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Monday, March 31, 2008

Obedience to the Faith

Acts 6: [7] And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

When these priests were obedient to the faith, they repented, believed, and confessed Christ in baptism. They did not repent, believe, and fail or refuse to be baptized.

This is how people are obedient to the faith today.
-- John Kohler, New Covenant Christian Forum, Wed, 29 Aug 2007

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Love constraining to obedience

Love constraining to obedience.

No strength of nature can suffice
To serve the LORD aright;
And what she has, she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.

How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress!
I toiled the precept to obey,
But toiled without success.

Then to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its pow'r within,
I feel I hate it too.

Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose his ways.

What shall I do was then the word,
That I may worthier grow?
What shall I render to the LORD?
Is my enquiry now.

To see the Law by CHRIST fulfilled,
And hear his pard'ning voice;
Changes a slave into a child,
Rom 3:31
And duty into choice.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"The Performance of History"

The Performance of History: Motivations for Revivalist Participation in Sacred Harp of the Chesapeake Bay Area. Brigita Lee Sebald, Master of Arts thesis, University of Maryland, 2005

I think this goes well with Kiri Miller's new book, and might be an interesting read before you buy Kiri's book.

The thesis is about the folklore revival setting of Sacred Harp in the Chesapeake Bay area, which includes parts of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Brigita Sebald looks at Sacred Harp in this setting and views it in its relation to the national Sacred Harp scene.

In recounting the history of Sacred Harp, Sebald picks up a few historical inaccuracies that are not correct (in my opinion). I discuss some of these inaccuracies in Rethinkin our thinkin (though independently of any relation to this thesis). I highly recommend that you read this if you are interested in Sacred Harp. Just click on the first link to go to the pdf document.


Note: I originally intended to write more in detail about The Performance of History, but it was so long after reading it until I got around to writing this, some of the "energy" had worn off.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Church History links

The Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary's Kellar Library has compiled a number of Church History links that are posted HERE.

Brief information on the Welsh Tract Baptist Church, Newcastle Co., DE, is
HERE.

The story of "Gospel Missioner" T. P. Crawford and his wife Martha Foster Crawford begins
HERE. I have this link for photos of the Crawfords, but I believe you must have a RootsWeb account and be logged in.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He rose

Today is a day the world and many Christians celebrate Easter -- bunny rabbits and eggs for most, though many Christians also include the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The resurrection is among the most important of doctrines of Christianity, and also one of the most attacked. No resurrection = no Christ, no Christianity, no gospel, no hope. But Christ is risen from the dead, proving He is both Lord and Christ, with the power of the gospel unto salvation, and the power to give hope to His people. His resurrection assures the resurrection of His people, who are looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Lord is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Now is Christ risen from the dead,
And become the first fruit of them that slept.
Hallelujah, hallelujah.
And did He rise? Did He rise?
Hear it, ye nations! hear it O ye dead!
He rose, He rose; He burst the bars of death,
And triumphed o'er the grave.
Then, then, then I rose.
Then first humanity triumphant
Passed the crystal ports of light,
And seized eternal youth.
Men all immortal hail;
Hail, heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man,
Thine's all the glory, man's the boundless bliss.

("The Resurrection," from The Sacred Harp, 2006 Cooper Revision, p. 235)

Jesus fulfilled three nights and days,
Then He arose and left the grave.
"He is not here," the angel said,
"Why seek ye Him among the dead?"

R. L. Vaughn

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The LORD will provide

OLNEY HYMNS, Book 1. Hymn 7
John Newton
10.10.11.11.

The LORD will provide.

1 Though troubles assail And dangers affright,
Though friends should all fail And foes all unite;
Yet one thing secures us, Whatever betide,
The scripture assures us, The Lord will provide.

2 The birds without barn Or storehouse are fed,
From them let us learn To trust for our bread:
His saints, what is fitting, Shall ne'er he denied,
So long as 'tis written, The Lord will provide.

