A Little bit about my Boss…

October 31, 2007

Towers, the news of Southern Seminary, has a brief profile of my boss and their new Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, Michael Haykin. Check it out here. I am very happy for him to go to Southern but disappointed that we cannot work together full-time anymore. I will be working for him part-time particularly for the Fuller Center.

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Are Baptists Part of the Protestant Reformation?

October 31, 2007

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, which sparked perhaps one of the greatest events in the history of the church of Jesus Christ, the Protestant Reformation. Protestants (who protested against the established church) sought a Reformation (a change in the church to return to the essence of the Scriptures) which has changed the face of the entire Christian church since then. A focus on the sources (ad fontes) of Scripture brought the church back to what became 5 pillars of a return to New Testament Christianity. These are:

1) Sola Scriptura – By Scripture Alone

2) Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone

3) Solo Christo – By Christ Alone

4) Sola Fide – By Faith Alone

5) Soli Deo Grloria – Glory to God Alone

Even while modern day Protestants trace their roots to the Reformation, there are many within Baptist circles that would argue that Baptists are not part of the Protestant Reformation. They would see a distinct difference in origin for Baptists than the Reformation. So, the question must be asked, are Baptists part of the Protestant Reformation?

Views on the Origin of Baptists

There are, to make it simplified, four different views on Baptist origins (please note I am indebted to my former Church History professor, Gerald Priest at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary for first presenting these truths to me). These are:

1) Strict organic successionist view.

There has always been a succession of Baptist churches throughout history beginning with the first Baptist church of Jerusalem. Dissenters from the earliest times were Baptists with different names.

2) Anabaptist kinship view.

Early seventeenth century Baptists were influenced by continental anabaptists.

3) Spiritual kinship view.

This is the continuation of biblical teachings view or spiritual successionism. There is a ontinuity of Baptist concepts. In other words, there is no “trail of blood” but there is a iscernable “trail of truth.”

4) British separatist view.

The Baptist denominations originated out of the Puritan Separatist Movement n seventeenth century England.

There is of course a mixing of these different views but these are essentially the normal views taken.

Historical Arguments for the British Separatist View

Now, this is a huge topic and one that could be devoted whole books to, but I will refer you to the recent presentation of this material by my former Church History professor here for more details. See him for a presentation of arguments against Baptists being derived from the Protestant Reformation. Briefly though, let me outline a few historical reasons FOR viewing Baptists as deriving from the Protestant Reformation (see Priest for biblical arguments regarding the universal church).

1. The church of Jesus Christ has existed since Pentecost. Just because it is difficult to find historically groups throughout history who maintain a pure commitment to the NT church does not mean they did not exist. Regardless, the purity of the church has been maintained in the universal body of believers, not necessarily always in local churches. This helps us then to not attempt to force heretical groups into a Baptist mold just because they performed baptism by immersion.

2. The Second London Baptist Confession (1688) affirms both the universal and local aspects of the church in article 26, sections 1 and 2. Since Baptists affirm the universal church, this means that it is not necessary for there to be visible manifestations of the universal body in local bodies at every single moment throughout church history.

3. Just because Anabaptists (who did not truly come from the Protestant Reformation) and Baptists practice a similar form of baptism does not make them the same. There are some very major differences like pacifism, nonparticipation in government, and unwillingness to take
oaths among other things makes a real difference between the two groups.

4. Just because Baptists did not directly come out of the Roman Catholic church does not mean they are not part of the Protestant Reformation. They come out of British Puritan Separatism (which can be demonstrated historically) and therefore, since they derive their origin from the Reformation, so we can as well.

5. The First and Second London Confession of Faith mention that they are not Anabaptists. The Confession or Declaration of Faith by the General Baptists says the same thing.

6. John Smyth inaugurated the practice of believer’s baptism among his Separatist ollowers in 1609. After repudiating his baptism and attempting to merge his church with a Mennonite community, Thomas Helwys, John Murton, and their followers rejected Smyth and returned to England to found the first General Baptist church there in 1611.

7. In the 17th century, when some argued for a successionist view of the Baptist origin they were looked upon with suspicion as it sounded very Roman Catholic.

8. There were many different varieties of Anabaptism in the 17th century, not all of it biblical. Today most Anabaptists have no fellowship with Baptists.

This has been rather brief, but it is good to get an overall historical view of something and use it as a jumping off point so that others can investigate the issues for themselves. In conclusion though let it be said that whatever the origins, Baptists have attempted to derive their theology and practice from the New Testament and only the New Testament. Yet, when looking at the historical evidence, it does seem primarily true, that Baptists come not from a long line of succeeding groups, nor from the Anabaptists directly (there may be some influence there) but from the British Puritan Separatists. And they take their origin eventually out of the Protestant Reformation. So therefore, Baptists are part of the Protestant Reformation.

