Christian Standard – March 9, 1907
R. B. NEAL
organization has its headquarters at Cleveland, O. Its vice-president is the
"Rev. Robert Moffett, formerly secretary of the Christian Missionary Society."
It has down as members of the Advisory Committee, "Rev. J. Z. Tyler, Cleveland, O.; Rev. B. F. Clay, Boise, Ida.; Rev. R. B. Neal, Grayson, Ky., and Rev. B. L. Smith, Cincinnati, O."
Recently the association has gotten out a pamphlet entitled "The Wonderful Story of the Wonderful Book." The secretary, Rev. John D. Nutting, is no doubt the compiler and author of this work. It is regarded as the cap-sheaf of their productions so far. While it has some splendid things in it, in view of the purpose for which it was created, the conversion of Mormons, it is, in my most candid judgment, the most wonderful failure I ever saw. As one member of that "Advisory Committee," not consulted, I rise up with a vigorous protest against the book.
B. H. Roberts, before the Congressional committee, speaking of sectarian ministers who had come into their midst to convert them, said: "And their arguments were not sufficient, because as religious people they largely based their arguments upon the Scriptures, and the Scriptures were rather against them."
It is said of Hon. A. T. Schroeder, of Salt Lake City, that he knows more thoroughly the history and doctrines of Mormonism than any living man. That he is well posted on the ism will not admit of the least doubt. He is one of the most fearless and trenchant writers against the system. He is not, as my information goes, a member of any church. He says in "Thoughts on the Mormon Problem," page 165:
In view of the fact that anti-Mormon literature has usually been prepared for non-Mormon consumption, and missionary efforts have been devoted so largely to theology and Bible Interpretation, is it at all remarkable that the Mormon increase was larger last year than ever before and larger than in any Protestant church in the United States? To be more effective, reformatory literature should be devoted to showing the human origin of Mormonism its follies and its iniquities, by a critical examination of the system itself. Had a small percent of the immense sum spent for the theological regeneration of Utah been judiciously spent in printer's ink and postage stamps, there would to-day be no Mormon problem.
My readers will fully understand and most heartily indorse the above when other testimony comes in. Mr. S. says on pages 162-3:
I am informed, through a clergyman for some years in charge of one of these mission churches, that one convert from Mormonism in twenty-eight years was the extent of the achievements of his mission church * * * The reason is obvious. If the minister undertakes to discuss any of the absurdities of Mormonism, he is confronted with a Bible test which, at least to the Mormon mind, is a justification. At once the discussion, instead of being about Mormonism, becomes one of Bible interpretation, in which there is no possibility of convincing the Mormon * * * Besides this, every Mormon is carefully trained, in preparation for his mission work, from which none are exempt, and he rather delights in getting an opportunity to defend his faith on Bible grounds.
On pages 89-93 of this "Wonderful Story of the Wonderful Book" we have samples of "the really and truly" wonderful way of reasoning Bro. Nutting falls into every now and then:
3. BAPTISM NECESSARY TO SALVATION AND TO REMIT SINS.
The expression in Acts 2: 38, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins," is taught as meaning that without water baptism sins can not be forgiven and hence no soul can be saved. This view is certainly wrong, for Christ and the apostles preached to the exact contrary many times, and there is no reason in such a view. And the passage itself will not bear any such interpretation. Two things are named as "unto the remission of sins;" which one is the condition of remitting, or is both? Let us take the Bible and see. The words "repent" and "repentance" occur in similar sense fifty-five times in the New Testament, of which fifty-two refer to salvation. Of these fifty-two, only six cases have any mention of baptism in connection or of anything else but repentance which could possibly be considered a condition of salvation at all, and in five of these repentance is beyond question made the important thing, of which the baptism is only a sign. This makes fifty-one cases in which the repentance is given as the one essential condition of salvation, which shows that we must regard this one passage of Peter's in the same light; It is the repentance here as elsewhere which brings the sinner into right relations with God. This repentance is the genuine "surrender" kind, of course, of which we have already spoken under its appropriate subject. John's message was "Repent;" Christ’s first message was "Repent;" Peter's was "Repent;" Paul's was the same, "Repent!" and when Christ came back in Revelation his message was still the same, "Repent!
The passage of Acts 2:38 stands thus absolutely alone in mentioning baptism in any such way as could be thought to make it a condition of salvation. And it is very important as throwing light on Peter's own meaning in this passage, to notice his very next preaching on this same point; given to the same class of people, in the same place, and recorded in the very next chapter; see Acts 3:19: "Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out." That is enough. Peter said what all the others and his Master said; and this was not that baptism was a saving ordinance. It is an exceedingly important one, as an act of obedience, a confession of sin and both a confession and symbol of that cleansing of the heart from sin by the Holy Spirit, which cleansing is itself salvation. It is also the sign of entrance into the visible church. Every soul which has been truly born again (saved) should receive baptism It possible, and no soul which rebelliously refuses it can be regarded as having been born again and thus either fit for baptism or saved without it. But baptism in itself has no power either to cleanse from sin or otherwise fit the soul for God's presence.
