“Andrew Fuller the Reader” Conference – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (August 27-28, 2007)

February 28, 2007

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815)

The first conference sponsored by the Andrew Fuller Works Project is fast approaching! The intinerary has been posted over on the official blog of the Andrew Fuller Centre for Reformed Evangelicalism, The Elephant of Kettering. It will be a fantastic conference for those interested in Fuller, Calvinistic Baptists, Baptist History or Church History in general. See the itinerary post here for the line up of speakers and topics.

 If you have any questions regarding this conference please feel free to e-mail me at allen.mickle.jr@gmail.com. As Dr. Haykin’s assistant I will be involved in the planning of the conference. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

William R. Rice Lectures at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

February 28, 2007

John C. Whitcomb

Each spring my alma mater, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, hosts the William R. Rice Lecture Series, named in honor of the Seminary’s founder and long-time pastor (1949-1989) of Inter-City Baptist Church. This year’s speaker will be Dr. John C. Whitcomb, who will speak on “Recent Trends in Creationism.” He has taught Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years, and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. Dr. Whitcomb taught at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana, from 1951-1990, and gained recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood, co-authored with the late Dr. Henry Morris. This book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern biblical creationism movement. His main teaching emphases have included biblical creationism, Old Testament exposition, dispensational theology, premillennial eschatology, and presuppositional apologetics.

The 2007 William R. Rice Lecture Series will be held on Thursday, March 15. The lectures will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 12:00 p.m., with a luncheon following. Alumni, former students, area pastors, and prospective students are all invited to attend. There is no cost to attend the lectures, but reservations are required. Please contact the seminary by phone at (313) 381-0111 or by email at alumni@dbts.edu.

Baptist Distinctives – Individual Soul Liberty

February 27, 2007


Individual Soul Liberty


One of the outstanding principles and doctrines of Baptists through the centuries has been what we call individual soul liberty. By this phrase is meant the right so far as any human intervention is concerned, of every soul to approach God and interpret God for himself. It does not mean that the soul is sovereign above all other souls. If an individual makes a mistake in the exercise of his soul’s sovereignty in his approach to or interpretation of God, then he must settle with God on that score; but no other human, or combination of humans, anywhere on the face of the earth can coerce him to approach any other way or to interpret God in any other fashion than he chooses for himself. Romans 14:5­–12 is the key passage which instructs us on our individual liberty to interpret the Word of God. Also, Joshua 24:15 teaches that we have the responsibility, right, and privilege to choose to follow God or not. Acts 17:11 teaches us about the example of the Bereans who constantly on their own searched the Scriptures to determine what was correct doctrine. 

Does believing in individual soul liberty mean that we can be opposed to the historic cardinal doctrines of the faith if we so choose to read it that way?  

Baptists have always been creedal people. We have been people that have come together around a common doctrinal commitment. These doctrinal statements have stood the test of time, like the First and Second London Baptist Confession, the Philadelphia Baptist Confession, and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith. These doctrinal statements were the central point of convergence for these churches. Their people served in churches that were committed to these teachings. Creeds are a very important part of the church of Jesus Christ. It helps to develop a systematic understanding of doctrinal teachings which we can rally around. Even our church, has a doctrinal statement which in itself is like a creed. 

We can have the freedom to interpret the Word for ourselves and yet still hold to a central confession of faith. The key here is, if one chooses based on their soul liberty to reject that confession, they have the freedom to do so and can choose to fellowship with a church that better reflects their doctrinal stands.

“Listening to the Past – Lessons from Andrew Fuller” 10

February 25, 2007

fuller.jpgThis next selection comes from a tract titled “The Mystery of Providence, Especially in Respect of God’s Dealings with Different Parts of the World in Different Ages.” It can be found in the Works, III: 807.

“One great cause of the mercy bestowed on the western part of the earth was the Roman conquests, which, whatever were the motives of the conquerors, were overruled for the introduction of the gospel among European nations. And who knows but the British conquests in the east, whatever be the motives of the conquerors, may be designed for a similar purpose? Even that iniquitous traffic which we and other nations have long been carrying on in the persons of men, I have no doubt, will eventually prove a blessing to those miserable people, though it may be a curse to their oppressors. At this day there are many thousands of negroes in the West India islands who have embraced the gospel, while their owners, basking in wealth, and rolling in debauchery, will neither enter into the kingdom of God themselves, nor suffer others who would enter in. God is gathering a people in spite of them. Behold the goodness and justice of God! Men, torn from their native shores and tenderest connexions, are in a manner driven into the gospel net; the most abject and cruel state of slavery is that by means of which they beome the Lord’s free-men. Their oppressors, on the other hand, who lead them captive, are themselves captive by the devil at his will, and, under the name of Christians, are heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. ‘O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his jugments, and his ways past finding out!'”

