Friday, June 29, 2007

Mother-in-law still missing

As of 3 p.m. Friday, my mother-in-law is still missing. So far there is one possible lead. I mentioned this briefly on Wednesday's post. On Saturday night the 23rd (not Sunday as I first posted), a man in New Summerfield, Cherokee County, Texas saw someone who fits her description . Unlike other possible sightings, no other person has been found to be the person sighted (as happened with all other reports). Rusk & Cherokee Sheriff's offices, New Summerfield police (as well as family members) are searching and keeping an eye on this area. A poster with Shirley Hunt's information can be found by clicking here.

Thanks to all for your prayers and support.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A blogger blogs in on spiritual gifts

Answer to question 5, by Alan Knox:
"How are the various spiritual gifts exercised in the meeting of the church?...I think 1 Corinthians 12-14 -- taken together, not just a verse here or there -- is important to answering this question. 1) Realize that all gifts are given by the Spirit for the mutual benefit of others. 2) Recognize that the church needs every gift that God has provided through every believer. 3) Act as if those believers and gifts who seem less necessary are actually more important. 4) Say and do everything motivated by love for God and love for one another. 5) When the church is gathered, believers should only exercise those gifts that build up the church. 6) Give preference in exercising gifts to another person. 7) Allow the entire church the opportunity to exercise their gifts." -- a North Carolina blogger named Alan Knox, in his post "
Answers to Questions..."

I think this is a pretty good answer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Missing person update

As of 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, my mother-in-law Shirley Hunt has been missing for one week. We have no further information at this time. Click here for her picture and other information. If you have seen Mrs. Hunt, please call the Rusk County Sheriff's office at 903.657.3581.

Thank you.

Added 27 June: There has been a possible sighting in New Summerfield, Cherokee County, Texas, which is being checked out today by law enforcement (the sighting would have been p.m. Sunday 24 June).

For July 17th 'update', look here.

For July 31st 'update', look here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Review on Blogs on Baptist Stuff

I received a very kind review on SelahV's BOBS = BLOGS ON BAPTIST STUFF. It was good to read that "Upon reading his blog posts I found some which made me laugh, and think, and reflect."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Have you seen this missing person?

Haven't been blogging much the last few days. My wife's mother is missing.

Have you seen this missing person? Shirley Hunt has Alzheimer's. She has been missing since Tuesday evening (the 19th), disappearing after walking a short distance from her home.

Shirley Hunt in 72 years old, 5'4" tall, 120 lbs. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt, blue culottes and brown loafers. If you have any information, please call the Rusk County Sheriff's office, 903.657.3581.
Sebusca Persona Perdida
Shirley Hunt caminaba cerca de la area de Good Springs y en el condado de Rusk cuando desaparecio el martes por la tarde de 19 Junio 2007. Senora Hunt es paciente de Alzheimer's. Si a visto a Shirley o tiene una informacion sobre ella, por favor de contactor a la oficina del condado de Rusk Sheriff al 903.657.3581.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Spilsbury and Se-baptism

The writings of English Baptist John Spilsbury illustrate one who rejected self-baptism, but also believed the example of John the Baptist supported being baptized by an unbaptized person (in cases of necessity). Thus Spilsbury did not believe succession a necessity.

"No Place For Schism Or Self-Baptism
"I think by the same rule, I must disclaim them, and so separate away from them, if they do not repent, and not to leave a true Church, and true ordinances, and go apart and erect another Church, ordinances and worship of ourselves apart from it, in opposition to it, this in my judgment is as far from any Rule in the Gospel of Christ, as for a MAN TO BAPTIZE HIMSELF. Neither of which do I approve of.

