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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Baptist history and historians

Some modern Southern Baptist historians[1] have accused Landmark Baptist historians[2], past and present, of inaccuracy and/or misrepresentation concerning Baptist history and the origin of Baptists. Southern Baptist historians generally teach that Baptists began in the early 1600's in England. Landmark Baptists generally teach that Baptists began with Jesus Christ and have existed from that time to the present. In reference to this teaching, SB historians charge "Landmarkers" with poor scholarship and/or deliberate misrepresentation.

Southern Baptist scholars should be commended for both the quality and quantity of research they have done in the historical field. But they are not the only ones investigating Baptist history; neither should anyone think they are free of bias. They, as well as others, can be guilty of arrogance, inaccuracy, and misrepresentation in their writings.


The charge of arrogance is not a charge against the personal character of Southern Baptist historians, but rather refers to the attitude sometimes shown toward Baptists outside their conventions and seminaries. Some of these historians write in a way that implies they think they are the only qualified historians, and that espousal of the "Landmark" position automatically disqualifies one as a serious historian. Virtually discrediting all who went before him, Morgan Patterson writes, "Baptist historians...have thus usually lacked the special training and necessary leisure to give their efforts thoroughness and perspective" [Baptist Succession: A Critical View, Foreword, Judson Press, 1969]. He says in another place, "It (the landmark view of church perpetuity, rlv) is a view of Baptist history which is held by few, if any, recognized or trained historians" [The Quarterly Review, April-June 1964, pp. 5-6]. The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vol. III, (p. 1757) indicates the new generation of Baptist historians writes "based on adequate research and scientific methodology." With a few strokes of the pen, all historians who beg to differ are summarily dismissed as untrained. The type of arrogance of which I speak is apparent in The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Vols. I-IV. This certainly can be considered an official publication. These volumes name local and district associations within the different states in a manner that is revealing. In almost every state, the list has two divisions: (1) Extant and (2) Extinct. Extant means "currently existing". Extinct means "no longer existing or no longer active." The Encyclopedia includes all associations cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention as extant or existing. All other associations, actually extinct or simply existing apart from the State and Southern Baptist Conventions, are EXTINCT. What pride! What arrogance! Baptists that do not cooperate with the S.B.C., no matter how active, are extinct.


The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists also demonstrates the inaccuracy of some Southern Baptist historians. Pages 904, 906, and 2353 give incorrect information on several Missouri associations. It says that the Camden County Association "disbanded and became a part of the Lamine Association in 1979." Yet in 2000, this association still existed with 5 churches. The ESB further states that "In 1947 Cedar County Association was included in the Nevada Association." However, in 2000, Cedar County Association still existed apart from the Nevada Association and the Convention. 15 churches represented. The Central Missouri Association is "last reported...in 1883: R. S. Douglas conjectures that it probably disbanded and united with other associations." Nevertheless, it still existed in 2000. Under the County Line Association, one is told to "see Douglas-Ozark County Association", implying that County Line is out of existence. But in the year 2000 they were still meeting. The information concerning the Polk County Association lists them as a Convention Association in 1954 with 12 churches, stating, "In the 1950 annual meeting 22 of the 36 churches were dropped from the association roll for non-cooperation." What actually happened in 1950 was that the Polk County Association excluded "the Co-operative Program and all organizations connected with it" [Polk County Association minutes, 1950]. The General Superintendent of the Missouri Baptist General Association then dropped those churches from the state association's roll. If a Texas "historian" without "special training and necessary leisure" can find out these things without ever leaving Texas, why don’t Missouri Convention historians who are "recognized and trained" know the facts? Such inaccuracies seem inexcusable. Pages 1398-1403 and 2519 list several thriving Texas local associations as out of existence. Note these examples: "Angelina...dissolved to join Unity Association in 1927...Bethlehem is now extinct...(Central) merged with the Sabine-Neches in Oct. 1927 to form the Sabine Valley Association...the last minutes available (of the Mt. Zion Association), 1908, indicate that the churches had begun to join Neches River and Rusk-Panola associations...Some (Salem association) churches began cooperating with Pittsburg Association in 1927, and Salem soon became extinct...Some (Shelby County association) churches went into Shelby-Doches Association from 1925-1935. This body is now extinct." This is just sloppy work, IMO. All of these associations still exist (2006) and cooperate with either the American Baptist Association or the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Any of the above information could have been easily determined to be incorrect. It would not have taken a trained and recognized historian! A simple phone call would have worked in most cases. These are just some examples of what is multipied many times over in the ESB.


The arrogance that allows such inaccuracies can also lead to misrepresentation. One of the most pervasive misrepresentations by the Convention and Southern Baptist historians has been to identify all non-cooperative Baptists as "anti-missionary". Any opposition to their mission system is equated with opposition to missions. Such is polemics more than history. But even of Daniel Parker and his Predestinarian Church, one of the most adamant of the "anti-missionaries", J. M. Carroll asked, "how many churches, country or city, can show such a record (of labor)?" [A History of Texas Baptists, p. 50]. Few churches of its day, or even in the present, can show such a record of organizing as many other churches - but still they are labeled "anti-missionary" because they don't accept the board method of "missions". The ESB (p. 746) states that the Cumberland River Association of Kentucky is "an antimissionary association." Yet, according, to their minutes, in 1996 their 25 churches gave over $210,000 to home and foreign missions. The Stockton Valley Association, of Tennessee and Kentucky, complained in their 1992 minutes, "They (the churches) are not anti-missionary as they are referred to in Wendell H. Rone’s Baptist Associations of Kentucky; however, they could be called 'anti-missionary society'...the Stockton Valley Association has had direct missionaries from their churches throughout the years and they have been very successful by this method..." This kind of evidence could be multiplied, but these examples voice what has happened time and time again to Baptists that oppose missionary societies and mission boards. Southern Baptists have refused to admit the difference of the positions (anti-missionary & anti-missionary society), and thus misrepresent the obvious practices of many Baptist churches.


Another common misrepresentation is the history of so-called "landmark" principles concerning the origin, nature, authority, and ordinances of the church. They are represented as arising "in the Southern Baptist Convention in the middle of the nineteenth century" [Tull, p. 3, Baptist History and Heritage, Jan. 1975] and that "J. R. Graves...helped to inaugurate...the Landmark movement" [Smith, p. 19, Baptist History and Heritage, Jan. 1975]. Although Graves and his influential paper spread his ideas throughout the South, he emphasized principles already believed by Baptists. While declaring "landmarkism" a new movement inaugurated by Graves on one hand, Southern Baptist historians are forced to admit on the other that "one can find in the writings of his day practically every doctrinal element involved in the Graves' system" [Baker, p. 2, Baptist History and Heritage, Jan. 1975].


Some landmark Baptist historians (and those predating landmarkism) have recorded unverified claims and misrepresented facts, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The same can be said of Southern Baptist and other non-landmark historians. Particular historical research must stand or fall on its own merits - don’t try to impress me to agree just by saying you are "recognized and trained"!

