Site hosted by Build your free website today!

By Herb Evans

We have, before us, a booklet by Michael D. O'Neal, entitled "Blunders & Boo-Boos of Baptist Briders," available from him for $2.00 at P.O. Box 3382, Albany, GA 31706. In it, Brother Mike conceitedly appraises (p. 1,3) his Baptist protagonists to be poor Bible students, who know nothing of dispensational truth. A "good Bible student," to him, means that you embrace some of the views of Bullinger, Stam, O'Hair, and the Bereans, which were refuted by interdenominational Harry Ironside, years before O'Neal ever heard of them. O'Neal has the same problems that Hyper-Disps have, ignoring the Gospel of John and "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth." (O'Neal, doesn't seem to use enough Bible, in his booklet, to be the Bible student that he fancies himself to be.)

Mike O'Neal, nevertheless, comes closer than most "invisible churchers" in defining (p. 1) what a "Baptist Brider" is. According to the correct portion of Mike's definition (p. 1), a Baptist Brider believes that only saved members of the local, scriptural Baptist church compose the bride at the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven and that Baptist Briders generally hold that saved people of other denomina-tions will be "guests" at the marriage supper. (Some Baptist Briders go as far as to tell us that only saved Baptists will be raptured.) Mike's description of this main Brider distinctive is a fair and a correct one.

Brother O'Neal further defines (p. 1) the Baptist Brider as someone who believes the Body of Christ is "the local, scriptural, Baptist church." While O'Neal rightly associates Baptist Briders with this local church/body only doctrine, this added definition improperly describes a Brider. "Local Church Only Baptists," who are not Briders, believe modified versions of O'Neal's misapplied definition, i.e., "EACH local, New Testament, Baptist church is a representative body of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Mike O'Neal uses the "play it safe" tactic, i.e., try to destroy your opposition, by building a straw man, which you then proceed to tear down (being unable to establish your own position). Under the guise of taking "Baptist Briders" to task, Mike vicariously scorns the beliefs of many "local church only" Baptists, without any distinction, leaving the impression that they are Baptist Briders. In the future, O'Neal may call us "King James Only, Local Church Only Baptists," if he needs to brand us with a name.

Curiously, O'Neal does not bother to address his description of the main Baptist Brider distinctive. Instead, Mike reveals what is really bugging him, i.e., local church/body only-ism, water baptism only-ism, closed communion (p. 2), and a local church, in the gospels, prior to the death of Christ. Still, the so-called blunders, with which he deals, have nothing to do with BEING a Baptist Brider any more than being a Trinitarian and believing the virgin birth makes one a Catholic. Baptists have related to many of these socalled blunders (only 4 of the 21 blunders deal directly with any proof-text) before O'Neal was born, but we will not appeal to the history, which Mike O'Neal despises, although he appeals to early history to show the absence of the Baptist name (p. 21,22) and the source of Landmarkism (p. 1,2). We also could appeal to history for the source of invisible church-ism and hyper-dispensationalism. Still, we will honor Mike O'Neal's sensitivity to positive Baptist history.

Brother O'Neal charges (p. 2) that certain KJVO "Baptist Briders" may correct the Bible but do get around certain verses by "performing gymnastics in interpretation." The "gymnastic interpretation," to which O'Neal refers, without benefit of specific details from him, consists merely of scripture, context, dictionary, English grammar, and plain explanation. No doubt, he is upset with Herb Evans' recent "local church" articles in the "Flaming Torch" (Editor Don Edwards was sent O'Neal's booklet, hot off the press). Mike O'Neal might try to critique our articles, which offend him (and be prepared for the ricochet), rather than to give us this one-sided propaganda.

Unfortunately, Mike does not provide any Baptist quotes to support his "blunder" phraseology as he trashes his Baptist irritants and their local church only doctrines. Since the so-called "blunders" are framed in O'Neal's "straw man," worse case wording, our approach must be to redefine, qualify, and comment on each of the blunders to better reflect our Baptist views. We are on record, having "established" our position on these matters (publicly in print).

Writer O'Neal charitably offers the disclaimer (p. 2) that "Baptist Briders" have their varieties, i.e., Bible correctors and KJVO's. We can be equally charitable in that invisible churchers have their varieties, i.e, non and interdenominationalist and Protestant, Baptist Bible correctors and KJVO's. O'Neal charitably says (p. 3) that there are some good men, who love the Lord, among Baptist Briders (and also some dead Baptist churches  - p. 26). We also know of some good men, who love the Lord, among "invisible churchers" (and also some dead "invisible church" churches). So, the "hype" and "smoke" cleared away, let us examine these straw man Boo- Boos. Since we DO share many of the so-called blunders and boo-boos, which Brother O'Neal condemns and associates with Baptist Briders, we will answer his book as a non-Baptist Brider.

1. Jesus was a Baptist

2. John the Baptist was a Baptist

3. A) John the Baptist was a New Testament Christian B) John the Baptist administered N.T. baptism

4. The apostles were Baptists

5. The New Testament Church started during the Lord's earthly ministry

6. A church cannot exist unless it is an assembly

7. All saints can't make up the church because all saints have never been assembled

8. Water baptism puts a believer into Christ

9. Romans 6 is about water baptism

10. The baptism of Gal. 3:27 is water baptism

11. The "one baptism" of Eph. 4 is water baptism

12. The "one body" of Eph. 4 is the local Baptist  church

13. The only church is the local, New Testament, scriptural, Baptist church

14. The churches in the New Testament were Baptist churches

15. The Baptist church can be traced back to Christ

16. The early churches were Baptist churches

17. Any church that doesn't have the name "Baptist" on it is not a Baptist church.

18. People who believe in a "universal" church do not honor the local church

19. People who believe in a universal church are ecumenists

20. Only "sound" Baptist churches are true Baptist churches

21. It is important for every Christian to be a member of the same organization that Christ founded during His earthly ministry

Blunder 1 - Jesus was a Baptist (p. 5)

How shall we escape, if we neglect SO GREAT SALVATION; which at the first BEGAN to be spoken by the Lord, and WAS CONFIRMED UNTO US by them that HEARD HIM;    -- Heb. 2:3

Looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith . . .  -- Heb. 12:2

For the law was given by Moses, but GRACE and truth CAME BY Jesus Christ.    -- John 1:17

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.    -- John 6:68

After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea . . . and BAPTIZED . . . -- John 3:22

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus MADE and BAPTIZED more DISCIPLES than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) -- John 4:1,2

Jesus spoke about the great salvation, in the gospels, later to be confirmed by those that heard Him. He had the words of eternal life. Grace came by Jesus Christ and not by the Holy Spirit or by Paul. One must either accept Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith OR ELSE the Holy Spirit and Paul the Apostle. Jesus mission was to call sinners to repentance (Matt 9:13), to visit, redeem, and be a horn of salvation (Luke 1:68,69), to forgive sins (Mark 2:5), to be a Saviour (Luke 2:11), to prepare salvation before the face of ALL people and to be a light to the Gentiles (Luke 2:30-32), to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), to save people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), to be the Lamb of God (John 1:29) that the world might be saved (John 3:17), to be the Saviour of Israel and of the world (John 4:42; Acts 13:23). Jesus preached the new birth (John 3:7), eternal life by believing on Him (John 3:16,17), how to be non-condemned (John 3:17), conversion (Matt. 18:3), instant salvation (Luke 19:9), being saved by believing the word sown in the heart (Luke 8:12), confessing Christ before men (Matt. 10:32), deliver-ance, liberty, freedom (Luke 4:18; John 8:36). Jesus preached the kingdom of God, before and after His death (Acts 1:3), as did John, the apostles, and Paul (John 33,5; Luke 9:1,2; 16:16; Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23,31). Jesus preached the local church, its rules, and its authority (Matt. 16:19; 18:17,18). He preached His suffering, death, resurrection, second coming, and His millennial Kingdom (Luke 9:22,44; Mark 8:31; 9:12; 10:34; Matt. 24:27; 19:28). Jesus baptized to pre-picture His impending death, burial, and resurrection (Luke 12:50). After Jesus was baptized, He baptized. He was a New Testament Baptizer (John 3:11,22; Matt. 1:21)!!!

