Friday, September 29, 2006

Historical Sketch of the Quidnesset Baptist Church

I ran across this following history of the Quidnesset Baptist Church in Rhode Island and thought some of you might find it interesing reading.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Near death experiences

I recently heard a radio program on which the host and a panel were discussing "near death" experiences (NDE). Stories of such experiences are of great interest to Christians and non-Christians alike. Perhaps few are immune to concerns about life-after-death. Even Christians feel drawn to hear the testimony of someone who's "been there", regardless of what testimony the Bible might afford. Some of these testimonies commend themselves to us because we know the person providing the testimony.

There are many popular and not-so-popular books on the subject, both pro and con. A book that that has caught the imagination and interest of folks in our area is 90 Minutes In Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper (With Cecil Murphey). Piper is a Southern Baptist minister, who, according to the publisher, "On the Way home from a conference, Don Piper's car was crushed by a semi truck that crossed into his lane. Medical personnel said he died instantly. While his body lay lifeless inside the ruins of his car, Piper experienced the glories of heaven, awed by its beauty and music. Ninety minutes after the wreck, while a minister prayed for him, Piper miraculously returned to life on earth with only the memory of inexpressible heavenly bliss." Piper said, "Simultaneous with my last recollection of seeing the bridge and the rain, a light enveloped me, with a brilliance beyond earthly comprehension or description. Only that. In my next moment of awareness, I was standing in heaven." Piper's book does not spend a lot of time dwelling on his heavenly experience, but uses the experiences of his physical recovery to attempt to comfort both the suffering and the bereaved.

Piper's book probably has a much greater appeal to Biblical Christians than many others that are available. Many NDE books tend to run toward new age, mysticism and occulticism. On the other hand, there is If I Should Wake Before I Die: The Medical and Biblical Truth about Near-Death Experiences by H. Leon Greene, M.D. Dr. Greene believes that medical and scientific evidence can explain the near death experience, and also shows how he feels these experiences do not fit Biblical teachings.

A speech by the
Prince of Wales illustrates the experiential appeal of the NDE: "The important point is that whatever position modern science may take on near-death experience, the subjects themselves are a) convinced of survival of death when they come back and b) they are transformed towards the valuing of love and the pursuit of wisdom."

In the
Christian Research Journal, Summer 1992, J. Isamu Yamoto wrote, "There are two important reasons why we should turn to the Bible as we try to understand the NDE phenomenon. First (and quite obviously for Christians), the Bible is the supreme authority in guiding the lives of believers. It conveys what God declares essential for humans to know about truth and how to please Him. Therefore, whatever the Bible has to say bearing on near-death experiences must be thoroughly and objectively examined."

"In addition, we must turn to the Bible because NDE advocates also turn to the Bible to support their interpretations of this phenomenon. Since many of these advocates believe in the universality of all religions, they naturally seek passages from as many religious texts as they can find that seem to parallel the near-death experience, including one particular biblical account that they assert describes some NDE elements. What NDE advocates claim to find in this biblical account must not be taken at face value, however, but must be studied also in contrast to the total NDE model that they have established. (page 14)"
Christian Research Journal, Spring 1992, Part one

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Earth warmest in 12,000 years

An article in our newspaper today discussed a study conducted by scientists. The study claims that the earth has reached its warmest point in the last 12,000 years. The study "also found that the planet has warmed to within one degree Celsius of the hottest temperature of the last million years."

Since this study is scientific rather than political, one would assume that it is not agenda driven. But I must say that I wonder about it. I'd like to see discussion of who recorded the earth's temperatures 12,000 years ago. And if they didn't have access to records of 12,000 year old scientists/meteorologists, then explain how they know the temperature of the earth 12,000 years ago.

Anyone know from whence this claim?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

History of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church

I have been thinking of posting on my blog some of the history that I have compiled about the old Mt. Carmel Baptist Church of Rusk County, Texas. Finally, I decided that it will take up too much space here and have created another blog just for that. Please click on the above link to go there. It's just getting started, so it may take a day or two before much info up. At some point I will put a permanent link on my sidebar.

Monday, September 25, 2006

14th Annual Smyrna Sacred Harp Singing

We had a good singing at Waldrop Cemetery yesterday. This large rural cemetery had a good crowd in attendance and the weather was excellent. Next Saturday we will hold the 14th Annual Smyrna Singing.

Date: Saturday, September 30, 2006 (d.v.)

Smyrna Baptist Church
FM 2496
Mount Enterprise, Texas

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Click here for map.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

For such a time as this

Esther 4:14 - "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

When Joseph was in Egypt sold,
His brothers evil meant.
But God meant good to bring to pass
For such a time as this.

In Persia when an orphaned girl
Rose to become their queen;
None knew what God was working out
For such a time as this.

Esther lifted to a throne, and
Delivering Jews from death;
She was God's means that He ordained
For such a time as this.

