Archive for the ‘General’ category

The Sandy Creek Tradition in Baptist History

December 30, 2006

The latest edition of the Founders Journal is hot off the presses. In order to obtain a copy head to to the subscriptions page.

In this issue Dr. Tom Nettles reproduces his excellent article on Shubal Stearns from Volume 2 of his new series on Baptist history, The Baptists. I would highly recommend that you get this series if you do not already own it.

In the second article, I have written an article on the Sandy Creek tradition in its sociological context. As a Calvinist, I have a doctrine of common grace as well as sovereign placement in history, and I think that, rather than perpetually rehashing confessions and written theologies, at times we might do better to place those individuals and groups/traditions at issue in their proper context in their time and place. God also uses these factors to shape these traditions, and we would never seek to interpret Scripture without some basic understanding of those same factors. This is why I am thankful to men like Richard A. Muller, who have not been afraid to challenge some prevailing theories of the past 150 odd years about the era of Protestant Orthodoxy, for he and his peers have done an excellent job in re-examining that period in not only the theological writing, but also the sociological and polemical context of that period. The result has been an overturning of the prevailing historical theses of the past – studies Dr. Vines, Dr. Caner, Dr. Patterson, and others would do well to carefully consider in trying to differentiate early Calvinist thinking from allegedly “Bezian” Calvinism or “Dortian” Calvinism. If they wish to dispute Dr. Muller and Dr. R. Scott Clark, for example, they should produce material that analysizes their work and rebuts it. I would highly recommend folks here obtain a copy of Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment (which, I believe, is available @

Here is the introduction to my article; my desire is not so much to commit to a particular, unrevisable thesis; rather my goal in this article is to encourage students and teachers/professors of Baptist history to widen the scope of their considerations of the Separate Baptist tradition in some as yet uncharted directions. Hopefully, somebody will “run with it.” Because, for whatever reason I can’t get footnotes to work properly here, I’m linking to Triablogue, my “home” blog.

See: Triablogue.


December 21, 2006

“Calvinism is fatalism,” is the accusation, and our anti-Calvinist friends make it routinely. This is a common charge. Is it true?

A. Fatalism requires libertarian free will in order to work. Since Calvinism opts for soft determinism and thus denies libertarianism, Calvinism cannot be charged with fatalism. Incidentally, for those who claim Calvinism (and orthodox Lutheranism) borrow from fatalism/pagan philosophy on this point, I would point out that if so, then those who opt for libertarian action theory are also borrowing from fatalism/pagan philosophy on this point, in fact moreso, since, unless the are Open Theists, they affirm the ends are already set in stone and the means to those ends involves libertarian freedom. To call attention to this is to call attention to their own theology.

B. Fatalism requires the ends to be set but not necessarily the means. In Calvinism, both the means and the ends are set.

C. In fatalism the ends are thus “fated” no matter what you do. The typical picture is the literary hero of Greek or Islamic literature that struggles against his fate, which happens regardless of the choices he makes.

D. Fatalism requires impersonal forces at work upon the person fated. In Calvinism, God is personal.

E. Finally, if you think Calvinism is fatalism, then argue with B.B. Warfield.
and dismantle what he had to say. Dr. Vines told his listeners to read the literature. Well, here you go.

Contending Earnestly…

November 6, 2006

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality…” (Jude 3-4, ESV)

There’s no doubt that many are shaken by what has surfaced this weekend regarding Ted Haggard. Not only has this [former] mega-church pastor man committed adultery, among other things, but upon the exposure of his sin, he blatantly lied to a national audience regarding the accusations. Now, I’m not here to throw rocks at Haggard, for the Lord will ultimately be his judge (and may the Lord show mercy on him). However, I would like to briefly point out a frightening trend in modern-day evangelicalism, and why we here at SBF place such an importance on providing a response to public statements that do not coincide with scripture.

In his recent sermon on Calvinism at First Baptist Woodstock, Jerry Vines was very adamant about ‘not attacking individuals’ during his critique. With this statement, Dr. Vines is repeating a mantra that many Southern Baptist leaders have echoed since the explosion of the blogsphere. Apparently, naming names and going point by point, word by word through a sermon preached by someone widely respected has now become a personal ‘attack’ on the individual rather than a critique of his theology. Johnny Hunt, the pastor of FBCW, has also been an example of sorts regarding this idea of ‘attacking individuals’. One cannot forget last February and the Founders post that caused such a bloodbath when the Caners came to Johnny’s defense. To disagree with Hunt on Calvinism was not viewed as a difference in theology, but rather as an unjust personal attack that bordered on sin. Undoubtedly, Vines, Hunt, and others are not completely without merit in voicing their opinion that some bloggers are ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘attacking’ in their extreme zeal to defend the scriptures. But unfortunately, these attitudes are clearly the exception rather than the rule. Instead of what would normally be considered ‘attacking’, many SBC leaders (and leaders of other denominations) have thrown around the ‘attack’ terminology at even the slightest critical analysis of their public sermons. Regardless if they are right or wrong in their theology, there is a movement going on right now to overlook these ‘small’ matters based on a leader’s personality, track record, or his desire for soul-winning. God help us.

