Category: Ecclesiology

A Brief Visit with Dr. Paige Patterson

patterson.jpgOne year ago yesterday, we posted an interview with Southwestern Seminary president Dr. Paige Patterson, as Tim Rogers talked with Dr. Patterson in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, we present another.

Dr. Patterson was in Hugo, Oklahoma for the Frisco Baptist Association‘s annual evangelism conference, and I was able to talk to him briefly after the conference had ended. We talked about issues ranging from ecclesiology to ecumenism, the characteristic passion for missions that has always defined Southwestern, to the future legacy of the seminary as envisioned by the school’s eighth president. We even talked a little about some of the silly rumors generated by recent tabloid blogging.

You can listen to the interview right here in the post, or you can pack it onto your iPod for later use. Just click on the iTunes button in the sidebar under “Podcast.”

Closed Communion and Inerrancy – Part 1

lords-supper-emblemsWhen I entered seminary back in 1989, I was challenged by teaching that has come to be described as neo-orthodoxy. This teaching was presented as being open minded to what others believe. It was presented as the “humility” approach to understanding scripture without forcing one’s belief on another. I struggled with much of the teaching, such as, Jesus did not really walk on water because it cannot be reproduced thus it is only an embellished story of his followers. Some have called this teaching liberal, others called it moderate, and others called it heretical. When I struggled with the teaching my late father told me to hold onto the teaching that was validated with scripture and historically accepted and use that as a filter to determine if the new teaching was useful. I took his advice and it has worked very well as I do theology today.

With that in mind, I was reading Dr. Nathan Finn in his latest post at Between The Times. Dr. Finn certainly has the credentials to present what he has presented concerning the issues of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, his approach to the issue is one that, I believe, is full of flaws. Why? He seems to completely ignore the historical evidence of baptism being a prerequisite to the Lord’s Table. To be fair, he does express the historical record, but his summary seems to one built on sinking sand at least, and an apparent call to change the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) at the most.

In order to show where Dr. Finn’s suggestions will lead us, I would like to take his same assumptions and apply them to the Conservative Resurgence. In other words, I will borrow his outline and even a few of his words and logic in order to see where we would be had the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence taken Dr. Finn’s approach.

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Book Review: The Vanishing Church

Dr. Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and current president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, has recently published The Vanishing Church: Searching for Significance in the 21st Century. It is published by Hannibal Books, and is available from, among other places, We are grateful to frequent guest contributor Dr. Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, who has provided our review:

vanishingchurchThe first decade of the twenty-first century has included a renaissance among Southern Baptists in the area of ecclesiology. It is too early to determine whether this renaissance will outpace competing factors to become the defining mark of Southern Baptist life at the beginning of this millennium, or even whether it will emerge from its infancy to become a powerful influence in the life of our churches, but at this moment more Southern Baptist authors and pastors are writing more, preaching more, and doing more to shore up our ecclesiology than at any point in my lifetime, the lifetime of my parents, and the lifetime of my grandparents. The genre has included works written by and for the academy, such as John Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches; and Thomas White, Jason Duesing, and Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Restoring Integrity in Baptist Churches. Works such as R. Stanton Norman, The Baptist Way: Distinctives of a Baptist Church, have represented efforts by members of academia to provide primers on ecclesiology to those outside their guild. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has hosted a conference regarding “The Mission of Today’s Church,” resulting in a book by that title, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is now hosting annual conferences on Baptist Identity for theologians of both the professional and the armchair variety. Any discussion of this category would be remiss in passing over the works of Mark Dever, whose ministry and writings are both academically rigorous and practically oriented.

As important as it is, academic work alone will never succeed in restoring vigor to Baptist ecclesiology. Ecclesiology is, after all, the doctrine of the church, not the doctrine of the seminary, and in a Southern Baptist church the coin of the realm is good preaching. For our churches to find their way back to a biblical concept of the church, their pastors must learn to see the doctrine of the church in the Bible and learn to preach it with conviction and power.

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Landmarker or BF&M Confessional?

On other blogs and some of the comments on Wes Kenney’s recent post, there seems to be some confusion concerning what Southern Baptists have adopted as our confession of beliefs regarding baptism and the Lord’s supper. Wes dealt with this subject of baptism and the Lord’s table two years ago. The post and comments are interesting needless to say. Recently, the term, “Landmark” and “neo-Landmark” has been thrown around by some. In this post, I will show how “closed,” “strict,” and “close” communionists fit well withing the framework of the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M), but those that practice open communion, practice opposite of the beliefs stated in the confession of faith adopted by Southern Baptists.

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Restricted Communion and the Opponents of Landmarkism

The following post was written for SBC Today by Ben Stratton. Ben has pastored Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky since 1998, and currently serves as pastor of the Farmington Baptist Church in Farmington, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Mid-Continent Baptist Bible College, and is working toward a Master’s Degree at Murray State University. He and his wife Becki have two children.

On June 24, 1851, a group of Southern Baptists meet at Cotton Grove, Tennessee and passed the Cotton Grove Resolutions.  These resolutions helped to begin the Landmark controversy among Southern Baptists.  On one side were men who held strongly to landmarkism such as J.R. Graves, J.M. Pendleton, and A.C. Dayton.  On the other hand were men who strongly opposed the Landmark movement such as J.L. Dagg, R.B.C. Howell, and J.B. Jeter.   Yet what is interesting is that while these men disagreed on the validly of landmarkism, they were all in total agreement in their opposition to open communion.  This was virtually the unanimous position of Southern Baptists in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

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