Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Easton on Predestination

This word is properly used only with reference to God’s plan or purpose of salvation [I disagree, rlv].  The Greek word rendered “predestinate” is found only in these six passages, Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29,30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:5,11; and in all of them has the same meaning.They teach that the eternal, sovereign, immutable, and unconditional decree or “determinate purpose” of God governs all events. This doctrine of predestination or election is beset with many difficulties. It belongs to the “secret things” of God. But if we take the revealed word of God as our guide, we must accept this doctrine with all its mysteriousness, and settle all our questionings in the humble, devout acknowledgment, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

For the teaching of Scripture on this subject let the following passages be examined in addition to those referred to above; Genesis 21:12; Exodus 9:16; 33:19; Deuteronomy 10:15; 32:8; Joshua 11:20; 1 Samuel 12:22; 2 Chronicles 6:6; Psalm 33:12; 65:4; 78:68; 135:4; Isaiah 41:1-10; Jeremiah 1:5; Mark 13:20; Luke 22:22; John 6:37; 15:16; 17:2,6,9; Acts 2:28; 3:18; 4:28; 13:48; 17:26; Romans 9:11,18,21; 11:5; Ephesians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:2.

From Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Once in Christ, in Christ forever

C. H. Spurgeon:

“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37

No limit is set to the duration of this promise. It does not merely say, “I will not cast out a sinner at his first coming,” but, “I will in no wise cast out.” The original reads, “I will not, not cast out,” or “I will never, never cast out.” The text means, that Christ will not at first reject a believer; and that as He will not do it at first, so He will not to the last.

But suppose the believer sins after coming? “If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” But suppose that believers backslide? “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him.” But believers may fall under temptation! “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” But the believer may fall into sin as David did! Yes, but He will “Purge them with hyssop, and they shall be clean; He will wash them and they shall be whiter than snow;” “From all their iniquities will I cleanse them.”

“Once in Christ, in Christ for ever,
Nothing from His love can sever.”

“I give unto My sheep,” saith He, “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." What sayest thou to this, O trembling feeble mind? Is not this a precious mercy, that coming to Christ, thou dost not come to One who will treat thee well for a little while, and then send thee about thy business, but He will receive thee and make thee His bride, and thou shalt be His for ever? Receive no longer the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby thou shalt cry, Abba, Father! Oh! the grace of these words: “I will in no wise cast out.”

From Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening Devotionals

I searched for the hymn referenced by Spurgeon, and have yet to find it. I found something similar in the second stanza of Hymn 634, page 634 in John Dobell’s A New Selection of Seven Hundred Evangelical Hymns, 1810:
2. Once in Christ, in Christ forever;
This the gospel-scheme declares; 
Death, nor hell, nor sin shall sever 
Jesus from his chosen heirs;
Blest in Jesus,
Members of his mystic frame.

There is a different version referenced in James Smith’s 1850 Daily Bible readings for the Lord's Household:
Once in Christ, in Christ for ever, 
This the gospel scheme declares; 
Satan, death, nor hell shall sever
Jesus from his chosen heirs: 
Blest in Jesus, 
Life, eternal life, is theirs.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Things fall together, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

"Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together." -- attributed to Marilyn Monroe

"In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course." -- Clarence Thomas

"When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it."--  Clarence Thomas

"We come to the Lord as we are, but not to stay as we are." -- Richard Dowsett

"Sin exists, but does not exist outside of God’s control." -- Heard

"God uses imperfect people who are in imperfect situations to do His perfect will." -- Heard

"God uses imperfect people. That never excuses our imperfections." -- Heard

"The secret formula of the saints: When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines." -- Samuel Rutherford

“The author of Ecclesiastes has taught me that it is folly to suppose that you can plan life and master it, and you will get hurt if you try. You must acknowledge the sovereignty of God and leave the wisdom to him.” -- J. I. Packer

"[God] does not belong to the class of existing things: not that He has no existence, but that he is above all existing things, nay even above existence itself." -- John, of Damascus

It is not the critic who counts

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt, from his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech on April 23, 1910

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Name of Jesus is So Sweet

Tampa Weekly Tribune, Thursday, September 3, 1914 page 6, column 6

1. The name of Jesus is so sweet,
I love its music to repeat;
It makes my joys full and complete,
The precious name of Jesus!

