Sunday, March 12, 2006

Malcolm Yarnell's "The Heart of a Baptist," pt. 1


On March 9, Dr. Malcolm Yarnell gave a Founders Day address at Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, where he serves as the Director of the Center for Theological Research and Associate Professor of Theology. The title of his message is "The Heart of a Baptist" and has also been presented to the students and faculty of Criswell College and the leadership of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Yarnell begins his paper with this disclosure: "This sermon comes from a heart breaking for Baptists, for we have begun to lose our way." I appreciate the genuine concern for modern Baptist life that comes through in this presentation. Yarnell makes some excellent points concerning Baptist identity and raises some legitimate concerns about what he identifies as threats to the healthy maintenance of that identity. Predictably, Calvinism makes the list of threats, though it is couched in terms of "the Calvinist-Arminian Debate." At the very least I think his list should have been--and easily could have been--expanded. In fact, I would argue that some of the threats he overlooks are far more serious than some that made his list. Had he included them, his paper would probably have been far less popular with the constituents to whom it has been presented but could have been far more helpful to Baptists within the SBC.

The paper is divided into 3 major sections, the first of which is "The Biblical Center of the Baptist Movement." Yarnell asserts that Baptists are the "theological heirs" if not the "direct historical heirs" of the Anabaptists. Obviously, that is a highly debatable position. Even those modern Baptists who read history this way would want to nuance very carefully what is meant by "theological heirs." The case can be made more readily for the 17th century English General Baptists than for the Particular Baptists. Yet, even the General Baptists, for the most part, would not claim wholesale Anabaptist theology as their heritage.

Given this, Yarnell favors Balthasar Hubmaier over John Calvin as a safe guide in locating the theological center for modern Baptists. He limits his focus to our Lord's Great Commission and shows the wisdom of Hubmaier's understanding of the ongoing validity of that commandment in contrast to Calvin's mistaken idea that it was incumbent only on the original apostles (though he does acknowledge that Calvin was motivated by his opposition to Romanism's assertions of apostolic succession). Certainly, Baptists would heartily agree that our Lord's commission continues to obtain today and will continue "to the end of the age." However, Yarnell overplays this point by making the following misleading statement:


Unfortunately, in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, Baptists tended to emulate Calvin rather than Hubmaier regarding contemporary application of the Great Commission (2).


This suggests that Calvin did not believe in missions and evangelism. Anyone who has read the historical record, however, knows that to be untrue. John Calvin himself led out in bold evangelistic enterprises to such a degree that Philip Hughes calls him a "Director of Missions" and refers to Geneva under his leadership as a "school of missions." As I have elsewhere written, "Under Calvin, hundreds of men were sent out to preach the gospel in hostile lands, extending their work as far as Brazil." For an excellent treatment of Calvin's evangelism and missionary involvement read the article on that subject by Ray Van Neste published in the Founders Journal. With all of the misrepresentations of Calvin that are current in the SBC, it is unfortunate that Dr. Yarnell has given more fodder to the cause by leaving the impression that Calvin was against missions. Furthermore, a more relevant critique could be made of contemporary Southern Baptists by noting that unfortunately, many of them tend to emulate Hubmaier rather than Calvin regarding the doctrine of sin and its effects on human nature.

Yarnell also repeats the story that accuses John C. Ryland, Sr. of saying to William Carey, "Sit down, young man; when God wants to convert the heathen, He'll do it without your help or mine" (2). John Ryland, Jr., who was a close friend of Carey's, repudiates this story, saying, "I never heard of it till I saw it in print, and cannot give credit to it at all" (Life of Andrew Fuller, 1816 edition, p. 175; cited in I. Murray, The Puritan Hope, chapter 7, fn. 14, p. 280). No doubt that sentiment was present and even prevailed in certain sectors of 18th century English Particular Baptist life, but it is unfortunate to see Ryland, Sr. continuing to be accused of giving it voice.

Yarnell takes 5 Greek terms from Matthew 28:16-20 to diagram the heart of a Baptist: Iesous (Jesus) poreuthentes (go, or going) matheteusate (make disciples), baptizontes (baptizing) and didaskontes (teaching).

