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Monday, February 28, 2022

In other words, proper nouns

  • Ananda, noun. A state of absolute bliss.
  • Ballyhack, noun. Hell.
  • Belsnickel, noun. In certain North American communities, esp. those of German origin: a person who goes about merrymaking at Christmas or New Year in disguise, often visiting the houses of neighbors, friends, and relatives to play pranks or beg for small gifts or refreshments.
  • Fourth Estate, noun. (sometimes in lower case) The journalistic profession or its members; the press (referring to it as the “fourth branch” of government, the term indicates the role and the importance of the free press in a democratic society).
  • Ginny Gall, noun. An imaginary place characterized as remote, unpleasant, or harsh; especially, a suburb or outer region of hell.
  • Gulag, noun. The penal system of the U.S.S.R. consisting of a network of forced labor camps. (Gulag is an acronym for Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration.)
  • May queen, noun. A girl or young woman chosen to be crowned in traditional celebrations of May Day.
  • Pater Noster (also paternoster), noun. (when capitalized) in the Roman Catholic Church the Lord’s Prayer, especially in Latin (from the opening words, in Latin, “Our Father”); or generically, a fixed recitation of prayer. Also, an elevator consisting of a series of linked doorless compartments moving continuously on an endless belt.
  • Porlock, noun. A person who interrupts at an inconvenient moment.
  • Potter’s Field, noun. (sometimes in lower case) A piece of ground reserved as a burial place for strangers and the friendless poor.
  • Puritan, noun. A member of a group in the 16th & 17th centuries within the Church of England, demanding the simplification of doctrine and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline; (lowercase) a person who is strict in moral or religious matters, often excessively so.
  • Queenborough mayor, noun. A mayor who is attended by the full ceremony of his office, but has no real power or authority (or any position of pomp without power).
  • Ramism, noun. (Philosophy) A philosophical system developed by Petrus Ramus, based on a controversial revised version of Aristotelian logic.
  • Scotch verdict, noun. A verdict of not proven: acceptable in certain cases in Scottish criminal law; any inconclusive decision or declaration.
  • Skil Saw, noun. A trademark name of a portable electric saw, often used generically for any portable circular saw.
  • The Academy, noun. A collective noun representing the aggregate of higher education as a single entity.

Read often...

Read often, read widely, and read well. Your life and ministry will be deeply enriched if you discipline yourself to be a reader. It is pleasurable work to labor with a book, but develop that practice early and don’t let go of it. Let books be among your friends and you’ll find in them constant reminders of what is good, true, and beautiful. Most importantly, read the one book that is truly essential. Let the Bible be the one book that you always come back to, the one book that interprets all others.
Matthew J. Hall

Sunday, February 27, 2022

We have a gospel to proclaim

“We have a gospel to proclaim” is a hymn recent enough, I think, that it is still under copyright. So I will present excerpts. The entire hymn may be seen in Singing the Faith: Words Edition (The Methodist Church, 2011, No. 418).

1. We have a gospel to proclaim 
Good news for men in all the earth; 
The gospel of a Saviour’s name: 
We sing His glory, tell His worth. 
 
... 
 
3. Tell of His death at Calvary, 
Hated by those He came to save; 
In lonely suffering on the cross 
For all He loved, His life He gave. 
 
...

6. Now we rejoice to name him King:
Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
The gospel-message we proclaim:
We sing his glory, tell his worth.

The author of this, Edward Joseph Burns, was born in 1938 in Nelson, Lancashire, England. He is a priest or canon in the Church of England. This hymn is in Long Meter, and might be used with any good tune in that meter. In the music edition of Singing the Faith, it is presented with the tune Walton or Fulda (aka Germany) by William Gardiner (1770-1853), found in his Sacred Melodies, 1815.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The End of the Historical Critical Method, 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.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Text critical “re”verses

In the spirit of irony, Bible verse “translations” consistent with modern text critical views of the preservation of Scripture. (Select the blue links to see what the scriptures really say.)

Matthew 21:42 - Jesus saith unto them, I know ye never read in the scriptures, since ye only have copies with errors instead of the autographs.

Matthew 22:29 - Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not having the scriptures, nor even perfect copies thereof.

Mark 15:28 - And the scripture might have been fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors (that is, if the copy that recordest those words be accurate).

Luke 16:29 - Abraham said to the rich man, I know that thy brothers do not have Moses and the prophets, since the autographs have not been kept pure in all ages. However, they do have manuscript copies, which they can accept as mostly correct, since Moses and the prophets are probably scattered in these various manuscripts. They can check that out.

Luke 24:44 - And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, and had to explain, because they were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me, but have not been accurately preserved until this time in history.

John 5:39 - Search for the scriptures; for ye think ye have them: but ye have them not. Ye have only inaccurate copies.

John 7:42 - Hath not the scripture said? (We really dost not know, since the inspired autographs have not been preserved.)

Acts 8:35 - Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and showed the eunuch he could not be sure what Isaiah wrote or meant, since there were variants in all the copies.

Acts 17:11 - These acted differently than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all sorts of questions in their minds, and searched the manuscripts daily, whether they had the word of God or no.

Romans 4:3 - For what saith the scripture? Without the autographs we cannot be sure, but we think that maybe Abraham believed God, and hope that it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. However, since God didst not preserve them pure in all ages, we through the scriptures do not know how much hope to have, or whether we have hope.

2 Timothy 3:15 - And that from a child thou hast thought thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are really only inaccurate copies and poor translations, unable to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture was given by inspiration of God, and would be profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, hadst God chosen to preserve them pure in all ages.

James 4:5 - Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? Yea, probably so, since thou canst never be sure it was copied accurately.

Wow! What a difference in how Jesus and the apostles described the scriptures versus how the modern text critics and the scholars and teachers who depend on them describe the scriptures!

This little exercise in irony is intended to stress that the old approach to the scriptures as true is wildly different from the new approach to the scriptures as uncertain. Jesus, his apostles, and the inspired writers neither criticized nor corrected Scripture (even though they had copies and did not possess the original autographs, i.e., those written in the hands of the original authors). The focus is always “the scriptures say this,” “the scriptures are true,” “believe what the scriptures say.” We need to drink from the pure well of Jesus and the apostles, not the poisoned well of modern textual criticism.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Quoting the Critics

Quoting the textual critics, showing some of their ideas about the preservation of the Bible, and how they go about the work of textual criticism. Briefly, they do not believe in preservation of the Bible in the same way most average Christians do (at least those whose views are yet to be tainted by the Academy), and they see their work as secular and academic, not religious and spiritual.