"John The Baptist Baptized Without Being Himself Baptized
"Yet a word by the way, because of such an error that some make, and how far off from any rule or example, for a man to baptize others, and himself unbaptized, and so thinking hereby to shut up the ordinance of God in such a strait, that none can come by it, but through the authority of the Popedome of Rome. But for the opening of this cloud that seems so to darken the sky, let the reader consider who baptized John the Baptist, before he baptized others, and no man did, then whether he did not baptize others, he himself being unbaptized, and if he was baptized, whether it were not by an unbaptized person; and all Scriptures being written for our learning, and this being one, we are taught by this what to do upon the like occasion.

"Understanding Matthew 16:18
"And for the continuation of the Church from Christ's words, The gates of hell shall not prevail against it, ect. I confess the same with this distinction: which Church is to be considered either with respect to her instituted state, as it lies in the Scripture, in the rules of the foundation, or in her constitution, or constituted form in her visible order.

"Against the first hell's gates shall never prevail, the foundation stands sure, but against the last it has often prevailed, for the Church in her outward visible order, has been often scattered through persecution, and the like, in which sense she is said to be prevailed against, as Dan. 7, Rev. 12; and Acts 8:1. Otherwise, where there was a Church, before it came under the defection.
"Again, That which once was in such a way of being, and ceases for a time, and then comes to the same estate again, is, and may truly be said, to have ever a continuance, as Matt. 22:31, 32 with Luke 20:38. In which sense the Church may truly be said ever to continue, for though she be cast down at one time, yet God will raise her up at another, so that she shall never be so prevailed against, as to be utterly destroyed. And this way, I suppose, Christ may have and enjoy as good a wife as any can be preserved for Him under the defection of Antichrist. Though some have so wide mouths open against such as ever wished them well, but I leave them to God, to Whom they shall give account of all their hard words against the Lord, and those that fear His name, and out of conscience obey Him in that way, as some please to call error, in a reproachful manner.

"But men do in these days somewhat like to be like the Tyrants in the ten persecutions, whose cruelty was such, that they exposed the Christians to be devoured of wild beasts, and God so overpowered the creatures cruelly, that at length they ceased to hurt them; and when those bloody Tyrants saw that, they put Bear's skins upon them, thereby to incense and to stir up the nature of those beasts to fall upon them; thus I have heard reported. But whether this be true or not, sure I am that such men can be little better minded that labor so to cover the godly with such filth, as they vomit out of their own-self-sick-stomachs; but I desire the Lord to pass by all, and to give men more love and patience to bear one with another." --
John Spilsbury, copied from R. E. Pound's web site

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A needful view of the Saviour

"The foundation of every sigh, of every cry, of every groan, of every wish, of every desire, of every true breath of prayer is an experiential acquaintance with the disease [of sin] in its various branches, and a knowledge, an internal knowledge of the depth of the fall, as made manifest in our wretched heart. Thus, when the Lord blesses our souls, and visits us with the discovery of His goodness and love, --- then, comparing what we are, and what we have been, with the riches of His mercy and grace, how it exalts His salvation and sacrifice, and the love, blood, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in our eyes!" -- J. C. Philpot, 1849

Copied from Shreveport Grace Church bulletin, 16 June 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The accusation of heresy

Back in April, I posted on the anniversary of the death of Edward Wightman. The accusation of heresy in Wightman's day usually ended in cruel punishment. In modern times (in most places), it is much more subtle. We have upgraded it with more sophistication and hidden cruelty, but the results of the accusation can be cruel nevertheless.*