Building on these 5 words, Yarnell identifies "a Baptist" as one who is Christ-centered and who because of this has a four-chambered heart that makes him an evangelist, a disciple of Jesus, committed to baptism as "the beginning Baptist distinctive" and a teacher of "the Bible entirely and the Bible alone." If he had asked me, I would have suggested adding one more term, prosekenusan (worshipped), but, hey, it is his paper, not mine and, after all, who ever heard of a five-chambered heart?

I am going to resist commenting on his repeated assertion that the Trinity is primarily focused on glorifying the Son (4), though I am intrigued by this observation. Rather, I will simply say, "Amen" to his description of the Christocentric foundation and the evangelistic first chamber of Baptist identity. It is with the other three chambers and, more specifically, his perceived "traumas that threaten the Baptist heart" that I have my greatest concerns.

Under matheteusate, Yarnell concludes, "to be a Baptist is to be a disciple of Jesus" (6). I would never argue with that, but I would point out that the verb is not concerned with being a disciple but with making disciples. I am not at all suggesting that Yarnell doubts this, but the subtle shift from the imperative to the indicative may serve to blunt the force of what could be and should be a major critique of contemporary SBC life. He helpfully acknowledges, "The person who claims to be a Christian, but is unwilling to take up the cross, should be considered a hypocrite. The Christian faith issues forth in an obedient life to the commands of Jesus Christ" (6).

I agree with Yarnell completely, which is why my Baptist heart breaks at the undeniable multiplication of such hypocrites in our contemporary SBC churches. The kind of evangelism and discipleship that have been practiced under both moderate and conservative banners are virtually indistinguishable but they share the common indictment that they have filled our church rolls with people who, using Yarnell's own standards of evaluation, can at best be called hypocrites. When the majority of the 16.3 million Southern Baptists fall under this indictment, shouldn't that be perceived as a threat to our Baptist health?

Concerning baptism, I greatly appreciate Yarnell's insistence that we insist that the only proper candidate for this ordinance is a believer. However, I do not understand his dismissal of Fred Malone's book, The Baptism of Disciples Alone, as an example of "scholastic Calvinism on the right" (7). I further appreciate his linking it to the Lord's Supper and church discipline as necessary to a proper Baptist ecclesiology. However, how can one believe this and survey the contemporary Southern Baptist landscape which is virtually devoid of the practice of church discipline and not sound an alarm at this very point? I wish Yarnell had taken the opportunity to highlight this serious problem.

Under teaching Yarnell notes that both our doctrine and our practice are to be derived from the Bible alone. "Requiring anything more than that which the Bible requires is, by basic Baptist definition, a legalistic heresy. Requiring anything less than that which the Bible requires is, by basic Baptist definition, a liberal heresy" (7-8). Again, an opportunity for a much needed critique is passed over here. Can anyone legitimately deny that most Southern Baptist churches fail at just this point? When 60% of our members show no signs of spiritual life can we not surmise that we are requiring something less--significantly less--than that which the Bible requires? By this definition, Yarnell must conclude that there is widespread liberal heresy within the SBC. Of course, he did not say that. He should have. Nevertheless, if his analysis is correct, then that conclusion is unavoidable.


I will address the last major section of this paper, "The Traumas Which Endanger the Baptist Heart," later this week and I will offer some concluding thoughts on the whole in light of another "White Paper" that appeared last year from an official of another one of our Southern Baptist seminaries.


25 comments:

G. Alford said...

I just love these Self-Anointed Prophets who from time to time feel they must step in and set all of us Baptist who “have begun to lose our way” back on the straight and narrow path of true Baptist Identity.

Thank you for your concern Dr. Yarnell but the heart of this Baptist is just fine.

Castusfumus said...

Calvin comments on Matt. 7:6 (pearls before swine):

“As the ministers of the gospel, and those who are called to the office of teaching, cannot distinguish between the children of God and swine, it is their duty to present the doctrine of salvation indiscriminately to all. Though many may appear to them, at first, to be hardened and unyielding, yet charity forbids that such persons should be immediately pronounced to be desperate.” He then defines the dogs and swine as, “Those who, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable…Hence it is evident, how grievously the words of Christ are tortured by those who think that He limits the doctrine of the gospel to those only who are teachable and well prepared. For what will be the consequence, if nobody is invited by pious teachers, until by his obedience he has anticipated the grace of God? On the contrary, we are all by nature unholy, and prone to rebellion. The remedy of salvation must be refused to none, till they have rejected it so basely when offered to them, as to make it evident that they are reprobate and self-condemned.”

