a baptist perspective

 

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Jason Sampler
New Orleans, Louisiana

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A response to Drs. York and Caner, and a word from a Landmarker (not me, of course)

There is, no doubt, some debate as to whether the new IMB policy on baptism flows from Landmark theology. I have no desire to sling mud or call names at anyone. Such is neither a Christian method of interaction nor responsible academics. Instead, I wish to deal with the issues. I am grateful that in recent days two respected members of the "SBC academy" have weighed in on this issue. Dr. Hershael York and Dr. Ergun Caner have both issued statements or arguments in favor of the new policy. I am grateful that they have entered into this dialogue, but I fear they have missed the main point of contention. In this instance, the primary issue (contra Dr. York and Dr. Caner) is the intimate relationship the new policy sets up between acceptable baptism and the doctrine of eternal security.

From the outset, let me say that I hold Dr. York in very high regard. Although I've never met him, we have exchanged very friendly emails on certain topics over the last few months. I find him to be a very warm-hearted pastor who loves his Savior and his congregation. I consider him to be a friend who I've never had the pleasure to meet in person. I have never had contact with Dr. Caner, but I have no reason to think anything but high thoughts of him. I am grateful for his service as a Southern Baptist and as an educator. However, I regretfully disagree with their takes on the issue of the IMB policy on baptism. If I have read their posts properly (and I graciously submit to correction from either of these men if I have misread their works), I understand them to say two things. First, most Baptists suffer from extreme ecclesiological ignorance. While this may be the case for many in our churches, those of us who have been blogging on this issue are anything but ignorant of Baptist ecclesiology. We are seminary graduates, pastors, PhD students, and even leaders of denominationally affiliated organizations. We are anything but ignorant on this issue. I do not believe their comment was meant to be demeaning, but I do think it was misguided. Second, they are arguing that primary issue is that baptism is a church ordinance. This is correct, but it misses the main objection to the new policy. No one is arguing whether baptism is or is not a church ordinance. The main discrepancy is the tying the doctrine of eternal security OF THE BAPTIZING CHURCH with the legitimacy of the baptized candidate.

The problem is that no Baptist writer, Southern or otherwise, has ever tied baptism and eternal security so closely together as to argue against the legitimacy of a person's baptism due to the theology of the baptizing church. I am not arguing, necessarily, that we must always kept to the 'traditions' or 'theology' of our forefathers, but I think it is safe to say we must look to Baptists of the past for guidance. What have others said about the legitimacy of Baptism? In recent posts, I have quoted Southern Baptist theologian E. C. Dargan
here and here. I have read extensively J. L. Dagg's ecclesiology, though I have yet to post his thoughts.

In this post, I wish to cite a very controversial Southern Baptist ecclesiologist, J. M. Pendleton. Many know him as the second part of the Triumverant, the group of three that led the Landmark movement in the nineteenth century (along with J. R. Graves and A. C. Dayton). Now is not the time for a history lesson on Landmarkism (and I'm assuming most of my readers already have a base knowledge of this movement), but it should be noted that Pendleton was the least radical (or least conservative) of the three. He often disagreed on certain Landmark 'points' such as historical successionism and strict local communion. Nevertheless, Thomas White recently completed a fine Ph.D. dissertation at
SEBTS titled "James Madison Pendleton and his contributions to Baptist ecclesiology". If I remember the thesis of his work, he argued that Pendleton's main contribution to Baptist ecclesiology was his doctrine of baptism.

In Pendleton's 1879 work Christian Doctrines, he lays out his theology of baptism. On pg. 342, he defines proper baptism as "the immersion in water, by a proper administrator, of a believer in Christ, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Two salient observations are blatantly absent in his definition of baptism: 1. He in no way equates the doctrine of eternal security of the baptizing church with the valid baptism of a new believer; 2. He in no way argues that baptism unites a person with a particular church; instead, baptism is identification with Christ.

Taking up the first 'absent objection', Pendleton clearly defines the object ("a believer in Christ") mode ("the immersion in water") of baptism. However, he makes no mention of the theology of the baptizing church. If he believed that the doctrine of eternal security was vital for the baptizing church, then he would have included such a provision in his definition. However, there is none. For the IMB policy to contain such a provision is clearly outside the bounds of historic Baptist theology. Second, Pendleton is very clear that baptism is identification with Christ, not with a particular church. Note his language: "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." There is no hint that baptism is "into the name" of a particular church, Baptist or otherwise. Elsewhere, Pendleton is even clearer on this issue. Elsewhere, Pendleton is even clearer on this issue. He argues that "membership [in a church] is preceded by important qualifications. These qualifications may be considered moral and ceremonial" (331). Pendleton lists the moral qualifications as "Regeneration, with its attendants, Repentance and Faith" (331). He goes on to say that "baptism is the ceremonial qualification for church membership" (331). The point I wish to stress here is that baptism precedes church membership. One is not baptized into a church, but into Christ. One may be baptized by a church, but not into it. Therefore, the new IMB policy is taking extreme liberties that neither Baptist history, confessional documents, nor the NT seem to allow. If baptism is into the name of the Trinity, then our identification is with the Father/Son/Spirit. There is no need for rebaptism on the occasion that one's baptism was not performed by a church that advocated eternal security. Rebaptism (or rightly stated, proper baptism) is needed only when mode, meaning, or object have been misunderstood.

I have great respect for the trustees of the IMB. I do not think they flippantly chose to enact new policy on a whim. I know for a fact they spent two years investigating and discussing this. In addition, I am grateful for men such as Dr. York and Dr. Caner, who have been the only people (that I know of) who have provided any sort of defense for this policy. Nevertheless, I still find the policy out of line with Baptist ecclesiology and the defense by both York and Caner to be missing the main objection I/we have on this policy.

I would love to hear from any IMB trustee who voted in favor of this policy. Please dialogue with me and give a biblical/historical reason for your policy. Dr. York or Dr. Caner, I humbly invite you to dialogue with me on this issue. I find this to be very dear to my heart, and to my mind, as I am writing my dissertation at NOBTS on the relationship in Baptist theology between the ordinances. This is a subject I have spent much time reading and dialoguing about. I would love to have educated interlocutors such as yourselves join me in this discussion.

