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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Talent for sale?

"In the American church, the church will allow you to prostitute yourself, if you choose to. They will hire you based on your talent, overlooking all of your character, and then when you crash, they'll pretend they never saw the signs. And I think that we have to really step up to the challenge to run as fast as our character is deepening, and not as fast as our talent is expanding" (Erwin McManus). -- copied from Dave Gregg's The Good Question blogsite, posted 30 Nov 2006

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Substitution

The sum of how God is just to justify is this:

1. He provided the propitiation- Romans 3:21-26.
2. He established the law- Romans 3:27-31.
3. He freely justified & forgave- Romans 4:1-8.
4. He included Gentiles in the faith- Romans 4:9-25
5. He predestined fruit consistent with justification- Rom. 5:1-5.
6. He executed His will by substitution- Romans 5:6-8.


-- David Simpson, Powell , TN, excerpted from the Shreveport Grace Church Bulletin, January 21, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

How to find a fresh Reese's

One of my many weaknesses of the flesh is the Reese's Peanut Butter cup. Like Odysseus and the siren's song, I must often lash myself to the "mast" to keep from perishing (exiting the store with one).

BUT I don't like old nasty dried-up Reese's. They've had all the "cute" commercials about how to eat a Reese's, but where do you get the REALLY important information? In all these years I never known or thought about how to pick a fresh one. I've tried thumping watermelons to pick out the best ones (my record is not that good), but didn't know the Reese's test. A young checker in Kroger's taught me a lesson and saved me from buying a dried-out one the other day.


It's the packaging, stupid. Yes, the packaging. Test it to see if the "air" is sucked out of it or if it has air in it. If the package is kind of puffy like being filled with air inside, it's fresh. At least that is what she said. And right now I'm on a roll. 100%! Since that morning, I've gone five-for-five. Nothing but fresh!


P.S. -- this is not meant as medical, professional or personal advice; buy Reese's at your own risk; blogger not responsible for how this information is used.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Morning Cometh

Behold, the Morning Cometh ... and the Night; By Grady E. Dearman

The Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai knew when the camp was to be broken up for moving. The cloud which had hovered over them began to move. Hurriedly, tents were struck, possessions were gathered and preparations were completed for the move. Then — a time of stillness as every family and tribe stood in its order of march, awaiting patiently the sounding of the silver trumpets. That certain sound — and each Israelite in his own order began to march.

We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses — and we know our time for the “journeying of the camp” is nearer than when we first believed. Paul said, “The night is far spent...” Soon the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ shall rise, and we which are alive and remain shall be changed.

Do you believe that rampant wickedness worldwide is standing blatantly and blasphemously before God Almighty and demanding judgment? Is there no end to the matter? Yes, there is an end.

He is coming back to receive you to Himself, that where He is, there you might be also. For some reason we feel that the church are now like men who must stand girt about with the truth, as men who wait for their Lord.

[Excerpt. Via Hoyt Sparks]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Church Traditions

"It is amazing to realize, though nevertheless simply a fact, that Jesus’ conflict with Israel ’s religious leaders was not over the Mosaic Law. Jesus kept the Old Covenant to the letter, and apart from one rather embarrassing attempt to trip Him up using the occasion of a woman being caught in adultery, those who sought to do battle against Him did so for entirely other reasons. What made them so angry with Jesus wasn’t that He went against anything in the Old Testament Scriptures, because He patently didn’t, but rather that He challenged and went against something called the tradition of the elders." -- Church Traditions by Beresford Job

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Baptized with milk

Yesterday, when I opened the newspaper* to the third page of the religion section I saw a man standing in water up to his armpits and a person baptizing him with milk (pouring it out of the bottle over his head). Interesting!

This made me think of times when I've jokingly mentioned anointing the head with chocolate syrup before baptism. Now I made that up, but this I didn't. Is it wrong to pour milk over someone's head before or as a part of baptizing them? Based on what? The Bible doesn't command us to not do it!

Well, with some of these issues some people may feel a little more in limbo than I do. But on this one, I think many Bible-believers won't have a problem seeing the wrong in the principle, if not the act itself. The "Apostolic Church of Christ" believes this baptism with milk "cleanses the soul, drives away evil spirits and changes a person's luck."

Most Christians I know do not believe and would not be convinced that a baptism with milk will perform any of those acts. The ritual has antecedents in non-Christian religion. Certainly this is reason to look askance on rituals that are not Biblically-based. It might inform us to look for principles behind new "ritualistic" ideas that are being promoted in our own churches.

I looked online and found the "baptism" picture on The Columbus [OH] Dispatch with the article ‘Spirit churches’ blend local and Christian beliefs.