I am the New Ian

February 22, 2007

I want to thank everyone for praying for me. I have been offered the position of Administrative Assistant to the Principal (Dr. Michael Haykin) at Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College. I start in 2 weeks. It is a tremendous opportunity for me and a pleasure to serve such a wonderful institution for raising up ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 Since hearing about it, I have been called by two individuals “the new Ian.” Ian Clary, who is a student at TBS previously served in my new capacity. I told Dr. Haykin I was going to get cards made up that said “Allen Mickle… the New Ian!” I hope I do as good a job as he did!

 Thank you again for all your prayers! Continue to pray for me as I start this new ministry and begin work on my Ph.D.

Baptist Distinctives – Two Ordinances

February 21, 2007

Two Ordinances (Believer’s Baptism by Immersion and the Lord’s Supper)

There are two ordinances (commands) in the Bible for the church today. The first is baptism; the second is the Lord’s Supper.

Baptism is a command that comes directly from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as revealed in Matthew 28:19-20. Clearly we know this is an ordinance or command of the local church because it was revealed to us to be by Jesus Himself.

Acts 2:41 shows us that baptism was to identify ourselves as followers of Christ and add us to the membership of the local church. The context of this passage is on the day of Pentecost following Peter’s sermon regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ and our responsibility to that knowledge. After he had preached this message there were a number (3000) people who responded in repentance to that message and were baptized in response. By basis of their baptism they were “added” which implies being added to the church. Most are agreed then that baptism is what places us into the “church.” There are disagreements over how that happens. Those who believe that baptism is for believer’s only say that you have to profess faith and your baptism places you in the universal church and then by result places you in membership in the local church. Those who baptize infants believe it places them in a covenant community and somehow those who cannot “respond” to the Word are now part of the Church. The problem with this is that the text says those who “received” the Word were baptized, not infants who cannot receive the Word at all.

Acts 8:12 also confirms that one must respond to the Gospel first. This is similar to the previous verse where it was those who believed in the teaching of the Word of God concerning Christ who were baptized. There is no mention of those who cannot respond in faith to God being baptized here.

Even in the problematic passages like Acts 16:31-34 baptism does not apply to infants. While it does say that the whole household was baptized it does not mean that infants were baptized. It clearly says his whole household was saved If one must consciously repent of their sins and turn to Christ to be saved, then these are obviously not infants here that were saved and baptized. These were individuals in his household that could understand and accept the Gospel and therefore be baptized.

Therefore, baptism is clearly only for those who have repented of their sins and turned to Christ. It is designed to place them in the body of Christ and be recognized as members of a local church. Now we need to understand in what mode baptism should be performed

Lots of churches practice baptism by sprinkling or pouring water. Why do we fully immerse people in Baptist churches? It is for two reasons. First, and this is totally un-debated by those who do not practice immersion is that the Greek word “baptidzo” which we translate as “baptize” means to immerse. Those who practice sprinkling or pouring recognize this but do not follow it anyway.

Second, baptism represents the death and resurrection of Jesus. Romans 6:4 reveals to us that baptism is a picture of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. If one is not actually immersed under the water the picture is missing. Sprinkling or pouring can never reflect being dead (under ground) and coming back to life (coming up from under the ground). Only baptism by immersion can reflect that picture.

Baptism is pure and simply an act of immersing someone into water. It is a picture of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It shows that we wish to be associated with Him and what happened to Him. It is only for believers; for those that profess faith in Jesus Christ and have repented of their sins and turned to follow Him. Its purpose is to demonstrate that we associate with Christ and what He did and His church. It places us into the body of Christ and makes us a member of a local church. It is a visible expression of our association with Christ and His church. It cannot be true baptism by sprinkling or pouring and it cannot be performed on infants.

The Lord’s Table, Supper, Communion, or the Eucharist makes up the second ordinance or command of the local church.

There are two main passages that teach the church about the Lord’s Supper.

Matthew 26:26–30 gives us the original institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus Himself. 1 Corinthians 11:23–34 gives us a re-iteration of that official institution as well as some added information regarding the purpose and attitude of the Lord’s Supper.