"...upon the wicked heresies of Ebion, Cirinthus, Valintian, Arrius, Macedonius, Simon, Magnus, of Manes, Manichees, Photinus, and of the Anabaptists, and other arch-heriticks; and moreover of other cursed opinions, belched by the instance of Satan, excogitated and here-to-for unheard of; the aforesaid Edward Wightman...stands adjudged and pronounced a heritick, and therefore as a diseased sheep out of the flock of the Lord, lest our subjects he do infect by his contagion, he hath decreed to be cast out, and cut off. Whereas, the holy mother church hath not further in this part what it ought more to do and prosecute, the same reverend father hath left to our secular power the same Edward Wightman as a blasphemous and condemned heritick to be punished with the condign punishment as by the letters patent of the aforesaid reverend father, the bishop of Coventry and Litchfield, in this behalf thereupon made, as certified unto us in our Chancery. We, therefore, as the zealot of justice and the defender of the Catholick faith, and williing the holy church, and the rights and liberties of the same, and the Catholick faith to maintain and defend, and such like heresies and errors everywhere, so convict and condemn to punish with consign punishment, holding that such a heritick in the aforesaid form convicted and condemned, according to the customs and laws of this our Kingdom of England in this part accustomed, out to be burned with fire. We command thee that thou cause the said Edward Wightman, being in thy custody, to be committed to fire in some publick and open place below the city aforesaid, for the cause aforesaid before people; and the same Edward Wightman in the same fire cause really to be burned in destation of said crime, and for the manifest example of other Christians, that they may not fall into the same crime. And this no ways omit, under the peril that shall follow thereon." -- from
Twice Baked, by Sam Behling

Some of Wightman's contemporaries said that if Edward actually held all the opinions of which he was accused, he would have been either an idiot or a madman. If so, he needed the prayers of his persecutors rather than to have them put him to death.

*I recognize, nevertheless, that there are some who are religious heretics.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Historic Baptist writings

Try these links to Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church web site for a wealth of old writings:

Articles and books in html files

Articles and books in pdf files

Includes writings of old Baptists and others, such as: Backus, Booth, Brine, Hercules Collins, D'anvers, Fawcett, Gano, Gill, Keach, Kiffin, McLean, J. B. Moody, Abel Morgan, Orchard, Philpot, Rippon, Ryland, Spilsbury, Samuel Stennett.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The two debtors

The two debtors. Lk 7:47

Once a woman silent stood
While JESUS sat at meat;
From her eyes she poured a flood
To wash his sacred feet
Shame and wonder, joy and love;
All at once possessed her mind:
That she e'er so vile could prove,
Yet now forgiveness find.

"How came this vile woman here,
Will JESUS notice such?
Sure, if he a prophet were,
He would disdain her touch!"
Simon thus, with scornful heart,
Slighted one whom JESUS loved;
But her Savior took her part,
And thus his pride reproved.

"If two men in debt were bound,
One less, the other more;
Fifty, or five hundred pound,
And both alike were poor;
Should the lender both forgive,
When he saw them both distressed;
Which of them would you believe
Engaged to love him best?"

"Surely he who most did owe,"
The Pharisee replied;
Then our LORD, by judging so,
"Thou dost for her decide:
Simon if like her you knew
How much you forgiveness need;
You like her had acted too,
And welcomed me indeed!"

"When the load of sin is felt,
And much forgiveness known;
Then the heart of course will melt,
Though hard before as stone:
Blame not then her love and tears,
Greatly she in debt has been;
But I have removed her fears,
And pardoned all her sin."

When I read this woman's case,
Her love and humble zeal;
I confess, with shame of face,
My heart is made of steel,
Much has been forgiv'n to me,
JESUS paid my heavy score;
What a creature must I be
That I can love no more!

John Newton (1725-1807) - Olney Hymns, 1779.
Copied from Song to the Lamb listserve January 4, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tongues -- an evangelistic tool?

Due to a controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention, the blogosphere has recently been lit up with the subject of private prayer language and speaking in tongues. The New Testament gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a human language that the speaker has never learned. The historical records of the exercise of the gift of tongues is found in Acts 2, 10, and 19.

I agree with those Southern Baptists who disagree with the modern practice of private prayer language and speaking in tongues. An example of the legitimate exercise of the gift of tongues would be preaching the gospel in a language one has never studied or learned. In promoting this position, some have suggested that tongues is/was "an evangelistic tool". Here I differ.

Let us consider tongues as an evangelistic tool. Tongues seems to be a sign verifying the preached word, rather than a tool necessary for communicating the word. In the three instances in Acts the person(s) preaching the gospel appear to have been able to communicate with the hearers of the gospel in a common language and therefore did not need to speak another language for the purpose of communicating.