The passage in Acts 22:16, "Arise; and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," is often supposed to teach this same doctrine of the necessity of baptism to salvation. But it is likewise a mistake to suppose so. Paul was already a saved, forgiven, regenerated soul, before he went to Damascus; he was not told to go there for salvation, but to learn what the Lord would have him to do. Being assured by God that Paul had become a Christian, Ananias advises him to do the next proper thing in the circumstances, and be baptized as the outward sign of the work which had been done in him, and of joining the number of the church at Damascus.
I pick up a work by Owen [sic, Orson?] Pratt, one of the pioneer Mormons, on the "Doctrines of the Gospel." He says on pages 25, 26:
The great majority of religious people, in modern times, consider baptism as non-essential to salvation. But, we ask, is it essential that the repenting sinner should be forgiven? If so, then it is just in the same degree essential that he should be baptized, for that is the condition of forgiveness hence, baptism is essential to salvation, as much as faith or repentance. He that neglects baptism, neglects one of the conditions of salvation. "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved. He that believeth not (and consequently is not baptized), shall be damned." Jesus never incorporated anything that was non-essential into the plan of salvation. But men should live by every word which proceedeth from his mouth. "He that saith, I know him and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4). Again Jesus says: "If a man love me, he will keep my words. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings." The commandments, words and sayings of Jesus must be kept as well as believed, in order to obtain salvation. Unless baptism were essential to salvation, Jesus never would have commanded his apostles to "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." A man may be a very good man, in many, respects, yet if he rejects baptism, he rejects his salvation, as, for instance, Cornelius was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, he gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always." An angel came in to him, and said, "Cornelius, thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 10 and 11). When Peter had come, while he was speaking the word of the Lord to this man, and to his household, the Holy Ghost fell upon them and they spake with tongues, and magnified God. And Peter "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord."
What would have been the result if they had refused to obey the commandment, and had counted baptism non-essential, like many modern churches do? It is evident that not one of them could have been saved. Why? Because the angel said that Peter should "tell them words whereby they should be saved" If they had rejected baptism, they would have rejected the "words" of Peter, which the angel said should save them. No one can be saved who rejects baptism. It matters not how righteous he may have been: though he, like Cornelius, may have given "much alms," and prayed much, and feared God and worked righteousness for years: yea, more, though he may have attained to greater blessings than the present sectarian churches now even believe, to say nothing of the enjoyment; though he may have seen a vision of angels, and spoken with tongues by the power of the Holy Ghost; yet, with all the righteousness and great power, he can in no wise be saved if he reject baptism. Hence, faith, repentance and baptism are three essential conditions preceding remission of sins. Each is equally important. These are three of the rules of adoption by which strangers and aliens may become legal citizens in the church and kingdom God.
I have before me B. H. Roberts' work, "The Gospel and Man's Relationship to Deity," in which he reasons more correctly than Friend Nutting about certain passages of scripture.
Bro. Nutting is certainly aware what the "Book of Mormon" and the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants" say about "baptism being in order to the remission of sins." Joseph Smith, declared in a homely way, "You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting the Holy Ghost." When the "Utah Gospel Mission" makes an attack on Mormonism here, it is going up against its strongest position.
If Secretary Nutting will arrange to discuss with either B. H. Roberts, of Utah; W. W. Blair, of Lamoni, Ia., or Jno. R. Halderman, of Independence, Mo., this proposition, "Baptism of a penitent believer is in order to the remission of sins," I'll guarantee that either will agree to have the discussion published in pamphlet form and scattered broadcast among the Mormons. I'll also guarantee that he dare not undertake to defend his position against the pen of his vice-president.
If this finds a place in the Standard, I'll follow it with an article showing what anti-Mormons think of the Gospel Utah Mission In Utah. Schroeder says: "The Utah Gospel Mission is Interdenominational in its pretenses, if not in its manager.
Unless the secretary will agree to consult me, I propose to send in my resignation as a member of the Advisory committee."
Grayson, Ky. R. B. NEAL.
Note: the Rev. John Danforth Nutting's The Wonderful Story of the Wonderful Book was published in Cleveland, Ohio, by the Utah Gospel Mission, in 1906, with new editions in 1907 and 1908. Nutting was the author of numerous anti-Mormon tracts and booklets, including the 1900 pamphlet, The Truth About the Origin of the Book of Mormon, (with contribution by A. T. Schroeder), etc. etc.
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