2. I love the name of Him whose heart
Knows all my griefs, and bears a part;
Who bids all anxious fears depart –
I love the name of Jesus.

3. That name I fondly love to hear,
It never fails my heart to cheer;
Its music dries the falling tear –
Exalt the name of Jesus.

4. No word of man can ever tell
How sweet the name I love so well;
Oh, let its praises ever swell,
Oh, praise the name of Jesus.

“Jesus,” Oh, how sweet the name!
“Jesus,” ev’ry day the same;
“Jesus,” let all saints proclaim
Its worthy praise forever.

Baptist minister William Clark Martin (1864-1914) wrote this hymn. He was born December 25, 1864, at Hightstown, New Jersey. He pastored a number of Baptist churches, and died August 30, 1914, while living in Florida. Martin was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ft. Myers, Florida, from 1912 until the time of his death. He is buried at the Fort Myers Cemetery. His wife Etta lived until 1941 and is buried at the Wood River Cemetery in Richmond, Washington County, Rhode Island. Elder Martin has a cenotaph there as well.

One early source for this song is Choice Hymns No. 1: for Use in the Church, Sunday-school, Young People’s Societies..., with the tune by E. S. Lorenz.

Camden Post-Telegram, Tuesday, September 15, 1914, page 5, column 2

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Explanation of Meter, from The Baptist Standard Hymnal

The following explanation of Meter (the author prefers the spelling “Metre” which we do not as commonly use nowadays) is taken from The Baptist Standard Hymnal, with Responsive Reading: a New Book for All Services, edited by Mrs. A. M. (Willa Ann) Townsend and published in 1924 by the Sunday School Board of the National Baptist Convention (page 6). The explanation is presumably written by the editor.

Follow the link above to also see some examples that are on the page. The examples are helpful, but contain some markings I was unable to reproduce.


The term Metre or Meter, is a Greek word and properly belongs to poetry, from whence it is transferred to music. Metre is the Measure, or the Standard by which the long and short syllables in the verses of a hymn are rhythmically and definitely arranged into groups of syllables called poetic “Feet.” Each “Foot,” having a distinctive name, is to poetry what a measure is, in many respects, to music. Very little is known of the actual way Greek verse was adapted to singing tones, yet it is safe to assume that every long syllable was sung to a longer tone and every short syllable to a shorter tone. Modern verse is set to a larger variety of patterns of long and short tones, provided that the “Accented” Syllables match with “Accented” Tones. The regular recurrence of the “Accent” constitutes and determines the Metre of the line or verse. In a modern Hymnal a very large number of forms may be represented but the form of every hymn-tune depends on the verse-form to which it belongs. Out of four or five types of “Feet,” developed the fundamental rhythm of modern music and its types of Metre. Of the many recognized “Feet,” Iambic with lines sometimes of 10 or more syllables, Dactylic, Amphibrachic, Anapestic and Trochial are the chief types. Trochial, having the greatest extension in the variety. Syllables of two and three “Feet” are called Simple Feet. When there are four, five and six syllables in a word they are reckoned as “Double” or “Compound Feet,” though often they are resolved Into Single Feet. The most frequently used Meters are: Common Metre (C. M.), Common Hallelujah Metre (C. H. M.), Long Metre (L. M.), Long Particular Metre (L. P. M.), Hallelujah Metre (H. M.), (Short Metre (S. M.), Short Particular Metre (S. P. M.) 7s; 8s; 8s 7s; 8s 7s 4s; 10s; 10s 11s; 11s; 12s.


Common Metre 
Common Metre is known by a stanza of four lines composed of one short unaccented syllable and one long accented syllable in each poetical foot. The syllables being in number and order as follows: 8, 6, 8, 6, that is, there are 8 syllables in first and third lines and 6 syllables in the second and fourth lines.

Iambic Feet — C. H. M. 
Common Hallelujah Metre is a stanza of six lines, each poetical foot consisting of one short unaccented syllable and one long accented syllable. The syllables each being in number and order as follows: 8, 8, 6, 8, 8, 6.

Iambic Feet — L. M.
Long Metre consists of four lines, of which each foot contains one short unaccented and one long accented syllable. Each line contains 8 syllables.

Iambic Feet — L. P. M. 
Long Particular Metre differs from Long Metre only in having six lines Instead of four, each of which contains 8 syllables.