3 We may, like the ships, By tempest be tossed
On perilous deeps, But cannot be lost.
Though Satan enrages The wind and the tide,
The promise engages, The Lord will provide.

4 His call we obey Like Abram of old,
Not knowing our way, But faith makes us bold;
For though we are strangers We have a good Guide,
And trust in all dangers, The Lord will provide.

5 When Satan appears To stop up our path,
And fill us with fears, We triumph by faith;
He cannot take from us, Though oft he has tried,
This heart-cheering promise, The Lord will provide.

6 He tells us we're weak, Our hope is in vain,
The good that we seek We ne'er shall obtain,
But when such suggestions Our spirits have plied,
This answers all questions, The Lord will provide.

-- As posted by Stephen Conte on the PB-MB forum, 20 Dec 2007

Friday, March 21, 2008

Word of the day

Instauration -- [in-staw-rey-shuhn] noun. restoration; renewal; renovation

Example. "The love of truth, of God's Word, has all but disappeared in our time. We are committed to and pray for a great instauration." -- From
The Crisis of our Time, by John W. Robbins.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Justified by His grace

In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14.

"Having redemption through His blood is synonymous with the forgiveness of sins. We are said to be justified by grace—by Christ—by faith; and here believers are said to be justified by His blood—His sacrifice, which is at once the great object of faith, and the channel through which faith and every other spiritual blessing is imparted to the people of God. It has been already observed, that nothing but guilt prevents the love of God from flowing to His creatures. Christ cancelled the guilt of His people—redeemed them from the curse, and the never failing consequence is, their inheriting a blessing; their guilt is expiated, and, being justified BY HIS BLOOD, much more shall they be saved from wrath through Him; for all power in heaven and in earth is committed to Him, that He may give eternal life to those whom He has ransomed with His blood. For He is seated on His mediatory throne, and in their successive generations He calls them by His grace, guides them by His counsel, and afterwards receives them to His glory." -- James Haldane

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New book, available in July (d.v.)

The following title is currently being offered at a special prepublication price.
List price $21.99
Prepublication price valid until May 30, 2008 $15.99
You save $6.00 + shipping & handling

Forthcoming new book
Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists, consisting of Historical References to the Practice among the Missionary Baptists, including miscellaneous notes on other groups By R. L. Vaughn

About the book
Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists compiles data on the relationship of the rite of feet washing and Baptists, particularly as practiced in Missionary Baptist churches. Arranged in a chronological and geographical format, Materials allows the reader to see records, controversies and variations of washing the saints’ feet in Baptist churches. The idea is debunked that only Free Will Baptists and Primitive Baptists practice feet washing, but that it is not practiced by the Missionary Baptists.

Publication Date: 2008
Available: July 2008
$21.99 soft cover. 8 ½” X 11”
Pages: 230, including bibliography and index
Categories: Baptists – History
ISBN: 978-1-60458-249-9
DDC: 286.09
LC: BX 6235

What others say
Vaughn did an excellent job researching an obscure subject of which contemporary Baptists have little knowledge. This book is a needed contribution to Baptist historiography. I know of nothing like it. – C. B. Anderson (retired), Jacksonville College , Jacksonville , TX

The volume by R. L. Vaughn, Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing Among the Baptists, is an exhaustive compilation of source materials on feet washing as practiced by Baptists and even others. The work covers practically every aspect of the subject, including definitions of the rite, its biblical and historical roots, its manner of observance past and present, its practice by group and geographical location, and even arguments of those opposed to it. Although the work focuses on Missionary Baptists in the USA and abroad as over against Primitive Baptists, it nevertheless includes all Baptist parties and even bodies outside the Baptist fold. An extra bonus is its appendix that includes a listing of Baptist groups and subgroups in the USA and British Isles , a comprehensive and detailed listing not found elsewhere. This work is an excellent study, providing a most valuable list of sources on a practice, although bypassed by a great many today, that is observed by others as an observance with a biblical mandate. – Albert W. Wardin, Jr., Professor Emeritus of History, Belmont University, Nashville, TN; author of The Twelve Tribes of Baptists in the USA: a Historical and Statistical Analysis

Brother Robert Vaughn has painstakingly assembled a massive amount of historical data about the practice of washing the saint's feet. He has taken great care to give the reader a reference for each statement made concerning the history of feet washing. In addition, he has taken great care to arrange the material so that one can easily access the material by time period or geographical region. This is a great help to one who is going to use this book for research.