The Sovereign Lord is in control
All things obey His will;
What we recoil from just might be
For such a time as this.

Rest on, dear one, in His firm hand,
God's providence is sure.
Though we see not what He has planned
For such a time as this.

For such a time as this,
For such a time as this,
Who knoweth whether this has come
For such a time as this.

© September 10, 2006

I worked on this awhile, believing there was a good thought in there somewhere, but it seemed that it just didn't break out and live. Any suggestions?

Tomorrow we will...

... sing at Waldrop Cemetery. (d.v.)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Divine healing

Just read a short treatise with the following declaration: "God now only heals through His providence, which does not remove the need for proper medical treatment."

While I agreed with the basic premise of the writer, basically that modern so-called faith healers are really fake healers, I'm not sure I can agree with the above statement. What do you think?

I am not certain what the writer believes about providence and what it is, since he closed with the paragraph which included "God now only heals through His providence".

Some definitions of providence are (1) God's will, as expressed through events on Earth, (2) a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures, (3) the guardianship and control exercised by a deity, (4) the continual care that God exercises over the universe He created.

Now this declaration breaks down into two parts. First, "God now only heals through His providence." It would seem to me that ultimately all healing comes under the providence of God, but this phrase seems to (1) with the word now indicate a difference from earlier times and with the word only indicate former healings were through "more" than His providence; (2) exclude for today any of the different kinds of healing that were through "more" than His providence. Second, His providence "does not remove the need for proper medical treatment." If this means only that medical treatment is within the providence of God, I agree. If it means that all of God's providence in healing is through medical treatment, I disagree. I think God heals directly and through answered prayer in addition to, in conjunction with and/or apart from medical treatment, even in this day and age. No need for the fake healers to drive us from that ground, IMO.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The birth of Isaac

Hebrews 11:18 - Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
Genesis 18:14 - Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

The birth of Isaac as a Divine miracle is demonstrated by the facts that:

1. Both Abram and Sarai were old; Genesis 17:17

2. Sarai was barren -- unable to bear children -- during her childbearing years; Genesis 11:30

3. Sarai was past childbearing; Genesis 18:11

Romans 4:16, 17 - ...Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chapters and verses

According to the Wright's Bible Readers' Aids, the chapter divisions of the Bible were created in A.D. 1250 and the verses in 1550. That being true, these divisions are obviously not inspired, but rather tools intended to make the Bible, in modern speak, "user-friendly". The handy references to book, chapter and verse can be a boon for locating something or telling someone how to locate something. But if God didn't inspire these "user-friendly" tools, have we perhaps erred in creating them?

A Baptist Board member with the user-name
Jack Matthews wrote, "I sometimes wonder if dividing up the Bible into chapters and verses that do not always align with the complete thoughts or contexts of the writing is a help or a hindrance to interpreting scripture. The early church clearly did not pick singular 'thoughts' out of artificial divisions of the Bible called 'verses' and formulate doctrines from them."

I'm not on a campaign to purge chapters and verses from the Bible, but Matthews' query is a valid one. The chapters and verses are a help. BUT could the hindrance of them be a greater negative than the help is positive? Possibly so. I doubt anybody will be buying a chapterless verseless Bible any time soon. But let's try to read the Bible in complete thoughts rather than just following the verse and chapter divisions for stopping and starting, and assuming those are where the thoughts naturally flow, stop and/or change. That's the least we can do.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Not so safe in Texas!

Here in Texas we often brag about being the biggest and having the biggest of everything. Looks like among the ten largest cities in the United States, we have the biggest crime rates.

Of the ten largest cities, Dallas, Texas is NUMBER ONE, with the rate of one crime for every 11.79 residents; San Antonio is third, one for every 14.12 residents; and Houston is fourth, one for every 14.17 residents. Phoenix, Arizona squeaked in just ahead of San Antonio to grab second place, with one crime for every 14.10 residents. Maybe if we work at it really hard we can have the top three positions next year! :-p

Surprisingly perhaps to some, of the largest cities in the U.S., New York was the safest, with one crime for every 37 residents.

Henderson Daily News, Tuesday 19 Sept 2006, p. 1; See also
New York the safest big U.S. city

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not related to anything

Not related to anything in particular, but I heard this on a show last night and thought it was kind of funny. A lady was told she was paranoid, to which she replied, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me!"

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Wonder

Psalm 71:7 - "I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge."