Blunder 2 - John  was a Baptist (p. 6)

And I knew him not: but that HE SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST to Israel, therefore am I come BAPTIZING with water.    -- John 1:31

Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a SAVIOUR, Jesus: WHEN JOHN had first preached before his coming the BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and WHOSOEVER AMONG YOU FEARETH GOD, to you is the WORD of THIS SALVATION sent. -- Acts 13:23-26

As it is written in the book . . . Prepare ye the way of the Lord . . . And ALL FLESH shall see the SALVATION of God. -- Luke 3:4-6

The same came for a WITNESS, to bear witness of the Light, that ALL MEN through him might believe. -- John 1:7

He that believeth ON THE SON HATH EVERLASTING LIFE . . . -- John 3:36

O'Neal (appealing to history again - p. 1,2,21,22) correctly tells us that the post N.T. Christians were not called Baptists through the early centuries but were called by other names. Yet, their historical Catholic enemies recognized that these early Christians were Baptists by their apologetics and polemics.

The name "Baptist" is not the issue, for some Baptists are falsely so-called; the doctrine is the issue, despite O'Neal's objections (p. 5). Still, "Inconsistent O'Neal" confesses (p. 4) that he is a "Baptist" by his identification with three Baptist doctrines (while telling us that Baptist doctrine cannot be known with certainty from documents outside the Bible - p. 4), i.e., salvation by grace, eternal security, baptism by immersion as a testimony of one's conversion. Still, to follow O'Neal's line of reasoning that Baptists did not exist, since they were not called "Baptists" (although they believed O'Neal's three required Baptist distinctives), it follows that there never were any "Christians" until they were named by their enemies (p. 9 - Acts 11:26).

Well, Baptists can identify with John's doctrine of baptism by immersion; Protestants and Catholics cannot. Baptists can identify with Jesus, regarding salvation and eternal security (John 10:28); Charismatics cannot. Baptists can identify with Jesus, John, Paul, and the apostles, the same way that O'Neal identifies with Baptists - by their doctrines. If these three distinctive doctrines make O'Neal a Baptist, why can't the early Christians be Baptists? For Mike claims (p. 5-10) that the early New Testament Christians were not Baptists (even when they believed O'Neal's three doctrinal distinctives, which automatically make O'Neal a Baptist). Yet, he considers the Baptist name unscriptural and their doc-trines undiscernible. But to keep folks from thinking he is a Charismatic, Mike thinks it better (p. 4) to go the compromising, unscriptural route (Baptist Name) instead of the scriptural route (Church of God Name).

Brother Mike tries to make hay out of John never being called "a" Baptist and that he was the "only" one called "the" Baptist (p. 5,6). (John was also called "John Baptist" - Matt. 14:8; Luke 7:20). Of course, no one believes anyone else was ever called either "a" or "the" Baptist in the Bible (his straw man objection). John was NOT the only Baptizer!

John's God given name was merely John (Luke 1:13,60). He was designated "Baptist" by his enemies 4 times, his friends 5 times, Christ 4 times, and the Holy Spirit one time (before John ever baptized). Believers were called "Christians" by the world once, by an unsaved man once, and by Peter once (in regard to the enemy designation, under which they were persecuted). Still, O'Neal, disturbed at the designation "Baptist," is not disturbed at the word "Christian." O'Neal believes that if something is not mentioned, it does not exist, or the unmentionable's doctrine does not exist (p. 5). Yet, he is willing to accept a name that the world gave, i.e., "Christians." He is also willing to accept the name "disciples," which exists on both sides of the cross (without any distinction). Strange thought process!

Mike is correct that John the Baptist, indeed, was never baptized (p. 7 - Matt. 3:14). Also, he was, indeed, a "friend" of the bridegroom (Christ - John 3:29). John the Baptist, for all practical purposes, linked the O.T. dispensation with the N.T. dispensation, via the prophesy of O.T. Elijah (Matt.17:12,13), which Jesus applied to John. Still, we fail to understand how baptism could ever "begin" withoutan un-baptized person. Perhaps, O'Neal should explain that one.

John preached the baptism of repentance, instructing folks to repent and believe on Christ (Acts 19:4). He preached everlasting life by believing on the Son (John 3:27-36). He preached Christ as the Son of God, Lamb of God, and Messias (John 1:29-36,41). John finished his course and his word of salvation went beyond the four gospels (Acts 13:23-26). That word began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached (Acts 10:36,37). John the Baptist was a New Testament Baptizer.

John the Baptist came in the way of righteousness (Matt. 21:32), and his mission was to prepare the way before the redeemer king of salvation to give know- ledge of salvation by the remission of sins (Luke 1:68- 77). His mission was to prepare the way of Christ that ALL flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:4-6). The Spirit filled John's mission was to turn people's hearts, the disobedient to the just, to make a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:15-17). John the Baptist came for a witness to bear witness of the Light, that ALL men through him might believe (John 1:7). His mission was to bare witness of Christ (John 3:26) and to introduce and manifest Christ to Israel through his baptism (John 1:31). Many believed and followed Jesus as a result of John's preaching (John 1:37; 10:41,42). Harlots were saved under John's preaching (Matt. 21:31,32) and entered the kingdom of God. John and Jesus "made disciples" (John 4:1), which means the disciples espoused something and believed someone. John and Jesus "baptized" these disciples to identify them with something and someone.

Brother O'Neal tells us that to say that John  was "a" Baptist is a divisive statement. To prove it, he quotes 1 Corinthians 3:3,4 as if it addressed all Christians together or all denominations of Christians (a classic Ecumenical Lite spin). Such Baptists are branded carnal and divisive by O'Neal. Yet, the O'Neal proof-text is really addressing members of a particular Corinthian local church, i.e., "AMONG YOU." (Of course, O'Neal's "divisive booklet" falls under an umbrella of "invisible" immunity.)

Jesus was a N.T. baptizer. The apostles were N.T. baptizers, and the early N.T. Christians were N.T. baptizers, the Baptists that followed were N.T. Baptizers, and Baptists, today, are N.T. Baptizers. No one was a N.T. Baptizer, unless he had New Testament baptism, except the unique forerunner Baptizer, John "the" Baptist (Matt. 21:25 - the heaven sent Baptizer). Catholics and Protestants are not N.T. Baptizers (wrong mode and wrong candidates); Charismatics, Campbellites, and J.W.s are not N.T. Baptizers (wrong motive - temporary or no life). Perhaps, Bro. O'Neal likes the name "Baptizer" better that he does the word "Baptist?"

That fairly narrows the field (churches that believe all three distinctives), except for Bible churches. Yes, some Bible churches do believe all three of these doctrines, but they receive almost anybody's baptism (placing their stamp of approval on those baptism and their associated doctrines). What difference is there between a Baptist church and O'Neal's church or "three Baptist doctrine" Bible churches? After reading Mike O'Neal, we would say -PLENTY!

