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,