Water Heretics

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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I think I can convince you that Christians of every group with respect to water baptism, are heretics, in the judgment of some other Christians.

Last Sunday morning (May 17th, 1936) a friend placed in my hand a leaflet, entitled “Water-Water-Water.” The message was written by a very sincere religious man. He was dead in earnest. He gave the Christians of the older denominations, such as Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Evangelicals, Disciples, Nazarenes and Brethren, little or no hope. They are so far removed from God’s program, so far from the truth, and such a radical transformation would have to take place to get them back into the Bible Church, that he apparently considered the task so hopeless, it was scarcely worth while to appeal to them. His appeal was especially to the apostate, “Laodicean” Pentecostalists. He acknowledged that, with him, all of these Pentecostalists realized that something significant took place about thirty years ago, (when the latter rain began).

But his final call and appeal is now to a new, a different, “water” ceremony. Confessing their sins with penitent hearts, they must either obey this final warning and respond to this Divine command to be washed from all uncleanness, by a new water baptism, in the name of Jesus, or suffer the penalty of Revelation 3:16: “I will spew thee out of my mouth.” A baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was a blunder and wholly inadequate and worthless. This zealous religious preacher is an exhorter, identified with the “Jesus only” Pentecostalists. He is a firm believer and a zealous advocate of literal obedience to Acts 2:38: “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 Spirit.” And in Acts 19:5 to 7: “When they heard this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” This new “water” ceremony is not to be in the name of Jesus Christ, as in Acts 2:38, but in the name of “Jesus.” It must follow true repentance and for cleansing, the remission of sins.

He sees that in the first record of water baptism in the Book of Acts and in the last record of water baptism in that Book, the believers received water baptism before they revived the Holy Spirit; and that they were not baptized according to the formula in Matthew 28:19 and 20, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Carefully study Acts 2 and Acts 19, with reference to the first record of water baptism and the last, in Acts, and see whether the preacher has Scriptural grounds for his argument.

Moreover, he observes that the disciples of Acts 19:5 to 7, who received the Holy Spirit after the water ceremony, received the Holy Spirit by the imposition of hands; and that following the hands, they spake with tongues. How would we answer this Pentecostalist with the Bible to prove to him that the order of Acts 19:1 to 7 is not God’s Divine order for His Church today? Perhaps you are ready to brand this religious “Jesus only” Pentecostalist a “water heretic”. But answer this question: does he not quote literally New Testament Scriptures to support his teaching? Both Scriptures relate to the Apostolic Church during the years of its purity and power.


A day or two before I read the tract of this sincere, religious Pentecostalist, I heard an “Acts” message over Radio, Station WMBI. The message was given by a very zealous preacher of the grace of God. He is the pastor of an independent orthodox church, a leader among Fundamentalists. The beloved brother who introduced him urged the radio audience to attend the pastor’s Sunday afternoon services, because more than sixty people were to be put down under the water. It was to be an “immersion” service. Then the pastor touched on the subject of water baptism in his “Acts” broadcast. I quote him verbatim: “now understand, water baptism has not one-millionth of a fraction of saving value.” To this statement all spiritual students of the grace of God should give a hearty “Amen”, in the light of “Pauline” truth, which is “Christ” truth, as revealed in Romans 3:24 to 28, Titus 3:5 to 7, Ephesians 2:7 to 10, II Timothy 1:9 and 10. “Declared righteous without works.” “Not by works.” “Not of works.” “Salvation—the gift of God.” “God’s workmanship.”

Most assuredly, if the baptized person derived any benefit from the element water, or any efficacy or merit by the pastor’s act of baptism, then the Scriptures just quoted would not be true. But that pastor could not prove his statement that there was no merit in water baptism, with such Scriptures as the Pentecostal preacher used, such Scriptures as Mark 1:4, Mark 16:15 to 18, Acts 2:38, Acts 19:1 to 7. Surely no honest student of the Word of God can read Acts 2:38 and say, “there was not one-millionth of a fraction of saving value in the baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins.” Undoubtedly the three thousand would not have received the Holy Spirit, if they had not first repented and submitted to water baptism. Saul was told by the Lord, “arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins.” Acts 22:16.