Blunder 3.A. John the Baptist was a New Testament Christian (p. 7,8)

Blunder 3.B. John the Baptist administered New Testament baptism (p. 7,8)

The BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the SON OF GOD . . . JOHN did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the REMISSION OF SINS. -- Mark 1:1-4

And FROM THE DAYS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST UNTIL NOW the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence . . .    -- Matt. 11:12

. . . JOHN had first preached before his coming the BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and WHOSOEVER AMONG YOU FEARETH GOD, to you is the WORD of THIS SALVATION sent. -- Acts 13:23-26

The law and the prophets were UNTIL JOHN: SINCE THAT TIME the kingdom of God is preached . . .  -- Luke 16:16

BEGINNING FROM the baptism of John, UNTO that same day that HE WAS TAKEN UP from us, must one be ORDAINED to be a WITNESS with us of his resurrection.    -- Acts 1:22

THAT WORD, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and BEGAN from Galilee, AFTER THE BAPTISM which JOHN PREACHED;    -- Acts 10:37

But the hour cometh, and NOW IS, when the TRUE WORSHIPPERS shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth . . .  -- John 4:23

For the law was given by Moses, but GRACE and truth CAME BY Jesus Christ.    -- John 1:17

Jesus saith . . . the publicans and the harlots GO INTO the kingdom of God before you . . . John came unto you in the way of righteousness . . . the publicans and the harlots believed him . . . -- Matt. 21:31,32

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees . . . for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them THAT ARE ENTERING to go in.  -- Matt. 23:13

The BEGINNING of the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is linked with John the Baptist and his baptism (Mark 1:1-4). While we would not go as far as to call John the Baptist a "New Testament Christian," we would insist that he was the forerunner/introducer of the New Testament Christ and Christianity and that John administered New Testament baptism to these early believers in the Gospels. If John did not administer New Testament baptism to these believers, he would have had to administer an Old Testament Baptism or a Jewish baptism (which neither O'Neal nor anyone else can find in the Bible, unless they try to use the baptism unto Moses in the cloud and the sea). This would mean that all the apostles never had any Christian baptism, for there is not any record that they ever were REBAPTIZED.

The Bible's dispensational divisions differ greatly from that of O'Neal's booklet, for the Bible places the change or division of the dispensations with John the Baptist. Jesus tells us that the Gospels were the time for true worshippers in that the hour is coming and NOW IS for true worshippers (John 4:23). Yet, O'Neal would like to wait until after the cross for true worshippers. Even in the choosing of an ordained witness to fill the vacancy of the pre-pentecost, apostolic "office" (Acts 1:21,22) left by Judas, (apostle/treasurer/officer of O'Neal's non-organization - John 13:29). Other offices of O'Neal's non-organi- zation (P. 26) are mentioned after Pentecost, which assembles or gathers (Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1,10; Acts 20:17,28). Of course, O'Neal must ignore or deny real "dispensational" proof-texts, for he has none of his own, only inferences and denials. Oh yes, O'Neal possesses Heb. 9:16,17 or does he? (More on this later.)

O'Neal insists that no one in John's lifetime called his baptism "Christian baptism" or called anyone a "Christian" (p. 8,9). Well, who called anyone a "Christian" AFTER John's death (Peter merely mentions the enemy's designation)? Did anyone, in the whole Bible, call anybody's baptism, anywhere, "Christian baptism?" Are any water baptisms in the Book of Acts and Epistles "Christian" baptisms? How can they be? Remember, O'Neal's frame of mind is such that if a name is not assigned to something, specifically, in a given dispensation, it cannot exist.

Water baptism does not have any kind of dispensational or denominating adjectives attached to it anywhere in the Bible (except the term baptism of repentance for the remission of sins).

The Kingdom of heaven suffered violence SINCE the days of John the Baptist. The Law and the prophets were UNTIL John, then harlots responded to the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God (Matt. 18:4; Luke 7:28) and entered it (Matt. 21:31,32; 23:13). Of course, Since you must be born again to see or enter the kingdom of God, they must have entered by the new birth (John 3:3-5). But then Isaac was born after the Spirit (capital "S"), while Esau was born after the flesh, and, oh yes, even so it is NOW (Gal. 4:29).

The word proclaimed by John and his baptism BEGAN in Galilee. This SAME WORD of the Christ was preached (Acts 13:25,26) to whosoever feared God AFTER Jesus died. Each Testament has its own ordinances (Heb. 9:1). The two New Testament ordinances originated in the Gospels and continued UNCHANGED throughout the Book of Acts and the epistles, i.e., baptism and the Lord's supper (John 4:1 and Mark 14:22-25).

Blunder 4 - The apostles were Baptists (p. 9)

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note AMONG THE APOSTLES, who also were IN CHRIST BEFORE ME.    -- Rom. 16:7

And God hath SET some IN THE CHURCH, FIRST APOSTLES, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, AFTER THAT MIRACLES, then gifts of healings . . . tongues. -- 1 Cor. 12:28

And are built upon the FOUNDATION (of what?) of the APOSTLES and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the CHIEF CORNER STONE (of what?);--Eph. 2:20

. . . rejoice, because YOUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN.   -- Luke 10:20

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus MADE and BAPTIZED more DISCIPLES than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) - John 4:1,2

It goes without saying that the apostles were discipled by John and Jesus. Therefore, that which has been said of John and Jesus, in this regard, can be said of the apostles. The apostles were set first in His local, New Testament church (MY CHURCH) and were "in Christ." They composed the church's foundation WITH Christ, the chief cornerstone Rock. Their names were written in heaven BEFORE Christ died. They had the new birth and eternal life by believing and receiving Christ (John 1:12,13). The ones that were saved in the Gospels were CLEAN through the word, and they could ABIDE IN CHRIST (John 13:11; 15:3- 7). They were baptized! They made disciples, and they baptized disciples. They were New Testament Baptizers.

Blunder 5 - The New Testament church started during the Lord's earthly ministry  (p. 10)

And are built upon the FOUNDATION (of what?) of the APOSTLES and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the CHIEF CORNERSTONE (of what?); -- Eph. 2:20

. . . upon this ROCK I will build my CHURCH . . .  -- Matt. 16:18

. . . I have FINISHED THE WORK which thou gavest me to do. -- John 17:4

Then they that gladly received his word were BAPTIZED: and the same day there were ADDED UNTO THEM (added to what?) about three thousand souls.    -- Acts 2:41

Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note AMONG THE APOSTLES, who also were IN CHRIST BEFORE ME.    -- Rom. 16:7

. . . Behold, I lay in Sion a CHIEF CORNER STONE . . . the stone which the BUILDERS DISALLOWED, the same is made the head of the corner (corner of what?) . . .  -- 1 Pet. 2:6-8

And God hath SET (when?) some IN THE CHURCH, FIRST APOSTLES, secondarily prophets, thirdly TEACHERS, after that miracles, then gifts of healings . . .tongues. -- 1 Cor. 12:28

. . . FEED the CHURCH OF GOD, which he hath PURCHASED with his own BLOOD. -- Acts 20:28

. . . Christ also LOVED THE CHURCH, and GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT . . .    -- Eph. 5:25

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I HAVE COMMANDED YOU:  -- Matt. 28:20

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to WHOLESOME words, even the WORDS of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, KNOWING NOTHING, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh . . . EVIL SURMISING . . . -- 1 Tim. 6:3,4

. . .I (Paul) persecuted the CHURCH OF GOD, and wasted it: . . . And was unknown by face unto the CHURCHES of Judaea which were IN CHRIST: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth THE FAITH which once he destroyed.    -- Gal. 1:13,22,23

The Lord continued to build his local, embryo church in the gospels. The Lord died for and loved HIS local church, which existed during His lifetime in the Gospels (a church that could be fed). He did not love and die for a church that did not yet exist. The Lord Jesus and the apostles, which He set FIRST in the church, composed the foundation of that local church in the Gospels. They were not baptized by the Holy Spirit into the foundation.

The Holy Spirit "inaugurated" Christ's local church (MY CHURCH) at Pentecost, which Paul persecuted before he was saved. This local church multiplied into other churches, which were "in Christ" (Gal. 1:13,22). The pre-pentecost local church "FLOCK" (Matt. 26:31) is no different than the Book of Acts, local church "FLOCK" (Acts 20:28,29) and no different from the epistle's local church "FLOCK" (1 Pet. 5:2), which all had shepherds or pastors.

