Truth Warrior

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 6)

His Atonement and Redemption

Jesus’ ultimate mission was not only to make atonement for sins, He also came to redeem, and therefore save fallen man from his sin. His death, burial, and resurection gives believer’s power over Satan, sin, and self. What is commonly refered to as His atonement makes it possible for sinners to have a personal relationship with the living God. Jesus accomplished this on the cross of Calvary. He offered Himself up as a perfect once-and-for-all sacrifice to God the Father on our behalf and for His benefit and pleasure. His death was no accident, it was:

Voluntary, by His own free will (Jn. 6:51;10:14-18).

Predetermined, set to happen, prophesied, and predicted in the Old Testament and by Jesus Himself (Is.53; Jn.10:17).

Sacrificial, giving up of Himself (Jn.13:37).

Expiatory, He made full amends for the wrong doing and guilt of those sinners who trust in Him alone (Jn.316-18,36; Heb.9:22; Heb.10).

Propitiatory, He appeased God’s full wrath for everyone who believes (Rom3:25; 1Jn.2:2;4:10).

Redemptive, He paid-off the price to purchase us from the slave-market of sin (Rom.3:24; Eph.1:7), and

Substitutionary He suffered, in our place, God’s wrath that we justly deserve(Is.53:6).

This atonement is universal in its appeal, but practical only to those who receive it by faith. It is by grace through faith in Christ alone, that His accomplishments merit eternal life and can make a difference in ones life (Eph.2:8-10). This is Salvation (or being “born again”)! We cannot do any good thing to get this atonement. We simply have to receive it from Him as a gift. Like a beggar with open hands with nothing to offer. This is apart from any religious ceremony, sacrament or creed.

Do you know this Jesus who died for you?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 5)

Jesus Christ is God. (Jn.1:1, 14)

He is the second Person of the Triune Godhead; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt.3:16-17).

He is none other than the One and only true living God (Col.2:9).

He was always God the Son, and will always be God the Son (Is. 9:6; Matt.3:17).

He had no beginning and will have no end (Jn. 1:1-3).

He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last (Rev. 22:13).

Jesus Christ is the Theanthropos (Greek; Theos, meaning God; Anthropos, meaning man). This literally means the God-man (cf. 1Tim. 2:4-6). He is fully God, and when He was born upon this earth about 2,000 years ago, He became, at the same time, perfect man (Is. 7:14; Gal.3:20). These two natures were united in one person without forming a third nature (Heb. 1:3). This is what theologians call the hypostatic-union.

He was born of a virgin. His birth was basically the same as any other birth. However, His conception was not by any means ordinary (see Is.7:17 cf. Matt. 1:23). Mary, His mother, was a virgin (Latin -“Virgo intacta,” not just a young maiden as those who deny miracles claim). Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of her first son, Jesus (Matt.1:24-25).

The deity of Jesus Christ is a fundamental of the faith and is essential to salvation, if Christ is not God He is powerless to save. To deny this is to deny the Lord of His divine person, His divine purpose, His divine passion, and His divine glory (Matt.10:32-34). Because Jesus is God, we can have confidence in Him alone to save our retched souls from hell. Do you know the God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 4)

The Creator is the Triune God.

God coexists in three distinct yet inseparable Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (1Pet. 1:2; John 20:28; Mark 2:1-12; Acts 5: 3-4; John 3:5-8). This One, Triune God, is infinite and eternal (Psalm 90:2). He is unchangeable or immutable (James 1:17) in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and love (Heb. 6:16-19). God is the Sovereign Creator of the universe, things visible and invisible (i.e. things seen and unseen). He accomplished this work from nothing (ex’nihilo Lat. cf. Gen. 1; and Heb.11:3) except by His spoken Word only.

He exists outside of time and yet He is in perfect control of time. He is eternal, infinite, and immutable in His Being, and in all that belongs to His intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and will (which includes His power, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and love). Among His holy attributes are omnipotence (He is all powerful), omniscience (He is all knowing), and omnipresence (He is everywhere present at once, though separate from the world and the things in it).

He is coequal. For example it is proper and right to speak of the deity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

He is personal. He did not leave after He created the universe.