On Preservation.

“Not only do we not have the originals, we don’t have the first copies of the originals. We don’t even have copies of the copies of the originals or copies of the copies of the copies of the originals.” Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, New York, NY: Harper, 2005, p. 10.

“We do not have now – in any of our critical Greek texts or in any translations – exactly what the authors of the New Testament wrote. Even if we did, we would not know it.” Dan Wallace in “Foreword,” Myths & Mistakes in New Testament Textual Criticism, Elijah Hixson & Peter Gurry, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, p. xii.

“My own approach to textual criticism allows that the correct, original text (or, better, the Ausgangstext) has been preserved, by sheer chance, somewhere in our 5,000 surviving Greek witnesses.” J. K. Elliott in “The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not?” (80-102), Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: 4 Views, David Alan Black, Editor. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Academic, 2008, p. 100. [To Elliott the Ausgangstext is “as close as scholarship enables one to get to the possible original.”]

“The initial text is not identical with the original, the text of the author. Between the autograph and the initial text considerable changes may have taken place which may not have left a single trace in the surviving textual tradition.” Gerd Mink, as cited by Thomas C. Geer, Jr. and Jean-François Racine, “Analyzing and Categorizing NT Greek Manuscripts,” in The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research: Essays on the Status Quaestionis (2nd edition), Bart D. Ehrman & Michael W. Holmes, editors. Leiden, Brill, 2013, p. 513. (According to Mink, the initial or Ausgangtext is “a hypothetical, reconstructed text, as it presumably existed, according to the hypothesis, before the beginning of its copying.” p. 512.)

“...I do not believe that God is under any obligation to preserve every detail of Scripture for us, even though he granted us good access to the text of the New Testament.” Dirk Jongkind, An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, p. 90.

“What is left behind are fragments, chance survivals from the past—we are trying to piece together a puzzle with only some of the pieces.” Peter Gurry, A New Approach to Textual Criticism: An Introduction to the Coherence Based Genealogical Method, Tommy Wasserman, Peter J. Gurry. Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, p. 112.

“Biblical texts on the reliability and preservation of God’s word have nothing to do with textual criticism, for the simple reason that the authors did not have copying processes in mind but only the value of the truths they conveyed.” Jan Krans, “Why the Textus Receptus Cannot Be Accepted” (Posted October 22, 2020).

On the work of textual criticism.

“...no real progress was possible as long as the Textus Receptus remained the basic text and its authority was regarded as canonical...” Kurt Aland, Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament (Der Text Des Neuen Testaments), translated by Erroll F. Rhodes, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 1989, p. 6.

“I have no intention of trying to prove that this or that textual variant is the original word of God. I would like to work as a text-critic as if God didn’t exist, so to speak. On the other hand, I have a personal faith which certainly affects also my scholarship, and I try to be honest about that. I am certain that other people’s belief or disbelief affects what they do to. I prefer not to be put in a box of privileged white male text-critics who just pretend to do real scholarship.” Tommy Wasserman, comment on blog post “‘First-Century Mark’ SBL Panel,” (Posted November 25, 2019).

“I should add a word of warning, that in the case of biblical research bibliography will inevitably find theology dragged into it at some point.” David C. Parker, Textual Scholarship and the Making of the New Testament. Oxford: University Press, 2012, p. 30.

“In practice New Testament textual critics today tend to be Christians themselves, but not always. It does not matter, for the quality of their work does not depend on their faith but on their adherence to academic standards.” Jan Krans, “Why the Textus Receptuss Cannot Be Accepted” (Posted October 22, 2020).

“If something has dropped out, I have no way of knowing what it is (despite the conjectures of the early versions), so it is not my business to put it in. My job as a textual critic is not to ensure that readers have an inerrant edition of the Bible in their hands.” P. J. Williams, “Inerrancy and textual criticism” (Posted February 28, 2006).

Concluding thoughts.

The quotes collected above are from modern textual critics, all living and active in the field (with the exception of Kurt Aland). However, the current process is built on a faulty old foundation. Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort make clear in 1882 that they had no confidence in the original writings, which they think might have corruptions (errors) in them.

“Are there as a matter of fact places in which we are constrained by overwhelming evidence to recognise the existence of textual error in all extant documents? To this question we have no hesitation replying in the affirmative...Little is gained by speculating as to the precise point at which such corruptions came in. They may have been due to the original writer, or to his amanuensis if he wrote from dictation, or they may be due to one of the earliest transcribers.” Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, The New Testament in the Original Greek, Introduction and Appendix, New York, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1882, 279-281.

Iain Murray warns, “The academic approach to Scripture treats the divine element—for all practical purposes—as non-existent. History shows that when evangelicals allow that approach their teaching will soon begin to look little different from that of liberals.” (Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950-2000, Iain Harnish Murray. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000, p. 185).

I leave you all with this question. “Should we judge the word of God by scholars or scholars by the word of God?”

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Quotes on the Bible

Quotes on the Bible by Keach, Ridgley, and Turner. These men had no problem understanding that the promises in places such as Matthew 5:18, Matthew 24:35, and 1 Peter 1:24-25 apply to the Bible — since the same God who is the author of it has by his special providence preserved it!

Quotes on the Bible, quotes on the Holy Word;
The words of all the prophets, and the sayings of our Lord.
Of all the quotes you find, they’d better back the Word—
Read these quotes on the Bible that truth undergird.

“Since therefore the Bible has thus wonderfully surmounted all difficulties and oppositions, for so many generations, and in so many dangers, and against so many endeavours to root out of the world, we may, (according to that maxim in philosophy, Eadem est causa procreans et conservans; the procreating and conserving cause of things, is one and the same) conclude, that the same God is the Author of it, who hath thus by his special providence preserved it, and faithfully promised, and cannot lie, that heaven and earth shall pass away, but one iota or tittle of his word shall not pass away. Tropologia: a Key to Open Scripture Metaphors, Benjamin Keach, Ireland: Bonmahon Industrial Printing School, 1858, xvi-xvii.