Iambic Feet — H. M. 
Hallelujah Metre is a stanza of 6 lines with one short unaccented syllable, and one long accented syllable in each poetical measure or Musical foot. The syllables of each being in number and order as follows: 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 8.

Iambic Feet — S. M. 
Short Metre consists of a stanza of four lines whose poetic foot is composed of two syllables — a short or unaccented syllable followed by a long or accented syllable. The syllables in number and order are as follows: 6, 6, 8, 6.

Iambic Feet — S. P. M. 
Short Particular Metre consists of six lines whose poetic foot is made up of two syllables — one short or unaccented followed by a long or accented syllable. The syllables in number and order are 6, 6, 8, 6, 6, 8.

Trochaic Feet — 7s

A stanza of Sevens consists of four lines with a poetic foot containing one long and one short syllable. The accented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable. Each line contains 7 syllables.

Trochaic Feet — 7s 6s 
A stanza with a Metre thus designated consists of eight lines in Trochaic and Iambic feet.

Anapestic Feet — 8s 
A stanza of four lines with a poetical foot containing two short syllables followed by one long syllable, is known as 8s. Each line contains eight syllables and is marked 8s.

Trochaic Feet — 8s 7s 
Eights and Sevens consists of four lines with a poetic foot containing one long and one short syllable; an accented syllable is followed by an unaccented one and designated thus: 8s 7s. The syllables are as follows: 8, 7, 8, 7.

Trochaic Feet — 8s 7s 4s 
A Metre designated 8, 7, 4, differs from the Metre 8s 7s only in that it contains six lines instead of four lines; the syllables being in number and order as follows: 8, 7, 8, 7, 4, 7.

Anapestic Feet — 10s 11s 
10s 11s Metre consists of a stanza of 4 lines with 2 short syllables followed by a long syllable. The syllables in number and order are 10, 10, 11, 11, or six lines with a poetical foot consisting of one short unaccented and one long accented syllable thus: 10, 10, 10, 11, 11.

Anapestic Feet — 11s 
A Metre designated 11s, consists of a stanza of four lines with a poetical foot containing 2 short syllables followed by a long syllable, each line containing eleven syllables.

Anapestic Feet — 12s 
A Metre of twelves consists of a stanza of four lines, each containing twelve syllables with two short syllables followed by a long syllable, composing the poetical foot.

Dactylic Feet 
is just the reverse of the Anapestic, being composed of one long accented syllable followed by two short unaccented syllables.

Amphibrachic Feet 
is represented by three syllables. The first and third syllables are short, the middle syllable is long.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Paul beheaded at Rome?

Q. Do we know that Paul was imprisoned a second time in Rome and was martyred under Nero? If so, how do we know?

A. There is nothing definitive since we have to rely on history and tradition rather than an inspired account from the Bible. There is the implication of the matter found in 2 Timothy 4, but the details we have often been taught – that Paul was executed under Nero after a second imprisonment in Rome – are a matter of early Christian writings that have been passed down.

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, references to Paul as a martyr, is in the letter called I Clement. Clement’s writing (often dated around AD 96) says Peter and Paul were martyred, and says Paul’s martyrdom occurred in or after he had been to “the extreme limit of the west” (Rome? Spain?).
But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours, and when he had finally suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
Ignatius, writing around AD 105-115 to the Ephesians, calls Paul “the martyred.”
I know both who I am, and to whom I write. I am a condemned man, ye have been the objects of mercy; I am subject to danger, ye are established in safety. Ye are the persons through whom those pass that are cut off for the sake of God. Ye are initiated into the mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred, the deservedly most happy, at whose feet may I be found, when I shall attain to God; who in all his Epistles makes mention of you in Christ Jesus.
In his Prescription Against Heretics (circa AD 200), Tertullian seems to assert that Paul was beheaded like John the Baptist, and that it occurred at Rome.
Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! where Paul wins his crown in a death like John’s! where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile!
In his Church History Book II Chapter 25:5-8 (AD 320), Eusebius cites the testimony of Caius, a member of the church in Rome, and the writing of Dionysius.
Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.
Sometimes the historical references do not exactly agree (though that is not unusual for historical accounts). The early reference by Clement states that Paul suffered martyrdom under the prefects, while later Eusebius says that Nero had Paul beheaded in Rome. That does not mean these accounts cannot be harmonized. Perhaps the prefects were operating under the authority of Nero, and being beheaded is a form of martyrdom.

