CHRISTIAN, YOU WERE BAPTIZED IN WATER AND SPIRIT is the name of a soft-bound, 256 book by Robert Leon Gipson, 1819 N. Greenwood, Santa Ana, CA 92701. $7.41 per copy postpaid. Order from the author.
The book has received considerable attention and commendation since its publication about three years ago.
The author set out to prove exactly what is stated in the title as given above. These four sentences state the premise:
Born of water when baptized in water.
Born of Spirit when baptized in Spirit.
No birth of water without baptism in water.
No birth of Spirit without baptism in Spirit.
The position is that when one is baptized in water, as Jesus commanded, one is at that time also baptized in Spirit. This baptism in the Spirit does not give any one miraculous power to perform miracles or do "wonders" of any sort. That is simply when the Holy Spirit comes into the Christian.
The author makes out a good case and it will challenge your study. Apparently the position has had, and has today, the support of a number of creditable teachers and scholars. This reviewer does not agree with the conclusion set forth in the book.
FELLOWSHIP: WITH GOD AND HIS PEOPLE, Samuel G. Dawson, P.O. Box 1154, Sumner, WA 98390. Soft cover. 320 pages. $9.95.
The author claims on the front cover that his book sets forth "The Way of Christ WITHOUT Denominationalism''. But it is written like a Denominational Handbook, with specific instructions about how to make the denomination function properly as a local church institution..
The author is a professional preacher associated with the "conservative" ("Anti") segment of the Church of Christ (C of C) churches.
His book is largely a defense of the C of C church as he knows it and thinks that it should be. He is handicapped with the belief that his sect of the C of C church is one true church and IT can be that only, if "the local churches" thereof completely follows the "divine pattern" as he has enumerated some of the specifics thereof in great detail in his book. It is something like an Operation Manual.
Chapter 2 is an involved discussion to show the "Differences Between The Universal Church and a Local Church." He labors to prove that the Lord has at least two different churches - what he calls "the universal church" and "the local church." Hence, there are at least two "churches" set forth in Scripture, in his view.
In chapter 3 the author attempts to show the "Relationship'' between the universal church and the local church. Yet nowhere in Scripture is there even one reference to "the universal church" or "the local church." That's two churches anyway you look at it.
The rest of the "Handbook" for setting up and operating a Church of Christ local church is a "How to" manual, describing how to 1) deal with doctrinal differences, 2) how to deal with the uncommitted, 3) how to and when you can have fellowship with others, and 4) how to teach others.
The last half of the book is made up of seven Appendices on several subjects.
This book probably has as many words in it as does the entire NT Scriptures, yet it deals almost entirely with matters having to do with the church and its operation. This indicates how complicated and involved, the clergy and theologians, can make their teachings on this subject. If we pulled together every reference to "the church" (remember there is nothing in scripture about "the local church" organization) in the Scriptures, this would not take more than 30 pages the size of those in Dawson's book. It is amazing how complicated even good men can make God's word, as they set forth rules, laws, regulations, and human judgments.
Sam Dawson is a good man; honest and very capable. This book, published in 1988, was a genuine effort to set forth what he believed to be the truth. However, it is much easier to understand and apply the teaching in the Scripture than it is to understand and function by the teachings of my dear brother's book. It is impossible to beat the simplicity of the Scriptures in learning how the Christian should serve God. In addition, there is no local institutional church in Scripture that needs an "Operational Manual." The New Covenant Scriptures are given to inform and direct individual Christians in their service to Christ and to other people.