I can't recall a single time that any of you have been live on the air on your various "Church of Christ" television programs that broadcast on WGSR, when you have not vehemently stated that in order to be saved and go to Heaven that one must be baptized in water and join the Church of Christ. All three of you claim that without water baptism, there is no salvation possible at all.
(I'll take time out here to state again - as I did the first time and then again not long afterward that in no way do I consider Robertson, Oldfield, Fields and their bunch to be the real Church of Christ that most people know and respect. The "Church of Christ In Name Only" that broadcasts on WGSR is something that can only be described as a twisted cult.)
If you guys are so convinced that baptism is absolutely essential for salvation, then I would like to know what your take on the following true-life story is...
Yesterday Dianne Odell passed away near Memphis, Tennessee. She was 61 years old. Only a few months after being born, Dianne was struck with a form of polio that left her unable to breathe on her own. Of her sixty-one years on this Earth, she had been confined to an iron lung for sixty years. She died when a power outage stopped her iron lung from working, although her father and brother-in-law made a valiant effort to keep it operating manually.
She spent all those years of her life laying on her back, confined to a steel enclosure, just to keep living. But she wound up having a more full life than most people will ever know. Dianne earned a high school diploma, took college courses, and even wrote a children's book.
What sustained her? By all accounts, Dianne Odell was a devout follower of Christ and she completely put her faith in God, and she didn't hold it against Him that she was given the kind of life that she had.
I'm fairly certain that given her condition, that Dianne was never baptized. There's no way it could have been done without killing her, most likely. At least she was never baptized by immersion, which is what you guys claim all the time is an absolute obligation in order to have salvation. I've even heard you claim, on numerous occasions, that if a person comes to believe in Christ but is not baptized before death, that such a person is damned forever.
Johnny, James, and Norm: Are you really prepared to go on live television and say that it is with 100% conviction that you believe that God did not allow Dianne Odell into His kingdom yesterday morning, all because it was impossible for her to be water baptized? Or might you possibly even argue, per your logic, that Dianne Odell should have left her iron lung and risked water baptism if she wanted salvation? Because that is what you are claiming, whether you want to admit it or not.
I'm planning on calling some or all of you live on the air to ask you that, if you aren't willing to provide an answer in any other way. If you won't take my phone call, then maybe Charles Roark will let us debate the matter live on WGSR. Is that an open challenge? You bet it is.
So what's your take on it, Johnny and James and Norm: Are you seriously ready to condemn such a person to Hell with your legendary zealousness?
But I've no doubt that Dianne is in the presence of the Lord that she loved, and for Whom she shared that love toward others in her earthly life. That is the beautiful thing about a God Who has abundant grace and mercy.
I just wish that you guys could understand that.
(And for everyone else: If you want to know more about what Johnny, James and Norm stand for please check out the Answering the Church of Christ blog.)