May our God bless us as we endeavor to know Him more, as we submit to His teachings, and as we seek to treat others better than ourselves during the process.

posted by Jason Sampler at 10:10 AM

34 Comments:

Blogger Wes Kenney said...

You said: Pendleton defines proper baptism as "the immersion in water, by a proper administrator, of a believer in Christ, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Does Pendleton at any point define proper administrator? Is it possible that it is there that the connection could be made between the soteriological understanding of the baptizing church and the legitimacy of the baptism?

12:30 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger Jason Sampler said...

Wes,

Good question. This is what Pendleton writes in a footnote regarding the issue of "a proper administrator":

"As to a proper administrator, there is some difference of pointion. By a proper administrator, in the above definition, is meant a peron who has received authority from a scriptural church to administer baptism. It does not comport with my design to enlarge on this point."

By his own wording, I can see no legitimate linkage between a proper administrator and the theology of a baptizing church. In addition, your question actually assumes the position I believe Pendleton had denied, that a person is baptized into a church. Of all the Baptist theologians I have read on this topic, and it has been quite a few, no one has linked baptism with identification with the Baptist church.

Thanks for the comment. Sorry I didn't get to meet you when I was in OKC.

3:27 PM, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous CJ said...

Jason,

Couldn't the linkage in Pendleton's quotes between proper administrator and the church's theology be the definition of a "scriptural church"? I think that is one of the crux's of Dr. York's argument.

4:11 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

I really appreciate your gracious response here. I hope you get some bites.

You know from our private conversations that I'm in complete agreement with you. I think there is a solid logical case to be made against the IMB position, too, in addition to the biblical and historical ones. (But I may leave that to someone with more time and expertise.)

Dr. York is my pastor, and he's the best preacher under whose authority I've had the privelege to sit, and so I greatly appreciate the Christian civility you've demonstrated in your post here. (In other words, don't talk trash about my pastor, or I'll come to your house and sit on you.)

But I agree that the defense I've seen mounted so far just does not seem to be as tightly reasoned as it might have been.

You know, I'm wondering if there is a generational factor involved here. Burleson's original post is appropro in this regard. You and I have never experienced being conservative SBC-ers in a liberal SBC. And, you know, pendulum swings begin with the best of intentions. (Not that that's any reason to back down in this instance.)

5:32 PM, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Jason,

You wrote: "The problem is that no Baptist writer, Southern or otherwise, has ever tied baptism and eternal security so closely together as to argue against the legitimacy of a person's baptism due to the theology of the baptizing church."

In the 1800's, when Baptists spoke of rejecting non-Baptist immersions, they focused on the baptismal practices of the other denominations. The reason was that in the 19th century, all other denominations differed from Baptists on their understanding of baptism. The Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopal, and Congregationalists all sprinkled for baptism and baptized infants. The Disciples of Christ were the lone exception and they baptized for the remission of sins. I read over Dagg's reasons for rejecting pedobaptist immersions and he also focuses on their misunderstanding of baptism even when by immersion. Baptism was what separated Baptists and non-Baptist churches. Those who rejected alien immersion felt that even when non-Baptist churches did immersion, their understanding of baptism nullified these immersions.

Having said that, there are Baptists who connected eternal security to the validity of baptism. In J.R. Graves' book Trilemma, he has a chapter on why Free Will Baptist immersions should be rejected. His first sentence deals with the eternal security issue. Also T.T. Martin, the famous Southern Baptist evangelist has a little book called "The N.T. Church". He contends that to be a true N.T. church, a congregation must teach the true way of salvation and practice the true way of baptism. In his chapter on salvation he alludes to the eternal security issue. There are also others I could mention.

It is also interesting that when Pentecostals came along in the early 1900's, that most Southern Baptists rejected their immersions as well. What was the main difference between the Baptists and Pentecostals - eternal security.

I think the IMB trustees are trying to focus on the way of salvation rather than the practice of baptism in determining the validly of a church and hence their baptism. (Although the new guidelines do allude to the practice of baptism as well). If a group's understanding of baptism is important, how much more is their understanding of salvation?

Lastly Pendleton wrote several letters to the Religious Herald Baptist paper in Virginia shortly before his death in which he expressed his disapproval of accepting pedobaptist immersions. There was no difference between Pendleton and Graves in their understanding of baptism.

7:22 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger Wes Kenney said...

Sorry I didn't get to meet you when I was in OKC.

I was sitting right in front of you in Dr. McDow's 9:00 AM breakout session. I reached back and shook hands with you after you introduced yourself to the room, but I guess you didn't hear my intro or make the connection. Oh, well.

By the way, what is pointion? I am not familiar with this term...

;-)

8:12 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

to Ben Stratton-

Let's see some page numbers and publisher information. I don't doubt your claims. I'd just like to check them out for myself.

CKS

8:47 PM, February 08, 2006  
Blogger Perry McCall said...

Jason,

Good job! You are making Dr. Norman proud. I have not seen you since the polity conference and I am glad to hear that you are doing well since the storm. You are a scholar and a gentleman!

9:12 PM, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous CJ said...

CKS,

Both of the books that Ben Stratton has cited are online. I did a quick search through Trilemma by J.R. Graves and did not find a mention of Free Will Baptists. You can find The N.T. Church by T.T. Martin here.

6:23 AM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger Nathan said...

For the record, this is good engagement. I had not read your blog before. Please note that when I say I have not seen much theological engagement, that is limited to the blogs I have read. Good post.

7:47 AM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

Thanks for the documentary info and links, CJ. (Actually, I was sort of asking on Jason's behalf; I was afraid he might have been too proud to admit that he didn't know where to find something Baptistic. He's the kind of guy who mumbles sections of the BFM in his sleep...)

8:26 AM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger Jason Sampler said...

Wes,
Sorry for not remembering when I met you. I guess I was expecting a young boy in a cowboy hat!