“The word of God is durable. All the endeavours of wicked men from time to time have been to destroy the word; it hath been in many fires, as I may say, and yet it remains and abides the same. ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away,” Matt. v. 18.  ‘All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth away. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever: and this is the word which by the Gospel is preached to you,’ 1 Pet i. 24, 25.” Tropologia: a Key to Open Scripture Metaphors, Benjamin Keach, Ireland: Bonmahon Industrial Printing School, 1858, p. 573.

Thomas Ridgley (ca. 1667-1734) Independent

“Having considered the arguments brought to prove that some books of scripture are lost, we shall now prove, on the other hand, that we have the canon thereof compleat and entire. Some think this is sufficiently evident from what our Saviour says, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot, or tittle shall not pass from the law, Mat. v. 18 and it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail, Luke xvi. 17. If God will take care of every jot and tittle of scripture, will he not take care that no whole book, designed to be a part of the rule of faith, should be entirely lost? It is objected, indeed to this, that our Saviour hereby intends principally the doctrines or precepts contained in the law; but if the subject matter thereof shall not be lost, surely the scripture that contains it shall be preserved entire.

“But this will more evidently appear, if we consider that the books of the Old Testament were compleat in our Saviour’s time; for it is said, That beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself, Luke xxiv. 27, and this may also be proved from what the apostle says, Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, Rom. xv. 4; now it is impossible that they should be written for our learning if they are lost.

“To this may be added, that the goodness of God, and the care of his providence, with respect to this church, farther evinces this truth; for if he gave them ground to conclude that he would be with them always, even to the end of the world, Matth. xxviii. 20, surely this argues, that he would preserve the rule he had given them to walk by, from all the injuries of time, so that it should not be lost to the end of the world.” A Body of Divinity, Volume 1, Thomas Ridgley (1667-1734), James P. Wilson, editor. Philadelphia, PA: William W. Woodward, 1814, 65-66.

Daniel Turner (1710–1798) Baptist

“...the spirit of free inquiry...will never rest till it has brought the professors of Christianity to acquiesce in the only external rule, or infallible standard of religious verity, the Bible, understood in its native simplicity and latitude of expression, unsophisticated by the super-orthodoxy of our high-flying theologians on the one hand, and the capricious refinements of our mere critics and philosophers on the other.” Free Thoughts on the Spirit of Free Inquiry in Religion, Daniel Turner, Henley: G. Norton, 1793, p. 5.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Word of God. Matthew 27:50-54.

Matthew 27:50-54

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

According to Houston Baptist professor Craig Evans, Matthew 27:51b–53 is not inspired, not canonical, does not belong in the Bible. He believes it is a “tradition” without “any claim to authenticity.” He speaks of it as a legend, an embellishment, and a scribal gloss.

“The story of the opening of the tombs and the emergence of dead saints may represent an early scribal supplement, probably inspired by Matt 28:2 and perhaps also by the aforementioned Ezek 37:7-14, Dan 12:2, and Zech 14:4-5 (cf. Did. 16:7), as well as Christian belief that the resurrection of Jesus was but the ‘first fruits’ of those who ‘sleep’ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20). Indeed, it has been suggested that vv. 52-53 constitute a fulfillment of sorts of Jesus’ promise in Matt 16:18 in that he will build his church and ‘the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.’ That is, by raising the saints at the moment of death, the gates of Hades have been breached.”

“The peculiar vv. 52-53 are not cited and evidently not alluded to in the writings of the church fathers prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. The quotation in the longer form of one of the letters of Ignatius is almost certainly a later interpolation. Moreover, the suggestion that the Akhmîm Gospel fragment (assumed by most to be the Gospel of Peter) alludes to Matt 27:52 (cf. Gos. Peter 41: ‘Have preached to them that sleep?’) is not convincing. Peter alludes to Christ’s preaching to the saints when he descended into hell. Indeed, the story of the raised saints in Matthew, perhaps inspired by the tradition of Christ’s harrowing of hell (cf. Acts of Pilate 20–26), is probably no earlier than late second century.”

“That this story is probably a post-Matthean gloss is also suggested by the chronological awkwardness created by vv. 52-53.” Craig A. Evans, Matthew (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 466

Evans lists a few reasons he believes this. 

“1) This might be a desperate attempt to offer an answer to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16:18 when he said, ‘I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’ 2) Not cited explicitly or implicitly by any church father till after the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. 3) Its sequential awkwardness as how can Jesus be the first fruits if they are already raised? 4)The position that the Akhmîm Gospel fragment, which Evans dates in the second century, might allude to Matthew when it says in the gospel of Peter 41 ‘have preached to them that sleep’ is a stretch so that information for the gospel of Peter did not come from Matthew but from somewhere else.” As summarized in Craig Evans, Robert Stewart, and Matthew 27:52-53

Evans’s idea exhibits the stretch of “The Academy” to find something wrong with the Bible. Not content with variants he can find, Evans finds one that does not exist. Notice that his argument is that Matthew 27:51b–53 was never part of the original inspired text. This assertion is extraordinarily exotic – because there are no extant texts of Matthew that do not have that statement. Craig Evans has trouble believing that passage, so Matthew must not have written it!

Contra Evans, Joseph Benson writes,

“Thus, as the rending the veil of the temple intimated that the entrance into the most holy place, the type of heaven, was now laid open to all nations, so the resurrection of a number of saints from the dead demonstrated that the power of death and the grave was broken; that the sting was taken from death, and the victory wrested from the grave; and if they ascended with him too, it was thus shown that the Lord’s conquest over the enemies of mankind was complete, and not only an earnest given of a general resurrection of the dead, but of the kingdom of heaven being opened to all believers.” [Bold emphasis mine]

Believing in the power and truthfulness of God, there is no reason to reject this passage as odd, spurious, or impossible. Jesus rose. Jesus rose from the dead. Of what greater power need we speak!

Notice as follows:

  • Verse 50 – The voluntary, substitutionary death of Christ, which he laid down and no man took from him. John 10:17-18
  • Verse 51 – The rending of the veil of the temple (Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 6:19-20) and the rending of the earth.
  • Verse 52a – The rending of the earth opened graves.
  • Verses 52b-53a – The saints came bodily out of those graves after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was bodily, not “spiritual” or imaginary. They were dead, asleep, in their graves (cf. Psalm 13:3; John 11:11-13).[i] Though not necessarily required by the statement, it is possible that these had only recently died. If so, they would have been well known and recognized when they went to Jerusalem.[ii]
  • Verse 53b – The raised saints went into the “holy city” (Jerusalem, Matthew 4:5) and, as a witness of our Lord’s victory over death, “appeared unto many.” The witness was “unto many” not a few. Jesus is not just the victor over death for himself, but also for the saints that sleep.
  • Verse 54 – A centurion and the soldiers with him saw the crucifixion, the earthquake, the victorious death of Jesus Christ, therefore feared God and recognized his deity. His divine power demonstrated him to be the divine person he said he was.

