Monday, March 30, 2009

Wrapup on Baptism and Sin

So I finally read all the comments in that other thread. Wow. I could never be a Pyromaniac. I do want to tie up some loose ends by responding to a few arguments raised by commenters. Here goes:

1. I’m encouraged to know that I’m seeing this more or less the same way as Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder, at least on the point that we should view paedobaptism as sin. I’m actually a bit embarrassed that I wasn’t aware of their positions and somewhat fearful that I'd heard it and that my memory is failing faster than I thought. So perhaps Minnick's perspective is an outlier. Now, I am a bit skeptical that this represents the mainstream of fundamentalist thought, but perhaps my definition of “fundamentalist thought” is too broad, thus skewing what I understand to be the mainstream. Also, Bauder, at least, agrees that a person’s known, unrepentant sin does not necessarily preclude fellowship, and I'm grateful for his explanation.

2. It seems ironic that I’m in far greater agreement with comments from Keith, the guy I’m calling a sinner (and who quite rationally returns the favor) than with many if not most of the Baptists posting here. Nice catch on the WCF quote, Keith. As for a passage that explicitly teaches the Baptist understanding of baptism, I think it’s Matthew 28—we baptize disciples. I understand that baptizo = immersion isn’t a slam dunk lexically, so I’m not pressing immersion on that text. Personally, I'm not sure someone who's been effused as a believer in a church with an evangelical understanding of baptism doesn't need to be immersed upon joining a Baptist church.

3. Kent, your argument that we should be like God and not fellowship with any sin is at best unsustainable. We’re all sinners, you included. I’m wondering what not fellowshipping with yourself looks like. Frankly, I think your approach is antithetical to the gospel. You’re right in the sense that God doesn’t fellowship with sin. But he killed his Son so he could fellowship with sinners—sinning saints, that is. For you to deny fellowship to any believer because of any sin denies the gospel. And seriously, you don’t live this out in practice. You can't.

4. Chris, concerning your paedobaptism-KJVO analogy, I see a difference between paedobaptist doctrine and KJVO doctrine. Paedobaptism is based on a misunderstanding of Scripture, but there is a rational (though flawed) biblical argumentation behind it. There is no such thing for KJVO. They are teaching as doctrine commandments completely fabricated by men. That's the kind of false doctrine Jesus attacked most vociferously. I feel like there's more to it than that, but that's all I've got right now.

5. Bob, You're right that it's more consistent to be either open or closed in practicing communion. That's undeniable. This may be one of those times when human sin brings fundamental values into conflict so that it's impossible to be consistent and maintain all those values. You’re not exactly correct to imply that my church would bar all paedobaptists from the Lord's Supper. We would merely bar those who have not been baptized as believers, and even then it would ultimately be up to one’s own conscience. We wouldn’t physically withhold it, except perhaps for someone who’s been excommunicated. Now, I think you're making the Lord's Table a more individual ordinance than I would, but I feel the pull of your approach.

My bigger critique of your argument is that you overstate the significance of whether person's sin is known to himself. If you understand the Lord’s Supper to be an ordinance observed within and overseen by a local church (maybe you don’t), then that church's understanding of sin arbitrates its observance. So if MSBC excommunicates a member for practicing what your church understands to be known sin, then MSBC is right to withhold the Lord’s Supper from him, even if he doesn't understand that behavior to be sinful. It seems that you're moving the locus of assessment from the church (where I see it in Matthew 16 and 18) to the individual. So I would respond to you that whether an individual is fit to partake is ultimately God's choice, and the earthly assessor of that fitness is the church, not the individual.

6. James, I’m not sure you’re right that the mainstream of Baptist thought has ever suggested that paedobaptist churches are not true churches. Historically, many Baptists have understood such churches to be true, though irregular. That’s certainly not a unanimous sentiment—perhaps some Landmarkers might not have even recognized all Baptist churches as true churches—but I think it’s more representative of historic Baptist thought, at least back when Baptists thought more.

7. Bobby Mitchell: You are an unproductive presence here. Nothing you have said has advanced the conversation, only destroyed it. Your errors are so numerous that I have no interest in addressing them. So I’m banning you. You may not like that. I don’t care. It’s my blog. If you ever want to comment again, e-mail me your comment first. Otherwise, I’ll delete it immediately.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nightline on Satan, Chopra Exposed

Last night ABC's "Nightline" aired a forum recorded recently at Mars Hill Church discussing whether Satan is real. I'll leave the extensive analysis of Mark Driscoll's role to the people who weren't watching basketball games on their computer simultaneously, but I thought he set an engaging tone, proclaimed the gospel clearly, and directed back to Jesus that black hole of rational thought that is Deepak Chopra's stream of consciousness.