1. In Acts 2, Jews and Jewish proselytes were present from Europe, Asia, and Africa and each heard some of the apostles speak in his/her own language. But this is much more likely for a sign rather than the only way the apostles could communicate with them. Notice verses 7 and 12 -- "saying one to another." The assembled people were able to speak to one another in a common language, so the tongues appear to be for a sign rather than an evangelistic tool (i.e., the only way the apostles could communicate with them), since they could communicate in a common language.

Acts 2:4-13 -- And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Something similar to this might be the instance of an English speaker preaching in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. A number of the people probably would be able to understand if he preached in English. But if this person, obviously untrained in French, were to suddenly begin speaking in French, it would be a marvelous sign for the hearers (and the speaker!). On the other hand, if the speaker suddenly began saying something that sounded like "hominy, hominy, hominy, goulash, hominy, hominy," none would see a verifiable sign other than those already religiously acculturated to think such was "speaking in tongues."

2. In Acts 10, Peter quite obviously converses with Cornelius and preaches to Cornelius' household in a common language. The speaking in tongues does not occur until after Peter's sermon, and it appears that it is the believers of Cornelius household that do the tongues speaking; therefore, making it a sign that they "have received the Holy Ghost as well as we" rather than an evangelistic tool.

Acts 10:44-48 -- While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

3. In Acts 19, Paul converses in a common language with the disciples he found in Ephesus. The speaking in tongues does not occur until after the disciples receive Paul's witness on the baptism of John, are baptized, and Paul lays his hands on them. It is the believers of Ephesus that do the tongues speaking; therefore, it appears to be a verification sign rather than an evangelistic tool.

Acts 19:1-7 -- And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.

I agree that speaking in tongues was speaking in a human language not studied or known by the speaker. I conclude that its value was as a sign rather than a necessity for communication.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Christian Baptist

"I am a Baptist without prefixes or suffixes." -- John T. Christian, "Some Bad Breaks," in Baptist and Reflector, October 15, 1896, p. 3

Monday, June 11, 2007

More on truth categories

Excerpts from Categories of truth vs. categories of exegetical certainty by A. Philip Brown

"Dr. David Innes of Hamilton Square Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA, has done more than anyone I know to provide a practical framework for determining legitimate applications of the doctrine of separation...The two primary strengths in Dr. Innes' chart I see are, first, he clearly recognizes that not all doctrine is equally important or grounds for separation...Second, Dr. Innes recognizes the importance of integrating doctrinal distinctions into his application of the doctrine of separation...The first problem I see with this chart is that it confuses or mixes categories of truth with categories of interpretive certainty (cols. 1-3) and personal preference (col. 4). There is no category of truth that is "not important" (col. 3) or "absolutely immaterial" (col. 4)

"A Revised Chart: Categories of Interpretive Certainty
"I have attempted to address some of the weaknesses of Dr. Innes's chart in Appendix B. Rather than distinguishing categories of truth, I believe we need to distinguish categories of exegetical certainty regarding our understanding or interpretation of biblically revealed truth.

"Category 1: The Fundamentals of Faith and Practice
"Operating within that sort of a hermeneutical framework, we still need some criterion for distinguishing categories of interpretive certainty. Historically that criterion has been consensus. With regard to Category 1, these are matters which historical investigation demonstrates have been the consensual interpretive conclusions of the Christian Church. By "consensual" conclusions I am not appealing directly to the Vincentian formula--what has everywhere, always, and by all been believed (quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est)--since it seems, without careful definition, to lead to a reductionistic rather than a truly catholic faith. Instead, I am thinking of the implications of the church being the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

"Categories 2-4: The Adiaphora that Divide
"To Category 2 belong those doctrines which are the stuff of systematic theology and the practices that derived from our conclusions regarding lifestyle issues. I would place much of the debate over how the Old and New Covenants relate (classic dispensationalism, progressive dispensationalism, covenantal approaches, theonomic approaches) in Category 2 Principles. Many of the life-related conclusions that flow from the previously entioned systems belong to Category 2 Practices. For example, though I am a strongly committed sabbatarian (Lord's Day transition included), I regard this as a Category 2 issue.