Does this sound "anti-evangelistic"?

J.D. Rector said...

I am greatly concerned that even though Dr. Yarnell was quoted in his paper that "... there is room for the 5-point Calvinist" in the Southern Baptist denomination, can one really believe that? Just last year, I was referred to as "one of those Calvinists" by another brother in our denomination and his comment was not in a complimentary tone. I solidly prefer to be called a reformer because I think it is obviously needed in our denomination... and no, I do not think that men need to be "5-pointers" to be competent to teach or serve. My prayer for my denominational home is that Southern Baptists reclaim their doctrinal heritage according to the classical teaching of our fathers with regards to the Doctrines of Grace. We have disobeyed God by ignoring the Biblical commands and the Biblical standards!

Thanks Tom for advocating the Biblical model and standard of church discipline.

Greg Welty said...

Come on, G. Alford! Dr. Yarnell deserves much better than that. He never called himself a "Prophet," much less a "Self-Anointed Prophet". He's just calling 'em as he sees 'em.

If you think he's wrong, then engage the argument with charity and civility. Unnecessarily inflammatory comments won't advance genuine dialogue at all.

Tom Ascol himself, in many ways, also believes that we as Baptists have begun to lose our way, but you haven't dismissed *him* as a "Self-Anointed Prophet" :-)

Dusty Deevers said...

Come on, Dr. Welty! You assume others are interested in advancing dialog, when in reality they (he) is advancing something, though not the argument. Do you define hyper-Calvinists as those who don’t give an altar call? Where does your church land in that “threat to the SBC” category?

Garvis Campbell said...

Tom,

Thank you for this intriguing post. I haven't yet read Dr. Yarnell's sermon in its entirety, but I have reviewed his brief melee with Calvin's commentary on Matt 28:16-20. I have taken a closer look at this commentary and have come to the initial conclusion that the accomplished professor is simply reading the reformer through colored glasses.

Like any good Biblical theologian, of course Calvin is interpreting the Great Commission in its historical context to apply to the apostles. Yet Dr. Yarnell makes the leap of logic to then state that "[t]he import of Calvin’s entire discussion is that the commission was for the apostles alone." This charge is simply untrue. Commenting on Matt 28:20, Calvin said,

"In short, let us hold that by these words teachers are appointed over the Church, not to put forward whatever they may think proper, but that they, as well as others, may depend on the mouth of the Master alone, so as to gain disciples for him, and not for themselves."

Calvin unambiguously, by necessary inference and by outright declaration, summarizes his thought of our Lord's command as applying to all who are appointed to teach by the Church. The above quote leaves no question, at least in this reader's mind, to the fact that Calvin did apply the Great Commission to the modern church in every age. Dr. Yarnell's statement that Calvin "did not consider the apostolic commission as extending to the visible church!" (exclamatory in the original) is an interpretation of the commentary not supported by a clear reading of the text. Of course Calvin was zealous to deny Rome the claim to apostolic succession. But the conclusion that this somehow influenced his thinking and therefore means he didn't think future teachers of the church would also "go" is an encumbering stretch of one's imagination (a stretching which must be rooted in Dr. Yarnell's opposition to Calvin's interpretation of Scripture elsewhere, for I cannot find it in the commentary in question).

As far as Calvin's comment that "in the present day, the operations of Christ are carried on wonderfully in a secret manner," I see nothing objectionable here in the context. Dr. Yarnell also attempts to use this quote as a supporting point of his argument against Calvinism. Yet, while laboring to fulfill our Lord's commissioning orders, is there not always a measure of mystery as to how the "gospel surmounts innumerable obstacles", as Calvin expressed? The reformer's meaning, based on his statement above and the record of his life (as you hit upon in the post), simply cannot mean he is opposed to evangelism, unless, that is, he was unable to follow his own train of thought – an indictment which not many would be confident to make against this Reformation divine.

Of course, I am willing to be taught by those more learned than I. If in error, I would welcome constructive criticism. I look forward to your post later this week addressing the last major section of Dr. Yarnell's writing.

SDG,

Garvis

Garvis Campbell said...

For those interested, you can read Calvin's commentary here:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom33.ii.li.html

Garvis

Greg Welty said...

Hi Dusty,

I'm always happy to interact with one of our SWBTS students. You say:

> You assume others are interested in advancing dialog,

I don't assume it; I know it. Malcolm is a friend of mine. We first met in Oxford in 1998, long before I arrived in Ft. Worth in 2003. We were at the same college for a year, and shared meals and many conversations together.