CJ,
I don't wish to speak on whether Dr. York is making such an inference. I'll let him declare this if he wishes. However, I still believe that by identifying eternal security as a means of 'legitimizing' baptism goes beyond historical and biblical bounds. Also, thanks for the links. I've yet to check them out, but thank you for providing the links.

Ben,
I do enjoy the dialogue on this, and I have overstepped my bounds a bit. You may be right that a few have linked the two, but this is not the overall norm for Baptists. I may rephrase my statement (upon reading these sources) to say that almost no Bapist has ever linked the two.

Perry,
It's great to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

Nathan,
Thank you for your comment. It would be nice of you to ammend or update the post on your blog to correct your comments.

And finally to CKS,
I was unaware that I 'mumbled in my sleep.' However, Mr. Smarty-pants :), I can think of many worse things to 'mumble' than the BFM 2000: things like philosophy, logic, or Bob Dylan lyrics (all things you spout off in the night)!!!

9:26 AM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

Jason was my roommate at seminary. A total stranger who became my best friend.

For those who were wondering.

Although he is a big fan of the film Brokeback to the Future.

12:52 PM, February 09, 2006  
Blogger Nate Goodwin said...

Jason,

Help me out on this one if you can. If we as the SBC accept what the IMB has done and move on and also take what the BFM 2000 states in regard to what constitutes a church and baptism, then would any of the people our missonaries baptize on the mission field where there is no established church ever be able to serve as a missonary with the IMB? I ask this because they were not baptized in an "autonomous local congregation of baptized believers" (BFM 2000- Article VI)? Since their baptism does not meet the IMB standard that "Baptism must take place in a church...," the believers who come to faith through the ministry of the IMB would not even qualify for becoming missonary if I am not mistaken. Am I?

11:42 AM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

Nate--

I just posted about something similar over at Dr. York's blog (tongue only slightly in cheek).

Dr. York writes: One last thing: did it ever occur to you that when they called it "John's baptism" that they were naming it for the administrator? I still think the administrator matters.

But, then, John wasn't really a "valid administrator" in the IMB's newly-discovered sense of that term. After all, he spearheaded a radical, separatist, counter-Temple movement way out on the fringe of the Judaism of his day. There is no way, based on the biblical materials, to extrapolate to a local church in his case.

The upshot: if Jesus wanted to be an SBC missionary today, he'd need to get himself properly baptized.

12:43 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Nate Goodwin said...

I went ahead and asked my question to him as well. I would like to see what difference there may be between what he and Jason say.

1:23 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger Theo said...

Theo (Baptist Theologue) here. Check out these interesting quotes from Dagg:

"Admission to membership belongs to churches; but admission to baptism belongs properly to the ministry. A single minister has the right to receive to baptism, on his own responsibility; as is clear from the baptism of the eunoch by Philip, when alone. But when a minister is officiating as pastor of a church, it is expedient that they should unite their counsels in judging of a candidate's qualifications; but the pastor ought to remember, that the responsibility of receiving to baptism is properly his. The superior knowledge which he is supposed to possess, and his office as the shepherd of the flock, and the priority of baptism to church membership, all combine to render it necessary that he first and chiefly should meet this responsibility, and act upon it in fear of the Lord."

J. L. Dagg, "A Treatise on Church Order" (Harrisonberg, VA: Gano Books, 1982), page 269. (originally published in 1858 by The Southern Baptist Publication Society)

"From the investigations in the preceding part of this work, we have learned that a candidate has no right to baptize himself, or select his own administrator, without regard to his being duly qualified according to the divine will. The proper administrators are persons called of God to the ministerial office, and introduced into it according to the order established by the apostles. To such persons the candidate was bound to apply; and, if he received the ordinance from any other, it was as if he had selected the administrator at his own will, or had immersed himself. . . . Because when church order has been destroyed, something unusual may be done to restore it, we are not, on this account, justified in neglecting the regular order when it does exist. Every church is bound to respect this order, and a candidate who has failed to respect it in a former baptism, may, with a good conscience, proceed anew to obey the Lord's command, in exact conformity to the divine requirement. . . . By a wise provision the social tendency of Christianity is shown at the very beginning of the Christian profession. The candidate cannot obey alone, but he must seek an administrator to unite with him in the act of obedience, and by this arrangement Christian fellowship begins with Christian profession. But that two may walk together in this act of obedience, it is necessary that they should be agreed. If the administrator and candidate differ widely in their views respecting the nature and design of the ordinance, they cannot have fellowship with each other in the service."

Ibid., page 285.

5:55 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger R. L. Vaughn said...

Cks asked about references on Trilemma and The N.T. Church, and cj wrote, "Both of the books that Ben Stratton has cited are online. I did a quick search through Trilemma by J.R. Graves and did not find a mention of Free Will Baptists."

I don't have Martin's book, but do have Graves'. The reason the online book at Reformed Reader doesn't have Freewill Baptists is that it is the original 1861 edition. Graves added chapters on Freewill Baptists, et al. in his second edition of 1881 (see preface). This edition was reprinted by Bogard Press (Texarkana, TX) in 1969. The chapter on Freewill Baptists is found on page 125.

6:38 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

That's quite interesting R.L. Thank you for bringing that up.

Since that was added in 1881, this invites commentary on Dr. Graves activity prior to his writing of those sections.

Dr. Graves, in 1858 was subject to a church trial at FBC Nashville, in which he was found guilty of slandering RBC Howell, the pastor; seeking to divide the church; using The Baptist to attack other Baptist leaders, publishing "sundry foul and atrocious libels," and uttering falsehoods in 9 specifications. He was placed under the discipline of the church and excluded from it.

When the verdict was rendered, he and 46 of his followers at FBC Nashville declared that RBC Howell and the rest of FBC Nashville were not a true church and they decided to form their own church, which became known as State Street Baptist. At that time, they still called themselves the one true FBC Nashville.

In 1858, he gathered his supporters in Concord Association and, in so doing violated his own affirmation of local church autonomy in order to overturn FBC Nashville's decision. He also succeeded in persuading the TN Baptist Convention to not seat Howell's church at their state convention.

