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Thursday, May 29, 2008

A question for Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield, Norm Fields, and others of the "Church of Christ In Name Only" in the Reidsville/Martinsville area

Dear Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield, and Norm Fields:

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.)


Chris said...

I think we can safely say that these people are not in any way the Christian mainstream. I would bet that she was baptised on the forehead if the was baptised. And, again, she contracted polio at the age of 3, so if she were any one of the non-Baptist Christians, she would have been baptised in a font as an infant.

I'm sure that Denise is enjoying her freedom in heaqven as much as or more than anyone else there.

Anonymous said...

Good question, Chris. They'll probably answer that it doesn't matter what they believe - that (according to their interpretation) the Bible teaches that you must be baptized to be saved. And so if Dianne wasn't properly baptized, with a right understanding of what her baptism was doing, then she is lost.

That's one way they avoid being held accountable for their paradoxically extreme and limited view of Scripture. Grace and mercy doesn't really play much a role.

Actually, I'm certain they'll say she was lost, baptized or not, if she wasn't in "the Lord's church" (i.e., a ultra-hyperconservative "church of Christ").

I hope that if you do phone in or arrange a live debate, that you'll post the results again on youtube.


(thanks for the heads up on this)

Anonymous said...

Just found an obit for Ms. Odell that says she was connected to this church:


It is a church of Christ, which isn't surprising being that she was in Tennessee. However, I would love to know the story if she was indeed immersed. How would they have done that?

Your question is still valid - if she was not physically able to be baptized by immersion, but the folks at that church did the best they could, where is she now, according to ultra-hypercon doctrine?


Chris Knight said...

Dear Nathan,
I didn't find anything on that church's website about doctrine relating to baptism. In fact, baptism isn't mentioned at *all* on their site, other than people can be baptized in order to join with the congregation But that's a WAY far cry from baptism as a requirement for salvation itself.

There is some mention of how many people are trying to escape from legalism "with its impossible demands". Doesn't sound like the kind of Church of Christ broadcasting on WGSR... which does nothing BUT preach impossible demands!

Without knowing anything more, I'm pretty certain that Dianne was fully accepted by her church as a sister in Christ, and one as fully justified because of her faith as any other believer, whether or not she was baptized at all.

Anonymous said...

I guess Johnny & company would call them a bunch of radical "change agents" who are apostate from the true Lord's church. :rolleyes:

Anonymous said...

Been watching the Answering Church of Christ comments. They can't answer your question. Don't look for Johnny Robertson to either.

Anonymous said...

Never have I heard anyone say that not being baptized is a sin until now. coreydavis is a nutcase.

Anonymous said...

I know these people you're calling out are zealots, but I've met many members of the denomination called Church of Christ in this part of the country that do insist that you must be baptized and, even (because they were of the opinion that salvation could be lost), you had to be re-baptized. They didn't, however, push a full-immersion baptism, and would accept sprinkling.

Jason Goldtrap said...

Has anyone called the Campbell Street Church of Christ to find out if Diane Odell was baptized. I think that is a possibility. I am no expert on iron lungs but experience tells me that all machines need routine maintenance which by necessity would require that the device be turned off and the patient transfered to another iron lung or perhaps an oxygen tent with a respirator. A quick call to the church would seem to resolve the issue. They can either say "No she was not" or "Yes she was" or "I am not certain." Also, I am not certain if the patient spends their entire life in one position. I think that to prevent muscle atrophy or blood clots the patient would need to be periodically rotated. Once again, call the church. I have no dog in this fight either way, I am just offering g a suggestion to encourage a more urbane discussion.