[1] The complaints against "landmark" historiography are not limited to Southern Baptist historians. This is discussed from the standpoint of Southern Baptists because the citations are of Southern Baptist historians. Note also that early "Landmark" historians were Southern Baptists as well.
[2]This accusation applies to others who hold church successionism, but because of the Landmark movement being within the SBC, SB historians usually discuss this in the context of Landmarkism.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The person God intends

Proverbs 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

"God never makes mistakes. Never! So whoever you’re married to is the person that God intends for you to make a happy home with..." -- Franklin Senters, from
Living in His Word Devotions, October 12, 2006

Agree or disagree?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Institutionalism

"I firmly believe that if God had wanted us to create organizations of our own to carry out the tasks He set for us to accomplish, both individually and as congregations of His body, He would have mentioned something about it in the Book. It's not as though it's exactly rocket science; organizations and their benefits have been well-known at least as far back as Egypt (which had an organized army and organized slave labor, as well as a hierarchical government bureaucracy to oversee both occasionally unruly bodies). So it seems to follow that if we cannot find any indication that God wants us to set up organizations to do His work, that it must be because He does not want us to do so, rather than that He didn't know how, or forgot to mention it, or just didn't think it needed pointing out." – Ryan Waldron in "Institutionalism" on The Good Fight (by permission)

Ryan Waldron is a member in the Church of Christ. Though he and I would differ widely on some issues, I can't think of how I could have said this any better or any closer to my own opinions on the matter.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lord's Supper and Eating at Church

I posted yesterday on the Lord's Supper (by Ken Wimer). I also had a few thoughts about the following:

I Corinthians 11:22 - "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God..."

I grew up with connections to some of our Baptists who didn't think you ought to eat at and/or in the church house. I suppose we attended enough singings with "dinners on the ground" that the "at" church part never bothered me. But I struggled from time to time with the "in" church -- including eating in the church building or building a separate kitchen/fellowship hall in which to eat. This may seem silly to some of you more enlightened folks, but, if so, then leave us be. Perhaps what I write will help some who still struggle with the issue.

Now I think this "not eating at church" was probably influenced by a sincere desire to literally follow Paul's instructions, while making at least two mistakes -- improper emphasis on the church building, and not remembering that the early churches met in houses (homes).

In introducing his teaching on the Lord's Supper, Paul wrote, "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not."

We didn't (and don't) believe that the church is the building. It is nevertheless possible to place too much emphasis on the use of the church building. "Because the building was the church's place of worship, proper respect should be placed on what kinds of things are done in it." But, a building in the New Testament is just a building. The Lord removed the Old Testament emphasis of "church" and worship being associated with a place, and associated it only with a people -- "the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father...But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth..." Have we erred in re-associating worship and place? In
Were Persecution, Poverty, and Progression the Real Reasons for First Century House Churches?, Steve Atkerson writes, "...the original church held its meetings primarily in private homes..." and "...continued this practice for hundreds of years." Why the change? Was it a good one? As more than one house church proponent has noted, we have exchanged the face-to-face fellowship of the intimate home setting to the more formal fellowship with the back of our neighbour's head!

Whether or not one has any interest in house churches in our age, it should be understood that we must interpret "houses" in I Corinthians 11:22 in light of New Testament practice rather than the current model of church buildings. Note, for examples: Romans 16:5 - Likewise greet the church that is in their house. I Cor. 16:19 - The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. Colossians 4:15 - Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. Philemon 1:2 - And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: (see also Acts 8:3, 16:40, 20:20; James 2:3). So when we hear Paul say, "have ye not houses to eat and to drink in" we certainly should NOT think "eat at home and don't bring food to the church house". The emphasis is not on "houses", but on "ye". Each "taking his own supper" indicates a selfishness, lack of fellowship and unwillingness to share. If you don't eat the "fellowship meal"; if all you are thinking about is your own eating, then stay at your own home. Here -- in one place, all eating together, some got too much and some got too little. No wonder Paul spoke to their shame and could not praise them in what they were doing. When they came together to eat the Lord's Supper, they DID NOT come together to eat the Lord's Supper. Each gratified his or her selfish desire.


Much more could be said, but perhaps this will suffice. I would conclude that Paul addresses what was wrong with their eating, not that eating was wrong. I Cor. 11:22 does not forbid the assembled church eating together.

[Note: A goodly number of Bible students believe that a common meal -- love feast or feast of charity -- was held by the early churches in connection with the communion/Lord's Supper. Cf. Acts 2:46 20:7, 11; II Peter 2:13; Jude 12]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Partaking of the Lord's Supper

"It is the Lord’s table. HE is the honored host, and HIS people are HIS invited guests. HE gave it as an ordinance to HIS Church, whereby the members of HIS body remember HIM in HIS death, burial, and resurrection until HE returns, I Cor. 11:23, 24.

"The unleavened bread is a symbol of Christ’s perfect, sinless body. It is not actually the body of our Lord, nor does it become so at any time. The Lord Jesus is present at the table, by His Spirit, revealed in the hearts of His chosen, redeemed, justified and called out people. The bread is a memorial of Christ’s body that was crushed and bruised by God the Father, on behalf of the Church, and baked in the fire of God’s judgment for the sin of His people--Isaiah 53:10.

"The wine is a symbol of Christ’s blood that He shed. It is not the actual blood of the Lord Jesus, but represents the death that He died on our behalf. Our Lord called it “the new testament in my blood,” showing that by His one death, He ratified and completely fulfilled the old covenant which was that of the blood of animals only, Exodus 24:8. Wine was often used for medicinal purposes in Scripture and is an appropriate symbol of what the death of Christ accomplished for the Redeemed. By His one offering, they have been sanctified forever!

Heb 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

"The Lord’s Table is only for the Church. Christ’s death is not a general atonement (covering) for sin. He died for the Church, made up of elect sinners from every tribe, nation, and tongue-Acts 20:28. Here are four biblical criteria essential to partaking of the Lord’s Table.

· You must be redeemed by Christ, Ephesians 1:7
· Regenerated by the Holy Spirit, John 3:3, 8
· Immersed in water in submission by faith to God’s one true righteousness imputed in Christ’s death- Acts 2:41
· Walking in fellowship with the Lord and His people, I Cor. 5:7, 8, 11.

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup,” I Corinthians 11:28." -- Ken Wimer, Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, September 24, 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sacred Harp Singing

3rd Annual Sacred Harp Singing at the Heights Church of Christ -- Saturday December 2nd (q.v.). The building is located at 1548 Heights Blvd. in Houston, Texas. We will use both the 1991 Revision and the 2006 Cooper Revision.

Definitions of terms

One thing often done for clarity in discussion is to give definitions of terms. It should be helpful to define some of the terminology that we Christians throw around. Perhaps we do not all use the terms in the same way and it causes confusion. I will present my understanding of some of these terms and give you the opportunity to tell what you understand in them. I do not take credit for all the material below. It is from a text document I have that contains cut and pasted materials from different sources, mingled with definitions and comments of my own. At this point, I do not have sources to credit in most cases, but I hope this will make a contribution. (Where known, I will give credit)

Atonement
1. General Atonement/Redemption (Hypothetical universalism) - this view holds that Christ’s death makes provision for the salvation of all men. The atonement paid for the sins of the whole world, but each individual must appropriate that payment through faith. Unlimited redemptionists are not universalists. They do not believe that all will ultimately be saved.
2. Limited Atonement/Particular Redemption (Reformed particularism) - this view holds that the atonement is limited in scope in that Christ's death actively redeems only those for whom He particularly died (the elect).
3. Universal Atonement/Redemption (Universalism) – this view holds that Christ's death guaranteed salvation for every member of the human race -- past, present, and future.

Arminian/Arminianism
Follows the teachings of Jacobus Arminius in general, and probably in particular the Articles of Remonstrance:
- God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ those of the fallen and sinful race who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in him, but leaves in sin the incorrigible and unbelieving. (In other words predestination is said to be conditioned by God's foreknowledge of who would respond to the gospel)
- Christ died for all men (not just for the elect), but no one except the believer has remission of sin.
- Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. (Though accused of such, Arminius and his followers were not Pelagians.)
- All good deeds or movements in the regenerate must be ascribed to the grace of God but his grace is not irresistible.
- Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the faith. But it is possible for a believer to fall from grace.
(As noted in yesterday's blog, I question whether most of those described as Arminians actually hold to “original” Arminianism.)

