by Al Maxey

Issue #408 ------- August 16, 2009
All great changes are irksome to the human
mind, especially those which are attended
with great dangers and uncertain effects.

John Adams {1735-1826}

Dear Al, What About...?
Reflecting on Readers' Queries

Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948), who served during his fascinating life in some highly significant positions in our government, including Governor of New York, a United States Secretary of State, and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, made the following statement in a speech delivered to the American Law Institute on May 7, 1936 --- "How amazing it is that, in the midst of controversies on every conceivable subject, one should expect unanimity of opinion upon difficult legal questions! In the highest ranges of thought, in theology, philosophy and science, we find differences of view on the part of the most distinguished experts: theologians, philosophers, scientists. The history of scholarship is a record of disagreements. And when we deal with questions relating to principles of law and their applications, we do not suddenly rise into a stratosphere of icy certainty."

Unfortunately for the people of God, that is exactly where the legalistic patternists perceive themselves as dwelling: in the rarefied upper regions of absolute perfection of perception of every aspect of God's will for mankind. They have arrived; they have it all figured out; if you differ with them, then you differ with God. End of discussion. They could not possibly be wrong about anything. In fact, such a thought is inconceivable, just as it is beyond their comprehension that anyone who dares to differ with them on any matter whatsoever could possibly be correct. How ironic, then, although certainly not surprising, that these dogmatists comprise the most divided and divisive body of rigid religionists in all of Christendom! They can't even agree among themselves on even the broadest aspects of the so-called "divine pattern," much less on any of its petty particulars. Thus, the number of factions increase with each new sectarian specific and party preference elevated to Law, and the numbers within these factions, in turn, decrease dramatically. These radical pockets of partyists will continue shrinking, thank God, until finally they become little more than a footnote in history.

But, until that blessed day comes, God's "freedom fighters" will have to continue the struggle for Truth over tradition, Person over party, grace over law, and liberty over bondage. We must endeavor to elevate His Family over man's factions, His Spirit over a spirit of sectarianism, and acceptance of one another over exclusion of one another. It's a "good fight" that must be waged every day against the forces of darkness if we ever hope to experience the joys of greater fellowship with our estranged spiritual siblings and greater unity within the universal One Body of Christ. Dissension and debate, as unpleasant as these may at times prove to be, are at times necessary if the cause of Christ is to be furthered in the world about us. Paul and Barnabas certainly used them to good effect [Acts 15:2] to help bring down walls of separation erected by those more devoted to law than love.

The stark reality is -- whenever faithful disciples take a stand for those godly attitudes and actions that tend to bring us all together, those with a separatist, sectarian spirit will immediately launch a vicious frontal attack against these "digressives" and "liberals." Jesus warned His disciples this was coming, and He encouraged them to remain strong and immovable. That advice is just as relevant and applicable today to those of us committed to doing all in our power to bring about the blessed realization of the fervent prayer of our Lord Jesus for unity, oneness and harmony within the Family of God [John 17]. We must daily endure in the face of harsh oppression from those who do not truly perceive the worth of diversity of thought and practice, and who have further failed to perceive that unity and uniformity are not one and the same, but rather the latter is the deadly enemy of the former.

Yes, we differ. That is simply a "fact of family." Anyone who believes the members of a family must all be in perfect agreement on every matter is, frankly, living in a realm of fantasy. Within the real world, and that includes the world of the disciples of Christ, siblings seldom see eye-to-eye on everything. Indeed, it would reflect a state of abnormality if they did. We are different, and we differ, and that is okay!! What it does mean, however, is that loving, respectful dialogue among differing disciples is absolutely essential for maintaining what at times can be a very, very fragile fellowship. When a man and woman marry, for example, two very different people have joined together as one, and unless they learn to dialogue with one another in a loving manner regarding their differences, that union will very quickly be jeopardized. This is no less true of our relationships with one another in the Family of God. Without loving dialogue, a lamentable division is inevitable! This can be prevented, but not without a commitment by each one of us within the Household of our Heavenly Father to communication with our spiritual siblings, rather than the much more typical caustic condemnation of them for daring to differ with us.