* Tyler Morning Telegraph, Saturday January 20, 2007, p. 3C
** Note 1: I don't know if this group follows up the pouring of milk with an immersion in water. I could not find any information on that.
** Note 2: An interesting quote somewhat relative to some previous threads:
"...like many independent churches in the United States, there is no special training for clergy. 'We don’t have to teach anyone religion,' Mojela said. 'We just read the Bible together and discuss what it says'."

New singing season!

Well, another year has rolled around and we're started the new season of Sacred Harp singings in Texas. The first is in Fort Worth. On January 27, 2007 the 23rd annual William J Reynolds Sacred Harp Singing will be held at Cowden Hall on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. (1991 Revision/Dutch Treat)

For more info: Timothy Studstill

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A curious situation

A reader sent me the following information about a curious situation in Austin, Texas. I had not heard of it before.

CNN has a Dec. 28th article here:
University to reconsider Confederate statues on campus

MSNBC has a poll about the subject.
Should the University of Texas remove its statues of Confederate leaders? You must vote to view the results.

UT News here:
University Of Texas Ponders Confederate Statue Controversy

A forum has even been started to discuss the issue:
U.T. Statue discussion

Friday, January 19, 2007

Book review of Ekklesia

A review of: Ekklesia...to the roots of Biblical church life. Steve Atkerson, editor. Atlanta, GA: New Testament Reformation Fellowship, 2003, 190 pp. $9.00 paperback. It may be ordered online from NTRF [Note: the book now available is a newer edition. According to the web site, it is now entitled Ekklesia: to the Roots of Biblical House Church Life.]

The bulk of material in this book is written by
Steve Atkerson, elder, teacher, and president of the New Testament Reformation Fellowship, though contributions are made by numerous authors, including Beresford Job, Jonathan Lindvall, Dan Trotter, and Jon Zens (whom I believe among the most gifted Christian writers of today). All contributors and their writings seem firmly founded on the conviction that apostolic practice is normative. Foundational to understanding this book is knowing that its authors believe there is a need to "return to the way the original apostles did things" and that God "has shown us some areas of church practice that we believe have been neglected."

The answer ("We believe He did") to the question "Did God leave us instructions on how to do church" will resonate with landmarkers, primitivists, restorationists and others wishing to imitate New Testament church life. The authors' plea that we consistently go all the way back to the New Testament may unnerve some of us concerning some of our own church traditions!

Ekklesia addresses numerous issues that concern (or at least should concern) churches today. While many "organized institutional churches" may dismiss such concerns, a number of seekers are looking for more than the "traditions of the fathers" on the one hand, or the "it doesn't matter" on the other hand. This material is gathered under three main headings -- Church Meetings, Church Ministries and Church Matters -- with 19 chapters (some of them short) under these headings. Subjects include both the theological and practical aspects of "doing church" -- from interactive meetings to the Lord's supper as a full meal to living-room sized churches to the plurality of elders (but nothing on washing the saints' feet).

Do you wonder how they might answer some of these questions? Here's a sampling:


How do we know proper church practice? "...the Bible commands adherence to the traditions of the apostles...The real question thus is not, 'Do we have to do things the way they were done in the New Testament?' Rather, the question is: 'Why would we want to do things any other way?!'"
Where should we meet? "When churches came together they met in houses." "'As for me and my house', I find compelling the scriptural arguments favoring churches meeting exclusively in private homes. Paul's insistence (in 1Co 4:16-17; 11:1-2, 16; 14:33; Ep 2:20; Php 3:17; 4:9; 2Th 2:15; 3:6-9; 1Ti 1:16; 1Ti 3:14-15; 2Ti 1:13) that the churches follow the apostolic pattern (and his own example) are persuasive arguments..."
How often should we partake the Lord's supper? "Early believers ate the Lord's Supper weekly, and it was the main purpose for their coming together each Lord's Day."
Should pastors be salaried? "There is a general command in Acts 20 for elders to follow Paul's example of supplying their own needs so as to be in a position of giving silver and gold and clothing to the church, rather than receiving from it."
Why does any of this matter? "Given the propensity of human traditions to multiply and block the truth, it is important for believers to be sure that their practice of church is built on the correct foundation...The utterly amazing fact is that, even with all their problems, Paul assumes that the assembly [at Corinth] has the spiritual resources to overcome their waywardness."

Editor Atkerson is quite bold in wrestling fairly with the issue of women's silence in the church. In chapter 9 he gives his own views in favor of that silence, followed by Jon Zens' "rebuttal", which views I Cor. 14:34,35 in quite a different fashion.

Ekklesia is written on a practical and down-to-earth level. The book appears to be compiled from articles written at various times and from various sources, but it flows very well. It is an easy read, but yet very deep in its considerations. It will require the serious reader to spend time studying the Scriptures and ideas presented. My chief complaint is that the book contains quite a few typographical errors (hopefully corrected in the more recent edition). But these are nuisances that the reader should not allow to detract from the wealth of Scriptural teaching collected here. I highly recommend it.

