Final Part of "Discourse 3" and Link to Entire Transcript between Dr Ern Baxter and Bishop Earl Paulk.
The final section of "Discourse 3" is particuarly interesting and in need of reading. Paulk and Ern Baxter begin by continuing their discussion on water baptism from Part 1 and move on to touch on the vital subject of authority.
Spiritual authority was taken by Ern Baxter and his brothers including Charles Simpson and Bob Mumford and taught and well received. Unfortunately that teaching was taken to excess by those to whom they taught and it became badly publicised. But as I have experienced in my own life, abuse of authority doesn't excuse no use. The Scriptural principles still stand and this interview is an excellent expounding of those correct principles. Ern Baxter closes by talking about the need for older Christian leaders. Note particularly Earl Paulk's acknowledgment of Ern Baxter's ministry as an apostle.
Thanks again to my friend Hugh for his help I can offer, for those who are interested, the entire collated "Discourses" document in Word format, it can be found here.
The final part of the 3rd Discourse follows:
Earl Paulk: I hope you understand that because more and more I am totally convinced about the responsibility of setting apart our children for purposes of God. That comes out a mile though and I make no bones about it – I want them to be in the Kingdom of God, I want them to be claimed. I don’t know that this analogy is right on but maybe it will help a little. The Bible talks about a woman being married to an unbeliever – it said the bed is sanctified. In other words it didn’t save the husband – the unbeliever – but there’s a sanctity about it. Now it does not save the child but the child certainly while it’s in the covenantal part you have is set apart, will not lost so far as they come to their own knowledge of Christ. They come to that and then is the time for their own baptism and the other part that we have been sharing today. So I am a strong believer – I can hardly wait to bring my children to the altar, to let the community (even before I understood it as I do today) to let the community help me in responsibility. If we understood this we would have less rebellious children among us. We would have more of them coming to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ with personal experience so I think that this is critical in your pastoral responsibility – to bring those children and then to put them in places where they learn about things of the Lord so I am strong with that. Are you in a good mood this morning Brother Ern?
Ern Baxter: Yes.
Earl Paulk: Good then I am going to press you a bit. (*laughter*).
Ern Baxter: I may lose it! (*laughter*).
Earl Paulk: Somebody gets baptised and they didn’t have the knowledge of what we are teaching here today of the full provisions up to and including the enthroned Christ’s promise to us of the Holy Spirit. Is there a place to bring folk back into baptism? When they got up to Ephesus they said, “Well we were baptised in John into repentance”. But he didn’t say “Well let me come over and lay hands on you to receive the Holy Ghost”. He said he would baptise them in the Name of Jesus. Is there a place to be baptised, if there is not how we should deal with folk that didn’t get what we preach and believe because they didn’t know. They said at Ephesus – that we didn’t know. We were baptised to the knowledge. Are we leaving some folk in a place that is susceptible to Satan?
Ern Baxter: Of course we are dealing with great historical issues as you well know Bishop. And we are dealing with even the Reformation and the Anabaptists insisted on believer’s baptism while the magisterial Reformers continued to baptise babies. Personally I was baptised as an infant in the Presbyterian Church. Now when in my teen years I came into a dynamic experience of Christ and the Holy Spirit, I forgot that I had been baptised as an infant – it didn’t even enter my mind. And I headed for the waters of baptism … man, I had an experience in the waters of baptism, it just didn’t go through a ritual. I was baptised in a Canadian river and as I came up and out of the water and was wading to the shore, I was sure that there was a brick wall between me and my past. I was so sure that brick wall was there that I stopped in the river and turned around expecting to see it.
Because in that baptism I realised that I had been cut off entirely from my past. But I had been cut off – that when I went down in those waters, my history in the old Adam was dead and when I came up out of those waters my history in the New Adam began. And it was dynamic. Now I think that anyone who has had their process tampered with either by infant baptism (and this is dangerous talk) – I think they have a perfect right to get their foundations straightened around. I’m not going to fuss about formulas and all that – I think too much has been made of that. I believe in one baptism – and if you’ve got a baptism you can build upon, then build on it. But if you have got an infant baptism like I had, I didn’t even sit and intellectually controvert on it, I forgot I had even done it! My dad afterwards smiled and said, “Son did you know that you were baptised as a baby?”. I said, “I’m sorry dad – I didn’t remember that – I wasn’t there!”. You see – baptism requires rationality. You have to repent and be baptised. People say well God gives the baby faith. Well that’s extra-biblical. That’s where you bring a system to the Bible and make the Bible fit your system instead of bringing your system to the Bible and letting the Bible revise your system.
Earl Paulk: Well I had an experience somewhat similar to that in a way. I was not baptised as an infant as an act of my family’s will but I started kindergarten in Detroit, Michigan when I was about five years old and before there we were in Logan, West Virginia so I must have been about four. And some of you have heard me relay the experience – that as Daddy was baptising even that early age, I sense a tremendous need as a little child (you’ve got to know how a four year old child thinks) and Mother was at home with my sister.