I cannot recommend this book too highly. If you are a feet washing Baptist (or if you are not, and are simply curious about the practice) you would do well to purchase and read this book to learn more of the history of a Biblical, but often neglected and despised practice. – Jason L. Skipper, Carriere, MS. Pastor, Wilmer Missionary Baptist Church/Centerville Missionary Baptist Church

CONTENTS
Foreword
Preface
Introduction
Biblical Overview
Feet Washing in Early Christian Contexts
Feet Washing among the Continental Anabaptists
Feet Washing in the British Isles
Feet Washing in North America
Feet Washing in Other Regions
Final Thoughts
Appendices
Feet washing by Baptist Groups
Baptist Groups in the United States
Predestinarian Baptist Groups
Baptist Groups in Canada
Baptist Groups in the British Isles
Feet Washing in other Groups
Anglicanism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy
Foot washing by A. T. Green
My Story by Joyce Beaty-Shembarger
Mt. Zion Association report
Some debates on Feet washing
Letter from M. F. Wheeler
Pleasant Valley circular letter, 1898
Bits and Pieces
Bibliography
Further Reading
Index

Order from:
WAYMARK PUBLICATIONS
3528 CR 3168 W
MOUNT ENTERPRISE TX 75681
PH 903.812.9767

Prices/payments are in U. S. Dollars. Postage and handling are included for U. S. shipments. For insurance and signature confirmation, add $2.05. International shipments – e-mail for shipping prices. The following forms of payment are accepted:
· Check
· Money Order
· Pay Pal (For Pay Pal instructions, e-mail Baptist.waymark@gmail.com)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Olney Hymns

#170 (BOOK II #29)
John Newton --- C. M.

Alas! by nature how depraved,
How prone to every ill!
Our lives, to Satan, how enslaved,
How obstinate our will!

And can such sinners be restored,
Such rebels reconciled?
Can grace itself the means afford
To make a foe a child?

Yes, grace has found the wondrous means
Which shall effectual prove;
To cleanse us from our countless sins,
And teach our hearts to love.

Jesus for sinners undertakes,
And died that we may live;
His blood a full atonement makes,
And cries aloud, “Forgive.”

Yet one thing more must grace provide,
To bring us home to God;
Or we shall slight the LORD, who died,
And trample on his blood.

The Holy Spirit must reveal
The Savior’s work and worth;
Then the hard heart begins to feel
A new and heavenly birth.

Thus bought with blood, and born again,
Redeemed, and saved, by grace
Rebels, in God’s own house obtain
A son’s and daughter’s place.


William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

My soul thirsteth for God.

I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy wounds, EMMANUEL, all forbid,
That I should seek my pleasures there.

It was the sight of thy dear cross,
First weaned my soul from earthly things;
And taught me to esteem as dross,
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings.

I want that grace that springs from thee,
That quickens all things where it flows;
And makes a wretched thorn, like me,
Bloom as the myrtle, or the rose.

Dear fountain of delight unknown!
No longer sink below the brim;
But overflow, and pour me down
A living, and life-giving stream!

For sure, of all the plants that share
The notice of thy Father's eye;
None proves less grateful to his care,
Or yields him meaner fruit than I.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saint Patrick a Baptist?