> when in reality they (he) is advancing something, though not
> the argument.

You know that "in reality" Malcolm is not interested in advancing dialogue? You know this?! How, pray tell?

Just because you disagree with a man's conclusions is no reason to impugn his sincerity. I was there at that chapel. He publicly invited feedback from others. He said he posted his message online for just that very reason. Why would he do such a thing if he wasn't interested in dialogue?

> Do you define hyper-Calvinists as those who don’t give an
> altar call?

No. Along with my agreement with many excellent points in Malcolm's message, this is a point of disagreement I have with him. I believe that Timothy George, in the source cited, is talking about those who reject the free offer of the gospel and duty-faith, and not about the practice of giving invitations. I've told Malcolm my opinion on this. And guess what? I think we're still friends and fellow Southern Baptists :-)

Why not just address the arguments specifically, rather than plying innuendo and personal attacks?

> Where does your church land in that “threat to the SBC”
> category?

It's not a threat, as far as I can tell!

Dusty Deevers said...

Dr. Welty,

Thanks for your response and rebukes. I accept them and will take the proper means in keeping with repentance. I was prodded by another and did not use spiritual discernment in my post.

I appreciate your rebuke.

Greg Welty said...

Hey Dusty,

No problem! I'm just a fellow brother in Christ calling 'em as I see 'em :-) I know you're a sharp thinker, and that we could all ultimately benefit from your thoughtful reflection.

BTW, although you would never raise it, I want others to know that you were one of the best Christian Apologetics students I had in Spring 2004 :-)

G. Alford said...

Professor Welty,

On page 1 of Dr. Yarnell’s self proclaimed sermon on what is “The Heart of a Baptist” (implying, intentionally or otherwise that he is about to unfold in his sermon what identifies a “TRUE” Baptist) he made the following comments.

Throughout its twenty centuries of history, the Baptist movement has been under
attack from numerous directions, from the outside by individuals, both non-Christian and
Christian, and by hostile public authorities; and from the inside by those who would
compromise the integrity of the Baptist faith. These attacks have varied as to time and
place, as to ferocity and duration, as to their systemic or ad hoc nature, and as to the
degree of their success or failure. However, they all have one thing in common: they seek
to bring trauma, even permanent arrest, to the heart of the Baptist movement.

Today, we must examine Scripture for the heart of the Baptist and clearly and
carefully identify those internal agents which would cause it harm.


You mentioned "charity and civility"? I do hope you have ask your friend Dr. Yarnell about his "charity and civility"... ???

Now, I take Dr. Yarnell at his word that those “individuals, both non-Christian and Christian” that he is about to identify would if allowed to go unchecked “compromise the integrity of the Baptist faith” and are guilty of seeking “to bring trauma, even permanent arrest, to the heart of the Baptist movement”!

Then on page 9 Dr. Yarnell identifies anyone who does not believe in Decisional Regeneration (the theological underpinning of the modern invitation system and that of it’s chief promoter Charles G. Finney) as a Hyper-Calvinist.

I do suppose someone needs to remind Dr. Yarnell that the Baptist Movement pre-dates Finney’s Invitation System. And that many Baptist of his day (including Spurgeon) warned against the abuses of Hyper-Evangelism as well as Hyper-Calvinism.

Dr. Yarnell’s indexing of a rejection of the modern invitation system to the definition of Hyper-Calvinism unfairly and wrongly paints most Historic Baptist (from the Strict and General streams) as being Hyper-Calvinist.

Come on, Professor Welty! What gives Dr. Yarnell the right to redefine what a true Baptist really is, even to the exclusion of those men who first defined “the Heart of a Baptist”?

And for the record “I do think he is wrong!” and I am “just calling em as I see ‘em”.

P.S. How’s that, not one unnecessary or inflammatory comment? Just the facts…

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. Welty,

Normally I would give any Christian brother, but especially a seminary professor, the benefit of the doubt as far as motives.

BUT, in this case I'm with Dusty. Dr. Yarnell is a smart as well as a learned man. He is also speaking and writing as a member of SWBTS faculty. For him, then to characterize people in the SBC who are Calvinistic as being hyper-Calvinists is either careless or deceitful.

