Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some online books, Baptist flavor

Some books and writings that I have located online:

A little thing, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand...In this little thing I saw three properties; the first is that God made it; the second is that God loves it; and the third is that God keeps it." -- Julian of Norwich

"When God closes a door in your life, get your face out of the way. It won't hurt so badly." -- Sherry Rose Shepherd

"You can summarize the gospel in four words: Jesus in my place." -- J. D. Greear

“If the Kings people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all humane lawes made by the King, our Lord the King can require no more: for men’s religion to God is betwixt God and themselves; the King shall not answer for it, neither may the King be judge between God and man.” — Thomas Helwys, 1612

"When an organization gets too large, it gets to a point where it cannot get out of its own way." -- D. Morgan

"We are not regenerated because we have been baptized...but we are baptized because we have been regenerated by faith and the Word of God (I Pet. 1:23). Regeneration is not the result of baptism, but baptism the result of regeneration." -- Menno Simons

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why one man fought the Civil War

The Sniper Who Slayed More Than 100 Union Soldiers – “...sometimes a man simply fights because of personal loss — and the need for bloodstained revenge.”

In his book Jack Hinson’s One-Man War: A Civil War Sniper, Tom McKenney describes Hinson as “a Southerner at heart,” but one who “was firmly against secession and war.” The brutal death of his sons changed all that. Two of Hinson’s sons “were caught with rifles by a Union patrol while hunting squirrels, they were executed on suspicion of guerrilla activity, their decapitated heads delivered to Bubbling Springs, the Hinson plantation, and mounted on gateposts. That was the day that 57-year-old Hinson’s neutrality came to an end.” Hinson freed his slaves, collected his rifle, and waged his own war against the Union – beginning with “the lieutenant responsible for killing his sons” and the soldier who put his sons’ heads on his gateposts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Free State of Jones

Monday, June 27, 2016

Customs of Primitive Churches, Washing feet

The following is excerpted from Customs of Primitive Churches by Morgan Edwards (Philadelphia, PA: 1768, p. 93), Thanks to Chris Hanna of Hudsonville, Michigan for providing me a pdf version of Customs of Primitive Churches, Or, A Set of Propositions Relative to the Name, Materials, Constitution, Power, Officers, Ordinances, Rites, Business, Worship, Discipline, Government, &c. of a Church.

XXXII. Washing feet is a rite of divine original and perpetual obligation. The ends of it are, to oblige christians to be beneficently condescending one to another; and to signify to them a cleaning from the sins they are liable to after baptism. The performer of the rite is any christian. The place is, at home. The time, once a year, at least. The attendants of the rite are, supper or love feast etc. The requisites are, water, bason, towel, and a form of words expressive of the ends of the rite.

1. That washing feet, considered as a christian rite, is of divine original, appears from John xiii. 1-[17] where we have an account of its institution.
2. That it is of perpetual obligation appears (1) From the command which Christ grounds on his example; and the blessedness he pronounceth to the observers Joh. xiii. 15, 17. (2) From the practice of the first christians 1 Tim. v. 17. (3) From the ends proposed by it, which always abide.
3. The ends of the rite are, (1) To inculcate to christians a beneficent humility, condescension and love; and to condemn the contrary. So Christ explains the matter. John xiii. 10, 16. (2) To be a sign to the party washed of his cleansing from sin. It signifies a washing, without which we can have no part in Christ Jesus, v. 8, and a washing consequent upon some other of like signification, viz. baptism. Acts xxii. 16; our baptism signifies a washing from sin committed before it. 2 Pet 1. 9. Some of those sins may be repeated; or if they be not, there is no man that liveth and sinneth not; yet baptism is not to be repeated; opportunely therefore doth this rite frequently come in to encourage hope of a cleansing from sins committed after baptism.
4. The performer of the rite is, any christian, even a female. 1 Tim. v. 10.
5. For the time allotted for this rite we have no rule, except take either example or convenience for rules. If the former, we have the example of Christ; who celebrated it two days before he suffered, compare Joh. xiii. 1 with Mat xxvi. 2, which day was the first of April, for he died the third. This rule will make it an annual thing only. But expediency requires it should be observed oftener, as the first christians most probably did. 1 Tim. v. 10.
6. An example of the manner in which it has been performed occurs under prop. xxxi.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bluegrass Pioneer, and other music links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

The end of things, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"The end of things is always the first in intention, though it be last in execution." -- Tobias Crisp

