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New readers in all parts of the country are constantly inquiring: By what name do you call yourselves? Are you “Primitive Baptists”? Are you “Missionary Baptists”? Are you “Universalists”? Are you “Adventists”? Are you “Primitive Methodists”? etc., etc. We have several times tried to make clear our position, and now endeavor in a few words again to do so.
We belong to NO earthly organization; hence, if you should name the entire list of sects, we should answer, No, to each and to all. We adhere only to that heavenly organization—”whose names are written in heaven.” (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20.) All the saints now living, or that have lived during this age, belonged to OUR CHURCH ORGANIZATION; such are all ONE church, and there is NO OTHER recognized by the Lord. Hence any earthly organization which in the least interferes with this union of saints is contrary to the teachings of Scripture and opposed to the Lord’s will—”that they may be ONE.” (Jno. 17:11.)
By what name may this Church be called? We answer, By the name of its founder and instituter—Christ. Hence it is the “Church of Christ” or “Church of God,” for God founded it on the Rock Christ Jesus; or “Christians,” as they were known in early times. (Acts. 11:26; 26:28, and 1 Pet. 4:16.) But because Paul and the other disciples were not followers of Calvin’s teachings, therefore they were not called Calvinists; because they were not followers of Luther’s teachings and example, therefore they were not called Lutherans; but because they followed the ONE example and teachings of CHRIST only, therefore they gladly acknowledged it when they were called “Christians.”
What think you, do we not occupy the only ground of union? Suppose that all man-made creeds, and forms, and prayer-books, and liturgies, and names were laid aside, or that all Christians met in the one name of Christ, and in earnest simplicity studied HIS words under the direction of God’s Spirit and the explanations furnished in the Apostle’s writings, would there long be serious differences even of opinion in the Church?
Was not that old saint, John Bunyan, who lay for years a prisoner in jail in Bedford, England, because he preached the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles, in opposition to certain doctrines of the Episcopal Church, right when he said: “Since you would know by what name I would be distinguished from others, I tell you I would be, and hope I am, a Christian; and choose if God should count me worthy, to be called a Christian, a believer, or other such name which is approved by the Holy Ghost. And as for those faction (or sect) titles of Anabaptist, Presbyterian, Independent, or the like, I conclude that they
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came neither from Antioch, nor from Jerusalem, but from Hell and Babylon, for they tend to divisions: you may know them by their fruits.”
But is it asked, Was not Bunyan a Baptist? We answer, yes, in the same manner that we are Baptist. He was a “Christian” and because in God’s Word he was taught immersion, or baptism, and not sprinkling, and because he practiced with other humble saints his, faith, therefore by Episcopalians or the worldly such were, in derision, termed “Baptists,” &c. So some now say that we are Baptists because we believe in the doctrine of baptism. Some incline to call us Calvinists because we believe what we find taught in Scripture, that the Church is elect according to the foreknowledge of God through sanctification of spirit and belief of the truth. (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thes. 2:13.) Some call us Adventists because we find taught in the Scriptures, and therefore believe, that the heavens received Jesus, only until the restitution of all things.” And so, by whatsoever names men may call us, it matters not to us; we acknowledge none other name than “the only name given under heaven and among men”—Jesus Christ. We call ourselves simply CHRISTIANS and we raise no fence to separate from us any who believe in the foundation stone of our building mentioned by Paul: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”; and those for whom this is not broad enough have no right to the name Christian.
— February, 1884 —