Category: Doctrine

Competitors to Biblical Authority


By Dan Nelson, Pastor,
First Baptist Church,
Camarillo, CA


A very distinctive mark of Baptists is our insistence that biblical authority as our sole authority for faith and practice. I realize that this is hardly an exclusive claim for every church with a high view of God’s Word. For these churches could make a similar statement. As a matter of fact, there may be a misunderstanding of perceived arrogance by Baptists about this position. So far, I have tried to disclose a biblical perspective for our emphasis. I want to do the same here.

The claim of biblical authority is not inferring that Baptists are the only ones approaching everything from a biblical perspective. What I have always said is that “we don’t say we are the only ones right in our church, but we believe the Bible is our authority and we try to follow the Bible as closely as possible”. This position is my disclaimer statement to those who feel we might sound arrogant or intolerant about this particular topic.

To understand this position, we need to understand the competitors to biblical authority. I am not saying that these competitors erase belief in biblical views but that these factors compete for that position. What are these other sources of authority?

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Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology

Election

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Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology

Election


By Ron F. Hale,
Minister of Missions,
West Jackson Baptist Church,
Jackson, TN


My fingers eagerly tore into a package that resulted in a “free” book. The book came to me as I pastored in the Kansas City area in 1989. The title of the book was: Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election by Robert B. Selph. Later I learned that Pastor Selph had sent this book to every pastor in the SBC. This was no small endeavor for the pastor of a small church in Prescott, Arizona.

Selph had been inspired by Founders Ministries and their early work called the Boyce Project. Ernest C. Reisinger (the founder of the Founders Ministries) had the goal of republishing the Abstract of Systematic Theology by James Petigru Boyce, the primary founder and first theology teacher of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The second phase of the strategy was to get Boyce’s Abstract to every student graduating from the six official Southern Baptist seminaries and a few more.[1]

In his book, Selph shares the following concerning Election and Evangelism: “If you really want to be invigorated in your faith and renewed in your courage to the task of evangelism, reflect upon how God has used the preaching of the historic doctrines of grace (election, predestination, etc.) to bring many to Himself in salvation!”[2]

History reveals that Selph’s view of election and evangelism caused meager results in reaching his community with the Gospel. Over the last twenty-four years (since the printing of his book), his church has reported only forty people being baptized, that is less than two people per year. The membership has gone from 118 members in 1988 (the year he wrote the book) down to 60 members in 2011.

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Thoughts on the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association Decision
about Pleasant Valley Community Church
Part 2: Reflections on the Significance of What Happened

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Thoughts on the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association Decision
about Pleasant Valley Community Church
Part 2: Reflections on the Significance of What Happened



By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


Reflections on the Daviess-McLean Decision

In Part 1, I shared my perceptions (from admittedly incomplete knowledge) about the decision of Daviess-McLean Baptist Association (DMBA) to deny the membership request from Pleasant Valley Community Church (PVCC). The main point was that although theological issues were involved in the decision because of the strongly Calvinistic doctrine of PVCC, the decision appears to have been based more on attitudinal issues by PVCC that the member churches of DMBC felt could be divisive. Here are some brief reflections on my understanding of the significance of the association’s decision to deny membership to PVCC, and the implications of this action for other churches and associations as we move forward.

(1)   The local church is the center of (earthly) authority in Baptist polity. Local church autonomy is a distinctive Baptist belief (as I have discussed). The local churches in Daviess-McLean Baptist Association were perfectly within their rights to deny membership to Pleasant Valley Community Church. This determination was made not by associational officials, but by duly authorized messengers from the member churches of DMBA. They were voting as representatives of their own local church, not as representatives of the association as a whole. At the same time, DMBA has no authority to force PVCC to change their doctrine or practice. PVCC can worship as they choose, believe as they choose, and do church as they choose. The biblical foundation of church autonomy, of course, is the priority given to local churches in the New Testament. However, theologically it reflects that through the priesthood of believers (another Baptist distinctive), each member seeks the will of God, the headship of Jesus Christ, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and represents that divine leadership in voting on decisions in the church. This collective reflection of the will of God is much more reliable than putting this decision solely in the hands of a few fallible authoritarian leaders. This is a wonderful and marvelous thing that inflexible top-down hierarchical denominations like Catholics and Presbyterians “desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12, KJV).

