History of the CoG, Chapter ONE (pt. 2)

Holdeman continues on page 21 of chapter one as he establishes his foundation of error.  Consider this claim:

And as God has made no covenant with any other church, therefore no baptism is valid outside of this only visible church of God; for God committed baptism only to those, whom he has sent and those only can baptize according to the command of Christ, in the name of the triune God.  Only those, whom God has sent to build his church in order, can baptize in his name; and as God sends no unconverted men, and as they do not possess the Holy Spirit, therefore it is impossible, that they can baptize in the name of God.  And those who once received remission, and separate themselves from the covenant of God with his church, and baptize on division, cannot do it in the name of the triune God; because as God as Father is the head of Christ, and Christ as God and Son is the head of his church, and the Holy Spirit is the counsellor in this church, and proceeds from the Father through the Son, and impats the counsel if the Father and son to the believing, namely the church.”

He proceeds to speak at great length on the idea of God making no covenant with any other church, and that it is impossible for any baptism to be valid which is administered upon division.  Once again it is the responsibility of the reader to prove the claim that God made a covenant with the Holdeman church. One must point out the place where God shifted his promises from Israel and made them exclusive to the church. We are not promoting the idea that Israel is still the recipient of the promises and favor of God, but rather that they fell out of favor with him, and will need be restored before they can reclaim the promises. They will be able to do this when they receive the Messiah.

At the point that anyone who is of the physical seed of Abraham receives Christ, they come into the promises that were made to Israel.  They do not leave Israel and become part of the Christian church; they are not grafted in.  We are grafted in to Israel.  They are not grafted into us. It is true that we then become heir to the promises, but not in replacement of Israel.  This is clearly stated in the scriptures.  Speaking of division, what was Holdeman thinking?  He himself baptized upon division.  He separated himself from the church that by his own admission was the one with which God had made his exclusive covenant although the lineage that he claims for the succession of his former church from the time of the apostles is completely invalid, no matter how badly one may want to believe it.  More will be said about this later.

In any case, regardless of the issue of division or God’s exclusive covenant, claiming the exclusive right to baptize people in a world of billions of people is an incredibly arrogant claim.  If every single member of the church of God in Christ Mennonite were deputized and sent out, there is no possible way that they could evangelize and baptize the population of the world.  This limits God to the scope of man’s abilities and man’s thinking.  God must be sitting up there somewhere wringing his hands in distress as he sees godly men all over the world who administer baptism to saved individuals.  Can we see him nervously weeping as he laments that these dear souls mean well but their conversion and baptism are invalid because one of Holdeman’s successors  has not reached them?

At this point one cannot pick and choose and misuse scriptures such as “other sheep have I which are not of this fold.”   Either these people’s baptism is valid or it is not. There cannot be a special proclamation sent out that says that these people’s baptism is valid until such time as a Holdeman messenger reaches them and administers valid baptism.  Either Holdeman’s claim is true or it is not.

First of all, regarding baptism, let us take a look into the scriptures, apart from Holdeman’s claims of exclusivity, covenants and such.  What does the Bible specifically say regarding baptism?

We know that John the Baptist came baptizing.   He baptized upon repentance.  This was a new thing.  He baptized before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the statement Jesus made about baptism;

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19 KJV)

He makes no specific statement as to who can baptize. He made no statement about this being a covenant which those who baptize enter into with the applicant for baptism. He never states that they cannot baptize upon division. That of course seems fairly obvious, but Jesus’ command regarding baptism was quite succinct and to the point.  Go out and baptize and make disciples. He did not tell them to quibble about who was qualified.  He made no distinction as to which body they were to be baptized into. All who are baptized are baptized into the body of Christ.  To be quite honest about it, he never specified exactly who was qualified to baptize.  It could actually be presumed, if we are to presume in the way Holdeman does, that anyone who has been baptized upon repentance is then qualified to go out and preach and baptize.

It seems rather silly, upon reflection, that a missionary is qualified to go out and preach and bring sinners to repentance, but then must wait for a duly qualified minister to arrive from yonder country to pour a few drops of water upon someone’s head and pronounce them legally a part of  some exclusive denomination.  Another point to take note of is that there have been ministers who have fallen and yet retained their position and were preaching and baptizing while living in immorality and sins. According to Holdeman’s premise, the baptisms administered by these men were invalid.  All of the people who were baptized by someone who was in sin should therefore seek a valid baptism by someone who they can at best, hope is completely holy. Because one can never prove the inner spiritual condition of those who baptize, to make valid baptism contingent upon the baptizers condition is a very risky business.