Many of the articles that appear in Ekklesia (or at least versions of them) may be found in the
articles page on the ntrf.org website (or click here for a pdf sample chapter).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Clergy vs. laity

I was surprised that more of you did not have an opinion on the Highest calling. (Maybe you did have an opinion and preferred not to share it?)

That post on whether the pastor might be the highest calling brought my thoughts to this issue, the exaggerated clergy-laity distincition in modern Christianity. IMO, as a whole we Baptists tend to overemphasize the gifts/calling of pastor/bishop/elder and underemphasize the gifts/calling of other members of the church body. Below are a few quotes and some links containing discussion of the clergy-laity divide. Any opinions on them?

"The fact is that all of God's clergy are laity, and all of God's laity are clergy. Every child of God is a priest." --
The Clergy System, by W. Carl Ketcherside

"The lambs have been silenced by the example of their teachers. 'Be silent in Church and let the professionals do the talking.You are nothing but a support system to keep their mouths working.'

"Now contrast this with the typical gathering in the early Church.They had fellowship.They were family and not a family where the children were to be seen and not heard, either. Consider what Paul taught them regarding their coming together as the body of Christ.
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
"There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.
"And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:" --
The Silencing of the Lambs, by Michael Clark

"The New Testament teaches that the congregational meeting is to be a place where Christians exercise their spiritual gifts and encourage one another to love and good deeds (
Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-14; 14:12,26; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 4:10-11). This being true, why do most of us not say or do anything within the church service? Why is coming to church primarily a spectator event instead of a participating event? Why have we placed our responsibility of mutual edification and ministry into the hands of professional clergymen?" -- Is my church really a New Testament church?, by Darryl Erkel

"The clergy/laity divide, which has dogged Christianity for two millennia, didn't originate with either Jesus or his apostles, and is therefore nothing whatsoever to do with the teaching of the New Testament. It rather originated with a guy called Clement who took church leadership, as set up by the apostles (non-hierarchical, plural, co-equal, indigenous elders/bishops or overseers/pastors or shepherds), and turned it into a priesthood quite separate from the laity." --
The Early Church Fathers - The Heart of the Problem!, by Chigwell Christian Fellowship

It Shall Not Be So Among You, by Norman L. Park
What Is A Minister?, by Jon Zens

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Highest calling??

I read this statement on a blog the other day: "To be called as a pastor is the highest calling there is, period."

Is this really true? Is the office of pastor the highest calling? If so, where in the New Testament is this taught?

Or is this just an old saying we have heard so many times that we begin to believe it?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Grace and Providence

Hymn by William Cowper; The Olney Hymns Hymn 81
[as researched and posted by Will Fitzgerald on the fasola listserve 23 Nov 2006]

Almighty King! whose wondrous hand
Supports the weight of sea and land;
Whose grace is such a boundless store,
No heart shall break that sighs for more.

Thy providence supplies my food,
And 'tis Thy blessing makes it good;
My soul is nourish'd by Thy Word,
Let soul and body praise the Lord!

My streams of outward comfort came
From Him who built this earthly frame;
Whate'er I want His bounty gives,
By whom my soul forever lives.

Either His hand preserves from pain,
Or, if I feel it, heals again;
From Satan's malice shields my breast,
Or overrules it for the best.

Forgive the song that falls so low
Beneath the gratitude I owe!
It means Thy praise: however poor,
An angel's song can do no more.


"My song is a marvel of tuneless wretchedness compared to an angel's epitome of musical expression, but the praise I mean to express is equal to the angel's praise, thus the angel's song can do no more." -- Paul T. Robinson [fasola listserve 25 Nov 2006]

Added to the fifth stanza of Cowper's hymn on p. 168 in the Denson Sacred Harp book is:
Great God, and wilt thou condescend
To my my Father and my Friend?--
I a poor child, and thou so high,
The Lord of earth, and air, and sky?
-- Ann Taylor Gilbert in Hymns for Infant Minds

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The best of all

Back sometime around December 2005, on the popular "Road We Travel" blog, the blogger wrote, "The IMB* is the most effective missionary organization with the most effective strategy in the history of Christianity. I am extremely proud of what we are doing and believe wholeheartedly in our staff and board."

I saved this as an illustration of a point. Many years ago an instructor of mine said that such superlative statements as "my association is the best association in the world" imply three things: 1. That I know all of the associations in the world. 2. That I have studied and compared them all. 3. That I am qualified to judge which is the best.

So if we apply this to the statement on "Road We Travel" -- "The IMB is the most effective missionary organization with the most effective strategy in the history of Christianity" -- it is implying: 1. That he knows every missionary organization in the history of Christianity. 2. That he has studied, compared and contrasted every missionary organization in the history of Christianity. 3. That he is qualified to judge which is the best.

I doubt he really meant all that, but was rather expressing his enthusiasm for what he is doing. We should all be careful to not make over zealous remarks that imply we know much more than we do.