Around this time every year, thoughts turn to "Saint Patrick". Now, most people are thinking of parades and wearing green, but some Baptists wonder "Was St. Patrick a Baptist?" Here are links to some sites that discuss it, another Baptist site with St. Patrick quotes and other items. I don't know whether he was or not, but perhaps this will entertain through another St. Patrick's Day season of the year.

St. Patrick a Baptist! by L.K. Landis
St. Patrick was a Baptist, by John Summerfield Wimbish
Was Saint Patrick A Baptist? by W.A. Jarrel
St. Patrick was a Baptist preacher, by W. A. Criswell
The Real St. Patrick, by Ted Olsen
The "Confessio" of Saint Patrick

St. Patrick quotes

Friday, March 14, 2008

Land of cornbread and buttermilk

A little while back a prominent blogger created a stir with cornbread and buttermilk. Seems in his world these two elements seemed to constitute a racial slur.

I grew up in the land of cornbread and buttermilk. There was nothing racial about it -- rural blacks and whites alike enjoyed the combination (maybe even some city folks, too). My 92 year old mother still loves cornbread and buttermilk. My paternal great-grandfather took two glasses of buttermilk for supper -- one straight and the last glass sweetened with ribbon cane or sorghum syrup. As for me, "water" my store-bought buttermilk down with about half sweet milk.


I grew up in the land of cornbread and buttermilk. I grew up in a land where couches were called divans, where women named Stella & Ella were called Steller and Eller, and where parents had convinced children that the leg was the best part of the chicken. Rural East Texas life was a good land to come up in. Imperfect. But good.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A look at Loewen's "...Women in the Bible"

Things that no one ever told you about Women in the Bible: Theory vs. Fact was written by Mona Loewen (a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma) and posted on the Grace and Truth to You blog. You can click on the above link to read Loewen's writing. Below I give a few of my thoughts on it.

Loewen's thesis is "The real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives."

The logic appears to be:
1. The real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives.
2. Here are some real women, how they lived and acted.
3. These are the examples women should emulate, regardless of instructions on how women should live and act.

Mona Loewen does a service by calling attention to these women of the Bible. Chauvinists and feminists alike often mistakenly paint a bleak picture of all Biblical (and other ancient) women as mere chattel. Contrary to this, the Bible portrays historical women who had influence in their nations and in their families. I do not agree with some of Loewen's conclusions. But those who do not know about these women in the Bible need to start reading their Bibles.

Loewen paints a lop-sided picture (some of those in the opposition can be charged with the same). For example when she writes, "Tamar knew what was the ‘right thing’ for her father-in-law to do and made sure he did" she fails to address that the "right thing" was for her to obtain children from his other son, not pose as a prostitute and get with child by her father-in-law. Would she advocate that her daughter-in-law follow the example of Tamar, or her daughters act as did Lot's?

In her zeal to stress certain acts as examples for real women, Loewen writes, "Had [Tamar] not taken some leadership the lineage of Jesus would have fallen apart." To assert that Tamar saved the Messiah's lineage jettisons the Sovereignty of God, who works all things after the counsel of His will.

Loewen asserts the assertiveness of certain Biblical women is prescriptive, but makes no case to show why we should take the prescription. She does not present any case for the harmony of these assertions and apparent apostolic teaching to the contrary. To posit "real women who are the heroines of the Bible define the role of women by their real lives" (fact) versus "scripture from Paul's letters" (theory) creates an unbiblical dilemma. The actions of real women whom the Bible presents are heroines, when studied and harmonized with scriptural teaching about women, can help us understand the Biblical role of women. To do otherwise is to miss the full scope of Biblical counsel.