“…the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” The brevity, simplicity, and normalcy of this entry testifies of its veracity, separating it from myths and legends.

May we look to the Bible for truth. Let us not be of the spirit of those who reject what they cannot by nature receive. May we receive God’s word as truth.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14

[See also ΜΕΤΑ ΤΗΝ ΕΓΕΡΣΙΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ: A Scribal Interpolation in Matthew 27:53?]


[i] The death of saints is often called sleep. Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
[ii] Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Amusing Ourselves To Death, and other reviews

The posting of book, film, or other reviews does not constitute endorsement of the products, reviews, or sites that are linked.

A level of consistency

The advocates of a Standard Sacred Text are held to a level of consistency unknown to the formulators of the Critical Text. The comparison is the difference between a document that claims to be from God, which is inherently absolute in its declarations—pure, infallible, inspired, preserved—and a document that is inherently relative based upon claims that are various measures of a subjective human enterprise. The first, to be consistent, is held to an absolute standard for truth, while the later, also to be consistent, is not a standard for anything.

Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Jesus blood and righteousness are my glorious dress

Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf wrote this hymn, called “Christi Blut und Gerechtigkeit,” in 1739.  He published it in the eighth appendix to Das Gesang-Buch der Gemeine in Herrn-Huth. The original German hymn by Zinzendorf had 33 stanzas. John Wesley translated 24 of those from German to English, and printed the resulting English version as “The Believer’s Triumph” in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1740. (The stanza numbering scheme below is according to Wesley’s.)

1. Jesus, thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
 
2. Bold shall I stand in thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully through these absolved I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
 
7. Lord, I believe the precious blood,
Which at the mercy seat of God
For ever doth for sinners plead,
For me, even for my soul was shed.
 
8. Lord, I believe, were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
For all thou hast a ransom given,
Purchased for all, peace, life, and heaven.
 
12. When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then, this shall be all my plea,
“Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.”
 
21. Jesu, be endless praise to thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me, and all thy hands have made,
An everlasting ransom paid.
 
24. O let the dead now hear thy voice;
Now bid thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness!

Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700–1760)

This hymn often appears with the tune Germany (see here also) from William Gardiner’s (1770–1853) Sacred Melodies.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Definitions, slightly tilted

  • aftermath, noun. The next class after algebra class.
  • amirite, interjection. A question/comment used to invite agreement or to assert that one’s previous statement is correct.
  • amscray, verb. To depart quickly while speaking Pig Latin.
  • apologestics, noun. Of or relating to bodily movements, gestures, or gyrations used when making a systematic argumentation or discourse in defense of Christianity.
  • bureaucracy, noun. Defense of the status quo long after the quo has lost its status. (Laurence J. Peter)
  • children, noun. Those who identify as being in a group whose age assigned at birth is zero.
  • Conservative, noun. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with other evils. (Ambrose Bierce)
  • diet soda, noun. The drink you buy at a convenience store to go with two large Milky Way bars.
  • disinformation, noun. Information I don’t like.
  • fibula, noun. A small lie.
  • fishing, noun. A Jerk on one end of a line waiting for a jerk on the other end.
  • hair dresser, noun. A magician who creates a hair style that can never be duplicated.
  • immediate, verb. To refrain from mediating.
  • Liberal, noun. A statesman who is enamored with creating new evils, as distinguished from the Conservative who wishes to keep the  existing evils. (via Ambrose Bierce)
  • M.E.D.I.A., noun. Most Efficient Deceiver in America.
  • Obsessive Objection Disorder, noun. tilting at windmills; finding imaginary enemies or complaints. 
  • oxymoron, noun. A person who is as dumb as an ox.
  • Playdoh, name. A famous Greek philosopher who invented a famous pliable, putty-like children’s toy.
  • politics, noun. ‘Poli’ a Latin word meaning ‘many’ and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures’. (Robin Williams)
  • ramshackle, noun. Chains for a male sheep.
  • sarchasm, noun. The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn’t get it.
  • scholars hip, noun. A large callus caused by sitting for extended time reading research.
  • sin, noun. A short word with a long sentence.
  • too kooky, noun. In debate, a retort charging an adversary or his argument with being too crazy to acknowledge (Latin, tu quoque).
  • Washingtonian gaffe, noun. Accidentally telling the truth.
[Most from anonymous sources]

Saying too much or too little, 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 if possible.)

“Preachers may be guilty of saying too much or too little. The Word is the basis but also the limit of the sermon.” -- Collin Hansen

“The Bible is not a commodity; the Bible is the word of God.” -- Peter Van Kleeck, Jr.

“If we do not know what the Bible is, we cannot know what the Bible says.” -- Jeff Riddle

“...bright young people are pushed into the PhD through a process of intense education, devoid of life experience; the product is contaminated with large numbers of educated fools, who have no practical wisdom.” -- Herb Swanson

“The Bible cannot be what it says it is if God did not providentially preserve it for us.” -- Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

“Believers’ church theology is not primarily an academic discipline, but rather an aspect of discipleship.” -- Based on comments by Malcolm Yarnell in The Formation of Christian Doctrine

“It is better to explain a single verse from a Psalm in the vernacular of the people, but to sing five whole Psalms in a foreign language that the people do not understand.” -- Balthasar Hübmaier

“All doctrines that are not based on God Himself are useless, forbidden, and should be uprooted.” -- Balthasar Hübmaier

“God’s glory shines in the ashes of his martyrs.” -- Thomas Watson

“Men murmur at God’s providences, because they distrust His promises.” -- Thomas Watson

“We must not stop living, even in a world where so much has, can, and will go wrong.” -- Greg Morse

“I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come in.” -- C. S. Lewis

“Light may seem at times to be an impertinent intruder, but it is always beneficial in the end.” -- J. Gresham Machen

“Should we judge the word by scholars or scholars by the word?”

