Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Should pastors have salaries?

The subject of pastors' salaries can be somewhat difficult to discuss. It is, or at least can be, a highly emotional topic. Also, we often have very different presuppositions underlying our positions on the topic. A profitable discussion would really require going over that ground first.

I have noticed several misconceptions about the position that a pastor should not have a salary -- that it is motivated by love of money; that the 'salaried' preacher is free to preach the truth while the 'unsalaried' one is dependent on the good will of the people; that pastors must have a salary from the church to eat, pay bills, put children through college, etc. But I can point to some churches that only give freewill offerings to their pastors that actually give more money to their pastors than some churches of similar size and condition that pay set salaries give to theirs -- so it must not just be love of money. I can point to some salaried preachers that have comfortable positions and wouldn't dare mess that up, while also pointing to some unsalaried ones who preach their convictions to their church -- so it must not just be one-sided as to which preacher might shade the truth to maintain 'the good will of the people.' I can point to some preachers that have never received a salary and yet have paid their bills, fed & clothed their children, and even sent them to college -- and who might be said to have out-labored some men who had those things provided for them by their congregations. These are practical matters, and practical problems in the ministry reside on both sides of the "salary fence." They do not settle the question.

On occasion I have read salary advocates just throw I Corinthians 9, Galatians 6, and I Timothy 5 on the table and say "these are our scriptures, you need to deal with them." They are God's Word, and both sides must deal with them! There are some things that must be considered in these passages by those who support setting a salary for a pastor. Such as, in I Cor. 9:14, et. al. -- where are pastors (elders, bishops) found in the context of the passage? What does living of the gospel mean? How were the priests supported - salaries or freewill offerings? How does an apostle's refusal to use this right, but rather setting a model of self-support for elders (cf. Acts 20:34,35) fit your interpretation? Or, in I Tim. 5:17 -- if honor means a set salary, does double honor mean pay a double set salary? Have you considered that Timothy was in Ephesus and they had a plurality of elders? Did all of them receive a double salary? What about the possible division of labours of elders - elders that rule well, and elders especially who labour in word and doctrine? Or, in Gal. 6:6 - does "all good things" inherently mean a set salary? If it means a "set salary" from the one taught to the one who teaches, does that include a salary to itinerant ministers, radio preachers, etc.? If not, why not? If so, who will set their salaries? The point here is that these passages are not cut-and-dried proof of salaries for ministers as some have supposed.

As I stated above, there are often some radical differences of approach to church & ministry among those who hold that pastors should be paid salaries, and those who hold that pastors should not be paid salaries (or, in some cases, should not be paid). For example, for one the "ministry" is a full-time position, while to the other it is a part-time position (these terms may do as much to obscure as enlighten, but they are the common terms). In one approach, few could conceive of operating without a budget; in the other approach, few could conceive of why a church would need a budget. For one, the pastor is expected to fulfill numerous obligations; for the other, the obligation is teaching/preaching by several pastors.

We must be careful to not read our own practice back into the New Testament. The use of certain verses to support the salary system, IMO, does not take into account the commonality of things in the church at Jerusalem; the poverty common to the early churches; the plurality of pastors in these churches; the self-support not only practiced by Paul and others, but also given as a model to the elders; the fact that Paul's self-support was not an isolated incident; the difference between the function of apostles & itinerants and elders; and the pattern of local elders being raised up within the churches to serve those churches. Though I'm sure neither side could prove satisfactorily to the other, it is highly unlikely that any support mentioned in the scriptures, received by the apostles and evangelists, would approach anything which we would recognize as a salary.

Though Paul proves the right of apostles and other traveling ministers to be supported by the churches, He chose not to use this right (I Cor. 9). Paul chose to set a pattern for the elders to follow in their ministry (Acts 20:33-35) -- not only to support themselves, but others as well. Paul was setting patterns and examples that he expected others to follow (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1 cf. with Acts 20:35). In a correspondence on this subject several years ago, I made this statement to another preacher, "There seems to be a deliberate tension in the scriptures - on the one hand exhorting churches to support the ministry, and, on the other hand, urging ministers to be self-supporting." I still think there is truth in that statement, and believe the tension is why many good people can read the Scriptures on these matters and come to such different conclusions.

One thing on which I think most of us could agree, though, is that churches concerned with how little they can give and pastors concerned with how much they can make are both contrary to the Scriptures.

It is unfortunate that many people cannot understand the difference between the position of the early church practice as normative and the idea of walking in sandals to a meeting house without electricity. I and others who take the position are as much to blame in failing to explain it as they are in failing to understand it. By the statement "New Testament (or early church) practice is normative" I mean that it lays down a model or standard. In my opinion, we find not only our theology of doctrine in the New Testament, but also our theology of practice.