These two brethren are as far apart on water baptism as the two poles; yet both of them immerse in the name of the Lord Jesus and conscientiously believe that they are doing the will of God. Any student of the Scriptures must confess that the Pentecostalist has more verses concerning baptism to support his theory than has the Fundamentalist pastor. Each, of course, is a “water heretic” in the judgment of the other.

In another message this same Fundamentalist preacher dogmatically, affirmed that repentance never precedes salvation by grace but always follows salvation, being the fruit of, and proof of, salvation. And still he claims that obedience to Acts 2:38 meant membership in the same Body of Christ to which he belongs. Now carefully read Acts 2:38. “Repent and be baptized—receive the Holy Spirit.” Where in God’s Word is any order more clearly stated than here? Do you understand how any honest intelligent student of the Word of, God can have the dispensation of grace and the Body of Christ begin with Acts 2:38 and at the same time teach that repentance and water baptism should follow salvation by grace.

Another Chicago pastor wrote a book entitled “Wrongly Dividing the Word of God”. He too is a leader among Fundamentalists. In his book he said that water baptism took on a new meaning at Pentecost, or with Christ’s resurrection. It then was the believer’s acknowledgement that he had received salvation and the Holy Spirit and had become a member of Christ’s Body. Acts 2:38 is the plain contradiction of this theory. This pastor opposes the other grace preacher and states that repentance is essential to salvation and is a factor rather than the fruit. Both say, the Body of Christ and the dispensation of grace began on the day of Pentecost.

Pastor No. 1—“Be saved, receive the Holy Spirit—be baptized in water—repent.

Pastor No. 2—“Repent—receive the Holy Spirit—be baptized in water.

The Bible—“Repent—be baptized in water—receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38.

Both of these brethren teach contrary to the plain. Word of God and also contrary to each other. This doesn’t seem to bother them very much. They just go on with the practice and inconsistent teaching of water baptism.


Some time ago another very religious man came to one of our services. He had a large bottle of water. He approached me with much concern after the meeting and wanted me to receive water baptism from his hands, and his special water. It was very special water, according to his statement, for he had dipped it out of the river Jordan, near Jerusalem. He insisted that no other water baptism was efficacious. He was apparently sincere, but, in my Judgment, “sincerely wrong”. This, perhaps, is your decision. So we say, “another water heretic.”


When I was speaking in a Bible Conference at Altoona, Penn., a few years ago, I was introduced to a pastor who wore a religious coat. He was, apparently, a splendid Christian character. He objected to my teaching concerning water baptism. I objected to his. He would not permit a Christian to sit at his Lord’s table unless that Christian had been immersed in water according to his mode, “three times under”. Each of us in the judgment of the other, was a “water heretic”.


Alexander Campbell still has many followers: They believe that immersion in water is efficacious; that faith and water baptism are equally essential to salvation, because joined together by the resurrected Christ: “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 16:15 to 18. They have other Scriptures to support their teaching. Messengers of the grace of God, who preach that the sinner is saved by grace, without works: “not by works” in accordance with Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:26, II Timothy 1:9 and Titus 2:5 to 7, declare that Campbell’s teaching is “water heresy.” Although both claim to be Christians, the “Grace” messenger and the disciple of Campbell can enjoy no fellowship together. Water is a great divider. But, like the Pentecostalist, Mr. Campbell’s disciple can and does support his water heresy with such Scriptures as Luke 3:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:5 to 12, Mark 16:16, Acts 19:5 to 7, John 3:5. Then why is he a water heretic if he supports his teaching with the Bible? The inconsistency of the Campbellite is the fact that he objects to separating faith and water and yet he separates faith and water from the signs that follow. Where are THE SIGNS OF MARK 16:17 and 18?


