!! Covered by Christ! Therein lies our assurance of a heavenly home, not in our own efforts at sinless perfection."

Al says that if one is "clothed with Christ," which happens when one is baptized (Gal. 3:27), then a person can have assurance of heaven. Yet he believes that those who have been "clothed with Christ" through water baptism can lose their salvation and go to hell. This is ridiculous. If you are "clothed with Christ" when you are baptized, then to go to hell, you had to somehow have "unclothed yourself" of Christ. To apply "reverse logic," to be "unclothed with Christ" you would have to be "unbaptized". In such a case, then wouldn't a person who wanted to get their "salvation back" have to be "clothed with Christ" again, thus requiring being baptized again? As you can see, Al's CoC reasoning leads to preposterous scenarios.

More later.


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