So on that Deepak Chopra note, I really want you to see a clip that absolutely cracked me up. You'll want to start listening when the guy in the red shirt starts talking, and you can stop when his words "thank you very much" introduce a little spark of absolute truth to ChopraWorld.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Horn and McLachlan on Ryken and Wells

If you listen to Sam Horn and Doug McLachlan's talks at Maranatha's Conference on Baptist Fundamentalism, you'll hear them lean heavily on the social and religious commentary of Philip Ryken and David Wells. These are both excellent talks. Horn discusses how much of both evangelicalism and fundamentalism have become servants of a culture, not shapers of it. McLachlan's point is that we've lost the centrality of the local church. I couldn't possibly agree more.

What I also appreciate about these talks is how Horn and McLachlan recognize what should be an obvious point--that Reformed, Calvinistic leaders are on the forefront of pointing out what makes these times uniquely precarious, not the fountainhead of it. Men like Horn, McLachlan, Ryken and Wells all seem to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together . . . Against a Conservative Evangelical

There's been a bit of a flare-up in the blogosphere today over Mark Dever's comment about the sin inherent to the practice of paedo-baptism. He writes:
I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.
Michael Bird, an evangelical professor at a Scottish theological college, counters:
[T]o label a divergent theological view which is a non-essential to the faith "sinful" is theologically irresponsible, pastorally insensitive, and ecclesially arrogant.
Dever responds with a bit of historical perspective and a more fully developed argument:
This does not cause me to doubt the sincerity of my reformed paedobaptist brethren, nor even their judgment in general. It is simply that on this point they've got it wrong, and their error, involving as it does a requiring of something Scripture does not require (infant baptism), and the consequence of a denying of an action Scripture does require (believers baptism) is sinful (though unintentionally so).
Bird then replies with an argument that offers several examples of theological differences that should not lead us to the conclusion that those who differ with us are wrong. I won't speak for Dever, but I would not consider someone who disagreed with me over the Millennium or open/closed communion to be in sin. And if anyone can find documentation of Dever doing that, I'd be more than a little surprised.

That's a long introduction, but what makes this conversation interesting is that Bird's conclusions seem similar to those I've heard from various fundamentalist leaders. I've heard two or three interact with Dever on this point, and each of them would agree with Bird that a convictional paedobaptist is not "in sin." I'm not going to go into detail on private conversations, but you can listen in on part of one in the last 30 minutes or so of this interview with Mark Minnick.

I'm not entirely sure why we have this odd juxtaposition of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists Together against Dever. I'm not familiar with Bird and won't try to get inside his head. A broader atheological evangelicalism would no doubt demonstrate a knee-jerk reaction against calling much of anything sin. But I certainly would not call Minnick and others atheological (and I don't expect that Bird is either). I wonder if the fundamentalist mindset isn't equipped to process maintaining fellowship and cooperation with people who are in ongoing, unrepentant—albeit unwitting—sin.

The danger with the Bird-Minnick approach is what happens if we conclude that we can't consider someone to be in sin if his errant beliefs and associated disobedient actions are sincerely held and practiced, or if that particular theological conclusion seems less clear than another.

Here's what I mean. What if a person who professes to believe the gospel sincerely concludes that Scripture teaches that women can be pastors? Or that God doesn't know the future since the future doesn't exist yet? Or that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world—all of it—therefore, no one deserves God's wrath? Those are complex issues. They might even seem less clear to some people than when people should be baptized. After all, isn't it a bit myopic to suggest that what's clear to me should be just as clear to you?

So do varying levels of clarity mean we shouldn't consider an egalitarian or an open theist or a universalist to be teaching error—even in sin? Not at all. At least not in my opinion. If you disagree, I have a question: What's the qualitative difference between your hermeneutic of humility and Brian McLaren's?

It cuts both ways. I certainly don't mind if Minnick considers me to be in error and propagating sin because I don't believe women are required to wear head coverings in church. (Though it is nice to know that there's one sin in the world that I can never personally commit.)

