Doctrinal Errors

While there are many doctrinal issues that divide the Evangelical from the Campbellite, the greatest point of controversy is their view of baptism.

The Evangelical believes that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Human works such as baptism, church membership, etc., are not necessary for salvation. While obedience to "God's Law" has no role to play in salvation. Baptism, like circumcision, is an outward rite that symbolizes an inner state. While both ceremonies symbolize regeneration, they do not accomplish it.

In opposition to evangelical doctrine, Campbellite theology teaches "baptismal regeneration." It is claimed that water baptism by immersion of adults only unto remission of sins does not merely symbolize regeneration, but it actually accomplishes it. Faith is not enough. Obedience to God's Law must also take place or salvation is not possible. Unless you are baptized in the exact way they dictate (immersion, adults only), for the exact purpose they have in mind (unto remission of sins), and by the right person (a Campbellite preacher), not only is your baptism invalid but you are not yet saved no matter how sincerely you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior!

To add baptism to faith is nothing more than adding works to grace which is impossible according to Romans 11:6.

The attempt to evade this by claiming that baptism is part of faith is no linguistically or grammatically possible. If obedience to God's commands such as baptism is what "faith" is, then why stop with baptism? What about all the other commands of God such as "love your wife?" A works-salvation can never say when enough works have been done!

Reasons Why baptism Is Not Essential

1. If the Campbellite doctrine is true, then the Restorers were not saved men! Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Barton Stone were never baptized "unto the remission of sin." While they repudiated their infant baptism where they were baptized by the Baptists, they never repudiated their Baptist baptism and got rebaptized according to Campbellite baptism.

2. Jesus never baptized. If baptism is essential for salvation, then Jesus never saved anyone.

3. Paul did not view baptism as part of the Gospel (I Corinthians 1:14-17).

4. John's baptism did not save anyone even though it was "unto remission of sins" (Mark 1:4 cf. Acts 19:1-5).

5. Since there is only one God, there is only one way of salvation (Romans 3:28-30). This means that whatever is necessary for salvation today was also necessary during Old Testament times.

6. The Gospel of justification by faith alone apart from obedience to God's commands is taught in both Old Testament and the New Testament (Romans 1:1-2).
Abraham: before the Law (Romans 4:1-5)
David: after the Law (Romans 4:6-8)
Habakkuk: in the Prophets (Romans 1:17)

7. Baptism is the New Testament parallel of circumcision just as the Lord's Supper is the parallel of the Passover (Colossians 2:11-12). Since circumcision was not essential for salvation, then neither is baptism.

8. Abraham was saved BEFORE he was circumcised in order to emphasize that salvation was by faith alone, apart from obedience to God's commands, and that the Gentiles would be saved by faith alone, apart from obedience to any command such as baptism (Romans 4:9-11, 16, 23-5:2).

9. Cornelius was saved and baptized by the Holy Spirit before he was baptized (Acts 10:44-48). This passage clearly refutes baptismal regeneration.

10. Baptismal regeneration:
a. makes salvation depend on availability of water
b. salvation depends on a Campbellite preacher
c. confuses the symbol with the reality
d. makes faith and obedience the same thing

11. The thief on the cross was saved without baptism. The Campbellite argument that he was saved under the O.T. way of salvation is not possible seeing that Christ had already died on the cross and finished the atonement before the thief died. The thief belongs on the N.T. side of the cross and not on the O.T. side.

12. Campbellites claim that the word "unto" in (Acts 2:38 (eis in the Greek)) always means "in order to obtain" and is always "forward looking". In this way they make remission of sins follow the act of baptism in a cause and effect relationship. Baptism causes forgiveness of sins.

The problem with this idea is that Greek scholars don't see this as the meaning of "eis". Liddell and Scott, Thayer, A.T. Robertson, Dana and Manty, Vine, etc., state that "eis" is often used in the sense of "in reference to something already previously existing or accomplished." In this sense, baptism is done AFTER and BECAUSE of remission of sins. Once our sins are forgiven, then you should be baptized.