One of the most amazing attributes of this personal, holy, all powerful, Triune God is that He loves you and me.

Do you know God? Are you getting to know Him better through His Word the Bible and prayer?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 3)

The Bible and the Bible alone is God’s Word.

The Bible is eternal (it stands forever Is. 40:8; 1Pet. 1:24-25).

It is inerrant or infallible in it's original autographs (there are no mistakes in it 2Sam. 22:31; Ps. 18:30; Ps. 19:7; Ps. 12:6; Prov. 30:5).

It is plenarily (i.e. all, or every portion of the Bible) and verbally (i.e. the Holy Spirit led in the choice of each word) inspired (i.e. lit. breathed out from God 2Tim. 3:16-17).

As such it is the final authority of God to man (Rev. 22:18-20).

The Bible alone, and in its entirety, is the Word of God. This applies to all 66 canonical (recognized) Books from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, and every matter of which the Bible addresses (2Tim. 3:16-17; 2Pet. 1:19-21; Is. 40:8; Prov. 30:5; Jer. 30:2; Matt. 5:18; 1Pet. 1:24-25).

God gave us His Word to reveal Himself and His love to us and that is why there are so many warnings in the Bible not to trifle with its sacred contents.

Parts of the Bible do not “become” God’s Word selectively as one reads and studies them; the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible does not only contain God’s Word, it is His Word through and through.

The Bible is the supreme truth, over-ruling human reason, tradition, experience, and knowledge. All other writings and experiences should be evaluated as they line up with Bible. Mankind has no “inner light” nor anything else within... that will add to, or take away from what has been revealed in Scripture already. There is no authority given to any church, clergy leader, man or woman that goes beyond, above, or even equal to the authority of the Bible. This not only includes other books and writings, but also so-called visions, dreams, tongues, and what one might think is a direct (spiritual) revelation, (eg. “God told me such and such.” (cf. Rev. 22:18- 19).

The doctrine known as Sola Scriptura, (Scriptures alone), is a fundamental truth which many have defended and died for. It is a doctrine that has been under attack since Genesis 3, and today the DaVinci Code seeks to undermine its riches. What about you, is your confidence in God's Holy Book alone apart from other man made inventions, traditions, and ideas?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 2)

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares...
(Jude 1-4a)

The Major Issues

Listed below are five examples of the fundamentals of “the faith”. These were worth defending and contending for in Jude’s day, in the Dark Ages of the rise of Romanism, during the Reformation period, in the 1900’s, and still are today until the end of the age. Again, this is not about the differences that exist between Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and other denominations. These are the fundamentals of “the faith!” They stand over and above any denominational distinctions.


The Bible and the Bible alone is God’s Word.

The Creator is the Triune God.

The Lord Jesus Christ is God.

Jesus’ ultimate mission was to make atonement for fallen man.

Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven corporally, (i.e. physical or bodily).

Jesus’ return is imminent and will be physical.

I will begin to unpack these one by one on my next few posts.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 1)

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 3)

Jude exhorted believers to earnestly contend for “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” “The faith” here, means the embodiment of doctrine taught by the apostles. Some have called this body of doctrine “the fundamentals of the faith.”

Historical Background

In the 1800’s, most “protestant” churches in the USA adhered to the teachings of the Bible. Then, near the turn of the century, “modern thought” began to creep into the universities, public schools, seminaries, and churches. This modern thought may be referred to as “Modernism”. It was strongly influenced by the theory of evolution promoted by T.H. Huxley and Charles Darwin.

Also around that time religious leaders such as Julius WellHausen, Herman Gunkel, and Rudolf Bultmann pioneered and developed a "Form-Critical Method" of biblical studies, or what is also known as “higher criticism”. Form criticism is really an evolutionary reshuffling of Scripture. As this line of thought maturated in seminaries and churches, material from the Bible was accepted or rejected based on its ability to be comprehended “scientifically”. Accordingly, the virgin birth, deity of Jesus, His substitutionary blood atonement for sin, His resurrection, ascension, and His imminent and physical return were also questioned or simply denied. Modernism (then and now), denies the complete and divine authorship, and historical content of the Scriptures and the authority they possess.