Some of these differences—these errors and sins—will limit our fellowship. Perhaps all of them will in some way. Sin does that. But at the end of the day, aren't we all sinners in some way that may be unknown to us? Ongoing, unrepentant, (albeit unwitting) sinners. I'm pretty sure I am.

And that is what you get when you sit down to blog while you're watching March Madness.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Baptist Cocktail

Where did Baptists come from? Did they emerge from the English Separatists? Continental Anabaptists? Some amalgamation of the two? Or were they just ordinary Christians in different groups who . . . well, read their Bibles? While we're arguing over the relationship of Baptists to Reformed, Calvinistic theology seems like a good time to take a look at those sorts of questions.

So on that note, Nathan Finn has written a short series of posts at the consistently thoughtful Between the Times blog that examines the question (parts 1 2 3). Here are his conclusions (from parts 2 and 3):
I am in favor of breaking out of the too-simplistic either/or approaches to Baptist origins (Anabaptists versus English Separatists, apostolic origins versus post-Reformation origins). The portrait is too complicated for tidy answers.

The English Baptists represent the culmination of the reformation era, agreeing with the basic evangelical soteriology of the magisterial reformers and some Anabaptists and the radical ecclesiology of the orthodox Anabaptists and some English Separatists. They also recognized and appreciated that some medieval sects were correct in at least some aspects of their ecclesiology. But Baptists did not agree with these positions because they were affirmed by Waldenses, Lutherans, Reformed, or Anabaptists, but because Baptists believed an evangelical gospel and a free believers’ church represented the heart of New Testament Christianity.

The question of Baptist origins is best answered with a both/and rather than an either/or. The 400th anniversary of the Baptist movement seems like a great time to rethink our origins and appreciate the polygenetic theological roots of the Christian people called Baptists.
To summarize, I do not believe there is any historical reason to ignore Anabaptist influence upon the Baptists, though I also do not wish to see an overemphasis on this point. As I mentioned in my previous article, I suspect there are several reasons for contemporary hesitancy in this matter. Some Baptists shudder at Anabaptist sectarianism. So do I. Some Calvinistic Baptists are uncomfortable with the Anabaptist emphasis on libertarian free will, sometimes de-emphasis of justification by faith, and fuzziness on substitutionary atonement. Ditto. Lots of Baptists are skittish about the lunatic fringe of Anabaptism. You betcha. And some seem to suspect there are present attempts to “Anabaptize” the SBC. And there may be. But none of this changes what I think is good historical evidence that the earliest Baptists were influenced, to varying degrees, by some Anabaptists.
That was actually my working hypothesis as I head into some reading on the issue (as soon as I'm done with this book), but Finn's no doubt read a hundred times as much on the topic as I have, so take his word, not mine. Since Finn cites the two books I'm planning to read, Verduin and Estep, I'm guessing my opinion won't move much.

Friday, March 13, 2009

(How) Should We Look for Christ in the Old Testament?

If you’re anything at all like me, you feel two impulses related to finding Christ in the Old Testament. First, you know he’s there and you want to pull out everything possible. But second, you’re a little bit allergic to allegorical approaches that seem to find a bushel of toadstools for every acorn they stumble upon.

One of the most helpful resources I’ve encountered in years of intermittent reading is this faculty forum on Christology in the OT at Southern Seminary. Moderated by Tom Schreiner, panelists include Duane Garrett, Peter Gentry and Jim Hamilton.

The central point that all three panelists seem to affirm is that we need to follow the exegetical approach of Jesus and the Apostles, but following Jesus and the Apostles doesn’t mean we abandon grammatical-historical exegesis. Jim Hamilton passes on a foundational perspective when he says:
John Sailhamer is correct when he argues that the OT is a Messianic document written from a Messianic perspective in order to provoke and sustain a Messianic hope.
The primary bone of contention in the panel is typology. Peter Gentry actually critiques Grahame Goldsworthy, an author who’s currently influential in Reformed circles. Gentry contends that it’s insufficient to say that everything is typological of Christ. If everything is typological, nothing is. Luke 24 “doesn’t say that every passage in the OT speaks about Christ,” Gentry argues, “but that everything written about him in the law, prophets, and writings must be fulfilled.”

The panelists participate in a nuanced, thought-provoking discussion of the parameters of OT typology. Gentry offers the criteria of correspondence, rooted in history, demonstrating escalation, with a biblical warrant for a typological reading in the context. For a fuller explanation of those criteria, you'll need to listen. Maybe twice.