Calvinist/Calvinism
Follows the teachings of John Calvin in general, and probably in particular the Canon/Synod of Dort:
- that fallen man was totally unable to save himself (Total Inability)
- that God's electing purpose was not conditioned by anything in man (Unconditional Election)
- that Christ's atoning death was only for the elect (Limited Atonement)
- that the gift of faith, sovereignly given by God's Holy Spirit, cannot be resisted by the elect (Irresistible Grace)
- that those who are regenerated and justified will persevere in the faith (Perseverance of the saints)

Modified Calvinist/Calvinism
This is a common terminology to refer to those who hold total depravity and eternal security in combination with general atonement and election conditioned on repentance and faith. It is intended to demonstrate a church/denominational/teaching with historical roots in Calvinism which has been modified over the course of a number of years.

Hyper-Calvinist/Hyper-Calvinism
Everyone that is more Calvinistic than you are! This term probably does not have a fixed meaning, but maybe most often refers to those that believe we should not command and call the sinner to come to Christ. This is sometimes applied to those who hold “Spirit regeneration” as opposed to “gospel regeneration”.

Amyraldian/Amyraldism
Follows the teachings of Moyse Amyraut, who, according to Curt Daniel, “posited that Christ died for all men because of universal grace. Christ died equally for all in order to provide a basis for the universal part of the Covenant of Grace. This provision was universal, but the application was particular and limited to the elect. Amyraut felt that this was the view of Calvin and the early Reformers.” This is also called Hypothetical Universalism (but the general atonement version of Hypothetical Universalism appears to be different from Amyraut's Hypothetical Universalism, in my opinion; to me, Amyraldism stands somewhere between definitions 1 & 2 in my "atonement" list above). “The theory basically is…two kinds of grace: universal grace for all men and special grace only for the elect. Because of universal grace and the universal aspect of the Covenant of Grace, it is hypothetically possible for the heathen to be saved without hearing the Gospel…in fact none of these have ever been saved because it is only through the Gospel that saving faith is given. Further, God is said to have two wills: a universal conditional will and a particular unconditional will.” The view of Andrew Fuller (Fullerism) seems to accord well with Amyraldism (or Amyraldianism) and is often so called. Fuller reasoned that on the one hand, Christ died to atone for all men; and on the other hand, as the Father saw in advance that no one would wish to accept Christ of their own free will, He only guaranteed that certain sinners would follow their inner sense of duty and repent and believe. Christ still died for all men, though His Father restricted salvation to the elect. The thought that “Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but efficient for only the elect” is part of this system.

Pelagian/Pelagianism
Pelagius combatted the doctrine of original sin. He and his followers framed these six doctrines for example:
1. That Adam would have died even if he had not sinned
2. That the sin of Adam injured himself, not the human race
3. That newborn children are in the same condition as Adam was before the Fall; that infants have eternal life
4. That the whole human race does not die because of Adam's death or sin, nor will it rise again because of Christ's resurrection
5. That the Old Testament Law, as well as the New Testament Gospel, gives entrance to heaven
6. That even before the coming of Christ there were men who were entirely without sin.
(It should be noted that some present day “Arminians” are followers of Pelagius rather than Arminius on the ideas of original sin and depravity.)

Other terms we sometimes encounter include:

Manichaen/Manichaenism
Historical Manichaenism probably does not exist among Christians, but any form of dualism is often referred to as Manichaenism. Possibly most notable among Baptists has been/is the teachings of Daniel Parker which posited that among the human race there is a seed of God and a seed of the Devil (and that the Devil is an eternal, though lesser, being). The "elect" would be those who have the seed of God.

Fatalist/Fatalism
Some people would connect this term to those who hold to predestination. The ancient idea (of Greeks and others) is that man is a helpless creature borne along by some unknown force (destiny, fate). Some versions of absolute predestinarianism may reach a similar conclusion, but replacing fate with God.

Antinomian/Antinomianism
Antinomian comes from the Greek ‘anti’ and ‘nomos’, meaning against law. It refers to the doctrine that it is not necessary for Christians to obey the moral law. Faith frees the Christian from such obligations. Or, put another way, antinomianism is a system of doctrine that leads naturally to licentiousness. This is often charged to any who hold to eternal security, perseverance, or "once saved/always saved". It is said that such doctrine allows the Christian to do “whatever he wants.”

Sandemanian/Sandemanianism
Sandemanianism may not be specifically related to the Calvinism/Arminianism debate, but it is a form of soteriological belief. Robert Sandeman taught that the faith which saves is nothing other than the "bare belief of the bare truth." Sandemanianism is the name which is usually identified with the idea that saving faith consists of "merely believing facts." It is simply "taking God at His Word" (bare belief of the bare truth).

Two related terms are:

Monergism
"This position teaches that salvation is entirely a work of God; That man can contribute nothing to his salvation and that one is saved wholly and unconditionally by grace through faith."
Synergism
"Synergism comes from two Greek words meaning 'to work together with.' So when speaking of salvation it refers to a cooperation between God and man. In other words, man works together with God to effect his salvation. There seems to be two strains of this teaching; the Semi-Pelagian form which teaches that man takes the initiative and then is helped by divine grace. And then there is the more prevalent form among evangelicals which teaches that God, the Holy Spirit, takes the first step (toward all members of the human race) but cannot effect the completion of the work of regeneration without the cooperation and consent of the sinner."

The definitions of monergism and synergism are taken from
Monergism vs. Synergism by John Hendryx.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Jacobus Arminius -- the Calvinist's whipping boy

Jacobus Arminius (aka Jacob Arminius, James Arminius, and Jacob Harmenszoon) may have been more "Calvinistic" (or at least Reformed) than many modern Calvinists. Nevertheless, his name has become indelibly attached to the anathema of "Calvinistic" Sovereign Grace believers. Arminius this and Arminian that, we say and write. But did Arminius really believe what is often attributed to him? And does it really matter? Well, for the sake of polemics, argument and debate, it probably doesn't matter. After all, folks are debating particular opposing beliefs and not really the man Arminius. But for the sake of history and honesty, I think it does. To permanently represent Arminius with the errors of those that followed him is historically incorrect, and, if we know better, dishonest as well.

"Whenever the Calvinist...fervently sets his pen (or keyboard) against the writings and thoughts of the Arminians, he is usually arguing against secondary ideas based upon his knowledge of the subject. What do I mean by this? I mean to say that instead of hearing the doctrine of repentance from Arminius himself, or from the Remonstrants (his followers), the Calvinist will refute the Arminian doctrine of repentance based on preconceived notions, assumptions, other books written about other authors who say they are Arminian, and the like...Let us all stop arguing about these secondary issues and first have a real handle on what the Arminian actually believes and teaches. But we are only able to do this if we understand the intricate root system of classical 'Arminianism'." - Rev. C. Matthew McMahon, pastor of Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church
A Puritan's Mind on James Arminius

"It is evident that such accounts of Arminius assume a definition of Arminianism which cannot be derived from Arminius himself." - Carl D. Bangs
"Those who see predestination as the essential core of Reformed or Augustinian-Calvinistic theology find it easy to say that, since Arminius did not articulate predestination in the same way Calvin did, he is a semi-Pelagian. Then they transfer this alleged semi-Pelagianism to all of his theology." - J. Matthew Pinson (Integrity: a Journal of Christian Thought, Summer 2003, No. 2)

I'm not a big fan of Arminius, or all that much of Calvin. But what little I have discovered about Arminius in the past few years makes me believe that much of the "Christian" world labors under a false conception of what Arminius really believed. That doesn't mean we would necessarily agree with Arminius, just that we might be surprised just how un-Arminian some of his theology seems when we actually read it. Again, does it really matter? In the grand debate between "Calvinism", "Arminianism" and all points between -- probably not that much. I wouldn't want someone naming a theology after me; but if they did, I would at least want it to represent what I believed!! ;-D

In the spirit of the holiday season, give the ol' boy a break. Why not pick on someone else for awhile?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving, reprise

In I Thessalonians 5:18 the Apostle Paul writes, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

In birth or death, give thanks ("A time to be born and a time to die"; "Children are an heritage of the Lord"; "Grave, where is thy victory...Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ")
In poverty or wealth, give thanks ("Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.")
In every thing, give thanks ("And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God...")