Friday, February 18, 2022

Actual History, 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.

In other words, agrestic & theophoric

  • agrestic, adjective. Rural; rustic; unpolished; awkward.
  • antiphonal, adjective. Pertaining to antiphons or antiphony (sung in alternate parts or response.); responsive.
  • apologetics, noun. A systematic argumentation or discourse in defense of something; the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.
  • aridity, noun. The condition of being arid, extremely dry; also, the state of not being interesting or successful.
  • cautel, noun. (obsolete) Trick, trickery, ruse, stratagem.
  • crafternoon, noun. An afternoon spent making objects by hand, esp. practical or decorative items for use in the home; a social gathering or event of this type.
  • discrutator, noun. One given to extreme skepticism and makes petty and unnecessary objections; a searcher for objections.
  • feticide (US; or foeticide, UK), noun. The act of killing a fetus; destruction or abortion of a fetus.
  • gestic, adjective. Pertaining to bodily motions, especially in dancing.
  • ignominy, noun. Disgrace; dishonor; public contempt.
  • imprimatur, noun. A declaration authorizing publication of a book; an official license by the Roman Catholic Church to print an ecclesiastical or religious book; also, a person's acceptance or guarantee that something is of a good standard.
  • inchoate, adjective. Not yet completed or fully developed; rudimentary; just begun; incipient.
  • inscripturate, verb. To make into scripture, or add to existing scripture.
  • inscriptive, adjective. Relating to or constituting an inscription.
  • inveigh, verb. Speak or write about (something) with great hostility.
  • locavore, noun. A person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.
  • magisterium, noun. The teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church, especially as exercised by bishops or the Pope.
  • memory hole, noun. An imaginary place where inconvenient or unpleasant information is put and quickly forgotten. (verb) to purge embarrassing, inconvenient, or unpleasant information (transcripts, photos, documents, broadcasts, etc.).
  • papist, noun. (considered disparaging by some) A Roman Catholic.
  • papistical, adjective. (considered disparaging by some) Of, relating to, or associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • password, noun. A secret word or phrase that must be used to gain admission to something.
  • pistache, noun. A friendly spoof, parody, or imitation of another's work.
  • polyseme, noun. a word or phrase with different but related senses.
  • popinjay, noun. A vain or conceited person, especially one who dresses or behaves extravagantly.
  • scurryfunge, verb. To rush around cleaning when company is on their way over.
  • suppuration, noun. The formation of, conversion into, or process of discharging pus.
  • supputation, noun. (archaic) The act or process or an instance of calculating or reckoning.
  • theophoric, adjective. Derived from or bearing the name of a god.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Dresses are reasonable attire for Christian women

Dresses and skirts are reasonable attire for Christian women. Some Americans do not think so. Even some churches, Christians, and Christian women no longer think so. However, the EEOC thinks so, and now Wellpath healthcare services does too.

Malinda Babineaux, a nurse and member of the Apostolic Pentecostal Christian Church, wanted to be able to both work and live by her beliefs as well. Living out those beliefs includes wearing a scrub skirt (as opposed to scrub pants) while she is working. When Wellpath, an organization who hired Babineaux, found out her faith and practice, they denied her clothing request and took away the job they offered her.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a nurse who is a practicing Apostolic Pentecostal Christian was hired by Wellpath to work in the GEO Central Texas Correctional Facility in downtown San Antonio. Before reporting to work, the nurse told a Wellpath human resources employee that her religious beliefs require her to dress modestly and to wear a scrub skirt instead of scrub pants while at work. In response, Wellpath denied the request for her religion-based accommodation and rescinded the nurse’s job offer.
Philip Moss, a trial attorney for the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office, said, “Under federal law, when a workplace rule conflicts with an employee’s sincerely held religious practice, an employer must attempt to find a workable solution.” Apparently the EEOC felt that Wellpath made no such attempt, and took them to court. And won.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination against a person based on such things as religion, race, and sex are prohibited. Employers are required to offer reasonable accommodations to an individual’s “sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would pose an undue hardship,” the EEOC stressed.
It’s official, legal – and probably even biblical – skirts and dresses are reasonable attire for Christian women!

The terms of the Bible versions debate

Links to my posts about recategorizing or reclassifying the terms of the Bible versions debate

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Notes on Various and Sundry Baptist Groups

Man’s work is from sun to sun, but the Baptist researcher’s work is never done. I posted the lists of Baptist Groups in the USA and Holiness and Pentecostal Baptists in the USA on Tuesday. I have already found new information, information that I missed. Here are more comments, information, and links.

“Bad” Baptists. Some groups that show up intermittently in Baptist lists are actually “bad” Baptists – not in the sense of Baptist doctrine (well, maybe that too), but in the sense of not being what they claim to be. More particularly, some kind of swindle. Those of us who are actively trying to discover all the Baptist groups in the United States are susceptible to being fooled by groups that are organized for nefarious purposes rather than being legitimate Baptists. Hopefully, with all the information now available on the internet, we are less likely to be fooled or at least have more weapons at our disposal to ferret out the scammers. (Or, if not, maybe someone who was not fooled will report it to those of us who have been.) Here are two, below, of which to be aware.

The Colorado Reform Baptist Church, Inc. and the associated Reform Baptist Theological Seminary made it into the prestigious Encyclopedia of American Religions by J. Gordon Melton, as well as other lists. Our best information now indicates the church and seminary were “non-existent” tax evasion frauds. One web page reveals, “The ‘school’ was never accredited and never had any academic standing. He had it set up as a money-making venture and operated for about a decade, in the 1980s. It had no campus, no faculty, no library, just an address.” Another indicates “that Mr. Conklin [the organizer] ‘is an active participant in a widespread abuse of the revenue laws through the promotion of mail-order ‘churches’ based on findings of fact showing his connection to the Universal Life Church in Denver and various other ‘churches’.”

The Independent Baptist Churches of America is another possible sham church. I cannot assuredly say but the very basic website, beyond its doctrinal statement, mainly asks for membership fees – for a supposed school and, apparently, the church. Baptist churches normally do not charge membership fees. This body seems to have latched on to the name of a defunct Baptist denomination, the Independent Baptist Church of America.