Once again, this is an area where it is impossible to pick and choose. Either it is as he says or it is not.  The magnitude of the claims he makes cannot be overlooked and they cannot be modified.  If a pure and holy man is required for a valid baptism, then there are many invalid baptisms in the Holdeman church which should be revisited and performed by another man who can only be presumed to be pure.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”(1 Corinthians 15:1 4)

Baptism is a type of the death,burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That is a far more important point than exactly who is qualified to baptize.

Holdeman continues at great length to expound upon his ideas of baptism. If anyone has an interest in an honest study of his work, it is easy to obtain through church book stores.

May God bless your study,

Brother Hiram

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5 Responses to History of the CoG, Chapter ONE (pt. 2)

  1. “therefore no baptism is valid outside of this only visible church of God”
    It’s important to remember that the Bible does not specify what is and what is not a valid baptism. This is a huge jump in logic, completely unsupported by scripture. If anyone has a scripture that would support such an idea please share it here. If we have no comments answering the questions we ask, the statements we make will be presumed to stand.

    • lotsaquestions says:

      Can someone show me where Holdeman was baptised into Holdeman church? Was he ever officially ordained? Maybe I’m missing it somewhere.

  2. Holdeman was baptized into the church that he left. He allowed for this by claiming that the “candlestick” remained in this “decayed” church until he took it and started his own church. He had a little confusion as to when the true baptism shifted to his church. He said he would allow all of his followers who were baptized in the old church before he departed, to retain that baptism. However, anyone who was baptized in that church after he left had to be re-baptized if they left the old one and joined with him. There were occasional exceptions to this rule, mostly just as he saw fit. All of this is a very serious matter, because it begins to imply many things about baptism that simply are not true. It is not to be used as a sign of which denomination or sect is the most correct. This is the ultimate in legalism, trying to prove oneself to be the most correct…more correct than all others. We are to simply rest in Christ in His righteousness, and not make long detailed explanations of why we are right to the exclusion of all others. Baptism is a type of the death and resurrection of Christ, not an affirmation of which church is most correct, not a means of excluding or including people.

    As for his ordination, he was never ordained by man, but claimed direct ordination from God. This is a rather ludicrous claim, I know, but one that his followers have accepted without question. The thought then comes to me that if someone would rise up among them today and claim the need for cleansing of the present church and claim direct ordination from God, there would be a terrible outcry and such a person would be branded as a dangerous heretic. These are some of the inconsistencies that are built into the present church which allow for so much error and which confuse the people so much. I will write at greater length on Holdeman’s ideas on baptism and his ordination as I make my way through his book.

    Prayers for your understanding,
    Brother Hiram

  3. lotsaquestions says:

    Thank you for your intelligent answer. I’m still trying to figure out how a mere man could make all these claims and create a church that follows in blind obedience and how 150 some years later, for the most part, most people, including very smart leaders don’t have questions about John Holdeman. And I’m not even very smart!

  4. I’m glad my answer was helpful to you, lotsaquestions. You say you are not very smart, but you are as smart as you need to be. We are made to grow, to question and to change. If you die at a ripe old age and think and believe the same things you did when you were young, then you have failed your creator. He designed us to learn, to change and to grow. He is disappointed when we fail in this. If you are discouraged from asking questions by a controlling leader, then you should seriously question what might be wrong with the answers you would find. Why would anyone discourage you from questioning unless they are hiding something from you? I do not encourage walking away from important teachings, but I do encourage people to question. The truth remains and that which is wrong is sifted out. God remains the same. It is the rules and dogma imposed by man that will fall into the dust.

    I will say this much though, you must always be prepared for consequences when you question. The safe way is to never get out of your comfort zone. What do you think happened to brother Hiram when he began to question? He suddenly had to reassess everything he thought he believed. This can be uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful. However, what is the alternative? An alive and vital human can only suffocate his/her true nature for so long before something important dies.

    You ask how so many people can believe without questioning…many of them do question, but quickly the brush questions away when it begins to seem that the answers might disturb their comfortable life. Very few people are willing to lose anything for the Cause of Truth.

    May God bless you in your journey. Truth justice mercy and love are worth the struggle.
    Brother Hiram

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