At the 1859 Convention, the SBC seated both Grave's church and FBC Nashville (Howell). On the first ballot, they reelected Howell as President. Then, they defeated the move by the Landmarks to dismantle the FMB.

This is not the behavior of a man, in my opinion, that says that he believed Free Will baptisms invalid were solely theological. This is the behavior of a man who would exclude those who disagreed with him about a great many thing, so his rejection of free willers is, to be blunt, an outgrowth of more than just theological convictions. Who of us would also declare RBC Howell's church wasn't a true church?

I'd add that the churches that formed the SBC in Augusta adhered to the Philadelphia Confession. What was the practice of Reformed Baptists at that time?

Even though B.H. Carroll became known as one of the 3 leaders of the anti-Whitsett movement, Carroll still opposed Hayden in Texas, and he did so on the basis that he believed Hayden's movement would only divide the BGCT and the SBC and directly threatened missions.

The SBC has consistently voted to facilitate the service of missionaries when Landmarkism in its forms has intersected with missions.

10:41 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

First of all, the whole of chapter 3 of Dagg is taken up explicating the doctrine of the universal church using Theodosia Ernest as his foil. I find it rather ironic that the one who denied the validity of the church universal at one blog would then use Dagg, who contradicts his own doctrine to support his doctrine.

Theo writes:

"Admission to membership belongs to churches; but admission to baptism belongs properly to the ministry. A single minister has the right to receive to baptism, on his own responsibility; as is clear from the baptism of the eunoch by Philip, when alone. But when a minister is officiating as pastor of a church, it is expedient that they should unite their counsels in judging of a candidate's qualifications; but the pastor ought to remember, that the responsibility of receiving to baptism is properly his. The superior knowledge which he is supposed to possess, and his office as the shepherd of the flock, and the priority of baptism to church membership, all combine to render it necessary that he first and chiefly should meet this responsibility, and act upon it in fear of the Lord."

Yes, he does write that and he further devotes chapter 12 to these issues, the chapter from which you quoted.

"From the investigations in the preceding part of this work, we have learned that a candidate has no right to baptize himself, or select his own administrator, without regard to his being duly qualified according to the divine will. The proper administrators are persons called of God to the ministerial office, and introduced into it according to the order established by the apostles. To such persons the candidate was bound to apply; and, if he received the ordinance from any other, it was as if he had selected the administrator at his own will, or had immersed himself. . . . Because when church order has been destroyed, something unusual may be done to restore it, we are not, on this account, justified in neglecting the regular order when it does exist. Every church is bound to respect this order, and a candidate who has failed to respect it in a former baptism, may, with a good conscience, proceed anew to obey the Lord's command, in exact conformity to the divine requirement. . . . By a wise provision the social tendency of Christianity is shown at the very beginning of the Christian profession. The candidate cannot obey alone, but he must seek an administrator to unite with him in the act of obedience, and by this arrangement Christian fellowship begins with Christian profession. But that two may walk together in this act of obedience, it is necessary that they should be agreed. If the administrator and candidate differ widely in their views respecting the nature and design of the ordinance, they cannot have fellowship with each other in the service."

--This invites scrutiny of what was previous stated, does it not? Prior to the section you quoted, we find this:

With respect to rebaptism:

It has sometimes happened, that ministers have differed in their views; and a candidate, whom one minister has refused to rebaptize, has been rebaptized by another. In such cases, no breach of fellowship between the ministers occurs; nor ought it to be allowed. In like manner, a difference of opinion may exist between churches; and one church may admit without rebaptism, when another church would require it. This difference should not disturb the kind intercourse between the churches. But if the individual who has been received without rebaptism, should seek to remove his membership to the church that deems rebaptism necessary, the latter church has authority, as an independent body, to reject him.

--So, this is a local church issue and the several churches are free to differ accordingly. No one church can tell another what its baptismal practices shall be.

Though some difference of opinion on these questions does exist, and ought to be tolerated, yet every one should strive to learn his duty respecting them, by a diligent study of the Holy Scriptures. The directions of the inspired word are clear, so long as men keep in the prescribed way; but when they have wandered from it, no surprise should be felt if the method of return is not so clearly pointed out. Hence it arises that men who interpret the express precepts of Christ alike, may, in applying them to perplexing cases, differ in their judgment. In what follows I shall give my views, with deference to those whose investigations have led them to a different conclusion.

---First, the ones of a differing conclusion, for Dagg are the Landmarks, for Theodosia Ernest is his foil in Chapter 3, and he goes to great lengths to contradict it. I have before me a copy of Baptist Theologians by Dockery and George and they agree. Second, what does he say here...differences are to be T O L E R A T E D .

What is the criterion for baptism according to Dagg?

Baptism was designed to be the ceremony of Christian profession. If, in the first baptism, the candidate believed himself to be a Christian, and received baptism on a credible profession of faith in Christ, no higher qualification can be obtained for a second baptism. They to whom the administration of the rite
has been committed, do not possess the power to search the heart. A credible profession of faith, sincerely made, is all that fallible men can expect; and, since the ordinance has been committed to fallible men, it is duly administered on sincere and credible profession.

Some confirmation of this view may be derived from the case of Simon the sorcerer. Though baptized on profession of faith, it was afterwards discovered that his heart was not right in the sight of God. On making the discovery, Peter did not command him to repent and be baptized, as he commanded the unbaptized on the day of Pentecost: but his address was, "Repent, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."


---This is what we look to for baptism. The discussion on the IMB policies has to do with indexing baptism to eternal security. These missions candidates are already credo-baptized. For Dr. Dagg, a credible profession of faith alone is what is necessary for valid baptism, not adherence to a full scope of doctrines. This is very, very clear for him, and he very carefully notes that all Baptist local churches are full of both regenerate and baptized and unregenerate and baptized persons, so baptism doesn't guarantee orthodoxy, much less regeneracy. This is just an assumption we make based on that profession.