If I remember correctly, I have never included the two above in my lists of Baptist bodies. Over the years, I have been a bit leery of the new General Association of Six-Principle Baptist Churches, Inc. (2.5b in the Baptist outline) – for the above reason, that they adopted the name of a Baptist body to which they were not related (either doctrinally or historically). Nevertheless, I have listed and continue to list this group, since they otherwise seem legitimate.

Extinct Baptists. According to Albert Wardin in The Twelve Tribes of Baptists in the USA: a Historical and Statistical Analysis, the Continental Baptist Churches association (4.2 in the Baptist outline) “ceased as an association in 2003.” Likely, many of the churches are still functioning, but the denominational body is defunct. This is a distinct group from Continental Baptist Missions, which was organized in 1942 as Hiawatha Land Independent Baptist Missions and is still in operation.

No Longer “Baptists”. One group, listed in the Holiness and Pentecostal Baptists in the USA outline, no longer uses “Baptist” in their name. The Evangelical Free Baptist Church (No. 1.4 in the Holiness outline) is now called the Evangelical Free Bible Convention. According to their website, “Evangelical Free Bible Convention was incorporated by the state of Illinois in Du Page County in 1978. The group was formed by churches that withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention, following a doctrinal dispute in 1952. It presently has 22 churches and about 2600 members in the USA.” Their belief in “the ongoing operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit” may suggest the doctrinal dispute with Southern Baptists. The convention headquarters is currently in Aurora, Illinois.

Left out BaptistsIt might be worth mentioning a few bodies that I left out of my list, since some folks may wonder why they are not there.

Organizations like Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI), Baptist Mid-Missions, Lott Carey Baptist Mission Society, and others seem to be independent mission boards, not exactly structured as an association, conference, convention, or fellowship in the way of most of the groups on my list. National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A. also seems to be a missionary organization, with most of the churches affiliated with other National Baptist Conventions. However, some bodies included in my list may not be much different from these organization. With some Baptist organizations, it can be hard to tell just where they fit in the grand scheme of things.

Additionally, I removed Liberty Baptist Fellowship, which was No. 23 in a previous outline. It appeared probably to be only a fellowship of Liberty University alumni. I decided both that it probably did not belong in the list in the first place, and that it might be defunct in the second place. Oddly enough, when regrouping to edit finish this post, I found that they have a website (which I somehow had missed before), and they are still in operation! The operate together as Liberty Church Network, whose website states, “The Liberty Church Network (LCN), formerly known as the Liberty Baptist Fellowship and the Liberty Church Planting Network, was formed in 1981 under the direction of our founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell. The purpose of our organization was to train new pastors and plant new churches in the United States. In the first three decades our organization planted 5,000+ US-based churches. This makes LCN one of the largest and oldest church planting networks in the country.” Should they go back on the list?

Man’s work is from sun to sun, but the Baptist researcher’s work is never done!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Baptist Groups in the USA, Framework, Explanations

Explanations and Information regarding Baptist Groups in the USA, February 2022 update

Introduction.

The broad divisions used in this outline descend from those created by Albert W. Wardin, Jr., and explained in his book Baptist Atlas.[i] He developed classifications specifically to make sense of Baptists in America – a difficult project to say the least! The categories take into account Baptist divisions based on theology, history, culture, ethnicity, and means – including developmental differences in the Northern and Southern United States, ethnic differences, the Calvinist/Arminian theological divide, and ideas concerning centralization, including the anti-missions controversy of the 19th century. A working knowledge of the history of Baptists in the United States will illuminate and simplify the way forward, helping the reader understand the classification of Baptist bodies in the United States.

Who are Baptists?

The question “who are Baptists” is broad and difficult. A cursory knowledge of the bodies listed in Baptist Groups in the United States will inform one of a wide range of disparate beliefs and practices. The thread that binds these groups together are a common heritage of history and theology, even where the fellowship of that heritage is now essentially broken. The purpose of this list is not to biblically define who the Baptists are, but rather to try to make sense of the loosely connected or disconnected groups of churches, associations, conferences, conventions, fellowships who define themselves as Baptists.

For this listing, the bodies included are historically connected Baptists who would likely espouse the following distinctives. [ii]

  • Believer’s baptism by immersion
  • Local church government, congregational and independent
  • Priesthood of believers
  • Religious Freedom
  • Soul Liberty
  • The Bible as the rule of faith and practice

Some groups with “Baptist” in their denominational designation are not included in Baptist Groups in the United States. Either (1) they are not historically connected to the main body of Baptists in the United States – for example, German Baptist Brethren – or (2) they have moved themselves outside the main body of Baptists, in doctrine, practice, and their own choices of fellowship. Some taxonomists include Baptist splinters – such as the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, the Holiness Baptist Association, and General Conference of the Evangelical Baptist Church – as Baptists. However, in these cases, usually neither the Baptists, nor these groups themselves, recognize them as Baptists in the traditional sense. For example, the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church is “Free Will Baptist” in origin. However, they look to other Pentecostal groups for like-minded fellowship rather than towards the Baptists. For this reason, I have created a separate List of Holiness and Pentecostal Baptists.

Explanation of the Framework.

I. Black Baptists. The thread that binds this group together is their African-American heritage. They otherwise exhibit a wide range of belief. The largest number of Black Baptists are in the South. During the existence of slavery, they were members of the same churches as Southern whites. Gaining freedom after the War Between the States, they organized their own churches and associations. They have for the most part operated separately and distinctly from the predominantly white organizations. This justifies a distinct grouping for Black Baptists.[iii]

II. General Baptists. The thread that binds this group together is either a heritage related to the English General Baptists (some Free Will Baptists), or the adoption of beliefs that are like the English General Baptists, and eventual separation from the Regular Baptists on account of those beliefs (e.g., General Association of General Baptists). These groups teach free will and falling from grace, hold open communion, or, at the least, do not break fellowship over those issues.

III. Primitivist and Patternist Baptists. The thread that binds this group together is the rejection of most or all church auxiliaries (mission boards, seminaries, Sunday schools, women’s societies, etc.) and/or having Primitive Baptist historical roots.[iv] Some of the more “progressive” among them have adopted some of the church auxiliaries. Soteriologically and theologically, Primitivist Baptists run the gamut from absolute predestinarian to mildly Calvinistic (holding general atonement in combination with total depravity and eternal security). These churches usually unite in following older worship patterns, including a cappella singing, extemporaneous preaching, and the practice of feet washing.