One may accept or reject the accuracy of these accounts. (I have some question about the reliability of Peter’s presence in Rome, period.) However, the accounts exhibit that there was an early tradition of Paul being a martyr (circa AD 96) and that this occurred in Rome by beheading (AD 110-200).

Thursday, July 25, 2019

And Art Briles

Intriguing read:
Feel free to hate Briles and Baylor, but make sure to do your homework on the subject
As critical as we [media] are to your community and a democracy, we can be a lazy judgmental pack of self-important blowhards...Crushing Briles and the school that recently hired him, Mount Vernon ISD, is an easy populist choice; it requires minimal effort, and it will generate rave reviews and big ratings.
I say this only because, with the exception of maybe two other people, no one has taken the time to know this sad tale more than I have.I have read all of it. I have talked to coaches. I have spoken to victims. I have talked to Baylor administrators. I have spoken at length to high-ranking members of the Baylor Board of Regents who backed Briles, fought for him to stay, but supported the decision to fire him. I spoke to Baylor student-athletes who were there when this all happened. I spoke to coaches in the athletic department who were there.
This is an indictment on a narrative that refuses to acknowledge but one reliable trope. The narrative is out of control because we are just too lazy to accept additional details or to do any original reporting.
In consuming the outrage at Mount Vernon’s decision, I see a consistent theme: There are no datelines on any of these reports from Waco. There have not been for years. Few people have bothered to interview anyone, or taken the time to read beyond a few paragraphs, or explore some of the allegations.
Baylor’s general counsel, Christopher Holmes, wrote... “We are unaware of any situation where you [Briles] personally had contact with anyone who directly reported to you being the victim of sexual assault or that you directly discouraged the victim of an alleged sexual assault from reporting to law enforcement or University officials. Nor are we aware of any situation where you played a student-athlete who had been found responsible for sexual assault.”
That essentially contradicts what Baylor officials deliberately leaked to The Wall Street Journal the previous year that selectively painted the football program under Briles as the problem while ignoring the larger issue, which was the university’s practices as they related to sexual assault claims.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Water and the Word

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

The water and the word do not derive from man, but come down from God out of heaven. God’s thoughts and ways are distinct from man’s thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9; and man’s need to be repented of, verse 7; also cf. Proverbs 14:12). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

The water and the word serve God’s sovereign purpose. “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3). The “Father which is in heaven…maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Compare 1 Samuel 12:18, Job 5:8-10, Psalm 107:20, Psalm 147:15-18. “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it” (Psalm 68:11).

The water and the word bring life, refreshing, and sustenance. Compare Psalm 65:10, Isaiah 57:15, John 6:63, John 10:10, Acts 14:17, and Ephesians 5:26. As the rain and the snow nourishes the earth that it may bring forth life and the sustenance of life, so does the word of God as he sends it forth. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A so-called Equality Act

H.R.5 - Equality Act has passed in the House of Representatives in the 116th Congress (2019-2020). This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.

Doug Collins (Rep.-Ga.) made the following statement at a hearing on H.R. 5:
Don’t ignore the costs here — because they’re steep. H.R. 5 erases civil rights protections for biological women and sets the stage for children to fall victim — in permanent, unprecedented ways — to the confusion that often characterizes adolescence. If Democrats are determined to move this legislation forward, they must acknowledge it automatically privileges the rights of biological men over the rights of biological women. This bill will cause suffering that is far-reaching and, in many cases, enduring...

Franklin Graham in Decision magazine, on the Equality Act, writes, “This legislation will have catastrophic consequences for competitive sports, along with churches and faith-based nonprofits who would lose all protections to hire people who adhere to their Biblical statements of faith.  Christians will be persecuted for their sincerely held beliefs as never before. The clear teachings of the Bible on the sins of homosexuality and abortion will no doubt be considered ‘hate speech’.” In another article, Jerry Pierce adds, “The rights of parents to make choices for their children on questions of sexuality or gender, including medical treatments, would be superseded by federal civil rights codes. “The law would also strip parents of their right to raise and educate their own children if their beliefs contradict government mandates” and that “Male-bodied trans women would have rights to women’s private spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, prison cells, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, hospital rooms, women’s conferences, college dorms, elder care facilities and sports leagues.”