The Seventh Day Adventists, the Russellites, or Rutherfordites, teach that there is merit in water immersion. The Latter Day Saints, or Mormons, teach that John the Baptist’s message of baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins, is God’s message for today, and that no one can become a true saint of God without the efficacy of immersion in water. Then they baptize for the dead, permitting one person now living to be baptized for a loved one who died without the opportunity of hearing of the revelation which the Lord gave to Joseph Smith. This is vicarious baptism. All genuine Bible Christians are agreed that all of these are “water heretics”.


The Roman Catholics use holy water in baptizing or christening little babies, as well as adults, which they claim is necessary to make them holy, thereby taking away original sin. All non-Catholics are agreed that Catholics are “water heretics”.

I heard a Lutheran preacher declare that the baby of Lutheran parents becomes a Christian when presented for baptism by sprinkling. He said, “this is becoming a Christian by accident”. He forgot to quote the Scripture to support his “baby” baptism, which we can prove by the Baptists is “heresy”. Have all of these put on Christ? Galatians 3:26 to 28. As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Many covenant churches, which practice infant sprinkling, teach that the children of believing parents either become members of the church when sprinkled, or thereby become Christians.

The Reformed Church is one of the covenant churches teaching infant church membership and infant baptism. I quote from the printed message of Dr. Albertus Pieters:


“We do not mean that there is in Holy Scriptures any direct exhortation or command to baptize infants. There is not.” “He would not find infant baptism in the Bible, because it is not there, and can not be gotten out of the Bible,” “The Bible is entirely silent about infant baptism, either pro or con.” We admit it. We do not profess to get infant baptism from its pages. We do profess to justify infant baptism from its pages. That is a very different thing.”

“It is at present the rule with all of the 500,000,000 professing Christians in the world, except the various Baptist bodies in this country or elsewhere. I have no exact figures at hand but, as nearly as I can determine, the Baptist population of the world may be something like 30,000,000. What is practiced and regarded as a most important religious ceremony by nearly 95 per cent of all Christians in the world, may fairly be called a “Christian practice.”

“The next great church father to testify is Origen of Alexandria, who was without question, the best informed Christian of his day. He was born in 185 A.D. and was himself baptized in infancy. In his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, according to Schaaf- Herzog Encyclopedia, he says:

‘The church has received the tradition from the apostles, to give baptism to little children.”

He also speaks of infant baptism as a ‘custom of the church.’ This testimony of Origen’s is decisive. He lived at the center of early Christianity, and had resided for a time in Palestine. When he says that the practice of infant baptism was received from the apostles, it is not likely that he is mistaken about it.”

Then Dr. Pieters quotes from several other early church fathers. In his quotations he shows that these fathers disagreed concerning water baptism. This “Reformed” theologian has made the confession that should be made by every one who teaches and preaches water baptism, whatsoever or whatever mode or formula is used, and whatever signification may be given to the water ceremony: namely, that they are following traditions instead of the Bible. It requires just five questions concerning water baptism to prove to any honest, unprejudiced Christian that his water doctrine is only theory. But even after it is proved to be a theory he is as fearful about giving it up as the Romanists are concerning candle-sticks, incense and beads. Among immersionists there are more than a dozen Scriptural explanations of each particular “water” ceremony.

Divers baptisms were imposed upon Israel until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:10. But their baptisms were not as divers as are the “baptism” theories among the people of God. What utter confusion! What unholy controversies! What unspiritual divisions have been caused among members of Christ’s Body because of these traditional theories! Whereas, God enjoins us to keep the unity of the Spirit, specifically declaring, “there is one baptism.” Ephesians 4:5. Does water baptism unite the believing sinner to the risen Christ? Divine baptism does. But then the claim is that water baptism should follow. Then there are two baptisms. God declares for this dispensation ONE.

Let us remember that the Lord Jesus, in the flesh, was both circumcised and baptized. He never intimated that baptism would take the place of circumcision; and it never did. But only spiritual circumcision and baptism now remain. Colossians 2:11 and 12.