Which is why I appreciate hearing from my readers throughout the world. It opens a door for dialogue on a number of issues that have, for far too long, tended to divide us into feuding factions within the Family. This is why I also believe the "Readers' Reflections" section of my weekly publication is so valuable ... and perhaps why it is so popular with the readers. It provides a forum for brethren the world over to express what is in their hearts -- what thrills them, as well as what torments them, about our spiritual journey together. Although many of my readers are members of various segments of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a good number are not, and this too is positive, as it leads to some rather valuable insights to which we might otherwise have been blinded by our own narrow tradition. It is even quite valuable now and then to include comments from people who despise both me and my ministry, so that we may not grow complacent in our service, forgetting that we are at war with a vicious foe who would wipe us from the face of the earth if possible! Often our foes will present themselves as family, which makes them even more dangerous. We must be alert, and the interaction of my readers, not only with me, but with one another, helps facilitate all this. I believe this has, in some small part, contributed to the unexpected success of this Reflections ministry. It is being used by God to help heal the divisions among His people, as well as help expand our perception of the parameters of His Church, by challenging the diverse elements of His Family to actually THINK and DIALOGUE, rather than merely rabidly react, as we have been far too prone to do. It is time for walls of exclusion and seclusion to come tumbling down, and I pray that my own feeble efforts through my ministry, as well as the efforts of a great many other concerned disciples, may be used by our Father in a powerful way to bring about this result.

A Question From Texas

As I've expressed many times before, one of the true joys of my writing ministry is the opportunity to hear from fellow believers from around the world, and to hear how they perceive and apply the principles and precepts of God's Word to their own circumstances, some of which are culturally different from my own experience. God's essential precepts are truly few, but in their application there is great freedom as to how we may act upon them. My way does not have to be your way. We are to love each other, for example, but there are countless ways that we may do that, some of which may work where I live, but be totally ineffective (and perhaps even offensive) where you live, and vice versa. Thank God He has given us the freedom to order our lives by these precepts and principles in whatever ways best glorify Him, edify us and evangelize those who don't know Him. No one size fits all. Yet, when someone believes his way is the only way, and he condemns all who differ with him, God is not glorified, our brethren are not edified, and the lost are not evangelized. All we succeed in doing is isolating ourselves from those about us and displaying for all to see our arrogance! May God open our eyes and give us a vision of the true parameters of His One Body. Believe me, they are broader and vaster than the horizon of our own limited personal and party perceptions, preferences and practices.

In keeping with the thoughts I've expressed in the paragraph above, let me share with you a fascinating question from a dear reader in the great state of Texas (who, this past year, actually came out here with his family and worshipped with us one Sunday morning; what a joy that was to meet them). The following was prompted by my last Reflections in which I discussed the concept of rebaptism. He wrote, near the end of his email, "Now for the question that I did not find addressed anywhere in your study. 'John Smith' has been a dedicated Christian for more than 50 years. He has served as an elder for more than 15 years, and he is considered by all to be a true servant leader and caring shepherd. John and his wife get the opportunity to travel to the Holy Lands for the first time. He is 65 years old now, and is really excited about going to see where Jesus walked and taught, and died and arose!! One of the places that he and his wife visit with this tour group is quite near where they believe Jesus was baptized by John. While they are there, the minister who is leading the group asks if there is anyone present who would like to be immersed in the same river where John immersed Jesus. John decides that he would indeed like to do this, not because he feels he needs to be rebaptized for any theological reason (like remission of sins, etc.), but simply as a means of visibly and dramatically reaffirming his dedication and devotion to Jesus. He feels it would be a wonderful experience to relive this special act in the very place where Jesus did, and desires this experience because of his love for the Lord. Bro. Al, please give me your thoughts on this scenario, as I have never heard this addressed in discussions on rebaptism and I do not personally have a good answer for this."