If you are a Baptist this day (Reformation Day) take heart and rejoice in what God has done in history to rescue the truths of the Scriptures and bring them back into the church and thank God for the privilege of being part of that Reformation!

Happy Reformation Day!


Another Up-Date!

October 31, 2007

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 Well, it is official! Tracy and I are engaged to be married! Tracy had thought I left on Monday to return to Toronto. Instead I was only half an hour away staying with friends. Once she was done teaching for the day on Tuesday I showed up at the door at 6:30 PM with flowers, a sonnet I had written her, and a ring. I was down on one knee when she opened the door. I could tell she was shocked to see me. I pledged my undying love for her and asked her to marry me, to which she replied “yes!” Yesterday so far it he most happiest day of my life! We’re looking forward to continuing to grow in our love for each other and our love for Christ together. Pray for us as we set out on this lifelong commitment to each other.

 

 

 


My Visit to the Banner

October 31, 2007

Greetings all my fellow blog readers!As I am in Pennsylvania this weekend (see the most recent post!) I got to finally take a trip to the US office of the Banner of Truth in Carlisle, PA. I have been in e-mail contact for over a year now with Steve Burlew, the Manager of the US office. He has been an encourager and a prayer warrior for me during some recent tough times this past year. I had to meet the guy who has been so helpful to me in my walk in Christ.

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Steve (pictured above) is a wonderful and godly man. He took me around for a tour of the place, and then we went up to his office and talked and prayed even though I know he was busy with other things (the big Yellow truck had just come that morning with a huge shipment from Scotland!). He was a big encouragement to me. On days with shipments (and with the birthday of an employee) Steve got pizza and I was able to fellowship with the whole Banner staff. It was truly a great time.

I was able to pick up a number of Christmas presents for people from the store (and a few things for me from the “Secret Shelves” of 50% discounted “dinged” books). All in all… a great day!

You can read Steve’s blog which includes information about Banner books and places where Banner will be here at Trophies of His Grace. And of course, you can order Banner books from their website (if you are in Canada, Sola Scriptura is the Canadian distributor for the Banner).

Steve also gave me a number of the Puritan Paperbacks which I will be reviewing each month on my blog as part of a new series called, Growing in Christ with the Puritans. Look for the first one toward the end of November!


Personal Discipline – A Concern for Pastors

October 24, 2007

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“Years ago a Glasgow sociologist suggested that the busiest men he knew were pastors and, equally, the laziest people of his acquaintance were also pastors. We all know how easy it is to get slack in essentials. No one is looking over our shoulder and we are never the subjects of a time and motion study!”

 

 James Taylor, Pastors under pressure: Conflicts on the outside, fears within (Leominster, UK: Day One Publications, 2004), p. 53.

 

I highly recommend this book for any in or contemplating going into the pastoral ministry! You can buy it here.


TBS Book Sale!!

October 24, 2007

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Come one come all to the Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College book sale! All proceeds go to the Peter MacGregor Library at TBS.

 

We have been fortunate to receive the entire contents of a solid Christian bookstore as a gift to the school. Most of the books are new and there is some used as well. You will find great deals here on fantastic books! This will include commentaries, theological texts, and other solid reference materials!

 

Only cash or cheque will be accepted. To be held at Jarvis Street Baptist Church (130 Gerrard Street East, Toronto).

 

For more information please phone 416-925-3263 or e-mail inquiry@tbs.edu.


A Word to Pastors from Robert Hall, Jr. (1764-1831)

October 22, 2007

“It is my earnest prayer, my dear brother, that you may feed the Church of the Lord which he has purchased with his own blood; that you may make full proof of your ministry; be instant in season and out of season; teach exhort, and rebuke with all long-suffering and authortiy. Then, should you be spared to your flock, you will witness the fruit of your labours in a spiritual plantation, growing under your hand, adorned with trees of righteousness , the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified; and while, neglecting worldly considerations, you are intent on the high ends of your calling, inferior satisfactions will not be wanting, but you will meet among the seals of your ministry with fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. Or should your career be prematurely cut short, you will have lived long enough to answer the purposes of your being, and to leave a record in the consciences of your hearers, which will not suffer you soon to be forgotten. Though dead, you will still speak; you will speak from the tomb; it may be, in accents more powerful and persuasive than your living voice could command.”

Robert Hall, Jr., “On the Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister: A Discourse, delivered to the Rev. James Robertson, at his ordination over the Independent Church at Stretton, Warwickshire” in The Works of the Rev. Robert Hall, A.M., 4 vol. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1854), I:154-155.