There are a number of things we can learn from these passages regarding the Lord’s Supper. First, again this is a commandment, instituted by Christ Himself, and reaffirmed by the apostle Paul. The church of Jesus Christ is required to participate in the Lord’s Supper.

Second, we read in the 1 Corinthians passage that we partake in remembrance of Him. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial. It is designed to focus our attention once again on what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. There is nothing mystical about the Lord’s Supper. It does not impart grace. It is simply a fresh reminder for us of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Third, not only is it a reminder of His work of salvation in the past, it is a promise of hope that He will return again. We proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore, the Lord’s Supper is both a time of memorial, reflection, with a somber tone, it is also a time of celebration over the truth of Christ’s saving work on the cross and His promise to come again. We are to reflect on our own lives in relation to what Christ has done for us and rejoice in that He has provided us salvation.

Fourth, since it is an ordinance of the local church, we do not believe that the Lord’s Table should be performed outside of the regular meeting of God’s people in the local church.

Finally, the Lord’s Supper is taken by those who are baptized believers who are members of a local church of like faith and practice who are walking in the Lord. Since an un-baptized believer is an idea foreign to the New Testament, we require all those who participate in the Lord’s Supper to be a baptized member of a church that is like ours in doctrine and practice.

"Listening to the Past – Lessons from Andrew Fuller" 9

February 18, 2007

This next quote comes from a letter from Andrew Fuller to John Ryland dated April 2, 1795. It can be found in Michael A. G. Haykin’s, The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller (Dundas, ON: Joshua Press, 2001), p. 133.

… Sin is to be overcome, not so much by maintaining a direct opposition to it, as by cultivating opposite principles. Would you kill the weeds in your garden, plant it with good seed; if the ground be well occupied, there will be less need of the labour of the hoe. If a man wished to quench fire, he might fight it with his hands till he was burnt to death; the only way is to apply an opposite element.

A Review of "Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis" by Crawford Gribben – Chapter 2 – "The Origins of the Secret Rapture"

February 17, 2007

Gribben, in chapter 2, begins to present for us the historical backdrop for a belief in a “secret rapture.” I am finding more and more that Gribben is an extremely faithful historian who works hard to prevent his biases from influencing his historical narrative. I think my sole concern in this chapter is the designation of “secret” rapture!

Gribben presents for us the history of the adoption of a pre-tribulational rapture in the life of the church. Gribben traces its mainstream adoption of the doctrine to John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren. He discounts the repeated negative assertions that it was originally developed in the ecstatic utterance of Margaret Macdonald, but instead, brings a newer twist (at least to this reviewer), of an origin in a French Roman Catholic sect! Gribben though rightly acknowledges that when and where a doctrine develops is not really the issue but simply if one faithfully derives that doctrine from the Word of God. He may disagree with the theology of a “secret” rapture, but still is honest in this assertion.

He argues against those (including the generally good Systematic Theologian, Robert Reymond), who continue to misunderstand dispensationalism despite the arguments of its best theologians. Gribben cites Charles Ryrie and his groundbreaking Dispensationalism Today as representative of those who continue to oppose those who label dispensationalism as a movement that teaches more than one way of salvation. My one question is, why do those who interact with dispensationalism always interact with Ryrie’s original 1965 edition (which Gribben notes is older) and does not reference his updated 1995 edition? If Ryrie is one of dispensationalism’s best theologians should we not be following even his most up-to-date work?

Gribben’s history of the “secret” rapture is fascinating. The political origins, which most certainly seem right, of the rapture doctrine really force those of us who adhere to a pre-tribulational rapture to argue for our doctrine from a purely exegetical and theological approach. If one is looking for a more detailed look at the history of dispensationalism especially as it was developed by Darby check out, Larry V. Crutchfield, The Origins of Dispensationalism: The Darby Factor (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1992).

Gribben concludes the chapter dealing with the qualms that some of evangelicalism’s heavy hitters make about the so-called anti-intellectual nature of Fundamentalism’s pre-tribulatinal, premillennial theology. Of course, any fringe group in any movement can be charged with anti-intellectualism. Truly, Fundamentalism as a whole, in its key theological leaders and schools, was hardly anti-intellectual. They simply were not as involved socially as those who are complaining about them. This thinking on the part of the Fundamentalists was surely influenced by their eschatology, but not solely. Regardless, Gribben is right to note that the major problem in modern evangelicalism is not the pre-tribulational, premillennial theology of many, but the weak view of the gospel!