Ephesians 5:20 - Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Salvation is of the LORD

Jonah 2:9 Salvation is of the Lord.

The universal truth of Jonah's observation illustrated in the deliverance of the Ninevites:

1. The Lord originated the purpose (neither Jonah nor the Ninevites were involved in planning for their deliverance).
2. The Lord initiated the design (neither Jonah nor the Ninevites were interested in their fate).
3. The Lord controlled the circumstances (despite Jonah's attempt to circumvent God's command).
4. The Lord gave Jonah the message (and Jonah's planned disobedience did not change it).
5. The Lord produced the results (Jonah preached impending destruction, but not how to avoid it).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Maybe we should...

...think this way more often?

"Wherever God has a child, I have a brother or a sister." -- W. Carl Ketcherside

"Renewing God's People" -- short review

I purchased, read and enjoyed Renewing God's People: A Concise History of the Churches of Christ by Gary Holloway and Douglas Foster (Abilene Christian University Press, 2001). The authors are members of the Churches of Christ (evidently on the more progressive end), and write from a standpoint of both sympathy and honesty. The book recounts the journey of the Churches of Christ (the conservative wing of the Stone-Campbell movement) from a people who professed to be Christians only, to a people who came to believe they were the only Christians. This is not just historical data, but analysis of why they think this happened and a call to these people back to the original restoration plea. Though the book is written more to the people of these churches, I would recommend it as a concise introduction for those who might be interested in the historical journey of the "Churches of Christ."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Out on a limb

"Why not go out on a limb? That's where the fruit is." -- sometimes credited to Mark Twain and sometimes to Will Rogers, in what I've seen online (anyone know for sure?)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dark the stain...

Dark the stain that soiled man's nature,
Long the distance that he fell,
Far removed from hope and heaven
Near to deep despair and hell.

But there is a fountain opened,
And the blood of God's own Son
Purifies the soul, and reaches
Deeper than the stain has gone.


-- attributed to "Rev." Raymond Browning (written before or by 1928)

Upon the cross where Jesus died,
Where He for me was crucified
There love I see beyond compare,
And all my hope is centered there.

No other scene beneath the skies
Hath e'er appeared before mine eyes
That fills my heart with joy so sweet,
And moves with love that's so complete.

My heart is not on things below,
Its yearnings t'ward Mt. Calv'ry go;
Where love I see beyond compare,
And all my hope is centered there.

-- attributed to F. L. Eiland

Both songs above appeared in "Vaughan's Select Radio Specials" by the James D. Vaughan Publishing Co., Cleveland, TN 1947; it just seemed to me that they contain a little "deeper" theology than is often associated with a lot of southern gospel music.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Truth is truth, no matter who says it

Though not always appreciative of what Charles on the Calvinist Flyswatter has to say, I find this statement (actually by Bob Ross, I think) pretty on target: "Furthermore, some modern Calvinists appear to be so 'straight and narrow' about having a proper theoretical or systematic theology that they can't seem to appreciate the simple truth wherever it is found. For example -- Andrew Fuller tells about being criticized by an 18th century strong-as-a-bear's-breath Calvinist for quoting John 3:16, as if it was 'Arminian' to do so. Fuller replied that a Scripture was nonetheless true just because it was used by an Arminian. A lot of these types were actually converted under less-than-Calvinist preachers, even under Arminians, but now they seem rather reluctant to admit it. They can't seem to appreciate the simple Gospel when it happens to be preached by an 'Arminian'."

"I declare unto you the gospel...how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Silver from dross

Proverbs 25:21-22 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

"So artists melt the sullen ore of lead,
By heaping coals of fire upon its head:
In the kind warmth the metal learns to glow,
And pure from dross the silver runs below."- Samuel Wesley (from Adam Clarke's Commentary)
-- Found in Rodgers Baptist Church Verse of the Day November 11, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blest be the tie that binds

"This hymn was written by Rev. John Fawcett, D.D., an English Baptist, who was born at Lidget Green, in Yorkshire, January 6th (O. S., i.e.17th, as we reckon), 1739, and who died July 25th, 1817, aged seventy-seven, having spent nearly sixty years in the ministry. In 1782 he published a small volume of hymns. It was in 1772, after a few years spent in pastoral work, that he was called to London to succeed the Rev. Dr. Gill. His farewell sermon had been preached near Moinsgate, in Yorkshire; six or seven wagons stood loaded with his furniture and books, and all was ready for his departure; but his loving people were not ready. They gathered about him, and 'men, women, and children clung around him and his family in perfect agony of soul.' Finally, overwhelmed with the sorrow of these they were leaving, Dr. Fawcett and his wife sat down on one of the packing-cases, and wept bitterly. Looking up, Mrs. Fawcett said: 'Oh, John, John, I cannot bear this! I know not how to go!' 'Nor I either,' said the good man; 'nor will we go. Unload the wagons, and put everything in the place where it was before.' This determination was hailed with tears of joy by those around, and a letter was at once sent to London, explaining the case. Dr. Fawcett then resolutely returned to his work on a salary of something less than two hundred dollars a year, and this hymn is said to have been written to commemorate the event." -- From English Hymns: Their Authors and History by Samuel Willoughby Duffield. Published by Funk & Wagnalls in 1886

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Natural Theology

"Men think the gospel is for everybody. The gospel is a message for sinners. They are the only ones who will find any comfort in its glorious message. The righteous man doesn’t need it. The religious man finds it beneath him. When a man has been brought by the grace of GOD to see himself as the old publican who would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast saying 'GOD be merciful to me a sinner' (Luke 18:13) then and only then will the gospel appear to him as the very savor of life. 'God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.' (2 Thess. 2:13-14)" -- Mike McInnis, Grace Gazette, Vol. IV, Issue 34, http://www.gracechapelobrien.net

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God sets His people a-praying

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications..."

Now we have here an account of two remarkable works designed in that day. I. A glorious work of God to be wrought for his people: "I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem, v. 9. Nations come against Jerusalem, many and mighty nations; but they shall all be destroyed, their power shall be broken, and their attempts baffled; the mischief they intend shall return upon their own head. God will seek to destroy them, not as if he were at a loss for ways and means to bring it about (Infinite Wisdom was never nonplussed), but his seeking to do it intimates that he is very earnest and intent upon it (he is jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and has the day of vengeance in his heart) and that he overrules means and instruments, and all the motions and operations of second causes, in order to it. He is framing evil against them; when he seems to be setting them up he is seeking to destroy them. In Christ’s first coming, he sought to destroy him that had the power of death, and did destroy him, bruised the serpent’s head, and broke all the powers of darkness that fought against God’s kingdom among men and against the faithful friends and subjects of that kingdom; he spoiled them, and made a show of them openly. In his second coming, he will complete their destruction, when he shall put down all opposing rule, principality, and power, and death itself shall be swallowed up in that victory. The last enemy shall be destroyed of all that fought against Jerusalem. II. A gracious work of God to be wrought in his people, in order to the work that is to be wrought for them. When he seeks to destroy their enemies he will pour upon them the Spirit of grace and supplication. Note, When God intends great mercy for his people the first thing he does is to set them a praying; thus he seeks to destroy their enemies by stirring them up to seek to him that he would do it for them; because, though he has proposed it and promised it, and it is for his own glory to do it, yet he will for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, Eze. 36:37. Ask, and it shall be given. This honour will he have to himself, and this honour will he put upon prayer and upon praying people. And it is a happy presage to the distressed church of deliverance approaching, and is, as it were, the dawning of its day, when his people are stirred up to cry mightily to him for it.