"Be among the spices and you will smell of them." -- Thomas Watson

"The reason [Calvinism] is not a problem for my friend and me is twofold. First, we BOTH accept the fact that the other is saved. In the course of a good, friendly but lively exchange, I asked him a question that is very pertinent: ”Do you think I am saved?” He answered, “Absolutely.” Then I said, “Well, I think you are saved also.” What follows is simple common sense. If he thinks I (a non-Calvinist) am saved, and I think that he (a Calvinist) is saved then salvation is not the issue. Instead, the core issue is one’s theological model and methodology." -- William F. Harrell

"People can pick up skills relatively quickly, but character isn’t something you just pick up. Character is often forged over a long period of time and over multiple experiences, and it only changes with great and sustained effort. It can and does change, but it’s much harder to change your character than it is to learn skills." -- Craig Hamilton

"If a person cannot argue the issue he will usually try to argue the semantics. If he is too ignorant to argue the semantics he will usually try to argue personality." -- Elbert Hubbard

"There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us." -- Attributed to Edward Wallis Hoch, but according to The Yale Book of Quotations by Fred R. Shapiro (p. 362) it was disclaimed by Hoch in a letter in 1916. It's earliest instance is found in The (Marion, KS) Record, when Hoch was editor

“Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” — John Leland, 1790

"When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser." -- most often attributed to Socrates, online research finds it apparently doesn't have a history before the 21st century

"All the Confederate Flags in the world are not worth one soul of any race." -- James Merritt

"While 'What would Jesus do?' kind of rhetoric makes good for a spiritual novel, I'm unsure it actually assists us all that well for making moral decisions in real life. The fact is, Jesus continually did and said the unpredictable in the gospel narratives often surprising His closest comrades." -- Peter Lumpkins

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A humble man can come to no harm

"A humble man can come to no harm; he will be ever-trusting in the Lord because he finds nothing in himself to trust in, while he gives great glory to God by trusting much in Him. God gives him great grace, and this is to keep alive an abiding sense of what he is in himself; to show him his ignorance and helplessness, to open him daily more of the mystery of iniquity, to discover to him the stirrings of corruption which others feel not, and to make him sensible of these, even in duties and ordinances, that he may loath himself and his very best works. These are the fruits of true grace, and he that is under the teachings of the Holy Spirit will abound in them. The more God does in the heart, the more He humbles it. The great design of His grace is to bring the proud sinner low, and then to keep him low." -- William Romaine

Friday, June 24, 2016

Muslims, Southern Baptists, Religious Liberty and Spiritual Adultery

Sometimes, some Baptists get out of kilter on religious liberty. Not all Baptists are in as much agreement as some might think we are. A motion and a question at the June 2016 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention highlight that fact.

Leading up to the Convention, Christian Index Editor Gerald Harris asked Do Muslims Really Qualify for Religious Freedom Benefits? -- illustrating a prominent SBC leader opposing full religious liberty for Muslims. At the Convention on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 an Arkansas pastor moved “that all Southern Baptist officials or officers who support the rights of Muslims to build Islamic mosques in the United States be immediately removed from their position within the Southern Baptist Convention.” (The motion was ruled out of order as exceeding the authority of the messengers.) Then on Wednesday morning, during the question-and-answer segment of the report of the Ethics and  Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC (ERLC), the same pastor asked ERLC President Russell Moore: “I would like to know how in the world someone within the Southern Baptist Convention can support the defending of rights for Muslims to construct mosques in the United States when these people threaten our very way of existence as Christians and Americans. They are murdering Christians, beheading Christians, imprisoning Christians all over the world. Do you actually believe that if Jesus Christ were here today that He would support this and that He would stand up and say, ‘Well, let us protect the rights of those Baal worshipers to erect temples to Baal?’ Do you believe that Dr. Moore?”

Moore replied, “What it means to be a Baptist is to support soul freedom for everybody. Brothers and sisters, when you have a government that says 'we can decide whether or not a house of worship can be constructed based upon the theological beliefs of that house of worship,' then there are going to be Southern Baptist churches in San Francisco and New York and throughout this country who are not going to be able to build...” Following up in the Arkansas Baptist News on Monday, June 20th Pastor John Wofford complained that this is a 'spiritual issue' -- an issue of unequally yoking together with unbelievers and bidding them God speed -- and that Moore did not answer his question.