Interesting question! I can personally understand why a person might want to do this. From a purely psychological perspective, it is not uncommon for one to seek to personally identify with, in as realistic a manner as one possibly can, a respected person or event from the past. Our own observance of the Lord's Supper, to some extent, reflects this inherent desire within many disciples. I can remember walking through an ancient first century ruin, during our time living in Europe, where it was said Christians had been martyred for the amusement of the crowds. I was able to go inside one of the cells that faced the arena, and I remember spending several minutes just sitting there, trying to the best of my ability to imagine what must have been going through the hearts and minds of my ancient brethren as they huddled there awaiting their deaths. Although I was not seeking to experience that martyrdom, I was seeking some kind of spiritual and emotional connection with them. Let me give another example --- While a student at the university I attended, the father of one of my professors (who had been a devout Jew raised in Latvia prior to becoming a Christian) came and held a Jewish Passover for us. What an experience it was to practice those same rituals, and eat those same foods, as our forefathers in the faith had centuries before. Did we observe this Passover meal for the same spiritual reasons as they had? Of course not! Nor was there any real purpose for doing so. But, by this shared experience, at least in its outward forms, we came to appreciate their faith more, and there was a genuine connection made with our past, one that helped us to better focus on our service to the Lord in the present.

With regard to the question posed by the brother in Texas -- I would personally have no problem whatsoever with "John Smith" reliving his immersion at the site of our Lord's own immersion. This spiritual leader clearly knew that such an act was not for the purposes mentioned in Scripture, and such was not even his intent. It was nothing more than an act of worshipful devotion, one in which he sought a deeper connection with his Lord, one encompassing all his senses, and one through which he could glory in and glorify the One for whom he had devoted his life. I find no principle or precept anywhere in Scripture that such an act on his part would violate. It is probably not something I myself would ever do, but, thankfully, Al Maxey is not the standard by which the hearts of all other men are measured. GOD will judge the motivation of "John Smith," and if I know my Father half as well as I think I do, I doubt if He will have a problem with this immersion in the Jordan. In some ways, it is like something my Grandpa and Grandma Maxey did a number of years ago. On their 50th wedding anniversary they got "remarried." They had a big formal ceremony, renewed their vows, and even had a cake-cutting. I personally feel no need to do such a thing. However, I applaud those who do feel it is a powerful way to tell their spouse, "I'd do it all over again!!" Did they really get remarried at their "remarriage" ceremony? Of course not. And they knew this! It was simply a way to intimately connect with that moment fifty years before (to relive it in a special way) and express their love for one another to the world about them. In short, if "John Smith" wants to be immersed in the Jordan, then I say, "Go for it ... and more power to you!!" I may not feel the same need to be out in the water with you, but I will certainly be cheering you on from the shore!

A Question From Maine

A dear brother-in-Christ in the far northeastern corner of our great nation (Maine) wrote, "Brother Al, Your article on rebaptism prompts other thinking that I wonder if you've ever addressed before. I perceive that there may be theological differences between the baptism of (1) someone just learning the gospel for the first time and then responding to it, and (2) a child who has grown up within a faithful family. Of what, really, does that youngster have to repent; of what does he or she need forgiveness? Baptism for them, it would appear, would be more of a sign of maturity and commitment; taking on the family faith as his or her own. It is really hard for me to think of such a young person at baptism suddenly becoming a Christian and a member of the spiritual family/church. I tend to think of the children in our little congregation as already being part of this family here!! Bro. Al, I don't recall ever having read anything along these lines. Might this perhaps interest your quill?"

