“REPENT, AND GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN”
J. D. Tant (1861-1941) was a preacher, debater, and writer who devoted his life to the proclamation of the gospel of Christ as revealed in the New Testament and to the work of maintaining the purity of New Testament Christianity and the church of which one reads in the New Testament. While most of his work was in the south and southwest, he nevertheless evangelized throughout the United States. During the course of his life’s work he conducted over 200 debates with preachers of various religious persuasions.
Ben M. Bogard (1868-1951) was a Baptist preacher, debater, and writer who also conducted well over 200 debates throughout his career. Among those from churches of Christ whom Bogard met in debate were Joe S. Warlick, N. B. Hardeman, J. D. Tant, as well as a number of others. Topics frequently debated were the work of the Holy Spirit in the conviction and conversion of sinners, the necessity of baptism in order to be saved from sin, the establishment of the church, and the possibility of apostasy (“once saved, always saved”).
According to the biography J. D. Tant, Texas Preacher by his son, Fanning Yater Tant, J. D. Tant and Ben M. Bogard engaged in eight debates with each other during the course of their careers. Their last one was near Greenwood, Arkansas, in the fall of 1937. Among the propositions discussed was one that had to do with whether or not baptism of a penitent believer is for (in order to) the remission of sins and therefore essential to salvation. Tant affirmed the essentiality of baptism for the remission of sins; Bogard denied it.
Early in the debate Bogard took up the entirety of one of his thirty minute speeches trying to show that when the apostle Peter said, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21), all that Peter intended to convey was the notion that baptism is just a “picture” of salvation from sin. Arguing that Noah and his family were saved from the flood by faith only and then pictured their salvation in the waters of the flood, Bogard argued that the sinner is saved by faith only and then pictures his salvation by being baptized.
When Tant arose for his next speech, he replied, “My good friends, remember that baptism is just a ‘picture.’ Ben Bogard says it is . . . and that makes it so. Now, Ben says baptism is a ‘picture.’ That does not help Baptist doctrine at all; for it was Jesus Christ himself who said in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and gets his picture taken shall be saved.’ And when those wicked people on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they had to do, Peter replied, ‘Repent ye, and get your picture taken, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’ And when Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus there in Damascus, he said unto him as recorded in Acts 22:16, ‘And now why tarriest thou? Arise and get your picture taken, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ So you can see, Ben, you, too, will have to get your picture taken or you can never be saved!”
Mr. Bogard and his Baptist brethren were greatly discomfited when his sophistry was turned back against him. But the sophists are still with us, and there are those who, in a desperate attempt to avoid the force of what the New Testament teaches about baptism being essential to salvation from sin, will jump through all sorts of contrived hoops and loops in order to deny the clear statements of scripture. That is what happens when one’s “theology” gets in the way of what the Bible plainly says. Strangely, the advocates of salvation by faith only are always able to get repentance into their “faith-only doctrine” as a condition for receiving remission of sins, but never baptism, in spite of the fact that the apostle Peter declared both repentance and baptism to be for (eis=in order to) the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
May 4-7: Stuart Church of Christ, Stuart, FL
April 22, 2014