The experience of David Mackereth in the United Kingdom might serve as a warning to us. “The British government has declared a Christian physician ‘unfit to work’ after the self-identified Reformed Baptist vocalized out loud the definitive truth that there are only two biological genders: male and female.” He “had originally been tasked with compiling independent reports about the true health status of Brits claiming disability benefits. Part of his assignment was to refer to interviewees only by their preferred gender pronouns – something that he simply couldn’t do because of his religious convictions. Dr. Mackereth told the media, ‘I believe that gender is defined by biology and genetics, and that as a Christian the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female. I could have kept my mouth shut but it was the right time to raise it.’”

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Particular Baptist Library, 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.

Floods upon the dry ground

If you look into yourself, a barren wilderness meets your view. If you look up, you see the clouds of blessing floating in the pure sky. You see that the Lord has promised to “pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” You beg of him to fulfil that promise to your soul. You have no other plea but his own word of promise, no other recommendation but your own miserable barrenness. He enables you to cry to him. He listens to that cry, and in his own time pours water upon your thirsty soul, and floods upon your dry and parched heart. O may a sense of our poverty and destitution be ever a means, in his sacred hand, of leading us to seek that blessing which he alone can bestow!
J. C. Philpot (1802 – 1869)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ten thousand charms

Joseph Hart (1712-1768), independent evangelical minister and hymn writer, is well known is some small circles, and not well known among the general confluence of Christianity. Peter C. Rae has an article on “Joseph Hart and His Hymns” in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology. His analyses is that Hart “has regrettably passed into obscurity.” Sad, if that is so, for his hymns are full of grace, passion, and Christian experience. Most of Hart’s hymns are reprinted in William Gadsby’s A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship.

The hymn below is one of Hart’s most widely known. It first appeared in 1759 in his Hymns Composed on Various Subjects. The hymn likely is a vehicle for Hart’s own spiritual journey. It is hymn number 100, “Come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.” Several verses of Scripture hearken unto us through it, including Isaiah 55:1, Matthew 11:28, John 19:30.

The hymn as printed in extant versions of Hymns Composed on Various Subjects is meter. The fifth line of the original has a triple repetition (e.g. He is able, he is able, he is able) rather than the duple repetition found in most modern versions. Sung versions of “Come, ye sinners” usually present as 8s.7s. meter (the last two lines being repeated, or a chorus added).

1. Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, join’d with pow’r.
He is able, he is able;
He is willing, doubt no more.

2. Ho! ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev’ry grace that brings us nigh.
Without money, without money;
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

3. Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This he gives you, this he gives you;
’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

4. Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Bruis’d and mangled by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous
Sinners Jesus came to call.

5. View him grov’ling in the garden;
Lo! your Maker prostrate lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him:
Here him cry before he dies,
It is finish’d, it is finish’d!
Sinner, will not this suffice?

6. Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus,
Can do helpless sinners good.

7. Saints and angels, join’d in concert,
Sing the praises of the Lamb;
While the blissful seat of heav’n
Sweetly echo with his name.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Sinners here may sing the same.

In the tune Restoration (Sacred Harp, No.  268a) [i] the first four lines have an 8s.7s. stanza (by deleting Hart’s last two lines) with an added chorus or refrain.

I will rise and go to Jesus,
He’ll embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O! there are ten thousand charms.[ii]

Jesus is Willing/Beach Spring (Sacred Harp, No. 81), on the other hand, repeats Hart’s last two lines.

[i] The Sacred Harp versions of Restoration actually use Robert Robinson’s text plus the chorus, rather than Hart’s, but represents the tune widely used with “Come, ye sinners.” Favorite Songs and Hymns, which we used to sing from, has this tune with Hart’s text.
[ii] Some people object to the use of the word “charms,” apparently because it can have an occult-type context. In the chorus, though, it just means something powerful and attractive, which delights and subdues the heart. I am not aware of the source of the chorus, but it is not by Joseph Hart.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Doctrinal Accountability