So when I saw what was taking place and Daddy got through baptising I am standing on the shore waiting for Daddy and I cannot remember now because that was 60 years ago exactly what happened in me but I know I had a need. I said “Daddy I want to be baptised”. He said, “Son do you understand what you’re asking about?”. And I said, “Yessir”. He said, “Why do you want to be baptised?”. I said, “I just need to be baptised – I just want to be baptised”. Now what sins does a four year old kid have to repent of? Except being born in sin? But in my little childish way I felt the great need. So Daddy said, “Alright” and he took me out and called everybody’s attention. They were all walking away. I remember this part as if it were five minutes ago. Daddy started weeping and holding me in his arms. And he said, “The delight of my life is to baptise Earl Jr here today. My namesake. My oldest son. He said he knows what he’s doing”.
And he preached a little sermon about baptism and I remember how cold it was. He was holding me and he was wet because he had been baptising. Daddy was holding onto me – I remember that. Then he said these words, “I would rather this boy preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ than to be President of the United States”. Now there’s not a good chance that I was going to be President so I became a preacher but anyhow that was his words. And I remember that he baptised me, took me home and wrapped his overcoat around me, walked in the front door and Mamma said, “Earl I knew you would let that child fall in the water – I told you when you left he would fall in”. Now that was a valid experience Ern. But when I was a thirteen-fourteen year old boy we had a great revival in Greenville and I was moved like never before. I remember being baptised but I wanted to be baptised again because the Holy Spirit had taken on a meaning that He hadn’t before. And I was baptised again and it was very meaningful. So I think what you said is very meaningful and it’s an apostolic teacher among us to say it. If you can build on your baptism – do it. But if you feel you need to do the first works over, then don’t be embarrassed to do that either. Does that make sense?
Ern Baxter: Yes and one more thing because I know as pastors you are going to face this. When there are children who are still subject to their parents and there is a desire on the part of a child for baptism, I won’t baptise the child on the basis of it’s own desires. And I was interested – I was listening carefully to how the Bishop’s father dealt with him. “Do you understand this son?”. I have had parents come to me and say, “My seven year old Johnny understands it”. And I say, “That’s fine but I will baptise your Johnny under your authority. If there’s any mistakes made here, it’s not mine. I am not going to be the one responsible for that child. You are the divine agent for that child. Now if you tell me that you want me to baptise that child under the authority of your parental edict I will do it. But I won’t do it on my own”. In that way the child remains under the oversight of it’s parents and it’s parents have to be able to tell me that they are satisfied that the child is ready for baptism and then I will baptise the child on the authority of the divine agent in the child’s life.
Earl Paulk: And this is consistent when you talk about authority. I am convinced that one of the greatest voids in the last few years has been understanding what we mean by authority. When Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” and then how as Brother Baxter has taught us, the Trinity is an example and it moves right on down to the family – we may be equal but there is a function that differs in authority. There’s a mother, a father, pastors, elders – all these say authority. They say structure. And I am a strong believer that if you understand that covering then God respects that covering – He respects that authority. And I thought his message on Eve listening to Satan – all she had to do was say “I will check in with my husband on that”. And knowing that he doubtless would have said, “Well the Father God will be here in a few minutes, we’ll check” and there would never have been the problems we’re in today. Now that happens every day in family life and church life. I want to tell you that nobody in their right mind wants to be in authority in your life. But if God puts them there they are in authority.
One of the reasons why I brought Ern Baxter here was to submit to him. I wanted him to see this ministry from a different place than he has seen it before – just visiting. I wanted to hear him talk about the Eucharistic approach. In a lot of ways his teaching has been an act of mine to submit. My church can tell you that I said, “Bring an Ern Baxter here is preparation to go into the Cathedral”. Because we’re not just going into a bigger building, we are coming to a new comprehension and understanding – even at this place in my life – I am still learning. And I want to know that the future of the church is safe and secure in not only a good theological basis, but also the practice. In the light of that this was an act of submitting because I have listened more intently that anyone else in this place because if I make a mistake and I am your covering then you make a mistake in me. And I have got to be sure and to bring an apostle among us – and I say not only by being a fact but I say that by revelation, the Lord has spoken to me a long time before I ever met Ern Baxter, who the apostles were who I should relate to. And when he comes among us, I give him full and complete liberty because I know the authority that he brings with him is my protection. It is the protection of what we are doing here. Because we could very easily get off on a tangent and go back into formalism that in ten or fifteen years is just another ritual.