As Dr. Ascol stated, hyper-Calvinism is nowhere to be found in SBC life today. Traditional Calvinism, however, is on the rise. Dr. Ascol is being nice about this, but Dr. Yarnell is obviously trying to discredit his Reformed opponents in this debate by demonizing us with the title of "hyper-Calvinist."

If he has actually witnessed true hyper-Calvinism as a rising force in SBC life today, let him give examples. Otherwise, as I stated above, I will have to assume he is slinging mud carelessly or deceitfully.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Greg Welty said...

G. Alford and Jeff Young,

You make many interesting points. I agree with you that not giving altar calls does not in and of itself constitute hyper-Calvinism. I make a distinction between coming down an aisle and coming to Christ. Thus, I would have no problem with someone who said, "I believe that men *must* choose Christ in order to be saved. And God invites all men everywhere to come to him through Christ. Thus, when I preach, I urge my listeners to come to Christ in faith and entrust themselves to him. I invite them to come to Christ. But the fact that I don't additionally ask them to walk an aisle doesn't mean I don't invite them to come to Christ." I don't believe that such a person 'really' denies inviting others to Christ.

In charity to Dr. Yarnell, however, he says, "it matters not exactly *how* you conduct the invitation, but we must treasure the divine command to be instruments in the calling of sinners to repentance and faith" (9, emphasis mine). So he is not prescribing some particular method. And this flexibility is entirely in accordance with the BFM chapter on missions and evangelism, which says "It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ" (XI).

On my view, I take it that the invitation to come to Christ can occur *in the preaching of the gospel itself*, and that *that* method is in harmony with the gospel of Christ. I'm not sure Dr. Yarnell would disagree.

However, Dr. Yarnell is more than capable of defending himself, if need be. I was just trying, in my initial comments, to raise the bar of discussion a bit :-)

Just one further observation. Jeff Young, you say, "For him, then to characterize people in the SBC who are Calvinistic as being hyper-Calvinists is either careless or deceitful." Let's assume in brotherly charity that it's the former rather than the latter. That doesn't involve motives, does it? So why raise the issue? That was my point.

tl said...

Dr. Yarnell's statement of "20 centuries of the Baptist movement" leads me to wonder if Landmarkism is now an accepted theory at SWBTS?

By using that same phrase, is he claiming that other Christian denominations are not in fact true churches?

If his assertion is correct, does SWBTS require students from other denominations to be re-baptized before they enroll or take classes?

G. Alford said...

Professor Welty,

Thank you for indeed raising the bar of this discussion just a bit :-) I appreciate your comments and your willingness to openly debate the issues confronting the future harmony of our convention.

Just for the record, I am a “Slobbering 5-Point Calvinist” (But I am NOT a Hyper-Calvinist!) and, while I have read about Hyper-Calvinist in Church History, I have yet to meet one within or without the SBC. So I am in agreement with Jeff, in all charity to Dr. Yarnell, “If he has actually witnessed true hyper-Calvinism as a rising force in SBC life today, let him give examples.” And I will recruit an army of 5-Point Calvinist Southern Baptist Pastors, who will stand shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Yarnell, to do battle against this shared enemy of the Gospel.

Professor Welty, I agree with every word of what you said about “God invites all men everywhere to come to him through Christ. Thus, when I preach, I urge my listeners to come to Christ in faith and entrust themselves to him.” and I fully agree with the BFM that “It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ”

Also, I consistently (week in and week out) call for new believers to make a public profession of their faith. But it is not their profession which produces their faith. As the BFM correctly states:

“ Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Tl,

While (in my humble opinion) Dr. Yarnell is expressing concern over an imaginary threat of Hyper-Calvinism to the SBC, I am becoming increasingly concerned over the clear rise of Landmark influence with the SBC. A theology that, unlike Hyper-Calvinism, has split the convention one time in our relatively short history, and which left unchecked will surely do so again.

By His Grace Alone,

Castusfumus said...

Could I make a bold statement as a solid 5 pointer and get some credable opinion on a statement that I would like to make and see if I am in the ballpark?

Hyper-Calvinism is pure laziness and an exclusivistic social club. Arminianism is social club that adds membership by a polished salesmanship of perverted justification.

G. Alford said...

Castusfumus

I would caution against defining any Theological System by the personal attributes or spiritual shortcomings of some of those who identify with it.