In a way, although there are some differences, this brother has described what a number of groups within Christendom might call the Confirmation process, which in most cases is linked to a prior "baptism" of the candidate as an infant. This child, who has been raised up in the faith of his or her parents, at some point chooses to accept and affirm this familiar faith as their very own, at which time this deliberate choice is confirmed by the leaders of the church in question. Usually, this time of confirmation will be preceded by a period of instruction and examination by the religious group that ultimately will confirm them. Needless to say, such a practice is foreign to our faith-heritage, and, in my view, foreign to the Scriptures as well. If I understand baptism (and some are quick to suggest that I do not), it's a visible response of faith. Thus, to be baptized as an infant, only to affirm that act years later, seems to me to be placing the cart before the horse, so to speak. If baptism truly is a demonstration of one's faith, then is it not logical that for that baptism to be valid there must be a faith present to demonstrate?! Otherwise, what exactly has that infant demonstrated by its baptism? Of course, the argument is that it's the faith of the parents that is being evidenced in their dedication of this child to the Lord, and in their own dedication to raise it up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I applaud such a pledge on the part of parents, and do not even object to having young parents come before a congregation where we can all pray for them as they dedicate themselves to this task ... even praying for the child, that it may grow up devoted to the Lord. But, the reality is, there is no justification whatsoever for connecting baptism with this parental commitment, and there is certainly no justification for subjecting a tiny infant to such a ritual, which to the child is utterly meaningless.

Yes, I believe little children (whether they be within our congregations or not), prior to that so-called "age of accountability," are safely within the fold of our Lord's embrace. Thus, they are indeed a part of His Family. At some point in the development of every person, however, they will reach a time when they will consciously choose either to accept or reject living within the will of God, as best they understand it. Those who choose to embrace Him will demonstrate that decision, at least in part, by a visible act of faith known to us as baptism, which is an affirmation of their saving faith. Those who choose NOT to follow the Lord, but rather to live for self, will clearly choose not to embrace the Lord, and Jesus has informed us that if we deny Him, He will deny us before the Father [Matt. 10:33]. For a more in-depth study of this topic, particularly as it relates to children, I would urge a careful study of Reflections #159: The Age of Accountability: Discerning the Moment of Discernment.

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

From a New Reader in Norway:

Bro. Maxey, I have been having some very hard times of late, and I am at a crossroads. So, tonight I punched into "Google" the words "Older Brother Syndrome." Why I picked this particular phrase I do not know for sure. It just came to me. But it led me to your web site and some very important teachings that have brought me to tears!! I had felt so all alone and so worthless, and I was on the verge of leaving my family and going somewhere to find myself. I had strayed away from the teachings of Jesus. But now, thanks to you, I have turned back to Christ. Thank you so much!! And please add me to your Reflections mailing list.

From a New Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I accidentally ran across an article you had posted to the Internet recently on a particular subject, then I began reading others you had written, and eventually I subscribed to your weekly Reflections. I immediately became aware of two serious problems with your writings! One is that what I have read so far is what I completely agree with (although I was pretty much of a legalist during the early years of my 45 year ministry), and I am always a little suspect of anyone who agrees with me! The second problem is that I had a really hard time getting away from the computer because I was enjoying your writings so much!! There is also a third problem: I am now tempted to send a link to your web site to others, which might cause them the same problem I have in getting up and getting busy!! On a serious note, however, I have found all your writings excellent, thorough and written in such a way that even those who disagree with you should be able to at least consider thoughtfully the ideas you present. Blessings to you!

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your leadership and clear teaching of God's Word. You are truly one of God's great blessings in this world, and I am personally so grateful for you. May God bless you and Shelly as you continue in His service. I am holding you up in prayer.

From a Reader in Alabama:

Brother Al, I pray that you don't become discouraged in your ministry, but if you do, then please realize that your Reflections give not only me, but no telling how many others, a means of teaching more perfectly God's plan to the people around us. I am so grateful for the opportunities your Reflections provide me to expose others to these truths from God. In fact, I appreciate you so much that I often tell people I'm a "Maxeyite." That usually gets there attention!!