Contrarily, “Fundamentalism” is a term used to describe the system of thought embodying the concepts of the fundamentals of “the faith.” These fundamentals are not about denominational distinctions. The Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy, at its peak in the 1900’s, crossed virtually all denominational lines. Heated battles over the fundamentals of the faith raged within all of Christendom. Position, property and prominence were threatened in these battles. Many Fundamentalists lost their jobs, pensions, homes and church buildings because of their convictions. They separated sadly, yet willingly from their drifting churches and united with other fundamentalists. These “contenders for the faith” were sometimes called “Fighting Fundamentalists,” and they were not always ashamed of that label.

Men such as J. G. Machen, B. B. Warfield, R. A. Torrey, C. I. Scofield, Thomas Spurgeon (the son of C.H. Spurgeon), Robert T. Ketcham, Bob Jones, G. Campbell Morgan, W. B. Riley, and others helped to defend Fundamental thought and scholarship, demonstrating that it is a reasonable approach to life itself.

I will hurry through this discussion by delineating The Major Issues stating in the clearest terms what the fundamentals of the faith are, what they are not, and what we can do to proclaim them in the light of Scripture.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Biblical Distinctives of Baptists in Review

Biblical Authority
The Bible is the final authority in all matters of which it speaks, because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists should accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Not even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scripture's inherent authority.

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21

Practical application: I will to the best of my finite understanding live by the Book. His Book, the Holy Bible.

Autonomy of the Local Church
The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church's beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in an associational tie, but a Baptist church should not be a "member" of any other body.

Scripture: Colossians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19, 23

Practical application: I will do my best to seek God’s direction though prayer and His Word, to be involved as an active member of a local body of believers, to contribute within my strengths and limitations, to promoting the local church which God has designed.

Priesthood of the Believer
A "priest" is "one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God." Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. We all have equal access to God--whether we are a preacher or not.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 5:9, 10

Practical application: I am a priest of God; I will do my best to establish a consistent systematic study of God's Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God--whether we are a preacher or not.

Two Ordinances
Local Baptist churches hold to two ordinances: baptism and communion.

(1) Baptism by immersion in water identifies the individual believer with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is a picture of what took place in the believer’s heart; being dead to sin and alive to Christ having trusted in Him for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Immersion (baptism) is an outward public declaration of what has already occurred in one’s heart when that one was born again (that one is baptized into Christ’s body by the Holy Spirit). It is the also the “initiation” into the local church.

(2) The Lord's Supper or communion is symbolic it is a picture of what Jesus did. Communion is a memorial commemorating Christ’s death for our sins and a promise that He will return to this present earth. “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” (Luke 22: 16-18) “…ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” (1Cor.11:26)

Scripture: Matthew 28:19, 20; Luke 22; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32

Practical application: Therefore, I will do my best to promote being identified with Christ’s body; the church. I will encourage believers to get baptized, thereby making it publicly known that they too are in Christ. I will observe the ordinance of communion with the local church as a solemn memorial of what Jesus Christ has done for me and reflect on His promise to return one day.

Individual Soul Liberty
Every individual, whether saved or unsaved, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. (Baptists have always opposed religious persecution.) However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself.

Scripture: Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9

Practical application: I will accept others in the dignity of being created in the image of God and do my best to contend for their liberty as well as mine. But I will also through persuasion of word and deed actively proclaim the gospel that others may receive true liberty in Christ (1Cor. 15:1-8).

Saved, Baptized Church Membership
Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer's baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, it unifies the members, gives us a sense of family, and brings us into full responsibility to one another in the bond of peace.

Scripture: Acts 2:41-47; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 4:3

Practical application: I will do my best to keep the unity of my local church family and carry out my responsibilities to the best of my abilities as governed by the Holy Spirit and the Word which He authored, the Holy Bible.

Two Offices
The Bible mandates only two offices in the church--pastor and deacon. The three terms--"pastor," "elder," and "bishop," or "overseer"--all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the local church.

