Archive for May, 2012

To the Garden Alone:
The Life and Legacy of Edgar Young Mullins
Part Two

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To the Garden Alone:
The Life and Legacy of Edgar Young Mullins
Part Two


By Wes Kenney, currently a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Read Part One here.


The impact of Mullins on Southern Baptist life and theology scarcely can be overstated, and most of this legacy was a result of his tenure as president of Southern, which lasted until his death in 1928. As the head of what was, at the time of his election, the only Southern Baptist Seminary, he was immediately influential in the convention, serving on key committees and enjoying free access to the various organs of the denominational press. Additionally, he served as the elected president of the SBC from 1921 to 1924, and as president of the Baptist World Alliance in 1928, ensuring his place as a Baptist statesman virtually without peer, before or since.

The key to theological understanding for Edgar Young Mullins was the role of experience in the life of the Christian. This was the point from which he began the theological task,[1] and this understanding will be shown, in the remainder of this article, to be the defining factor in shaping his approach to the controversies from which his legacy to Southern Baptists would be drawn. The biographical and theological will be blended henceforth, for only taken together can they demonstrate the influence that he would hold even in the present day.

The desire to find middle ground, a mediating position, in virtually every controversy in which he was involved was a hallmark of Mullins’s career. This desire grew out of his fascination with and appropriation of the methodology of philosophers such as the pragmatism of William James, the personalism of William Parker Browne, and especially of the theological approach of Friedrich Schleiermacher, for whom theology was not “the systematic expression of revealed truth, but reflection upon religious experience.”[2]

The resignation just before Mullins assumed the presidency of Southern of the lone member of the faculty unsupportive of his election, F. H. Kerfoot, meant that rather than teaching church history as he had planned, Mullins would teach theology.[3] This would prove significant, as Mullins view of the importance of individual experience would lead him to distance himself from the classical Calvinism of James Petigru Boyce and the other founders of the school,[4] in favor of a via media (middle path) between Calvinism and Arminianism. As Mullins himself would write, with phrasing that could be quite helpful in current controversies within the SBC, “We are learning to discard both names and to adhere more closely than either to the Scriptures, while retaining the truth in both systems.”[5]

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To the Garden Alone:
The Life and Legacy of Edgar Young Mullins
Part One

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To the Garden Alone:
The Life and Legacy of Edgar Young Mullins
Part One


By Wes Kenney, currently a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

 

So begins Charles Austin Miles’s gospel song entitled In the Garden. Written in 1912, its lyrical depiction of a personal and intimate religious experience with the risen Christ illustrates well the theology, and indeed the legacy to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), of Edgar Young Mullins, fourth president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In this two part blog article, I will summarize the life of Mullins, provide a brief analysis of his understanding of the role of experience in the life of the Christian, and discuss how his work based on that understanding influenced the theological consensus that dominated the SBC for much of the twentieth century.

Before a discussion of Mullins’s impact on Southern Baptist life, we will survey the beginnings of the career of this leader, a career that had great impact on Baptist life and thought and continues to have influence today.

The fourth of eleven children, and the first son, borne by Sarah Cornelia Barnes Tillman Mullins to her husband Seth Granberry Mullins, Edgar Young Mullins was born on 5 January 1860 in Franklin County, Mississippi. Seth Mullins was a Baptist preacher like his father before him, and an 1857 graduate of Mississippi College.

Though the Civil War did not directly affect the Seth Mullins household, they did suffer great economic turmoil, as did the Baptist churches of Mississippi. War was also accompanied by a general breakdown of law and order across the South. Reconstruction did not improve life for Mississippians like the Mullins family, and late in 1869, they began the journey west to Texas. They eventually settled in Corsicana, where Seth aided in the reorganization of a Baptist church, and established a school. It was in this school that the young Edgar would receive his first formal instruction. Though he grew up in the home of a Baptist preacher, he was not coerced by his parents to accept their beliefs, and would not profess faith in Christ until adulthood.[1]

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The Sinner’s Prayer: Superstitious or Scriptural?


By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.


“You will not find a place where a superstitious sinner’s prayer is even mentioned. And you will not find an emphasis on accepting Jesus.”[1]

Chuck Colson died recently. Nixon’s former hatchet man is now with Jesus! Out of crisis, Colson came to Christ many years ago.

