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WHAT BAPTISTS BELIEVE
and
Why They Believe It

by J. G. Bow, D. D.

CHAPTER I

THE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY
OF THE INSPIRED SCRIPTURES


"We believe the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its Author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and, therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true basis of all Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried."

Perhaps someone will say, Well, if there is any one thing upon which all claiming to be Christians are agreed, it is the authority of the Bible. Because of this very thing, namely, their professed agreement, and their actual disagreement, about the authority of the Scriptures, this article is written.

The Romanists have put tradition and papal authority not only upon an equality, but even above the Word of God, and by their traditions make the commandments of God of none effect. Through papal infallibility and church authority, they claim not only the right to change the ordinances as Christ instituted them, but, exercising that assumed authority, they have changed them, and even teach a changed condition of salvation, so that even the salvation of the soul depends not upon the power and will of God, but upon union with and obedience to themselves. They have even built an imaginary purgatory to scare their victims and filch from them their hard earnings.

Others following in their wake, have assumed and inferred very many things of which the Scriptures are ominously silent; feasts and fasts, church days and dogmas, offices and ordinances, which are not only unscriptural but anti-scriptural. "Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Mark 12:24, ASV).

In a noted conference of ministers, composed of various denominations in Chicago, the chairman being a pedobaptist, a Catholic priest was invited to read a paper before the body. He stated that some things were necessary to salvation which the Bible did not enjoin-referring perhaps to penance, prayers for the dead, and other things which the Catholic church had added to the Word of God. To this the chairman objected. The priest replied, "Then you must give up your infant baptism, for the Bible knows nothing of any such ceremony; it rests solely on the authority of the Catholic Church by which it was introduced and established." Baptists believe the Bible is an all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.

Baptists still believe with Paul, that "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ASV).

No one has a right to cull and cut, pervert, and reject to build up a system according to his own fancy.

We accept it as it is, as Gods Word. What it teaches is right, what it enjoins we must do, what it prohibits we must not do. By this Bible all human conduct, creeds, and opinions are to be tried. Gods Word, like himself, is eternal and unchangeable.

"Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed . . . If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8-9). "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine ~vhich is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (1 Tim. 6:3-5).

For these principles Baptists have been subjected to almost every conceivable form of torture and persecution.

The wise man said, "Buy the truth and sell it not." Our fathers have bought and presented these truths for us at a great price-the price of life and liberty, and for their sakes endured bitter poverty and vile persecutions. They were transmitted and committed to us, and it ill becomes us to barter them for the praise of, and popularity with its enemies.

The advocate of modern liberalism bids to sell principles he never possessed for a popularity he never deserved. Many are lavishly liberal with the things of God. No man can be more liberal than the Bible and be true to Christ. The less principle a man has the more liberal he can be with truth and sacred things.

We believe the declaration of the risen Saviour. "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God, shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19).

Hence no human power or ecclesiastical authority can alter or change this divine revelation. Any substitution or change of doctrine, ordinance, government, or condition of salvation is not only sacrilege in them, but is dishonoring to God and ruinous to souls. They cannot "add to," nor "take away., Jesus Christ is the "head over all things to the church." "There is one law-giver, who is able to save and to destroy."

How dare anyone to acknowledge that the Word of God teaches or commands one thing, and then say, "It matters not, something else will do just as well"! Will not the Master say, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say ?" He has said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." All who are true Baptists believe in the absolute, supreme, unchangeable authority of the inspired Scriptures.


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