Our bullfighter skirts this so-called Baptist blunder by reminding us that Moses had a church "of sorts." Mike's conclusion to all this is that the Lord Jesus also had "some kind of church of sorts (p. 10)," calling it nonsense to hold to a New Testament church starting with the Lord's earthly ministry. Mike does not try to disprove this so-called blunder with scripture - only reasoning and denial. Still, O'neal's "sort of church" evangelized and had a preaching, teaching, and baptizing commission to the world (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:47,48). The N.T. ordinances, water baptism and the Lord's Supper are linked with Mike O'Neal's "sort of church" before and after Pentecost (without any distinction).

The pre-pentecost church was also Christ's "house" and was left authority by Jesus (Mark 13:34). It is the same house that is found in 1 Peter 2:5 and Hebrews 3:5,6 and was a house of God, which could be BEHAVED in (1 Tim. 3:15). It is also called a "temple" (1 Cor 3:16; Eph. 2:20-22). Now, if we would follow O'Neal's line of reasoning, we would end up with an invisible flock, invisible house, invisible temple, and an invisible body. That REALLY would be "gymnastic interpretation." Such terms are merely emblematic "imagery" that represents local New Testament churches.

God SET the apostles in the church FIRST in the GOSPELS! This local, embryo church (whose material was supplied by John the Baptist just as David had supplied the material to Solomon for the temple) was built and finished by its Author and Finisher Jesus, and it was inaugurated by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (as the tabernacle and temples were after their completion). The ploy to make the Matthew 16 church future, by zeroing in on the words "will build," is transparent to anyone, who can spot the difference between Matthew's future "shalls" and determined "wills" (determined resolves) of Christ to continue to do what He was already doing.

The Judean churches were persecuted by Paul and were "in Christ and "surely began before Paul, who preached THE FAITH that he once destroyed (Gal. 1:13,22,23; 1 Thess. 2:14). Surely, believers were "in Christ" before Paul (Rom 16:7). This church had a treasurer (Matt. 13:29), a song service (Matt. 26: 30), ordinances (John 4:1; Mark 14:22-25), ordained officers (Acts 1:16,17,20-26), a membership roll (Acts 1:15), an election and a business meeting (Acts 1:21- 26), a gospel involving repentance and remission of sins (Luke 24:47,48), a gospel authenticated by signs and tongues (Mark 16:15-17) that would be preached in the whole world (Matt. 28:13), and a mission to the world to teach what He had command-ed in the gospels (Matt. 28:19,20). If the Gospels would have been the final Books of the N.T., both the disciples and we could operate as a Christian church, using the wholesome words and commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:20; 1 Tim. 6:3,4).

Blunder 6 - A church cannot exist unless it is an assembly. (p. 11)

. . . the first day of the week . . . where the DISCIPLES were ASSEMBLED . . . -- John 20:19

. . . tell it unto the CHURCH: but if he neglect to hear the CHURCH . . . FOR where two or three are GATHERED TOGETHER . . . -- Matt. 18:17-20

And the apostles GATHERED themselves TOGETHER unto Jesus . . . -- Mark 6:30

And they rose . . . and found the eleven GATHERED TOGETHER, and them that were with them . . .-- Luke 24:33

For if there come unto YOUR ASSEMBLY a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel . . . -- James 2:2

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were ASSEMBLED TOGETHER . . . -- Acts 4:31

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are GATHERED TOGETHER . . .    -- 1 Cor. 5:4

And when they were come, and had GATHERED THE CHURCH TOGETHER . . .    -- Acts 14:27

Then pleased it the apostles and elders, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, to send chosen men of their own COMPANY . . .     -- Acts 15:22

It seemed good unto us, being ASSEMBLED WITH ONE ACCORD . . .    -- Acts 15:25

. . . in the upper chamber, where they were GATHERED TOGETHER. -- Acts 20:8

And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to JOIN himself TO THE DISCIPLES: but they were all afraid of him . . .   -- Acts 9:26

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are GATHERED TOGETHER . . .    -- 1 Cor. 5:4

Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the CHURCH will I SING praise unto thee.    -- Heb. 2:12

And when they had SUNG A HYMN, they went out into the mount of Olives.    -- Matt. 26:30

I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the CONGREGATION will I praise thee.    -- Psa. 22:22

It is strange that a "sort of church" non- organization could come together in ONE ACCORD, as a CONGREGATION, as an ASSEMBLY, or as a WHOLE church to do business (for the Lord) both before and after the death of Christ. This church (cross referenced as a congregation), sang a hymn (Matt 26:30), according to the prophesy in Psalm 22:22 with Hebrews 2:12.

One does not need the Greek word "ecclesia" nor need to leave the King James Bible (p. 11) to prove a congregation/church/assembly in the N.T. Gospels. The church gathered, assembled, and congregated. The above passages, as well as the earliest pre-King James, English Bibles, prove the synonymity of these words. If O'Neal is contentious on this point, Hebrews 2:12 with Psalm 22:22 will suffice.

The church was NOT "told" to assemble in Hebrews 10:25, as O'Neal argues (p. 12,13), it was told NOT to "forsake" the assembling. It had to assemble to be able to "forsake" assembling. Matthew 16 and 18 are early N.T. references to a church assembly, which can gather or assemble its members together. There, they might air their grievances before the church together (not to every believer of an invisible church of unassembled believers). Try to gather the "whole" invisible church (Acts 15:22) together!What authority do believers have over other believers except in the local congregation? The church gathered, assembled, and congregated together before and after the cross, proving that it was a church BEFORE and AFTER the cross.

Mike makes a feeble attempt to plug up the many scriptural holes in his invisible church theory, holes that he hasn't been able to find plugs for in any "invisible churcher" book and/or commentary. O'Neal may wiggle around a few scriptures, but others pop up, while he remains in a state of denial.

Blunder 7 - All saints can't make up the church because all saints have never been assembled (p. 12)

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE all things IN CHRIST, both which are in HEAVEN, and which are on EARTH; even IN HIM:    -- Eph. 1:10

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our GATHERING TOGETHER unto him,    -- 2 Th. 2:1

Now when the CONGREGATION was broken up, many of the Jews . . .   -- Acts 13:43

. . . WHOLE ASSEMBLY of the CONGREGATION of Israel shall kill it in the evening.    -- Exo. 12:6

And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the WHOLE CONGREGATION . . .  -- Num. 3:7

. . . GATHER the WHOLE ASSEMBLY of the children of Israel together . . . -- Num. 8:9

Then Moses and Aaron fell . . . before all the ASSEMBLY of the CONGREGATION. . . Num.14:5

. . . and the CONGREGATION was GATHERED TOGETHER as one man . . . Jud. 20:1

. . . thy faithfulness also in the CONGREGATION of the SAINTS. . . God is greatly to be feared in the ASSEMBLY of the SAINTS . . .  -- Psa. 89:5,7

This is he, that was in the CHURCH in the wilderness . . . who received the lively oracles to give unto us:    -- Acts 7:38

O'Neal words this straw man blunder, "All saints can't make up the church because all saints have never been assembled" (in straw man fashion).  An unassembled local church, obviously from the church gathering and assembling, in certain passages, is still a church, whether it is assembled or not. Yet, neither a local church nor an invisible church can exist, if it never has assembled or never assembles. The future glory church, in prospect, shall assemble (locally) in heaven, in the "sweet bye and bye," but we are here in the "nasty now and now."

Mystical Mike calls the universal church the "true" church (p. 13). Does that mean that local churches are not "true" churches? He further says (p. 13) that this "true" universal church of all believers "IS assembled in Christ  . . ." Where is the Greek or English for that boo-boo? What parts of these believers are assembled? Their bodies? Their souls? Their spirits? After challenging everyone for scripture, Mystical Mike does not seem to have any scripture himself. If all believers are already assembled, why does Eph. 1:10 and 2 Thess. 2:1 expect a future gathering of believers in heaven and earth (even in Him)? All saints are unable to assemble as a church, while they are still on this earth.

