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Home The Light Articles from 2010 Why You Should Leave Denominationalism

Why You Should Leave Denominationalism

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For the simple reason that I am a former Baptist preacher, it is only natural for the one reading this essay to inquire as to why I left the Baptist church, and thus ceased to be a Baptist preacher. The reader of this essay should also be willing to give consideration to the fact that I am not some novice in respect to Baptist doctrine. With two years of introduc­tory training at the Temple Baptist Institute in Collinsville, VA, using a curriculum designed by Liberty Uni­versity, two years attending Taberna­cle Baptist College in Greenville, SC, and earning a degree in Theology from West End Baptist College in Easely, SC, I can with great confi­dence affirm that I know what the Baptist church is, where it came from, and why you should steer clear of denominations if you intend to be saved from the wrath of God!

Denominations Are NOT in the Bible

What would Christianity be with­out the Bible? Non-existing. Every facet of New Testament Christianity is reliant upon inspired Scripture (2 Tim 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:3). If I tell someone that I am a Christian, they do not connect my confession with the Koran. Rather they perceive that I am a Christian, therefore I must be an adherent to the Christian faith, which is revealed in the Word of God. New Testament Christianity cannot be separated from the Bible. Since the Christian faith is identifi­able by characteristics exclusive to the Bible, it is only reasonable to say that in order for something to be Christian, it must be in the Bible.

The Muslim religion is not Chris­tian. Why? Because the Bible knows nothing of Allah, Mohammed, pray­ing to Mecca, or "smiting infidels on the neck." These are particulars of Islam, and can only be found in the "authority" for Islam, the Koran.

I know of no Baptist who would disagree with the preceding para­graph, nor with the line of reasoning used in it. For this cause I see no harm in scrutinizing the Baptist Church using this same logic.

Is the Baptist Church in the Bible? No! What would compel me to say such a thing? Well reader, just like Islam, the Baptist Church is not men­tioned in the Bible one single time. Jesus Christ, the very founder of Christianity, never spoke a word of the Baptist Church; nor did Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, etc.

The first known Baptist church was organized in 1607 by John Smyth (David Benedict, History of Baptists, p. 304). The Church that Jesus built (Matt. 16:18), however, was organized in 33 A.D. On the day of Pentecost (Mk 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:47). This can only mean that the Baptist Church and the Church Jesus built are two different churches. It is interesting that the Baptist Church was established in London, England, not Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-3; I Tim 3:15; Acts 2).

Another major distinction between the Baptist church and the New Tes­tament Church is the name worn by individual members. Members in the Baptist Church are "Baptists," while members of the Lord's Church are Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pe­ter 4:16). A Baptist may say that he/she is a Christian, but at best he/she can only be a "Baptist-Chris­tian" or a "Christian-Baptist." This is unscriptural and illogical, seeing that the Christians of the first century were not Baptists; they did not ad­here to Baptist doctrine (Acts 2:42), nor did they belong to a Baptist Church (Rom 16:16).

Denominations Preach a False Gospel

The primary reason that the Apos­tle Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians was to warn them that there were some among them who were preaching another Gospel. Notice what the Apostle had to say: "I mar­vel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6).

A perverted Gospel? How had these false teachers perverted the Gospel of Christ? The answer is found in chapter five: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circum­cised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4). 
Simply put, these false teachers had added the Law of Moses to the plan of salvation, making it necessary for one to be circumcised in order to obtain salvation! This was not the Gospel preached by the Apostles; it was a perverted Gospel. Adulterating the Gospel is not the only way whereby the Gospel can be perverted, however. Taking away from what God has said is just as damning as adding to it (Rev 22:18-19). Remem­ber, it was Satan who took away from God's Word in the Garden of Eden, persuading Eve to haphazardly eat of the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:4).

So how has the Baptist Church perverted the Gospel of Christ? The answer is two-fold: 1) By adding to it (the infamous "Sinner's Prayer"), and 2) By taking from it (the protestant doctrine of "Faith Only"). Let us examine both of these perversions one at a time.

The Sinner's Prayer

At the immature age of 11,I was attending a Baptist church on a fairly regular basis. During a particular Sunday evening service, the preacher was going through his routine of giving an "altar call" as he did at the end of all his sermons.

After hearing statements like "Trust Jesus as your personal Savior" and "Ask him to save you tonight," I walked away from the church pew and headed toward the "altar." Not knowing what an "altar" was, or even what I was doing walking toward one, the preacher approached me, put his arm around me, and had me re­peat the "sinner's prayer." After mimicking what the preacher had said, I recall hearing him tell me that I had "a home in heaven now," and that I would "never be lost again." I was  so  happy that I  could have jumped over the moon!

Fifteen years later, I realized that this so called "Sinner's prayer" was nothing more than a perverted gos­pel. It hurts me deeply to know that this preacher is now deceased, and that he died a Baptist preacher, preaching a Baptist gospel. The New Testament never instructs individuals to repeat the "sinner's prayer" in order to be saved. Actually, we are told in the gospel according to John that "God heareth not sinners" (John 9:31).

Out of all of the many conversion accounts found in the New Testa­ment, not one includes an individual praying "the sinner's prayer" in order to be saved. If the Christians of the first century were being saved apart from the "sinner's prayer," that would mean that it is non-essential to salvation. Therefore, what is non-essential to the gospel is not the gos­pel and can only be explained as an addition thereto.

