This letter by John Scott was in reference to a March/April 1999 Servants’ News, page 22 letter from the Richard Nickels Family entitled Did HWA Baptize into Organization? Exception is taken to the Nickels’ claim that the WCG baptised into “the Church of God”, not their own organization.
Mr. Scott’s letter, and others like it, eventually sparked the previous article on Baptism and the Holy Spirit. John Scott does extensive Biblical research, much of which he makes available on a CD. He may be contacted at: Bupp@btinternet.com
Both my parents, now deceased, were baptised by WCG ministers in the early 1960s. At the time, and prior to baptism, in line with the then normal practice in the UK (I cannot speak for the practice in other countries), they had to undertake a somewhat lengthy “investigation” by the ministry to see whether or not in the view of these ministers they were suitable for baptism (see comment on this below). During this exercise, they were asked to confirm that they believed that the then RCG [Radio Church of God] was the only true Church of God, specifically of the Philadelphian era, and the only one in which true baptism was available, and by which salvation could be secured.
This caused some difficulty for my mother, who had been baptised long previously in an evangelising mission. However, both so confirmed, and were baptised in due course. Despite this, both questioned privately whether these ministers had any authority or commission to conduct such investigations as a “condition precedent to baptism”.
The readiness for baptism is not a subject for the judgment of the then RCG ministers, or, indeed, any screening process ordained by man. It is a matter of repentance on the part of the sinner, a desire for baptism and a better way conformed to God, the gracious conferring of the Holy Spirit, and subsequent growth in the Lord. There is nothing in this last sentence importing the decision, or vetting, or moderation, or judgment of man. What the RCG was doing was similar to the Roman Catholic Church catechitical modus, and that of many other churches, which insists on “interviewing, teaching, and counseling” aspirants before the church makes the decision on whether to grant baptism.
Now turning to the WCG, I can recollect an article in The Good News, in the earlier Tkach era, which stated (and I paraphrase), “entry into the kingdom of God is dependent upon having the imprimatur of God’s Church”.
|What the RCG was doing was similar to the Roman Catholic Church catechitical modus, and that of many other churches, which insists on “interviewing, teaching, and counseling” aspirants before the church makes the decision on whether to grant baptism|
“Imprimatur”, in religious matters, is almost exclusively Roman Catholic. It means “sanction”, allied to “authority”. What Tkach, Sr. was saying was fundamentally the same as the RCG ministers had told my parents—the only route to salvation is through the “gate” of the RCG/WCG, and “we’ve got the key”. This is what the Pope claims to hold: the “keys of heaven”, known as “Peter’s keys”; a doctrine dating from 431 a.d. [They are, in fact, the keys of the pagan gods Janus and Cybele.]
This, in turn, is very closely related to the erroneous doctrine of “binding and loosing”, whereby mortal man holds himself able to dictate to God what might be bound and loosed on earth and in heaven. Both the Roman Catholic Church and WCG, amongst many others, subscribe to this gross apostacy. RCG and WCG set themselves up as the moderator between man and God, but the Bible says we have only one advocate—Christ.
Now this letter comes to the personal part. I was baptised by other than the RCG/WCG “ordained” ministry. However, prior to being baptised, I met with two ministers of WCG from Northern Ireland, and asked whether it was at all possible for anyone outside the WCG to have, in however small way, the Holy Spirit. I was told in no uncertain terms that such a thing was impossible. The comment that was made was that the only place where the Holy Spirit is evident is in the WCG: nowhere else. That was in 1972, at a private meeting in Dublin, Ireland.
Next, 1991, this time in Scotland. Again, two ministers, this time Messrs. Delap and Bolzern. Delap questioned the very validity of my baptism, on the basis that it had not been conducted by an ordained minister of the WCG, the only ministry “sanctioned” by God for such work. It was very easy to demonstrate biblical instances of people being granted the Holy Spirit without first being baptised by an ordained minister, but this made no impact. Delap also questioned my biblical understanding, my reliance on God, and much else besides. Bolzern, for his part, said little.
I happened to ask why healing of the sick was not in evident in the Church. Delap’s answer was that “now is not a time of healing”. According to him, God’s healing was manifest in the early stages of the Church, and during Christ’s ministry, and might be so again just before the end, but that that was speculation.
When pointed to John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my father” [KJV], and when certain works of Christ were discussed, by way of illustration, the minister’s response was that “now is not the time—Christ was only talking about the immediate few years after His departure.”
However, when such a critical onslaught is brought into one’s own house by invited guests, it does take one aback, if only for a short time. When they left, two of us, in independent locations, prayed to God seeking answers to the following questions.
These are reproduced below, with the text replies, received after asking that our hands be guided to whatever text God so wished:
Q: Is the WCG minister correct in his statements concerning the worthlessness and ineligibility of my baptism?
A: Isa 28:7–8, “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.”
Q: Should we fellowship with them?
A: Rom 16:17–18, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
These answers left nothing in doubt.
When, later, these were put to a preaching elder of the WCG, he indicated that it was Satan who had guided our hands, and not the Lord. When it was pointed out that Satan would hardly have urged anyone to hold to the true doctrine, he had no answer.
So where does this leave the matter? Was the RCG/WCG as the Richard Nickels family have it? It may have been for them, but certainly not for me. From a reading of some of the vast amount of personal experiences of the WCG available on the Internet, I have concluded that almost all have had experiences much closer to my own.
And that is very, very, sad indeed.
— John Scott, Scotland