The idea of a church assembly/congregation comes from the Old Testament synagogue. This is why the N.T. can refer to the O.T. "church in the wilderness." This O.T. congregation could be a congregation without congregating. This O.T. assembly could be an assembly without assembling. The whole O.T. congregation and assembly could be gathered together, just like the N.T. church. Both the O.T. church and the N.T. church gather together, assemble together, and congregate together. Both were still assemblies and congregations and churches, whether together or not. (The same could be said of congress, the senate, the house, and the jury!) Could O'Neal also believe in an O.T. invisible church? Perhaps, O'Neal's straw man wording should be changed.

Blunder 8,10 - Gal. 3:27 is water baptism; Water baptism puts a believer into Christ (p. 13,16)

For ye are ALL the CHILDREN OF GOD by faith in Christ Jesus. For AS MANY OF YOU as have been BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST have PUT ON CHRIST. -- Gal. 3:26, 27

. . . all our fathers were . . . all BAPTIZED UNTO MOSES in the cloud and in the sea; -- 1 Cor. 10:1,2

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I . . . he (Jesus) SHALL BAPTIZE you WITH the Holy Ghost . . .    -- Matt. 3:11

. . . For by ONE SPIRIT are we all BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.    -- 1 Cor. 12:13

. . . God waited . . .  while the ark (type of Christ) was a preparing, wherein . .. eight souls were SAVED by water. The LIKE FIGURE whereunto even BAPTISM (Christ - death, burial, resurrection) doth also now SAVE us (NOT the putting away of the FILTH of the FLESH (by the water), but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ: -- 1 Pet. 3:20,21

. . . arise, and be baptized, and WASH AWAY THY SINS . . .    -- Acts 22:16

Water baptism puts a person in water, and that is all, according to Mike O'Neal (p. 13). This shows Mike's low esteem of water baptism. Does water baptism actually wash away sins, according to Acts 22:16? Of course not! Does water baptism symbolically signify the washing away of one's sins? Amen and amen!  Did the water or the Ark of safety (a type of Christ) save Noah and his family? The ark! Of course! The like figure (baptism) portrays Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, the spiritual application of this like figure ("baptism") saves us.

Is it difficult to understand what is meant, when a person is baptized into the Catholic church? Is he actually being "mystically" or "invisibly" put into a Catholic cathedral or the Vatican? Of course not? Does water baptism actually mystically put a believer into Christ? Of course not! Does water baptism signify a believer's position and identification IN and WITH Christ? Yes, indeed! Was the Israelite's water baptism unto Moses a "mystical" baptism? Most assuredly not! It was an identification. To be baptized into Christ is to "put on" Christ (identification).

Obviously, the spiritual application of Gal. 3:27 is in view and not the figure . "All" the children of God were Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus in Gal. 3:26. Only "as many of you (Gal. 3:27)," are identified "in Christ" by water baptism. Water baptism is an identification.

O'neal says of this passage (p. 16), after pointing out that there is no water in Galatians 3:26,27, "The Brider says, 'Well, it doesn't say Spirit baptism, either.' (Evans' "TORCH" statement). Well, my opinion (O'Neal's) is as good as yours then, isn't it?" You mean to tell us, Mike, that you take a man to task for a blunder, when all you have is an opinion? And you only want to break even? No, your opinion is not as good as ours. It is your side, who brings up the petty argument, i.e., "no water" in the passage ("you can't prove me wrong" proof--text). No, your opinion is not as good as ours (Baptists), because we take the word "baptism" in its usual, normal sense and usage. The burden of proof is on the person, who claims that it is NOT water baptism or that the word "baptism" is not being used in the usual, normal way. You know, proper Bible interpretation instead of "gymnastic interpretation."

Because O'Neal can find several other churches and baptisms in the Bible other than New Testament churches and Baptisms, he thinks that he can pick and choose which generically worded ones are the invisible ones (because the context does not specifically catch him). There are several passages, where water baptism and local N.T. churches are not meant but are contextually shown not to be such (otherwise O'Neal could not use them as examples of non-local churches & non-water baptisms). These several churches and baptisms in the Bible do not automatically demand "invisible" churches and baptisms. The few occurrences of non-water baptism, in certain passages, can always be proven by their context. There is no water mentioned in the water baptisms of Acts 2:38,41; 8:12,13; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5. So, do we have the right to say that these occurrences refer to the invisible Holy Spirit baptism of these believers into Christ? Not even O'Neal would dare try that.

The Holy Spirit never baptized O'Neal into Christ. If he says He did, he is no more believable than any charlatan Charismatic and his wildest claims. Mike never saw, heard, or felt the Holy Spirit baptize Him into Christ. There is not even one record of the Holy Spirit baptizing anyone into Christ. The closest thing to a baptism in or with the Holy Spirit would be a "group" being baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (but not into Christ). This real Holy Spirit baptism was authenticated, being seen, heard, and felt at Pentecost (Acts 2).

The Holy Spirit is not a Baptist! How is that, Brother O'Neal? He is not even a Baptizer. He is never a Baptizer! Jesus is the only divine Baptizer, and the Holy Spirit is the only divine Element in the Bible. O'Neal must have used gymnastic interpretation in 1 Cor. 12:13 to make the Holy Spirit a BAPTIZER. (See my exposition of 1 Cor. 12:12,13). Therefore, O'Neal is stuck with two Spirit baptisms. The one that he is advocating bears no resemblance to the Holy Spirit baptism, which occurred at Pentecost. All O'Neal is able to do is to try to disprove and deny the Baptist opposition by using his pat answers (like "no water"). Yet he is unable to prove or establish his own position.

Blunder 9 - Romans 6 is about water baptism (p. 15)

Know ye not, that SO MANY OF US as were BAPTIZED INTO JESUS CHRIST were baptized INTO HIS DEATH?  Therefore we are BURIED WITH him by baptism INTO DEATH: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been PLANTED together in the LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, we shall be also in the LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION: -- Rom. 6:3-5

There he goes again (p. 15), no water in Romans 6, so it must be Holy Spirit baptism. Do you see the faulty mind set? Now, Brother O'Neal, there is no Spirit in Romans 6:3-5 either. I know, you think that your opinion is as good as ours, and I told you why it was not! Granted, the aspect of being baptized into a local church is not in view here. Yet, it does refer to the "imagery" of water baptism, just as Galatians 3:27, but it must not be taken literally.

O'neal notes in a preemptive confession that the baptism of Romans 6 is called a "planting" (p. 15, 16). Well, a water baptism is a death and a burial or planting. The "likeness" or "figure" of His death, His burial/planting, and His resurrection is water baptism. The likeness of His resurrection is water baptism, i.e., coming up out of the water and walking in new-ness of life (verse four). This is expected of a convert after salvation, and his water baptism symbolizes that. In fact, this is the only place that water baptism's spiritual application is fully explained.

The Romans 6 baptism is a "likeness" or a "figure" or a "symbol" or a "representation" or a symbolic "planting." A likeness is a similitude or representation of the real thing. The real thing is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. What is the real thing that O'Neal's "likeness" represents? How do you get baptized by the Spirit into death? Is being invisibly baptized into Christ the same as being baptized into an invisible death? Is Brother O'Neal now assembled in death the way that he says that he is invisibly assembled in Christ? Hello? Invisible churchers have a problem differentiating between the literal versus Bible imagery. You can't be literally baptized into death nor into Christ.