1. All may not apply the idea consistently, almost all do apply it on occasion. For example, most Baptists would feel that it is necessary to form their church government after the New Testament pattern, despite the fact that no command says they must do so.
2. The call to New Testament practice as normative is not a call to return to the culture of the first century (lighting with candles, wearing tunics and sandals, traveling by foot, horseback & wagon, etc.), nor does it regard everything as practiced in the New Testament era to be binding or as being errorless.
3. The call to New Testament practice as normative recognizes that everything the apostles expected the churches to practice was not couched in the language of command, but that they also clearly set examples they expected to be followed (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1-2; cf. v.16; 14:33; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Thess. 1:6-7; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 2:2).
4. The call to New Testament practice as normative looks for distinctive apostolic practices and patterns, that were (a) not just rooted in the culture of the day, (b) not just rooted in the religion[s] of the day, (c) common to the churches [iow, not an isolated case], (d) rooted in and consistent with the teachings of the apostles.
5. The call to New Testament practice as normative is held to be generally binding by some (like myself), while others only hold that it is the most beneficial and more conducive to the carrying on of the work of the church.
6. The call to New Testament practice as normative questions why we would assume our methods are more effective than the apostolic pattern, and defers to the wisdom of the inspired apostles. Our question is not "why do we have to do it the way the apostles did," but rather "why do we want to do it some other way?"

If New Testament practice (as explained above) is not normative, there is very little point in discussing whether or not pastors should be paid a salary. From my limited study of the Reformation, I would conclude that one of the main differences between the Reformers and the Radicals (such as the Anabaptists) was that the Anabaptists believed the apostolic practice was normative. I would argue also that much of what distinguishes Baptists from other Christian groups is not based on explicit commands, but is derived from implied conclusions and inspired examples. If New Testament practice is not normative, then perhaps Baptists are irrelevant.

If a church requires all of a man's time (that is, so much that he could not work elsewhere) how could they expect to do any less than pay him a full time salary? But should they do so? Should they allow him to do so? IMO, this is contrary to the scriptural idea of the church as a family, a community and a functioning body. The idea is not to have one man (or a few) minister to the needs of everyone else, but that they should serve one another, each contributing his/her own special gift to the edification of the entire body.

An example of how our presuppostions lead and mislead us can be found in Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays. They write, "We are separated from the biblical audience by culture and customs, language, situation, and a vast expanse of time." (p. 19). But they do not say that we also have things in common with that audience. Duvall and Hays urge us to ask, "What are the differences between the biblical audience and us?" But they do not urge us to ask, "What are the similarities between the biblical audience and us?" Will failing to ask both sides of these questions not possibly slant us toward a particular conclusion? Close inspection reveals a possible bias slanted toward one type of conclusion.

Again, I think the main separation of the positions of whether to pay or not pay salaries is one of a difference in our doctrine and philosophy of ministry. Yes, there may be the peripheral issues -- loving money, etc. -- but those are only sidelights. There are plenty of people on both sides that have a love of money. Perhaps we should explore this philosophy of ministry some more.

Goodwill Baptists

In Let's Use a New Modifier in a New Century to Describe Baptists, an article on, Robert Parham suggests a new name, or modifier, for moderate Baptists -- Goodwill Baptists. I have my doubts that it will catch on.

In suggesting the name "Goodwill" as a modifier or descriptor of "moderate" Baptists, does Brother Parham suggest that Baptists who are not moderates are "Badwill" Baptists, or Baptists of ill will? I know not Robert Parham's motive, but I have read enough moderates on the internet to know that at least some moderates think that conservatives, fundamentalists, hardshells, landmarkers, and non-cooperative Baptists are vicious and mean-spirited. No doubt some of us can be. Do not be fooled, though. Behind their "goodwill", some of the moderates can be "just as mean" as us, for example, calling SBC conservatives "virus-infected detractors", or referring to the death of Jerry Falwell as the reason for "the lovely lack of humidity (hot air) today..." We'd probably better leave off what they call hardshells and landmarkers! ;-D

It seems to be an oft-used debate tactic to attack the person rather than respond to and/or differ with the substance of the person's position. It would be better for us to assume the other person's motive is honorable and they really do sincerely believe what they believe, unless proven otherwise. That seems like goodwill to me.

Update: In Why Does the SBC President Think Jesus' Agenda Is Liberal?, a "Goodwill Baptist" suggests that the SBC's non-participation in the New Baptist Covenant indicates racism, politics, and nursing old wounds: "I hope that they will set aside racial prejudice, secular political loyalties and hurt feelings, attending what will be a celebration of a new day for all Baptists in North America." So much for Goodwill, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Random quotes

Random quotes that I enjoyed (some are political, but seem to make common sense):

"Some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination." -- Thomas Sowell in Random thoughts on the passing scene

An economics professor at a junior college said, "'If you're going to pay me $50,000 a year to solve a problem, I'm sure not going to solve it and lose a good job.' [there's probably been a little inflation since he said this! rlv] ... Once people go into the business of solving a problem, you can be [expletive deleted] sure the problem won't be solved." -- Charley Reese in A problem that can't be solved

"Life is the garment we constantly alter but never seems to fit." -- quoted by Charles Swindoll and, I think, attributed to a David McCord

"When Baptists surrender their belief in the Bible as the Word of God, they have yielded the last logical reason for their existence." -- T. T. Shields in What Baptists Stand For

Not a quote, but a political cartoon: Two U.S. Border Patrol agents are sitting in their truck. One says, "We should deport them all." His partner replies, "You can't deport the U.S. Senate." OUCH!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A guilty rebel

Prostrate, dear Jesus, at Thy feet,
A guilty rebel lies;
And upwards to Thy mercy seat,
Presumes to lift his eyes.