* IMB = International Mission Board (of the Southern Baptist Convention)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What is primitivism?

Primitivism is not a denominational sub-group within the Baptist camp, but is rather a broad type that transcends different associations or fellowships. It is in that sense comparable to fundamentalism, landmarkism, etc. I use this term from time to time and have been asked what it means.

While studying Baptist groups, I first ran across the term "primitivism" in the works of Albert Wardin (Baptist Atlas and Baptists Around the World). In classifying Baptists, Wardin identifies a number of groups as Primitivists. Primitive Baptists are probably the largest group of Baptists that would be considered Primitivists, but primitivism is not synonymous with Primitive Baptists. A number of Baptist groups are considered primitivists, especially the Old Regular Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Regular Baptists, United Baptists, "Two-Seed" Baptists, the "Duck River" Baptists, some old-time Missionary Baptists, and a few Free Will Baptists.

Persons hearing the terminology "Primitivist" or "Primitive" Baptist may think of crude or backward. The idea is really "original." When people started using the term "Primitive Baptist", they meant that they believed "Primitive" Baptist was the strain of Baptist that best represented what Baptists originally were. Lemuel Potter (Old School) and W. P. Throgmorton (Missionary) once held a debate called "Who are the Primitive Baptists?" Each held his own group to be the "primitive"/original Baptists.

Back to the original question - What is primitivism? My dictionary says, "belief in the superiority of a simple way of life close to nature." Translated in the religious realm this means a preference for the "simpler" times of the "primitive" (New Testament) church. Put another way, it is the desire of primitivism to recreate and live New Testament Christianity. Martin Marty calls it "the dream of restoration of a purer order." Primitivism in motivation is related to the restorationism of Alexander Campbell & others. One major different between primitivistic Baptists and Campbell would be that these Baptists believe that they have constantly been recreating primitive Christianity, whereas Campbell believed that it had disappeared and needed "restoration". "An Anabaptist, (Michael) Servetus believed what has always been basic to restorationism: that the true, apostolic church went into apostasy, that all existing churches are false, and that the only way to have the true church again is by a restoration of primitive Christianity. This is also known as primitivism, which implies that the New Testament provides a detailed pattern for the church, so that in any age the true church can be reproduced by faithful adherence to the New Testament mode...[Leroy Garrett in Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, p. 641]." The above paragraph was written by a Restorationist, so it reflects more of the idea of restoration, but it still presents the basic idea of primitivism - that the New Testament provides the pattern for the continual faithful reproduction of the church. Don't all Baptists believe this? Probably most would say so; but they do not mean it the same way as the small subsection considered "primitivists."

I will try to give a few examples of how primitivism reveals itself among Baptists. The following information is from Local Baptists, Local Politics: Churches and Communities in the Middle and Uplands South by Clifford A. Grammich, Jr. In his research on six groups of primitivistic sects (Central, Duck River, Old Missionary, Old Regular, Eastern District Primitive, and United Baptists), Grammich compiled a grouping of "common characteristics" among these churches (pp. 93-111). These common characteristics should not be seen as synonymous with primitivism, but rather the way primitivism worked itself out among these particular churches.

If primitivism is an attempt to recreate the purer order of the New Testament, the following ways are seen as part of how churches in these six groups try to recreate that order. Grammich says, "What becomes evident is that this religion is a religion of the common people, and that the common people shape it...(p. 93).

1. Belief in the King James Bible as the unerring Word of God.
2. Emphasis on Ancient Origins of Their "True" Faith.
3. Belief in Salvation somewhere between Predestination and Free Will. [Grammich's study did not include the Regular or Absolute Primitive Baptists]
4. Emphasis on Personal, Experiential Knowledge of Salvation.
5. Non-professional Clergy without Formal Religious Education.
6. Opposition to Missions. [some would argue they only oppose "mission methods"]
7. Simple, Egalitarian Style of Worship. [examples include extemporaneous sermons, extemporaneous prayers, shouting, traditional hymns usually without instruments, outdoor baptisms, communion and footwashing]
8. Weak Central Authorities.
9. Traditional Sex Roles.
10. Rural Origins and Membership.
11. Stable Growth at Home but Losses through Migration.

Grammich notes parallels on the KJV issue with fundamentalists (point 1), but also quotes Deborah McCauley saying, "their preference in biblical literature differs profoundly from a preponderance of evangelical fundamentalism in particular...they accept ambiguity -- running deep and broad -- as an indisputable fact of life. They do not feel driven to resolve it in their preaching with semantically fancy footwork that artificially overcomes ambiguity by forcing all the pieces to fit together neatly...(p.95)." Though he also sees a common theme with landmarkism in point 2, Grammich knows of no formal connection between the two. It is my opinion that the commonalities between primitivism and landmarkism (with some Baptists sharing both ideas) helped landmarkism grow its base. The vast majority of modern landmark Baptists are no longer considered primitivists.