"Admittedly many interpretations are inferential in nature; therefore, the distinction between Categories 2 and 3 is not as clear as between Categories 1 and 2-4. However, practically we all know that theological consensus does not equal affiliational consensus. There are as many stripes of Arminians as there are stripes of Calvinists or Lutherans.

"I can't escape the irony that despite our united allegiance to the fundamentals, the non-fundamentals often loom larger in our considerations of Christian fellowship and unity than do the essentials. Frankly, I rejoice in the spiritual edification and theological cross-pollination that gatherings such as this provide. No, I don't long for a nondenominational ecumenicity even based on the fundamentals. But I do long, especially along the boundaries that divide our respective theological and affiliational communities, for greater willingness to listen to one another and learn from each others strengths."

The entire article made be read at Sharper Iron
here and here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Categories of truth

The theological "triage" idea and terminology may be unique to Albert Mohler. But over the years different folks have posited similar ideas about arranging "categories of truth". Here are three.

Categories of Truth We Teach and Preach by David Innes (pastor of Hamilton Square Baptist Church, San Francisco):
Very Clear: To deny these truths is to deny the meaning of words. Such doctrines would include: the Virgin Birth, the Blood Atonement, the Bodily Resurrection, the Deity of Christ, etc.
Logical Conclusions: These truths are drawn by inference from Category 1. Such truths would include: Immersion=Baptism, anything else is just getting wet; the form of church government congregational vs. presbyterian; standards in music, etc.
Informed and Uninformed opinions: Such matters come from one's own personal walk and study. These would include the Textual questions, Sunday Schools, Head Covering for Women, etc.
Personal preferences: Such matters would include: robed choirs, church dinners, etc.

Walter Martin, adapted slightly by someone else:
Essential: These are things that if you deny, you're not Christian. These are things such as monotheism, diety of Christ, virgin birth, bodily resurrection, etc. (roughly the "very clear" above).
Very Important: These might be called "aberrant" if they are denied, and would include things that if denied, would not necessarily qualify as a heresy, but would likely prevent us from keeping fellowship.
Peripheral: personal preferences; e.g. Choir robes, etc.

Author/originator unknown:
"Die, Fight, Fuss". There are some things we should die for and some we should fight about. Then there are some that we might fuss about, but we certainly wouldn't die for or fight for them.


Today we had our church/cemetery/community homecoming -- Oak Flat Community, Holleman Cemetery, Smyrna Baptist Church. It was an enjoyable day, but the turnout was down from what we usually have.

Next Sunday will be the
Zion Hill homecoming and Sacred Harp singing.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Theological triage -- good or bad idea?

Below you will find excerpts from A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity by Albert Mohler. Click on the link to read the entire article on his blog. I would like to get my readers' feedback on Mohler's Theological Triage. Is it a good idea or a bad one? Or perhaps one you view with indifference?

"A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world's framework for medical priority. With this in mind, I would suggest three different levels of theological urgency, each corresponding to a set of issues and theological priorities found in current doctrinal debates.

"First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture...

"The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident.

"Second-order issues would include the meaning and mode of baptism...

"Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category. Christians who affirm the bodily, historical, and victorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ may differ over timetable and sequence without rupturing the fellowship of the church...