Scripture: 1Timothy 3:1-13; Acts 20:17-38; Philippians 1:1

Practical application: I will do my best to demonstrate the utmost respect for and support those ordained of God; the pastor/s of my church and help him/them in any way that I am fit within the scope of my strengths and limitations. Further, I will demonstrate the utmost respect for the those ordained of God who serve the church and pastor/s in the diakonia. I will, also do my best to affirm these two offices as altogether biblical, and contend that they are NOT an invention of Romanism.

Separation of Church and State
God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government's purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church's purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other. There should not be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.

Scripture: Matthew 22:15-22; Acts 15:17-29

Practical application: I will pray and do my best to influence those who God ordained to govern our land to do so in righteousness. I will further do my best to obey the laws of the land, and still exercise my influence to preserve the separation of church and state.

The biblical distinctives of Baptists are biblical and practical. Baptists are people of the Book. The aim of this study was to encourage Baptists to be Baptists genuinely and not just by name by providing greater clarification of the biblical distinctives of Baptists. This was a study of who we are, what we believe, why we believe it, and how to live as biblical Baptists.

If you are not a Baptist you should now, at least, have seen what Baptists really believe and why Baptists really believe it.

A word from the G A R B C
What sets one church apart from all the others? We have seen that it is the church's distinctive beliefs that set it apart from all others and that Baptists, in general, hold to some convictions that make them different from all other groups. Regular Baptist churches will continue to hold to the Baptist distinctives because these distinctives are historically Biblical. They are relevant to the issues facing contemporary society and the church. So when "shopping" for a church, look for the name "Baptist" and then take a closer look to make sure that church is upholding the Biblical Baptist distinctives.

A personal word from the Earnest Contender
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as a perfect church.” I both agree and disagree with this saying. I agree with this saying because on earth there is no perfect church. Churches are organizations made up of sinners, some more than others. Baptist churches are no exception. In Christ we all have differences and partialities, ideas and convictions, presuppositions and idealistic leanings. My church is not perfect (they let me become a member), the association of churches which we fellowship with (the GARBC) are not perfect either. It seems many separate more over policy, principles, and personal preferences. There are legitimate reasons for one to leave a church, but our desire should be to keep the peace in the bond of love, biblical love.

This brings us to why I disagree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as a perfect church.” Jesus shed His blood… for the church (Eph.5:25) in God’s eyes the church is perfect because he views it as an organism of which He purchased with His own blood. Who will say that Christ’s body (the church) is not perfect?

My point is this; we all have differences, this should give us strength in the Lord as we bring those differences to the table of fellowship in the unity of Christ. How? We are able to establish, sharpen, and define our convictions, test our doctrine and keep our focus on our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Baptists since the Reformation

In England
Both the General (Arminian) Baptists and the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists drifted into doctinal errors. The General Baptists drifted into the error of unitaianism, the teaching that God is absolute in one person, rejecting the Trinitarian view of Three Persons in One Godhead. In the meantime, the Particular Baptists drifted into the error of hyper-Calvinism, over-emphasizing divine election to the neglect of evangelism, and antinomianism, supposed freedom from any moral law. England sliped into moral decline in the first half of the 1700’s and the Baptists went right down with her. But thank God revival was sparked through the minstries of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and others. This revival became known as the Second Reformation of England. This revival lasted well into the 1800’s! The results were church growth and missionary effort.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an outstanding Baptist preacher, and William Carey, a leader in Baptist missions were two promenent figures of this peiod in England.

It is reported that during an appeal to a church to raise money to reach the heathen a Dr. Ryland shouted at Carey to “Sit down young man; when the Lord gets ready to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine!” Carey went right on in his zeal for the Lord and wrote a little pamphlet titled, “An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen” and he preached his famous sermon, “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great Things for God.” He went on to become known as the Father of Modern Missions.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was saved in 1850, and was called to the New Park Street Church in Southwark, London. Under his diligent service to the Lord the congregation grew and relocated several times and finally became the 6,ooo seat Metropolitan Tabernacle, built in1861. Spurgeon established a pastors’ college, an orphanage, and wrote volumes. He died in 1892 and is still known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

In the U.S.A.
Religious liberty was being contested for. It was 1636, when a man was banished from Massachusetts. This man, Roger Williams with God’s help, was then sucsessful at establishing the colony of Rhode Island in 1639, he is also responsible for founding the first Baptist church in America at that time. Rhode Island was the first colony to grant full religious freedom. William’s biblical concept of separation of church and state was ultimately adopted by congress and the United States of America was the first western civilization to guarantee complete religious liberty on a national level.