Many Baptists declare that the baptism by immersion is the door of entrance into the Church. Some say that the Church was founded by John the Baptist; others say “No”. One of the outstanding Baptist pastors, who preached for years in New York City, said that God had joined together faith and water for salvation in Mark 16:16 and they could not be separated. However, he inconsistently separated from faith and water the signs of Mark 16:17 and 18. This beloved pastor received, by letter, several Baptists from a Baptist Church in a near-by city and immersed them anew in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, because their former pastor had baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Other Baptists say their immersion is a burial ceremony to indicate the “old man” is dead and buried. Some Baptists say they hold for “restricted communion” because all true Christians must be baptized by Baptist preachers and become members of the Baptist Church. But most of them will acknowledge that they require for membership in their Baptist churches a water ceremony not required for membership in the Bible Church of this dispensation.


Some time ago I was attending a Conference of Fundamentalists in South Eastern Illinois. There were a number of Baptist agitators there from that section and from Kentucky, who did everything they could to wreck the Conference. Their war cry was “alien baptism”. They were in earnest. It was a serious matter with them. Just as the Jews wanted to tear Paul into pieces, because that Greek had polluted their temple by his presence (Acts 21:27 to Acts 22:23), they announced their anathema upon the Baptist pastor for permitting to stand in his “Baptist” pulpit, men who had received “alien baptism”. Every speaker, but one, had been immersed, ‘‘but their contention was that their baptism was unscriptural and valueless because not administered in the one and only New Testament church (the real Baptist Church), in the one and only New Testament way, immersion, as a door of entrance into the one and only true Church. These exclusive Baptists could not believe that any good thing, spiritually, could come out of any other denomination. And how they did condemn the Campbellites for their doctrine of “new birth by water”. But neither these Baptists, nor any other Baptists, have explained” to the Campbellites and the Pentecostalists why they do not preach Acts 2:38: “baptism for the remission of sins and for the reception of the Holy Spirit. “They prefer not to discuss Acts 2:38.

This three-cornered battle is raging! A baptismal feud has been on for years. The Baptists prefer not to discuss with the Campbellites and the Pentecostalists Mark 16:16, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Note the order—1 believeth—2 is baptized—3 shall be saved. If we are working under Mark 16:14 to 18 let us adhere to the order and add the signs and say with Paul, “forbid not to speak with tongues.” I Corinthians 14:39. And how helpless a Baptist would be if he had to defend his position by Acts 19:1 to 7, which is the program attempted by the Pentecostalists. What’s the order? “Water baptism”—“imposition of hands”—“Holy Spirit”—“tongues”. Where is such an order to be found in any Baptist assembly? It is the order in the Scriptures that give us the last record of the baptism of the disciples of Christ.


The pastor of the large Baptist Church in Minneapolis, for years, has permitted a brother to bless handkerchiefs in his building. These handkerchiefs are to heal people of sickness. He is consistent. Blessed handkerchiefs are mentioned in Acts 19:11 to 13; where we have the last record of water baptism. Baptisteries and blessed handkerchiefs go together. Signs, tongues and water belong to the same dispensation. But the Baptists and others seem to be unconscious of the fact that they have substituted the tradition of their founders for an intelligent exegesis of the Scriptures. Certainly they have a right to incorporate their peculiar “water” theory in their denominational creed and keep out of their denominations those who are not in agreement with their theory. But they know that there is no “Baptist” Church in the Bible. Moreover, their intelligent, spiritual Bible students acknowledge that there is but one Church in the world today and that no religious ceremony is required for membership in that one true Bible Church, which is the Body of Christ. Ephesians 1:19 to 22, Ephesians 3:6 and Ephesians 4:3 to 7. And they know that all sinners saved by grace are in that one Church and seated in the heavenlies in Christ. Therefore, they should just as readily confess that there is therefore a difference between their churches and the Bible Church. They are generally quite bitter when their water theories are questioned. They acknowledge that every saved Presbyterian, saved Lutheran, saved Methodist and saved Episcopalian, is a member of Christ’s Body, identified with Him in death, burial and resurrection, and is seated with Him in the heavenlies, blessed with all spiritual blessings; although not immersed. So believers are buried in true Scriptural baptism without water. Every believer has been buried with Christ in the only baptism required for this age. Without water they are as spiritual as water Christians.