Let's back up a moment and see Wofford's issue with Moore and the ERLC (and the IMB of the SBC. [1] On May 11, 2016 the ERLC and IMB with 16 other groups filed an Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs in The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge v. Township of Bernards.[2] This was in support of a suit in a religious land use case. The planning board of Bernards Township, New Jersey denied the building of a mosque, ostensibly in a way they would not or had not denied other religious groups. The thrust of the brief of the 18 parties was that “A Muslim mosque cannot be subjected to a different land-use approval process than a Christian church simply because local protesters oppose the mosque.”

Religious liberty
The situation in New Jersey is broadly a First Amendment case, but specifically The Islamic Society lawsuit accused the planning board of Bernards Township with violating 42 U.S. Code § 2000cc - Protection of land use as religious exercise. This law was passed by Congress unanimously in 2000. It protects all houses of worship from undue burden by land use regulations. I agree with the law and the thrust of the brief. The law affords for a Muslim mosque the same rights as a Christian Church, Jewish Synagogue or other religious body. The planning board of Bernards Township would need to show their decision “is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” From what I have read about the case, the planning board did not show compelling governmental interest and rather made the decision based on their feelings about Muslims and terrorism. If I were on the planning board of Bernards Township, I would decide the law allowed the Islamic Society to build a mosque.[3] They should not have an undue burden different for them from other religious groups. That much seems clear-cut to me, and easy to come down on the side of religious liberty as an American citizen. The state should preserve religious liberty for all, equally.

Spiritual adultery
Now for a Christian (at least some Christians) the “spiritual issue” is where the waters get muddy. In his explanation of his question, Pastor Wofford cited such verses as “Thou shalt have no other gods before the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength....Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove no unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” He mentions that the apostle John warned us that “if someone comes to us who does not bring the doctrine of Christ, we are not to bid him 'God speed'.” I don't know how far I can go in agreeing with Pastor Wofford, but many have misunderstood his main point and have not directly addressed it: “Would Jesus Christ stand in a court of law, defending the rights of a false religion to erect mosques, temples or other places of worship which are clearly in violation of the First and Second Commandments of God?”

Religious liberty v. Spiritual adultery
As I see it, Pastor Wofford is not discussing what the planning board of Bernards Township should do, but rather what his denomination should do. He is a Southern Baptist. The ERLC is commissioned and supported by Southern Baptists. Is their aligning with false religions in support of a false religion a case of spiritual adultery that violates the Christian's separation from unbelievers and direction to serve God only?

As Christians we should faithfully teach and firmly practice that Jesus is the only name under heaven whereby men must be saved. That cautions in choosing with whom to be involved in various endeavors, and whether those endeavors might compromise our faith and practice. Does filing a brief in a case of undue burden regarding land use and zoning regulations yoke us with unbelievers? Certainly the names of the ERLC and IMB stand equally beside the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Sikh Coalition, and Unitarian Universalists. But does this yoke them with unbelievers? Not necessarily. Does it support “another gospel”? It cannot be refuted that the mosque will teach, proclaim and promote another religion, another guide book and another form of salvation than Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life.

The government should/must recognize the same kind of religious rights for Muslims as everyone else. I support them being treated equally, but I would not go on a personal crusade to help them build mosques. If the Jehovah's Witnesses set up a bake sale to raise money for their Kingdom Hall, I support their freedom to do so — but I won’t be buying any of their bread.

“All external things including life and limb are subjected to external authority. But no one may coerce of compel true faith in Christ, for it is concerned not with temporal but eternal life.” — Pilgram Marpeck, 1531

“...Christ hath not commanded any king, bishop, or minister to persecute the people for difference of judgment in matters of religion...the king and parliament may please to permit all sorts of Christians; yea, Jews, Turks, and pagans, so long as they are peaceable, and no malefactors, as is above mentioned; which, if they be found to be, under two or three witnesses, let them be punished...persecution for religion is to force the conscience; and to force and constrain men and women's consciences to a religion against their wills, is to tyrannize over the soul, as well as over the body...persecution for difference in religion is a monstrous and cruel beast...No king nor bishop can, or is able to command faith; That is the gift of God, who worketh in us both the will and the deed of his own good pleasure.” — Leonard Busher, 1614

“This spiritual administration of Christ's power is in and over the spirits and consciences of man. It extends to all the inward and hidden motions and acting of the mind. It also extends to all the outward manifestations of its powerful commands in the outward man, in reference unto God, and especially unto such as pertains to the visible worship and service of God. God has declared Himself to be a spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and seeks such, and only such, to worship him.