If, in the first baptism, the candidate believed himself to be a Christian, and received baptism on a credible profession of faith in Christ, no higher qualification can be obtained for a second baptism.. Dr. Dagg did not deny that Arminians are regenerate. Why then, if he believed a credible profession of faith is necessary for baptism, would anybody believe he would recommend that somebody credobaptized in a Free Will Baptist or Assemblies of God church that disaffirmed eternal security be rebaptized? That wouldn't make sense. Dr. Dagg was many things, a hyper-Calvinist was not one of them. If all the regenerate constitute the universal and visible church (Chapter 3 of his Manual), and he is not a hyper-Calvinist, then what possible logic can you pull from Dr. Dagg that would infer he would support the rebaptism of persons coming to us from Free Will Baptist churches or the Assemblies of God?

I'd add that Dr. Dagg believed in the perseverance of the saints not the version of eternal security that is so popular in a great many of our churches today. If one is going to invoke Dr. Dagg to support the IMB policies, then let him invoke what Dr. Dagg believed about that issue as well. Why say "eternal security' and not "perseverance of the saints?" One of those says you can bear no fruit and apostatize and still be counted as a true convert, so how exactly is "eternal security" in that form in any way reflected in baptism? Speaking for myself, that's not the version I want to see IMB candidates affirm, and if I'm going to be told by the IMB to look back at another church's doctrine for a person in my church, then that's a doctrine I reject, so why should I say that that doctrine is acceptable and disaffirmation of it is not? To be blunt, I reject "eternal security," and i reject "conditional security." I believe in perseverance of the saints.

A local church is to make the evaluation. The church cannot throw the question fully on the candidate or the administrator. Ministers have differed in their views on this. Ergo, there is variance in how this is done. The differences should not disturb the "kind intercourse" between the churches. One church can reject the member not rebaptized and require them to do so if they wish to join with them. However, they are not OBLIGATED, to do so.

Notice the appeal to the local church itself. One looks in vain for anything that says that an ecclesiastical committee like a board of trustees can dictate baptismal practice and who to accept and not accept or baptize and rebaptize to a local church.

So, prior to the section from Chapter 12 quoted, we find that no one church can dicate policy on this to another, whatever its position might be, but the interesting thing here is that Dagg does not index eternal security to baptism nor does he say that churches are under obligation to agree with each other with respect to rebaptisms. He does not reject immersions by paedobaptists completely. He would reject *some* based on certain conditions, but not *all*, and this is for the local church to decide and variances are allowable between them.

In the very section quoted Dr. Dagg stops short of saying the candidate MUST be rebaptized. He says that it is up to the local church to decide. He would advise them to do so, from the look of his statements, but he would not mandate that a man be rebaptized. I certainly don't believe he would rebaptize a man who came from a general Baptist church. I'd ask where there is ever any writing to that effect within Southern Baptist history and theology? Can Dr. Crumer or Prof. York produce evidence that there is unianimity among the Founders or modern day Southern Baptists on this? I don't think so.

Notice also these words: Some Pedobaptist ministers will administer immersion reluctantly, believing it to be an ineligible mode of baptism..." Some, notice he does not say ALL. He says some, and it is this "some" about which he speaks. Take the PCA for example. In the Pacific NW, I am informed by a good friend who is a PCA Teaching Elder that, because there are no Reformed Baptist churches in the area, a great many have come into his church. Those that desire baptism, he baptizes accordingly, according to our doctrine. He does this affirming that the Westminster Confession and the 2LCBF differ, but, because he considers a Baptists convinction about his baptism strongly and knows they have no Baptist church which they believe themselves able to attend, he will gladly and happily help this brother obey the conclusions that he has reached about baptism. Would he, then qualify in this "some?" He is not "reluctant" at all.

Then he say: . Pedobaptist ministers do not, in general, administer the rite as an emblem of Christ's burial and resurrection.

Note, he says "in general." Not all. Moreover, I have before me a Presbyterian theology text that says rejects appealing to the burial and resurrection of Christ in baptism with respect to the mode (immersion itself) because that is rightly found in the Lord's Supper, but it is the administration of the new covenant that is symbolized in baptism.

While Dr. Dagg rightly rejects pouring, he does say that rebaptism bec. of previous pouring is not rightly called "baptism." Also, in Presbyterian theologies, you find that baptism seen as an administration of the covenant of grace, a covenant that is directly dependent on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for its administration. So, they do, in point of fact, include the cross the (empty) tomb in the administration of baptism, and it certainly represents that when they baptize adults who are unbaptized after they have been converted. It is high time that Presbyterians and Baptists quit talking past each other. Dr. Dagg, in my opinion, is mistaken, or his words apply to a different age, and Covenant Theology itself has been revised in the last century anyway. I'd add the WCF speaks of regeneration, ingrafting into Christ, remission of sins, and walking in newness of life. Before writing this, I checked several resources and found Presyberians contradicting what Dr. Dagg here says about them not viewing baptism as an emblem of Christ's resurrection and burial. They view it that way with respect to the administration of the covenant in a particular manner, but they apply to all, because they view children as included in the covenant. This is massively inconsistent to do this if you believe in effacious grace, and that is in a nutshell, why Reformed Baptists disagree with them.

Moving on...

Since when does the IMB board constitute a local church? Answer: It does not. According to the explication of the BFM 2000 by Southern Seminary's own faculty:

Boards and conventions are not the church; they are merely means to accomplish the church’s mission. There is no Southern Baptist Church or Kentucky Baptist Church. Conventions are the creation of the churches and subject to them. They are large committees appointed by the churches.

Can the IMB reject the baptism of a local church that is recommending a baptized candidate for missions if the church has already declared their baptism valid? Can it dictate rebaptism to a local church, if the Board is not a local church? I think not.

Furthermore, the issue here isn't baptism for local church membership. The policy is not being applied to all church members . The issue here is about rebaptism not for church membership but for service on the mission field, the discharge of the duties of ministry, fulfillment of a call to serve and preach the gospel by a specfic person.

Pointing to what Dagg says about baptism and rebaptism with respect for church membership is somewhat relevant, but not all that you need to examine. I don't think you'll find support for the IMB policies in Dagg when you consider that portion of Dagg

Baptism in the policy is being indexed to eternal security for missions candidates alone, not all church members. Thus, what Dr. Dagg says about the call to ministry is what is germaine to the issue.