Mostly these are just the “bombs” that are thrown by the other side to try and discredit those who hold opposing views of doctrines.

However, it must be said that doctrines do tend to lead themselves to produce certain trends within those who espouse them. But it is never wise to assume this is always the case with each individual. And these concerns (ok, bombs that are thrown) by the other side should be accepted as a warning to be on guard against allowing these things to creep into our lives.

Laziness (by this I understand you to mean, laziness in evangelism) is by no means an exclusive Hyper-Calvinism issue. There are by far many more lazy Arminians within the SBC than they are lazy Calvinist.

And on the other side, the Arminians are not the only ones who are guilty of adding to their Social Clubs by use of polished salesmanship. Calvinist can be pretty good at this also.

Both of these are serious issues that need to be addressed whenever and wherever they are found in our churches; be it in a Calvinist or an Arminian church.

However, our opinions of the value or worth of any doctrine should never be based upon what some men who hold these views are guilty of doing, as you can always find bad examples within any group (Judas was a disciple of Jesus but we do not reject Christianity based upon the actions of Judas).

But instead all doctrine is to be accepted or rejected based upon the clear teaching of Scripture Alone. God’s Word alone is infallible, unchangeable; always true… even the best of men are not!

By Grace Alone,

Forgiven Sinner said...

G. Alford said "Judas was a disciple of Jesus but we do not reject Christianity based upon the actions of Judas".......

We know from John 17:12 that Judas may have been a "disciple", but he was NOT a FOLLOWER (Believer) of Christ. He was kept around for a purpose! (not to be confused with Rick Warrens Purpose)


It states he (Judas) was doomed for destruction so Scripture WOULD be fulfilled.........not hopefully or maybe, but WOULD.........that's another conversation in itself.....


1st....The only Altar Calls I have seen have been in the Arminian Churches....Charles Finney which I'm sure you are aware that his emphasis on self-reformation apart from divine enablement is again a strong echo of Pelagianism.
Finney insisted that justification ultimately hinges on the believer's own performance, not Christ's.
2nd....Can you name a Hyper-Calvinist? (In the Ministry)
3rd.... What is the definition of a Hyper-Calvinist?, from what I am hearing from some students SWBTS is that ya'll classify 5 pointers as Hyper and classify the evangelicals on the Radio of who's name I wont mention, only 2 or 3 pointer......I was at a Conference of one of the so called 2 to 3 pointers and believe me...the place had it's fair share of 5 pointers and we were all attending an evangelism conference.

I am hearing (understanding to be true)

G. Alford said...

Forgiven sinner,

I am not sure where I miss the mark in clearly communicating my thoughts, but my wife tells me I often do that…especially on the drive home from church each week :-)

Did you miss my earlier post where I confessed to being a 5-point Calvinist?

Anyway... YES Judas was not a Believer… No argument from me on that one! And he was chosen by Jesus to fulfill the purpose for which he was created… Yes, yes, yes!

I never said I gave “Alter Calls”… what I said was “I consistently (week in and week out) call for new believers to make a public profession of their faith.

This is not “Alter Calls”… where a pastor tells someone to come forward and pray the supposed sinners prayer and they will be saved. This I utterly Reject!

But I do believe that Jesus Christ has called all believers to a Public Faith… “ For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.”

I do believe it is important for every new believer to (at some point) shortly after their conversion to stand in front of their brothers and sisters in Christ and “Publicly Confess Jesus Christ as Lord”… Again this is not an Alter Call and I utterly Reject as pure spiritual deception the methods of Charles Finney.

I think the rest of your post was not meant for me? So I am going to stop now…

By His Grace Alone,

Forgiven Sinner said...

Actually, I wasnt taking a shot at you....
The Judas comment was for you but the Alter call comment was not....
I was just saying my piece on the alter call......I disagree with them also, but, I also think that Baptism is a sufficient proclamation of becoming a believer in the eyes of a congregation............Also.....it needs to go beyond the doors of the church into the community and reflect in your daily walk.

Sorry if you thought I was directing something towards you....I often seem to be ....stirring the pot....so to speak.

I just speak my peace and often fail to insert the love.

Goes to show that even after Regeneration, we still have to repent daily.....

By the way.....where you at the Shepherds Conference?

G. Alford said...

Forgiven sinner,

Thanks for letting me know what part of your comments were addressed to me... and yes I think Baptism is an excellent method of public profession. We just have so long of a waiting time between initial profession of faith and Baptism (13 weeks) that I often feel it important for new converts to "Go Public" before then.