Missionary Endevors

William Carey of England and Adoniram Judson of the United States were both Baptists and pioneers in the modern missionary movement. Many conventions, associations, and societies were formed for the purpose of sending missionaries to the field at home and abroad. Baptist churches to this present time are still calling and sending missionaries out in the fulfillment of the Great Commision of our Lord.

Before the Great Awakening, there were eight Baptist churches in Masschusetts; but between 1740 and 1775, 27 more were started. By 1787 there were 151 Baptist churches in all of New England. The American Revolution interrupted church growth, but shortly afterward growth resumed and religious liberty was granted by all of the states. As the pioneers forged westward Baptist did too. Often Baptist preachers called itenerate preachers would make a circuit shepherding several churches.

Individual Baptist churches cooperated in specific projects like missions and education the mid 1800’s. Finally, there was the formation of the General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions. It was agreed, at the start, that a missionary canidate’s position on slavery would not be a factor in his or her aceptance. Then they decided that they would not accept any missionary who owned slaves. Shotly after this, in May of 1845, 310 deligates from southern churches decided to withdraw from the General Convention and formed the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The SBC, however, was more than a missionary society, it was an organization of cooperative churches. This marked the first organizational division of Baptist churches in America.

After the withdraw of the SBC, the General Convention Changed its name to the American Baptist Missionary Union. There was still no organization of Baptist churches in the North until 1907, when the Northern Baptist Convention (NBC) was formed. Later they changed the name to American Baptist Convention, and today it is known as the American Baptist Church in the U.S.A.

In the late 1800s religious liberalism began to make it’s inroads into every protestant church in America through European literary criticism. Baptist churches were not left unscathed by this “modern” way of “thinking”. It became evident that there were some things more precious to many Baptists than loyalty to their distinctives (see this) the fudamentals of the faith! The 1900s in the U.S.A. started with a raging conflict between these “modernests” and “fundamentalists”. In the NBC some fundamentalists tried to oust the liberals. They were faced with defeat again and again.

Feeling the need to stand for historical Christianity the Baptist Bible Union (BBU) was formed in 1923.The BBU reached its summit in 1926 and then declined. Seeing the failure of the BBU, some fundamentalists hoped to “purge” the liberals from within the NBC. Others decided to obey the Scriptures and “separate” from the apostassy. In 1932 at the Belden Avenue Baptist Church in Chicago, 32 men met from eight states and organized the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). One of the leading figures in this movement was Robert T. Ketcham.Another group known as the Conservative Baptist Assocition pulled out of the NBC in 1947.

With a growing dissatifaction among its strong fundamentalists during the 1950s and 1960s, certain members desired that the CBA represent a more Baptistic and separatist viewpoint, as well as be clearly premillennial and pretribulational in its eschatology. Formal organization was concluded June 10, 1965 at Eagledale Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, with 27 churches participating. A Constitution and a Confession of Faith were adopted, and the New Testament Association of Independent Baptist Churches (NTAIBC) began as a national fellowship of fundamental independent Baptist churches. The leader in the movement was Richard V. Clearwaters, a pastor for 42 years in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and founder of the Central Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Short Time Away

I am taking my wife only (i.e. no kids, no dog, no phone, no computer) for a short time away in the hills of Ohio. We'll be back soon to finish Baptist History then I will put a bow on the Biblical Distinctives of Baptist and move on to other biblical thoughts and ideas. Are you interested in what the Earnest Contenders view or approach to something is? As we take a short time away go ahead and leave your questions, concerns and or comments.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Baptists and the Reformation

As the Protestant Reformers separated from the Roman Catholic Church they usually took with them some of her practices and doctrine with them. Two of the practices that the Protestants maintained were infant baptism and a state-church policy, putting them at strong conflict with the Anabaptists. Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin were antagonistic toward Anabaptists. In some cases Reformers would even prescribe death to those who persisted in the “Anabaptist heresy.”*

John Smyth was an early Baptist minister of England, and a defender of the principle of religious liberty. Many historians consider John Smyth as a founder of the modern Baptists.