If you believe that the New Testament provides a detailed pattern for the church, that can be reproduced by faithful adherence to the New Testament....
....you just might be a "Primitivist".

Friday, January 12, 2007

Beyond the limits of His love

Here is an old hymn by John Kent that some of you might enjoy. It has some beautiful imagery. Perhaps it will be a little too "deterministic" to suit some, but I hope it will be a blessing to somebody.

There is a period known to God
When all his sheep redeemed by blood;
Shall leave the hateful ways of sin
Turn to the fold, and enter in.

At peace with hell, with God at war
In sin's dark maze they wander far;
Indulge their lusts and still go on
As far from God as sheep can run.

But see how heav'n's indulgent care
Attends their wand'rings here and there;
Still near at hand, where'er they stray
With piercing thorns to hedge their way.

Glory to God--they ne'er shall rove
Beyond the limits of His love;
Fenced with Jehovah's shalls and wills
Firm as the everlasting hills.

Th' appointed time rolls on apace
Not to promise, but call by grace;
To change the heart, renew the will
And turn their feet to Zion's hill.

Wow!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The interpretation of 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 13:1-7

My experience and reading is perhaps not as broad as others, but, unless I am mistaken, I have not until recently run across the idea that these passages meant anything other than obedience to civil authority.

The immediate text itself appears to support this view.
1. The scope is not limited to Christians: Though the letter itself is written to Roman Christians, Paul states, "Let EVERY SOUL be subject unto the higher powers."
2. Government is authorized or appointed by God: "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God".
3. This authority spoken of bears the sword: "he beareth not the sword in vain".
4. This authority spoken of is an avenger or revenger: "...he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." The little child of God is not an avenger, but waits on God to meet out justice: "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." (Romans 12:19)
5. This authority spoken of receives tribute or taxes: "For for this cause pay ye tribute also..." This harmonizes with Jesus' instructions in Matthew 22:17-21. The church and its officers are not a taxing entity.

Other verses that speak to the subject include:Titus 3:1,2 and I Peter 2:13-17.

Human government is a divine institution; anarchy is the realm of man. In Paul's thought in Romans 13, obedience hinges on two main things: the external consequences of disobedience and the internal conscience. I see no reason to doubt that Paul means the institution of human government which is ordained by God. There may be a wide range of opinions for practically applying this teaching, but are there any reasons to doubt this is the teaching?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Hymn to the God of Abraham

"A Hymn to the God of Abraham" is usually credited something like this: Words from The Yigdal of Daniel Ben Judah Dayyam, circa 1400, based on the thirteen creeds set forth in the twelfth-century by Moses Maimonides; paraphrased by Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), ca. 1765-1770.

The God of Abraham praise, Who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of love;
Jehovah, great I AM! by earth and heaven confessed:
I bow and bless the sacred Name forever blessed.

The God of Abraham praise, at Whose supreme command
from earth we rise, and seek the joys at His right hand;
we all on earth forsake, its wisdom, fame and power;
and Him our only portion make, our Shield and Tower.

The goodly land we see, with peace and plenty blessed:
a land of sacred liberty and endless rest;
there milk and honey flow, and oil and wine abound,
and trees of life for ever grow, with mercy crowned.

There dwells the Lord, our King, the Lord, our Righteousness,
triumphant o'er the world and sin, the Prince of Peace;
on Zion's sacred height His kingdom He maintains,
and, glorious with his saints in light, for ever reigns.

The God who reigns on high, the great archangels sing,
and "Holy, holy, holy," cry,"Almighty King!"
Who was and is the same, and evermore shall be:

Jehovah, Father, great I AM, we worship thee."

The whole triumphant host give thanks to God on high;
"Hail, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" they ever cry;
hail, Abraham's God and mine; I join the heavenly lays;
all might and majesty are thine, and endless praise!

Before the Savior's face the ransomed nations bow.
Overwhelmed at His almighty grace, forever new:
He shows His prints of love - they kindle to a flame!
And sound through all the worlds above the slaughtered Lamb.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Happy seventieth anniversary

1937-2007

Seventy years ago today, January 9th, 1937, on a cold night outside the Laneville schoolhouse gymnasium, Charlie Vaughn and Adelaide Chapman were united in matrimony in Rusk County, Texas. They were born in the same community, attended the same school and the same church, were baptized a year apart in the same creek by the same pastor. Seventy years and five children later, they are still together in Rusk County, Texas; and still attend the same church. With the exception of a year or so during World War II, they have spent very few of some 25,550 days apart. Happy anniversary! Praise the Lord.

"Thus far the Lord hath led me on,
Thus far His power prolongs my days" - Isaac Watts

Monday, January 08, 2007

Another outline of Baptists in the US

Back in November, I posted an outline of Baptist Groups in the United States. This one is a couple of years old, but with a few updates. I believe it includes some information on local associations not on the other one.

