Archive for the ‘Reformed Doctrine’ Category

At Ebenezer Baptist Church, where I serve, various ministry groups visit and we often take up special offerings for them.  Many times we would find out months later that some members continued to send money to that particular ministry, designating it through the church.  But we eventually took a stand and set a policy that the church would only forward funds to outside ministries specifically approved by the whole body and we asked individuals to send contributions to their special interest ministries directly and without the imprimatur of the congregation.

We felt it was inappropriate to tie the church to a ministry without the consensus support of the entire membership.

Now Southern Baptists have learned that the North American Mission Board is not using this same type of discretion in the distribution of church planting funds Southern Baptists have contributed through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.

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The question of this post is spoken of in the following video featuring  Justin Taylor, Colin Hansen, and Owen Strachan.  I must admit that I am impressed with their analysis.  I also am in disagreement with some of their positions, especially relating to how a plurality of elders will maintain a church for a long period of time.  I must remind them that what they define as a plurality of elders the Bible calls deacons.  However, there is one quote by Justin Taylor that brings out a huge truth it seems many are overlooking today.

“The future of the kingdom [of God] on earth is in the local church. It’s not about [the next celebrity] but rather the ordinary work—which is extraordinary work, really—of pastors, most of them in small churches.”

Watch the video, it run about 10 minutes.  Let’s interact afterward.

Just when one believes the Calvinist-Arminian Debate is over due to nausea induced arguments, along comes a voice of reason.  In the latest White Paper signed by Dr. Paige Patterson, Dr. David Allen, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell, Dr. Ken Keathley, Dr. Jerry Vines, Dr. Richard Land, and Dr. Steve Lemke, we have a Baptist position expressed by Baptist Theologians.  The point that appeals to this writer centers around the fact of who we are.  Whenever we modify Baptist with either Calvinist or Arminian we just left the central tenant of being a  Baptist-the Bible.  The authors of the White Paper certainly express this truth when they write;

As mission-minded and evangelistic Baptists, we are uncomfortable with moving too far beyond scriptural revelation into speculative theological models.

Dr. Vines referred to “simple biblicism” as the place we should remain with the debate.  With this in mind the White Paper reminds us there is an understanding that we have Calvinist Baptists along with Arminian Baptists within the SBC.  But, as the authors expressed:

We certainly believe that Baptists can be Calvinists and they can be Arminians, but we prefer not to allow ourselves to be defined by either of those great positions, because we see something even greater, something that deserves more attention and requires a higher allegiance. Likewise, theologians open to Molinism, such as Bruce Little and Ken Keathley, do their work with a firm commitment to evangelical Baptist convictions. What we are saying is that our own passion for God’s Word, for Christ and for His Great Commission necessarily places every desire for settling the long-running and seemingly intractable Calvinist-Arminian debate to the side. We recognize this is a debate that will continue to be held and should be held in certain restricted venues. However, the debate itself is trumped by our need to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to proclaim Scripture, and to obey His Great Commission. Moreover, we believe our position is the mainstream Southern Baptist position, as Richard Land said in his chapter, “the Separate Baptist Sandy Creek Tradition has been the melody for Southern Baptists, with Charleston and other traditions providing harmony” (50).

This article brings us back to the central tenet that is needed in this debate.

In a recent blog article my good friend Peter Lumpkins debated infant salvation and the historic view that leads to the doctrine of infant baptism.  The basic understanding of this doctrine is that the elect infants/children that die go to heaven but an infant/child not part of the elect goes to hell.  Thus, the need for infant baptism because that infant in the home of the covenant parents was brought into the covenant through the salvific act of infant baptism.  John Calvin himself argued for infant reprobation, as did the statements of both Dort and Westminster.  Some “Reformed” theologians actually teach infants/children that are not in the homes of Christian parents are not part of the elect.  For instance, popular Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul, Jr.  questions the salvation of all infants dying in infancy, taking evangelist Billy Graham to task for assuming without warrant the safeness or salvation of all infants.  He writes:

“Mr. Graham reflected the general consensus not just of the world but of the evangelical church, when, in his laudable desire to comfort, he appeared to affirm a new gospel: justification by youth alone. Though Scripture is clear that in sin we are conceived, though it affirms that outside of faith in Christ alone there is no salvation, we comfort ourselves in the face of grim images of the dead children carried from the rubble with the biblically unwarranted assurance that if one only dies young enough, one will be saved.”

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