"Are you considered a WONDER unto many? You should be! People should wonder what in the world happened to you. Friends and co-workers should wonder what happened to the language you used and the jokes that you use to tell and listen to. They should wonder why you won’t go out to the bars or parties with them anymore after work. Your neighbors should wonder why it is that every Sunday morning and Sunday night they see you and your family dressed up and leaving for church instead of having that Bar-B-Q or going to the beach. Your family should wonder why things that would find their way on to your TV set just don’t seem to be there anymore. If you’re living a life for Christ, these wonders have taken place and maybe you don’t notice them. I guess the person that should be most amazed is you? Do you wonder why an almighty God would send His only Son to die for you? Do you wonder why out of the thousands and millions of people around you that God seems to have opened your eyes to the truth and now you are a child of God? Have you ever wondered how it is that God, who knows everything, says that He will remember your sins NO MORE? Oh, the WONDER of it all." -- by Franklin Senters,
Living in His Word Devotions for Sunday, September 17th, 2006

I received this devotion in the e-mail today, and it made me think of the following song, which is found in the Sacred Harp, p. 292. It is also in Goble's and Lloyd's hymn books. I do not know who is the author. In singing it, the phrase "Tis a Wonder" is repeated after each line, as noted on the first stanza below. Some Lloyd book singers in Texas repeat "Tis a wonder, wonder, wonder" after each line.

Oh! 'tis a glorious mystery -- 'Tis a Wonder
That ever I should saved be -- 'Tis a Wonder
No heart can think, no tongue can tell -- 'Tis a Wonder
The love of God unspeakable -- 'Tis a Wonder.

Great mystery, that God should place
His love on any of Adam's race,
That I should also share a part,
And find a mansion in His heart.

Great mystery, I can't tell why
That Christ for sinners came to die;
Should leave the boundless realms of bliss,
And die for sinners on the cross.

Oh! Why was I not left behind,
Among the thousands of mankind,
Who run the dang'rous sinful race,
And die, and never taste His grace?

'Twas love that spread the gracious feast;
'Twas love that made my soul a guest;
'Twas love that brought Him from above;
'Twas love, Oh! matchless, boundless love.

Not all the heav'nly hosts can scan
The glories of this noble plan;
Oh! 'tis a glorious mystery,
And shall be to eternity.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Bible "trivia" follow-up

The middle verse of the Bible is Psalm 103:2. "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits"

The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9. "Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. "

The shortest verse is John 11:35. "Jesus wept."

Ezra 7:21 includes every letter of the English alphabet except the letter "j". "And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily"

The name "Jesus" is found in both the first and last verses of the New Testament.
Matthew 1:1 - The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bible "trivia"

The following information is not original with me, nor have I verified all of it. If anyone knows of corrections, please list them in the comments.

The Bible was first divided into chapters by Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro. The first division of verses was completed by Paris printer Robert Stevens in 1550. The first "Red Letter" edition of the Bible was published in 1901 (the New Testament only was printed in 1899).

Chapters (this information considers individual Psalms as chapters; I was taught that each Psalm is an individual song/hymn and therefore technically not a chapter)
The King James Bible is divided in 1189 chapters, 929 in the Old Testament and 260 in the New Testament. The middle chapter of the Bible is Psalm 117, having 594 chapters before it and after it. Psalm 117 is also considered the shortest chapter in the Bible. The longest chapter in the Bible in Psalm 119. The longest chapter in the Bible not a psalm is Numbers chapter 7, with 1939 words in 89 verses.

There are 31,101 verses in the Bible. Psalm 103:2 is the middle verse of the Bible. The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9 and the shortest verse is John 11:35. Ezra 7:21 includes every letter of the English alphabet except the letter "j".

The name "Jesus" is found in both the first and last verses of the New Testament.

[Source: "The Bible Readers' Aids," Charles H. H. Wright, ed., pp. 16, 17; King James Version Bible, edition KWM-14-5941 by World Bible Publishers.]

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Religion without Jesus is like a manure pile; it stinks highly until it finally dries up!

"If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless...Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" -- Philippians 3:4-8

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Living Stone

When looking up Samuel Medley's hymn "Awake My Soul", I ran across the following hymn. I did not know it before finding it on the STEM Publishing website.

1. On Christ salvation rests secure;
The Rock of ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests upon the "Living Stone".

2. No other hope shall intervene:
To Him we look, on Him we lean;
Other foundations we disown,
And build on Christ, the "Living Stone".

3. In Him it is ordained to raise
A temple to the Father's praise,
Composed of all the saints who own
No Saviour but the "Living Stone".

4. View the vast building, see it rise;
The work how great, the plan how wise!
Oh, wondrous fabric, power unknown
That rears it on the "Living Stone"!

5. But most adore His precious name,
His glory and His grace proclaim:
For us, condemned, despised, undone,
He gave Himself, the "Living Stone".

-- Samuel Medley

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Waldrop Cemetery singing

Singing at Waldrop Cemetery

Date: Sunday, September 24, 2006 (d.v.)
Location: Waldrop Cemetery
FM 1251
Fairplay, Panola County, Texas
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
2000 Cooper Revision of the Sacred Harp

Monday, September 11, 2006


The following link is a permanent interactive memorial site for all affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

History of shaped notes

Much of what those of us in the Sacred Harp shaped note tradition read about shaped notes is related to our own tradition. The following article is apparently by someone in or acquainted with the Christian Harmony tradition.