Smyth was ordained as an Anglican priest in England. Soon after his ordination, he broke with the Church of England and became a Separatist. In 1609, Smyth came to a belief in believer's baptism and opposed to infant baptism. Smyth baptized himself and his followers. It is true that he later rejected this baptism and sought baptism from the Mennonites, but this brought about a separation between Smyth and a group of Baptists led by Thomas Helwys a well to do layman. The churches that descended from Smyth and Helwys were of the General Baptist persuasion.

Let me back up a bit. Baptists were first identified by the name General Baptists in 17th century England. They were called General Baptists because they believed in a general atonement meaning they taught that the death of Christ made salvation possible for any persons who voluntarily exercises faith in Christ. In my estimation this is biblical, sound, and true. However, these churches were also Arminian in tendency and held the possibility of falling away from grace. In my estimation this is not biblical, it is unsound, and false. The earliest known church of this type was founded about 1609 in the Netherlands. Early leaders of the movement were those afore mentioned, namely Thomas Helwys and John Smyth (circa 1560-1612). Smyth and Helwys gathered a band of believers in the Midlands, but migrated to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 1607. In 1611, after Smyth left to join the Mennonite, Helwys led a small group back to England and established in Spitalfield what appears to have been the first General Baptist church on English soil. Smyth and Helwys were also ardent defenders of religious liberty for all men.

General Baptists slowly spread through England and into America, but never seemed to command as vital an existence as the Particular (or Calvinistic) Baptists. The English General Baptists declined due to several factors. Early Quaker converts were drawn from the General Baptists, and many other churches moved into Unitarianism. Most surviving Arminian elements would eventually be absorbed into the Baptist Union of Great Britain, though a few remain semi-autonomous as the Old Baptist Union.

Baptist history helps us to grow and mature in our convictions. It facilitates learning from our past mistakes so we may correct them, and strengthens us in our veracity so that we may become more authentic as Christians. Though there are incidents in our history that may make us blush, Baptist history is rich, and full of events that have benefited all people. To God be the glory!

* See Anderson and Gower, Biblical Distinctives of Baptists (Adult Teacher), p.81

Next post: Baptists since the Reformation

Monday, May 01, 2006

Baptists Before the Reformation (part 2)

Mark 13:31 says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away."

The four theories of Baptist origins that were presented in the last post are:

A. Apostolic succession
B. Anabaptist kinship
C. Possible baptistic congregations within the Roman Catholic church
D. English Separatist decent

All four all four have some strengths and weaknesses yet all four are open for debate. I will echo E. T. Hiscox words “The greater part had never been connected with Roman hierarchy, while many had, separated themselves from the false, that they might enjoy the true Church of Christ.

The important element is not succession but possession."*

Keneth H. Good writes, “E.T. Hiscox states that the claim of an unbroken, visible succession going back to the apostles is ‘groundless, and doctrinally useless.’ The marks of a genuine Baptist church are to be found 'not in succession, but in possession.'**

“Possession of what?” one may logically ask. The possession and practice of the apostolic truth and teaching found in the New Testament are the marks of a biblical Baptist church.

We have studied these truths in the acrostic BAPTISTS:

Biblical Authority
Autonomy of the Local Church
Priesthood of All Believers
Two Ordinances: Baptism and Communion
Individual Soul Liberty
Saved Church Membership
Two Offices: Pastor and Deacon
Separation of the Church and State

While they do not cover all truth found in the completed Revelation of God they serve well to articulate the substance of biblical Baptists.
Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (Mark 13:31)

Next post: Baptists and the Reformation
*Principles and Practicises For Baptist Churches, by E.T. Hiscox (P.497) Kregel
**God's Blueprint for a Church, by Kenneth H. Good (p.122) RBP


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