Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)
Lt 56, 1886
Butler, G. I.
December 13, 1886
Portions of this letter are published in Ev 373-375.
Dear Brother Butler:
I wish to make a statement in reference to the subject of rebaptism. I cannot write as fully as I would at this time upon this subject for my eyes are troubling me. In our past experience in connection with the work and cause of God, there have been several of our ministering brethren who manifested much zeal in making prominent and elevating of equal importance the subject of rebaptism as the Sabbath. A testimony was given me several times upon special occasions for these brethren. I was shown that they were making a mistake in presenting in the front and urging upon those newly come to the faith the subject of rebaptism. It requires much heavenly wisdom to present the truth to souls as it is in Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 1
The subject of rebaptism should be handled with the greatest care. After the truth is presented upon the Sabbath question and other important points of our faith, and souls manifest the moral courage to take their position upon the truth, they will see this question in the Bible light if they are fully converted. But by some these questions have been handled unwisely, and God has sent reproof many times upon this point. Those who place the subject of rebaptism in the front, making it of as much importance as the Sabbath question, were not leaving the right impression upon the minds and correctly representing the subject. It requires great discrimination to bring in kindred truths with the Sabbath, rightly dividing the Word, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. Those who lift the cross of the Sabbath have a tremendous battle to fight with self and with selfish interests which would interpose between their souls and God. Then when they have taken this great step and their feet have been planted upon the platform of eternal truth, they must have time to become accustomed to their new position and not be hurried upon the question of rebaptism. No one should become a conscience for another or urge and press rebaptism. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 2
This is a subject which each individual must conscientiously take his position upon in the fear of God. This subject should be carefully presented in the spirit of tenderness and love. Then the duty of urging belongs to no one but God; give God a chance to work with His Holy Spirit upon the minds, so that the individual will be perfectly convinced and satisfied in regard to this advanced step. A spirit of controversy and contention should never be allowed to come in and prevail on this subject. Do not take the Lord’s work out of His hands into your own hands. Those who have conscientiously taken their position upon the commandments of God will, if rightly dealt with, accept all essential truth. But it needs wisdom to deal with human minds. Some will be longer in seeing and understanding some kindred truths than others—especially will this be the case in regard to the subject of rebaptism; but there is a divine hand that is leading them—a divine spirit impressing their hearts—and they will know what they ought to do and do it. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 3
Let none of our zealous brethren overdo this matter. They will be in danger of getting before the Lord and making tests for others which the Lord has not bid them to make. It is not the work of any of our teachers to urge rebaptism upon any one. It is their business to lay down the great principles of Bible truths; especially is this the case in regard to rebaptism. Then let God do the work of convicting the mind and heart. Will you please to present this that I have written to Brother Kunz? I have been shown that our brother will have to learn in the school of Christ many lessons that are essential before he can be a successful teacher. He carries too much of the burden of self, and manifests too little of the meekness and lowliness of Jesus, and he is constantly in danger of moving unwisely in presenting the subjects of truth. He needs greater wisdom from heaven and more of the love of Christ and the spirit of forbearance and patience brought into his work. Then he will have greater power to win souls to Christ and to the truth. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 4
In regard to rebaptism he should not place this on a level with the Sabbath. He needs to treat this subject with great caution. If any one comes to him for knowledge upon this subject, he should not create a controversy but in meekness give the light that he has from the Bible and then let the Lord do all the pressing and urging. Every honest soul who accepts the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will see and understand his duty in time. But it will take time for some. It is not a subject to be driven and forced upon those newly come to the truth, but this subject will work like leaven; the process will be slow and quiet, but it will do its work if our ministering brethren will not be too fast and defeat the purpose of God. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 5
Those who have long looked upon this subject see it quite clearly and think all others should see it just as they do. They do not consider that with some newly come to the faith this matter looks like denying all their former religious experience. But in time they will come to regard the matter differently. As the truth is constantly unfolding to their minds, they will see advanced steps to be taken; new light will flash upon their pathway; God’s Spirit will work upon their minds, if men will not interfere and seek to drive them to the positions which they think are truth. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 6
Now let it be distinctly understood, from time to time, all through our experience, God has given me testimonies of caution to our brethren in regard to handling the subject of rebaptism. Our good Brother Bates and several others of our ministers I was shown were making a mistake at some point in their experience in putting in the front and making a test question of rebaptism. This is not the way that the subject should be treated. It is a matter to be treated as a great privilege and blessing, and all who are rebaptized, if they have the right ideas upon this subject, will thus consider it. These good brethren were not bringing those newly come to the faith along step by step cautiously and guardedly, and the result was that some were turned from the truth, when a little time and tender, careful dealing with them would have prevented all such sad results. 4LtMs, Lt 56, 1886, par. 7