If tears of sorrow would suffice
To pay the debt I owe,
Tears should from both my weeping eyes
In ceaseless torrents flow.

But no such sacrifice I plead
To expiate my guilt;
No tears but those which Thou hast shed
No blood, but Thou hast spilt.

Think of Thy sorrows, dearest Lord,
And all my sins forgive:
Justice will well approve the word
That bids the sinner live.

Samuel Stennett (1725-1795)
A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, Rippon, 1787

Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial day

Hope all have a great Memorial Day weekend. We're taking a quick "vacation" and will be back in the blogosphere next week, Lord willing.

P.S. -- We had an enjoyable trip out of town. We headed up through the western edge of Arkansas and spent the night at Mena. At Shady, AR, near Mena, we purchased a rolling pin made by 104 year old Mitchell Cogburn. We headed to Springdale, with a quite beautiful drive up Hwy 71. On Sunday we attended Shiloh Baptist Church. Shiloh of Elm Springs is the former Faith Regular Baptist Church. It was in the old East Washington Association but is now independent. We ate dinner at the famous A.Q. Chicken of Springdale, and then attended a Sacred Harp singing at the Shiloh Museum. The new interstate 540 (Fort Smith to Fayetteville/Springdale) is also a beautiful drive up in the tops of the Boston Mountains. We came back through eastern Oklahoma. The drive is almost exactly the same time-wise as going up through Ark.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Change your mind

"Every time you open the Bible, be ready to change your mind." -- Elder Ray O. Brooks, Pastor of Mt. Hebron MBC, Long Branch, TX and President of Texas Baptist Institute, Henderson, TX

This does not mean that you will, but you should be ready to. Come to the Bible believing you have something to learn, not that you know everything already!

Associations question

Should Baptist churches form and participate in associations/conventions? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Smith, Brooks, Moran on Baptist associations

Allen Smith wrote a pamphlet titled “The Heritage of Baptist Associations.” Under what he calls “The Scriptural Concept,” he notes that the association as we know it was not fully developed in the New Testament times, but that there are New Testament principles on which it is based. He notes four examples: (1) the Jerusalem council of Acts 15, (2) the messengers from Jerusalem bearing the council message back to the Gentile brethren, (3) the general inter-relationship of the churches as illustrates in the church epistles, and (4) the inter-connectedness of the churches of Galatia, Achaia and Macedonia in a gathering a collection for the saints in Jerusalem. [Bro. Smith and the Continental Baptists with whom he was associated (which may have by now merged into the Sovereign Grace Baptist Association) are Calvinistic with a preference for the First London Confession, have a strong local church & autonomy orientation, but are not Landmark.]

In his book Scriptural Church Associations, Ray O. Brooks identifies what he believes constitutes churches associating Scripturally. (1) Scriptural church association requires voluntary association; (2) Scriptural church association requires equality in representation; (3) There can be no redelegation (of authority); (4) There can be no union of authority; (5) There can be no hetero-association; (6) Scriptural church association prohibits extra-church authority; and (7) Scriptural church association requires the sovereignty of each local church be recognized, honored and preserved. [Brooks is a Landmark Baptist in the American Baptist Association and long-time president of Texas Baptist Institute & Seminary. From "Scriptural Church Association", Ray O. Brooks, A. J. Kirkland Memorial Lectures, Dec. 1983.]

While looking for Brooks' book, I ran across a paper by Billy Moran of Kentucky. "The Basis for Fellowship and Cooperation between Churches of Like Faith" is a transcript of a lesson Moran taught at Old Union Baptist Ministers' School at Bowling Green, KY. He believed the minimum requirements for fellowship between churches were (1) Scriptural organization, (2) Scriptural practice on the plan of salvation, (3) Scriptural observance of the ordinances, and (4) Adherence to the principle doctrines. He further argued that fellowship and cooperation must honor each church's independence and equality. [Bro. Moran is an "Old Time" Missionary Baptist and can be considered a "Landmarker" on ecclesiology. But note that the Old Time Missionary Baptists, unlike some other Landmarkers, were content to cooperate (at least nominally) with their state conventions until they separated over issues related to soteriological practices, "easy-believism", etc.]