“This spiritual administration, as it is concerned with the outward man, is to managed not by a sword of steel which cannot come near or touch the spirit or mind of man, but by the sword that proceeds out of the mouth of his servants, the word of truth. This is especially so as to the efficacy, and to the inward man, by the two edge sword of the spirit. But that spiritual law and light by which these candle are enlightened, by Himself, Who is that light that lights every man who comes into the world.” — John Clarke, 1652

“Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” — John Leland, 1790

[1] Some might question whether this is in the purview of their Mission Statement -- “The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission exists to assist the churches by helping them understand the moral demands of the gospel, apply Christian principles to moral and social problems and questions of public policy, and to promote religious liberty in cooperation with the churches and other Southern Baptist entities.”
[2] The 18 groups named on the brief are: American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Center for Islam and Religious Freedom, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Muslim Bar Association of New York, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Association of Evangelicals, New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association, Queens Federation of Churches, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Sikh Coalition, South Asian Bar Association of New Jersey, South Asian Bar Association of New York, and Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.
[3] From the viewpoint of a New Jersey pastor and former president of the Baptist Convention of New York, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge was not treated differently than Christian churches. He told Baptist Press that the mosque “received the same treatment from our local planning boards that many of our churches do...I have seen how difficult it can be for area churches to receive building and expansion permits from the local planning board. A few years back I sadly watched as a local Baptist church attempted to relocate within our township only to be voted down by the planning board. The church spent hundreds of thousands of dollars only to be told that their site plan did not, and probably would never, meet all the requirements. Local residents raised even more money to defeat them...The same scenario played out for the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, Inc...The majority of residents in Bernards Township seem dead set against any [emp. mine, rlv] new religious facility being built in their backyards.” This does not prove that the planning board did not violate Congress's Religious Land Use Act, but suggests that they did not act differently toward Muslims than they have acted toward any other religious group.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Case Studies, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

A link for accordion lovers

quick, take the accordion!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Customs of Primitive Churches, by Morgan Edwards

Introduction, with "Advertisement" and Contents
Thanks to Chris Hanna, I recently obtained an e-copy of Customs of Primitive Churches by Morgan Edwards (Philadelphia, PA: 1768). Edwards (1722-1795) was for many years clerk of the Philadelphia Baptist Association,and compiler of Materials Towards a History of the Baptists in the United States. Customs of Primitive Churches is a fairly rare and hard-to-find book, though several libraries have it in microform. The information in Edwards's "Advertisement" suggests why it is hard to find -- that it was printed in limited quantity. I post some excerpts from the book for the readers' historical enjoyment and elucidation. Following below is the "Advertisement" on page 2 and the "Contents" on page 110. The book seems to be intended as a church manual.

Due to several considerations, especially age, the book can be hard to read and decipher. I am using brackets [ ] to set off words of which I am unsure. I'm trying for the most part to retain original spelling, but with correction of some obvious typos.

THE publisher of the following piece knows that a thing of the kind requires much care and a multitude of counsellers in order to render it useful and unexceptionable. He means no more by the publication than humbly to engage his brethren to join him in a design of serving the churches this way, and to offer his mite towards the accomplishment of that design; therefore he intends to print but a few copies, and to let none go out of his hands but to the ministers of the philadelphia association, and some others; with an earnest request that each of them will consider the plan; mend it; or propose a better; correct what is wrong; retrench superfluities; supply defects, particularly texts more apposite to the propositions than some of those cited; and after all meet in a body to compare their thoughts together, and contrive the best method to put them forth, as was the case with regard to our Confession of faith in the year 1689. (page 2)

Contents (Page 110)
Of the word church
Of the distinctions of a church
Of the definition of a church
Of the constitution of a church
Of the officers of a church
Of a minister
Of his qualifications Of his election
Of his ordination
Of his instalment
Of elders
Of eldresses
Of deacons
Of deaconesses
Of a clerk
Of missionaries
Of the right of church officers to pay
Of church censures
Of rebuke
Of suspension
Of excommunication
Of admission to the church
Out of the world
Out of another church
Of restoration of the suspended
Of the excommunicated
Of the ordinances of the church
Of baptism
Of the Lords Supper
Of laying on of hands
Of the right hand of fellowship
Of the love feast
Of washing feet
Of the kiss of charity
Of anointing the sick
Of collecting for the saints
Of fasts
Of feasts or thanksgivings
Of devoting children to God
Of burying the dead
Of marriage
Of public worship
Of the sabbath
Of a church judicature
Of decissions by suffrage
Of the subjection of women
Of the business of a church
Of the duties of church members to their ministers
Of their behaviour towards one another
Of their behaviour towards their church
Of their duties as men, women &c
Of their duties towards the world
Of the duties of a church towards itself and other churches
Of an association

After the contents page, there are 6 unnumbered pages of information about the churches of the Philadelphia Baptist Association.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Chiggers, out of control!