Following up briefly on yesterday’s The Criterion, I note a couple of ideas on doctrinal accountability current in bygone days of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was created in 1859 – 4 years after the founding of the SBC in 1845).  At its founding, the school required faculty members to teach “in accordance with and not contrary to” its confession of faith, the Abstract of Principles. James Petigru Boyce (first president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) wrote, “It is therefore, gentlemen, in perfect consistency with the position of Baptists, as well as of Bible Christians, that the test of doctrine I have suggested to you should be adopted. It is based upon principles and practices sanctioned by the authority of Scripture and by the usage of our people. In so doing, you will be acting simply in accordance with propriety and righteousness. You will infringe the rights of no man, and you will secure the rights of those who have established here an instrumentality for the production of sound ministry. It is no hardship to those who teach here to be called upon to sign the declaration of their principles, for there are fields of usefulness open elsewhere to every man, and none need accept your call who can not conscientiously sign your formulary.” (Memoir of James Petigru Boyce, pp. 140-141)

Edgar Young Mullins (fourth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) wrote, “The Baptist denomination is not a free-lance club as some would like to make it...Baptists have always insisted upon their own right to declare their beliefs in a definite, formal way, and to protect themselves by refusing to support men in important places as teachers and preachers who do not agree with them. This group right of self-protection is as sacred as any individual right. If a group of men known as Baptists consider themselves trustees of certain great truths, they have an inalienable right to conserve and propagate those truths unmolested by others in the denomination who oppose those truths. The latter have an equal right to unite with another group agreeing with them. But they have no right to attempt to make of the Baptist denomination a free-lance club.” (Baptists and Creeds)

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Criterion

For many moderate to liberal SBC Baptists the traditional liberty of conscience morphed into the liberty to deny the truths God revealed in the Bible. For example, part of the crisis behind the 1963 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message were things such as Ralph Elliott’s book on Genesis, which many Southern Baptists believed taught things that simply were or were approaching heretical. This 1963 revision produced the sentence, “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” Apparently some conservatives viewed it as a good thing, while others saw the dangers within it. Regardless, it gave a foothold of appeal to liberals to claim they had interpreted their view through (their ideas about) Jesus Christ.

The Making of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message by A. J. Smith gives some interesting looks behind the scenes of things that went into making the 1963 BF&M. For example, he writes:
Denominational leaders found it necessary to address the issue raised by Elliott’s book by forming a Committee to revise the BFM. According to Garth Pybass, one of only three members of that Committee still living in 2004, the intention of the “criterion” statement in the article on Scripture was “to convey biblical infallibility based on Christ’s testimony of it in the gospels.” A footnote below comments “this interpretation of the ‘criterion’ statement would take on differing interpretations within the Convention.” (p. 34)
When the Committee agreed to follow a shortened form of the “criterion” sentence they played into the hands of men such as Moody. To say that “the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” without qualification raised a host of questions. Marvin Tate, who taught Old Testament at Southern from the early 1960s until his retirement, commented: “Back in 1963 I asked, ‘What does that mean?’ It doesn’t mean anything.” (pp. 139-140)
Smith follows the above with a quote from Herschel Hobbs’s journal article “Southern Baptists and Confessionalism” (“Southern Baptists and Confessionalism: a Comparison of the Origins and Contents of the 1925 and 1963 Confessions,” Review and Expositor 76, No. 1 (1976), 55-56). In it Hobbs pointed out that Elliott in The Message of Genesis said Melchizedek was probably a priest of Baal. He thought that the “criterion” sentence would mean such nonsense would have to be rejected in the light of Jesus and the New Testament. See Smith, page 140.

Below are some interesting comments from Mercer University’s Department of Christianity (a list of the faculty is on page 131 of Smith’s book).
This paragraph [on soul competency, in the preamble] ignores that for Baptists the object of “the individual’s soul competency,” “freedom of religion,” and “the priesthood of the believer” is God and not “soul” itself, “freedom” itself, the “believer” himself. (p. 132).
The paragraph tends to undermine Article I, the Scriptures, by assuming man is free to select those “certain definite doctrines” which they “hold dear.” (p. 132)
The term “criterion” unfortunately connotes the presence of a yardstick by which men can measure or judge Scripture, rather the Scripture measuring and judging man. (p. 172)
The Mercer professors, certainly not champions of fundamentalism, saw the dangers of creating “a yardstick by which men can measure or judge Scripture.” The proof has been in the pudding, as many used it for just that purpose – and howled like hit dogs when the statement was removed in 2000.

Most of you reading this probably are not Southern Baptist. You many think it irrelevant. Let it be a reminder that words, phrases, and sentences have meaning, and often ugly unintended consequences.

Note: Best I have found, the original “criterion” statement out of committee was “The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is the person, work, and teachings of Jesus Christ.” The Mercer faculty was objecting to this, not just the shortened statement that left out “person, work, and teachings.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Works of Benjamin Keach, 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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ethical conundrum?