Blunder 11 - The "one Baptism" of Eph. 4 is water baptism (p. 17)

Endeavoring TO KEEP the UNITY OF THE SPIRIT in the BOND of peace. There is ONE BODY, and ONE SPIRIT, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD and Father of all . . . -- Eph. 4:3-6

. . . TILL  we all come in the UNITY OF THE FAITH. . .  -- Eph. 4:13

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with ONE ACCORD IN ONE PLACE. -- Acts 2:1

If the one baptism of Eph. 4:3-5 is the baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit, then choose it and be honest enough to chuck water baptism (like the Stamites, Bullingerites, Bereans, and other "dry cleaners" do). Still, O'Neal must choose between TWO Spirit baptisms, the Pentecostal baptism that is seen, felt, and heard versus the invisible baptism that is not. But if the one baptism is water baptism chuck both Holy Spirit baptisms, one of which O'Neal tells us that only one verse in the Bible specifies, the KIND of baptism that puts a believer into Christ (p. 14 - 1 Cor. 12:13). But what if he has misinterpreted that one verse? (See our exposition on 1 Cor. 12:13).

Now, O'Neal, complains again about no water in Eph. 4:4. He spots the Holy Spirit in Eph. 4:3-5, and he pulls the switcheroo. The Holy Spirit baptism into christ becomes the "unity of the Spirit" baptism, a term not found in this passage or any other. If the Holy Spirit unites every believer, as Mystical Mike says (P. 17,18), He must be doing an invisibly good job. Such unity can only be accomplished in a local church or a smaller group (but doesn't happen often enough).

O'Neal just waves His magic wand and says, I decree this baptism to be the "unity of the Spirit" baptism and we are supposed to buy the switcheroo. We don't think so! O'Neal says (p. 17,18) that the local, Independent, Baptist church does not unite all believers. Of course not, Baptist churches are not supposed to be ecumenical. Nevertheless, the local church was united in one place at Pentecost and thereafter (Acts 1:14; 2:1; 4:24,31,32; 5:12; 15:25). (But does O'Neal really think that he is striving for the unity of the Spirit in His little divisive booklet?)

The passage says, in verse 3, "endeavoring" to keep the unity in the BOND of peace. We, who are so "bonded," are supposed to try. Such unity can happen in a local church . . . in ONE PLACE, when they are assembled. Still, the impression Mike O'Neal wants to leave is that all believers are united in an assembled, invisible body of Christ by the Spirit's baptism. But why would the invisible church be told to endeavor to "keep" a unity that is already theirs (automatically)? Why should an already united invisi-ble church expect a future unity (Eph. 4:13; 2 Thess. 2:1)? The invisible, universal church unites nothing!

Blunder 12 - The "one body" of Eph. 4 is the local Baptist church (p. 17)

There is ONE BODY, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.    -- Eph. 4:4-6

And he gave some, APOSTLES; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, PASTORS and TEACHERS; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, FOR THE EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST: -- Eph. 4:11,12

For as we have many MEMBERS in ONE BODY, and all members have not the same OFFICE: So we, being many, are ONE BODY "IN CHRIST," and every one members one of another. Having then GIFTS differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether PROPHECY, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;    -- Rom. 12:4-6

Know ye not that YOUR BODIES are the MEMBERS OF CHRIST?    -- 1 Cor. 6:15

That there should be no SCHISM IN THE BODY; but that the members should have the same care one for another.    -- 1 Cor. 12:25

And he is the head of the BODY, the CHURCH: . . . Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the AFFLICTIONS of Christ in my flesh FOR HIS BODY'S SAKE, which is the CHURCH:    -- Col. 1:18,24 (Rom. 12:5-8)

O'Neal tells us (p. 18), and we agree, that there is no such thing as "the" Baptist church (or denomination). Still, this seems to confute the blunder under question. He also tells us (p. 18) that Christ is the Head of the invisible church and also the head of the local church. Yet, Col. 1:18 defines the body as the church (Eph. 1:22,23). So, if you have two different churches, then you have two different bodies. With this kind of terminology (Rom. 12:5), O'Neal's fantasy would require Christ's body to be IN Christ's body (or "one body IN CHRIST"). It is inconceivable that Paul would suffer afflictions for an invisible body (Col. 1:18,24), which according to invisible churchers is safe and sound in heaven. It is even more inconceivable to think that the invisible body now needs sanctification, nourishment, and cleansing. In view of its future glorious presentation (Eph. 5:23-27), it is inconceivable that it has already been presented.

The church is His body by definition, hence the further invisible church complication of having two bodies. The problem that invisible churchers have is trying to hold on to two churches (the local church and the invisible church). It is strange indeed that their invisible body in the sky needs apostles, prophets, pastors, prophecy, exhortation, and teachers. Stranger, indeed, is the fact that such an invisible body needs to be edified by these gifts.

The local body of Christ and not the invisible body is made up of members, who have different offices and gifts. The gift of prophesy occurs in this local body but not in an invisible body of all believers. Other gifts such as ministry, exhortation, giving, ruling, and teaching (Rom. 12:5-8) are also in this local body but not in the invisible body of all believers. These local members make up one local body that is "in Christ." Was Christ baptized into Himself by the Holy Spirit?

To make matters worse, for the invisible church interpretation, "our BODIES" (1 Cor. 6:15) are MEMBERS of Christ's body, as opposed to the invisible body theory, which has our souls and/or our spirits somehow making up the "mystical" body of Christ. We would love to know "why?" the invisible body of all believers is instructed not to have a schism in it. How it is possible for all believers, on earth, not to have a schism (1 Cor 12:25)?

O'Neal claims (p. 17) that he can find several kinds of churches and several kinds of baptisms in the Bible. He thinks that this gives him the liberty to assign the type of church, baptism, and body that he wishes to any given scripture. We are sure that he probably can find several kinds of bodies in the Bible and several kinds of faiths, fathers, gods, spirits, and hopes. Nevertheless, this passage is discussing one "exclusive" Father, faith, Spirit, hope, baptism, and body to the exclusion of all others. The passage in question says that there is "one body" and "one baptism." Now, if we must choose only one "exclu- sive" God, Spirit, hope, faith, Father, body/church, and baptism, to the exclusion of all others, then take your pick! One "body" and one "baptism," Mike O'Neal! But only pick "ONE" of each!

The Bereans saw the problem and chose Spirit baptism and had the guts to do away with water baptism. The Berean way around the local church, in the gospels and the Book of Acts, was to call it a "Jewish" church in order to keep the local church in the epistles.

Blunder 13 - The only church is the local, New Testament, scriptural, Baptist church (p. 19)

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain DISCIPLES, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto JOHN'S BAPTISM. Then said Paul, JOHN verily BAPTIZED with the baptism of repentance, SAYING unto the people, that THEY SHOULD BELIEVE on him which should come after him, that is, ON CHRIST JESUS. WHEN THEY HEARD THIS, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.- Acts 19:1-5

Since we are "local church only," we would say that the only church is a New Testament local church (for starters). Mike O'Neal can't get past this statement, so why go any further and discuss his "straw man?" Certainly, we would not agree to Protestant churches being classified as New Testament churches, when none of them claim the title to begin with; they consider themselves to be "Reformed" churches and still mention the Holy catholic church in their creeds. We would not class "Lose your salvation" churches or non-immersing churches as N.T. churches. Certainly, we could not consider the Catholic church(es) to be New Testament church(es), even though they like claim it. Still, we agree that their ancestry can be traced back to the New Testament . . . through apostasy.

Plenty of early New Testament churches, called by names other than Baptist (usually enemy designated names), could be considered New Testament churches, especially in the light of the Corinthian and Laodicean churches. That COULD still be the case today, but due to the degree of apostasy, it usually is not. Churches, which are not N.T. churches, either mess with the gospel, eternal life, the gospel picture (baptism), or they will accept members from churches, who mess with the gospel, eternal life, and the gospel picture without rebaptizing those "disciples." Rebaptism is a New Testament practice, a Baptist practice and an anabaptist practice. Care for that distinctive, Mike?