Monday, May 21, 2007

Daniel Parker on associations

"The propriety and benefit of an association is taught us by the same spirit that taught the primitive saints to combine and unite in church capacity. When Christ was in the world, he never directed his disciples to collect members together, and plant, or establish churches. Thought often using the word church, when speaking to them, but tells his disciples, that when the Holy Ghost, the spirit of truth, should come, the comforter he would send, that he should not only give them power to be witnesses, but guide them into all truth...

"But the association should never be a head over the churches as a law giver, nor even as an advisory council; this is making an improper use of an association. It would be in its nature oppressive, and an infringement on the rights of the churches, contrary to gospel order, destructive of christian liberty, and eventually turn our blessings into an awful curse.

"The use of an association for the benefit of the churches, is only a medium of correspondence with each other, in order to extend, strengthen and preserve the fellowship of the Saints, and union of the members of the body of Christ, through which correspondence, each member of the individual churches can be consulted in all matters relative to the redeemers' kingdom."

-- Excerpt from The Author's Defence, etc. by Daniel Parker, Vincennes, IN: E. Stout, 1824. Reprint by the Primitive Baptist Library, Carthage, IL, n.p.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


"The Holy Spirit is not a tailor who alters the robe of righteousness to fit the man, but He is a surgeon who alters the man to fit the robe of righteousness."

The above is not original with me. I heard or read it somewhere and wrote it in the margin of my Bible with Isaiah 61:10 (but with no attribution of who said/wrote it).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is sola pragmatica replacing sola scriptura?

What is Sola Scriptura? "It is Latin for 'scripture alone'. It means that the Bible is the sole source for determining doctrine and practice. It means we determine what is right and wrong, what we do or don’t do exclusively by the Scriptures..." (from the Blog "Frequently asked questions") Other ways of putting it might be "the Bible is the sole spiritual authority...the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice." This may also be understood in contrast to Catholic and Orthodox belief, in which the Bible is interpreted by church teaching and tradition.

What is Sola Pragmatica? It is "made-up" Latin for "pragmatism alone."1 It is a term to describe the tendency of some churches and believers to overrule the Scriptures in favor of what is deemed popular, practical, expedient or otherwise useful (regardless of what the Bible says). It means pragmaticism is the "sole source" for determining doctrine and practice. Everyone thinks it is someone else who believes and practices sola pragmatica!

I coined this term in a comment I made on Bart Barber's post Martin Marty on Evangelical Doctrinal Wanderings. There the subject was divorce. Another subject that makes me think of pragmaticism over Scripture is the idea of classes for baptismal candidates, that must be passed before one is baptized. Nathan Finn discusses that thorny question here.

"....allowing changing cultural norms to define our interpretation of Scripture automatically opens the door to radical contextualizing and thus dismissal of...biblical statements." -- Malcolm Yarnell III, "Which Denomination, Which Convention?" in SBC Life, December 2004

Is sola pragmatica replacing sola scriptura?

1. The actual meaning might be more like "skill alone"? Also "sola pragmata" might be better; I'm not a Latin student. Are there any Latin students reading this? Also the "sola" is used in contrast to the one in "sola scriptura". In actual practice it may be more like "prima pragmatica" -- the expedient trumps the Scriptures and becomes the main source of practice.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Following the pattern

Are the practices and actions of a congregation of believers bound to follow some New Testament pattern? Or, are the practices and actions of such congregations open to formation by circumstance and expediency?

It is interesting that most churches follow some patterns, but do not follow patterns consistently. It is quite common for modern Baptists to view the patterns/practices observed in the early New Testament churches as mere descriptions describing what was done, rather than prescriptions prescribing what should be done. From that perspective, New Testament or apostolic patterns of church practice are viewed as optional.

According to Steve Atkerson, "There is a big difference between holding to apostolic tradition versus mindlessly copying everything seen in the New Testament (wearing sandals, writing on parchment, studying by oil lamps, wearing togas, etc.)." (Ekklesia, p. 18) It becomes wearisome to point out some New Testament practice to be rebutted by some famous response such as "What about electric lights". But perhaps we who believe in apostolic practice as normative (called patternism by some) are not succinctly and clearly defining the issue. Atkerson further wrote, "The key is to focus in on New Testament church practice."

IMO, "patternism" is not foreign to the Anabaptist/Baptist tradition, but has been a driving force within it. Even today, most churches follow some patterns. In another forum several years ago, I asked five questions of Baptists, all of which began, "Why do you..." These were things commonly practiced by Baptists, and most folks answered with something like "The Bible teaches..." Yet, in each case there was no command for the practice, and in each the observance was based on New Testament practice. Why faithfully use fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (which are not specifically commanded) for communion, and yet refuse the example of weekly communion? Why practice local church autonomy and congregational church government (which are not specifically commanded), and yet refuse the example of plurality of elders?