Are we not willing to admit that every Christian is a “water heretic” in the judgment of other Christians who give to the water ceremony a different signification? I can prove by the editors of several different magazines that I am a “water heretic”, or rather, a “no water heretic”: namely, “The Moody Monthly”, “Serving and Waiting”, “Just a Word”, “Our Hope”, “Revelation”. But I call your attention to this most interesting, if not startling fact, that each of the beloved brethren, who wrote the different magazine articles concerning my “water heresy”, is a “water heretic” in the judgment of each of the other writers; at least they are quite at variance in their baptism theories. Each one of these Fundamentalist brethren is a believer in the verbal inspiration and absolute Divine authority of the Bible, and a preacher of salvation by grace without works, as I am. Each of these editors and writers is positive that there is one and only one Church in this dispensation and they are unanimously agreed that no kind of water baptism, or religious ceremony of any kind, is Scripturally required for membership in the Body of Christ, God’s one true Bible Church. As to why and how they stand for their different water ceremonies, they are all disagreed. But they are clever enough to keep silent as to their disagreements and unite for a general attack upon those who would show from the Scriptures that they are all wrong about water.

To say the least, it is unfortunate and regrettable that there should be among our outstanding “fundamental” “grace” preachers such positive disagreement concerning water baptism, as to leave in utter confusion young preachers and Christians who highly respect all of these men and accept their interpretations of the Bible, as the standard for fundamentalists, in earnestly contending for the faith once-for-all delivered unto the saints. These outstanding “Fundamentalist” leaders are all agreed on the great fundamentals of the Christian faith; agreed that salvation is wholly and solely by the grace of God as is also membership in the true Bible Church of this dispensation. These brethren could undoubtedly enjoy a friendly discussion of any of the doctrines of the Bible, except the teaching concerning water baptism. Concerning the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 they disagree. If the interpretation of any one of them concerning water baptism is sound, Scriptural exegesis, that of each of the other is unscriptural theory.

Let me explain what I mean by referring to the teachings of these several men whom I have mentioned.

Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse, pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia is unquestionably one of the outstanding “Fundamentalists” of today. He is highly respected in “Fundamentalist” circles, as a true defender of the faith. He practices the baptism of both adults and infants, by sprinkling water on the head. He gives to the “water ceremony” the Presbyterian interpretation; that is, water baptism in the New Testament to take the place of circumcision in the Old Testament. If his interpretation is Scriptural, then I am sure that you will conclude with me that the interpretation given by the several other brethren, to whom I shall refer, is not only unscriptural but positively absurd.

I was told by a member of that church-organization that during Pastor Barnhouse’s absence from his pulpit the statement was made by Dr. H. A. Ironside that when any Scripture speaks of baptism, and it does not qualify the statement, it should be invariably interpreted as water baptism. Dr. Ironside teaches that water baptism is the believer’s testimony that he has died with Christ, and has been buried and raised again. This is known among Plymouth Brethren as “believer’s baptism”. Dr. Ironside teaches, in his printed “Baptism” booklet, that water baptism is a kingdom ordinance which began with the ministry of John the Baptist. He teaches that Christian baptism began on the day of Pentecost. But he admits that the twelve apostles did not receive Christian baptism, having been baptized with the kingdom baptism several years before the day of Pentecost. He offers no apology nor explanation for wholly disregarding the order of Mark 16:15 to 18 and Acts 2:38, for he insists that a believer must have the Holy Spirit and be saved before being baptized. For some reason, he seems to prefer not to practice the water ceremony himself, but turns it over to others. Perhaps I Corinthians 1:17.