"We must sort the issues with a trained mind and a humble heart, in order to protect what the Apostle Paul called the 'treasure' that has been entrusted to us."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Participants in the Lord's Supper -- defining Baptist views

Who may partake communion/the Lord's Supper in a Baptist church? What shall we call the various views defining who can partake? A popular illustration in our area is that of a door -- it is either open or closed. There is actually some merit in that idea, but the definitions given by those who use the illustration often do not fit standard Baptist usage. In actual use, it is often a pejorative measure used to say that all communion that is not local-church-only is open communion. There is a lot of baggage and misinformation surrounding the Lord's Supper. Part of the baggage is the use of terms that may mean different things to different people. Therefore, I prefer to usually speak in terms of unrestricted and restricted communion rather than open, close and closed. Open is fairly well-defined in both current and past usage, but there is little or no truly "open" communion. All the common Baptist versions of communion are "open" to some and "closed" to others. The issue is not whether the participants are restricted, but to what extent. Below I will attempt some definitions. I must give credit to Nathan Finn and his blog post The Relationship between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Four Views. I had not heard of "modified" open communion before reading his post. I didn't see any reason to "reinvent the wheel", so the definitions 1, 2, 3, & 5 under "Restricted communion" are Nathan's definitions (though 1, 3, & 5 are slightly abridged and I've substituted my terminology in # 3). Related to participants, there are two basic types of communion, restricted and unrestricted. I. Unrestricted communion (Unrestricted means there are no restrictions on who may participate in communion.) Theoretical unrestricted communion is the belief that there are absolutely no restrictions placed on who can take communion. It is seldom (if ever?) advocated in theory -- since Baptists and other denominations acknowledge that the Lord's Supper is for God's people and at least ideally restricted to them. Theoretical unrestricted communion, in practice, would be the active solicitation of other religions and even the non-religious to participate. Perhaps Universalists would be amenable to such practice. I do not know. Practical unrestricted communion is the practice in which the elements of bread and wine are offered to all, putting the onus of participation entirely on the communicant. In theory, the church may hold that communion is intended for Christians only, but in practice no one is excluded or advised not to partake communion. This is practiced by Campbell/Restoration Movement churches in our area, and it may be practiced by some Baptists. II. Restricted communion (Restricted means there are some restrictions on the participants in communion; that is, requirements that must be met before one participates in communion -- salvation, baptism, church membership, godly walk, or some combination of the foregoing prerequisites.) Open communion is the belief that any professing Christian participate in the Lord’s Supper. (Nathan Finn) “Modified” open communion is the belief that any professing Christian who has undergone some type of ceremony called “baptism” (regardless of mode) may participate in communion. This is often called open communion, but it is not as loose as true open communion. (Nathan Finn) [David Rogers further explains his view on this in the comments section and on his blog; David's view allows infant baptism to meet this standard for communion purposes, but not for actual baptism. This view in a sense makes baptism a prerequisite to communion, but then allows participation to anyone who feels he or she has been obedient to the Lord’s command for baptism. Therefore, in spirit it stands closer to "open" communion than to strict/close/closed communion]. "Baptism-prerequisite" communion is the belief that any Christian who has been biblically baptized can participate in communion [or, put another way, that a valid baptism by immersion is a prerequisite to partaking of the Lord’s Supper; rlv]. Biblical baptism often includes the proper administrator (a baptistic church), the proper mode (immersion), the proper candidate (a believer) and the proper reason (symbolic of union with Christ rather than sacramentalism or baptismal regeneration). This practice has been variously called close, closed, restricted, and strict communion in Baptist history. (Nathan Finn) [In Baptism as a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper, Nathan calls this view "Consistent communion" (rather than closed/strict), because Baptists "do not like to think of following biblical precedent as a negative act..." This "consistency" can be seen in contrast to the "modified-open" view -- baptism is the same in both cases as opposed to "modified-open" recognizing baptism as one thing for obedience to baptism and as something else for the purpose of communion. Note also that participants in "baptism as a prerequisite" communion may vary quite a bit based on whether a church believes all immersions should be performed by a Baptist administrator, or whether an immersion by an evangelical non-Baptist administrator is valid.] Correspondence-only communion is the belief that communion should be restricted to baptized church members who are of "like faith and order". This is most obvious in Baptist churches that do not cooperate beyond the local association level, but create a "chain of correspondence" with other associations of "like faith and order" in order to maintain cooperation and fellowship. Members of churches within this associational chain of correspondence may commune together, but not those outside of it. Local-church-only communion is the belief that communion should be restricted to members of the local church that is administering the ordinance, typically for reasons related to discipline and accountability. It became popular among 20th century historians to call this practice “closed” communion, but that is not entirely historically accurate. Historically, “closed” was used interchangeably with all the terms listed above. There is no official name for this practice; it is simply the most restrictive form of closed/close/strict/restricted communion, and many contemporary historians (myself included) simply call it local-church only communion. (Nathan Finn) Note: This might interest some of you. I just read about Spurgeon's "modified/mixed open" communion: "Spurgeon’s attitude towards these questions has very often been misunderstood. He did not absolutely agree with the practice of the American Baptists regarding the communion, but he did very nearly, and it is an abuse of terms to call him an 'open communionist'. He did not advocate or practise the promiscuous invitation of all Christians to the table of the Lord. The communion service was held on Sunday afternoon in the Tabernacle, and admission was by ticket only. Members of the church, of course, were furnished with tickets. Any person not a member, desiring to attend and partake of the Supper, must satisfy the pastor or deacons that he was a member in good standing of an evangelical church, when he would receive a ticket. At the end of three months he would be quietly told that he had had an opportunity to become acquainted with the church, and they would be glad to have him present himself as a candidate for membership; otherwise he would do well to go elsewhere, where he could conscientiously unite." -- Vedder's Short History of the Baptists, Chapter 17