"Elizabeth Smathers-Shaw, a talented shaped-note singer and daughter of shaped-note master Quay Smathers, explained that many of America's settlers had come with only their necessities. Since music and fine instruments were more of a luxury, the nation, early on, was largely musically illiterate, Shaw said.

"Once things became more settled, organized church and music and education developed. By the mid-18th century, a revolution was under way to teach people music. Many teachers looked for a quick, easy way to do it—a sort of Hooked On Phonics method, Shaw said."

-- From
A history of shaped notes, by Michael Beadle [click highlighted portion to link to the rest of the article]

Awake My Soul

"Sacred Harp singing just might be the most beautiful music you've never heard," according to Valerie Fraser Luesse, author of Together in Harmony in Southern Living magazine. Click blue link to read and hear.

Amity mentioned and linked the Sacred Harp documentary "Awake My Soul" in the comments section of this last blog. That made me think of blogging about it, since everyone may not be following all the comments. We had the privilege of seeing "Awake My Soul" at the East Texas Sacred Harp Convention in August. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will leave you informed.

According to the documentary's website, "
'Awake, My Soul: The Story of the Sacred Harp' is the first feature documentary about Sacred Harp singing, a haunting form of a cappella shape note hymn singing with deep roots in the American south. Shape note singing has survived over 200 years tucked away from notice in the rural deep south, where in old country churches, singers break open 'The Sacred Harp', a 160 year old shape note hymnal which has preserved these fiercely beautiful songs which are some of the oldest in America. The film offers a glimpse into the lives of this 'Lost Tonal Tribe' whose history is a story of both rebellion and tradition. The filmmakers, Matt and Erica Hinton spent 7 years documenting this yet largely unknown art form."

Producer Matt Hinton writes, "I discovered Sacred Harp singing in 1991. At a concert in Atlanta, I heard about an upcoming 'shaped note' singing that was being held about in North Georgia. As I approached the Primitive Baptist Church where the singing was held, I could already hear voices. It was the sound, not of a choir, but of people singing. People with flaws and without perfect pitch, but meaning every word of it: 'Serve with a single heart and eye, and to Thy glory live or die.' I immediately felt transported. What can I call this experience? Overwhelmed. There is a sense in which this moment informed the entire making of 'Awake, My Soul'. It became my desire for others to experience this moment as well. Ever since, I have tried to convince my friends that if they will only drive 45 minutes, their minds will be blown. Yet, 45 minutes is a tall order evidently. I decided if they will not come to a singing, I must bring the singing to them."

Check out the site for information on the movie, photo gallery, links, a trailer and even a 1930s picture of a little Texas girl holding a book almost as big as she is!

1. Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
And sing thy great Redeemer's praise
He justly claims a song from me,
His loving-kindness, O how free!

2. He saw me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate,
His loving-kindness, O how great!

3. Though num'rous hosts of mighty foes,
Though earth and hell my way oppose
He safely leads my soul along,
His loving-kindness, O how strong!

4. When troubles, like a gloomy cloud,
Have gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood,
His loving-kindness, O how good!

5. Often I feel my sinful heart
Prone from my Jesus to depart,
But though I have Him oft forgot,
His loving-kindness changes not.

6. Soon shall I pass the gloomy vale,
Soon all my mortal pow'rs must fail;
Oh! May my last expiring breath
His loving-kindness sing in death.

7. Then let me mount and soar away
To the bright world of endless day,
And sing with rapture and surprise
His loving-kindness in the skies.

-- Samuel Medley, 1782

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Instrumental music in worship

Click here to read an interesting piece on "Instrumental Music in New Testament Worship".

Read and then come back here to write your thoughts in our comments section.

BTW, much of the material online advocating a cappella singing is either Baptist or Church of Christ. I've seen some Reformed stuff also. Last night I ran across an article from a Mennonite point of view -- A Cappella Singing, by Leland M. Haines -- so am linking it for those who might be interested. [Note: this is not the position of all Mennonites.]

Friday, September 08, 2006

The first Baptist hymnal in America

“Baptist beginnings in the New World are generally traced to the founding of the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1639. From this modest beginning the number of Baptist churches in America grew slowly but steadily until the Revolutionary War.

“Church music in these congregations—where it existed at all—generally consisted only of congregational singing. Some churches followed a Zwinglian tradition that excluded all song from the sanctuary. The churches that did sing mainly adhered to the Calvinist practice of singing only metrical Scripture (principally the Psalms) in unison without instrumental or choral accompaniment...By 1766, the time appeared ripe for the publication of the first Baptist hymnal to be compiled in the Colonies, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, collected from the works of several authors. Because of its generic title (Hymns and Spiritual Songs), which was used by many other hymnals of the day, the work is usually called the ‘Newport Collection’ after the place of its publication, Newport, Rhode Island. Though the word ‘Baptist’ did not appear on the title page, the contents and what is known of the people involved in its publication make it evident that the book was both compiled by and intended for Baptists.”