IV. Reformed and Sovereign Grace Baptists. This grouping represents a move in the latter half of the 20th century returning to the Calvinistic heritage of their 17th and 18th century Particular and Regular Baptist ancestors. They tend to adopt the 1646 or 1689 London Baptist Confessions of Faith, reject modern evangelistic techniques, and some may even feel a stronger bond with other Reformed churches than to “non-Reformed” Baptists (especially those who are dispensational, revivalist, and anti-Calvinism).

V. Regular Baptists (Northern-oriented). The thread that binds this group together is historical and cultural. These churches are descendants of the Particular Baptists from England, becoming known in the U.S. primarily as “Regular” Baptists. Through years of mergers and changes, most became moderately Calvinistic (holding general atonement in combination with total depravity and eternal security). The Baptists in the North – due to various backgrounds in origin, in addition to separation from the Baptists in the South over slavery and other regional issues, developed along different lines from the brethren in the Southern United States.

VI. Regular Baptists (Southern-oriented). The thread that binds this group together is historical and cultural. These churches are descendants of the Particular Baptists from England, becoming known in the U.S. primarily as “Regular” Baptists. Through years of mergers and changes, most became moderately Calvinistic (holding general atonement in combination with total depravity and eternal security). The Baptists in the South – due to various backgrounds in origin, in addition to separation from the Baptists in the North over slavery and other regional issues, developed along different lines from the brethren in the Northern United States.

VII. Ethnic Baptist Bodies. The thread that binds this group together is separation from the larger bodies of Baptists (primarily of English language and heritage) due to cultural and, especially, language differences. These associations, conferences, and conventions exist either distinctly from or within general conventions. Nevertheless, these groups often relate in some way to larger national bodies. Therefore, some may not be distinct groups of Baptists in the same way as those in the first six groupings. It is not always clear whether some of the bodies are autonomous or semi-autonomous. They are here divided into three categories: (1) those that partner with or through the American Baptist Churches; (2) those that partner with or through the Southern Baptist Convention; and (3) those who are autonomous or whose status in this regard is unknown to the author. Notably, two of the Baptist bodies in Group V, Converge and North American Baptist Conference, began as ethnic Baptists (Swedish and German, respectively) though they are no longer considered so, having assimilated into the broader culture of American Baptists.

The ethnic Baptist bodies in Group VII exist (at least initially) because they speak a different language from the main body of Baptists. The Black Baptists, however, are and have always been English-speaking churches. I do not list the Black Baptists with these linguistically diverse ethnic bodies. They exist distinctly mostly because of historical social and racial separation. Their Baptist origins can be traced (usually, initially) to either the General or Particular Baptist churches that came from the United Kingdom (since they came out of the predominantly white organizations).

Various notes and explanations.

Apples and oranges. It is hard to produce a valid comparison of different types of Baptist bodies. It is possible to categorize them in various ways. One outline does not cover all the ground or answer all questions. Bodies that stand in the same place in the outline often differ vastly in makeup. The Southern Baptist Convention is a distinct body made up of churches that support some or all of its programs. In contrast, the Foundations Baptist Fellowship is a fellowship of individuals who agree to the Statement of Faith and purposes of the FBFI. Others, however, may operate more like an autonomous mission board. There is a new “networking” model that may not correspond well with previous understandings of Baptist operations. Placing Baptist bodies at an equal level does not consistently offer comparing apples to apples, but often apples to oranges instead. Such, however, is the “nature” of the “Baptist beast” – independent churches with no higher governing authority will organize as they wish!

Each “equivalent” listing generally recognizes the highest level at which participating churches affiliate. Churches in groups such as American Baptist, National, Southern Baptist, etc. usually participate in local, regional, and/or state associations or conventions in addition to the general organization. In contrast, independent Landmark Missionary Baptist churches, for example, have no formal affiliation beyond the local church level.

Overlapping membership. Each listing in Baptist Groups in the United States does not represent a “clean break” with no overlap. Some of the groups tend to be exclusive, that is, members affiliate only with one distinct body. However, others are not. Quite a few Black Baptist churches affiliate with more than one of the National Conventions, and some dually-align with the ABCUSA or the SBC. A number of churches that identify as “Reformed Baptist” also participate in the SBC. Within the fundamentalist fellowships – many of whose membership is by individuals rather than churches – there can be much overlap. Preachers who participate in the Southwide Baptist Fellowship might also participate in the BBFI and/or the WBF. The new networking model likely creates new areas of overlap.

Difficulties. How to “name” a particular group presents its own difficulties. Obviously, many are straightforward. The name of the entity will be the name in the list – American Baptist Association, National Primitive Baptist Convention, New England Baptist Fellowship, Western Presbytery of the Council of Evangelical Christian-Baptists. However, other categorizations present the need to create a distinguishing name under which to classify similar bodies.

I use “Birdwood College Related Churches” to distinguish a group of Progressive Primitive Baptists from another group of Primitives who are progressive – because they started Birdwood College in Thomasville, Georgia in 1950.[v] The wording is outdated though, because the college officially severed relations with the Progressive Primitive Baptists several years ago, and is now Thomas College. The other body is the Eastern District Association of Primitive Baptists. They no longer correspond with any other Primitive Baptist associations, no longer hold limited atonement, and have adopted other more progressive stances (such as Sunday school and other auxiliaries). However, they still identify themselves Primitive Baptists. They are progressive. Therefore, they are included as “Progressive Primitive Baptists.” “Progressive Old Line” is another problematic naming choice. It describes a certain faction of the Old Line Primitive Baptists who have adopted some form of mission work and have Bible study somewhat like Sunday school. They are not progressive to the degree of the “Progressive Primitive Baptists,” – and do not consider themselves progressive. However, other Old Line Primitive Baptists have disfellowshipped them because they consider them progressive.

Classifying the “United Baptists” exposes another difficulty. The name developed out of the union of Regular and Separate Baptist Associations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They adopted the name “United” to express their unity. Therefore, many Baptists who are now Missionary Baptists, Southern Baptists, and even Primitive Baptists may have once called themselves United Baptists. For this reason also, those churches and associations that still use the name “United Baptist” represent a wide variety of belief and practice. Because of the variety, I have placed them in three different categorizations, and created a “distinguishing” name for each – United Baptists, Landmarkist; National Association of United Baptists and Related Associations; and United Baptist, Regular. Landmarkist United Baptists are closely allied with the Old Time Missionary Baptists. The National Association of United Baptists and related associations is an assortment of similar associations. Some participate in the National Association and some do not. However, those who do not correspond with those who do. Open communion is practiced in these churches, and some teach falling from grace. Those who do not are willing to fellowship with those who do. Regular United Baptists maintain a primitivist approach, rejecting modern church auxiliary societies. These three sub-groups of United Baptists reflect differences in benevolences (e.g. Sunday school), historical affiliations (e.g. Landmark), and worship styles (e.g. a cappella vs. musical instruments).