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Thoughts on the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association Decision
about Pleasant Valley Community Church
Part 1: Attempting to Analyze What Actually Happened

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Thoughts on the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association Decision
about Pleasant Valley Community Church
Part 1: Attempting to Analyze What Actually Happened



By Dr. Lemke, Provost, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology, Director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry, and Editor of the
Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


News stories from the Western Recorder, from Associated Baptist Press, and Baptist Press reported last week that the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky chose to deny membership to Pleasant Valley Community Church, purportedly in part because of the strong Calvinism affirmed by Pleasant Valley Community Church. In this article, I want to suggest my best guess of the factors which led to this decision. In Part 2 I want to suggest what could be some implications of this decision for other churches and associations in the SBC.

Some Important Caveats

These are some wise dictums which we should normally heed as guidelines for wise living:

Dictum 1: Don’t get enmeshed in other people’s fights.

Dictum 2Don’t speak about things about which you have little knowledge, because when you open your mouth you’ll reveal your ignorance.

I’m going to risk cautiously disobeying these wise dictums in order to comment on the denial of the application of Pleasant Valley Community Church to join Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky. (I could note that many blog commentators frequently violate both of these dictums). So let me do so with these important caveats:

(a) I do not know anyone on either side associated with this event, nor have I spoken with them personally or communicated with them. The only thing I know comes through published reports and commentaries, and a couple of conversations with persons closer to the situation who have communicated with some of the persons involved. I have not read all of the documents associated with the event. So I am writing based on the limited published information I have seen, along with some hearsay evidence. That’s not very strong evidence in a court of law or in the scholarly world, and as a former journalist I would not publish such unconfirmed opinions as a factual news story. So what I am sharing is just my opinion or speculation based on my best understanding of the limited information I have.

(b) I am not a member of a church in the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association, so I have no real standing in this discussion. This is their decision, not mine. I am simply commenting on the event as an outside observer.

 

With those important caveats in mind, I will share my perception in this Part 1 of the root causes of this event. As I best understand it, there are two primary contributing causes that led to this event – one more theological in character, and the other more attitudinal in nature. At this point, I am more interested in describing the perceptions involved than the realities involved – that is, I’m attempting to understand what perceptions may have led to this decision.  I have no way of judging the accuracy of those perceptions. Perceptions aren’t always the same as reality, but they do impact reality. Again, I want to be very clear that some of this at least to some degree speculation on my part, based on the available evidence. Then, in Part 2, I’ll suggest some implications of this decision in other associations, and propose a way that might help avoid repeated occurrences of similar events in other associations.

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Backsliding is Not a New Testament Message


By Bob Williford, former director of the Hope Migrant Mission Center at the Migrant Farm Labor Center near Hope, Arkansas, a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.


For many years I have studied what seems to be an obvious abuse of terminology within the Evangelical Community. Backsliding is often used to describe the sin of Christians who have had an ‘experience‘ with the Lord have returned to their old sinful ways. I was guilty of preaching from this platform until observing those who were rededicating their lives to once again follow God. However, what I hear from repentant sinners is, “I had an experience with God and……” This often repeated statement enabled me to take a journey into God’s Word that has demonstrated an error  that has almost become a doctrine for many. And what I discovered is quite revealing.

I will address this in another blog, but repeating the so-called ‘ sinner’s prayer’ somehow allows eternal salvation to be claimed but without an understanding what Jesus meant when he  said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24.

There are at least two problems with utilizing ‘backsliding’ as a reference to Believers in Jesus Christ:

  1. Backsliding as seen in the OT speaks of national sins of Israel against Yaweh
  2. Backsliding ascribed to Christians is not found in the New Testament.

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