In light of this, the average Baptist will try to defend the "sinner's prayer" by misinterpreting two par­ticular verses of Scripture. The most common argument set forth in favor of the "sinner's prayer" is formulated from a phrase found in the book of Acts: "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (2:21).

The Baptist's insist that "calling on the name of the Lord" really means to "confess to Jesus that you are a sinner, and ask him to come into your heart and save you." If this is the case, however, one must ex­plain verses 37 and 38 of the very same chapter: Acts 2:37-38: "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the re­mission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37-38).

The questions immediately arise: If calling on the name of the Lord is synonymous with the "sinner's prayer," then why didn't Peter tell these people to recite a prayer when they asked him what they needed to do to be saved? Why did he tell them to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven? Why did these individuals ask Peter how to be saved if he had already told them to say the "sinner's prayer" in verse 21?

Anyone who is honest with the Scriptures can easily realize that "calling on the name of the Lord" involved acts of obedience (repen­tance and baptism in this particular Bible text) and not a literal vocal calling.

The second argument advocated by Baptists concerning the "sinner's prayer" comes from wrongly divid­ing Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righ­teousness; and with the mouth con­fession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10).

Strong's concordance defines the word confess (homologeo, Gk) as follows: "to assent, i.e. covenant, acknowledge." Thus, to "confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus" is simply to "acknowledge that Jesus is the son of God" by saying so as did the Ethiopian in Acts 8. To say that confessing Christ is the same as con­fessing your sins to Christ is absurd!

Faith Only

The Baptist Church is guilty of adding to God's Word, but equally it is responsible for subtracting from it.

While the Bible teaches us that there are several requirements that must be met before salvation from alien sins, the Baptist Church says that all one need do to be saved is believe. This false doctrine is better known as "Faith Only."

Though it is highly unlikely that a Baptist would deny adhering to a "Faith Only" gospel, it is only appro­priate that evidence is given to sub­stantiate this truth. The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, writ­ten by Edward T. Hiscox, is undoubt­edly one of greatest authorities available on Baptist doctrine. Below is an excerpt from it:

"We believe the Scriptures teach that the great gospel blessing which Christ secures to such as believe in him is justification; that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the gift of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in Christ..."

Simply put, the Baptist Church teaches that faith is the sole ingredi­ent to salvation. Nothing anyone can do will ever make any difference concerning their eternal welfare. I should only hope by this point that the reader of this essay has noticed a major contradiction in Baptist doc­trine. Remember, it is the Baptist Church who will tell a person that "calling on the name of the Lord" is the "sinner's prayer," and that one is to recite this prayer sincerely if they want to obtain eternal life. But "Faith Only" or "justification solely through faith in Christ" will not permit room for the "sinner's prayer" in the plan of salvation, for the "sinner's prayer" is a work, something one does in order to be saved! Either an individ­ual is saved at the point of faith, or he/she is saved at the point of faith plus the "sinner's prayer." In all actu­ality, reciting a prayer never saves sinners, nor can a sinner be saved at the point of faith only.

Referring back to Mr. Hiscox' manual, one really becomes confused if they remember what they read on the previous page: "We believe the Scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace..." Faith only? Grace Only? Faith plus the "sinner's prayer"- which one is it? What does it actually take to be saved in the Baptist denomination? Only a dishonest person will affirm that there are verses in the Scriptures that plainly teach "Faith Only."

In the Robertson-Smith debate, A.C. Smith made one of the most dishonest claims a Baptist could make. He stated: "there are literally thousands of verses that teach 'Faith Only.'" However, when Johnny Robertson demanded that A.C. Smith give just one verse that actually teaches "Faith Only," he conve­niently retracted this statement and claimed that he actually meant to say there are many verses that "imply Faith Only." This kind of dishonesty is the foundation that almost all Bap­tist teaching rests upon, and must not be looked upon as harmless.

What does the Bible have to say about "Faith Only"? The epistle of James mentions the phrase "faith only," but it is in the negative. Notice if you will: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and NOT by faith only" (James 2:24).  Here we have the inspired Word of God telling us that one is not justi­fied by faith only, yet the Baptist Church, which is not in the Bible, which is guilty of perverting the Scriptures, teaches us the exact oppo­site. Who is right? Is God almighty in the wrong here, or is the Baptist Church guilty of taking away from the truth? Surely the answer is clear.

Faith is definitely required of God, but not "Faith Only." In addition to believing the Gospel, one must re­pent of sins committed against God (Luke 13:3,5; Acts 3:19; 2 Cor 7:10), confess Christ as Lord (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9), and be baptized, not as an outward show of an inward faith, but for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).


It should be quite clear why I left denominationalism-why I left the Baptist Church-and became a mem­ber of the church one reads about in the New Testament. It should also be clear as to why YOU need to do the same. The Baptist teachings dis­cussed in this brief essay are only the tip of the false-doctrinal-iceberg of denominationalism. The impossibil­ity of apostasy, the rapture, pre-millennialism, mechanical instruments in worship, etc., are other false teach­ings that are thriving in the Baptist Church.

My last plea to any Baptist reading this article is the same as what Christ said to the Pharisees of his day: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). -J. T. Hairston



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