I would recommend this resource about as much as any I’ve ever encountered. It doesn’t say everything about the topic, but I think you’ll have the opportunity to observe a productive clash of ideas in a pretty short period of time.

The participants refer to a couple resources that develop the concepts in greater depth: Richard Davidson’s Typology in Scripture and S. Lewis Johnson’s The Old Testament in the New.

To those I’ll add John Sailhamer’s Pentateuch as Narrative. Behind this intimidating title you’ll find an accessible commentary on the one coherent book that OT Israelites understood Genesis through Deuteronomy to be. To Sailhamer, the OT is not a semi-random collection of old stories intended to instruct our morality. Instead, He exposes a variety of strategies that the author employed (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to communicate a theological message. And that theological message is a Christological message.

P.S. Andy Naselli just posted a discussion of related matters from Doug Moo.

Together for the Pretribulationalism?

I've been intrigued by the GARBC's proposed amendment to its statement of faith to clarify it's position on the Rapture. Here are a couple perspectives from bloggers in the Association. One argues that the GARBC is demonstrating an over-emphasis on eschatology. The other replies that Pretribulationalism relates to a essential matter of hermeneutics.

In no way am I intending to disparage Pretribulationalism or create an argument over its exegesis. I reject the notion that any truth Scripture teaches is irrelevant. If Scripture teaches it, it's important. That doesn't necessarily mean it's essential for fellowship and cooperation.

I am curious to hear a rationale for why it's so essential that it demands division of an association, or even a local church. Hermeneutics is a big issue, but there are lots of other matters virtually no one includes in statements of faith, which similarly relate to hermeneutics. And it's a canard to treat Pretribulationalism as the issue of final arbitration between literal and figurative hermeneutical approaches.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dave Doran on How to Produce Self Righteousness and Judgmentalism

Dave Doran makes a powerful point in his recent sermon from Galatians 5. In the context of explaining that the Pharisees crucified Jesus for confronting their self-righteousness, he says:
You can squeeze from the outside and get an appearance of good that actually has not penetrated the heart. And often, the danger that has crept in among believing people is to so emphasize the external that you actually have a generation that has no internal relationship with the Spirit of God. And the next generation has nothing of Christianity because it actually filled up the church with dead people.

Listen to the words of Jesus: "You whited sepulchres, full of dead men's bones." He was saying that to the religious leaders of the people of Israel. And so we have to constantly, constantly remind ourselves that genuine spiritual life is something that comes from the inside by the work of the Spirit, and then, and let's not miss it, then, then bears fruit.

Okay, because here's the objection, and we're living right where Galatians is with this objection. And you say, "But Pastor, you're basically saying that we can't deal with anything on the outside now." And I'm saying, "No!" Because if the inside is being changed, here's nine things that the Spirit of God is going to produce. Love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, self control.

So don't get into a game of saying, "Well, It's either got to be external or internal." It's actually supposed to be both. But which comes first, and which controls? Because if you start with external, you have no guarantee that you'll get to the internal.

And in fact, and I can say this on the basis of observation in the Scriptures and life, there is ample evidence that if you start at the outside, you actually never get to the inside because what you create is self-righteousness. What you create is judgmentalism. What you create is a life that lives by appearance rather than reality. And what we have to do is recognize that we must go for the heart because that's where the Spirit is at work, and if the Spirit's at work, that will produce it.
I doubt that anyone preaches contrary to this truth. Well, okay, some do. I've heard a couple. I doubt that many people do.

I'm convinced the greater danger in our circles is that we teach salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. But we get a little ambiguous on sanctification, possibly emphasizing the role of our effort in accomplishing that ongoing transformation a bit too much. And then the weight of the rules and discipline-heavy culture we've created in our institutions teaches far more powerfully than words ever could.

There's also a terrific example of humility and transparency at the end of the sermon. It's been rare in my experience for a pastor to expose his own struggles to his congregation, and I'm grateful that the trend line seems to be reversing.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Marines and Leadership

Major General Randy Alles was an elder at CHBC when I joined. To our dismay, we lost him and his family to a Marine air station in San Diego just a few months later.

Though I never expected to see his name when I started reading Peggy Noonan's column Saturday afternoon, it didn't surprise me in the slightest to see him honored in that column for the way he led his Aircraft Wing to accept responsibility for a grievous series of errors that led to tragedy.