-- Matthew Henry, from his Commentary, Zechariah 12:9-14

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Picket Guard

I first heard this on a Bobby Horton recording, and have liked it since. It's kinda sad, so proceed with caution.

"ALL quiet along the Potomac to-night!"
Except here and there a stray picket
Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro,
By a rifleman hid in the thicket.
'Tis nothing! a private or two now and then
Will not count in the news of a battle;
Not an officer lost, only one of the men
Moaning out, all alone, the death rattle.


All quiet along the Potomac to-night!
Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming;
And their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon,
And the light of their camp-fires are gleaming.
A tremulous sigh, as a gentle night-wind
Through the forest leaves slowly is creeping;
While the stars up above, with their glittering eyes,
Keep guard o'er the army sleeping.
There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread
As he tramps from the rock to the fountain,
And thinks of the two on the low trundel bed,
Far away, in the cot on the mountain.


His musket falls slack, his face, dark and grim,
Grows gentle with memories tender,
As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep,
And their mother--"may heaven defend her!"
The moon seems to shine forth as brightly as then--
That night, when the love, yet unspoken,
Leaped up to his lips, and when low-murmured vows
Were pledged to be ever unbroken.


Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes,
He dashes off tears that are welling;
And gathers the gun closer up to his breast
As if to keep down his heart's swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine-tree,
And his footstep is lagging and weary;
Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light,
Towards the shades of the forest so dreary.


Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves?
Was it the moonlight so wondrously flashing?
It looked like a rifle: "Ha! Mary, good-by!"
And his life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
"All quiet along the Potomac to-night!"
No sound save the rush of the river;
While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,
And the picket's off duty forever!

-- By Ethyl Lynn Beers, 1861

Sunday, November 12, 2006

ALL male apostles

Some Baptist folks who emphasize "Jesus as the criterion" of Bible interpretation have become some of the leading proponents of ordaining women to the gospel ministry. Now any church is free to act in this manner as they so choose, but Baptists have traditionally held themselves free to follow what the Bible teaches. Those who believe "Jesus is the criterion" for ordaining women might consider the following.

That Jesus chose 12 ALL MALE apostles is a fact (unless some of you by your textual criticism have determined the Bible or parts of it to be a myth). This fact should not be taken lightly and should be given proper consideration. Did Jesus find it important that all the "chosen" representatives be of the male gender? If so, why? Were there no qualified women available? Was He not the visionary "social revolutionary" who bucked the status quo, but rather one who conformed to the social standards of the day? Was there some other reason that He chose ONLY apostles of the MALE gender??

Many who say they use "Jesus as the criterion" for Bible interpretation say that women should be pastors. Nevertheless, Jesus DID NOT allow women equal access to the apostleship. But some feel that He, by treating women equally, established a precedent for treating women equally as pastors. How do you deal with the whole facts of Jesus' ministry, especially relating to the case of the 12 ALL MALE APOSTLES?

Possible explanations of why Jesus chose apostles only from the male gender:
1. Only men were allowed to hold the position.
2. Jesus was not ready to confront the social mores of the His day.
3. Jesus made a practical decision based on the times in which He lived.
4. Jesus chose the twelve as individuals (and, therefore, their gender is not relevant).
5. Jesus choosing all male apostles is completely irrelevant.

The application of these (above, by number) might be:
1. No females in leadership roles.
2. No females in leadership roles if it is socially unacceptable.
3. Females in leadership roles as practicality allows.
4. Females in leadership roles with no exclusions nor exceptions.
5. Whatever.!?!.

Do the five explanations fairly represent positions held by some who call themselves Baptists? Are the five applications consistent with the five explanations?

I interpret the New Testament commands in light of practice of the New Testament church as guided by the inspired apostles. I do not suggest others do not, but not generally to the extent that I do. So while many fundamentalists and conservatives see an example as 'one way' to do it, I often see an example as 'the way' to do it. I believe mine is a more consistent approach than that of some. For example, a number of fundamentalists will agree that preachers ought to be men because Jesus chose only men, but will not agree that the church ought to be THE teaching institution for Christian doctrine and practice because Jesus instituted only the church and commissioned her to teach.

If Jesus was "nothing short of revolutionary", why would He stick with the old staid system of all male leadership? To realize that Jesus was not afraid to tackle the out-of-the-ordinary and yet see He chose only male apostles should be at least reason to proceed with caution. I see no reason for not accepting the following conclusion: Since Jesus is God, He had no reason to fear challenging the social customs of the day. It can be demonstrated that He did so on certain occasions. Since He is God, did not fear society and challenged it when necessary, the fact that He chose 12 apostles who were all male cannot be satisfactorily explained as an accomodation to society, custom, or practicality. More likely it is one more piece of evidence demonstrating that it is in the purpose of God for church leadership, under Christ, to be in the hands of men rather than women.

Like Jesus, that Paul stayed within the social guidelines is not a constant. With the matter of the slavery recorded in Philemon, he made no attempt to change the social order. But in the matter of the circumcision of Titus, for example, he did not follow the "guidelines" (Gal. 2:1-5). One might see the matter as a difference between social guidelines and religious issues (when social it didn't matter, but when religious it did), or as a difference between legal matters (slavery) or social custom (circumcision). This might be worth spinning off into a whole new topic - when and why did Jesus and the apostles follow the established order and when did they challenge it (e.g., Jesus constantly challenged the established rule of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but seems to have not often challenged Roman governmental authority)? Nevertheless, it is clear that our criterion, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, set the example when He chose to put all male leadership in His church in Jerusalem.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Obeying the law

Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Romans 13 is clear in teaching obeying authority, though it is not the totality of the New Testament teaching on the subject. Peter for example, clearly states that "We ought to obey God rather than men." Sometimes we must make that choice. My understanding is that we as Christians are supposed to obey even bad laws unless they require us to violate our duty to God. Therefore the Christian should violate a law forbidding not preaching the gospel, but obey laws regarding speed limits, riding buses, wearing seat belts, paying taxes, and thousands of others we could think of, regardless whether we think them unjust or a violation of rights. There were probably three Roman emperors during Paul's ministry -- Caligula (or Gaius), Claudius and Nero -- none of whom would meet modern American standards of "ministers of God for good". We must understand Romans 13 in context, not with our American mindset. When Paul wrote Romans 13, the mad-man Nero was probably on the throne.

Such a teaching to an extent probably sticks in our American/western craw and somewhat contradicts our view of independence and freedom?

Friday, November 10, 2006

From the pit to the prison (and to the palace, too)

"If ever there was a man whose heart could have been overwhelmed in depression, it was Joseph, the son of Jacob. Yet, in the midst of many lonely years, from the pit to the prison, Joseph joyfully served God and those around him. God has a way of keeping us standing secure and serene on the rock, even when the world throws us into the pit." -- comments quoted from Rodgers Baptist Church's Verse of the Day, Tuesday October 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Odd bits and pieces of poetry

This post contains some odd bits and pieces of poetry that have little more in common than that I like a verse or two or three of it.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold
And upon the throne be wrong,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.
-- From The Present Crisis by James Russell Lowell, 1844

We cleared our camp where the buffalo feed,
Unheard-of streams were our flagons;
And I sowed my sons like the apple-seed
On the trail of the Western wagons.
They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,
A fruitful, a goodly muster.
The eldest died at the Alamo.
The youngest fell with Custer.
The letter that told it burned my hand.
Yet we smiled and said, "So be it!"
But I could not live when they fenced the land,
For it broke my heart to see it.
-- From The Ballad of William Sycamore by Stephen Vincent Benet - 1923

I will not take that bitter thrust which rent my heart today
As coming from an earthly soul -- though it was meant that way
But I will look beyond the tool because my life is planned
I take the cup my father gives, I take it from His hand.
-- From The Cup from His Hand by unknown (heard on the radio)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Church -- God's "Seminary"

This blog post is really unfinished, but I posting it as is. Maybe we can flesh it out later.

