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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
I was baptized at the age of 13 when I walked forward at the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park (SBC). I was asked no questions of any kind. That was almost 63 years ago. My mother was baptized at the age of 9 in 1922. The pastor asked her only one quick question before he baptized her. He said, “Do you believe in God?” My mother said, “Oh yes, I believe in God.” She was baptized in 1922 on that ground by a Southern Baptist pastor. But she was not saved for 71 more years. So this has been going on for a long time, much longer than 50 or 60 years. I believe it goes back to Jacob Knapp, a Baptist who was a disciple of Finney who added the innovation of baptizing people immediately when they came forward at the invitation. I would say on the basis of what I’ve learned that Finney and Knapp were the originators of instant baptism with no counseling. They were still having candidates for baptism questioned by a committee at the First Baptist church of Hammond, Indiana when Jack Hyles went there to be the pastor. It had been an American Baptist church (Northern Baptist). Thus, they stayed with the old way of doing things until Hyles got there. Hyles immediately did away with the committee and stared baptizing people with no questions asked. He tells about it in his book, “Enemies of Soul Winning.” Thus, Finney and Knapp destroyed the idea of “believer’s baptism,” and turned it into “unbeliever’s baptism”! That is why most Baptists today have never been converted.
Over a period of years the Baptist doctrine of “believer’s baptism” has been turned into the doctrine of “unbeliever’s baptism.” The reasons are simple. Southern Baptists and independent Baptists have studied the number of baptisms and reported them for many years. Thus, the pastor is motivated to baptize as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, so he can report more numbers of baptisms to his denomination or fellowship. I know of one church in the Los Angeles area that claims they have baptized more people than Jack Hyles. My associate, Dr. C. L. Cagan, and his wife and children attended that church one Sunday when they were on vacation. Dr. Cagan counted the number of people, which was under 150. The following year it was reported that they baptized 5,000 people, so when Dr. Cagan took a vacation next year he attended the church, and found that it had even less people than it had the year before. This shows that you can baptize hundreds upon hundreds of people and not add anyone to the church. It is an absolute tragedy, for these people will go throughout their lives thinking that they are Christians. Statistics show that almost none of them come to back to have their testimonies checked by a pastor. They go through life doubting their salvation, but thinking that this is normal. They split our churches because they have no eternal life abiding within them. They divorce, they take drugs, they never attend church, and it is almost impossible to speak to them about Christ when you knock on their door. They say, “I’m already a Christian” and slam the door in your face.
The Prodigal Son has been used as a cover for the nonsensical practice of baptizing unbelievers. But if a man reads the words carefully (notice I said “carefully”) he will notice the son was never baptized, nor did he ever claim to be saved at any time before he returned home. In fact, upon receiving him home, the father said, “This thy brother…was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32). The man’s own father said he was lost before he returned home from the pigpen. If you can’t believe the man’s father, how can you believe those who preach on it two thousand years later and say that the man was saved all the time?
Have a great day!
Yours in Jesus’ Name,
Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
P.S. Dr. John S. Waldrip has said,
“The fact of the matter is that for the most part pastors these days simply do not care about the spiritual welfare of those they are funneling toward their dip tank. They have set personal and Church goals for the numbers they want to baptize for the year, and anyone they can get into the tank (even if they get them into the tank repeatedly) is to be dipped.
Why else is it that pastors steadfastly refuse to consider asking the most basic questions of a baptismal candidate before immersing him? How else can you explain a pastor’s unwillingness to be careful about his obedience to Christ’s clear intentions that only converted people be baptized? And how else can you explain a pastor’s callus attitude toward someone who, once he has been baptized, may very well be permanently inoculated against the Gospel for the rest of his life, either because he wrongly thinks he is a Christian when he is not or because he thinks Christianity based on his sad experiences is not real?..” (John S. Waldrip’s blog at http://pastorcrbc.blogspot.com/).
To see a video on the subject of Finney and Knapp’s influence on baptism and other doctrines, order a copy of “Beware of False Prophets: The Case Against Charles G. Finney.” You can order it from Amazon.com.
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