These two paragraphs sum up the point quite well:
The day after the report I heard from a young Naval aviator in predeployment training north of San Diego. He flies a Super Hornet, sister ship to the plane that went down. He said the Marine investigation "kept me up last night" because of how it contrasted with "the buck-passing we see" in the government and on Wall Street. He and his squadron were in range of San Diego television stations when they carried the report's conclusions live. He'd never seen "our entire wardroom crowded around a television" before. They watched "with bated breath." At the end they were impressed with the public nature of the criticism, and its candor: "There are still elements within the government that take personal responsibility seriously." He found himself wondering if the Marines had been "too hard on themselves." "But they are, after all, Marines."

By contrast, he says, when the economy came crashing down, "nowhere did we see a board come out and say: 'This is what happened, these are the decisions these particular people made, and this was the result. They are no longer a part of our organization.' There was no timeline of events or laymen's explanation of how a credit derivative was actually derived. We did not see congressmen get on television with charts and eviscerate their organization and say, 'These were the men who in 2003 allowed Freddie and Fannie unlimited rein over mortgage securities.' Instead we saw . . . everybody against everybody else with no one stepping forth and saying, 'We screwed up.'" There is no one in national leadership who could convincingly "assign blame," and no one "who could or would accept it."
That seems about right to me. Accepting responsibility isn't the first reflex of this culture. It may not even be the first reflex of Marines and Christian leaders. But I'm grateful that, by God's grace, he still raises up people who fear him more than they fear men.

And the winner is . . .

Three answers in the comments to this challenge really made me think. Bob from Dublin made an undeniably biblical case from 2 Timothy 3:1-9. In addressing prosperity, Jason actually expressed what I believe is the largest emphasis of that passage, and he gets some extra points for being the first commenter to offer an answer. Coach C challenged my very presupposition that these times are "uniquely precarious" and made me do a little more exegetical thinking than I'd expected.

So I think the question comes down to Jason and Coach C, and the winner hinges on whether these times are uniquely precarious in some tangible way, or merely difficult or even terrible because the end is near, Satan knows it, and human rebellion is welling up more and more.

On the face of it, from an American perspective (and, apparently, an Australian perspective, given Jason's hometown), Jason's answer of seems like a slam dunk. Well, assuming that we aren't heading into a long-term global depression, that is. But in favor of Josh's answer is the fact that, though Christianity is on the decline in the West, it seems to be exploding in places like sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. And amazing things are happening in the Muslim world. How I wish I could post the contents of an e-mail that was forwarded to me last week.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day I think Jason is right. The expansion of prosperity to all corners of the globe does make these times more uniquely precarious than any of the other answers that were proposed, at least in my opinion.

Feel free to shoot back at me in the comments.

And Jason, do let me know a reliable (and economical!) way to get a book to you in Australia. You can e-mail me at the address in the sidebar.

Congratulations and best wishes.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Effects of Calvinism on Missions

Listen here to a young, Calvinistic Maranatha grad (who's about to take his family to the other side of the world) preach about the driving motivation of missions—to see God call out worshipers of his Name from the ends of the earth. He's preaching in a church planted by young, Calvinistic Maranatha grads.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Phil Johnson: "That's what I am—a Paleoevangelical"

I've been to two Shepherds' Conferences and listened to audio from a couple more. One of the consistent highlights for me is Phil Johnson's always-provocative workshop session. Well, this year's session, "What Is an Evangelical?", contained a special personal blessing. In the midst of his pronouncement of evangelicalism's certain doom, his assessment of fundamentalism*, and his sharp critique of neo-evangelicalism is tucked a little nugget of Phil. Here it is, unedited, no comment necessary:
Sometimes when I feel it's necessary to distance myself from the mixed multitude of the contemporary evangelical movement, I actually like to refer to myself as a Paleoevangelical. That's a label that's not likely to be commandeered anytime soon by some postmodernized, emergentized hack. No neo-orthodox church leader or Christianity Today editor would wear that label—"Paleoevangelical." That's what I am—a Paleoevangelical, and I'm firmly fixed in that position.
And a few non-sequential clips from later in the talk:
Those of us who are Paleoevangelicals, frankly, have no movement that we really belong to.

[D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones] was a classic Paleoevangelical without a neo-evangelical bone in his body.

The task for Paleoevangelicals like me is to remain faithful and to remember that the gospel—not the combined cloud of a large, politically-driven movement, but the gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation.
You'll probably enjoy the whole session, but you'll have to register for free here. After that, follow instructions to download audio files.