No, I was not at the Shepherds Conference this time… perhaps next year. I do plan on attending the “Together for the Gospel” Conference April 26-28.

Forgiven Sinner said...

Why do you wait 13 weeks for Baptism?, that would not work for a oneness pentecostal would it?.. lol.. on a serious note, what is your reasoning behind it and where does scripture back up your practice?

G. Alford said...

Forgiven sinner,

There is no Saving Grace in Baptism... so what could possibly be the motivation of any church for immediate baptism? It has been my experience that many churches rush to immediately baptize those who make a profession of faith (some that very day) because they know that many of those who they have coached into saying the sinners prayer will be no-where to be found in just a few weeks and their baptism numbers will suffer if they delay.

Faith that does not keep you faithful for even 13 weeks is not saving faith! We wait 13 weeks (this is an arbitrary number) in order to examine the life and faithfulness of the candidate.

Sadly, the recent history of the Baptist Churches (those in North West Florida anyway) has been one of preaching a cheep salvation, “with all eyes closed and no one looking just raise your hand right where you are, pray this prayer, now friend you are a Christian!”, followed by baptism that night, and a sermon on “Once Saved Always Saved” next Sunday morning.

This has led to an epidemic of the following two issues that we are attempting to address in some part by our baptism policy: (1st) Is an Un-regenerate Church membership (2nd) Is an Un-churched community that believes itself to be regenerate.

We are not saying that it is wrong for any church to Baptist new converts right away, quite honestly the Bible does not forbid immediate baptism of any believer. However, the Bible does instruct us that baptism is for believers only! So in an age of sloppy evangelism and cheep salvation we think it cheapens the ordinance of baptism, damages the witness of the church, and brings the name of Jesus to an open shame to administer baptism to those who by their unfaithfulness prove themselves, both to the church and the community, in short order not to be “followers of Jesus” after all.

Our Biblical justification for waiting a period of time before administering baptism is drawn from the teaching of Matthew chapter-3.

I hope this helps...

Nate Russell said...

Why is it that when it comes to debates over the nature of salvation, we always find it necessary to create this false dichotomy within the salvation process? Could it not be both that God calls us and we choose him. I mean throughout the Gospel of John (which if you look seems to be the most developed gospel theologically) the author states that we have been chosen of God and two sentences later charges us with having chosen God. It is a mystery, and one that this student of theology gladly accepts as unfathomable, yet entirely necessary.

And not to pick a fight, but was God's first command really to save? Or should we not believe that his first command was more like the one command that he told us to keep above all others? Love. Love God first and with all that we have, and then love our neighbors as well as we love ourselves. The goal of the incarnation, and even more so creation, it seems is love because in love is God most glorified. I mean if God is glorified in us doing his will, and his will is for us to love him, then it God's love that should be most glorified not his sovereignty.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Tom, I picked up this post on your sidebar. I realize it is a year old, but I hope a few comments won't be out of order.

In commenting on Dr. Yarnell's statement about Baptists being the "heirs" of the Anabaptists, you wrote, "Obviously, that is a highly debatable position. Even those modern Baptists who read history this way would want to nuance very carefully what is meant by 'theological heirs.' The case can be made more readily for the 17th century English General Baptists than for the Particular Baptists. Yet, even the General Baptists, for the most part, would not claim wholesale Anabaptist theology as their heritage."

I have a few comments and a prediction. I think there is some very good research being done in tracing the contact and influence of the Anabaptists on the English Baptists. Things don't take place in a vacuum, and I expect some of the underlying motivation could be anti-Calvinistic bias (of course, OTOH, pro-Calvinistic bias could influence the English Separatist view of Baptist origins).

Glen Stassen has done some good research in this area, as early as 1962 in "Anabaptist Influence in the Origin of the Particular Baptists" identifying connections between some articles in the First London Confession and teaching in Menno Simons' "Foundation of Christian Doctrine." Irvin Horst's "The Radical Brethren: Anabaptism and the English Reformation to 1558" is helpful as well.

Now my prediction is that in 50 years the Anabaptist influence/origins will be the prevailing view of Baptist origins among academia, but that it will have minimal impact on the Baptist debate on the Doctrines of Grace. Just my idea, and I probably won't be around in 50 years to see it!