We who hold this position of normative apostolic practice do not believe we must follow the Jewish and Roman lifestyles of the first century. Just because Paul might have worn a toga & sandals and walked to church does not establish that practice for us. But what the apostles taught & practiced and the churches received very well could be establishing a practice for us -- whether anti-cultural, semi-cultural or cultural. In other words, the things they received into their way of ministry, gathering, governing, teaching, evangelizing, etc.. What I see is that we all come to this conclusion for some things, but diverge at some point and often end up at opposite ends of the spectrum on others. We also do not automatically exclude the possibility that something that is cultural could have been established as part of the extended church life as well (for example, feetwashing, head coverings, etc.).

This may be the point of divergence -- one looks at a practice and thinks, "there is no principle involved" and so it is not necessary to recreate or follow that practice today; another may look at the same thing and think they see a principle. If so, it would suggest we are each following our principles as we understand them.

Baptists - Why Do You Do It?
The Apostles' Tradition - The Heart of the Matter!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Agree or disagree?

"The principle by which we are to be guided in determining what appointments in the apostolic churches are to be considered as binding for all time, and what discretionary, may be stated thus. Whatever can be CLEARLY shown from Scripture, either by precept or example, to have been instituted by the apostles, and which cannot be shown to have had its origin in the temporary and peculiar circumstance of their time, is binding on us and for all time. Whatever can be shown to have had its origin in the peculiarities of that time, is not binding, the same peculiarities no longer existing. Upon this principle, deaconesses, a plurality of elders, and the 'holy kiss', are omitted now. Upon this principle also, the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is left to the pious discretion of the churches." -- William Williams, Apostolical Church Polity, American Baptist Publishing Society, 1874

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Barber & Graves on schism

"...modern forms of ecumenism want to pretend that schismatic actions do not matter and have no consequences."

" amount of friendly handshaking among Christians who insist upon organizational separation (by that I mean at the local church level) can realistically amount to Jesus' intentions when He prayed for the unity of the body."

Bart Barber (aka Praisegod Barebones) in
J. R. Graves: Radical Ecumenist? 3 April 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

4 views of the millennium

I don't blog much on eschatology (last things) -- in fact I don't think I have ever. But here is a blog post with a pretty nice chart on 4 views of the millennium.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Some Baptists

(Greek: dip, immersion, dipping in water)
Anabaptist: A "rebaptizer"; From the Greek ana up, again
Antipaedobaptist: One who is opposed to the baptism of infants. Webster's Dictionary 1828; From the Greek anti + paedo
Antibaptist: One who opposes baptism. Evidently at times associated with or equivalent to “Anabaptist”, implying the opposition to infant baptism equals opposition to baptism. From the Greek anti opposite
Baptist: (caps) A member of a Christian denomination that baptizes believers by immersion; (lowercase) a person who baptizes. From the Greek baptein dip immerse, wash
Catabaptist: One who opposes baptism, especially of infants. According to Mennonite Encyclopedia, "a name used for a time (1525 and following) for the Swiss Anabaptists by Zwingli and Oecolampadius in their Latin writings." Further, "The word is actually used in essentially the same meaning as ‘Anabaptist,’ that is, rebaptizer, but carries the additional connotation of ‘anti-baptist,’ that is, attempting to destroy the true baptism.” From the Greek kata down, through, against
Credobaptist: One who believes that statement of belief in Jesus Christ is necessary before one is baptized; believers' baptism, the opposite of pedobaptist .From the Latin credo "I believe", statement of one's belief(s)
Crypto-baptist: Hidden baptist; may be used of those of other denominations who are very baptistic, those "proto-baptist" groups some consider Baptists, or the "unknown" Baptist progenitors of the present-day Baptists. Sometimes used as the equivalent of proto-baptist, q.v.From the Greek kryptein, to hide
Hemerobaptist: A Jewish sect whose adherents bathed (or washed ceremonially) every morning before the hour of prayer Webster's Dictionary 1828, et al. From the Greek hemero day
Holobaptist: A believer in baptismal immersion. From the Hutchinson Encyclopaedia. (Evidently implies application of water to the entire body) From the Greek holos whole
Paedobaptist: One who practices, adheres to, or advocates infant baptism. From the Greek paido child (Also Pedobaptist)
Proto-baptist: first Baptists, pre-Baptists, "baptists before the Baptists"; a name used to refer to pre-17th religious groups that held Baptist/baptistic principles such as believers' baptism, free religious exercise, etc. -- denoting that those using the term may recognize them as precursors to the English Baptists while denying any organic connection. From Greek protos first, superlative of pro "before."
Se-baptist: Self-baptizer; According to the article on John Smyth in Christianity Today's "Christian History & Biography", "Amsterdam Separatist Richard Bernard nicknamed him [John Smyth] a 'Se-Baptist' (self-baptizer)."

A short list of some kinds of Baptists, or terms referring to Baptists, that you may encounter when reading historical and theological discussions. This is probably better than some other things we've been called!
This list made by a compulsive information gatherer might actually be useful to someone in their reading. If not, maybe you can use it for trivia!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

As safe in battle as in bed

After the Battle of Bull Run, Captain John D. Imboden asked Stonewall Jackson how he could remain so cool and with no sense of danger in the midst of battle. Jackson replied, "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me."