From a Minister in Arkansas:

Brother Al, I greatly admire your scholarly approach to the study of God's Word. In fact, I have begun reading your Reflections from the very beginning (reading them from the complete set of Reflections on CD that I recently purchased from you). Coming from a very traditionalist background, it has been difficult for me to work through some of the things you are teaching, and yet I am certain that our "old paths" haven't been nearly as true as we thought!! With regard to the CENI hermeneutic, can you think of any example or necessary inference that carries the weight of a command from God? I've been "racking my brain" to come up with even one. Al, please keep challenging us all to think, rather than just regurgitating what we have been force-fed all of our lives! Thank you again for all you do!

From an Elder in Texas:

Brother Al, The rebaptism controversy of a century ago was truly an unfortunate turning point in our history! Since I have often taught classes on the history of our movement, people sometimes will ask, "When did we start believing that we were the only ones going to heaven?!" I point to this period. Once someone states that no other immersions (except ours) are valid, it's only logical to say that we are the only ones who have a chance. Of course, some took it a step further, saying that even properly administered immersion for the forgiveness of sins (i.e., Christian Churches) becomes invalidated by their musical choice. The good news is: a great many in our brotherhood are now returning to our original view on the rebaptism question!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Friend Al, Thank you so much for your Reflections article on rebaptism. I have been baptized three times!! The 3rd time was when my husband and I began worshipping with a Church of Christ. The minister informed us that our "Baptist baptism" was not acceptable. Had I known then what I know now about baptism, I would not have submitted to it! How did we ever get so far from what God wants of us?! Your writings encourage me and help me to see things that I had never seen before! THANK YOU.

From an Elder in Florida:

Bro. Al, Your rebaptism article was superb. While an elder with the ------- Church of Christ in the early 90's, I got my fellow elders to read Dr. Jimmy Allen's book "Rebaptism," and we ended up taking the official position of accepting all sincerely immersed believers into our congregational membership without requiring a theological examination on their baptism first. Once a congregation has taken that position, it will also take the position that they do not control the borders of the Kingdom of God!! Brother Al, your curious mind and love for Truth is probably serving to reach more folks directly and indirectly than any other single individual within the Churches of Christ. God bless you!!

From an Elder in New Mexico:

Brother Al, I just read your study of rebaptism. You couldn't have said it better!! Salvation is based on our faith, not on a 100% correct theological understanding. If the latter were the case, we'd all be in trouble. Blessings, brother!

From a Reader in Maine:

Dear Brother Al, Issue #407 on Rebaptism was quite timely for a fellow septuagenarian who has recently been questioning his baptism as a youth. I forwarded it on to him. Thank you very much!!

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for this issue of Reflections. I think the following analogy can be made -- Since I love my wife now more than I did on our wedding day, and since I now understand how to please and serve her much better than I did on our wedding day, does this in some way invalidate our wedding ceremony, requiring that it be redone? Of course not. That's ridiculous. The same can be said of someone who believes that since they now have a better understanding of how much Christ loves them, compared to when they were first baptized, they need to get rebaptized. The important thing is to focus on the result of the baptism, rather than the event itself.

From a Pastor in Texas:

Dear Brother Al, I have been reading your essays for some time now, and I greatly appreciate your efforts! You see, we have relatives who are caught in the web of the ultra-conservative wing of the Churches of Christ. It truly pains our hearts to see how legalism has captured them!! After studying the Churches of Christ for years, we have added an article on our web site titled Bible Questions for the Church of Christ, which is directed at the ultra-conservative, legalistic segment of your group. Though we are not part of it, we have great respect for the Restoration Movement, and are truly sorry that this movement has become so distorted. While there remain some issues over which we disagree, we are happy to consider you and your readers brothers-in-Christ. We've provided a good many links to your Reflections in various places in the above article. By the way, it was also my distinct pleasure to become friends with Cecil Hook shortly before he died. I suspect that many of your readers have read Cecil's books.

From a Minister in Mississippi:

Dear Brother Al, I'll never forget McGary charging Lipscomb with "shaking in the Baptist" because of his opposition to rebaptism. That was a great issue of your Reflections, and a fabulous summary of the issue! The Scriptures are quite clear that immersion upon a profession of faith is the command, while forgiveness is the connected promise.