Now, I am sure you will agree with me that there is as much difference between Dr. Barnhouse’s interpretation and practice, and Dr. Ironside’s interpretation and practice as there is between black and white. I quote from Dr. Ironside’s “Baptism” booklet what he says concerning the practice of Dr. Barnhouse.

“In the case of what is called “christening”, the sprinkling of an unconscious infant, where is there any act of obedience on its part, or on the part of those performing the ceremony? It is surely absolutely unscriptural and often demoralizing: and in its worse phase, when coupled with the soul destroying dogma of baptismal regeneration, totally denies the Scripture doctrine of new birth by receiving the Word of God (I Peter 1:23); whereas, apart from that doctrine, it is a meaningless rite, and, as all know, borrowed from Rome. Shall I, then, because men choose to link the name of the Trinity with an ordinance of their own devising, fear to dishonor that name by rebaptism as it is called?”

Dr. Ironside has sweet fellowship with a brother who practices a demoralizing ceremony. Moreover, Dr. Ironside teaches that his authority for water baptism is the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 and 20. I quote from his “Baptism” booklet something of what he has to say concerning this commission.

“If indeed the nations as a whole become disciples, then to baptize them is in place, but THAT, though IT SHALL ACTUALLY BE, IS IN A FUTURE DAY. (Zechariah 14:16). At present, at least, it is, in my judgment, to individuals that the commission applies. Markedly enough, neither here, nor yet in Mark 16 is the believer or disciple told to be baptized, for it was to His servants that the word was addressed by the Lord.”

“It was the risen Christ about to be glorified who commissioned His apostles to go out, not simply to Jews, observe, nor yet to proclaim a second offer of the kingdom, as some say, but to carry the Gospel to men of all nations, baptizing those who professed to believe, in (or unto) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This we see them literally doing throughout the early days of the Church, as recorded in the Book of Acts. Wherever preached, baptism is linked with it, NOT AS PART OF THE GOSPEL, Paul distinctly says, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel,” but as an outward expression of faith in the Gospel.”

Dr. Ironside eliminates from the Spiritual program of the Body of Christ the “Our Father” prayer, taught by the Saviour, on the grounds that that prayer is a kingdom prayer. And yet, he insists on having a water ceremony, which he acknowledges to be a kingdom ordinance. Any student of the Word of God can learn by reading John 1:31, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:13 and Acts 2:38, the significance of water baptism.

Shortly after Dr. Ironside had stood in Pastor Barnhouse’s pulpit Dr. James M. Gray occupied the same pulpit. According to my informant, he made the positive declaration that when the Scripture speaks of baptism, without qualifying the statement, it invariably refers to Holy Spirit baptism. We are reminded of the statement found in Mark 14:59, “neither did their witness agree”. You will notice that Dr. Ironside and Dr. Gray positively contradicted each other. Moreover, Dr. Gray was very insistent that the “Our Father” prayer is a prayer for every member of the Body of Christ. So we see that Dr. Ironside insists that the “Great Commission” is for this age but that the Prayer is not. And Dr. Gray insisted that the “Great Commission” is not for this age, but that the Lord’s Prayer is.

Shortly after these two men had preached in Philadelphia, Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill was there, and he was asked concerning his water baptism theory. He agreed with Dr. Gray that the Great Commission was not for the obedience of the Body of Christ in dispensation. He does not believe in the order of Mark 16:16, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” He believes in a different order, “he that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.” I am sure that he would admit with any student of the Word of God that there is not a single verse of Scripture in the Bible commanding one member of the Body of Christ to baptize with water any believer who is already a member of that same Body.