"If God cannot or does not control chiggers, then I suppose either devils or angels must, or else chiggers control themselves. We know for certain that man cannot control them. Now, if God doesn’t control a chigger and man can’t, then it is doubtful that angels or devils do." -- From "Hornets," by C. C. Morris

California pastor resigns, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Visible and Invisible Church

The following comments were written by Baptist Board member The Biblicist concerning the idea, or lack thereof, of the universal church in the London Baptist confessions of 1644/46 and 1689, pointing out that the "only universal church these Baptists believed in was the collective churches of like faith and order. They rejected the universal invisible church theory. They rejected the Roman Catholic or universal visible church theory. They did believe in a FUTURE glory church that consists of all the elect in all ages. The post follows, by permission.

Thomas Bakewell, a Presbyterian entered into a public written debate with the Baptists who framed the 1644 Confession. He understood the article on the church to be a complete repudiation of the universal invisible church. The Baptist article reads:

The London Baptist Confession - 1646":

XXXIII. Jesus Christ hath here on earth a [manifestation of His] spiritual kingdom, which is His Church, whom He hath purchased and redeemed to Himself as a peculiar inheritance; which Church is a company of visible saints, called and separated from the world by the word and Spirit of God, to the visible profession of faith of the gospel, being baptized into that faith, and joined to the Lord, and each other, by mutual agreement in the practical enjoyment of the ordinances commanded by Christ their head and king. [Emphasis mine, Biblicist]

In response Bakewell said,
“you believe that this purchased redeemed Church of Christ is visible, and a company of Saints called and separated from the world by the Word and Spirit of God to the visible profession of faith, and the Gospel, and baptized in the faith, and joined to the Lord, and to each other by mutual agreement in practical enjoyment of the Ordinances commanded by Christ as their Head and King….but how dare you publish to the world that those whom Christ has purchased and redeemed, are visible, making profession of faith and the Gospel, and baptized and joined to the Lord, and to each other in practical enjoyment of the Ordinances….then you say you are ignorant of any invisible church or house of God. - Thomas Bakewell, An Answer of Confutation of Divers Errors Broached and Maintained By the Seven Churches of Anabaptists contained in those Articles of their Confession of Faith Presented to Parliament, and other gross Opinions held by them against the clear light of the gospel, (Imprinter John Downham, 1646).
In the associational minutes of these same Baptists they often speak about the church but there is absolutely no mention of any kind of church consisting of all the elect in all denominations presently existing on earth and these minutes cover the whole period of the first Confession up to 1660.

Between 1660 and 1688 Baptists living in this period called it "The Great Tribulation period." Both Presbyterians and Baptists suffered during this period. In 1688 William and Mary (Presbyterians) took control of England. Baptists intentionally took the Westminster Confession as a pattern for their 1689 confession hoping the Presbyterians would not continue the state church persecuting of dissenters from the church state religion. Their hope was realized.

In order to understand correctly the 1689 Baptist Confession and its article on the church, one must take in account of every word that is not found in the Westminster as the Baptists very carefully chose their words when differing it. (A Tabular Comparison of the 1646 WCF and the 1689 LBCF)

For example in Chapter XXVI, article 2 the Baptists refused to use the word "church" found in the Westminster to describe all the elect in all denominations living presently upon the earth at any given time. Instead, the Baptists said such "may be called saints" and then went on to say that such saints should be baptized members of congregations. This is an outright repudiation of the now popular universal invisible church theory which says all elect living on earth in all denominations may be called "the church." I understand that article II of the Westminster was speaking of the universal "visible" church when they described the "church" consisting of all elect but they equated with the "house" and "family" of God on earth or the totality of elect and the Baptists refused to call all the elect on earth "the church."