Blunder 14 - The Churches in the New Testament Were Baptist Churches (p. 19)

O'Neal wants folks to prove that New Testament churches were called "Baptist" churches after the death of Christ (p. 19). He demands scripture, and by that he means that they show him the words "Baptist church" in the New Testament. He says (p. 20), no church in the Bible believes "everything" that any church today believes. (Everybody is wrong, except O'Neal!) The Corinthian church and the church of Laodicea are similar enough to some Baptist churches to give Mike a run for his money. (There are plenty of them around the country.) Of course, O'Neal leaves himself some room by making up the rules, demanding that "everything" be believed, hence, there are no such things as New Testament churches and New Testament Christians. Only the "originals" are the real thing. Yet, Mike tells us the three things, which make him a Baptist (p. 22). Baptism by immersion, eternal security, and baptism as a testimony of salvation by grace. I expect most of the New Testament Baptist churches, in the Bible, could swing that. If New Testament churches were not Baptist churches, perhaps O'Neal can tell us what they were. Perhaps, Inter or Non-denominational Bible churches? We suspect that is where O'Neal's heart lies.

Blunder 15 - The Baptist Church can be traced back to Christ (p. 20)

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this ROCK I will build MY CHURCH; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -- Matt. 16:18

For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who LEFT HIS HOUSE, and GAVE AUTHORITY to his servants . . . and commanded the PORTER to watch.    -- Mark 13:34

And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But CHRIST as a son over HIS OWN HOUSE; WHOSE HOUSE ARE WE, IF we hold fast the confidence. . . unto the end.- Heb. 3:3-6

O'Neal has some valid points here. He correctly claims that "Landmarkism" makes an attempt to trace a historical Baptist "link chain" succession of churches to the first century. This is not required, not necessary, and is an extra-scriptural endeavor. All one has to do to prove their doctrinal heritage is to pattern themselves and their doctrines after the New Testament. Actually, all professing denominations descend back to Christ and the New Testament. They wouldn't exist if that were not so.

Unfortunately, most of these professing Christian churches' descent and ancestry is through apostasy in faith and/or practice. Nevertheless, to ignore or to repudiate all Baptist history, which is even attested by our enemies, is highly suspicious. Did the gates of hell prevail against Christ's church (Matt. 16:18)? Did Christ leave His house (Mk. 13:34) and give it authority? Has that house and its authority departed and apostatized? (Sounds like Mormon dialogue, doesn't it?) Are there no New Testament churches today? Are only the "originals" true New testament churches?  Did the Holy Spirit porter fail to watch?

If latter day Baptist churches do not have their roots in the New Testament, perhaps O'Neal can tell us whence they really came. Are they from heaven or men?

Blunder 16 -The Early Churches Were Baptist churches (p. 21)

The man, who despises historical evidence, correctly insists that the earliest churches were not called "Baptist" churches (p. 21). Yes, the churches of the New Testament had their irregularities, so did the Baptist churches throughout history, and so it is today. There was apostasy and error in some of the Bible's churches, and there was error and apostasy in some of the early Baptist churches, and there is error and apostasy in some of today's Baptist churches. To say that a church is a Baptist church does not mean that it is a perfect church nor a church without problems nor a church that is totally free from error any more than it can be said of the Corinthian or Laodicean churches. Doctrinally, the N.T. churches were Baptist churches, for Baptist churches are patterned after the New Testament's churches. Still, perhaps O'Neal can tell us what kind of churches the post-pentecost churches were. He doesn't have a problem telling us what he is and why he is what he is (or what he claims to be).

Blunder 17 - Any Church that doesn't have the name "Baptist" on it is not a Baptist Church (p. 22)

. . . the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him  . . . -- Judg. 12:5,6

I know . . . how . . .thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars . . . Rev. 2:2

Who knows if O'Neal's unnamed "straw man" churches are Baptist churches? If a Catholic church does not have the name Catholic on it, is it a Baptist church? If a Methodist church does not have the name Methodist on it, is it a Baptist church? If a Presbyterian church does not have the name Presbyterian church on it, is it a Baptist church? Yet, usually, any church, which "refuses" to put a Baptist name on it, is an inter or non-denominational, Bible church. (You can bet your boots on that, even though they may say that they are "Baptistic.") If any church takes the name "Baptist" OFF its church (you can mark it down), it is not a Baptist church any longer (if it ever was). Believe what you say, and say what you believe; Say what you are, and be what you are (Rev. 2:2,9; 3:9). Say, "Shibboleth," O'Neal! No, not Sibboleth!

Blunder 18 - People Who Believe in a 'Universal' church do not honor the local church (p. 23)

Unto him be glory IN THE CHURCH by Christ Jesus throughout ALL AGES, world without end. Amen. -- Eph. 3:21

O'Neal complains that this straw man blunder is a false accusation. He does not like to be generalized, misrepresented, or characterized (while he disallows his opponents similar complaints, in the context of claims of honesty - p. 3). He thinks nothing, however, of devoting a whole booklet to the generalization, misrepresentation, and characterization of non- Brider Baptists under the guise of dealing with Baptist Briders, which he never does. He dumps all the O'Neal worded blunders, as he calls them, into the Baptist Brider bucket. Is that honest?

Since, we once held the invisible, universal church, which O'Neal holds, we can attest to the fact that he is correct that there are universal church people, who honor the local church. We certainly did in the sense of our Christian responsibilities and duties. We were not "Creek Bank" Christians. Yet, we did not honor the local church completely, because we also embraced a rival and a competitor church, which brings no glory to Jesus Christ in any dispensation, i.e., the invisible, universal, mystical church, which is no where to be found in the scripture.

It is ironic how O'Neal can demand scripture to prove Baptist churches in the Bible or even local New Testament churches in the gospels and not see his double standard in not producing an invisible church or a Holy Spirit Baptizer in the scriptures. Here is a dose of your own medicine O'Neal. Where is the term "universal church" or "invisible church" or "church of all believers" in scripture? We will produce the words "Baptist church," when you produce those three terms. Fair enough? Remember your rule, if it is not mentioned, it does not exist.

Blunder 19 - People Who believe in a universal church are ecumenists (p. 24)

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? -- Amos 3:3

O'Neal goes to great pains to distance himself and deny any alliance with Billy Graham, the promise keepers, movements that deny "great doctrines of the faith," and movements that unite the saved and unsaved in a religious endeavor. So far so good. So far, very commendable. But what about saved Methodists, saved Presbyterians, saved Calvinists, saved Bible churchers, saved Charismatics, saved Baptists, saved Landmarkers, and saved Baptist Briders getting together in a religious endeavor? O'Neal doesn't say much about this. Yet, We suspect Mike would get together with most all of them except Landmarkers and Briders. (Mike has been known to cancel evangelists due to their local church doctrine. For the sake of unity, of course!) We suggest the name for the next crusade -- "Ecumenical Lite!"