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson died on this day, May 10, 1863.

This quote can be found in "Stonewall Jackson" a Thesarus of Anecdotes of and Incidents in the Life of Lieut-General Thomas Jonathan Jackson, by Elihu Samuel Riley, Annapolis MD: 1920, p. 140

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Threat to marriage

"The greatest threat to marriage in America today is not the push for homosexual marriage, but rather the current ease with which a married couple can get a divorce." -- Steve Weaver on his blog -- The authority of the king: Jesus and divorce 23 April 2007

I think this statement by Steve Weaver is on target. You can read the entire post by clicking on the link above (this is not an endorsement of his entire position on the divorce/remarriage question).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bitter things

I thank You LORD, for bitter things,
They’ve been a friend of grace;
They drive me from my paths of ease,
To seek the Father’s face...

"Let's not be too anxious to forget our trials,
There may be much to be learned from them!"

Author of poem is anonymous; comments by Leonard Burrell; received via e-mail from D. Paul Tuck on the Historic Baptist Symposium

Monday, May 07, 2007

Does God Decree Sin?

Thoughts on Does God Decree Sin? by Nathan White. 25 April 2007

Being single

There is nothing wrong with being single.

It is good
I Cor. 7:1,8,26 -- Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman... I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I... I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.

It is a gift
I Cor. 7:7 -- For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

It is useful
I Cor. 7:32,33 -- But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Testimony on tongues -- Biblical evidence of true disciples

The testimony of the Scriptures as to the evidence of true disciples without the evidence of speaking in tongues. Though some teach that speaking in tongues is the biblical evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost, when the Scriptures actually speak of evidence of true disciples, they do not mention tongues.

1. John 13:35 -- "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jesus identifies love for one another as universal evidence of His true disciples.

2. Romans 5:1 -- "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" The believer, justified by faith, has peace with God.

3. Romans 8:14 -- "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." The leadership of the Spirit is present in all the sons of God.

4. Galatians 5:22,23 -- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Paul identifies the fruit of the Spirit and does not list tongues. Matthew 7:16 - "Ye shall know them by their fruits."

5. I John 2:3 -- "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." John identifies obedience as personal evidence of knowing God. A review of the tongues passages (Mark 16, Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19, and I Cor. 12-14) reveals that we are never commanded to speak in tongues.

6. I John 3:14 -- "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." John identifies love for the brethren as personal evidence of regeneration.

7. Note also in light of the above:
A. I Thessalonians 4:9 -- "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."
B. I Corinthians 13:1 -"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."

When inspired writers speak of things that identify us to others as born again children of God, or things that are a personal witness, they do not include tongues among that evidence. Numerous persons in the Bible are understood to be believers -- yea, even spoken of as having received the Spirit -- WITHOUT the evidence of tongues. Couple these facts together with the previous facts posted concerning tongues -- filling of the Spirit, baptism of the Holy Ghost, etc., and we have quite a record that shows tongues never was the evidence of a person receiving the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Testimony on tongues -- direct Scripture references

The testimony of Scripture passages concerning speaking in tongues.

1. Mark 16:17,18 -- "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." This is the first mention of tongues in the New Testament, and the only mention in the Gospels. It is an important text. While many believe it proves their point, it actually proves the opposite. Speaking in tongues is one of many signs that follow "them that believe" in a general way. It is impossible to interpret Mark as meaning that every believer would exhibit every sign, therefore it does not follow that every believer will speak in tongues.

2. Acts 2:3, 4, 6, 8, 11 -- This is the first passage of a manifestation of tongues, on the day of Pentecost. Numerous persons from about 15 different regions or peoples, who were able to converse in a common language (cf. 2:7, 12: "saying one to another"), each heard the 120 speaking in the language of their nativity. There is no record that the others that believe later in the day also speak in tongues.

3. Acts 10:46 -- This is the second record of a manifestation of tongues, and it is the one which possesses the most similarities to the day of Pentecost. It is not clear in chapter 10 whether the disciples understood each in their own language, as on Pentecost, or if they all just understood the language they heard them speak. But Peter says this was "as on us at the beginning." (Acts 11:15)

4. Acts 19:6 - The third manifestation of tongues recorded in Acts. The Holy Spirit came on these disciples at Ephesus, and they spoke in tongues. It should be a matter of some consideration that Luke by inspiration penned a record covering over 30 years of history of the early church, and recorded only three instances of speaking in tongues. This is very much less emphasis on it than found in the vast majority of churches that hold the practice.