Dr. Dagg clearly and unequivocably indexes a person's call to service not to his baptism, but to REGENERATION.

In Chapter III. we have investigated the Scripture doctrine concerning the church universal. If we have not mistaken the divine teaching on the subject, every man who is born of the Spirit is a member of this church. Regeneration, not baptism, introduces him into it. The dogma that baptism initiates into the
church, and that those who are not baptized are not church-members, even if they are Christians, denies the existence of this spiritual church, and substitutes for it the visible church catholic of theologians. The evils resulting from this unscriptural substitution, have been shown on pp. 132, 133. They are sufficient to deter us from an inconsiderate admission of the dogma from which they proceed.


Later he writes:

The lawfulness of inviting Pedobaptist preachers into the pulpit, has been defended on the ground that any Christian has the right to talk of Christ and his great salvation. Our Landmark brethren admit that all have a right to make known the gospel privately, but deny that any have the right to proclaim it publicly, except those who have been regularly inducted into the ministerial office. The distinction between talking of Christ privately and proclaiming his gospel publicly, appears to me to respect obligation rather than right. If a Christian has a right to tell of Christ to a fellow man who sits by his side, or walks in the highway with him, he has the same right to address two in like manner, and, so far as I can see, he has an equal right to address ten, a hundred, or a thousand. The obligation to exercise this right is limited only by his ability to do good, and the opportunity which Providence presents of using such talents as he possesses to the glory of God and the benefit of immortal souls. A divine call to the work of the ministry being always accompanied with qualifications for public usefulness, creates obligation rather than confers right, as wealth creates obligation rather than confers right, to relieve the poor. Now, to defend the lawfulness of inviting a Pedobaptist preacher into the pulpit, it has been deemed sufficient to maintain that the person so invited has a right to talk of Christ to perishing men, and recommend his salvation to their acceptance. The argument appears to me to be valid; but I have chosen to take higher ground, and to maintain that many Pedobaptist ministers give convincing proof that the Holy Spirit has called and qualified them to preach the gospel, and that it is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to fulfil the ministry which God has committed to them.

The Landmark inquires for the authority on which Pedobaptist preachers act. "If Pedobaptist societies are not churches of Christ, whence do their ministers derive their authority to preach? Is there any scriptural authority to preach which does not come through a church of Christ? And if Pedobaptist ministers are not in Christian churches, have they any right to preach? that is to say, have they any authority according to the gospel? They are doubtless authorized by the forms and regulations of their respective societies. But do they act under evangelical authority? It is perfectly evident to the writer,
that they do not."(23) We answer, that, if the Holy Spirit has qualified men to preach the gospel, they preach it with divine authority. The Holy Spirit, who divides to every man severally as he will, does not give the necessary qualifications for the gospel ministry, without designing that they shall be used; and since he only can give these qualifications, we are sure that every man who possesses them, is bound, by the authority of God, to use them to the end for which they are bestowed. We arrive at this conclusion,
aside from all reasoning about ceremonies and churches; and the proof brings irresistible conviction. Here is a landmark of truth, which must not be deserted, however much we may be perplexed with reasonings about outward forms.

The policies are not simply about indexing baptism to eternal security for church membership. They are indexing eternal security to baptism then indexing this to service on the mission field. If this was solely about indexing baptism and eternal security, they would be saying that all church members should be rebaptized, period. They do not. The policy is aimed solely at missionaries. So, if you're going to invoke Dr. Dagg, then what he says about a man's call to service is very germaine here. These candidates today have already received credobaptism and have been active in their recommending churches, where they are already members in good standing, which by definition means those churches have already received their baptisms as valid for upwards of 3 years! What does Dr. Dagg say? He says the churches are free to vary as to whose baptisms they will accept in these difficult cases and that the intercourse of churches should not suffer. He says no church has the right to dictate its baptism policy to another church, and the explantion of the BFM 2000 SBTS faculty denies that the boards have any authority over local churches; ditto for the Convention, so I would ask where the IMB thinks it gets the power or the right to tell me who I need to rebaptize or not rebaptize if I and my church recommend a missionary to them?

Why are other church members exempt and only missionaries named? This makes the guidelines quite arbitrary, and it invites scrutiny as to why baptism in a church affirming eternal security, even if (a) the individual is already testifying to the board that they affirm Article V of the BFM and (b) the recommending church affirms the doctrine and has already accepted this missionary candidate's baptism.

This is extremely important. Dagg explicitly states contrary to the Landmarks, that (a) there is a universal church; (b) he used the word church to refer to local assemblies without regard to denominational distinctives , and (c) un-credobaptized ministers are to be recognized as true ministers of the gospel, though erring. He rejects infant baptism. When he addresses the question of the rebaptism of those baptized by paedobaptists, he says not that there is a uniform practice, but that differences should be tolerated and no one church may dictate to another how to answer difficult situations. He lays out certain guidelines, but stops short of declaring the churches must adhere to them or rebaptize any person or accept each others baptisms or anybody elses for that matter. In addition, both the administrator and the candidate must be willing. If the candidate is satisfied with his baptism and his church is satisfied with it, then it would seem that the best another church could do is either reject the person and tell him to go elsewhere, but they cannot ever tell the sending church, "rebaptize him." Moreover, the only paedobaptist immersions he recommends rejecting are those in which the baptismal candidate himself (not the receiving church if you read him carefully) realizes the minister was doing so "reluctantly" or without regard to the cross,burial,and resurrection. History has shown this was not always the case, and it is not always the case today. He also says that sprinkling must be repeated with an immersion but is not rightly called baptism.

Most importantly, and most relevant here is the fact that he was not a hyper-Calvinist, and he very specifically says that a credible profession of faith is what is necessary for a candidate's baptism to be valid. How can any right thinking individual use Dr. Dagg to assert that he would approve of the new policy when he was not a hyper-Calvinist? Will you seriously argue that after saying that other ministers are to be considered true ministers and other churches are true churches and all the while not affirming only Calvinists are Christians Dr. Dagg would then say a person should be rebaptized (for service on the mission field) if they came from a Free Will Baptist Church? That would require that a person coming from said church not be able to give a credible profession and those in that church not be giving a credible profession and not be a true church, a premise he denies.

