Hello Mr. Holdeman. I have been trying to amble my
way through your book, but I am having a hard time
getting past the baptism issue. I see it starts out on
about page 147 and goes on at least to page 190. I’m
impressed with the depth of your commitment to proving
this point. The only problem is, the whole subject is a waste
of time. You are not proving anything by the Bible. All you
are doing is proving that men who lived at least 1500 years
after Christ possibly carried out a certain practice. Even at that,
you have to admit from time to time that there is other evidence,
but you quickly shove it under the rug with some irrational excuses.
Here is a quote from page 178 that impresses me….you write this
to express your disapproval of writers who subtly misquote other authors
in order to make a point. You say…”I am very sorry that I find so little
conscience in quoting authors, and in translating their works. I am grieved
to find so much looseness and inaccuracy in writers. It is not a light thing
to misrepresent authors and circulate such into the world, as is so often done.
I do not desire to be found guilty of misrepresenting any author, for I know
what a judgment awaits those who do, and do not repent of it.” Mr. Holdeman,
you have some harsh words for people who make a point that disagrees with yours
. Let me, however, make a point of my own. In your efforts to prove your own ideas
on baptism, you completely disregard the scriptures. You base your proof on the
writings of men from the distant obscure past. You yourself have to admit that there
are various ways of interpreting Menno’s writings, and those of others, and you admit
that some of their words could be taken in a way that would discredit all that you are
try to teach. Here is an example, if I may be so boring as to quote a rather lengthy
passage….”I formerly understood the following expression in the Martyr’s Mirror, (page 105):
‘ For this is the first immersion of him that hears it,’ &c. to mean that it was the first
immersion ever practiced, but I now think that I was in error, though I do not yet understand
what the expression means; but probably I could understand it if I had the connection as it
stands in the writings of Tertullian; but I could not readily find it when I desired and had
access to his work.. Very confusing indeed, Mr. Holdeman. What if I were a hungry reader
eagerly scouring the pages of your works for the truth. On the one hand you make a very
scathing accusation against writers who are inaccurate in portraying the truth in order to make
their point. On the other hand, you select a portion of Menno’s writings and admit that formerly
you saw him as taking one position, but when for other reasons you had changed your mind
on the matter, you then saw him as taking a different position although you admit that you
cannot give evidence as to why you changed your mind. The weary reader might be wondering
why I harp at such great length on these matters, but I have my reasons. It is as you said in the
early part of the article I am writing, when I quote from your book, where you pass serious
judgment on the inaccuracy of other writers. You must be held to the same standards you set
up for them. Because otherwise, you see, your words are meaningless. Your entire work is a
sham. It is nothing more than an elaborate effort to prove yourself right, and everyone else wrong.
This obsession with being right, in spite of much evidence to the contrary, and tolerating no
dissent has been passed down to those who practice the religion that you started. Rightness
and being right is the over-riding characteristic of these people today. It matters not the evidence
there is to prove them wrong. They have established a position, and nothing will move them from
it….not evidence as caused by the circumstances that they create by their obstinacy, not the very scriptures themselves, nothing. A sad and treacherous legacy indeed.
I shall soon be finished with the tedious business of debunking your book, but having
set myself to the task, I am determined to see it through. I am sure that you
agree with me that error should not be allowed to stand. I am not necessarily
pretending to present an alternate view, only ripping the covering off so that everyone
can see you n your nakedness and pride. You really have very little with which to cover yourself.
Following the baptism issue is a letter that you wrote to your former church.
You begin your letter with the coment that you had to join the decayed church in
order to propagate the true lineage. You had to receive baptism from them (no ordination, alas,)
and carry the candlestick out with you. Interestingly enough, you first admitted that
you wanted to be baptized by “going into the water” but later went back on this statement,
claiming that you found no command to be immersed, but that you would prefer to be poured
upon. I find it odd that you use as your excuse to sidestep immersion the fact that you found no
command in favor of it. One wonders where you found the command to be poured upon?
Were you simply trying to discredit Bishop Rohrer? You also report having received the
baptism of the Holy Spirit upon water baptism. One wonders what you meant by that , other
than that it “overshadowed you as a soft cloud….” I wonder what would happen if one of your
followers today would claim to have received the Holy Ghost upon baptism? I do believe that
they teach these days that the Holy Spirit is imparted at the moment of the new birth.
In Bible Doctrine and Practice, on page 56/57 it says “Upon repentance toward God and
faith in Christ Jesus, the Holy Ghost comes into the penitent and believing heart. He is so
much a part of the working of salvation through repentance and faith that h is received
simultaneously with the new birth. Jesus says that we are ‘born of water [the Word]
and of the Spirit’ (John 3: 5). After bringing the penitent sinner to spiritual birth, the
Holy Ghost immdieately comes in to preserve the new disciple. The account of Cornelius
and his house accepting the Lord Jesus (Acts 10:44-45), as well as Saul’s conversion
and baptism (Acts 9:17-19) would seem to bear this out.”
Well, how do you answer this? You were allowed to receive a special portion of
the Holy Spirit upon baptism, a credit that your followers are not allowed. I wonder
how men can presume to allow how the Holy Spirit can manifest, in what proportions
and when? Does this story tell us that you received an extra portion at that time
of baptism, that you especially felt the presence of something that had already
been poured out upon you, or that you had not had the Holy Spirit from the time
of the new birth til your baptism? Which brings us to another question. I see
that in Bible Doctrine and Practice, on page 111 is the article about the new
birth and conversion. It states that the new birth and conversion are different
things. Conversion is the change that takes place over time as a result of the
new birth. In the article about Tongues and the Christian’s speech on page
417 it states that on the day of Pentecost 3000 souls were converted and baptized.
I would think that according to the article on page 111 it would have been more
accurate to say that 3000 souls experienced the new birth and were baptized.
But then maybe I’m being nit-picky. Maybe you don’t really care about all of this,
but just needed to fill up some pages in the book. However, I am pretty sure of one
thing…if a church member were to come forth and claim a special outpouring of
the Holy Spirit with other manifestations which you would not want to give credence
to, you would quickly thumb through the book and find the part where it says that the
Holy Ghost is given in abundance at the moment of conversion…errr.. I mean the new
birth, and that any further claims of a special gift of the Holy Ghost are the sign of a
foreign spirit. With this legal device firmly in hand, any claims of a special imparting
of God’s Spirit, with any special gifts and manifestations quickly becomes grounds
for excommunication. Sad to think that rejoicing over receiving the Holy Ghost
could be considered grounds for excommunication and shunning, but we all know it is true.
It has happened many times before.
I am experiencing some weariness at the thought of getting through your book but
I realize by now that I must comb through it carefully in order to pick out the error.
Some is blatant and some is subtle, but then again, as the ministers would tell us
today, deception is very subtle, it is in the very fine details. The legality of it all can
fall apart if the smallest details are not absolutely correct.