*Just "one complaint," but it's a stinging one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

On the January/February issue of the FBFI's Frontline Magazine

When this issue, emblazoned with the theme "Preaching the Gospel" arrived in the mail at my office, I couldn't have been more delighted, and I only became happier as I leafed through it. The recognition of the centrality of the gospel seems to be gaining momentum, and for that I am thankful.

I don't mean to imply in any way that the FBFI has ever thought the gospel is unimportant. I do have very clear reasons, which I intend to address later, to conclude that the leadership of the FBFI is not unanimous on the importance of the gospel to the life of believers. In other words, I believe that the gospel has everything to do with sanctification. I will argue without reservation, for example, that the gospel is the "epicenter" of sanctification. Not all would agree. But that is for another time.

For the present, I am thrilled to see fundamentalist leaders affirm the fundamental importance of preaching the gospel to believers. Here's an outstanding portion of Matt Recker's article:
It seems strange to say that a missing element in much preaching is Jesus Christ and His gospel of grace, but I believe it is so. Even in my own experience, I have found that I can preach on Christian living, worldliness, the decaying culture, church growth, or a host of other topics and gloss over the power of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection! God has convicted me and challenged me that preaching this gospel must be included as the ultimate motive for everything we do and the power behind all we can be for Him. [emphasis added]

Gospel preaching is essential for the justification of unbelievers but also for the sanctification of believers. Preaching that diminishes the gospel's power will result in hearers thinking that they can earn God's approval or find strength to be a good Christian, parent, or spouse in their own ability. The unsaved will be deceived into thinking that salvation is something they can earn; the saved will be misled to think they can live the Christian life through their own effort. Gospel-less preaching will leave hearers still feeling guilt and shame no matter how hard they "try to do right." It is a fatal error to leave out the gospel, for any attempt to achieve our salvation, either our justification or sanctification, by human obedience alone will lead only to glorifying self and not God. The gospel alone gives the unsaved grace to stand in God's righteousness, and the gospel alone removes the condemnation from our lives.
Those are the first two paragraphs of the lead article in this issue. I wish I could take the time to re-type the whole thing. I wish I could link to it. (The rest is just as good.) I wish I had time to read the rest of the issue tonight, because the remainder looks just as good.

I wish I hadn't recently heard a sermon preached (at a place for which I have deep affection) that blatantly denies what Recker writes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What Makes These Times "Uniquely Precarious"?

It has been recently argued, "We are living in uniquely precarious times." I completely agree that this statement is true. I simply disagree with pretty much everything that comes after it.

But what does make these times uniquely precarious? In particular, what forces might be greater threats to the future of biblical, gospel Christianity than the resurgence of Reformed theology?

My spare copy of Polity will be shipped free of charge to the person who offers the best response. (Please explain briefly the rationale your answers.) You may enter more than once, and if we get to 25 valid proposals (I judge . . . probably arbitrarily), I'll send something special to the person with the 25th entry.

And speaking of Polity, if anyone who's at Maranatha's Conference on Baptist Fundamentalism this week can get an explanation for why the author of these lecture notes (PDF) seems to think Greg Wills is an indifferentist on the doctrine of the church, I'd be much obliged. It seems as though Wills is alleged to be saying the precise opposite of what he means. Here's the quote:
Many contemporary scholars believe that the New Testament is silent, or ambiguous at the very least, on the topic of church government. George Eldon Ladd, theologian and former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, laments that, “It appears likely that there was no normative pattern of church government in the apostolic age, and that the organizational structure of the church is no essential element in the theology of the church” (A Theology of the New Testament, p. 534). “Baptists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries generally agreed. Church polity, they conceded, was not the most essential area of doctrine. But just because it was not central to salvation did not mean that it was not important. The doctrine of the church was as much revealed truth as the element of orthodox belief. For this reason Baptists sometimes disfellowshiped one another over disagreements in polity.” (Wills, Greg. “The Church: Baptists and Their Churches in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” Polity. Mark E. Dever, ed. Sheridan Books, 2001, 19.) Such opinions do not match those of our forefathers. [emphasis added]

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Songs Amillennialists Sing

I sang this song tonight in chorus with quite a few Amillennialists at my church. Would that more churches sang songs that deny the return of Christ and the responsibility of believers to be prepared for it to the same degree that this one does.

Words: John Cennick (1718-1755), alt. by Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Music: Traditional English, arr. Martin Madan (1726-1790), Public Domain