Click here to download and read the rest of The Newport Collection: the First Baptist hymnal in America - 1766, by David W. Music

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A little more on depravity

Continuing a little further with depravity and historical information: The Reformed churches are in general agreement with the Baptists on the subject of original sin and total depravity (in fact, the London Baptist Confession copies the Westminster Confession on that article), while the Restoration/Stone/Campbell movement churches reject both original sin and total depravity.

"In the Westminster Confession the doctrine of Total Inability is stated as follows: — 'Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.'

"This doctrine of Total Inability, which declares that men are dead in sin, does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that any one is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is evil in itself, nor that man‘s spirit is inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead. What it does mean is that since the fail man rests under the curse of sin, that he is actuated by wrong principles, and that he is wholly unable to love God or to do anything meriting salvation." – Loraine Boettner

"Infants do not and cannot commit sin. Neither do they inherit sin! 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die'...Ezekiel 28:15 teaches that we are perfect, or without sin, as infants; that iniquity is found in us at a later time in life. Ezekiel 18:20 teaches that we do not inherit sin." --
Bible Question and Answer Book , by David Amos (pp. 164, 167)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Articles of faith -- depravity

To compliment the blogs on Total Depravity and Some depravity verses, I am including the following articles of faith. These articles of faith are from the Anabaptist/Baptist faith tradition over a period of 5 centuries. They show a fairly consistent theology concerning the doctrine of depravity. They follow in chronological order, with the exception of John Smythe's Short Confession, which is pulled out for the last paragraph.

1520, Waldensian Confessions of Faith (according to some sources, this goes back to 1120)
4. The books above-mentioned teach us: That there is one GOD, almighty, unbounded in wisdom, and infinite in goodness, and who, in His goodness, has made all things. For He created Adam after His own image and likeness. But through the enmity of the Devil, and his own disobedience, Adam fell, sin entered into the world, and we became transgressors in and by Adam.

1596, A True Confession
4...first Eva, then Adam by hir meanes, did wittingly & willingly fall into disobedience & transgression of the commadement of God. For the which death reigned over all: yea even ouer infants also, which have not sinned, after the lyke maner of the transgression of Adam, that is, actually: Yet are all since the fall of Adam begotten in his own likenes after his image, beeing conceyued and borne in iniquitie, and soo by nature the children of wrath and servants of sinne, and subject to death, and all other calamities due vnto sinne in this world and for euer.

1632, The Dordrecht Confession of Faith
II. Of the Fall of Man - We believe and confess, according to the holy Scriptures, that these our first parents, Adam and Eve, did not continue long in this glorious state in which they were created, but that they, seduced by the subtlety and deceit of the serpent, and the envy of the devil, transgressed the high commandment of God and became disobedient to their Creator; through which disobedience sin has come into the world, and death by sin, which has thus passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, and, hence, brought upon themselves the wrath of God, and condemnation; for which reason they were of God driven out of Paradise, or the pleasure garden, to till the earth, in sorrow to eat of it, and to eat their bread in the sweat of their face, till they should return to the earth, from which they were taken; and that they, therefore, through this one sin, became so ruined, separated, and estranged from God, that they, neither through themselves, nor through any of their descendants, nor through angels, nor men, nor any other creature in heaven or on earth, could be raised up, redeemed, or reconciled to God, but would have had to be eternally lost, had not God, in compassion for His creatures, made provision for it, and interposed with His love and mercy.

1644 London Confession of Faith
IV. ...first Eve, then Adam being seduced did wittingly and willingly fall into disobedience and transgression of the Commandment of their great Creator, for the which death came upon all, and reigned over all, so that all since the Fall are conceived in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, and so by nature children of wrath, and servants of sin, subjects of death, and all other calamities due to sin in this world and forever, being considered in the state of nature, without relation to Christ.

1689 London Confession of Faith
9.3 Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. {The 1742 Philadelphia Confession of Faith is the same as the London 1689}

1729, Goat Yard Declaration of Faith (A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsely-down, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill)
IV. We believe that God created the first man, Adam, after his own image, and in his likeness; an upright, holy, and innocent creature, capable of serving and glorifying him; but, he sinning, all his posterity sinned in him, and came short of the glory of God: the guilt of whose sin is imputed, and a corrupt nature derived, to all his offspring, descending from him by ordinary and natural generation: that they are by their first birth carnal and unclean, averse to all that is good, uncapable of doing any and prone to every sin; and are also by nature children of wrath, and under a sentence of condemnation, and so are subject not only to a corporal death, and involved in a moral one, commonly called spiritual, but are also liable to an eternal death, as considered in the first Adam, fallen and sinners; from all which there is no deliverance but by Christ, the second Adam.