From a Minister in California:

Excellent review of a difficult subject, Bro. Al. Your conclusion on the matter is about the only place it makes any sense to land. Carry on, brother! You're doing a great job and making a huge difference! As long as the legalists are railing against you and calling you names, you must be right on track!! Blessings to you!

From an Evangelist in Florida:

What a good study on rebaptism, Brother Al. I have put it into a PowerPoint presentation to share with others as I go to and fro throughout various nations of the earth sharing the Good News about Jesus. I was surprised at the statistic from the Southern Baptist pastors. I've also had some confrontations with the dogmatic brother Wayne Jackson (when I was preaching in California about 30 miles from where he lives and preaches). Several of our members supported his Christian Courier paper at the time. Love you, brother!

From a Minister/Author in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I was baptized at 12 years of age, fell away from the Lord at 13, and was restored at 16. I told the Lord that I would do whatever He would allow me to do in His service. I started teaching a boys class and leading singing in a small congregation, and then started preaching just two weeks shy of my 19th birthday at that same congregation. I then began preaching by appointment all over Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and northern Alabama, whenever and wherever any person would let a young high school drop out preach for them. I attended night school for over three and a half years just to get my high school diploma, and then I started at David Lipscomb College at the age of 23 (I was married and had one child). As I studied more, and grew in my understanding of God's Word, I started to feel, as you yourself did, that maybe I did not know enough at the time I was baptized. I thought about being baptized again, but I never did. I know now that I could not have believed in Jesus Christ any more than I did then. I knew I was a sinner, and I knew I wanted to go to heaven. And I knew that Jesus was the only way. I also realized just how little the people on the day of Pentecost knew, and I often share that fact with others who are struggling with this same problem. Our congregation here in Tennessee will accept people if they say they believe in Jesus and have been baptized. While I personally do believe that baptism is for the remission of sins, does that mean a person has to fully understand this in order for it to be true (for the promise to be realized)? I do not think so!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Bro. Al, Thanks for your latest Reflections: "A Study of Rebaptism." I have to admit that in the past I blindly believed that anyone baptized outside the Churches of Christ MUST be rebaptized. I now feel validated in rejecting that view by your thorough study of this important matter. A few years ago I was instructed by the elders of the congregation for which I preached at the time to go study with a new couple who had requested to "place membership" with us. I knew that what this charge really meant was: find out if this couple had been "properly baptized" in a Church of Christ church by a Church of Christ minister. However, as I learned more about this couple, I came to realize that they were genuinely children of God, covered by His grace, full of faith, and had indeed been immersed (although not in a "Church of Christ"). Therefore, I reported all this information back to the elders, who then asked me if I was satisfied with their baptism and their status before God. I told them that I was, and I further recommended that this couple be accepted as members of our local body, because God had already added them to the One Church. The elders agreed with me, and this couple is still a very active part of that local body of believers to this day!! That experience has given me a whole new perspective on this subject. Perhaps if more people would actually personalize the issue in this way, it would become less of a sticking point. In fact, it's truly a shame it ever became one in the first place! Keep up the good work, brother.

From an Elder in Missouri:

Brother Al, Within the town where I once preached years ago, there were two Churches of Christ -- the one I worked with and another one, the only distinction between the two being that the other group used instrumental music. The elders asked me one day if I would be willing to accept the baptism of someone from that other congregation! Even back then I did not believe the validity of one's baptism had anything to do with what group one worshipped with, but rather the state of a person's heart and mind at the time that they were baptized. I had a brief discussion with Dr. Jimmy Allen on this subject several years ago, and then I read ... and reread ... his book. As I recall, Allen made the argument that someone who responded and was immersed in the name of Jesus as an act of obedience in response to his faith did not need to fully understand all the nuances of the promises (such as forgiveness of sins, indwelling of the Spirit, etc.) for their baptism to be "right." It took me some time to wrap my mind around his thinking on this, but in the end I have. It is clear from my personal experience, and from almost all I have spoken to about such things, that our understanding of baptism, and what it means to each of us, grows and changes as the years pass!! Many within our fellowship teach baptism for the remission of sins, but claim that the Holy Spirit does not dwell within individual Christians. Does that make their baptism invalid?! I think not! It just means they lack understanding of the promises that follow one's obedience of faith. Keep up the good work, Al, and have a blessed week.