Last year, I voiced some concerns on Ted Haggard, and so did my colleague, Timmy Brister. I’m not sure about Timmy, but I received a good bit of feedback from those at New Life who thought I was nit-picking and overly-critical of Haggard, among other things. Needless to say, there were some who were appalled that I would dare question this man and his ministry. It didn’t matter that Haggard said things like, “the emphasis in our church isn’t how to get your sins removed because that’s pretty easy to do.”, and ‘without believing in Jesus there is no guarantee of heaven’. No, they said, let’s not nit-pick about those things, for he is a good man! He has built a ministry that is most certainly being used by God! He is reaching millions with the message of Jesus! He is, he is…living a double life, committing adultery and sexual immorality, all while lying and continuing to lie when his deeds were exposed.

Crept in among us? I can think of no better assessment of the Haggard situation. But where were the signs? Why wasn’t this noticed sooner? Could it have been prevented? I would say that it most certainly could have. But we face an uphill climb if every time we want to compare a popular preacher’s message with scripture we are met with strong opposition of ‘attacks’, ‘character alignment’, and ‘being judgmental’. The problem with Haggard was not ultimately grounded in his secret life, although that did play a major role in things. No, the magnitude of this scandal could have been prevented if Haggard would have simply been called to account for his words and his theology –for the red flags concerning his theology were all over the place. But nobody dared to question God’s anointed, right?

What happens when a popular pastor is no longer accountable for his words from the pulpit? What happens when you build a mega-church from the ground up, receive public adoration and praise at a level unprecedented by any generation in church history, and do not surround yourselves with men who are your equals in every respect? What happens when we have a Christian community so infatuated with personalities, pragmatism, numbers, and ‘feel-good’ theology, that to call these men to an account is like touching ‘God’s anointed’? What happens when any disagreement on any minor point of the gospel is shunned as insensitive, mean-spirited, judgmental and unchristian? Well, this week we saw an example of what can potentially happen in these situations, and it should serve as a wakeup call to the ever-growing trend of the Pastor/CEO position.

Brothers, this Haggard scandal should frighten us, and it should reaffirm in our minds the need to contend earnestly for the faith. There is no doubt in my mind that dozens of scandals like this are just sitting around waiting to happen. For this could happen to anyone without accountability, yes, even within our own denomination. Must we nit pick at every flawed presentation of the gospel? Most certainly we should if they are clearly in error -obviously in a spirit of love. Should we dare to speak up against men who draw in thousands upon thousands in the name of Jesus? Well, if we believe Jude’s exhortation concerning how false teachers creep in among us, we most certainly will –out of wisdom of Satan’s schemes and love for the truth.

Let us not be discouraged by those who place personalities and numbers above theology and sound preaching. For there is a time to write concerning our common salvation, but there is also a time to contend earnestly for faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’ –the Holy Scriptures. May we continue to set the scriptures up as the supreme authority that trumps both personality and ministerial success, and may we contend to lovingly point out even the smallest of errors concerning the gospel –even among men whom we highly, highly respect.


New From Particular Baptist Press

October 30, 2006

The “Two-Stream Theory” continues to be debunked…

A New Arrival from Particular Baptist Press

Daniel and Abraham Marshall -Pioneer Baptist Evangelists to the South
by Dr. Thomas Ray

Thomas Ray has done a commendable work in bringing the lives of these two great evangelists back before the Christian public. Together with Shubal Stearns, Daniel Marshall founded the Sandy Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina, which had a direct bearing on the subsequent rapid growth of the Baptists in the Carolinas and Virginia. To Daniel Marshall also belongs the honor of establishing the first continuing Baptist church in Georgia at Kiokee in 1772.

Abraham Marshall, his son, was even more conspicuous as an itinerant pastor-evangelist. “In New England his sermons drew together vast crowds, some comparing him to Whitefield in eloquence.” The truth of this assessment will be borne out to the reader of this book.

This new work also contains the complete “Memoirs of the Late Rev. Abraham Marshall,” which are here reprinted for the first time since their original publication in 1824.

Bound in Grade B cloth vellum with gold stamping. 330 pages, with illustrations and maps. Fully indexed.

$28.50 plus shipping.
Particular Baptist Press
2766 W. FR 178
Springfield, MO 65810
(417) 883-0342

HT: Scripture Searcher

Also, an upcoming issue of The Founders Journal will include articles on this subject.