CERTAIN PRESUPPOSITIONS I HAVE

1. The Inspiration of Scripture - all scripture is given by God and is therefore the place we find our instructions.
2. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 is a command to be fulfilled by local assemblies of believers (i.e., local Baptist churches).
3. The local church is by definition and purpose a gathering of baptized saints committed to carrying out the work of Christ.
4. New Testament examples - consistent examples are authoritative.

SOME ASSUMPTIONS OF SEMINARY

1. That the churches are not fully equipped to train their ministers.
2. That an education based on secular patterns and learning styles is preferable to “being educated at church.”
3. That one having an accredited degree is more qualified to teach God’s people than one having only a spiritual gift.
4. Training for “the ministry” is of greater importance than training for “ministry”.

We should have at least a right to question a system that was non-existent in the apostolic age.

The same body that evangelizes and baptizes should also teach.

Religious education is by the church and for the church (Matt 28:18-20).
The purpose of religious education is maturation of the saints that they might engage in ministry, be built up as a body with the goal of unity of the faith and knowledge of Christ (Eph. 4:7-16).

Studying the scriptures exhibits nobility (Acts 17:11) and approves us unto God (II Tim. 2:15).

The church as God’s “seminary” recognizes the giftedness of the entire church body rather than somehow implying an exclusivity of the eldership.
The church as God’s “seminary” recognizes their authorization to teach by Christ and uses the body He authorized.

Are college professors or pastors best qualified to train pastors?
Pastoral ministry should not be equated as a profession as the legal or medical professions.

THINGS THAT NEED TO BE RETHOUGHT IN REGARD TO THE SEMINARY MODEL
1. What studies are really necessary for pastors?
2. Where does the example of plurality of elders fit?
3. Why must a religious education cost so much?
4. Should potential pastors been taken out of the life and concerns of their local church?
5. Why do we need the classroom setting? examinations? degrees?

If seminaries are sincere, let them work themselves out of a job by equipping churches to become able to educate their own people, rather than keeping churches dependent upon them as a constant source for education and preachers.

In the local church, we never finish our education and never receive a degree.
In addition to theology, hermeneutics, in the church we learn necessary lessons of interdependence, inter-relatedness, self-denial, longsuffering, meekness, kindness, and love.

“Every church was then a seminary, in which provision and preparation was made, not only for the continuation of Gospel preaching, but for the calling and gathering, and teaching of our churches.” John Owen, Commentary on Hebrews, Vol. 3, p. 568.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Baptists in Britain, Australia and Canada

A list of Baptist associations that exist in the British Isles (I would appreciate more information about Baptists in these Isles).

Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland (was the Baptist Union of Ireland)

Baptist Union of Great Britain
Baptist Union of Scotland
Baptist Union of Wales
Grace Baptist Assembly
Gospel Standard Strict Baptists
Jesus Fellowship Church
Old Baptist Union

The Jesus Fellowship Church grew out of the Bugbrooke Baptist Church in Northamptonshire after division from the Baptist Union of Great Britain. They may no longer consider themselves Baptists. There also used to be a Christian Pathway Strict Baptist group, but I think they may no longer exist. I'm sure there are independent churches that exist apart from any of these groups.

A list of Baptist associations that exist in Australia (I would appreciate more information about Baptists in Australia).

Australian Baptist Independent Fellowship
Baptist Union of Australia
Faith Baptist Churches Fellowship
Seventh Day Baptists
Strict and Particular Baptists

There are independent churches that exist apart from these groups, including some created by American missionary work; but it seems that the vast majority of Baptists in Australia participate in the Baptist Union.

A list of some of the Baptist groups in Canada (I hope some of our Canadian friends will tell us more; hint, hint, Jim!)

Association of Regular Baptist Churches of Canada
Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec
Baptist Union of Western Canada
Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches
Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada
Landmark Missionary Baptist Association of Quebec (L'Association des Églises Missionnaire Baptiste Landmark du Québec)
Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Canada
Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention of Canada
Union of French Baptist Churches (L'Union d'Églises Baptistes Françaises au Canada)
Union of Slavic Churches of Evangelical Christians and Slavic Baptists of Canada

The Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, Baptist Union of Western Canada, Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches, and the Union of French Baptist Churches work together through Canadian Baptist Ministries. Two other native Baptist groups in Canada are the Covenanted Baptist Church of Canada and the Primitive Baptist Conference of New Brunswick, Maine, and Nova Scotia (briefly mentioned on the linked page). Besides these, there are several churches that participate in associations & conventions that are United States based.

Of the status of the Covenanted Baptist Church of Canada, Elder J. F. Poole wrote that it "today exists only in skeleton form. A few years ago there were about 5 meetinghouses with one membership attending them all. A sad division took place and the flock was generally scattered. There may be one small group meeting there now with a minister going up from the States to speak to them." That was the status in July 2000. This group is/was a predestinarian group similar to and in fellowship with the Absolute Predestinarian Primitive Baptists.

The Primitive Baptist Conference of New Brunswick, Maine, and Nova Scotia still exists, but under a different name. They are NOT related to the Primitive Baptists of the United States, but are part of the Free Baptist movement in the northeast (U.S. & Canada). They separated from the Free Christian Baptists on questions of practice and order. In 1981, sixteen churches of the Primitive Baptist Conference (in New Brunswick) united with the National Association of Free Will Baptists and are known as the Atlantic Canada Association of Free Will Baptists. I have heard rumor that a few churches may not have participated in this union and still exist as "Primitive Baptists".

Monday, November 06, 2006

Baptist groups in the United States

Broad categories are based on the categories found in Baptists Around the World and Baptist Atlas, both works by Dr. Albert W. Wardin, Jr. Total on my list = 63, plus 11 ethnic bodies.

REGULAR BAPTISTS (NORTHERN-ORIENTED)
1. American Baptist Churches in the USA
2. Baptist General Conference
3. Conservative Baptist Association of America
4. North American Baptist Conference
5. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference
6. Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America
7. General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
8. Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America
9. New England Evangelical Baptist Fellowship
10. New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches
STATE OR REGIONAL GROUPS RELATED TO (but not affiliated with) THE NTA
11. Minnesota Baptist Association
12. Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches
13. Association of Independent Baptist Churches of Illinois
14. Dakota Baptist Association
15. Inter-Mountain Baptist Fellowship
16. Mountain States Baptist Fellowship
17. Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches of Northern California
18. Independent Fundamental Baptist Association (MI)

REGULAR BAPTISTS (SOUTHERN-ORIENTED)
19. Southern Baptist Convention
20. Alliance of Baptists
21. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
22. American Baptist Association
23. Baptist Missionary Association of America
24. Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association of America
25. Old Time Missionary Baptists (various local associations especially in TN & KY)
26. World Baptist Fellowship
27. Baptist Bible Fellowship International
28. Independent Baptist Fellowship International
29. Southwide Baptist Fellowship
30. Northwest Baptist Fellowship
31. Missouri Valley Concord of Independent Baptist Churches
32. Liberty Baptist Fellowship
33. Global Independent Baptist Fellowship