1806, Mississippi Baptist Association Articles of Faith
3. We believe in the fall of Adam; in the imputation of his sin to all his posterity; in the total depravity of human nature; and in man's inability to restore himself to the favor of God.

1833, New Hampshire Confession
3. Of the Fall of Man - We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker; but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state; in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners, not by constraint, but choice; being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin, without defense or excuse.

1834 Treatise of the Faith and Practices of the Free Will Baptists
CHAPTER IV, SECTION II: Primitive Man, and His Fall
Our first parents, in their original state, were upright. They naturally preferred and desired to obey their Creator, and had no preference or desire to transgress His will until they were influenced and inclined by the tempter to disobey God's commands. Previous to this, the only tendency of their nature was to do righteousness. In consequence of the first transgression, the state under which the posterity of Adam came into the world is so different from that of Adam that they have not that righteousness and purity which Adam had before the fall; they are not willing to obey God, but are inclined to evil. Hence, none, by virtue of any natural goodness and mere work of their own, can become the children of God, but they are all dependent for salvation upon the redemption effected through the blood of Christ, and upon being created anew unto obedience through the operation of the Spirit; both of which are freely provided for every descendant of Adam.

Circa 1850, Providence Association of Primitive Baptists
ARTICLE 2nd - We believe that God created man good and upright - but that man by his sins and transgressions has become dead in trespasses and in sins and is utterly unable to change his own heart, or to deliver himself from the depraved state into which he has fallen, under the influence of the powers of darkness.

1925, Baptist Faith and Message Statement of the Southern Baptist Convention
3. THE FALL OF MAN - Man was created by the special act of God, as recorded in Genesis. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen 1:27) "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen 2:7) He was created into a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, and are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.

1949, Articles of Faith of the General Association of General Baptists
We believe that we are fallen and depraved creatures, and cannot extricate ourselves from our fallen situation by any ability we possess by nature.

The articles of Waldenses, Anabaptists, General, Particular, Primitive and Missionary Baptists seem to be fairly consistent on the doctrine of depravity, though certain wording leaves room for diversity. The Short Confession of Faith in 20 Articles by General Baptist John Smythe explicitly denies original sin, asserting that all sin "is actual and voluntary" and that "infants are without sin." -- "(5) That there is no original sin (lit;, no sin of origin or descent), but all sin is actual and voluntary, viz., a word, a deed, or a design against the law of God; and therefore, infants are without sin."

Many of these confessions can be found at
Reformed Reader historic Baptist documents.

Some depravity verses

To go with yesterday's blog, here are some verses speaking to the issue of depravity.

Psalm 51:5 - "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Eccl. 7:20 - "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."

Jeremiah 13:23 - "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."

Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"

Romans 3:10-18 - "As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They have all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes."

Romans 3:23 - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"

Romans 5: 12 - "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"

Rom. 8:7-8 - "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

I Cor. 2:14: - "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Total depravity

A discussion at a listserve to which I subscribe centers on "total depravity", so I thought I'd blog on it to get you thinking and to try to get your thoughts. The majority of Christians seem to agree on some kind of depravity, but that is usually where the agreement ends. In a dialogue with Allan Turner, Reformed Baptist Patrick Quick sums it up nicely, "Most evangelical Christians agree that men are sinners. Where the disagreement comes, is to what extent."

First, let me attempt a definition of total depravity, which in itself will necessarily give my point of view. The doctrine of total depravity seems to include the following : (1) that all men are sinners, (2) that this sin affects the entire life of all humans (that is, it affects totally rather than partially), and (3) that all human beings are wholly unable to save themselves. Put another way, depravity or sin impacts every man.

For another definition, perhaps from a more neutral point of view, the Wikipedia online encyclopedia states, "Total Depravity is a theological term primarily associated with Calvinism, which interprets the Bible to teach that, as a consequence of the Fall of man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. In other words, a person is not by nature inclined to love God with his heart or mind or strength, rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor. Put another way, even with all circumstances in his favor a man without God can do nothing but work for his own destruction; and even his religion and philanthropy are destructive, to the extent that these originate from his own imagination, passions and will."

The term "total depravity" has fallen out of favor in some circles, considered by some to confuse as much as it clarifies. Terms such as "radical depravity" and "radical corruption" have been suggested as substitutes, but haven't really caught on. This discussion of terms mostly revolves around trying to distinguish what most (but not all) hold concerning depravity -- that totally depraved is in extent rather than degree. That is, the fallen sinfulness of man extends to every part of his being -- mind, body and spirit. Few would argue that we are totally depraved in degree that every individual is as depraved as he could possibly be, that every act committed is as bad as it could be.