If her thesis is true, we could also say, "The real men who are the heroes of the Bible define the role of men by their real lives." Dispense with the theoretical will of God. The actions of men like Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon define what men should really be like. Allowing your wife to be placed in another man’s harem, marrying two women and also having children by their handmaids, and having your lover’s husband killed were the actions of real men the Bible defines as "heroes". Do we really believe their actions define the Biblical role of men? Or should we perhaps compare their actions to the revealed will of God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two Baptists - two churches

Two Catholics, two Jews and two Baptists were stranded on a desert island. When they were found years later, the Catholics had started a cathedral. The Jews had founded a temple. And the two Baptists had started the First Baptist Church and the Second Baptist Church. -- first seen in "HERE a Baptist, THERE a Baptist; Plowing through the plethora of Baptist options can be intimidating, but it can be done," by Laura Lynn Brown, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jan. 29, 2004

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tales from the Temple

Three chapters of The Texas Baptist Crucible: Tales from the Temple can be found HERE. A review of the book by Evan May is available on Triablogue.

Does private behavior matter?

Does private behavior matter for public officials? A "call-girl scandal" related to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is big news today. Steven Cohen, a professor of public administration at Columbia University, said:

"This isn't Britney Spears we're talking about. This is the governor. The bottom line is, he controls the National Guard and the state police. He could have people come to arrest you and me tomorrow. So his private behavior does become a public issue."

What do you think? Does it matter?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Also from California

In Long Beach, California, an apartment building near two day care centers and a middle school is housing 12-15 registered sex offenders. According to some reports the building owner receives money from the Federal Government as an incentive to house them.

Perhaps California lawmakers can briefly tear themselves away from the pursuit of the evil home schoolers to see whether our Federal Government is using our tax dollars to place child sex predators in apartments near buildings where children are required to be.


[Note: compiled from several sources; if anyone has more details on this subject, I would be interested in reading them]

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Remember the clock

Tomorrow (Sunday the 9th) morning at 2 a.m. marks a bi-annual pyschological warfare of the United States government against its people.

California attacks home schoolers

Thanks to Jason Skipper's blog, I noticed the following, which is kind of scary:
Judge orders homeschoolers into government education

California has gone on the attack against homeschooling with a new law, and the linked article gives some information about one family's court struggle. You should be able to "google" and find much more on the subect. According to the article, the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles said this family's "sincerely held religious beliefs" are "not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California's compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights."

Since homeschoolers average 20 points higher in tests than the American public school average, there IS NOT AN EDUCATIONAL REASON for California's law. So why are they doing it?

I wonder if there are any Amish families in California. How long will it take to also force them into public education under California's compulsory public school education law?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Remember...

NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON. -- a reminder contained in an e-mail from Marvin Curnutt

Smith Memorial Sacred Harp Singing has been moved to Garden Valley due to hail damage at the New Harmony Community center.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Egyptian Bondage Sojourn

Egyptian Bondage Sojourn by Sam Whittington

How long were the children of Israel in Egypt? Four hundred years? Or less? It is commonly believed that the children of Israel were in Egypt for 400 years. Some say 430 years was the length of their stay. Both numbers are found in the Scriptures. The children of Israel sojourning in Egypt and their afflictions are synonymous with each other, so one would think the 430 years would refer to sojourning, while the 400 years would deal with affliction or bondage.

In Gen. 15:13, we read: And He said unto Abram, Know of a surety thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years...
Does this teach they were in Egypt for 400 years? Certainly not! It only teaches of 400 years of affliction.

In Exodus 12:40, we read: Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

This text could be taken two ways: 1) the sojourning was 430 years; or 2) they were in Egypt 430 years. Stephen makes reference to this in Acts 7:6: And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land: and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.

Doesn’t the text teach 400 years of evil rather than 400 years of sojourning? We attempt to prove the sojourning started with Abram in Mesopotamia and ended in the Exodus, while the affliction began with Isaac’s feast (Gen. 21:8). The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:17 that it was 430 years from the promise to the law: And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

We now read Exodus 12:41: And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

From this let’s do some math. In Genesis 12:1-4, we find that Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran with the promise of God, our starting point. Isaac was born 25 years later when Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21:5), this being 25 years after the promise. In Genesis 25:26, Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob was born, this being 85 years after the promise. Jacob was 130 years old when the journey was made into Egypt (Genesis 47:8-9), which totals 215 years from the promise to the entering into Egypt. Now subtract 215 from 430, which equals 215, this being their stay in Egypt.