NATIONAL BAPTISTS
34. National Baptist Convention of America
35. National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
36. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
37. National Primitive Baptist Convention, Inc.
38. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

PRIMITIVISTS (SOUTHERN-ORIENTED)
39. Central Baptist Association
40. General Association of Baptists (aka Duck River and Kindred Associations)
41. Old Regular Baptists
42. Regular Baptists
43. Union Baptists
44. United Baptists
45. Old Line Primitive Baptists
46. Absolute Predestinarian Primitive Baptists
47. Progressive Primitive Baptists
48. Primitive Baptist Univeralists (believe in Universal--not general--atonement)
49. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists (3 churches left)
50. Black Primitive Baptists (primitivistic, not related to the progressive NPBC)

51. Jasper, New Hope and Pleasant Valley Associations (GA)

FREE WILL/GENERAL BAPTISTS
52. National Association of Free Will Baptists
53. Original Free Will Baptist Convention (NC)
54. United American Free Will Baptist Church
55. General Association of General Baptists
56. General Six-Principle Baptists (1 church left, I think)
57. Separate Baptists in Christ
58. National Association of United Baptists (similar to the UB's above {# 44}, but Arminian rather than Calvinistic)

REFORMED BAPTISTS
59. Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
60. Sovereign Grace Baptist Association
61. Continental Baptist Churches

OTHER
62. Strict Baptists (3 churches related to the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists of England)
63. Unaffiliated Baptists - numerous churches across the country do not affiliate with any kind of group or fellowship and some may not fit in any of the categories above.

ETHNIC BAPTISTS
There are many associations, conferences, and conventions that exist separately from the major conventions because of a difference in language. These groups usually relate in some way to the larger national bodies and therefore are not usually counted as separate groups of Baptists. I have confirmed at least 11 ethnic bodies that are autonomous or semi-autonomous, yet all or some of the churches participate in other bodies. They are:

ABCUSA related
Association of Evangelicals for Italian Missions
Czechoslovak Baptist Convention of the USA & Canada
Portuguese Baptist Convention of New England - org. 1903
Romanian Baptist Association of the US & Canada - Morton Grove, IL - org. 1913
Russian-Ukranian Evangelical Baptist Union, USA, Inc.
Union of Latvian Baptists in America

NBC related
Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention
National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul-Saving Assembly - Detroit, MI - org. 1920

[Note: I do not list the black Baptists above as ethnic bodies. They exist probably mostly because of reconstruction & segregation. But their origin is from membership within the General & Particular churches of British background. I have listed these two here, because they do not seem to be independent bodies but relate back to some one or the other of the National Baptist Conventions.]

SBC related
Polish Baptist Association in the USA & Canada - org. 1913
Ukranian Evangelical Baptist Convention - org. 1946

Other
Hungarian Baptist Convention of North America, Inc. - org. 1908

I would expect, but have not found information on, autonomous or semi-autonomous Spanish-speaking Baptist bodies.

Baptist "split-offs" -- such as Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, Holiness Baptist Association, General Conference of the Evangelical Baptist Church, etc. -- are counted as Baptists by some compilers of such data. It is my opinion that neither Baptists, nor these groups themselves, recognize them as Baptist.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON BAPTISTS
Baptists Around the World, Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
Encyclopedia of American Religions, by J. Gordon Melton, editor
Handbook of Denominations, by Mead and Hill
Baptist Atlas, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
Dictionary of Baptists in America, by Bill J. Leonard, editor
Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, National Council of Churches

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Kinds of Baptists

Some comments re the Baptist Name Tags blog made me consider posting my list of Baptists in the United States. First, though, here is a little background that may help build a foundation for understanding some of the differences among Baptists in the United States.

The major source of origin of Baptists in America is the Baptists of the British Isles. These Baptists fell into two basic categories: (1) General Baptists and (2) Particular Baptists. The General Baptists held that Christ's atonement was in general for all men predicated upon their repentance and faith. The Particular Baptists held that Christ's atonement was in particular for only those elected by God to salvation. Both kinds of British Baptists came to America and established churches, thus forming General and Particular Baptists in what would become the United States.

Two early controversies among Baptists in America were the laying on of hands (after baptism), and the seventh day sabbath versus the first day of the week. This created two more kinds of Baptists - the Six-Principle Baptists (in favor of laying on of hands as an ordinance) and the Seventh Day Baptists (in favor of the Sabbath). The Particular Baptists came to predominate the Baptist scene, especially through the influence of the Philadelphia Baptist Association. They increasingly became more often known as Regular Baptists. The General Baptists became almost extinct. The element of them that survived in the South later became known as Free Will Baptists (the present day General Association of General Baptists came from Benoni Stinson and other Regular Baptists who adopted the general atonement position). In the North, there was a strong Free Baptist movement that came out of the Regulars, and flourished in New England. Most of these New England Free Baptists would in the early 1900's become part of the Northern Baptist Convention (now ABCUSA), though a few became part of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

The Great Awakening led to an influx to the Baptists of people that held some positions not common with the Regulars. They were identified as Separates. Most of the Separates and Regulars set aside their differences and united around 1800, and agreed to be called United Baptists. But the great push for missionary and benevolent societies, theological seminaries, and other such movements soon brought dissension among the "United" Baptists, and this dissension brought division. Those in favor of these movements were in the majority and generally continued to be called Regulars or United, though they were called Missionaries by their opponents. Those who looked on these movements as unbiblical innovations, often called Regulars, came to call themselves the Primitive (meaning original) Baptists.

Upon the heels of this missionary/anti-missionary division, the Regular (missionary) Baptists would again be divided, this time geographically. The Baptists were unable to withstand the political upheaval going on in the nation over slavery and other sectional issues. This created the Northern and Southern Baptists (the Northern Baptists did not adopt that name or a convention system until early 1900; the SBC was organized in 1845). A few Baptist groups of today have a somewhat different background because of ethnic origin. This includes the National Baptist Conventions (African-American), the Baptist General Conference (Swedish), and the North American Baptist Conference (German).

These facts provide some background for the broad categories I will use in my blog tomorrow on "Baptist Groups in the USA". These catergories are are based on Albert W. Wardin's works and not original with me. Broadly, Baptists in the United States divided (1) theologically over the atonement; (2) geographically; (3) over means; and (4) by ethnicity. Then there are divisions within these broad categories, of which we shall see more tomorrow.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What if you knew?

One night after a meeting, some preachers were discussing when the Lord is coming, what are the signs, etc. Eld. Conrad Murrell asked the group “Suppose I could tell you exactly when the Lord is coming. What would you do?” They said one thing and another, nothing too exact. Eld. Murrell further stated, “Say we know he’s coming at two o’clock in the morning?” One said, “I don’t know what I’d do.” Another replied, “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.” Someone asked Murrell what he’d be doing. He looked at his watch and said, “It’s getting kind of late. I think I’d go to bed.” Some were left aghast, but the point was if there is something you’d be doing if you knew when the Lord was coming back, you ought to be doing it anyway (cause we know He IS coming back). Or as he said, “I don’t know of a thing I’d do different than what I’m doing now. And if you do, you ought to be doing it.”