SBF Programming Announcement: The Vines Series

October 18, 2006

The team at SBF has decided to respond to a recent sermon preached by Dr. Jerry Vines at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA where Dr. Johnny Hunt is the pastor. Vines’ message is entitled “Calvinism: The Baptist and His Election” and can be viewed online here.

Dr. Vines is a powerful figure in the Southern Baptist Convention and carries a wide influence through his ministry. The reason we at SBF have chosen to respond to this message by Dr. Vines is because we believe there are several misunderstandings of Calvinism in his message. As often is the case, most people hear about Calvinism from non-Calvinists (or anti-Calvinists) who either unintentionally or intentionally misrepresent the Reformed doctrines of grace and monergism. Therefore, we are writing to interact with what Dr. Vines has said, and as a result, to offer a more faithful presentation of Calvinism.

When this blog was created, we intended to respond to and correct the faulty notions of a website called BaptistFire. Less than two weeks into our existence, this website disappeared, not allowing us to respond to their attacks on the Reformed faith. We are quite certain that, were BaptistFire still existing today, Dr. Vines’ message would make the headlines of their website. Therefore, we believe that it is in accord with our stated purpose of this blog as well as in the general interest of the wider audience to present the glorious doctrine of grace from those who espouse it. All of us at SBF are Calvinists and are not ashamed to be called such; however, given that there are so many misunderstandings, caricatures, and straw men regarding Calvinism, any time that word is used, it must necessarily be qualified; furthermore, given that so many people are being informed on Calvinism from those who have more than a mild distaste for it, we think it would be profitable to set the doctrines plainly on Scripture, not mere sentiments, emotional appeals, or philosophical presuppositions.

The goal of our posting is to allow each article to stand for a couple of days before another one is posted. The posts probably will not be in the order to which they were presented in the message, but we hope to address each major point individually, giving due treatment without any confusion. In the end, it is our hope and prayer that we have accurately presented the truths of the Reformed faith and helped you in your understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

September 26, 2006

Look what my friend Art Rogers is doing!

Here’s a church that “gets it.” FYI, Brother Art has only been pastor there for a few months, so he’s the new guy. It speaks to the grace of God that this church is willing to do this. Compare this with the attitude that “some of these folks are our best prospects for evangelism,” which was said on the floor of the SBC this past June in response to Tom Ascol’s resolution on this issue.

Please, drop Brother Art and his church a word of encouragement over @ 12 Witnesses.

The Calvinometer

September 10, 2006

Everybody likes to ask Calvinists about our doctrine of assurance. Well, now you know. See here.

The Lord Gives and The Lord Takes Away

September 5, 2006

Please pray for our brothers and sisters at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, OK. Four of their young people will killed last night in a head on collision on the interstate.

From Job 1:

13Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,

14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,

15and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

16While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

17While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

18While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,

19and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

21He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Help Alpha & Omega Ministries

September 1, 2006

If you haven’t heard already, Alpha and Omega Ministries was burgled last night and lots was stolen. when the burglar alarm failed. They need some help. So, if you can manage it, please, help out the brethren. They don’t ask for help much, and this is an extraordinary circumstance. Pray that the computer, etc. will be recovered and that the culprit will be brought to justice. Pray also that God gives them a new heart and moves them to repent and trust in Christ. That’s a low blow to steal from a church or ministry.

A quick personal note:

For those wondering why I have not responded to email this week, (A) My birthday fell this week, I’m on vacation; and (B) I’m also living in a zone through which Ernesto is passing, as well as some other significant bad weather, and (C) a good friend passed away Tuesday. Ergo, I’m kinda swamped.

GoodBye, Doctor Corts

August 31, 2006

This past Tuesday evening, a dear friend, and my former pastor, C. Mark Corts of Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC, passed into that which is to come after a long struggle with kidney and heart diseases. He was a model of theological conviction, drive, determination, and cooperation with others of differing views (Memphis Declaration Signers, here’s the reason I signed the declaration), underwritten by a love for His Lord and a desire to teach His Word. I had the opportunity to serve on the staff of Calvary several years ago, and I can say that, while I somewhat lament the conditions there now, for the place isn’t what it once was, the church has, because he built it for His Lord not on Jesus Loves Me pabulum sermons but on expository preaching and teaching from both the pulpit and the Sunday School classes, fared far better than most SBC churches I know in these days of doctrinal and biblical illiteracy and struggles over biblical sufficiency.

This article appeared in my newspaper today. Please join me in grieving and rejoicing with his family and his church. We have lost another soldier of the cross in the Southern Baptist Convention this year. Dr. Rogers and Mrs. Criswell recently joined the Church Triumphant. It looks like the Convention is moving out of Nashville and into Heaven these days, doesn’t it?


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