Then a few months later, Dr. A. C. Gabelein of New York occupied Pastor Barnhouse’s pulpit. According to the testimony of Dr. Gabelein’s friends, some brethren have tried to persuade him to be immersed. He was sprinkled as an infant, according to their testimony, and has refused to be immersed as a witness to the world, believing that his spiritual life for years as a public servant of the Lord is his best testimony. And yet, Dr. Gabelein believes in household baptism as interpreted by the Plymouth Brethren, who would prove by I Corinthians 10:1 to 7, that believers and their household should be immersed. Dr. Gabelein, for some reason, prefers to keep silent as to what he believes concerning water baptism, except the statement in his written testimony which thoroughly disagrees with Dr. Ironside concerning the Great Commission.

Thus we see the utter confusion among men of God, otherwise sound in doctrine, who have such uncertain and varied theories concerning this religious ceremony which has done as much to destroy the unity of the Body of Christ as any other thing; whereas the unity is to be kept on the basis of “one baptism.”

Each of the five brethren is a “water heretic” in the judgment of the other four.



From these verses, Romans 6:2 to 4, certain immersionists teach that water baptism should be a burial under water (although they admit that Christ was buried above the ground). According to Romans 6:6, the believer’s old man was crucified when Christ received His death baptism. Luke 12:47 to 51. To witness to the world that his old man was crucified, the believer should be immersed and thereby show that he has also been buried.

It is a known fact that nothing will arouse the immersionists’ old man more than to question his peculiar theory of a watery grave, which was his witness that his old man was dead. Every believer is dead to sin and raised to walk in newness of life and seated in the heavenlies With Christ the moment he receives Christ in salvation, without water baptism of any kind. How can he be dead and raised without being buried? The baptism into death and the burial baptism of Romans 6:2 to 4 is both meritorious and efficacious and produces the change in the believer. If it is water, then water is essential to salvation. Nearly all immersionists, who read water into Romans 6, become religious judges, judging saved Presbyterians, saved Lutherans and all other believers who repudiate their fanciful interpretation and reject their water theory. Every sprinkled saved Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist has been buried by baptism with Christ. Colossians 2:12. To read “water” into Colossians 2:12 is unsound exegesis.




Undoubtedly there were thousands of little children who crossed the Red Sea with their parents, about 1492 B.C. Read Exodus 14:29: “The children of Israel walked upon DRY land in the midst of the sea”. These household immersionists should drain the water out of their baptisteries. Here then we have another fanciful theory; and that is, that believers’ babies should be immersed because of I Corinthians 10:6, quoted above. But the “wherefore” of I Corinthians 10:12 is the key to the argument.

The children of Israel were baptized unto Moses by two great miracles, but in spite of other supernatural Divine tokens, Israel yielded to temptation. By the miracle of regeneration, by a Divine baptism not made with hands, we were joined to Christ. We should be careful about stumbling, remembering the experience of Israel in the wilderness. Some religious leader started this water theory and some splendid servants of the Lord followed their teaching; and thus another tradition; and little infants are immersed in bath tubs.

It is needless to say that these household immersionists are “water heretics” in the judgment of other immersionists who contend for “believer’s” baptism. These two opposing factions have brought much grief into the ranks of the Plymouth Brethren, who are strong on the water. Both factions believe that the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost; but they offer no explanation as to why they do not preach the water message and practice the order of Acts 2:38, Acts 8:5 to 15 and Acts 19:1 to 7. But all must acknowledge that during the “Acts” period households received water baptism. Acts 10:48 and Acts 11:14, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, I Corinthians 1:16. We may argue until we leave this world and dogmatically and Pharisaically contend for our water theories; but we cannot Scripturally prove that there were not some small children in some of those households. Neither can we prove by one single Scripture that sprinkling took the place of circumcision.

Thus we learn that all baptism ceremonies have been adopted, not by careful study of the Scriptures, but by the traditions of church fathers.

In the midst of such confusion, and with all the “big” Bible-teachers in disagreement, I am more and more inclined to believe that we are taught, by Ephesians 4:3 to 7 and Ephesians 3:8 and 9, that water has no place in the dispensation of the mystery;” only the one Divine baptism.

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.