We will now look at our subject from another direction. In Genesis 46:8-26, we-find who went down into Egypt with Jacob. In verse 11, Kohath is listed in the group, but Kohath’s age is not given. Exodus 6:18 states that Kohath begot Amram, and Kohath lived 133 years. The 20th verse of the same chapter reveals in part that Amram begot Moses and lived 137 years. Moses was about 80 years old when the Exodus occurred (Exodus 7:7). We now add these numbers up: 133 + 137 + 80 = 350. This is far short of 400 years. Also, these years don’t consider a maturing in order to father an offspring. If Kohath and Amram were both 60 years old, as Isaac was, we could subtract 120 from 350, leaving 230 years, which is very dose to the 215 years.

God told Abram in Genesis 15:16, But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again....

In a spiritual sense, this prophecy was fulfilled in Joseph (Jos. 24:32), but in a natural sense, the fulfillment was in Moses. From Genesis 50:23, we can conclude that Joseph saw his descendents that would exit Egypt. Joseph was 110 years old at death (Genesis 50:26), and he was 39 when Jacob came down (Genesis 41:46; 45:6), which leaves 71 years of Joseph’s life with his brethren in Egypt. Seventy-one from 215 leaves 144 years, this being a minimum age for the fourth generation, which is reasonable. Seventy-one from 400 leaves 329 years. This also would be a minimum age for the fourth generation, which is not reasonable. Eber lived 460 years (Genesis 11:16-17), an age comparable to 329 which was some 13 generations before.

Now, to the affliction. When Isaac was weaned, Abraham made a feast, and Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her son (Genesis 21:8-9). In Galatians 4:22-31, we read about these two sons. Notice the words bondage and affliction. How old was Isaac at the feast? We don’t know! Would 5 years be reasonable? If so, this would make 30 years from the promise to the affliction.

In 1 Samuel 1:24; 2:11, we read how Hannah left Samuel with Eli when he was weaned. How old do you suppose Samuel was when his mother left him with Eli? Another thought: Who took Joseph to Egypt? (See Genesis 37:28). Did not our personal Egyptian affliction begin when God weaned us from the flesh and gave us grace to eat at His table?


-- By Sam Whittington (elder)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Grace Baptist Churches in England

Grace Baptist Churches in England by Philip Tait, pastor of Hardwick Baptist Church, Stockton-on-Tees, England

To understand where we are now, we need to go back a bit. Until the Nineteenth Century, the vast majority of English Baptist Churches, whether Open or Strict, were Particular in doctrine. When the Baptist Union was formed, it was a union of Particular Baptist churches. However, there was a drift into Arminianism during the Nineteenth Century, so that by the end of the century, the position was that the majority of Baptist churches were General and Open, while a substantial minority were Strict and Particular – and were thereafter usually referred to as “Strict Baptist Churches”. (This is quite distinct from the usage of the Seventeenth Century, where “strict Baptist” – with a small “s” – meant a church that insisted on believers’ baptism as a condition of membership.)

However, the Strict Baptist Churches were divided among themselves over quite minor points of doctrine. The different groups were identified by which magazine they read (from the most strict to the most liberal): The Gospel Standard, The Christian’s Pathway, and The Gospel Herald. This gave rise to what is the most distinctive thing about Strict/ Particular/Grace Baptist Churches to this day, namely that there a large number of overlapping organisations, but no central body.

