Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Who is a citizen?

I thought this was an interesting clip from an Alexander Campbell article in The Christian Baptist. The article is a fictitious dialogue constructed by Campbell to illustrate the fallacy of thinking that one must be re-baptized for the remission of sins if they were not aware of this blessing of regeneration when first baptized. This teaching has caused many of us to conscientiously but wrongly reject brethren for not understanding the full impact of their obedience to the gospel at the time of their obedience.


R. ...[A]s touching the remission of sins, an infant as much expected it in its sprinkling, as I in my first immersion.

A. That may be, for you say that you thought; nay, were assured, that your sins were remitted six months before you were immersed. But this, in my judgment, constitutes no reason why you should, after ten years citizenship in the kingdom of Christ, be again immersed. When I was naturalized a citizen of these United States, there were certain immunities and privileges attached to citizenship which I had not in my mind at that time, nor were they any inducement to me to be naturalized, any more than to that child now sleeping in the arms of its mother. But did that circumstance annul my naturalization and leave me an alien?

R. I dare not say there was no church of Christ, no kingdom of God all this time. But I will say the church was in the wilderness.

A. That helps you not. It was still a church, although it was in the wilderness; and this destroys your assumption. I admit that he who understands not fully the Lord's day, the Lord's supper, and Christian immersion, cannot fully enjoy the blessings of the gospel of Christ, and that it makes all the difference between the wilderness and the fruitful field to understand fully these institutions: but yet there are degrees both in faith and knowledge; and he that lives in the wilderness still lives.

R. I am candid to confess that I did not foresee this impediment in my way. But, come, does this greatly detract from the importance which you and others attach to the discovery of the capital item of the ancient gospel--baptism for the remission of sins? This indeed is the only item which obtains for the ancient gospel the eminence which it claims.

A. Not in the least. It stands true that this is its proper meaning. The not understanding of this institution has prevented many Christians from enjoying its benefits; but the not understanding it does not make them aliens from the kingdom of Jesus.

~Alexander Campbell