Gribben is an excellent writer who makes history incredibly interesting. I am looking forward to continue reading this book. It has been encouraging to see Gribben, who does not take the position I hold, treat the position with respect. And I continue to agree that the view of the gospel presented in the “Left Behind” theology and modern evangelicalism, requires a tremendous reappraisal!

I continue to recommend this book to those engaged on all sides of the “dispensational” debate, to those engaged in the ministry, but even more so, those in the pews who are reading these bestselling “Rapture Fictions.”

Baptist Distinctives – Priesthood of the Believer

February 15, 2007

Priesthood of all Believers

Essentially it argues that the ministry of the local church belongs to the church as a whole. The conception of the priesthood of believers was formulated in the Reformation era, but it’s foundations are in the New Testament. While the idea is implicit elsewhere, one of the few places where it is explicated is 1 Peter 2:5, 9. It reads “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Peter’s intent is to declare that as God’s people, the church has a priestly ministry similar to that of Israel. The idea of the priesthood of believers, therefore, might be more clearly expressed as the mutual ministry of all believers.

Every man is a priest, and thus there is no special priestly class which has a monopoly on the means of grace. Nothing in the New Testament encourages the idea that a special clerical class was to be created which would be responsible for worship and witness, while the great majority of members would be spectators.

First of all, the limited idea that the church exists and serves only when people are gathered for some formalized church service needs to be dispelled. The church exists even when its members are dispersed in their homes and at their jobs and its ministry is carried on through all of the roles and relationships of individual Christians. Not everyone bears his witness or carries out his Christian vocation in exactly the same way, but everyone is called to serve Christ in all of his life. As John Calvin put the matter “God has appointed to all their particular duties in different spheres of life. And… he has styled such spheres of life vocations or callings. Every individual’s line of life, therefore is… a post assigned him by the Lord.” Looked at in this light, it is plain that members serve God in a wide range of ways; and all of these are part of the church’s ministry to the world in the name of God.

With the thought very clearly established in our minds that the ministry belongs to the entire congregation, we may proceed to discuss the need for leadership within the churches. It is important to guard against clericalism’s opposite extreme, which sees no need of leaders with professional training. We must remember that, although all members of the church are ministers, not all of them are pastors. The distinction is one of role or function. There are diverse kinds of ministry, and among them is a ministry of leadership in the church whereby the entire fellowships is trained for its responsibilities. According to Paul, Christ’s gifts to his church were “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Eph 4:12). Gifts of leadership are needed to help the whole church develop spiritual maturity so it is prepared to fulfill the calling it has received from God.

It should be self-evident that churches need leaders in order to be faithful to their calling. This necessity is implied in Paul’s enjoinder that things be done “in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Cor 14:40), and it is involved in the concept of the church as analogous to the human body. Declaring that Christians have diverse gifts, Paul compares them to different parts of the body. It would not be good, he says, if the body were all eyes or ears; but each gift within the church supplements the other gifts, as varied parts contribute to the total functioning of human life. His point is obvious; namely, that all who make up the church contribute to the fulfillment of its task, each one according to the gifts that God has granted him.

Therefore, while there are differences in roles within the body of Christ, each person is a priest before God serving in mutual ministry to the church.

News from the Great White North

February 12, 2007

Let me just thank everyone who has been praying for me of late especially when it comes to ministry opportunities. I have been greatly comforted by encouraging testimonies from people as well as their prayers. Let me ask you for continued prayer for two opportunities coming up for me.

First, Dr. Michael Haykin, has given me an amazing opportunity to fill in for him teaching his Baptist History class at Toronto Baptist Seminary on March 12. Dr. Haykin will be out of the area that day and asked me to fill in. I will be lecturing on William Carey. What a wonderful opportunity to study more carefully this great man of God and have it impact my own life as well as the lives of the people who will be there in class.

Also, I am interviewing at Toronto Baptist Seminary on February 21 to be Dr. Haykin’s administrative/research assistant. I would be assisting Dr. Haykin directly as well as in other areas of the seminary including fund raising. This is an amazing opportunity to be closer to my Ph.D. supervisor and to be able to serve the Lord in the context of theological education. Please pray for myself and those whom I will be interviewing with at TBS that God would grant us much wisdom in determining His will.

That is one of the reasons I have been so busy. I hope though that you will all continue checking in here from time to time with my continued hope that this blog is helpful to all who read it! And a note to Crawford, I hope to have a review of the second chapter of your book by Saturday!

God bless you all!