I. REGULAR BAPTISTS (NORTHERN-ORIENTED)

A. ECUMENICAL MAINLINE
1. American Baptist Churches in the USA
a. American Baptist Evangelicals
b. Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists
B. CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL
2. Baptist General Conference
3. Conservative Baptist Association of America
4. North American Baptist Conference
5. Seventh Day Baptist General Conference
C. SEPARATIST FUNDAMENTALIST
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. Related Northern Fundamental Baptist Fellowships
a. New Testament Association of Independent Baptists
b. Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches of Northern California
c. Association of Independent Baptist Churches of Illinois
d. Dakota Baptist Association
e. Grace Baptist Fellowship
f. Independent Fundamental Baptist Association of Michigan
g. Indiana Fundamental Baptist Association
h. Inter-Mountain Baptist Fellowship (MT, WY)
i. Minnesota Baptist Association
j. Mountain States Baptist Fellowship (CO)
k. Wisconsin Fellowship of Baptist Churches
l. Wyoming Fellowship of Baptist Churches

II. REGULAR BAPTISTS (SOUTHERN-ORIENTED)

A. CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL
11. Southern Baptist Convention
B. ECUMENICAL
12. Alliance of Baptists
13. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
C. LANDMARK MISSIONARY BAPTIST
14. American Baptist Association
15. Baptist Missionary Association of America
16. Independent Landmark Associations and Churches
a. California Missionary Baptist Association
b. Central (TX)
c. Landmark (AR)
d. Mt. Pisgah (MS)
e. Southern California
17. Interstate and Foreign Landmark Missionary Baptist Association
18. Old Time Missionary Baptists
"Middle Tennessee" Correspondence
a. Baptist Old Path (MO)
b. Bethel (IN)
c. Big Bear Creek (AL)
d. Cane Creek (MO)
e. Cedar County (MO)
f. County Line (MO
g. Dallas County (MO)
h. Enon (TN)
i. Old Time Camden County (MO)
j. Polk County (MO)
k. Siloam (KY)
l. Southwestern District (TN)
m. St. Clair County (MO)
n. Wiseman (TN)
Other Associations
a. Barren River (KY)
b. Edmonson (KY)
c. Mt. Carmel (AL)
d. Original Smyrna (GA)
e. Pine Mountain (KY)
f. Pleasant Grove (GA)
g. Second North Concord (KY)
h. Wayne Trail (OH)
19. United Baptists - Landmark
a. Green River (KY)
b. South Concord (KY)
c. South Fork (KY)
d. Stockton Valley (TN)
e. West Union (TN)
D. SEPARATIST FUNDAMENTALISTS
20. Baptist Bible Fellowship International
21. Global Independent Baptist Fellowship
22. Independent Baptist Fellowship International
23. Liberty Baptist Fellowship
24. Northwest Baptist Fellowship
25. Southwide Baptist Fellowship
26. World Baptist Fellowship

III. BLACK BAPTISTS

A. NATIONAL BAPTISTS
27. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.
28. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.
29. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
30. National Primitive Baptist Convention, Inc.
31. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
B. OTHER
32. Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship
33. Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association
34. Institutional Missionary Baptist Conference of America
35. Primitive Baptist - independent Black local associations

IV. PRIMITIVISTS

A. PRIMITIVE BAPTISTS
36. Primitive Baptist - Absolute Predestinarian
37. Primitive Baptist - Progressive
a. Birdwood College Related Churches
b. Eastern District Association
38. Primitive Baptist - Limited Predestinarian
a. Old Line
b. Progressives
39. Primitive Baptist - Universalist
B. REGULAR BAPTISTS
40. Old Regular Baptists
"New Salem" Correspondence
a. Mud River
b. New Salem
c. Northern New Salem
d. Old Friendship
e. Old Indian Bottom
f. Philadelphia
g. Sardis
h. Union
Other Associations
a. Bethel
b. Friendship
c. Indian Bottom
d. Little Dove
e. Mountain #1
f. Mountain #2
g. Original Mountain Liberty
h. Sovereign Grace
i. Thornton Union
41. Regular and Union Baptists
a. East Washington
b. Enterprise
c. Little River
d. Little Valley
e. Mountain Union
f. Original Mountain Union
g. Primitive
h. Union
C. OTHER
42. Central Baptist Association
43. General Association of Baptists (Duck River/Kindred)
a. Duck River (TN)
b. East Union (TN)
c. Mt. Pleasant #1 (AL)
d. Mt. Pleasant #2 (AL)
e. Mt. Zion (TN)
f. New Liberty (TN)
g. Pleasant Hill Church (KY)
h. Union (TN)
44. Georgia Old Time Associations
a. Chestatee
b. Coosawattee
c. Ellijay
d. Jasper
e. New Hope
f. Pleasant Valley
45. Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists
a. Trinity River Association
b. 1 independent church
46. United Baptist - Regular
a. Blaine Union (KY)
b. Iron Hill (KY)
c. Laurel River (KY)
d. Little Friendship (IN)
e. Mt. Zion (KY)
f. New Bethel (OH)
g. New Hope (KY)
h. Paint Union (KY)
i. Old Bethlehem (WV)
j. Old Paint Union (KY)
k. Red Bird River (KY)
l. Town Creek (AL)
m. Tri-State Zion (KY)
n. Union Bethlehem (WV)
o. Wills Creek #1 (AL)
p. Wills Creek #2 (AL)
q. Zion (KY)