I heard the above on a cassette tape recorded sermon of Conrad Murrell entitled, I believe, "Eschatology, #1". It is written from memory, so it is not word for word as on the tape.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Your adversary the devil

I Peter 5:8 "... your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"

I listened to a sermon tape of Elder J. F. Poole, which brought to mind this thought. He believed that we may often credit things to Satan when in fact the blame could be put on the flesh, and went on to point out that Satan (or the devil) is not omnipresent (that is, always present everywhere). Satan, unlike God, is a finite being and cannot be everywhere present at once. Now he is also a spiritual being, so he is not limited in mode of travel as those of us in the physical realm and probably can move about pretty fast. But when he is here, he is not over there and vice versa. I think most of us understand that Satan is not omnipresent, but we may be guilty of speaking in such a way that tends to attribute such a characteristic to him. Let us be cautious in our speech and not give credit to Satan that which only belongs to God.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

When Jesus Christ was here below

Wade Kotter supplied me with this text. It was published (without attribution) in "A Prayer Meeting and Revival Hymn Book" (10th stereotyped ed., 1843, Harrisburg, published by JohnWinebrenner).

When Jesus Christ was here below
He taught His people what to do;
And if we would His precepts keep,
We must descend to washing feet.

For on that night He was betray'd,
He for us all a pattern laid;
Soon as His supper He did eat,
He rose and wash'd His brethren's feet.

The Lord who made the earth and sky,
Arose and laid His garments by;
And washed their feet to show that we
Should always kind and humble be.

He wash'd them all to make them clean
But Judas still was full of sin;
May none of us, like Judas, sell
The Lord for gold, and go to hell.

Peter said "Lord, it shall not be,
"Thou shalt not stoop to washing me."
O that no Christian here may say
I'm too unworthy to obey.

"You call me Lord, and Master too,
"Then do as I have done to you;
"All my commands and councils keep,
"And show your love by washing feet.

"Ye shall be happy if you know
"And do these things by faith below;
"And I'll protect you till you die,
"And then remove you up on high."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"The Washing of the Saints' Feet" book review

Today's blog is a book review of The Washing of the Saints' Feet, by J. Matthew Pinson. The Washing of the Saints' Feet is religious non-fiction, available in paperback (156 pages) from Randall House Publications for $12.99.

J. Matthew Pinson is well-qualified to write a book on washing the saints' feet. He was raised in a "feet washing church" in a "feet washing denomination" (Free Will Baptist) and is the president of a "feet washing college" (Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville, TN). His presentation proves he is not merely repeating what he was brought up on (though certainly influenced by it), but is passionate about and learned on the subject. He has co-authored Free Will Baptist Handbook: Heritage, Beliefs, and Ministries and is one of the editors of Zondervan's Four Views on Eternal Security. He wrote "E. L. St. Claire and the Free Will Baptist Experience, 1893-1916" (Viewpoints: Georgia Baptist History, Vol. 17, 2000), "Toward a Theology of the Ordinances, with Special Reference to Feet Washing" (Integrity: a Journal of Christian Thought, Summer 2000), and articles for The Encyclopedia of Religious Controversy in the United States and The New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Pinson's aim is twofold: (1) to re-energize the Free Will Baptists' vision of washing the saints' feet, and (2) to offer that vision to the wider Christian family. The book grew out of an article he wrote for the publication Integrity, as well as a series of lectures he delivered at Free Will Baptist Bible College. This background contributes to a style that makes the book highly readable without detracting from its scholarship. The "primary audience" appears to be Free Will Baptists, but the book adapts well to a wider audience. It contains 6 chapter, 3 appendices, 6 hymns, biographical references, and an index.

"Introductory Reflections" prepares "outsiders" for what they may "view as an oddity", while prompting Free Will Baptists and other feet washers come to grips with their "oddity" -- which might not be that odd after all. Besides, as Pinson notes, "strange is a relative term". A few parts of this first chapter might be a little tedious for "outsiders". Some could be slighty discouraged with some discussion of minor Free Will Baptist concerns, such as "the myth of western non-observance". As an information gatherer, I relish such stuff. Everyone might not. But if the reader understands up front that this book will naturally discuss some points peculiar to its primary audience, there should be no problem persevering to the end. The book undeniably contains valuable information for a broad readership and this should be kept in mind.

"What is an Ordinance" investigates the backgrounds of the tradition of those who speak of ordinances versus the tradition of those who speak of sacraments. Pinson challenges the prevailing notions of many Baptists -- not just the majority who hold only two ordinances, but also the Free Will Baptists who hold three. Many folks never question "why two" or "why three". Pinson compels the reader to consider "...any attempt to limit the number of ordinances by criteria other than being ordained by God in the New Testament is not a biblical endeavor." He very effectively exposes the circular reasoning of accepting certain rites as ordinances and then defining ordinances in such a way as to exclude any other rites as ordinances.

As he builds his case, chapters three (Appointed by Christ for Literal Perpetuation) and four (The Symbolism of Feet Washing) explore the origin and meaning of washing the saints' feet and exhibits how this rite can meet the "high standard" designed to exclude it from being an ordinance -- literal practice, instituted by Jesus Christ, symbolizes His incarnation and humiliation. "If feet washing does not typify Christ, I do not think there is any thing in Scripture that could. It is the most beautiful and vivid symbol of Christ's condescension to us in all of Scripture." While making this case as an accomodation to those who hold the "high standard", he maintains and proves the standard itself is flawed.

"Feet Washing outside the Gospels" questions the objection that an ordinance must be mentioned outside the Gospels -- disputing both the premise that it must be mentioned outside the Gospels and the assertion that it is not mentioned outside the Gospels. Pinson believes it is mentioned in I Timothy 5. In addition he briefly advances the thought that feet washing in the post-apostolic churches was more widespread than is often generally supposed. For an in-depth look at the history of feet washing, see Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community by John Christopher Thomas.

The final chapter summarizes "Why the Lord's Supper and Feet Washing go together." Pinson uses tables to illustrate reasonable categories and subdivisions for ordinances -- ritual (initiatory, regular, and occasional) and non-ritual (singing, for example). Another table presents a side-by-side comparison of the symbolism of the Lord's supper and feet washing. Perhaps Pinson does not anticipate objections to his proposal that feet washing symbolizes resurrection. I have found other feet washers who strenuously objected to this understanding. In light of that, I would have liked to see more explanation of how he believes the two are linked.

Appendix One -- Further amplifies the history and development of the concepts of sacraments versus ordinances.
Appendix Two -- Ten pages of Augustine on John 13.
Appendix Three -- Study questions for individual use, or which help adapt the book for a study group.

“For Further Reading” should not to be overlooked. This bibliography provides a wealth of resources for anyone desiring to further research the subject of washing the saints’ feet. I have been trying to investigate this subject since about 1981, and know how hard it can be to locate materials. The subject is overlooked by many and ignored by more. Matthew Pinson provides a great service for us here.

Six songs
An added value of the book is the six hymns (with tunes) that Pinson includes in this work. Not random, they all deal with the subject of feet washing and one is inserted after the end of each chapter. Pinson desires that Free Will Baptists (and others) not view feet washing as an abstract theological discussion, but as an act of worship. The inclusion of the hymns highlights that fact. For those who are not interested, the hymns will not hinder. As a shape note singer, I am delighted by this unexpected addition -- especially that one of these songs is presented in shape note format and that "Love Consecrates the Humblest Act" uses an arrangement of a Southern Harmony tune (Resignation, p. 38).

Love consecrates the humblest act, and sanctifies each deed.
It sheds a benediction sweet, and hallows every need.

When in the shadow of the cross, Christ bowed and washed the feet

Of his disciples; twas a sign of His great love complete.

Love serves, yet willing stoops to serve. What Christ in love so true

Has freely done for one and all, shall we not gladly do?

The Washing of the Saints' Feet by J. Matthew Pinson -- buy it; read it; enjoy it. Those willing to think about the issue will find it thought-provoking. Those not willing to think probably should read the comics! If you believe in feet washing as a rite you may not agree with all he says, but you will find your position strengthened; if you do not believe in feet washing as a rite, you will come away having been challenged to support your own belief (and might even find some lesson with which you agree!). All will learn something.