The Baptist Name
Elder O. B. Mink
Now In Glory

The designation “Baptist” has, in the last century, lost much of its superlative nature, and in the contemporary period there are many denominations and thousands of churches going by the name “Baptist” who do not claim any ecclesiastical ancestry or perpetuity which antedates the sixteenth century reformation. It is most regretful that they have taken to themselves the appellation “Baptist”, for it is readily seen from their doctrine and history that there is no biblical kinship between them and the Lord’s churches which preceded the Protestant reformation.
The contention that there were no churches going by the name “Baptist” for the first fifteen hundred years of church history is, without the least hesitation admitted, but it is an admission of no great import, for it has to do with name only, and not with doctrine or practice. Pseudo ecclesiology has given the name “Baptist” a generality that is inclusive of all immersionists, irrespective of their origin, doctrine, or practice. While baptism is a vital part of the body of Divine ecclesiology, it is not in itself sufficient to merit the name “Baptist”, for baptism apart from the other biblically prescribed elements necessary to the constitution of a New Testament church is a debauchery of the ordinance and a grave disservice to the subject.

The glorious gospel of Christ has been enshrined in New Testament Baptist churches, and this gospel has been cherished, preached, and preserved pure by them for two thousand years. Baptist churches have not had the elaborate cathedrals, massive choirs, clerical collars, and polished crosses, but they have biblical Christianity with its simplicity, authority, and presence of God.

The name “Baptist” was given to the Lord’s little flocks by their enemies with an evil intent. However, we can by retrospect clearly see the hand of Divine providence taking their efforts to stigmatize the Lord’s churches, and causing it to redound to the glory of God, and the good of His churches. Even though the name “Baptist” is no longer a definitive, it is the name by which the Lord’s virgin and age climaxing churches will enter the bridal chambers in glory. Thus it is, Baptists say to their would-be detractors: “Ye meant if for evil, but God meant it for good”.

While it is true, the Lord’s churches did not go by the name “Baptist” during the first fifteen hundred years of church history, it is equally true that there were churches during this entire period which espoused the same doctrines, and adhered to the same practices that contemporary New Testament Baptists propagate and practice. “A rose by any other name is still a rose”; and a Baptist church by any other name is still a Baptist church.

It is an incontestable fact that from New Testament times unto the fifteenth century there were churches that tenaciously followed the teachings of Christ, and these same teachings are found in present day New Testament Baptist churches. Therefore, it is within the realm of propriety to say those early churches were Baptists, even though they went by various names.

The following passage is taken from the “History of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands”, by Doctors Ypeig and Dermont, Ministers of the highest standing in that church: “We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have long, in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the Apostles; and as a Christian society which has preserved pure doctrines of the gospel through all ages”.

One identifying mark of Baptists by whatever name they have been called in the past two millenniums has been their undeviating insistence upon a biblically prescribed morality. Owing to their strict adherence to heaven’s code of conduct, they were often called the “Cathari”, a word meaning, pure. There is in our present time ecclesiastical offsprings of the Cathari, going by the name “Baptist”, who fully realize the perpetuity of their respective churches is contingent on their practice of abstention from moral evil and doctrinal deviation from the biblical standard. (I Thessalonians 5:2).

The name “Baptist” was at one time a disparaging epithet in the reckoning of Catholicism and Protestantism. However, in the last fifty years much of their rancor toward the Baptist name has diminished, for the simple reason the name in the generic sense has become hardly more than an expletive. By far and large, churches wearing the “Baptist” name, beguiled by the spirit of ecumenism have denounced the claim of Baptist perpetuity from New Testament times, and have historically identified with Protestantism, which is the first and irreversible step toward spiritual Babylonianism.

The apostasy mentioned in the above paragraph should not in any way discourage Baptist churches who have been blessed with the glorious truth of their New Testament origin, and have been given the hell defying promise of age long perpetuity. Let us disdain every false way, even if it wears a “Baptist” name; for we know the people divinely honored with that name are easily distinguished from their God debasing counterfeits.

As to doctrine and practice, the “Baptist” name is as old as the church which Jesus started while He was on earth, for only in Baptist churches is the whole counsel of God preached, and the ordinances kept as they were delivered to the first church by Christ the Lord. Baptist hearts are filled with gratitude, precious memories, and admiration for the pioneer Baptist of America, and for the Baptists of England and Holland from whence they came; but our Baptist heritage antedates our European ancestry by fifteen hundred years.

However, there are today, especially in America, a great number of churches wearing the name “Baptist” for the simple reason they immerse their membership candidates. Scriptural baptism is the door whereby a person enters the membership of a Baptist church, but there is a lot more to a Baptist church than a door. Nowhere in Scripture is the church metaphorically referred to as a door, but the church is often alluded to as a house, and there is much more to a house than a door. (I Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6). There is more in the commission of the church than baptism, for there are numerous other doctrines delineated in Scripture, and everyone is profitable unto the church. (Acts 20:20, 27; II Timothy 3:16).

While it is true, the name “Baptist” is not absolutely essential to the constitution of a New Testament church, it is equally true that there is not, nor shall there ever by any sufficient reason for the Lord’s churches to deny that time honoring name. New Testament churches should not let people who feign and fictionalize the “Baptist” name diminish their love and respect for that name which God in His all wise providence has given to His blood bought churches. Let us not drop the name “Baptist”, but keep it, and add to it whatever prefixes and suffixes that are necessary to distinguish our churches from all false churches, by whatever name they may be called. “A good name is better than riches”, and there is no better name than “Baptist”.

(The Baptist Herald July, 1994)

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