Or you can go the other extreme and become so congregational and empirical and experience orientated in what you are doing that the twain will never meet and we stay in total derision the rest of our lives. Somewhere there comes a meeting of that form and power. Of that Word and Spirit and so I hope you understand that when I talk about authority it is not just me talking and saying “Ern Baxter I submit to you”. When I bring him to the church that I am responsible to and to the pastors that I cover it is an act of submission. And for that reason I am comfortable with it and when you talk about facing God and the ongoing eternal life that we live, you can’t play games with that. A little flesh here and there. You can handle that and come to the table and God will deal with it. You are talking about eternal truth! Know the truth and the truth will make you free! You go back to your church and take the truth that will set them free when you teach them properly. When you teach them what the things of the Lord are about. We have had such cheap approaches. You can go into arenas and there is cry to make a decision for Jesus but we leave them there. I have been the chairman of Billy Graham crusades and Oral Roberts crusades. I know what it is. The church is a redeemed community that can no longer afford just a cheap way in and out. If they do that that may be God’s economy but we have got to take it and go somewhere with it. Does that make sense Ern?
Ern Baxter: Oh yes that is so right. Let me just say a word about authority Bishop. I adopted a slogan years ago that any man who wants authority is not qualified to have it. If a man lusts after authority he is not qualified to have it. A man who takes authority must be reluctant. He realises what he’s got. When Paul talked about his authority he wanted to protect it. He said “My authority is not to tear you down but to build you up”. One of the dangers of the ministry is that when Peter said the elders were not to lord it over the flock – why did he say that if it were not possible for the elders to lord it over the flock? You have authority. I am talking to you now as servants of God. You have authority! You didn’t just get it in your ordination. If you are called servants of God, then God has given you an authority. That authority is not to be abused and if your lust is for authority then you don’t qualify to have authority. You have got to be willing to hold that authority in the tension of humility and to exercise it to build up and not to tear down. Don’t lord it over the flock of God. You have the ability to do it. God has given you the gift and the placing to do it. But authority is a powerful thing – it’s like fire. You have got to keep in the grate and you let it loose and it will burn everything up.
Another little thing that I have observed about the Democratics Presidential candidate – it’s an interesting thing, I watched it on the news. One after another of these potential candidates with young families are opting out because of their families and I said to Ruth, “I wonder if a man is fit to be President of the United States until he has raised his family”. Just a thought. But there is something about the word “elder” that is not talking about a beardless youth! Just because I’m old, I don’t want to put a premium on age but at the same time I would to God in my young days that I had been able to snuggle up to older men much more than I was. We retire ministers and there is gold in their hills! We stick them out with a hot plate and a room overlooking a slum somewhere and give them 25 dollars a month! We have thrown out our wisdom! And I look at the Bishop and I look at his age and I don’t treat that lightly! And I think that some of you younger men that are coming up – handle your authority carefully and as you handle it carefully, it will grow and it will be salutary and sanctifying but if you – I’ve watched young ministers go off half cooked and they are “Reverend So-and-so” and look … you are a servant of Jesus Christ and when God wanted to describe His servants, He used the most demeaning term in the Greek language. He called us “Diakonos”. The lowest menial task both in Grecian culture and Hebrew culture was to serve tables. And that is the meaning of deacon. Find out what your table is and serve it! Let the other man serve his table! I know my table and just want to serve it. That’s all! And after I have done the best I can and when you feel you have done everything you feel you should do, you still have to humbly admit I am yet an unprofitable servant. Jesus said that! That isn’t mock humility – that is just facing the facts! I sometimes shudder when men introduce me with the kind of epithets they use. I know in the grace of God that has its place but I know me so well! I know that as I read the newspaper and as I read about crime and what people have done that those people are my Adamite brothers and sisters and that everything they have done, I have the human potential to do the same thing and if it wasn’t for the grace of God I would be languishing in the same jails that they are in. This humility will help you to handle authority.
Earl Paulk: Let me give you one final word that I feel the Spirit of the Lord would have me share with you. It’s a word that I gave here and I really shared in community. It is an explosive expectation. I believe the proper truths about the habitation of God and what we are sharing about the Holy Ghost that when we walk into the house of God to the table of the Lord properly understood that there should be such expectation that there would be healings without having great displays of it. That normally the functioning of the body of Christ in its proper understanding of koinonea should develop such a habitation of God that when we come in it releases the Word and it releases the anointing and it releases the mystery of the sacraments. All of that becomes a part. There are some key words! It says “When they were come together”. There is something powerful in that coming together. Your hurts are dealt with. All of a sudden you transcend the Adamic devastation and the Spirit comes alive and begins to minister one to the other. Healings take place. Things begin to be accomplished and then we go out into the world after we have washed one another’s feet cleansed and purged that through the strength of God we touch the systems of the world. But until we’ve come and understand the washing of feet properly – cleansing ourselves and coming away from that society and then going back out. But we have to keep coming that’s why Jesus taught on a daily basis. “Forgive us this day our daily sins – give us today the daily bread”. And that’s why I believe what we are doing here is so important.