Saturday, February 09, 2008

Flounders Error Concerning Baptism As The First "Confession" Of Christ

In his misguided zeal to discourage or eliminate public invitations and altar calls, The Founder of Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry), mistakenly taught that baptism was the first "confession" of Christ. In this article, Brother Bob Ross points out his error as not only unbiblical but something that The Founder of The Flounders himself did not practice!


by Bob Ross

I recently ordered and read the book entitled, Ernest Reisinger, A Biography, by Geoffrey Thomas, published by the Banner of Truth. Brother Reisinger is perhaps best known as the primary person who was instrumental in founding the "Founders Ministries" in the 1980s, now headed by Pastor Tom Ascol of Cape Coral, Florida.

The Founders Ministries maintains that its primary purpose is to promote the "Doctrines of Grace," but in our estimation it promotes a "hybrid" form of "Calvinism" which is more in line with post-17th century Presbyterianism than with the historic Confessions of Faith.

Although for years I had known the late Brother Reisinger [1919-2004] since first meeting him in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the first Grace Bible Conference at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s, and had met him a few times thereafter, I had never heard or come across any detailed account of his conversion. I have not even been able to find such an account on the Founders's website.

The account related in this book, however, is rather detailed, and it immediately became of particular interest to me in view of the present negative attitude of the Founders Ministries in regard to certain evangelistic methodology, such as invitations, "the sinner's prayer," and related efforts to bring the lost to Christ. Reisinger's actual conversion experience seems to considerably contrast to the current theoreticalism of the Founders as to evangelistic methods.

On the whole, I have observed that the Founders Ministries criticizes the use of certain methods which they consider "Arminian," yet this biography paradoxically relates how Reisinger was brought to Christ in relation to such methods.

According to this biography, Ernest's salvation experience culminated in his praying "the prayer of the publican of whom Jesus spoke in the gospel, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'" (page 20), which is quite inconsistent with what is advocated by the Founders.

According to this biography, a Christian & Missionary Alliance layman named Elmer Albright sought Ernest's conversion, and consistently and frequently witnessed to Ernest over a period of time, prayed for him, and encouraged him to attend the C&MA church. (C&MA is a theologically "Arminian" denomination, founded by A. B. Simpson in the 1880s. Notable writer, A. W. Tozer, belonged to the C&MA).

In due course of time, this layman's witnessing efforts began to bear results. Ernest did agree to attend the C&MA church and began to experience conviction for his lost condition. After a subsequent visit to his home by Christian witnesses, Ernest determined that "settling this matter was more important than going to work," and that is what he set out to do.

On pages 19, 20, the book says:

"Ernest Reisinger listened earnestly and intently, and they prayed with him before leaving and gave him some leaflets to read. . . . He stayed home and read the leaflets his friends from the Sunday School had brought him. . . . Then he began to open the Bible, turning over pages at random. . . . He could not find how to be saved. . . . Then eventually he came across a little piece of paper tucked between two pages. It was a tract, and written boldly on the cover were the words, 'What Must I Do to be Saved?' The tract told him that he had sinned against God and that he would get nowhere unless he acknowledged that to him.

"Ernest C. Reisinger knelt down in his living room and prayed the prayer of the publican of whom Jesus spoke in the gospel, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'

"The tract then directed him to John chapter 5, verse 24. There he read these words, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.' As the words in all their simplicity and hope registered in his mind and affections, Ernie's heart was flooded with the assurance that Christ was now his Lord; he sat weeping before the Bible. On that day, through true repentance for his sins, and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Reisinger knew he had met the God of grace."

Sometime not long afterwards, Reisinger went to a Salvation Army service and there "first bore testimony to his new life in Christ."

Later, since the Salvation Army did not practice baptism, Reisinger conferred with the pastor of a Southern Baptist church and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Havre de Grace, Maryland (page 20).

So Reisinger bore his "first testimony" of faith in Christ at a Salvation Army meeting, and later he was baptized at the FBC in Havre de Grace, Maryland. This is the usual Baptist order of (1) Confession faith, and (2) Baptism follows Confession.

What was rather striking to me about this experience of Ernest Reisinger is how the Founders Ministries has since adopted the teaching of pedobaptist Iain Murray that baptism itself is the "confession." While it is true that baptism is a means of showing identity with Christ, Baptists believe that Confession of Faith is a pre-requisite to being baptized. This is what Ernest Reisinger did in his experience -- he confessed before being baptized; he did not substitute baptism for confession.

However, TOM NETTLES, a Founders Ministries board member, and a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, advocates the pedobaptist theory put forth by Murray in Murray's anti-invitation booklet, which contends that baptism itself is one's confession. Nettles asserts this fallacy in his book, By His Grace, and for His Glory (pages 421, 422).

The idea that baptism is the confession is wrong for the simple reason that one must make a confession of faith in Christ before he is even qualified for baptism which is based on that profession. The Ethiopian eunuch, for instance, confessed his faith in Christ before Philip baptized him (Acts 8:35-38). The pedobaptists (baby baptizers) have it backwards: they baptize babies who don't have a faith to confess, add the babies to the church membership roll, and hope that the babies will grow up and confess Christ later.

It is unfortunate that Ernest Reisinger fell under the influence of the baby baptizers such as Iain Murray later in his life, and adopted too much of the pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinism which has permeated and distorted the Founders Ministries. In fact, the biography relates that a church Reisinger later pastored in North Pompano Beach, Florida was divided and split over issues related to some of the Presbyterianism which Reisinger imbibed from pedobaptists such as Iain Murray (pages 196, 197). I understand that there is not much left of this church today.


At Saturday, February 09, 2008 7:15:00 PM, Anonymous John the Missionary said...

When was Reisinger saved?

An evangelist named John R. Rice wrote a famous tract called What Must I Do To Be Saved? Is this the tract Reisinger read?

John the Missionary

At Saturday, February 09, 2008 9:29:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


John the Missionary said...

When was Reisinger saved?

An evangelist named John R. Rice wrote a famous tract called What Must I Do To Be Saved? Is this the tract Reisinger read?

I'm not sure about the date, but I think it was about 1943.

No titles of the leaflets Ermest read are mentioned.

At Saturday, February 09, 2008 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Bob L. Ross said...


Not only has Professor
Tom Nettles' influenced Southern Seminary students against invitations, his influence is seen in a book which is popular among the Hybrid Calvinists.

I refer to "Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election" by Robert B. Selph.

Selph serves as Coordinator for the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America.

This writer quotes from Nettles numerous times in this small book, and Nettles wrote a strong endorsement on the back cover. There are also several quotes from Iain Murray and Ernest Reisinger.

Selph evidently holds the "born again before faith" heresy (page 132), comes out against public invitations (page 13), and he also promotes the same view as Nettles that baptism serves as the "public profession of faith" (page 132). He uses this to militate against public professions in invitations.

This is another fruit of Tom Nettles' unbaptistic teachings -- and much of the responsibility must also fall upon Dr. R. Albert Mohler who brought Nettles to Southern Seminary.


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