Archive for March, 2012

The Top Blog Posts of the Week


by the Contributing Editors of SBC Today

This is a list of recent blog posts which we found interesting.  That we found them interesting doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with or endorse the ideas presented in the posts, but that we found them to be intriguing and thought-provoking.  (They are listed in no particular order of interest). Please post your comments to discuss  any article that strikes your interest. If you have recent blog posts to nominate, please send the link to sbctoday@gmail.com.


About Theology

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THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST

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THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST


By James Leo Garrett, Jr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Historical and Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first in a series of three articles by Dr. Garrett on “The Future of Baptist Theology with a Look at Its Past,” which was presented at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at an event. Part 1 reflected on the past in Baptist theology; Parts 2 and 3 anticipate its future.


Part 3: Looking to the Future of Baptists

From my studies of the four-century history of Baptist theology I have come to the conclusion that the principal differentiating issues among Baptists during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries were the Calvinistic-Arminian difference, or to be more specific, the issues that differentiate the Reformed Synod of Dort (1618-1619) and the followers of Jacob Arminius who framed the five Remonstrant Articles (1610). I looked at this issue in the first part of this series. In part 2, I began looking at what issues would likely surface in the future. In this final part, I will continue my look at future issues, focusing on issues important to church and the Southern Baptist Convention

My proposals, of course, do not constitute a complete list even as we acknowledge the difficulty of speaking about the future. I would ask seven questions. The first four questions dealt with hermeneutics, evangelism, and eschatology. I will now continue with three questions that surround church and denominational issues.

5. Are many Baptist churches to adopt ruling elders? Will Baptist megachurches retain a residue of congregational polity?

Although the Philadelphia Association for a time in the eighteenth century had the practice of ruling elders, such has been almost totally absent from Baptist churches in the United States until recent years. Perhaps as a consequence of the neo-Calvinism among Southern Baptists and or the influence of Dallas Theological Seminary, not a few Southern Baptist churches have established ruling elders, sometimes so as to produce major division in the congregation. Some have argued that elders are almost identical with “church staff,” but the crucial issue is whether the elders alone make decisions that according to congregational polity are normally to be made by the congregation. Some insist that all elders be ministers of the church, but to be decided is the question as to whether all elders are equal in authority or one elder, the pastor, has unique leadership. New Christians in Baptist churches or members who have come from other denominations often are quite amenable to ruling elders, whereas traditional or lifetime Baptists tend to be opposed to such. Few seem to realize that this is one of the marks that historically differentiated Baptists from Presbyterians.

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THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST

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THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST


By James Leo Garrett, Jr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Historical and Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first in a series of three articles by Dr. Garrett on “The Future of Baptist Theology with a Look at Its Past,” which was presented at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at an event. Part 1 reflected on the past in Baptist theology; Parts 2 and 3 anticipate its future.


Part 2: Looking to the Future of Baptist Issues

From my studies of the four-century history of Baptist theology I have come to the conclusion that the principal differentiating issues among Baptists during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries were the Calvinistic-Arminian difference, or to be more specific, the issues that differentiate the Reformed Synod of Dort (1618-1619) and the followers of Jacob Arminius who framed the five Remonstrant Articles (1610). In the part 1 of this three part series, I took a look at the Calvinistic-Arminian debate. In this part let’s look at issues that will likely surface in the future.

Will the Chief Differentiating and Characterizing Issues of the Past
Have a Significant Bearing on the Future?

First, because Baptists closely connect salvation with church membership, it is likely that soteriological concerns about the relationship between humanity and the divine will continue to resurface in Baptist life.

Second, likewise the issues surrounding revelation and the Bible, Christology, human origins, and eschatology are likely to resurface among Baptists.

Third, although some of the Baptist distinctives will continue to be strictly less distinctive of Baptists as other Christian denominations and nondenominational indigenous movements embrace some of them, Baptists may continue to be less than effective in teaching and fleshing out these historic distinctives amid their own people.

Fourth, Baptists may continue to rediscover their debt to the patristic consensus and to recognize their debt to the Magisterial Reformation as well as the Radical Reformation.

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Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 3:
It Is a Scriptural Promise

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Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 3:
It Is a Scriptural Promise


by Steve Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, McFarland Chair of Theology, and Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever.  We have seen two reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation: — “(Part 1) Salvation Is of God, Not of Us” — salvation is not ours to lose since God provides it, not we ourselves, and “(Part 2) It is Based upon a Life Changing Experience with God.”  In this third article of the series is the most compelling reason why we believe that we cannot lose our salvation – because eternal salvation is a Scriptural promise.

Continuing our in-depth study of Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul (in reference to his own salvation and the salvation of the Christians in Ephesus) spoke of being “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13b, see also Eph. 4:30).  What does being “sealed” mean?  In the first century as Paul wrote these words, seals were a very important tool in communicating messages.  Important instructions from a king to his army commander would usually be sent on a scroll and delivered by a messenger or courier.  Two challenges came with this method of communication.  First, it was possible that someone else might counterfeit a message and send the commander the wrong instructions.  Second, the enemy might intercept the message, open the scroll, and read its secret contents.  How could these problems be avoided?  The king would put wax on the scroll to seal it, and then would imprint his signet ring on the soft wax.  The commander could then know that the message was authentic and from the king because it had his sign upon it.  And since the seal had not been broken, the commander could be sure that the message had not been compromised by the enemy.

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THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST

">

THE FUTURE OF BAPTIST THEOLOGY
WITH A LOOK AT ITS PAST


By James Leo Garrett, Jr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Historical and Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. This is the first in a series of three articles by Dr. Garrett on “The Future of Baptist Theology with a Look at Its Past,” which was presented at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at an event. Part 1 reflects on the past in Baptist theology; Parts 2 and 3 anticipate its future.


Part 1: Looking Back on Four Centuries of Baptist Theology

The Chief Differentiating Theological Issues among Baptists

From my studies of the four-century history of Baptist theology I have come to the conclusion that the principal differentiating issues among Baptists during the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries were the Calvinistic-Arminian differences, or to be more specific, the issues that differentiate the Reformed Synod of Dort (1618-1619) and the followers of Jacob Arminius, who framed the five Remonstrant Articles (1610). I have also concluded that the chief differentiating doctrinal issues for Baptists during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were the liberal-evangelical issues. Now, let’s first take a look at the Calvinistic-Arminian debate.

These differences were initially manifested in the separate and distinct origins of the General and the Particular Baptists in England. They are essentially soteriological, dealing with the relationship of the divine and the human in our salvation. I have challenged the accuracy of the commonly used acronym to specify the Dortian doctrines, the TULIP, for it was not so much total depravity that separated these two theological systems from the Arminian viewpoint as it was the nature of repentance and faith— whether they are the gifts of God or the responses of human beings. Each of these Dutch-derived theological stances was capable of spawning extremes, notably Hyper-Calvinism from Dort and neo-Pelagianism from the Arminians. I have offered, possibly for the first time, five distinguishing marks of Hyper-Calvinism: the supralapsarian order of divine decrees; the pre-temporal covenant of redemption made by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Sprit; eternal justification somewhat separated for the exercise of faith in time; rejection of offers of grace to the non-elect; and antinomianism. Hyper-Calvinism plagued the Particular Baptists during the eighteenth century, and Pelagian positions can be detected among the liberal and modernist theologians in the Northern Baptist Convention in the early twentieth century.

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