The Baptist Union having deserted the Particular position, some of the Strict Baptist Churches organised themselves into these groupings:

« The Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches, now The Association of Grace Baptist Churches (South East).
« The Suffolk and Norfolk Association of Strict Baptist Churches, now The Association of Grace Baptist Churches (East Anglia).
« The Cambridge and East Midlands Union of Strict Baptist Churches, now The Association of Grace Baptist Churches (East Midlands).
« The Northern Union of Particular Baptist Churches. During the Twentieth Century, the Northern Union was wound up. Its financial and legal responsibilities were transferred to the smaller of the two Particular Baptist trust companies, The Strict and Particular Baptist Trust Corporation (now the Grace Baptist Trust Corporation). The spiritual side of the work was transferred to a new organisation, the Northern Fellowship of Particular Baptist Churches. Later, the Northern Fellowship adopted a regional form of organisation, before it was eventually disbanded altogether.

Meanwhile, the Standard churches organised themselves, with very tight central control. There are four separate organisations run by the same committee, and known collectively as “The Gospel Standard Societies”. There has been very little connection between the Standard churches and others since 1900.

In the 1960s the different Strict Baptist churches came to see how much they had in common. There were a number of impulses that pushed the churches in that direction. First, the arrival of men who had left other denominations to associate with the Strict Baptists, to whom the old divisions meant nothing.

Second, the financial failure (practically simultaneous) of The Christian’s Pathway and The Gospel Herald. A third magazine, The Free Grace Record, took over the assets of The Gospel Herald, and became the new denominational magazine, Grace Magazine. Unlike the old magazines has been for all the churches, and not just one group of them. Grace Magazine was also later given half the assets of The Christian’s Pathway.

Third, the emergence of other Particular Baptist Churches that had never been associated with the Strict Baptists. These included old churches (some hundreds of years old) that had never been in any kind of association at any time in their history, new churches that had recently been formed, and churches that had recently seceded from the Baptist Union or other non-Evangelical denominations. These churches, along with some Strict Baptist Churches, began to meet annually in The Assembly of Baptised Churches Holding the Doctrines of Grace (ABCDG). Meanwhile, the Strict Baptist Churches had also begun to meet annually as the National Assembly of Strict Baptist Pastors and Deacons. The National Assembly was responsible for issuing the 1966 Baptist Affirmation of Faith, which is one of two doctrinal statements used by our churches, the other being the 1689 London Confession of Faith (which is the basis of, and virtually identical with, the American Philadelphia Confession).

The Assemblies were wound up in 1980. (I was at the last meeting of the ABCDG, which was held in St John’s Wood Road Baptist Church in central London. I never imagined at the time that I would become Pastor of that church in 1989!) The new annual conference, formed by merging the old Assemblies, is Grace Baptist Assembly, which has met most years since 1981. It has no organisation – only a steering committee to make the arrangements – and no authority over the churches. It is not a denomination, and exists only while it is sitting.

The Grace Baptist Churches are listed in the Grace Directory. The magazine – though it is a separate organisation from the directory – distributes copies with the January issue each year. Today two things give the Grace Baptist Churches today their common identity:

« They are Particular/Reformed/Calvinistic in their theology. This is expressed by adherence to either the 1689 Confession or the 1966 Affirmation.
« They have a closed/baptised membership. Churches that admit members who have not been baptised as believers are not eligible to be listed in the Grace Directory. Some also practise Strict Communion (including all the churches in the three area associations).

My own background is virtually paradigmatic of all this. My father was a Congregational minister, who was baptised as believer in a Strict Baptist church during the 1960s, and became a Strict Baptist pastor in 1969. I was pastor of St John’s Wood Road Baptist Church, London, from 1989 to 2004. This is an old nineteenth-century Strict Baptist church – but in a fine 1989 building. It is a member of the South-East Association, though history records that when the Association was formed in the Nineteenth Century, the church refused to join, on the grounds that the doctrinal formulations were not tight enough. Since 2004 I have been in the north of England, at a church in Stockton-on-Tees that has recently withdrawn from the Baptist Union, so the history of the 1960s is being repeated.