Most of all, Dr. Dagg says "Because we differ from other professors in our faith and practice respecting the externals of religiion, we are under a constant temptation to make too much account of these external peculiarities. Against this temptation, we should ever struggle. If we magnify ceremonly unduly, we abandon our principles, and cease to fulfill the mission to which the Head of the church has assigned us." Treatise on Church Order 301-302.

11:46 PM, February 10, 2006  
Blogger GeneMBridges said...

It is also interesting that when Pentecostals came along in the early 1900's, that most Southern Baptists rejected their immersions as well. What was the main difference between the Baptists and Pentecostals - eternal security.

The word "oversimplification" doesn't begin to summarize the problem with this statement.

There were MULTIPLE reasons behind the reticence to accept their baptisms.

At that time, Pentecostals/Holiness groups were highly varigated, as they are today. Even today, you will find that Baptists are sometimes reticent to accept folks from Holiness churches vs. they are willing to accept Assemblies of God much more readily?

In those years, their churches were disorderly. Many still are, if you ask me. Baptists also had doubts they adhered to Sola Fide, because, remember, they were holiness churches and often viewed as downright Pelagian. Moreover, they, spoke in strange languages and did not differentiate well between revelation and illumination. This called their beliefs on Scripture into question. Moreover, they were known to flirt with Socinianism/Unitarianism as many of the early Arminians in Europe did as well as one strand of Free Will Baptists later. That group became the Oneness Pentecostals...so, eternal security was NOT the primary issue separating the two. There were many, and that is why their folks were often not received.

12:34 AM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Ben Stratton said...

Bro. Bridges,

It seems to me you still refuse to admit Dagg rejected Pedobaptist immersions. You latch on to the words "some" and "in general". Rememberhe is writing in the middle 1800's, not the 21st century. Do not take these words to mean Dagg would receivce pedobaptist immersions. You would be hard pressed to find a Presbyterian in Dagg's time period that put pouring and immersion on the same level. And the Presbyterians of that age didn't believe Romans 6 referred to water baptism. That is what he means by it being a symbol of a burial. The FACT is Dagg's personal opinion was pedobaptist immersions should be rejected. I am willing to admit he would accept Free Will Baptist immersions. Are you will to admit he would reject pedobaptist immersions?

6:16 AM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous samson said...

Gene Bridges,

Congrats on the longest post on this blog. Next time please paraphrase-- because what you wrote is simply too much to read and to comment on. I do appreciate your zeal and your contribution to this blog. Maybe you can break you post down into various posts so readers can comment on sections.

7:26 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Theo said...

Gene, you said,

"Can the IMB reject the baptism of a local church that is recommending a baptized candidate for missions if the church has already declared their baptism valid? Can it dictate rebaptism to a local church, if the Board is not a local church? I think not."

The IMB cannot tell a local church to do anything. A local SBC church can errantly accept a Church of Christ immersion. The IMB cannot and should not stop a local church from making such a mistake. It can, however, tell candidates who have received only Church of Christ immersions that it will not accept them as IMB missionaries unless they receive biblical immersions.

In regard to Dagg, you and others brought him into the discussion before I did. I was just reacting to your citation of Dagg by bringing up the fact that (1) he believes that only officers can administer baptism and (2) he believes that the administrator and candidate should be agreed "in their views respecting the nature and design of the ordinance." I obviously disagree with Dagg about the invisible, universal church. Best wishes to you. Theo out.

7:30 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger R. L. Vaughn said...

Gene, you mention the FBC Nashville split and also the Hayden/Carroll controversy in Texas. For an interesting history and help in understanding the background of what is considered one of the major Landmark splits, Joe Early's A Texas Baptist Power Struggle is a great read. He traces much of the animosity back to our own version of the Nashville thing -- the split of the FBC in Dallas. This split was fueled by the clash in personalities of R. C. Buckner (Buckner's orphanage) and editor J. B. Link. Buckner pulled out and formed another church briefly considered the true FBC, then Live Oak BC. Hayden later would be the pastor peacemaker who brought these two churchesfaction back together.

Anyway, Early's book adds to a much better understanding of the 1900 Texas split, which later polemics on both sides have incorrectly (and probably "on purpose") overstated as being over Landmarkism -- as if it were a Landmark/anti-Landmark division. Facts are that leaders on both sides, both before and after the division, were Landmarkers.

9:31 AM, February 11, 2006  
Blogger Theo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:53 AM, February 12, 2006  
Blogger Theo said...

I found an interesting entry on a web site concerning the historical importance of the administrator of baptism:
_________________________________
[Editor's note: The following quotes from Spencer's History are given in chronological order. ]

VALID AND INVALID BAPTISM IN KENTUCKY
Spencer's A History Of Kentucky Baptists
Vol. II, 1886

1800 TATES CREEK ASSOC. There was a query: "Is an immersion by a Pedobaptist scriptural?" Answer: "No" [p. 19].

1801 SALEM ASSOC. The question as to whether it is consistent with good order for a minister to hear experiences and baptize within the bounds of a church, without its consent, was posponed, and subsequently answered in the negative [p. 50].

1802 The question of what constitutes valid Baptism was brought before the ELKHORN ASSOC. Query from South Elkhorn: "What constitutes valid baptism?" Answer: "The administrator ought to have been baptized himself by immersion, legally called to preach the gospel [and] ordained as the Scriptures dictate; and the candidate for baptism should make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by dipping the whole body in water" [p. 16].

1806 STOCKTONS VALLEY ASSOC. One of the queries resolved was: "If a person has been baptized by a minister In disorder, have we any right to received such person, on such baptism?" The answer: "No." [p. 213].

1812 SALEM ASSOC. The following query from Little Union: "Doubts have arisen in our Baptist society, whether persons baptized (immersed) by a Baptist preacher, not ordained, should be rebaptized before they are received into our churches?" Answer: "We believe each church is the most proper tribunal to determine the qualifications of her members, and that baptism is not rightly administered by anyone except a regularly ordained minister" [p. 53].