In his article T.U.L.I.P (The Deadly Flower), Gregory O. Baker writes, "I believe in total depravity, but not in total inability. God has given all men enough light to make them responsible to choose. He holds all men responsible for their choices." Some might refer to this as general depravity -- men are depraved, but not to the extent that they are unable to choose or believe in God. On the far end of the spectrum is the Church of Christ/Restorationist position. If I am not mistaken they, in their doctrine, would agree with Pelagius, who taught every baby born into the world is born without sin. As soon as infants or toddlers begin to sin, then they become sinners.

The following quotes represent two varying positions within the group of those who hold the doctrine of total depravity.

"Depravity means 'a depraved condition; corruption'. All people are born in a state of depravity, which affects every part of a person's being - body, soul, intellect, will and affections. Because it affects all parts of a person's nature, the depravity is referred to as total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that one has no conscience, or that a person is as bad as s/he could be (that would be utter depravity.) Total depravity does not mean one will indulge in every form of sin; nor does it mean that a depraved person will not perform actions that appear good to men. Total depravity refers not so much to what one does, as to what one is. Everyone is born with a sinful nature. Since every part of a person is affected by sin, there is no spark of good in the person that would make him seek God or try to improve his condition. Such a person has no understanding of the things of God; no desire for the things of God; and no ability to seek the things of God. In spiritual terms, that person is dead." (Primitive Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL)

"We insist, on the basis of the Scriptural passages quoted earlier, that man is by nature completely dead in sin. Apart from Christ man can do no good whatsoever before God. Man can not do any 'natural' or 'civil' good on this earth. Nor can any man exercise his will to 'accept' Christ -- for also his will is bound by sin and death.

"Some have objected that men of this world, those who are outside of the church, do also perform many good deeds. Man, apparently, is not always so completely depraved. A certain wealthy man may give a million dollars to build and maintain a hospital to help the poor and suffering of mankind. Is this sin -- or is it good? Your neighbor may not go to church nor pray -- but he has a wonderful relationship with his family. Is this good -- or is it evil? A man saves a fellow-man from drowning at the risk of losing his own life. Is that good -- or evil? These questions arise, and with it, the question: is the sinner actually totally depraved?

"In light of Scripture we must still maintain that any man outside of Christ sins in everything that he does. We must be so careful not to mistake what we might think is good as good in God's sight. Man either loves and serves God or he does not. He is either with Christ or against Him. He either does something in true faith and to God's glory, or he does it in the service of man and to his own glory. There is no in-between. It makes no difference if the man gives a million dollars to found a hospital or whether he has a nice family life, or saves drowning individuals -- in all of this, natural man walks not by faith but in sin and corruption. God judges his every action to be sinful.

"Though all men are totally depraved, though all of their actions performed by nature are sinful -- yet there are obviously variations seen in men. All men do not sin in the same degree or in the same manner. In the first place, the type and degree of man's sin is determined by the age in which he lives. Obviously today, with our radios, television, and automobiles, man can sin in many ways that his forefathers could not. Secondly, sin is limited to a large degree by environment and circumstances. A rich man has the means to sin in many more and different ways than does the poor man. But both sin in all that they do. Thirdly the degree of sin is determined by a person's age. The little child does not sin in as many ways as does the adult. Finally, the degree and type of sin in a man is often times regulated by his own self-esteem -- his own selfish pride. Why does a wicked man live in a peaceful, pleasant relationship with his family? Not because God's law requires it, but because he understands that it is to his own benefit, for in this way he lives in a decent relationship with his fellow-man." (Rev. Gise J. Van Baren)

What say ye?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day

As Labor Day approached, I started to wonder what is the history and meaning of this holiday. If I ever knew it I had forgotten, so I got online to see what I could find.

Labor Day is "a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers...Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those 'who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold'...Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist" and "later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York...The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union...In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a 'workingmen's holiday' on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country."

The above quoted remarks are from the
United States Department of Labor website. Labor Day is celebrated in many other countries of the world. In Canada it is also held on the first Monday in September, and their celebration of it appears to predate the U.S. holiday/celebration. A majority of countries appear to hold their "Labor Day" celebrations on May 1.

Some Bible verses about labor or work include:

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 3:17-19 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Godliness with contentment

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." -- I Timothy 6:6

In contrast to a life long struggle to accumulate as much as we can, godliness with contentment is great gain. What is godliness? John Gill writes, "By 'godliness' is not meant any particular grace, but all the graces of the Spirit of God; as faith, hope, love, fear, &c. the whole of internal religion, as it shows itself in outward worship, and in all acts of holiness of life and conversation..." One dictionary defines contentment as "happiness with one's situation in life." In the material realm, gain is usually thought of as possessions, or we might say, making a PROFIT. Some suppose that gain is godliness (I Timothy 6:5), but there is true profit in a contented life full of godly fruits of the Spirit.