5. I Corinthians chapters 12-14 -- This section is the only place outside the book of Acts that tongues is mentioned, and the only doctrinal dissertation that we have on the subject. There appears to be at least one difference as Paul deals with the subject here. The manifestation of tongues as practiced by the Corinthians required an interpreter. This has caused some to distinguish between the tongues of Acts 2 and I Cor. 12-14. The tongues of I Corinthians are:
A. a gift (12:4) or manifestation (12:7) of the Spirit for the edification of the church
B. not distributed to all (12:28-30)
C. only a noise without love (13:1)
D. temporary (13:8)
E. only self-edifying when lacking interpretation (14:1-20)
F. a sign to unbelievers (14:21,22)
G. not to be overdone and not to be done without an interpreter (14:27)
H. not for women in the church (14:34)
I. a practice of extreme importance to the divided carnal Corinthian church (1:11; 3:1)

6. I Corinthians 14:18, 19 -- Paul frequently spoke in tongues, and yet reckoned it futile if there be no understanding.

7. I Corinthians 14:21 -- Paul connects the thought in Isaiah's prophecy (28:11, 12) with the idea that tongues is a sign for unbelievers.

The obvious conclusion is that tongues had an important place as a sign gift in the early church, but that there is MUCH MORE that transpires with tongues being either absent and/or unmentioned than transpires with tongues being present and/or mentioned. Speaking in tongues is mentioned once prophetically in the New Testament,1 thrice historically, and once doctrinally.2 That lack of emphasis, compared to the major emphasis by some, needs to sink down into the mind of the New Testament reader. The absence of tongues in the experience of many believers speaks to us as much as its presence in the experience of others. Anyone who thinks he/she has some kind of corner on the Christian market because of speaking in tongues DOES NOT meet the New Testament standard.

1. Paul also refers to the Old Testament passage of Isaiah 28:11,12
2. That is, a doctrinal exposition in one section of one book of the Bible.

Don't forget the "Baptist origins straw poll"!

"Baptist origins straw poll"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Testimony on tongues -- the baptism of the Holy Ghost

The testimony of the Scriptures concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost -- it is a specific term used of the events on the day of Pentecost and associated with the conversion of the household of Cornelius.

1. Prophecy of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost
A. The prophecy is made by John the Baptist and noted four times in the Gospels (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16: John 1:33); then by Jesus in Acts 1:4.
B. The prophecy does not specifically mention speaking in tongues or any other manifestation.

2. Fulfillment of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost
A. The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost.
B. Tongues and several other manifestations accompany the fulfillment (vs. 1-4).
C. The tongues/languages were understood by each one present in their own native tongue (vs. 6-8).
D. Peter exhorted the hearers to repent and be baptized and they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 38).
E. Though they repented, believed and were baptized, there is no record that the 3000 spoke in tongues.
F. The bringing in of the Gentiles is also associated with the Pentecost event and the "Baptism of the Holy Ghost" terminology - Acts 11:15, 16.
G. This event was accompanied with speaking in tongues.
H. This is certainly a sign of God's approval of Peter taking the Gospel to the Gentiles.

I. Other Gentiles are regularly brought into the fold - Acts chapters 13-28, but only on one other occasion with the manifestation of tongues.

John the Baptist prophesied of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Jesus, right before His ascension, promised that it would be "not many days hence." The day of Pentecost saw the fulfillment and it was accompanied by speaking in tongues. The preponderance of evidence in the book of Acts shows that events described as the filling and receiving of the Holy Spirit were not usually accompanied by this manifestation. But some people have inferred that because tongues was associated with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, all subsequent initial events regarding receiving the Holy Ghost must also be accompanied with a manifestation of tongues. The evidence does not support that. The event on the day of Pentecost was so singular that only the bringing in of the Gentiles is held in similar regard - "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?"

Note: I Cor. 12:13 mentions "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body..." There is considerable debate and disagreement over whether this is the same as the above baptism of the Holy Ghost or something different. Suffice it to say, for the purpose of this study, whether it is the same or different there nevertheless is no demanded speaking in tongues that must accompany it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


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Testimony on tongues -- the filling of the Spirit

The testimony of the filling of the Spirit in the early church in the book of Acts -- numerous accounts are given of disciples being filled with the Spirit, most without the evidence of speaking in tongues.

1. Acts 1:8 -- Jesus promises the Holy Ghost will fill them with power to be witnesses of Him and His resurrection.

2. Acts 2:4 -- 120 filled with the Holy Ghost; they speak in tongues and preach of Jesus (vs. 11, 14-36).

3. Acts 4:8 -- Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, preaches Christ to the rulers.

4. Acts 4:31 -- Members of the church at Jerusalem, filled with the Holy Ghost, speak the word of God with boldness.

5. Acts 6:3 -- Seven men, full of the Holy Ghost, are chosen to relieve the ministry of the apostles. At least two of them are soon found preaching the gospel (Stephen & Philip, chapters 7 & 8).

6. Acts 7:55 -- Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, preaches Jesus before the high priest and the council.

7. Acts 9:17 -- Saul, filled with the Holy Ghost, immediately preached Christ in the synagogues (9:20).

8. Acts 11:24 -- Barnabas is a man full of the Holy Ghost. People are added to the Lord through his witness. He travels with Paul to fulfill the mission of Acts 1:8.