Blunder 20 - Only "sound" Baptist churches are true Baptist churches (p. 24)

. . . if there be any other thing that is contrary to SOUND DOCTRINE . . .    -- 1 Tim. 1:10

For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE . . .    -- 2 Tim. 4:3

But speak thou the things which become SOUND DOCTRINE:    -- Titus 2:1

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by SOUND DOCTRINE both to exhort and to convince . . . -- Titus 1:9

. . . rebuke them sharply, that they may be SOUND in the faith . . . -- Titus 1:13

. . . in DOCTRINE showing uncorruptness . . . -- Titus 2:7

Preach the word . . . with all longsuffering and DOCTRINE.    -- 2 Tim. 4:2

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good DOCTRINE . . .  -- 1 Tim. 4:6

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you OVERSEERS, to FEED the CHURCH OF GOD, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves ENTER IN AMONG YOU, not sparing the FLOCK. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.     -- Acts 20:28-31

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the DOCTRINE; CONTINUE in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. - 1 Tim. 4:16

And they CONTINUED stedfastly in the APOSTLES' DOCTRINE and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.    -- Acts 2:42

And I will give unto thee the KEYS (symbol of authority) of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt BIND on earth shall be BOUND in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt LOOSE on earth shall be LOOSED in heaven.    -- Matt. 16:19

And if he shall neglect to hear them, TELL IT UNTO THE CHURCH: but if he neglect to HEAR THE CHURCH, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall BIND on earth shall be BOUND in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall LOOSE on earth shall be LOOSED in heaven.    -- Matt. 18:17,18

O'Neal seems to have a problem with Baptists, who seek or appeal to "sound doctrine" or who try to maintain "sound doctrine." Mike does not seem to believe that there is much sound doctrine in the Bible's churches or in our churches today (p. 24,25). Strange that the Bible expects folks to preach and continue in the apostles' doctrine and to practice sound doctrine. While we would agree with O'Neal (p. 25) that the Corinthian and Laodicean churches (p. 26) could present a problem to many Baptist churches today, we would have to plead a great Baptist distinctive. Each church is responsible for the degree of fellowship it extends to others. It is up to each Independent, local, Baptist church to decide as to whom they accept and whom they reject and the degree of protection that they must secure for themselves. A judgement call, which they must make!

We do not believe a Baptist church can "decree" other churches to be either bogus or true; they have no authority over other churches (unless they are denominational good ol' boys). We do insist, however, local Baptist churches, for their own protection, have the right and the authority to ostracize, reject, refuse, or accept certain churches, baptisms, and/or individuals for any reason they deem fit under the doctrine of "binding" and "loosing." They also may point out their false doctrine, apostasy, and error. They may and should "mark them." Local churches also have the right to convince other churches of these convictions.

Blunder 21 - It is important for every Christian to be a member of the same organization that Christ founded during His earthly ministry.

And they CONTINUED stedfastly in the APOSTLES' DOCTRINE and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.    -- Acts 2:42

For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his BISHOPRIC let another take. Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went IN AND OUT AMONG US, BEGINNING from the BAPTISM of John, UNTO THAT SAME DAY that he was taken up from us, must one be ORDAINED to be a witness with us of his resurrection.  -- Acts 1:20-22

And when they had ORDAINED them ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.    -- Acts 14:23

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the FLOCK, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you OVERSEERS, to FEED the CHURCH OF GOD, which he hath purchased with his own blood.  -- Acts 20:28

And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the ELDERS OF THE CHURCH. - Acts 20:17

This is a true saying, If a man desire the OFFICE of a BISHOP, he desireth a good work. -- 1 Tim. 3:1

And let these also first be proved; then let them use the OFFICE of a DEACON . . .  -- 1 Tim. 3:10

Let us examine the reverse alternative to O'Neal's blunder wording. "It is NOT important for every Christian to be a member of the same organization that Christ founded during His earthly ministry." The implication, here, is obvious. O'Neal skirts the issue by telling us it is an impossibility to be a member of Christ's church, because Christ only founded a non-organization during His earthly ministry (p. 26). O'Neal does not believe that the local church/body is a Christ founded organization (p. 26,27).

Can one read the scriptures honestly and deny that Christ organized His N.T. church as "MY CHURCH?" But then, O'Neal thinks it is not even possible to be a N.T. church after Christ died.  Still, it is odd that a pre-pentecost, non-New Testament, non-organization (p. 26) had a N.T. "officer" and that this non-New Testament, non-organization continued in the apostles' doctrine, miracles, signs, and the N.T. bishopric until they all died.

If the early Christians continued in the apostle's doctrine without a completed Bible, why is it so hard for Baptists to do so with a complete Bible? (Especially, when it throughly furnishes the man of God unto all good works.)  O'Neal rightly observes that a past heritage is not as important as is a present position. But why not both? Spurgeon told us, when confronted with the choice between two evils, choose neither. Conversely, when confronted with the choice between two righteous attributes, choose both. Why pit one of them against the other? O'Neal ends his diatribe by telling us that the New Testament church, when Christ was alive, was not a New Testament church (p. 27). Reader, you be the judge.

The Circumcision Argument (p. 14)

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision MADE WITHOUT HANDS, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: BURIED WITH him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the OPERATION OF GOD, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he QUICKENED together WITH him, having FORGIVEN you all trespasses;  -- Col. 2:10-13

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and CIRCUMCISION is that OF THE HEART, in the SPIRIT, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.    -- Rom. 2:29

And he received the SIGN of circumcision, a SEAL of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised . . .    -- Rom. 4:11

And the LORD thy God will CIRCUMCISE thine HEART, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.    -- Deut. 30:6

CIRCUMCISE yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your HEART . . .    -- Jer. 4:4

Most of O'Neal's booklet is an denial of his Baptist Protagonists' doctrines. He does very little establishing of his own position. (You see, the more you write and expose yourself, the easier it is to get caught.) Still, Brother O'Neal advances the "Testator" argument and the "circumcision" argument, both of which we have saved to address last.

There are no "mystical" circumcisions in the Old or New Testaments. Yet, the spiritual application of circumcision is discussed there. Physical circumcision was a token and a sign and a seal; it was never designed to save anyone. That spiritual circumcision of the heart happens, when a person is quickened or made spiritually alive (O.T. or N.T.) Then one becomes, inwardly, a Jew IN THE SPIRIT!

O'Neal does a little better than the Presbyterians, who are not able to get their women into their covenant argument ("O.T. circumcision has become N.T. baptism or sprinkling"). Mike makes the "operation of God," the "circumcision made without hands," to be the "Holy Spirit baptism made without hands."  Now to do this, according to Mike's thinking, the believer must be risen with him (Christ) through faith in the operation of God that is an invisible, Holy Spirit baptism.

Now, since we have no faith in O'Neal's operation of God, in which the Holy Spirit invisibly baptizes individuals into Christ, we cannot be risen with Him, according to Brother Mike. Now, we do have faith in the operation of God, which puts off the sins of the flesh, which raised Christ from the dead, which has quickened us and forgiven us. O'Neal, unfortunately, won't accept this as the operation of God in view.

The problem, here, is that invisible churchers fail to discern the imagery that is being explained in either Testament. The spiritual application of physical circumcision (a TOKEN (Gen. 17:2) and a SIGN (Jer. 4:4) and a SEAL (Rom 4:11) is explained in Colossians. You cannot separate the physical figure from its spiritual application in either Testament. The putting off of one's sins of the flesh is an "operation of God, made without hands." The operation of God is a spiritual operation and not a "mystical" operation. It's spiritual application is washing away our sins in water baptism (also a token and a sign and a seal) and is also explained in Col. 2:10-13. You cannot separate the symbol from its spiritual application. Note that we are not baptized into Him (Christ) here, we are baptized "WITH" Him. We are also risen "WITH" Christ. The quickening WITH CHRIST is also an operation of God, made without hands. It is a spiritual operation but not a mystical operation.

The Testator Argument (p. 8)

And for this cause he is the MEDIATOR of the NEW Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were UNDER THE "FIRST" TESTAMENT, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water . . . and sprinkled both the book, and all the people . . . -- Heb. 9:15-19

Brother O'Neal refers to Heb. 9:16,17 to prove that the New Testament was not in force until Jesus died. In order to prove the N.T. was "not in force" during the four gospels (p. 8), he emphasizes the phrase "there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator (Christ) liveth."

It really sounds pretty good, until you closely examine the part about the testator's death being for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the FIRST TESTAMENT!!! He was a "Testator" for those under the "FIRST TESTAMENT" (Old Testament). Christ is the living "MEDIATOR" of the New Testament! You don't mediate anything by dying. You testate by dying! The LIVING Christ is still the mediator of the New Testament. O'Neal makes a number one interpretive blunder and dispensational BOO-BOO of his own.