A friend influenced Mr. Colson’s salvation experience by giving him a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The Holy Spirit began convicting and convincing Colson of his sin and need.

Colson finally said, “No, I knew the time had come for me: I could not sidestep the central question Lewis (or God) had placed squarely before me. Was I to accept without reservations Jesus Christ as Lord of my life? “[2] He went on to say, “And as something pressed that question home, less and less was I troubled by the curious phrase “accept Jesus Christ.” It had sounded at first both pious and mystical, language of the zealot, maybe black-magic stuff. But “to accept” means no more than “to believe.” Did I believe what Jesus said? If I did, if I took it on faith or reason or both, then I accepted.”[3]

So early one Friday morning, in a secluded cottage along the coast of Maine, Charles W. Colson prayed a kind of “sinner’s prayer” to God, as he cried out, “Lord Jesus, I believe You. I accept You. Please come into my life. I commit it to You.”[4]

The “Sinner’s Prayer” has been getting a lot of negative press over the last few years. People showing disapproval of the “Sinner’s Prayer” will also say something like, “The Bible never talks about asking Jesus into your heart.”

This article will deal with two questions: Can Jesus Christ come to live in our hearts as Believers? And, can a sinner call on Jesus to be saved? Hopefully, some confusion will be cleared up as we look at the Scriptures. I will not be addressing Dr. Platt’s assertion that the sinner’s prayer is superstitious. Hopefully, he can explain more about that in the days to come.

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 8:
Challenges Bivocational Ministers Face

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 8:
Challenges Bivocational Ministers Face


Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.

This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
Part 4: Bivocational Ministry is Normal.
Part 5: Bivocational Ministry Is More Common Than Most People Realize.
Part 6: Bivocational Pastors Must Learn to Delegate.
Part 7: Bivocational Pastors Sharing Leadership Results in Healthier Churches.


Pastors who work a job in addition to their church are often referred to as bivocational pastors because they have two vocations: the church and something else. Though few pastors would choose to be bivocational in a perfect world, the majority of pastors will spend at least a portion of their career in bivocational situations. Therefore, all pastors should learn how to handle the challenges of this type of ministry so they will be prepared for it.

Since writing the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, I have had ample opportunity to discuss both the advantages and the challenges of bivocational ministry with pastors, denominational leaders, and ministerial students. Based on those discussions, as well as my own experiences as a bivocational pastor, I have developed this list of challenges that bivocational ministers face and some ways in which those ministers dealt with those challenges.

Challenges bivocational pastors deal with regularly:

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THE “NEW METHODISTS,” Part 4:
What Do We Have to Do to Fix Things?

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THE “NEW METHODISTS,” Part 4:
What Do We Have to Do to Fix Things?



Dr. Chuck Kelley is President and Professor of Evangelism at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary




This is the fourth of a four part series of articles taken from Dr. Kelley’s presentation on the New Methodists. In part one, he walked us through the history of evangelism in the SBC. In part two, he examined our current state of evangelism. In the third part, he explained where we’ve gone wrong. And in this final installment, Dr. Kelley presents a way to fix the problem.


Part 4: What Do We Have to Do to Fix Things?

What I have come to realize is that also included in our evangelistic process was a very aggressive discipleship process. Here is a snapshot of some of the elements of the discipleship process that were found in the typical Southern Baptist church of any size and location.

  • A Sunday night program that included small group discipleship training for all ages of the church and an evening service.
  • Each January there was a four to six day Bible conference teaching one book of the Bible to all ages.
  • At least once and often more frequently there were special events called study courses to train every age group in some aspect of Baptist and church life.
  • In addition there was a weekly missions training program for young boys and girls, along with youth camp and children’s camp in the summer. Plus more.

Though often criticized for overemphasizing conversion, in reality the opposite is true.

In the era of our greatest evangelistic growth, typical SBC churches had more discipleship activities than evangelistic activities. Aggressive evangelism was matched by aggressive discipleship. We were disciplistic. That is another one of my words. By it I mean an evangelistic discipleship that continually seeks to incorporate both evangelism and discipleship at the same time.

When did this emphasis on aggressive discipleship began to fade? During the late sixties.

When did our evangelistic fruitfulness began to fade? During the seventies.

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