9. Acts 13:9 -- Saul (now called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, preaches judgment and confirms God's word.

10. Acts 13:52 -- Discples are filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.

11. Ephesians 5:18 -- Filling with the Holy Spirit is here associated with speaking in songs of truth and thanksgiving, but not with tongues.

The filling of the Spirit is consistently associated with that which Jesus declared would happen after the Holy Spirit came upon them -- power to be witnesses. Speaking in tongues is mentioned in connection with filling of the Spirit only on one occasion - the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Even on that occasion, the preaching is central to the event, and 3000 are converted. The obvious conclusion is that the filling of the Spirit could and did occur without the experience of tongues.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Testimony on tongues -- history in the book of Acts

The testimony of the history of the early church in the book of Acts -- believers were accepted as converted, without the evidence of speaking in tongues.

1. Acts chapters 1 & 2 -- Jesus promises the disciples that they will be baptized with the Holy Ghost in a few days (1:5), and indicates they will receive power to be witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth (1:8). The promise is fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. The 120 are filled with the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues (2:4). Of this group of 120 (1:15), at least ten of them had already received the Holy Ghost (John 20:20-23), with no corresponding evidence of speaking in tongues. Notice also it is the 120 disciples that speak in tongues (some even believe only the 12 apostles). There is no evidence that the 3000 spoke in tongues, yet they were received as believers and baptized (Acts 2:41-47).

2. Acts 4:4 -- About 5000 believe, with no evidence of speaking in tongues.

3. Acts 8:1-25 -- The account of the outpouring in Samaria records that many believe and were baptized -- and makes specific mention of them receiving the Holy Ghost (v. 17) -- but with no evidence of speaking in tongues.

4. Acts 8 -- Philip preaches/witnesses to the eunuch. The eunuch is converted and there is no mention of speaking in tongues (8:26-40). Yet Philip baptized him and he goes on his way rejoicing.

5. Acts 9 -- Saul (Paul) is converted, his eyesight is restored, and he is filled with the Holy Ghost (9:17-20), with no mention of the initial evidence of speaking in tongues (He does exhibit the evidence of being a witness; cf. 1:8 with 9:20).

6. Acts 10 -- Peter preaches to the household of Cornelius; they believe, they Holy Ghost falls on them and they speak in tongues (10:44-48). Peter likens this experience to the one of the day of Pentecost (11:15).

7. Acts 11:21 -- A great number believe and turn to the Lord. The evidence of speaking in tongues is not mentioned.

8. Acts 13 -- A number of Gentiles believe (vs. 47-48), and are filled with the Holy Ghost (v. 52). Speaking in tongues is not mentioned.

9. Acts chapters 14-18 -- Paul and other disciples travel to numerous places -- such as Lystra, Derbe, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Philippi, Athens. Many are converted, with no mention that they spoke in tongues.

10. Acts 19 -- The disciples at Ephesus receive the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues.

11. Acts chapters 20-28 -- Numerous journeys are made by Paul and others. People are converted. Speaking in tongues is not mentioned.

Looking at records of conversion throughout the book of Acts, speaking in tongues is only mentioned on three occasions -- the day of Pentecost (2:3,4,11), the household of Cornelius (10:46), and the disciples at Ephesus (19:6). The obvious conclusion is that speaking in tongues was not an evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit for the converts in the days of the early church.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tongues and the baptism of the Holy Ghost

A number of Christian religious bodies teach that a person must be baptized with the Holy Ghost in order to be saved/converted, and that the initial evidence of that baptism of the Holy Ghost is the sign of speaking in tongues. I propose in the next five posts to present testimony to show that such an idea is not Scripturally defensible. Passages of Scripture that relate conversion experiences, passages dealing with the filling of the Holy Ghost, passages specific to the "Baptism of the Holy Ghost", passages directly addressing tongues, and the New Testament evidence of what constitutes a disciple of Jesus Christ all together testify that speaking in tongues IS NOT and NEVER WAS the evidence of either the baptism of the Holy Ghost or conversion/salvation.

I. The testimony from the history of the early church in the book of Acts -- believers were accepted as converted without the evidence of speaking of in tongues.

II. The testimony of the filling of the Spirit in the early church in the book of Acts -- numerous accounts are recorded of disciples being filled with the Spirit without the evidence of speaking in tongues.

III. The testimony of the Scriptures concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is a specific term used of the events on the day of Pentecost and associated with the conversion of the household of Cornelius.

IV. The testimony of Scripture passages concerning speaking in tongues.

V. The testimony of the Scriptures as to the evidence of true disciples without the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Stay tuned for the next five episodes (d.v.); give me your opinions.

Testimony on tongues -- history in the book of Acts
Testimony on tongues -- the filling of the Spirit
Testimony on tongues -- the baptism of the Holy Ghost
Testimony on tongues -- direct Scripture references
Testimony on tongues -- Biblical evidence of true disciples
Tongues -- an evangelistic tool?
The "Rebaptisms" of Acts 19