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jesus prays for unity

John 17:1 -- "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father..."

A couple of months ago, a post on David Rogers' "Love Each Stone" blog for some reason brought with force to my mind that a prayer of Jesus to His Father must certainly be answered, and that perhaps sometimes we operate as if it is not being or will not be. How often do we stress that Jesus prayed for unity and we are not achieving it? What are the implications of John 17 being a prayer of our Lord Jesus TO God the Father? Jesus is the "prayer-asker" and not us. God is the "prayer-answerer" and not us. Is God not answering this prayer? Or is He answering it and we don't see it? Perhaps we don't even know what the answer looks like?

A few thoughts I get from the prayer regarding oneness or unity are:

1) Jesus is not praying for the world, so therefore both the unbeliever and nominal "Christian" (in name only) is excluded.
John 17:9 - "...I pray not for the world..."
2) Jesus is praying for His own, and therefore all who are His own are included.
John 17:9 - "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."
3) Jesus' prayer includes His children living at that time and those yet to come. This unity must have a spiritual element that has nothing to do with visible unity (seeing some of these aren't even alive at the same time).
John 17:20 - "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word"
4) Jesus' prayer includes a unity whose reality the world recognizes. There must be some kind of visible or tangible element to this prayed-for unity, because in some way by it the world knows Jesus is the sent one of God.
John 17:23 - "...that the world may know that thou hast sent me..."

So this is a prayer that excludes all unbelievers, includes all believers, brings about a unity of believers even across time that is a tangible testimony to the world of Jesus the Christ. That I see. I suppose what I don't see is just what kind of unity fills all that bill.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what kind of unity fulfills the answered prayer of God the Son TO God the Father?

Verses from John 17:
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

PSALM 133 C. M. Brotherly love.

Lo! what an entertaining sight
Are brethren that agree!
Brethren whose cheerful hearts unite
In bonds of unity!

When streams of love from Christ the Spring,
Descend to every soul,
And heav'nly peace with balmy wing,
Shades and bedews the whole;

'Tis like the oil, divinely sweet,
On Aaron's priestly head;
The trickling drops perfumed his feet,
And o'er his garments spread.

