The Ancient Faith

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(Discovering undenominational Christianity)

“Raccoon” John Smith

“Raccoon” John Smith made the following declaration in 1828,

I have sometimes been asked why I left the Baptist Church, and I have, on several occasions, answered, in substance, as follows:

  1. I did not believe the doctrines of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith to be in accordance with the word of God; and, of course, I could not conscientiously teach them.
  2. I could not find such a thing as a Baptist Church named in the Bible.
  3. I found that the kind of experience which they required was unknown to any of the saints of the New Testament. I recalled my own experience, and compared it with the conversions given in the Bible; and I was astonished to find that sinners, when convinced of sin and desired salvation, instead of agonizing for months, as I had done, did not wait a single day to find it— except, perhaps, Saul of Tarsus, who waited and prayed three days before he was told what to do.

In bringing everything to test, however, I found these points in my experience:

1.I believed sincerely in the Lord Jesus; this I knew the word of God required, and I felt conscious of this qualification.

  1. I was conscious that I had repented of all my sins; this, also, I knew the word of God demanded.
  2. I knew that I had been immersed; and this, I saw, the Lord required of every believing penitent. I saw clearly that instead of being required to tell all the workings of my mind, they should have required these three things, and nothing more, in order to my admission into the church. True, when I was immersed, I submitted to it simply as a command of God, without knowing the blessings connected with it.
  3. I found, also, this glaring inconsistency among the Baptists: While they taught that a man must be a Christian in the Bible sense of that term before they could admit him to baptism, yet, until he was baptized, they allowed him no more privileges among them than a pagan or a publican.
  4. I was well persuaded that God never authorized any man or set of men to make articles of faith or rules of practice for the subjects of his kingdom.
  5. I was convinced, moreover, that it was not the custom of the ancient and apostolic churches to eat the Lord’s Supper monthly or quarterly, but that the disciples met together for that purpose every first day of the week.

Now, convinced as I was that the Baptists taught many erroneous and some dangerous doctrines; that they had given their church a name unauthorized by the Scriptures; that their practice of admitting members to baptism by experience was also unauthorized; that they assumed the authority to make laws and rules for the government of Christ’s church; and that they neglected to celebrate the Lord’s death more than two, four, or twelve times a year—seeing all these things, I could not conscientiously remain a Baptist, especially when they were not willing for me to preach and, practice among them, what I believed to be the truth.”

 from The Life of Elder John Smith by John Augustus Williams

 Recommended articles:

Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade

God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter

Repentance – J. W. McGarvey


The Ancient Faith website is a thematic collection of scholarly yet simple Bible essays and sermons, many of which were composed by Restoration preachers such as J.W. McGarvey, Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Campbell. These courageous men of faith through hours of Bible investigation studied themselves out of denominationalism, asking for “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16) and seeking to return to “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We hope you will join with these men in their fervent plea to restore “the ancient order,” “the ancient gospel” or, as it was sometimes called, “the ancient faith.”