V. GENERAL BAPTISTS

A. FREE WILL BAPTISTS
47. Independent Free Will Baptist Associations
a. Eastern Stone
b. French Broad
c. Jack’s Creek
d. John-Thomas
e. Mt. Mitchell
f. Muscle Shoals
g. Original Grand River
h. Stone Association of Central Indiana
i. Tennessee River
j. Toe River
k. Western
l. Western Stone
48. National Association of Free Will Baptists
49. Original Free Will Baptist Convention
50. United American Free Will Baptist Church
B. GENERAL BAPTISTS
51. General Association of General Baptists
52. General Six-Principle Baptist Church
C. OTHER
53. Separate Baptists in Christ
General Association of Separate Baptists
a. Central Indiana
b. Christian Unity (VA)
c. Mt. Olive (TN)
d. Nolynn (KY)
e. Northeast Florida
f. South Kentucky
g. West Virginia
Unaffiliated Separate Baptists
a. Ambraw (IL)
b. Northern Indiana
54. National Association of United Baptists (and Related)
a. Ancient Christian
b. Bethel
c. Bethlehem
d. Central Missouri
e. Centerpoint
f. Mount Carmel
g. Northern United
h. Ohio Valley
i. Tri-State
j. Union

VI. REFORMED/SOVEREIGN GRACE BAPTISTS

55. Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America
56. Continental Baptist Churches
57. Gospel Standard Strict Baptist Churches
58. Sovereign Grace Baptist Association of Churches

The broad divisions used in this outline are based on those created by Dr. Albert W. Wardin, author of Baptist Atlas, Baptists Around the World, et al.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Inclusio unius, exclusio alterius

Continuing sort of in line with a few things we've discussed...

"Inclusio unius, exclusio alterius" is a legal code at least as old as the civil law of the Romans. It means "inclusion of one is exclusion of others". I was brought up with something like that as true as a religious concept, sans Latin -- the specification or inclusion of one thing is the prohibition or exclusion of every other thing. For example, if Jesus commanded His disciples to immerse professed believers, the specification of that thing excludes the sprinkling of professed believers, or the immersion of professed unbelievers, etc., etc.

Do you agree with an "Inclusio unius exclusio alterius" kind of principle in the religious realm? If so, why? If not, why not?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Conversation with Death

What is this I cannot see, Icy hands take hold on me
I am death and none can excel, I open the door to heaven and hell
Death oh death how can it be, That I must come and go with thee?
Death oh death how can it be, I’m unprepared for eternity?

I have come for to get your soul, Take your body and leave it cold
I'll drop the flesh from of'n your frame; The earth and worms both have their claim

Oh death oh death please give me time, To fix my heart and change my mind.
Your mind is fixed, Your heart is bound; I’ve got the shackles to drag you down.

Whoa death someone would pray, Could you wait to call me til another day?
The children pray the preacher preached Time and mercy is out of your reach;
I’ll lock your jaw so you can’t talk I’ll lock your knees so you can’t walk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see, This very hour you go with me
.

My mother came to my bed and placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold, Death is a movin' upon my soul ;
Oh death how you're treatin me You close my eyes so I can't see
Well you're hurtin my body you make me cold, You run my life right out of my soul.

Oh death please consider my age, Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command, If you'll remove your icy hands;
Oh the young the rich or poor Are all alike to me you know
No wealth no land no silver or gold, Nothin' satisfies me but your soul
.

Your heart is fixed, your mind is bound, I have the shackles to drag you down
Too late! too late! to all farewell, Your soul is doomed, you're summoned to hell.
As long as God in heaven shall dwell, your soul your soul shall scream in hell.

Oh, death Oh, death Won't you spare me over til another year?

Won't you spare me over til another year?

"A Conversation With Death" is an old folk song, possibly with Appalachian origins. It may be best known from the film and soundtrack of "O Brother Where Art Thou?", sung by Ralph Stanley. If anyone has any information on its origin and background, I'd be pleased if you'd post it in the comments.


It appears in several variations, and what I post here is a composite of several. It is conceived as a conversation between death and a dying person. I don't take it as an overly scriptural song, but one that is interesting in the genre of folk songs. I thought that overall the dying person has mostly "Arminian" or Pelagian notions, while death leans towards predestinarianism.