'Tis pleasant as the morning dews
That fall on Zion's hill,
Where God His mildest glory shows,
And makes His grace distill.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) The Psalms of David, 1719.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Man doesn’t control

God leads us along In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along. Refrain Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night, God leads His dear children along. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose, God leads His dear children along; Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads His dear children along. Away from the mire, and away from the clay, God leads His dear children along; Away up in glory, eternity’s day, God leads His dear children along. Refrain Some through the waters, some through the flood, Some through the fire, but all through the blood; Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, In the night season and all the day long. -- George A. Young, 1903 Heard read at a funeral (author unknown): Unfolding the rose It is only a tiny rosebud, A flower of God’s design; But I cannot unfold the petals With these clumsy hands of mine. The secret of unfolding flowers Is not known to such as I. GOD opens this flower so sweetly, But in my hands, they die. If I cannot unfold a rosebud, This flower of God’s design, Then how can I have the wisdom To unfold this life of mine? So I’ll trust in Him for leading Each moment of my day. I will look to Him for His guidance Each step of the pilgrim way. The pathway that lies before me, Only my Heavenly Father knows. I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments, Just as He unfolds the rose. Jeremiah 10:23 - O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Interesting Sacred Harp quotes

Karla DeLuca of Nacogdoches, TX: “The tradition was to sing all morning, have dinner on the grounds, then sing all afternoon. Sing all day long, sitting on a hard wooden bench, in an un-air-conditioned church, in August, with nothing but a cardboard picture of Jesus on a stick between yourself and a heatstroke…If I had been used to spending my Saturdays behind a plow instead of in front of a television, a day of singing ‘fa, so, la’ might have seemed like fun…” Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel

John Etheridge of Baker, FL: "It's not a religion. It doesn't favor any particular denomination. But when you're singing, it's a religious experience."

Bill Giesenschlag of Snook, TX: "In a cultural sense, this is the last outpost of the Old South."

David Lee of Hoboken, GA: “A living tradition changes. If it stopped changing, it would be because it died.”

Curtis Owen of Dale, TX: “There are three things I like about Sacred Harp: I like the songs they sing; I like the way they sing them; and, most of all, I like the folks that sing them.” Southwest Convnetion, 100th Anniversary CD, Disc 2, Track 19

Warren Steel of Oxford, MS: “Anything that divides people, you leave at the door of a singing, whether you're a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or atheist.”

David Waldrop of Tyler, TX: “The Sacred Harp is a song book odd in shape, with an odd name, and as some think, has odd sounding songs sung by odd people.”

David "still learning" (in Eastern USA): “It has shaped notes -- helpful for those that need them, unobtrusive to those who don't.”

"Today I seldom hear this music, but when I do, I close my eyes and recall a time when, as far as I knew, the entire world was no bigger and no more complex than our backwoods county. Life was simple, defined by daily chores and lived in rhythm with the seasons." -- Saturday, February 11, 2006, Bob Lively, Austin American-Statesman

Friday, June 01, 2007

From Roger Williams

"The two first principles and foundations of true religion, or worship of the true God in Christ, are repentance from dead works and faith toward God, before the doctrines of baptism or washing and the laying on of hands, which continue the ordinances and practises of worship; the want of which I conceive is the bane of millions of souls in England and all other nations professing to be Christian nations, who are brought by public authority to baptism and fellowship with God in ordinances of worship, before the saving work of repentance and a true turning to God."

"First, that the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace...

"Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's Spirit, the Word of God.

"Seventhly, the state of the Land of Israel, the kings and people thereof in peace and war, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor president for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow.

"Eighthly, God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.

"Ninthly, in holding an enforced uniformity of religion in a civil state, we must necessarily disclaim our desires and hopes of the Jew's conversion to Christ.

"Tenthly, an enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.

"Eleventhly, the permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all forts).

"Twelfthly, lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile....

"TRUTH. I acknowledge that to molest any person, Jew or Gentile, for either professing doctrine, or practicing worship merely religious or spiritual, it is to persecute him, and such a person (whatever his doctrine or practice be, true or false) suffereth persecution for conscience."

-- Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution ...
He was briefly a Baptist, and later became a Seeker.