That the Greek scholars are correct is seen from the way "eis" is used in the New Testament:

a. Matthew. 3:11: "baptism unto (eis) repentance." You get baptized because you have repented. You do not get baptized so you can obtain repentance. The order is "repent and be baptized."

b. Matthew. 12:41: "they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonah." Obviously, the preaching came first and then the people repented in response to that preaching.

c. Matthew. 28:19: "Baptizing them in (eis) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." The Triune God exists before one is baptized.

d. Mark. 1:9: "Baptizing them in (eis) Jordan." Jesus did not come into possession of the Jordan River as He was baptized. The Jordan existed before baptism.

e. I Corintians. 10:2: "baptized unto (eis) Moses." Moses existed before the "baptism" in the Red Sea. The people were not "baptized" in order to obtain Moses. Their "baptism" was in response to his leadership.

Origin Of The Major Cults

I. Campbellism And Mormonism

The evidence is clear that Mormonism arose out of the Campbellite Restoration Movement.

1. The leading figures in early Mormonism were originally preachers in campbellite churches and many of them had personally worked with: Alexander Campbell, Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, Orson Hyde, Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, John Corril, Isaac Morely, John Murdock, etc.

2. Many thousands of Disciples of Christ joined the Mormons in which Alexander Campbell called Mormonism, Satan's counterfeit of the Disciples of Christ.

3. Joseph Smith was taught the Restoration concept and its peculiar doctrines by Sidney Rigdon. When Joseph Smith adopted most of the points of the Restoration Movement, he put himself as the Restorer of the Gospel and the Church in the place of Alexander Campbell:

a. The Church and the "true" Gospel was lost in the first century.

b. All subsequent churches are apostate.

c. Joseph Smith restored the Church and Gospel.

d. A church should use Bible names. The Mormons first called themselves the "Church of Christ". Most Mormon denominations still use such names.

e. You must be baptized "unto remission of sins" by a Mormon priest to be saved.

f. Smith challenged Alexander Campbell to a public debate on the issue of who was the true Restorer.

1. Mormon Sources:
History of the Church, (by Joseph Smith) vol. I:120-125, 188; vol. II:268; 269n, 270. Journal Of Discourses, vol. II:17, 18; vol. XI:3, Joseph Smith: An American Prophet, (by John Evans) pp. 211, 214-216.
2. Anti-Mormon Scholars: Shadow Or Reality, (by the Tanners) pages 66-68. Origin of Campbellism, (by J. Milburn)
3. Campbellite Sources: Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, volume II:344-347

II. Campbellism And Christadelphianism

Dr. John Thomas, a prominent "Disciple of Christ" and personal friend of Alexander Campbell decided that if we should throw out the creeds and use only Bible names, then why should we believe in the Trinity? He went on to deny the deity of Christ, the personhood of the Spirit, the bodily resurrection of Christ, Christ's physical return to this world, and the immortality of the soul.

He was able to persuade many other "Disciples" to join him in establishing the "Christadelphians" or "Brethren in Christ". His Movement was composed of Campbellite and Millerite churches.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, (by McClintock & Strong) vol XI:937-938

III. Campbellism and the Jehovah's Witnesses

Benjamin Wilson was a Disciple of Christ who followed Dr. Thomas into Christadelpianism. Although he never studied Greek, he published a Greek-English interlinear: The Emphatic Diaglott.

It was Wilson who introduced Charles Taze Russel to those very doctrines that have become the central theology of the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Watchtower Society even published and used Wilson's interlinear for many years. Campbellism through Christ- adelphianism is the origin of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, McClintock & Strong, vol. XI:937-938; vol. XII:868-869. Apostles of Denial, Ed Gruss, 14-16, 193-196


As long as the Campbellites and the "Church of Christ" teach baptism is essential for salvation, they will be viewed as a cult by evangelical Christians. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from obedience to any of God's commands. Works are the evidence of salvation instead of the basis of it.