If we have God as a possession and His Spirit as a witness, the bare necessities of life are enough. "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (I Timothy 6:8) We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (I Timothy 6:7) Whatever God grants us to have in this life is profit -- It is more than we came with, and it is more than we will take away. Paul learned that "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11) May God grant we learn the lesson well. The love of money is an evil that will wreck our lives. (I Timothy 6:10)

Contentment is the opposite of covetousness. Hebrews 13:5 says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Covetousness is a greed that always seeks to have more. Contentment says God is enough. Much of our western world is driven by greed and covetousness. We don't describe it with such negative terms, but it is there. Perhaps Job said it best, "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." If we can say that in the face of much adversity, perhaps we know something of how godliness with contentment is great gain!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul."
By Horatio G. Spafford

Friday, September 01, 2006

1900 -- East Texas Union Meeting

When the East Texas Union Meeting met in 1900, the clerk was ordered to print 200 copies of the minutes. At least one of them has survived. I found it in the Charles Brightwell papers in the archives at the East Texas Research Center at Stephen F. Austin University, Nacogdoches, Texas. It is very short, so I typed it up to share with anyone who might be interested in either the genealogical, religious, historical or regional aspects of it.

of the
Third Annual Session
of the
-- of the Regular --
Held With Pleasant Hill Church, Cherokee Co., Texas
Beginning on Friday Before the First Sunday in September 1900

Page 1

The Union Meeting organized by electing Elder S. A. Hutchins moderator, and brother A. M. Starling clerk.

1. Called for letters from the different churches. One received from Mt. Zion, Salem and Pleasant Hill churches, all of which were read and received.

Adjourned till Saturday, 10 o'clock a. m.


The Union Meeting met pursuant to adjournment.

Brother J. B. Branch was present from Concord church and was received without letter into the body.

2. The subject of organizing the Union Meeting into an Association was taken up and discussed, and on motion such organization was defered for the present.

3. On motion it was agreed that in the future, the pastor and clerk of the church where the Union Meeting is held shall be the moderator and clerk of the Union Meeting.

4. On motion the clerk was ordered to have two hundred copies of our minutes published.

The next session of the Union Meeting will be held (Divine Providence permitting) with Salem church, in Smith county, Texas, 7 miles south of Overton in Rusk County, commencing on Friday before the second Sunday in July 1901.

5. On motion the minutes of the day were read and adopted, and Union Meeting adjourned to the time and place above mentioned.

ELDER S. A. HUTCHINS, Moderator.
A. M. STARLING, Clerk.

Page 2
Articles of Faith.
I. We believe in only one true and living GOD, who is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible; and that there are three in the Godhead: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
II. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the revealed word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.
III. We believe in the doctrine of eternal and particular election of a definite number.
IV. We believe that as by one man sin entered into the world, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; and that man in utterly unable to recover himself from sin by his own free will and ability.
V. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
VI. We believe that the saints are preserved in Jesus Christ and kept by the power of God through faith, ready to be revealed in the last times.
VII. We believe that baptism, the Lord's supper, and washing of the saints' feet are ordinances of Jesus Christ, and that believers are the only subjects of these ordinances; and that immersion is the only mode of baptism.
VIII. We believe that no minister has the right to administer the ordinances save he is called of God, as was Aaron, and comes under the imposition of the hands of the presbytery.
IX. We believe that there will be a resurrection of the dead (Adam man) both of the just and the unjust, and a general judgment. That the joys of the righteous are eternal, and the punishment of the wicked will be everlasting.

Page 3
Scale of the Churches

Church Post Office Pastor Post office of clerk Messengers
Mt. Zion S.A. Hutchins* Rusk, Texas A.M. Starling Forest, Texas S.A. Hutchins, A.J. Hugghins, A.M. Starling
Meeting Day 4; Members 12; Baptized 2

Salem C. Brightwell* Overton, Texas J.H. Wilson Omen, Texas C. Brightwell, J.H. Wilson, Thos. Arnold
Meeting Day 2; Members 20; Dead 1

Pleasant Hill C. Brightwell* Overton, Texas G.R. Dowdy Bullard, Texas W.F. Breedlove, L.H. Hugghins, R.M. Breedlove
Meeting Day 1; Members 20

Concord C. Brightwell* Overton, Texas [clerk not listed] J.B. Branch
Meeting Day 4; Members 13; Dismissed 1; Dead 1

*Ordained ministers

NOTES: Pleasant Hill met in Cherokee County and Salem in Smith County; based on the addresses of the pastor and clerk, Mt. Zion may have been in Cherokee County. Salem still exists; its meeting house is on the road between Troup and Wright City in eastern Smith County. I am not familiar with the others. C. Brightwell was Elder Charles Brightwell, who lived in Rusk County in the Leverett's Chapel area (between Overton & Kilgore). Charles Brightwell (1844-1913) was probably born in Georgia, where he married Margaret Caroline Ball. They came to Texas from the Macon area of Georgia. The moderator and clerk may have been Swan Alvin Hutchins and Alexander Moses Starling.