My point is that this repudiation of elect presently on earth proves that Chapter XXVI, article one by the Baptists does not refer to any present universal invisible church theory, but it refers to the FUTURE glory church consisting of all the elect in all generations.

Articles 3-15 [of Chapter XXVI] expand the Westminster articles III-V and especially the statement "Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth to worship God according to His will." Sections 5-15 define the nature of that church on earth which worships according to the will of God according to Baptists, and it is a visible congregation.

All the following Anabaptist confessions mention only a local visible congregation:
  1. The Moravian Confession 1527
  2. The Swiss Brethren Confession 1527
  3. The Hutterite Confession - 1540
  4. The Moravian Anabaptist Confession - 1547
  5. The Dutch Amsterdam Anabaptist Confession - 1611
  6. The Dordrecht Dutch Anabaptist Confession 1632
The General Baptist Confession of 1651 makes no other mention than the local visible church. Neither does the particular Baptist Midland Confession of Faith in 1655 or the Somerset Confession of 1657 mention any kind of universal invisible church. Neither does the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1832.

[In 1742 the Philadelphia Baptist Association adopted as their own the 1689 London Confession of Faith, with two chapters added (Of "Singing of Psalms etc." and "Of the Laying On of Hands"), rlv.] Up until about 1800 one cannot find any mention in the Philadelphia Association minutes of any other church but the local visible and the "Mount Zion" collective use of churches of like faith and order. This same "mount Zion" is defined in detail by both the Philadelphia Association and the Particular English Baptist associational minutes up to 1660. They commonly used this term "Mount Zion" or "Sion" to refer only to the collective body of congregations who were like faith and order with each other.

[Used by permission of "The Biblicist" with minor corrections, 12 June 2016: "You have my blessings, go ahead and use it."]

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This day, “Juneteenth”

According to, “Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.” As a native Texan I grew up thinking this was the normal Emancipation Day celebration rather than a holiday that originated and was mostly established in Texas. There is a named “Emancipation Day” on April 16, which is a legal holiday in Washington D.C.[1] It commemorates the day which president Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, April 16, 1862. Florida celebrates May 20 -- May 20, 1865 being the first reading or official announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida.

Texas’s Juneteenth (combining “June” and “nineteenth” to form one word) recognizes June 19, 1865. On that day Union Major General Gordon Granger issued “General Order Number 3” in Galveston, Texas.

General Order Number 3:
“The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor. The freed are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
The Emancipation Proclamation (well-known but often misunderstood) was issued September 22, 1862. It took effect January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation “freed” slaves only in states that had seceded from the Union, and in fact only in those over which the United States had no control. It freed no slaves in the slave states that were loyal to the Union and even exempted the parts of the Confederacy that were then under Union control! It freed slaves on paper, under the hope of final military victory. Its design made abolition of slavery the new goal of the war between the Union and the Confederacy. These two days may be celebrated by some, but seldom seem to be recognized as Emancipation Days in the way Juneteenth is.

Former slaves in Texas embraced June 19th as their own “Independence Day”. Though some slaveowners drug their feet in recognizing and applying “General Order Number 3,” the former slaves of Texas nevertheless had a date to recognize and transformed into a celebration by 1866. To me it seems that “Juneteenth” went through a period when some black leaders seemed almost ashamed of it, then blossomed and grew once again. In 1979 the Texas State Legislature passed a bill introduced by Representative Al Edwards of Houston, to make “Juneteenth” a state holiday. Governor Bill Clements signed it and it became official on January 1, 1980. “Juneteenth” was the first emancipation celebration that officially acheived state recognition. From there it has spread to other parts of the United States. For example, it was recognized by Oklahoma in 1994.

“While national black leaders continued to debate the importance of remembering other milestone anniversaries, the freed people of Texas went about the business of celebrating their local version of Emancipation Day.” (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.)

[1] As a legal holiday, it is relatively new. Legislation was signed to make Emancipation Day an official public holiday (in the District of Columbia) January 4, 2005.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A little Old Baptist humor

From The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson, p. 385 
In 1842...preachers went armed, not only in Texas, but in Georgia and the other States. In Georgia they went with a Bible and hymn book in one hand, and in the other--no, in their saddlebags--something, I am ashamed to tell what it was, but instead of carrying that in Texas they carried in the other saddlebag a shot gun. Well, some of them may have been like one old Hardshell. They said to him: "Brother Doodlee, don't you believe that everything is ordained, and that it will be just as it is ordained?" "Yes." "Then, what do you always carry your gun for? If your time has not come the Indians can not kill you." "Well," he says, "I know that is the way, that my time is fixed, but now, brother, what if I should be going to an appointment and meet an Indian and I did not have my gun, and his time had come; what a great pity that would be."
I don't know what was in the Georgia preacher's saddlebags -- might have been whiskey. According to Augustus Longstreet the “honest Georgian...preferred his whiskey straight and his politics and religion red hot.” (Religion in America, p. 125)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Can it be?