A recent discussion (2019) of “babies born alive” was ignited by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who said, “And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Now you can debate just exactly what he meant, but discussion of whether to let an infant die is definitely on the table in what he said, at least concerning one he would consider “non-viable.” Nevertheless, though some might dismiss this as sensationalism on the part of Pro-Lifers, it is not a new discussion.

Here is old news (1999) about doctors not providing life support to a survivor of a botched abortion:
Staff who helped baby not treated as heroines

In the following link, a Civil Justice Subcommittee in Florida (2013) discusses House Bill 1129, a “born alive” bill; the Planned Parenthood representative struggles to answer questions about babies born alive:
State of Florida Civil Justice Subcommittee hearing on March 27, 2013

Discussion of the Bill starts about 10:50.
Questions to Planned Parenthood (some excerpted below) start about 39:17.

Chairman Boyd: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

Alicia Snow of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood: “Uh, well, we believe that any decision is made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”

Representative: “Along the same lines you stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”

Alicia Snow: “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”

Representative: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?”

Alicia Snow: “That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that...”

There should be no ethical conundrum of whether to save a live baby who is dying right in front of you – unless you had already been trying to kill it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Abraham, Jacob: Who bought what burial ground?

Q. What is the explanation of the difference between Stephen’s statement in Acts 7:15-16 about the burial of Jacob and what the Old Testament says?

A. In Acts 7:15-16, Stephen states, “So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” Genesis 50:13 says, “for his sons carried him [Jacob] into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.”

Other relevant verses are Genesis 23:16-19, which records buying a parcel of ground from Ephron of Heth, Genesis 33:19, which records Jacob buying a parcel of a field from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, Genesis 49:29-31, Jacob’s charge that he be buried in the cave in the field of Machpelah (which Abraham purchased from Eprhon), and Joshua 24:32, which records the burial of Joseph in Shechem, in the parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor (Emmor).

Many see a direct contradiction because Genesis says Jacob, not Abraham, bought the parcel of land from Hamor/Emmor. The easiest way many see for resolving this is to charge Stephen with an error in his speaking. It is true that inspiration means that Scripture accurately records what someone said, whether or not what someone said is accurate. It is interesting, however, to consider that his hearers did not charge Stephen with an error of misapplying or perverting the Old Testament scriptures. They only became enraged when he charged them with the death of “the Just One.”

Rather it is best to understand that Stephen is dealing with several things telescoped into one statement that is not incorrect but difficult to read without receiving implied pronouns the hearers would have grasped.  Jacob died and was laid in the sepulchre Abraham purchased (Genesis 50:13), and “our fathers” were laid in Shechem/Sychem, Jacob’s purchase from Hamor/Emmor (Joshua 24:32).

John Gill explains it this way:
“…what best seems to remove the difficulty is, that the words refer to both places and purchases; to the field of Machpelah bought by Abraham, and to the parcel of field is Sichem bought by Jacob, of the sons of Emmor; for the words with the repetition of the phrase, ‘in the sepulchre’, may be read thus; ‘and were laid in the sepulchre, that Abraham bought for a sum of money’, and in the sepulchre (bought by Jacob) ‘of the sons of Emmor’, the father of Sichem; or the words may be rendered thus, ‘they were carried over into Sichem, and laid in the sepulchre which Abraham bought for a sum of money, besides’ that ‘of the sons of Emmor’, the father ‘of Sichem’; namely, which Jacob bought, and in which Joseph was laid, (Genesis 33:19) (Joshua 24:32) . And this agrees with Stephen’s account and design, in the preceding verse; he observes, that Jacob died in Egypt, and all the twelve patriarchs; and here he tells us how they were disposed of, and where they were buried, both Jacob and his sons; they were removed from Egypt, and brought into the land of Canaan; Jacob, he was laid in the cave of Machpelah, in the sepulchre Abraham bought of the children of Heth; and Joseph and his brethren, they were laid in the sepulchre at Sichem, which Jacob bought of the sons of Emmor...”

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Stone of Help

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood.
(Robert Robinson, 1758)

Thus far the Lord hath led me on,
Thus far His pow’r prolongs my days;
And ev’ry evening shall make known
Some fresh memorial of His grace.
(Isaac Watts, 1707)