Friday, January 05, 2007

No codes

2 Peter 1:20 - Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

"Here in the last few years we have seen and heard of books and so called theologians that have made claims that there is a code in the Bible. There are any numbers of books out now that claim there are several Bible Codes. They say that somehow in the Torah, the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, if you skip 3 letters and pick up the next one you will come up with hidden messages in the Bible. And also claim that the people that wrote those books put a code in there with hidden messages. There are a few problems with that. One, The Torah was not written in English. It was written primarily in Hebrew. So how do these people claim to find a code from an English translation of the Bible? Second, which English version of the scripture do you need to use to get the right code? If you use NIV or NAS you will have different words. Third, if you'll use the King James Bible you will find in 2 Peter 1:20 that there is no prophecy of the scripture that is of any private interpretation. In other words it says, 'There are NO CODES'." -- Franklin Senters,
Living in His Word Devotions, Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Notice

Just a short note to let you readers know I am experiencing some kind of computer/browser problem, which may slow down or stop my ability to post on the blog over the next several days. I will continue as I am able, Lord willing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Which approach?

A popular modern approach to Biblical practice seems to advise "if the Bible doesn't command us to not anoint a candidate with chocolate syrup before baptism, then we can't say its unbiblical."

Is this the best approach? Are we to conclude that the apostles failed in their commission to teach the baptized disciples all things that Jesus had commanded them? And even if apostolic practice were not normative for the entire church age, on what basis would we surmise that their instituted practices are inferior to those devised later by other men?


Whatever we need to inform us on faith and practice is found in the New Testament. The Bible is our all-sufficient rule for doctrine, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete. Those who accept New Testament practice as normative will find proof in guiding principles and the consistent New Testament application of those principles through apostolic practice. “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Denominational oxen

WARNING: Denominational humour ahead. If you can't laugh at yourself, skip this and come back tomorrow.

While at the Rusk County library looking at some early 1900 issues of a Henderson, Texas newspaper on microfilm, I found a short article called "Denominational Oxen". I decided later that I would "google" and see if this was posted online anywhere. The version below is from the
COLUMBUS [GA] ENQUIRER, April 10, 1860, p. 1, c. 5. In addition to the denominational humour, it seems this Georgian may have been taking a little shot at Texas. Here it is:

Denominational oxen in Texas.--Texas is a great State. It has not only a large, growing, mixed population--every variety of climate and soil, game and stock--but its very oxen have become denominational, if not sectarian in name, character, and spirit. In proof of this we give the following incident:

A minister travelling along the road, met a stranger driving his wagon, which was pulled by four oxen; as the minister approached, he heard the driver say, "Get up Presbyterian!" "Gee Campbellite!" "Haw Baptist!"* "What are you doing, Methodist?" The minister, struck with the singularity of such names being given to oxen, remarked--

"Stranger, you have strange names for your oxen, and I wish to know why they had such names given to them."

The driver replied, "I call that lead one in front, Presbyterian, because he is true blue, and never fails--he believes in pulling through every difficult place, persevering to the end, and then he knows more than all the rest. The one by his side I call Campbellite; he does very well when you let him go on his own way, until he sees water, and then all the world could not keep him out of it, and there he stands as if his journey was ended. This off ox, behind, is a real Baptist, for he is all the time after water, and will not eat with the others, but is constantly looking first, on one side, and then on the other, and at everything that comes near him. The other which I call Methodist, makes a great noise and a great to-do, and you would think that he was pulling all creation, but he don't pull a pound."

The minister having his curiosity gratified with the explanation, rode on wondering what he should next see and hear in Texas. This is no dream, but a fact as we have heard it; nor are we influenced by dyspeptic feelings, telling our readers the ecclesiastical relation of Texas oxen.--True Witness.


* [Note for city folk: "gee" and "haw" are right and left.]

Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking to Jesus in Death

Why should we shrink at Jordan’s flood,
Or dread the unknown way,
See, yonder rolls a stream of blood,
that bears the curse away.

Death lost his sting when Jesus bled;
when Jesus left the ground,
Disarmed, the king of terrors fled,
and felt a mortal wound.

And though this pale and ghastly face
may seem to frown the while,
We soon shall see the king of grace,
and He’ll forever smile.

-- Joseph Swain (Gadsby Hymnbook #467)

Joseph Swain was born in Birmingham, England in 1761. He was baptized in 1783 by John Rippon, and entered the ministry in 1791. While pastoring at Walworth he published 192 hymns in 1792 under the title "Walworth Hymns". Swain died in 1797. [Note: this info taken from The Poets of the Church: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Hymn-writers with Notes on Their Hymns, by Edwin Francis Hatfield; Published 1884, New York: A. D. F. Randolph & Co.]