And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies!

Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love Divine!
’Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

-- Charles Wesley

The things we need, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"The things we need most are the things which money cannot buy and death cannot take away." -- Heard (original source unknown)

"You cannot teach some people anything because they already know so much that is not so." -- attributed to J. B. Gambrell

"He who makes an idol of his interest, makes a martyr of his integrity." -- Italian Proverb

"If you can't answer a man's argument all is not lost - you can still call him vile names" -- Elbert Hubbard

"God does not punish innocent children for the sins of guilty parents. There are no innocent children. (Deuteronomy 5:9; Ezekiel 18:20)" -- John Piper

"The holiness of God is traumatic to unholy people." -- R. C. Sproul

"We need to fall, and we need to be aware of it; for if we did not fall, we should not know how weak and wretched we are of ourselves, nor should we know our Maker's marvelous love so fully." -- Julian of Norwich

"O this blessed man!—this man of sorrows; this suffering, agonizing, crucified man. View him on the cross, bleeding for thy sins; and then lift up thine eyes and see him as the same man at the right hand of God." -- J. C. Philpot

"This administration appears to be more interested in prosecuting bakers who refuse to make a gay wedding cake than Muslims who slaughter gay folks." -- Bob Smith

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The terms Traditionalist and Traditionalism

Traditionalism seems to be the “term of choice” for most Southern Baptists who hold a certain soteriological position somewhere between Calvinism and Arminianism. I recently read someone mount a defense for the use of the term, claiming that it was not pejorative and that it originated with two Baptist historians, Fisher Humphreys and Paul Robertson, in their 2000 book God So Loved the World: Traditional Baptists and Calvinism – and that no one complained at the time about the word “Traditional” but understood it was meant to describe the position of most Southern Baptists. I think that is basically correct. It may be a slip of the pen to call them historians. It appears both their fields was theology rather than history, but that doesn’t make much difference to the question.

I say basically. First, as far as I know, this seems to be the origin or beginning of its common use for this subject. Also there seem to have been no large complaints initially. To the second issue, it’s just a matter of the way things are that it would have not drawn many complaints until its use became more common. But as early as 2001 (about a year after the book’s appearance), Tom Ascol referred to the phenomenon of books refuting the Reformed view of salvation and contrasting that to the view of “traditional Baptists” in the Founders Journal, Summer 2001. One should also be aware that the book did not arise in a vacuum, or that it has no polemical purpose. According to one anti-Calvinist reviewer at Amazon, Humphreys and Robertson’s book “came about because of a late night phone call from an active layperson in a Baptist church who had served on the pastor selection committee for a Baptist church, only to discover when the pastor reached the field that the new pastor was a confirmed Calvinist.” Reviewer Greg Gilbert points out that “A large portion of Prof. Humphreys’s book is devoted to a proof that the term ‘traditional Baptists’ rightly belongs to those Baptists who reject the Calvinist understanding of redemption.”

In The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, Fall 2008, pp.13, 52, Calvinist R. L. Hatchett wrote, “Efforts to contrast Baptist ideas with Calvinistic ideas are inherently difficult given a shared and intertwined history.” Even non-Calvinist Steve W. Lemke wrote that Robertson and Humphreys assertion that “traditional Baptists are not Calvinists” seemed “difficult to justify in light of the significant influence that Calvinists have had on Baptists through the years.”

My conclusion is that the use of “Traditional Baptist” to refer to a soteriological position is neither innocuous, irenic nor innocent -- nor is it accurate, save to those persons who only remember a half century or more of American Baptist history. It serves both pejorative and polemic purposes, even if that is not the original intent of Fisher Humphreys and Paul Robertson. Southern Baptists and others who want to define their position mediating somewhere between Calvinism and Arminianism should work toward finding a better terminology upon which they can agree.

* As best I can tell, at the time God So Loved the World was published Fisher Humphreys was Professor of Divinity at the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and Paul E. Robertson was Professor of Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.