This description of Grace Baptist Churches applies only to England. There are a few churches in other countries that choose to identify with us, and the churches belonging to the Fellowship of Reformed Baptist Churches in New Zealand are also listed in the Grace Directory. But even places as near to home as Scotland, Wales and Ireland have their own quite separate history and traditions.


In addition to pastoring Hardwick, Brother Tait teaches Biblical Theology at the Teesside School of Christian Studies. He also added a booklist, which will be helpful. Most of the books are published in the UK.

Some background on next entry

American Baptists are often "self-consumed" and have only limited knowledge of Baptists in other countries. When I say that, I don't mean that we are necessarily selfishly unconcerned. But we live in a country of large geographical area and lots of Baptists. We often have trouble understanding the different Baptists here, much less elsewhere. The travels of the majority of us are limited to our own country or even much smaller regions within it. It is just "too much trouble" to try to understand Baptists elsewhere that we don't know and don't meet. Even persons such as I who make it a habit to collect information on Baptists don't really grasp the intricacies, organization and beliefs of Baptists about whom we've only read. We need the insight of an "insider". The phenomenon of the World Wide Web has brought us much closer and given us opportunities of communicating with our Baptist brethren elsewhere that we wouldn't have even dreamed of a few years ago. My next post will be an article on Grace Baptists by Philip Tait.

Back in January, Brother Tait added some information about British Grace Baptist organizations to my blog entry
Baptists in Britain, Australia and Canada. Afterward we exchanged some e-mails in which he provided further information, and I asked if I could post it on my blog. He graciously formatted his information into the following article, giving a summary of who Grace Baptists in England are, and how they got to be where they are. Thank you, Brother Tait.

Perhaps there are other Baptists in other places who would be willing to provide information about your faith and practice.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Offense

In the context of a question about not offending those who might be offended, Tony Evans said, "Then don't ask me to pray. I don't do neutral prayers. I pray Christian prayers because I'm a Christian." -- Heard on his radio program 15 February 2008

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Three

Awhile back when I was looking online regarding the number three as used in Scripture, I found Thoughts on the number three, by Vernon Johnson of Denton Primitive Baptist Church. I think it is quite interesting.

"In the old testament there were three buildings that when completed were made manifest by a cloud filling and surrounding the building, in which it was said, 'the glory of the Lord filled the building.' These three buildings were the tabernacle in the wilderness, the temple built in Solomon’s day, and the building of Ezekiel’s vision. Similarly, three times in the book of Acts we read about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. First, on the day of Pentecost the Spirit filled the house where the church was gathered at Jerusalem. Next in the city of Samaria (Acts chapter 8) when the apostles came down and laid their hands on the people they were filled with the Holy Ghost. Finally, at the house of Cornelius when Peter preached unto the Gentiles the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 11:15, 16).

"When someone comes seeking entry into the church, they enter thru water baptism. Water baptism signifies three things: the death, the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When someone is baptized he is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

"The worship service of the true church is composed of three parts: singing, prayer, and preaching. Likewise, the communion service as laid down for us in the scriptures consists of three parts:

"1. Eating the unleavened bread which signifies the pure, perfect, sinless body of Christ.
"2. Drinking the wine which signifies the blood of Christ which he shed to redeem us from our sins.

"3. Washing the disciples feet which signifies the humility required to serve one another and thus serve the Lord.

"In our worship service we are told to sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord. Singing consists of three parts: melody, harmony and rhythm. Similarly when we pray, we pray with the unction and leadership of the Holy Spirit; we pray in the name or authority of Jesus Christ, who intercedes for us; and we pray unto the Father."
-- From Glad Tidings, Nov/Dec 2002

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Poem and word of the day

Behold the daisy where you tread,
That useless little thing;
Behold the insects overhead,
That gambol* in the spring;
His goodness bids the daisy rise,
And ev'ry insect's wants supplies.

Jane Taylor (1783-1824)
From "About God, who made the sun and moon," in Hymns for Infant Minds, 1832.

*Gambol -- to skip about, as in dancing or playing; frolic