1817 STOCKTONS VALLEY ASSOC. Query from Caseys Fork church: "What shall be done with persons suing for fellowship with us, upon the baptism of other denominations, and not complying with the order of the Baptists?" Answer: "We advise that such persons should be baptized in an orderly manner, agreeable to the order of the Baptist church" [pp. 214-5].

1818 LITTLE RIVER ASSOC. Query from the Salem church: "What shall be done in the reception of a member, dismissed from a church not in our faith and order, but he having faith in his baptism?" Answer: "We advise the church to receive him on a profession of his faith in Christ, and baptize him agreeably to our order" [p. 207].

1822 NORTH BEND ASSOC. Query from Licking church: "Whether that is gospel baptism which is not administered by an ordained Baptist minister, to a believer, by immersion?" Answer: "We believe that baptism, only, a gospel one, which is received by immersion, on profession of faith, and administered by one who has been baptized, himself, believing that to be the only scriptural mode, and duly authorized to administer that ordinance." [pp. 144-5].

1836 LITTLE RIVER ASSOC. Query from the West Union church: "Shall we receive a member in full membership, who has been immersed by a Pedobaptist?" Answer: "We think not" [p. 272].

1871 RUSSELLS CREEK ASSOC. At its session numbering 32 churches, there was an expression on "alien baptism."
Resolved: "That the Association does not consider any person baptized, unless he has been immersed in water, in the name of the Trinity, by the authority of a regularly organized Baptist church" [p. 203].

1874 A council of five associations was called in 1873, which met at Mount Zion church, Overton County, TN on April 10, 1874 to discuss some of the subjects that had of late agitated the churches. Messengers from STOCKTONS VALLEY, SOUTH CONCORD AND HAIWASSEE ASSOC. responded. The subjects discussed were alien immersion, the spread of the gospel, the support of the ministry, and a uniform system of correspondence. The conclusions of the council, together with the arguments by which they were supported, were embodied in the report of a committee, which is a lengthy paper of very decided ability. It was decided that baptism is valid only when the subject is a believer, the administrator, one authorized by a Scriptural church, the element water, the formula, that given in the Commission, and the action immersion. [p. 218].
_________________________________

http://www.geocities.com/baptist_documents
/baptism.valid.invalid.html

2:49 PM, February 12, 2006  
Anonymous Ben Stratton said...

Great post Theo. Though some may think this strict baptism policy was only true of Kentucky, I contend that if they do the research they will find that Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, etc. follow this pattern as well. J.H. Grime's book "History of Alien Immersion and Valid Baptism" goes a long way toward proving it.

5:56 AM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

OK, I'm pretty much a newbie on issues Baptistic. I know that sounds odd if you consider that I was raised SB, that I attended an SBC seminary, snd that at least one of my seminar papers for the Ph.D. level seminar, Baptist Theology, was an exploration of whether or not John Bunyan should be classified as a Baptist (based on his view of the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper).

The answer was "Maybe," if you're wondering.


Anyway, I concentrated on philosophical theology in my graduate studies--that's the way my mind works. Ergo, I find much to disagree with philosophically in the IMB's new policies, and, even more so, with the way in which it has recently been defended by Dr. York and others. There are simply too many informal logical fallacies and non sequiturs for the argument to hold much water. I do tend to think that the historical case against the IMB policies is, if not hermetically-sealed, then at least, shall we say, definitive. That is, I agree with McCoy, Burleson, and our esteemed moderator, Jason. (Not that I esteem him personally, mind you; I've been his roommate. He farts and gets annoyed pretty easily. And he kept the thermostat at 101 degrees during New Orleans's summer months. Punk!)

But, on the point to which I refer below, I'm pretty much in the dark. Please help.

My question to the posters here is simple: What can Baptists who disagree with the IMB's policy actually do about it? What is the nature of the solution in terms of the convention? What on earth can I do Greensboro (or wherever the convention is being held this year) to mitigate/reverse these changes?

And will Dr. York (my pastor) send me as a messenger when he knows that I disagree with his viewss? (OK, this last question is something I'll just have to find out for myself.)

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

CKS

12:52 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Nate Goodwin said...

CKS,
One way is that you can make a motion at the mike even if it is rulled out of order. If you make the motion you will at least be heard. This is the reason that each year there are many motions that are made that are rulled out of order. The people who make them usually know that they will be rulled out of order, but they desire for their voice to be heard.

2:25 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger cks said...

NateG--

OK. That much I can do. But is there nothing else that a conscientious objector, if I can borrow a well-worn phrase, can do--besides making his voice heard on a microphone on the floor only to be ruled "out of order?"

That seems like a rather unproductive act...!?

Is there something I can do to change the SBC's course here?

Anyway, I appreciate your input.

CKS

3:19 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Nate Goodwin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:22 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Nate Goodwin said...

Oh, I agree that it seems like a rather unproductive act. I personally find most people who do that as rather annoying as well. However, I have not been informed of anything that we can do other than that.

If you have any connections I would start contacting SBC leadership to see what can be done. Start talking to everyone you can. The issues need to be made known in the churches before the convention ever comes around. If a great many messengers at the convention come ready to address this issue and are unwilling to let it be glossed over, I don't see how the leadership can keep this issue from the floor. Grass Roots. If people in thte convention are really concerned about the young leadership of the convention, get a lot of young leaders involved.

4:26 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Tim Sweatman said...

Well, it looks like both viewpoints can find support in Baptist history. History is certainly useful as a secondary support, but our primary support should be Scripture. What I have yet to see is any supporter of the IMB policy give clear biblical support for the policy.

Oh, Jason, you have been tagged.

1:43 AM, February 15, 2006  

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A Treatise on Church Order by John L. Dagg


Christian Doctrine by W. T. Conner


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The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Revised Edition) by Wayne Grudem


Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14 by D. A. Carson

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Happy Birthday to Me
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A great prank
On the road again
And Behind Door Number Two . . .
Tragedy Begets Tragedy
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Taking a Break
IMB Trustees and My Beef
More Thoughts on Contacting Trustees

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