From a Reader at Harvard University:

Brother Maxey, That was a well-written and much-needed article on rebaptism! Thanks so much for that. I am currently reading a great many of the early Christian writings on a number of different subjects --- including baptism. I was also going over your readers' comments within your last Reflections, and the one by Johnny Robertson stuck out from the rest. I've watched many of his videos on "You Tube," and there is no doubt that he is a strong zealot for his perception of the Word. I see him doing a lot of arguing, but not a lot of loving on his show. Robertson asked you, "Why not just go on and leave the Church?" If he means the Churches of Christ (as the distinct group descended from the Stone-Campbell Movement, which officially denominate themselves the "Church of Christ" on their buildings), then he proves your point of sectarianism! If, however, he means the Lord's universal One Body, spoken of in Matt. 16:18, then his statement is just utterly sad. Why would anyone wish another to leave fellowship with the Lord?! As for baptism, nowhere do we find in Scripture the party stipulations placed upon it by folks like Robertson. I am so glad that you have chosen to adhere to faith working through love, instead of zeal working without knowledge.

From a Reader in Texas:

Another great article, Bro. Al. When I baptized my sons at an "early" age, I wondered if they might come to question their own baptism in later years. My minister suggested that I might have them write themselves a letter in their own handwriting explaining who Jesus is, what sin is, what sins they felt they had committed (and why they believed them to be sins), and why they wanted to follow Jesus. I did this, and was truly amazed at their answers. Needless to say, after seeing what they wrote I was sure they were making the right decision. I thought this idea of having them write out their feelings and understandings was a wonderful idea.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Great article. I always understood that only two things were necessary for a person to do when the gospel was preached: understand the Gospel and receive the Gospel. I could never understand why we all wasted so much time using the Ivan Stewart tracts or the Jule Miller film strips to teach others how we worship, why there is no piano, why we have a plurality of elders, and why there are only five "acts of worship." Not one of those things recount the fact that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day He arose, nor do they focus on the fact that because of these realities we have the hope of eternal life. If we only have thirty minutes with a person, and fail to tell them about Jesus, then we have wasted that person's time, and we truly prove to be unprofitable servants. We can never recapture time, so we are advised to use it wisely. I believe one is only baptized once; everything else is just getting wet. Again, thanks for writing this article. Keep the faith!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I continue to look forward to your excellent studies every week, and the study on rebaptism was a real treat. It was an excellent study full of wisdom and common sense, something that seems to be sadly lacking in those who would make rebaptism a requirement because of a "lack of knowledge" on the part of the person previously baptized.

From a Minister in Missouri:

Brother Al, As you can imagine, I have known many people over the years who were instructed by church leaders to be rebaptized, and often for the most stupid reasons! I always wondered if that wasn't a very big part of why so many people scoff at our approach to baptism. Like you, Al, I was baptized when I was eleven years old. I didn't know nearly as much as I do now, but I knew that Jesus was the Son of God and that He wanted me to be baptized. I used to wonder if I should be rebaptized, but fortunately I have been encouraged by people like you who have reminded me that faith is the victory, not my own level of knowledge or level of understanding!! I just wish that a whole lot more within the Churches of Christ would come to realize this truth! While I'm on the subject of baptism, I wanted to let you know that the young man with all the tattoos that I wrote you about was baptized Sunday. After the assembly, the one legalistic family in our congregation got onto my case because I didn't say exactly, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" before I baptized this man. In fact, they questioned whether his baptism actually "took." Al, what is wrong with people?!!

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