Finally, “Regular Baptist,” though not fraught with as many problems, is nevertheless a name that may crop up over a wide range of Baptists that are quite different. In certain areas of the country, Primitive Baptist churches prefer the name Regular Baptist. The GARBC, very different from Primitive Baptists, also use the name. Many missionary Baptist associations in the South, though not prominently displayed on their church names or signs, often have the terminology in their Constitutions, such as “membership is composed of Regular Baptist Churches.”

Trends. A trend, perhaps found most among Conservative Evangelicals, is the move toward generic operational names that remove the word “Baptist.”  The Baptist General Conference is now Converge, American Baptists of the West becomes Growing Healthy Churches, American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest is Transformation Ministries, and the Conservative Baptist Association (which had already removed Conservative and Baptist to become CB America) has become the Venture Church Network. Less pronounced, but moving in the same direction, in 2017 the board of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International voted to change their name to Foundations Baptist Fellowship International (removing Fundamental). While retaining their official and legal name, in 2012 messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention approved the use of “Great Commission Baptists” as an alternative name (stressing purpose over geography).[vi]

Words like “network” and “networking” are finding favor over words like association and convention – even though a network is an association of individuals or entities having a common interest, formed to provide mutual assistance, etc. In the trendy world of name changes, it is not always clear when “network” is simply a replacement name for association or convention, and when it is a new concept of operation. Perhaps when it most diverges from the old way of operation, networking may be seen as operating more horizontally that vertically.

Information on the web. In the online version of Baptist Groups in the United States, posted at Seeking the Old Paths, I am including links. Preferably, the link is to the official web site of the Baptist body listed. In lieu of that, I am posting links to other sites that give some kind of information about the groups. I have learned that many groups that do not have any official website (and even some who do) have some kind of presence on Facebook. When that is the only source available, I include that link. Unfortunately, many of the smaller bodies have no web presence. Books about the Baptist denomination overlook them. In addition, it is also frustrating that many of the websites created do not remain functional sources of information.

Changes. I have made some changes from previous iterations of Baptist Groups in the United States. Most are minor. Of course, Baptist bodies that are known to be extinct are removed. However, it is often uncertain whether a Baptist is, in fact, extinct. A prime example of the need for caution can be seen in The Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Volumes I-IV, from 1958-1982, listing a number of Baptist associations as extinct that still exist in 2022! New Baptist bodies are added. Some bodies have changed their names. I have changed the ordering of the main divisions to alphabetical – except for the “Ethnic Bodies.” The listing remains last because it is the least efficient. It is clearly incomplete and probably somewhat inaccurate by my not having sufficient information on and understanding of these bodies, and their relationships (or lack thereof) to conventions such as ABCUSA and SBC. I have changed the numbering system, partly for my own convenience – but hopefully helpful to others. Rather than sequential numbers from beginning to end (e.g. 1 through 75), each main division is renumbered. Division I (Black Baptists) is 1.1 through 1.15. Division II (General Baptists) is 2.1 through 2.8, and so on.

Conclusion.

Such lists are beneficial, yet soon outdated. It is challenging to keep up with the changes that take place among Baptists. Groups merge, split, and expire. They may change practice or theology and realign in a new direction. In 1963 Richard L. Greaves, addressing primarily a British readership, wrote, “The bewildering disarray which the flourishing Baptists of the United States manifest is as confusing to the average American as it is to the on-looking Englishman.” (“The Baptist Scene Today in the U.S.A.,” The Baptist Quarterly, Volume 20, No. 4, October 1963, pp. 170-175). It is no less bewildering nearly 60 years later, both to the outsider looking in and the insider looking around.

I highly recommend that anyone interested in this subject also read Albert W. Wardin’s books, Baptist Atlas, Baptists around the World, and The Twelve Tribes of Baptists in the USA: a Historical and Statistical Analysis. The details supplied there will exponentially increase one’s knowledge of the subject of Baptist taxonomy, or classification.

Endnotes.


[i] The earliest publication of Wardin’s work may be found in “A Baptist Geography of the United States,” Search Volume 7, No. 2 (Winter 1977), pp. 46-66; and “A Classification of Baptist Bodies in the United States,” Search Volume 7, No. 4 (Summer 1977), pp. 25-46. Over a period of some 30 years, Wardin refined his categorizations from four main groups and five sub-groupings, to twelve main “tribes” of Baptists in the USA.
[ii] In stating this, however, it is not clear that all continue to maintain even this limited list of distinctives.
[iii] However, another way of grouping the Black Baptists would order the National Baptist bodies with the Southern-oriented Conservative Evangelical (VI.A), the Black Free Will Baptists with the General Baptists (II.A), the Black Primitive Baptists with the Primitivist Baptists (III.A), and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship with the Northern-oriented Separatist Fundamentalist (V.C).
[iv] Primitivism is broad descriptor that transcends different associations or fellowships. It is in that sense comparable to words like fundamentalism, landmarkism, etc. The “primitive” idea is in its meaning as “original,” the strain of Baptist that best represents what Baptists or biblical Christians originally were – the primitive or original Baptists. The desire of primitivism is to recreate and live New Testament Christianity, not just in theology but also in practice. Martin Marty calls it “the dream of restoration of a purer order” (though most primitivist Baptists likely believe they have it preserved without need of restoration). Patternism stresses following the patterns or practices observed in the early New Testament churches.
[v] In this context, the word “progressive” refers things like using musical instruments, Bible studies, youth camps, and other auxiliary organizations that are rejected by other Primitive Baptists.
[vi] By a vote of 53 percent for to 46 percent against. Marshall Blalock, a Baptist pastor who served on the name change task force, wrote that they recommended and approved it “for the sake of mission, to break down barriers, and to describe our purpose.” The SBC’s North American Mission Board appears to operate under the name “Send Network.”